Biography of Jacob Polhemus

Jacob Polhemus, deceased, was one of the pioneers of Colton, who located in that thriving city when the only buildings in the place were a saloon and eating-house, and the Pioneer Lumber Yard office. This was in 1875. He was a carpenter and builder by occupation, and was employed in the erection of the pioneer buildings of Colton. He built the first store opened in the town for Hathaway & Davenport, and many other well-known old-time buildings. In 1877 Mr. Polhemus purchased lots on the corner of Eighth and I streets and built his residence and shop upon them. This location, as the city enlarged, became valuable as a business center, and in 1886 he erected the well-known Polhemus block, a fine two-story edifice devoted to business and office purposes. This block was the first brick business block erected in the city. He was one of the leaders in building up the city, and a liberal and strong supporter of Colton enterprises. He was one of the stockholders and original incorporators of the Colton Building and Loan Association that has done so much to encourage improvement in the city. In his enterprise in Colton he was successful, and secured a modest but well deserved competency. His business was always characterized by a manly and straightforward dealing that secured him hosts of friends and gained him the respect of the community. He was a man of sound business principles and keen foresight, and early saw the fortune that awaited Colton, and was prompt to invest his capital and energy in the city.

The subject of this sketch was born in New Jersey in 1822. His parents, Theodorus and Leah (Cooper) Polhemus, were natives of that State, and were descendants of old colonial families from Holland. Mr. Polhemus was reared and educated in his native State, and early in life learned the trade of carpenter and builder, and for more than twenty years was engaged in that occupation in Jersey City, New Jersey. In 1871 he decided to establish himself in California. His first location, after arriving in the State, was at San Francisco. A few months later he came to Southern California and located at San Diego, and a year later to Los Angeles, and thence to San Bernardino, where he remained until 1875, when he established himself in Colton. He died December 12, 1889, of la grippe. Politically, Mr. Polhemus was a Republican, having been a supporter of that party since its organization in 1856. He was strong and liberal in his support of churches and schools, being a prominent member of the Baptist Church and treasurer of the society in Colton. Mr. Polhemus was twice married.

His first marriage was his union with Miss Jane Tier, in 1843. She died in 1870, leaving three children: Lizzie, now the wife of Frank D. Sweetser, of San Francisco; George, a resident of Plainfield, New Jersey, and William, a resident of Colton. His second marriage was in 1879, when he wedded Mrs. Lucretia Bent, formerly Mrs. Spring, nee Ford. There are no children by this marriage. Mrs. Polhemus, whose maiden name was Ford, first married Heenan Spring; he lost his life in the service of his country, meeting death upon the battlefield during the war of the Rebellion, when a member of the Twenty-ninth Wisconsin Volunteers.

She had three children (sons) by her first marriage: De Los A., who at the age of seventeen enlisted in the same regiment with his father, served through the war, married and settled in Savannah, Georgia; Adolphus, a resident of Colton, and Byron, residing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

MLA Source Citation:

The Lewis Publishing Company. An Illustrated History of Southern California embracing the counties of San Diego San Bernardino Los Angeles and Orange and the peninsula of lower California. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois. 1890. Web. 26 January 2015. - Last updated on Oct 2nd, 2011

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