Albert S. White, a Riverside horticulturist, was born in Belfast, Maine, in 1840, and was schooled and reared in his native place. At the close of his school days he located in New York, and his first entry into business life was in mercantile pursuits. He became associated with Captain George W. Gilchrist in the ship-chandlery business. His keen business tact and energetic management rendered him valuable, and under the firm name of Gilchrist, White & Co. their house became one of the best known in the city and stood at the head of establishments in their line of business. In the spring of 1875 Mr. White was prostrated by a severe attack of pneumonia, and, failing to rally from its effects, his physician recommended a warmer climate and advocated a trip to southern Europe, but Mr. White preferred California. In January 1886, he crossed the continent and visited many well-known resorts of the Pacific coast in a vain search for health. Finding no relief from the coast climate, he decided to try the interior with its higher altitude and dryer climate. With this view he visited Southern California. In Riverside he found the long-sought fountain of health and passed the winter there, gaining rapidly in health and strength. Convinced that he could live in to other climate, before going East in the spring, he purchased forty acres of land about four miles south of Riverside, on what is now the beautiful Magnolia avenue, then but a dry plain. At that date Riverside was but a small settlement of 300 people.
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Closing out his business in New York during the summer, he returned to Riverside in the fall of 1886 and entered with his customary zeal into the improvement of his ranch, bringing from the East the choicest variety of fruit trees and vines, and became at once a typical “Riversider.” Of an enthusiastic and energetic temperament, he threw himself into every enterprise tending to advance and build up the interests of Riverside, his chosen section. Bringing to his new calling a mind trained to reasoning and studying in order to secure the best results from whatever enterprise he engaged in, he soon became an expert horticulturist and rapidly built up one of the most productive horticultural industries in the colony. At this writing he has an orange grove of forty acres in extent, ten acres of which is in Washington Navels. This grove gives a yield that brings from the sale of the fruit from $300 to $600 per acre, according to the age of the trees. He is an enthusiast in orange growing and firm in the belief that Riverside ranks second to no place in the world for a successful prosecution of that industry.
Together with H. J. Rudisill he organized in Riverside the first citrus fair ever held in the world, which proved such a success that he went to work to raise funds for a suitable building in which to hold future fairs. The Citrus Fair Association and the erection of the pavilion was the result of those labors; and in all succeeding fairs Mr. White has been a leading spirit, devoting time and money to their advancement and success. Among the many prominent works that Mr. White has been connected with were the building of the Presbyterian church and the Arlington school-house; the founding of the Library Association; the organization of the Citizens’ Water Company and its successor, the Riverside Water Company, serving as a director on each board, as also being vice-president of the River-side Land Company. When the State Board of Horticulture was organized, Mr. White was appointed by Governor Perkins to represent Southern California on the board, which position he held for two years, until the election of Governor Stoneman. He was one of the original incorporators and a director of the Riverside and Arlington Railroad Company, also of the Riverside Railroad Company. In 1887 he was one of the promoters and incorporators of the Riverside Improvement Company, and was president of the company during the time that it developed and piped the domestic water supply of the city and valley, which was done at an outlay of over $200,000; he is still at the head of that corporation. He is also president and principal owner of the Riverside Heights Water Company and a director of the Loring Opera House Company. He is a trustee of the Riverside Library Association and a director and member of the Board of Trade. He has recently been elected a member of the city board of trustees.
In politics Mr. White is an earnest Republican and has been prominent in efforts to secure the nomination and election of good men for office in San Bernardino County. He is always found allied with the best elements of his party and has no political ambition; the only political position he ever held was representing Riverside on the county board of supervisors, having been elected to that office in 1884 for a four years term. He is an earnest worker in the ranks of his party and is vice-president of the County Central Committee. He is a strong supporter of schools and churches, and is a member and trustee of the Universalist church of Riverside. He has never failed in his great faith in the future growth and prosperity of Riverside, therefore, several years ago, he purchased a tract of land above the canal adjoining the city on the east. This tract has been subdivided, a very perfect system of piped water connected with it, and it is now known as White’s addition, one of the most desirable portions of the city for residences or business, as the freight depot, several packing houses, etc., are already located there.
In 1887 Mr. White associated himself with F. A. Miller and entered largely into real estate and insurance business, but this has not prevented him from being, in the present as in the past, one of Riverside’s most public-spirited citizens. His long residence and the leading part he has taken in the business interests of Riverside has gained for him a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and he is universally respected and esteemed. Although a great admirer of the female sex, he remains unmarried, a hale, hearty bachelor, upon whom ” female arts are lavished in vain.”