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Isaac W. Whitaker is the pioneer of Ontario. In January 1883, Mr. Whitaker was a resident of San Francisco, broken in health, and it became a matter of absolute necessity that he seek a mild climate. He decided to try Southern California, and on the 11th day of that month himself and his brave wife pitched their tent upon the land which he has since occupied. The colony lands had been surveyed and work was in progress in grading avenues and piping water, but Mr. and Mrs. Whitaker were the first settlers to occupy the lands. All about them was a barren waste. Not a tree and scarcely a plant was in sight. It was almost disheartening, but with a courage undaunted and a firm belief in the future they went to work to build up a home. Their eyes were soon gladdened by a sight of other settlers, and it seemed but a short time before they actually had neighbors. A little shanty succeeded the tent for a residence, and then a barn was built and occupied as a home, and it was not until 1885 that Mr. Whitaker’s neat and comfortable cottage residence was built and occupied. During these years he was engaged in clearing his land and planting trees and vines, and soon he found his desert bidding fair to become a veritable Garden of Eden. Mr. Whitaker has planted a large variety of deciduous trees and vines, but this year he is raising a nursery stock of Washington Navel trees which will take the place of his vineyards. His place is under a high state of cultivation, and its varied products find ready market. It is a source of attraction to visitors; not only for its beauty but also because it is the pioneer fruit orchard of the beautiful and productive Ontario.
Mr. Whitaker is a native of Kennebec County, Maine, dating his birth in 1841. He is the son of James and Dorcas (Mitchell) Whitaker. His father was a well-known farmer of that county, and for over forty years was a Justice of the Peace in his township. The subject of this sketch was educated in the schools of his native place and reared to farm life. In 1862 he entered the service of his country as a private in Company G, Twenty-fourth Maine Volunteers, and served in the Department of the Gulf. He was engaged in the siege of Port Hudson, and after that was on garrison duty at Vicksburg until the expiration of his term of service in 1863, when he was honorably discharged and returned to his home. In 1864 he came by steamer to California and located in Santa Clara County, and there engaged in farming and horticultural pursuits until 1872. In that year he moved to San Francisco, where he engaged in various occupations, among which was that of a hotel keeper, until failing health compelled his leaving for his present residence.Mr. Whitaker has never lost his faith in the future prosperity of Ontario, and has always been ready to aid in all movements tending to place its varied resources before the world. He is an energetic and progressive citizen, and is entitled to the respect and esteem of the community which his consistent course of life has given him. He is a member of Ontario Post, No. 124, G. A. R., and also of Central Lodge, No. 45, F. & A. M., of China, Maine.
In 1862 Mr. Whitaker married Miss Deborah Grafton, a native of Maine. She died in 1870, leaving one child, Fannie E., now Mrs. Charles Goodrich, of Skowhegan, Maine. In 1882 he was united in marriage with Mrs. Hettie Swart, (nee Hill), a native of Elmira, New York.