Biography of Cornelius E. Rumsey
Riverside County, CA Biographies





CORNELIUS EARLE RUMSEY
There have been many citizens of Riverside whose vital interest in its material growth and adornment has won for them the regard of all, and many who have sought to aid in maintaining the high character of its citizenship, but few indeed have there been who have helped more than has C. E. Rumsey. Although the period of his residence in Riverside did not extend over a long series of years, the visible monuments of his love for the beautiful will long remain, because in them the esthetic and practical are so happily blended. It is too rarely that we find in the successful business world men who win by following implicitly the golden rule, and since he is gone we may say of him what his modesty would, if he were alive, deny us the pleasure of saying, that he sincerely strove to do this in all the affairs of life. That he made mistakes and sometimes erred in judgment he would, with characteristic candor. insist, and demur strongly at our eulogy; but not only the members of his family and nearest associates, but every one of the vast number who were in his employ during the long years of his business life, will endorse our words in praise of a citizen whose loss they mutually mourn. Among the best of the many loyal and public spirited citizens which our city has been proud to claim as her own, justice as well as affection demands that we should rank Mr. Rumsey.

Mr. Rumsey was born at Eastchester, Westchester county, N. Y., June 22, 1844. His parents were Thomas O. and Matilda (Earle) Ramsey, both being natives of that state. He spent his childhood in his native town, going in his youth to the city of New York, where his education and first business experience were obtained His first training in business was gained as an employe in a New York packing house, where he was given a knowledge of methods which were of value to him in his later life. When about twenty four years of age he went to Pittsburg, Pa., where he engaged in the manufacture of biscuits. He was a resident of that city for thirty years, and the record of his connection there with so many of the benevolent, church and civic organizations furnish ample evidence that the qualities so strongly manifested during his residence in Riverside have characterized him, through life. It is not often that a citizen so busy in building up a great business enterprise is disposed to give so much of his time and energy to civic and religious duties, but it appears that while in Pittsburg he was long the chairman of the executive boards of the Dixmont Hospital for the Insane and of the Western Pennsylvania Hospital, and was also a member of the Municipal League and of the Duquesne Club, besides taking an active interest in many other public enterprises which the people of the city were carrying forward, in some cases himself taking the initiative in such work. He also served as an elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg. In 1898 he resided in Chicago, where he remained until his removal to Riverside in 1900.

The many years of his strenuous business life had at last made it necessary for him to surrender active participation in the affairs of the National Biscuit Company he had done so much to establish, and finally to seek recreation and rest in the genial climate of Southern California. But with improved health, and the opportunity for undertaking a new line of work exceedingly attractive to one of his temperament. it was natural that he should shortly decide to purchase property here and proceed to improve it on lines of beauty and profit. The writer was struck with the explanation he once gave for selecting Riverside rather than some other attractive spot for the scene of his new home making, saying that it combined not only the common advantages of beautiful surroundings and climate possessed by its neighbors, but it was not yet the resort of the merely idle rich, and possessed a class of every day American citizens, intelligent and moral, who were engaged in providing themselves with conditions to make it an ideal home city. To desire to help in such a work was natural to him. He purchased first a ten acre orange grove on Victoria avenue, and proceeded to study the best means by which it could be made one of the most attractive as well as one of the most profitable in the entire city. That he succeeded is indicated by the fact that it has long been one of the show places in the valley, and that his honest business methods have given the fruit he shipped under the "Alta Cresta" brand a standing inferior to none in the great markets of the country.

Regaining his health in the stimulating out of door life he came to love, he could not rest content with the limited task which he had at first set himself and appreciating the opportunity which the undeveloped slopes of the hills presented, acquired many tracts which he soon transformed from brush and boulder strewn spots into rose bordered orange groves. Amid these, on the elevated portions, building sites were set apart, with graded approaches, and along the roadways were tastefully planted rare shrubs and flowers to make delightful the home that ultimately should find an occupant. Altogether almost two hundred acres were reclaimed by him from their wild condition, and this self assumed task was always a most congenial one to him, and gave him a reward in the beauty developed far greater than the pleasure of the material success won. To feel that he had transformed the desert and helped to make California more beautiful was to him a continual source of pleasure. This work indicates the union of the artistic and the practical in his nature, and suggests the means by which the "Alta Cresta" groves, and the brands which bear that name in the markets, have won the reputation they hold. Honesty, thoroughness and good taste ever marked his efforts.

To a man of Mr. Rumsey!s temperament and training it was impossible, when he felt the renewing of health and strength due to his enjoyable out of door life, to abstain from participation in the public work in which his neighbors desired him to share. He associated himself with the Riverside Chamber of Commerce and ultimately became a director and president, in which position be aided in many efforts to make the city more beautiful and attractive. He was early a member of the Y. M. C A and aided with his advice and means in enlarging its usefulness, filling for a considerable period the position of president. He associated, early with the Calvary Presbyterian Church and served it faithfully as an elder. Proud of the services of his ancestors in the Revolutionary war, he held a membership in the American Sons of the Revolution. Naturally he was a Republican in his political affiliations and loyal to the principles of that party, but showed a liberal disposition upon local issues.

While in Riverside Mr. Rumsey took a deep interest in the indigenous race whose remnants still occupy the reservations in this section, and finally came to join with his wife in the study of their handiwork, the result of which has been the amassing of one of the finest selections of basket work to be found in Southern California. His interest in this department, and indeed in all lines connected with the history and beautifying of the section, made the last years of his life here enjoyable and helpful to all who were associated with him.

Mr. Rumsey was married on April 15, 1874, at No. 4 East Forty first street, New York City, to Miss Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Walter Kellogg and Martha Louisa Marvin, all life long residents of that city. The union proved a most happy one; the wife ever interested and helpful in his work, and sympathizing fully in those generous actions which helped to make their home the center of a happy circle of friends and neighbors. Mrs. Rumsey survives her husband, who passed away February 25, 1911, and is carrying forward the splendid work he inaugurated here.

From:
History of Riverside County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by Elmer Wallace Holmes
And other well known writers
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1912


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