In noting the remarkable growth and prosperity of the Riverside colony, and collecting the data upon which to base the proper representation of the magnificent industries established and successes achieved by the representative people in the various enterprises that are to be embodied in the history of the county, a manifest injustice would be done to the lady whose name heads this sketch were not a proper mention made of her interests, her long years of individual efforts, and her successes in horticultural enterprises, that have added so much to the growth and prosperity of the colony.
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Mrs. Wilkes came to Riverside in the fall of 1876. She was possessed of capital, practical knowledge of horticultural pursuits in the East, and a wonderful fund of energy and ambition. Upon her arrival she purchased forty-five acres of land on Magnolia avenue, just below Adams street, about five miles south of the city. The lands thus secured were wild and uncultivated, but Mrs. Wilkes, with her characteristic energy, set about having them cleared and prepared for tree planting. She personally supervised and directed all improvements. Many of the trees first planted, particularly of deciduous fruits, proved non-producing or not profitable, and they were uprooted and citrus fruits took their place. As the years passed she continued her efforts and soon had some of the finest orange groves in the colony. The twenty acres on the west side of the avenue, after being fully improved, were sold to Mr. McNabb, in 1886. Mrs. Wilkes then transferred her residence to the twenty-five-acre tract on the east side of the avenue. Then she caused to be erected a comfortable and commodious two-story residence, complete in all its appointments and furnishings. This home she has surrounded with magnificent ornamental trees, waving palms and rich floral productions.
She is one of the most successful florists in the colony, and devotes much attention to cultivating rare and choice flowers. In the cultivation of palms she has achieved a wonderful success. Her beautiful home is situated an eighth of a mile from the avenue, and the winding drive-way leading to her residence grounds is bordered on each side with rows of palm trees that are magnificent in size and perfect in their proportions. The success she has reached in growing and proportioning her palms is wholly due to her practical-sense way of cultivating and trimming them. She is no less successful in orange-growing, and nearly the whole of her twenty-five-acre tract is devoted to that fruit, the trees being almost exclusively budded fruit of the most approved variety. Mrs. Wilkes is a native of New York, but previous to coming to California had spent most of her life in Canada, and was for many years a resident of Brantford, where she conducted the agricultural interests of her ninety-acre farm. She is a lady of culture and refinement, well versed in the practical affairs of life, and possessed of undoubted sound business qualifications. She has gained a success in her many enterprises of which she may be justly proud.