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Biography of Samuel C. Evans
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Samuel C. Evans, one of the most prominent men of Riverside, and who has spent over fifteen years of an active business life in conducting some of the largest business enterprises in the colony, one of which is the Riverside Land and Irrigation Company, came to Riverside in 1874 and purchased a half interest in nearly 10,000 acres of land, known as the Hartshorn tract; the land is now known as the Arlington part of Riverside and Arlington Heights. Captain W. T. Sayward, of San Francisco, was the owner of the other half. These gentlemen in the same year commenced the construction of what is known as the lower canal, for the irrigation of their lands lying in the valley, and also the Temescal or Tin Company’s tract, which they had purchased, after spending large sums of money and meeting a strong opposition from the Southern California Colony Association, whose lands occupied the valley north of theirs.
In April 1875, the Riverside Land and Irrigation Company was organized. Mr. Evans was the prime mover in this enterprise, and in July 1876, was elected president of the company, a position he has retained since that date. The company under his management purchased the lands and water right of the Southern California Colony Association, including the water right of Warm creek and the entire canal system. This gave Mr. Evans the control of the entire water system of the Riverside valley, and he extended the main canals some twenty miles, and bought thousands of acres of rich and fertile lands under the irrigation system.
Mr. Evans has also been a leader in other public enterprises. He is president of the Riverside Land Company, a director of the Riverside Water Company, president of the Riverside & Arlington Railway, president of the Loring Opera House Company, and a leading stockholder of the Riverside Gas and Electric Light Company and other incorporations. There has been but few really meritorious public enterprises established in the colony that he has not been identified with, and more often the real projector of them. He is a man of wonderful business talents, trained by years of business pursuits in the East, where he was the keenest businessman in the county. He is a man of broad views, accustomed to business enterprises of large magnitude, quick to conceive and prompt to act; has proven a desirable acquisition to Riverside and Southern California. It is to such men and their capital that Southern California to-day stands indebted for the proud prominence she has assumed upon the Pacific coast; their brains, energy and capital have made possible the wonderful development of the past decade of years, developments that have shown the resources of Southern California as excluding any other section of the known world. Mr. Evans has not confined himself to business enterprises alone, but has de-voted his attention to horticultural pursuits, and is at this writing one of the largest and most successful horticulturists and viticulturists in Southern California. The well-known Evans Rancho, with its 160 acres all under a high state of cultivation, is one of the results of his labors; 125 acres of this tract is in orange groves, and thirty-five acres in vineyards. This magnificent property has been built up by Mr. Evans for his four sons, and is divided into tracts of forty acres each and deeded to them. He is also owner of other improved property, among which is the well-known Rudisill tract, and the fine twenty-acre orange grove in Arlington. His success in orange growing is noticeable, and in some cases seems marvelous. He leaves nothing undone that tends to secure the most profitable results. The yield from his orange groves gives him from $300 to $1,000 gross per acre. As an illustration of what can be done in his favored locality, and under his systematic and intelligent care and cultivation, the following is given: One of his ten-acre groves in 1888 is producing Washington navel oranges, from seedling trees that were budded when four years old. The trees are now in fine bearing, and the crop in that year averaged $500 per acre net for the whole ten acres! His raisin crop in 1889 netted him $100 per acre for the thirty-five acres.
Mr. Evans has taken the same prominence in the social circles of Riverside, as in business circles. He is a member and strong supporter of the Presbyterian church of Arlington, a charter member of Riverside Lodge, No. 282, I. O. O. F., and also a member of the F. & A. M. Politically he is a sound Republican, never an office-seeker, but a liberal contributor in supporting the best element of his party.
A brief resume of Mr. Evans’ life previous to his advent in Riverside is of interest. He was born in Fort Defiance, Williams County, Ohio, in 1823. His father, Dr. John Evans, was a native of Bourbon County, Kentucky, and was prominent in professional and business circles in Ohio and Indiana, as a physician, merchant, trader, and large real-estate dealer. Mr. Evans spent his early life in attending the public schools of his native county. In 1840 his father moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and there continued his business operations until his death, two years later. The death of his father threw the management of his business affairs upon Mr. Evans, as the acting executor of the estate. Although but nineteen years of age, be had received a good education, and he rapidly advanced in business talents that became such a marked character of his after life. In 1845 he entered into mercantile life with his brother in Fort Wayne, which was conducted for the next three years with varying success, but not such as he desired. In June 1848, Mr. Evans closed his business at Fort Wayne, and located in New York, and for several years was engaged as an agent for some of the largest mercantile houses of that city. In 1855 he again embarked in business under the firm name of S. C. Evans & Co. Mr. Evans was the manager of the business, and in 1860 became the sole proprietor, and also established a branch in Kendallville, Indiana. In 1865 he sold out his mercantile establishments and purchased a controlling interest in the Merchants’ National Bank of Fort Wayne, and in 1866 was elected president of the bank. He conducted the affairs of that bank for the next ten years, being one of the soundest and best conducted institutions in the State, and under his able management regularly declared and paid an eight per cent. dividend to its stockholders, free of a three percent tax. He was also prominent in other enterprises, and largely interested in real estate. He was one of the projectors of the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw Railroad, and was the contractor and builder of fifty-two miles of the roadbed in Indiana, a work involving nearly $500,000. When Mr. Evans became interested in Riverside, he closed up the affairs of his bank, of which he owned all the capital stock, surrendered his charter, transferred his capital to the Pacific coast, and established his residence in the colony.
Mr. Evans has a family consisting of a wife and four children. He has been twice married; the first, in 1845, was his union with Miss Anna Almira Forsyth, of Maumee City, Ohio. She died in 1861, leaving two sons: John, who married Miss Jennie Crawford, and Robert R., both residents of Riverside. His second marriage was in 1865, when he wedded Mrs. Minerva C. Dawson, nee Catlin, a native of Vermont. There are also two sons by this marriage: Samuel C., Jr., and Pliny T. Both are graduates of the University of the Pacific, and are now engaged with their father in business pursuits.
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