John A. Simms, one of the early settlers of the Riverside colony, ranks among the leading horticulturists and nursery men of Southern California. He came to Riverside in 1875, without capital other than young and vigorous manhood, energetic disposition and industrious habits. Having been reared in agricultural pursuits, he sought work among the orchardists and found employment with Mr. P. S. Russell, one of the pioneer nurserymen of the city. He was employed with him for the next three years, and during that time became skilled in the business, and in 1878 established a nursery in Brockton square, upon a ten-acre tract which he had purchased. This place is now (1889) owned by P. S. Klinefelter.
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He was successful in his nursery enterprise, and also improved his land, planting orange groves, vineyard, etc. He sold that land in 1880, but continued his nursery business, known as the Simms Nursery, upon other lands, until 1887. In that year he formed a partnership with L. C. Waite, and under the firm name of Waite & Simms established the Sweet Stock Nurseries, of Riverside. This is one of the largest nursery enterprises in Southern California. The years of experience which both Messrs. Waite and Simms have had in Riverside, combined with their well-known sound business principles, has made their business one of the most successful in the State. Their nursery stock in Riverside alone occupies twenty acres, containing 120,000 trees that will be ready for the market in 1890. They produce nothing but the best, and of the most successful and approved varieties, seventy-five per cent. of their stock being Washington Navels. The character of their stock cannot be excelled, if equaled, by any on the Pacific coast. Their reputation for integrity and straightforward dealing is unimpeachable.
Mr. Simms is a native of Henry County, Kentucky. He was born in 1851. His father, Albert D. Simms, was a farmer by occupation, and Mr. Simms was reared to that calling. He received a good common-school education, and entered upon life’s stage upon his own account, a trained agriculturist.
In 1875 he decided to seek his fortune in a new country, and came to California and located in Riverside, and entered upon his successful career as a horticulturist. Since the establishment of the Sweet Stock Nurseries, he has had the immediate supervision of the planting, budding, cultivation, etc., of the stock. The credit for producing the finest trees in the county is largely due to his untiring and intelligent efforts. Mr. Simms is a strong supporter of Riverside enterprises, and a liberal subscriber to the Citrus Fair Association, Loring Opera House Company, etc. Politically he is a straight Republican. He is member of the Sunnyside Lodge, No. 112, Knights of Pythias, and also of the Uniform Rank of the same order. He has been a successful man, and won not only a fair competency, but his consistent and manly course in life has gained him the respect of the community.
He married, in 1879, Miss Jennie Patton, the only daughter of James Patton, a well-known pioneer of Riverside. The only child from that marriage was born in 1881, and died in 1887.