Biography of Kelita Davis Shugart, M. D.
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Kelita Davis Shugart, M. D. No history of Riverside can be considered complete without a more than passing mention of the pioneer of Riverside colony whose name heads this sketch. In 1869 Dr. Shugart was a resident of Belle Plain, Iowa, and at that time was desirous of establishing his residence in some portion of Southern California. Early the next year he associated himself with Judge North, Dr. Greves, Sanford Eastman, C. N. Felton, of San Francisco, and Captain Broadhurst and others, and formed the Southern California Colony Association. The object of the association was to purchase some desirable tract of land in Southern California and establish a colony, build up desirable homes, and engage in horticultural pursuits.
Some months were spent by members of the association in seeking a suitable location, but they were unable to decide the vexed question. The Doctor became impatient at the delay, and in August of 1870 came to California and joined his associates. Judge E. G. Brown, who had joined the company, and Dr. J. P. Greves, visited the Riverside Valley in June, and made a partial examination of the lands, water supply, etc., and strongly recommended the purchase of lands by the association; but nothing was done.
On August 25, 1870, Dr. Shugart, accompanied by Dr. Greves, Messrs. Luther, of San Francisco, and Stewart, of San Bernardino, visited the lands and made a thorough examination of the location as adapted to their purposes. The hearty endorsement of Dr. Shugart was strongly backed by his associates, and on September 13, 1870, Judge North, the president of the association, who had not yet seen the lands, purchased from the Silk Center Association the land now occupied by the Riverside city and Riverside colony.
Surveys were immediately commenced and the Doctor forthwith started home for his family, and returned with them and L. C. Waite, Esq., arriving in San Bernardino on the 7th of December, 1870; and on the 8th he, with his family, L. C. Waite, Esq., and Dr. Sanford Eastman, went over to Riverside, where the Doctor purchased the second two and one-half acre block sold in Riverside. He returned to San Bernardino with his family and Mr. Waite, and rented a house on the 9th inst., and immediately commenced the erection of a small cottage on his block, which was between Ninth and Tenth and Mulberry and Lime streets, and on the 10th of January, 1871, he moved into it. His was the fifth family that located in Riverside. He was enthusiastic in his enterprise, and at once commenced preparations for planting trees and vines.
March 1, 1871, he planted his first orange, lemon and lime trees. These were the first citrus fruit trees ever planted in Riverside. He also planted the first olive trees and grapevines. It is also worthy of mention that the first ornamental or shade trees planted in the colony were those pepper trees planted by him on Ninth Street at the same time. Dr. Shugart was the treasurer of the association in 1870 and 1871, and later its vice-president, and took an active part in perfecting the organization, developing the water-supply, constructing irrigation canals, etc., until the sale of the colony lands and the water to the Riverside Land and Irrigation Company, in 1876. In the summer of 1875 Dr. Shugart sold his property on Ninth Street, and purchased from L. C. Waite his present land on First Street, at the head of Mulberry Street. He purchased an eighteen-acre tract at that point, upon which he erected a substantial and well-ordered cottage home and outbuildings, and moved into his new residence January 25th, 1876, and in addition to his professional labors, has since devoted himself to horticultural pursuits. He has one of the finest orange groves in Riverside, composed of seedling and budding trees of the most approved varieties. He is a thorough and painstaking horticulturist, as is well attested by the character of his fruit and the prolific yield he gets from his trees.
In the early days of Riverside, the Doctor took the lead in organizing school districts, etc. He was a member of the second board of school trustees ever elected in the colony. In political matters he has been a Republican from the organization of that party in 1856, and has been a worker in its ranks, and served as a delegate in many of the conventions. He was chairman of the county convention in 1876. Though often solicited, he never would consent to accept any political office. He is a member of the Universalist Society, and an earnest supporter of Universalism, and he was the first to urge the organization of a Universal Society in Riverside, and was one of the first trustees of the society. He has been a member of the Masonic fraternity for more than thirty years, and is affiliated with Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, A. F. & A. M. (of which he is a charter member), Riverside Chapter, No. 67, R. A. M., and Riverside Commandery, No. 28, Knights Templar.
During his residence in Riverside the Doctor has been in the practice of his profession. There is no man in that place who has a larger circle of friends and acquaintances than he. His professional skill, his kindly, genial temperament, coupled with his manly qualities, has gained him the respect and esteem of the community. The Doctor’s medical collegiate course was taken at Keokuk in the Iowa Medical College, in 1857-’58, and at the Cooper Medical College, of San Francisco, California, in 1877. He is a member of the American Medical Association, California State Medical Society, the Southern California Medical Society, and San Bernardino County Medical Society, which last owes its organization to Dr. Shugart and Dr. Fox, of Colton.
The few facts given relating to the Doctor’s earlier life are of interest. He was born in Randolph County, Indiana, April 13, 1829, and was raised a Friend (Quaker). His parents, Zachariah T. and Susannah (Harris) Shugart, were natives of North Carolina, and among the pioneer settlers of Indiana. The Doctor was reared in his native State until twelve years of age.
His parents then moved to Michigan and settled in Cass County. He was given the advantages of a good English education in the public and select schools, and upon reaching his majority entered upon his medical studies, under the tutorship of Dr. E. J. Bonnie, a prominent physician and surgeon of Niles, Michigan. After several years of thorough study, he entered upon the practice of his profession, and in 1853 located in Tama County, Iowa, and resumed his practice until 1860.
He then spent several years in the mining districts of Colorado, in the practice of his profession and in mining enterprises. In the fall of 1864 he located at Belle Plain, Benton County, Iowa, where he resided until he came to California in 1870. The Doctor has always ranked high in his profession in whatever community he has resided, and has been a student unceasing in his researches throughout all the years of his practice. His specialty, in which he has achieved a marked success, is the treatment of women and children.
Dr. Shugart was married in 1852 to Miss Martha T. Reams, a native of Michigan. But two children have blessed this union: Lillian Moina and Leila Rosalia, who died February 28, 1872. Lillian Moina was married to Mr. L. C. Waite, a prominent and well-known citizen and pioneer of Riverside, April 5, 1872.