Biography of Benjamin Frank Allen

The subject of this sketch is among the early settlers of Riverside, and ranks as one of the successful horticulturists of the colony. Mr. Allen is a native of New England, dating his birth in Aroostook County, Maine, in 1844. His parents were John and Joanna (Ramsdell) Allen, both natives of that State. His father was one of the pioneers of that section and one of the wealthiest agriculturists in the county. He died in Riverside in 1886, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years.

Mr. Allen was reared to farm life and given the benefits of a common-school education. Soon after reaching his majority he established himself on a farm of his own and engaged in that occupation until 1869. In that year he came to California and located in San Mateo County, where he was engaged for a year or more as a stage driver between Redwood City and Searsville. He then returned to Maine and entered into mercantile pursuits at Presque Isle, in his native county. Ill-health and financial difficulties compelled a suspension of his business, and in 1876 he again sought the Pacific coast. This time he came broken in health and with limited means. Upon his arrival he located in Riverside and entered upon horticultural pursuits upon a rented place, but sickness caused him to abandon that enterprise and seek other means of support, and in 1878 he established a laundry, the first ever opened in Riverside. He also built him a cottage residence on Ninth Street, between Vine and Mulberry streets, and engaged in horticultural pursuits upon that block.

In 1880 he sold his city block and established his present residence on Colton avenue, just north of the city limits. At that point he has fifteen acres, nearly all of which are in oranges, but three acres being in budded fruit and the balance in seedlings. The grove, except two and one-half acres of young trees, was planted in 1873 and 1874 by P. S. Russell. Ten acres of orange grove is in good bearing, and during the three years preceding 1889 gave an average yield of nearly $400 per acre. Among his trees are 105 lemon trees of the Eureka variety, the product of these is cured and packed by Mr. Allen, and his success in lemon curing is best shown by noting the fact that the yield from his 105 trees in 1888-’89 brought him $550. He is also the owner of the block between Maine and Market, Third and Fourth streets, which is planted in oranges. His wife is the owner of a ten-acre tract on the south side of Russell Street, adjoining his home place on the northwest. Upon that tract Mr. Allen has been engaged in raisin growing. He is a thorough horticulturist, and a successful one, and a firm believer in the profitable future that awaits the orange-growers of Riverside, and in the value of lands adapted to orange cultivation. He has a beautiful home, consisting of a well-ordered two-story residence, surrounded by his groves, ornamental trees and floral productions. During the days of the real-estate ” boom ” Mr. Allen was induced to sell his orange grove at what was considered a big price, and entered into real-estate operations; but when the smoke of battle had drifted past, and values had settled down to paying investments, he bought back his old home, and such was his knowledge of its real worth, and his faith in the future that he readily paid a large advance over his selling price a year before.

Mr. Allen is well known to the people of Riverside as an enterprising and public-spirited citizen, one who during his years of residence has been a supporter of Riverside’s interests and the people; such men are always a desirable acquisition to the community. Mr. Allen is a charter member of Evergreen Lodge, No. 259, F. & A. M., also a member of Riverside Chapter No. 67, Knight Templar. In politics he is a consistent Republican. March 29, 1875, Mr. Allen was united in marriage with Miss Louise E. Averill, a native of Maine. They have two children: Florence G. and Beulah F.

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The Lewis Publishing Company. An Illustrated History of Southern California embracing the counties of San Diego San Bernardino Los Angeles and Orange and the peninsula of lower California. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois. 1890.

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