Jacob Ross a prominent business man of Orange County, was born in Clinton County, Indiana, August 7, 1846. His parents, Jacob and Elizabeth Ross, moved to Illinois in 1851, where the father engaged in the milling business and in farming until 1865, when they with their family came overland to California, being six months on the road. They unloaded at Watsonville, November 25, 1865. Mr. Ross, the father, prospected for a home in Salinas valley till 1868, when he moved to Southern California.
He purchased the undivided interest in the Spanish grant of 1,860 acres, which, however, was afterward cut down to 1,073 acres. His purchase included the territory embraced in Santa Ana west of Main street and north of First. He was the third settler in the valley, and was a successful stock-raiser and farmer until his death in 1870.
The subject of this sketch was the namesake and youngest living son of his father. He was eighteen years old when he came with the family to California, and was engaged with his father until the age of twenty-six, when he married and commenced housekeeping and the management of a farm of 160 acres adjoining Santa Ana on the west, a gift to him from his parents. The early days here were fraught with difficulties and hardships of which no one who has come in later has a practical knowledge. They tried to carry on agricultural pursuits in connection with stock-raising. The Spaniards were not disposed to cultivate the soil, and hence were opposed to the Americans settling up the country as farmers. Accordingly they gave much trouble by driving their herds close to cultivated fields and leaving them to their work of destruction. Mr. Ross had to corral his stock to keep the Spaniards from killing it; and had to guard his growing crops to keep them from being destroyed at night. At one time Mr. Ross had $4,000 worth of stock stolen from him in one night. Thus an idea may be gained of what it meant to be a pioneer.
After farming for six years on his quarter-section, he became interested in politics, with which he has ever since been more or less identified. He was proprietor and manager of the Santa Ana Weekly Herald, having purchased the Santa Ana Times, and he published the two together. Afterward he sold out the paper and served as justice of the peace two years and as deputy assessor two years. He was then chosen supervisor of Los Angeles County, on the Democratic ticket, serving four years. As a proof of his popularity, it can be said that he overcame a Republican majority of 480 votes. Before he took the office of supervisor he was opposed to county division; but when he saw how the Los Angeles County officials were disposed to “bleed” the southern end of the county, he favored a division and worked for it. At the first election of officers for Orange County, Mr. Ross was nominated by the non-partisan convention at Santa Ana, and his nomination was ratified by the Orange convention, and the straight Republican convention failed to nominate a man against him. Thus he was elected Supervisor of the second district of Orange County, which district includes the fifth ward of Santa Ana.
The Ross addition to Santa Ana was laid out by him in 1877. Its boundaries are from Ross street west to Olive and from First street north to Hickey. It was the largest and best addition to the city, containing many beautiful residences. Mr. Ross contributed liberally to the building of the Brunswick Hotel, and has aided materially in the growth and development of Santa Ana. He was one of the original projectors of the great water canals of the Santa Ana valley, which was the mainspring to the wonderful development and prosperity of Santa Ana and surrounding country.
Socially, he is a member of the Masonic fraternity and of the A. O. U. W. He is a cool, careful and practical man, winning for himself hosts of friends even in opposing all parties.
August 29, 1872, is the date of Mr. Ross’ marriage to Miss Mary C. Russell, daughter of George L. and Nancy (Crowley) Russell, early pioneers of the Golden State. The members of the household are: George, Virgil, Etta Mildred, Lorena (deceased), Albert Randolph, Charles and Lecil.
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