Biography of John Down
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John Down came to Riverside in 1874, his only capital being his trade as bricklayer, combined with an energetic disposition and a willingness to labor. He purchased block 2, range 7, on Main Street, between Second and Third streets, planting the same in oranges. The same year he commenced work for Mr. E. M. Sheldon, who had started the pioneer brickyards on the west side of Buena Vista avenue, north of town, and two years later he entered into partnership under the firm name of Sheldon & Down. The brick-yards were gradually increased to meet the growing demands, and conducted by that firm until 1886, when Mr. Sheldon retired and Mr. Alguire came into the firm under the firm name of Down & Alguire, since which time they have conducted a brick-making and building business. In 1882 Mr. Down, in addition to his business in Riverside, established and conducted a brickyard at San Jacinto for four years. He is now the owner of nearly 100 acres of land, located about one mile north of Riverside. The brick-yards are upon his land and are admirably located both for sup-plying the home demand and for shipping by railroad, as his lands have a frontage on the California Central Railroad (Santa Fe system) of nearly one-fourth of a mile, enabling him to put on side-tracks to the brick kilns.
He is a thorough agriculturist, as is well attested by his orange grove and vineyard upon a thirty-five-acre tract on the west side of Orange street about one mile north of the city. At this writing Mr. Down is laying out beautiful grounds, planting ornamental trees and floral productions upon a portion of his lands on the west side of Buena Vista avenue, upon which he will erect his residence in the near future. He has also business property in Riverside, among which is twenty-five feet frontage of the substantial Cosmopolitan block, corner of Eighth and Orange, which is owned by the firm. Mr. Down has been prominently connected with the building interests of Riverside, and it may be truthfully said that there is not a brick building in Riverside of any magnitude erected within the past ten years, that he and his associates in business has not had the contract for the brick and mason work.
Mr. Down was born in England, near Plymouth, in 1849, his parents being John and Johanna (Roberts) Down, also natives of that country. Early in life, when but thirteen years of age, he was apprenticed to the mason and stonecutter’s trade, and worked at the calling near his native place until 1870. In that year he came to the United States and located in Cleveland, Ohio, where he remained until 1872, when he removed to Colorado, living. In Black Hawk and Central City, where, in addition to his trade, he worked as a miner, but not meeting with the desired success he continued his westward march. In 1874 he came to Riverside, where, with the exception of about four years spent in San Jacinto, he has since resided. He is a progressive and public-spirited citizen, and a ready supporter of all enterprises that tend to build up his chosen city. He is a stockholder in the Riverside Gas Company, Loring Opera House Association and other incorporations.
He has for many years been a consistent member of the Methodist Church, and also a member of Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, I. O. O. F., of Riverside. Politically he has for years been a Republican, but is a strong supporter of the Prohibition Party and its principles. In 1880 Mr. Down was married with Miss Lois Sheldon, the only daughter of E. M. Sheldon, his former partner in business. The only child born from this marriage was Gracie, who died in 1886 at the age of five years and six months.