Biography of Truman Reeves

Truman Reeves, late proprietor of the oldest jewelry store in San Bernardino, and probably the only one-armed watchmaker in the world, established the business in that city in 1874. In 1857, when a youth of sixteen years, he commenced learning the watchmaker’s and jeweler’s trade with Julius King, in Warren, Ohio.

He worked on his father’s farm in Orwell, Ashtabula County, where he had moved with his parents from Chardon, Ohio, his birthplace, until he went to the trade. Upon the inception of the war of the Rebellion, his ardent patriotism impelled him to respond to the first call by President Lincoln for volunteers for three months’ service, and at the expiration of his term of enlistment he re-entered the army for three years as a member of the Sixth Ohio Cavalry, in which he did valiant service, in recognition of which he rose by successive promotion to Second Lieutenant. At the battle of Cold Harbor, on May 28, 1864, his left arm was so badly shattered by a mini ball as to render amputation at the shoulder-joint necessary, and he spent seven months in the hospital. January 5, 1865, he was discharged from the service and returned home.

In March of that year, and without any effort or knowledge on his part until the commission was handed him, Mr. Reeves was appointed Postmaster at Orwell, Ohio; and after filling the office with exceptional efficiency and general satisfaction for nearly three years, he was elected Recorder of Ashtabula County in 1868, for the term of three years, at the expiration of which he was re-elected as his own successor, filling the position for six consecutive years. He declined another re-election. Retiring from the office with broken health, he accepted the advice of physicians and came to California in 1874, and settling in San Bernardino entered into partnership with N. B. Hale in the jewelry business, under the firm name of Hale & Reeves.

Mr. Reeves has always been an active and zealous Republican, and in 1882 was elected to the State General Assembly, being the only Republican elected in Southern California at that time, and beat his Democratic opponent by only about forty-five votes. In 1884 he was re-elected by over 400 majority, which was conclusive evidence of his popularity among his constituents. After suffering the loss of his arm Mr. Reeves’ friends thought his days at the watchmaker’s bench ended, but he determined otherwise, and possessing a genius for invention he invented and constructed an ingenious and novel device to take the place of the missing hand, which serves the place so thoroughly that he performs with deftness and dispatch the most difficult and delicate watch-work requiring the most expert workmen with two hands. In 1867 Mr. Reeves married Miss Marion E. McConkey, of Oberlin, Ohio. Two children, Clarence H. and Clara B. Reeves, comprise their family. In 1882 Mr. Reeves purchased ten acres of land in Redlands, and planted it to deciduous and citrus fruits, which are now in bearing, and on which the family now reside. Mr. Reeves is a member of Corpsman Post, No. 57, G. A. R., and of the Congregational Church.

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. 29 January 2015. - Last updated on Sep 2nd, 2011

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