Alma Whitlock, the pioneer dentist of Southern California, first commenced the practice of his profession in San Bernardino in 1857, and has been continuously in practice in the city ever since 1859. He was born in Missouri in 1831. His parents, who were both natives of New England, were brought up from childhood in Ohio. His mother, formerly Miss Abbot, was a relative of the Garfield family. They started for California across the plains from Tipton, Iowa, in the spring of 1850, and spent the winter of 1850-’51 in Utah, and resumed the journey on the following spring, reaching Hangtown, now Placerville, on July 16, 1851. Though a physician by profession, his father kept a boarding house in the new mining town for a few months after their arrival. Removing from there to Santa Clara County they continued to keep a house of entertainment during the year of their residence there; then removed to Watsonville, where the subject of this memoir began the study of dentistry with Dr. Irwin in 1855.
He practiced in Santa Clara, San Jose and Santa Cruz, before coming to Southern California. Being a natural mechanic and possessed of considerable inventive genius, Dr. Whitlock has invented several instruments for use in his profession which are considered valuable improvements over those formerly used. His practice embraces all branches of the profession. As an evidence of his skill in operative dentistry, it may he stated that patients of his are wearing gold filling, in a good state of preservation, put in by him a quarter of a century ago.
Many years since the Doctor purchased 108 acres of land one mile east of the city of San Bernardino, for $700, including an ample water right. He subsequently sold thirty-six acres of that tract for $2,300 and still owns seventy-two acres, with fifty inches of water, which constitutes his homestead, and which he cultivates in fruits and alfalfa.
In 1858 Dr. Whitlock went to Camp Floyd, Utah, and at Springville, Utah Territory, he married Miss MacKenzie, of Scotch parentage. Doctor and Mrs. Whitlock have four sons and three daughters. Their oldest son, W. A., is a graduate of a college of law, standing among the first of his class, and has been admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court.