Biography of William P. Russell
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This well known pioneer of Riverside is one of the leading horticulturists of the colony, and has for the past eighteen years been identified with the growth and progress of the city, and has held a prominent position in her municipal government since the incorporation in 1884.
He is a native of White County, Indiana, dating his birth in 1849. His father, William Russell, was also a native of that State. Mr. Russell was reared as a farmer, and educated in the public schools of his native county. In 1869, when twenty years of age, he struck out in life upon his own account, and his first move was for the Pacific coast. Upon his arrival in California he came to San Bernardino County and located in TiaJuana valley, and there, in partnership with his uncle, P. S. Russell, entered into the nursery business. Upon the founding of the Riverside colony, in 1870, he was induced to visit the lands, and upon an inspection he became satisfied that a prosperous future awaited the orange-grower in the Riverside Valley, and the next year, in February, 1871, he purchased a twenty-acre tract on the east side of Spanish town avenue, now Orange street, and on the north of Russell street. This street was given his name in honor of his being the pioneer in improving that section. He commenced his preparations at once for horticultural industries, clearing his lands and perfecting his irrigation system.
He established himself in the nursery business, the pioneer of that enterprise. In 1872 his uncle joined him and they conducted a large nursery business for the next six or seven years. At the same time he fully improved his land, planting citrus and deciduous fruits, grapes, etc. Many of his first ventures in horticulture, however, proved unprofitable, and such mistakes were corrected by uprooting and replacing with citrus fruits. At this writing (1889), Mr. Russell is the owner of and occupies nine and a half acres of his original tract, which is devoted to orange growing. He has one of the finest groves to be found in the county. A large portion of his trees are seedlings, sixteen years old; the remainder are budded fruit, mostly Mediterranean Sweets. There is no branch of horticulture as required in the Riverside valley in which he is not practically experienced, and the results he has obtained in orange growing are worthy of mention, showing as they do the profits to be obtained from that industry in the Riverside colony. From six acres of orange grove, 960 trees, planted in 1872, 250 trees of which were budded on four year-old stock, and the remainder seedlings, he sold his crops as follows: in 1886, for $3,000 gross; in 1887, $1,960 gross (more than one-fourth of his crop in that year were blown off and plowed under); in 1888 the crop sold at the packing-house for $3,650. This is a creditable showing, averaging, as it does, nearly $500 per acre for a series of years, and sufficiently attests Mr. Russell’s skill as a horticulturist.
Mr. Russell has been a strong supporter of Riverside enterprises. He has been a director in the Riverside Water Company for several years. In political matters he is a Democrat, but liberal in his views. In 1884 he was elected one of the city trustees, which office of honor and trust he has so creditably filled that his supporters seem bound to continue his term indefinitely. He still holds the office, having been twice re-elected. He is a member of Sunnyside Lodge, No. 112, Knights of Pythias, of Riverside. He married, in 1878, Miss Ida Moody, the daughter of John H. Moody, of Oakland, formerly of San Francisco.