John Harrison, senior partner of the grocery firm of Harrison & Pace, was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, November 21, 1845, and is the youngest of three sons of Parker and Mrs. Agnes Harrison, Nee McMurray. He was educated in New York City, and at an early age became associated with an elder brother in the grocery business.
On March 4, 1880, he married Miss Emma M. Bangerter, a native of New York, who was born on the day Abraham Lincoln was first elected President, in November 1860. They came to California on their wedding tour and remained. Before coming to San Bernardino, Mr. Harrison was engaged in business in Los Angeles County. September 14, 1887, he formed a partnership with Milton A. Pace, and purchased the grocery business of A. Thorp, who had three months previously bought the stock from John Kane, the up to San Francisco and spent some six months traveling through the finest valleys of that part of California. Believing then, as now, that the San Bernardino valley is the choicest portion of the Pacific slope, he returned and permanently settled here in the fall of the same year. In 1866 he opened the first furniture store in the city, and, subsequently associating undertaking with it, he designed and built the first hearse ever used in Southern California, which he still has in his possession, though its use has been superseded by two elegant hearses manufactured by Cunningham & Sons of Rochester, New York. Mr. McDonald’s furniture warerooms and repository for funeral goods are some 300 feet in depth and embrace half an acre of floor room. He makes a specialty of the undertaking feature of his business, and keeps in stock a large assortment of funeral goods of the best Eastern and Northern manufactories. As an embalmer Mr. McDonald has won a reputation extending across the continent, and has numerous highly commendatory letters from undertakers in the East, testifying to his success in embalming bodies for transcontinental shipment. In 1854 Mr. McDonald bought the lot and erected the house in which he and his family now reside, in McDonald’s Place, between C and D streets and Third and Fourth.
Mrs. McDonald, formerly Miss Mayer, is a native of Staffordshire, England, and a relative of the Mayers of that city, famous as pottery manufacturers. She came to America when a child of eight years. Mr. and Mrs. McDonald have nine living children, five sons and four daughters, all save one born at their present homestead, and all but one residents of San Bernardino valley. Two of the sons are associated with their father in business. In early times Mr. McDonald was politically opposed to the old Mormons of this valley, and his out-spoken expression of opinions and free and independent action in upholding his convictions, which he held to be the right of every American citizen, created no little antagonism of feeling against him on the part of the followers of Joe Smith and Brigham Young. The Mormon colonists not only refused to sell him any of what they considered desirable town lots, but he had the courage of his convictions, and his faith in the final triumph of the principles he advocated and upheld, never wavered. He has lived to enjoy the realization of his hopes.