Biography of Ebenezer Griffin Brown

Ebenezer Griffin Brown (“Judge Brown,” as he is familiarly known) is one of Riverside’s well-known pioneers. He was one of the original members of the Southern California Colony Association, and with the late Dr. Greves visited the lands now occupied by the city June, 1870, the first members of the association on the grounds. From the very first he was the strongest advocate in demanding the purchase by the association of these lands. His persistency was of little avail at first, but he was in earnest, and when Judge North, the president of the company, refused to act in accordance with his wishes, the judge returned to his home in Iowa and set about forming another colony association, with the express view of purchasing the Riverside lands. This move hastened the actions of the old association, and in September, 1870, the purchase was made and the colony established. That being the result desired by the Judge, he abandoned all further proceedings, never intending or desiring a rival to Riverside. He then settled his affairs in Iowa, and in May 1871, established himself and family in the new colony. He located upon Government land in sections 13 and 24, securing 104 acres lying one-half mile north and east of the Riverside town site on Colton Avenue. His means were limited, but he commenced his new life and pursuits with that indomitable energy and perseverance so characteristic of the man, and which not even the fifty years that had constituted a life’s struggle could abate. His little cabin 12 x 16 feet was erected; his ground cleared, and horticultural pursuits entered upon, and early in 1872 he planted vines and trees. He also planted seeds and started his nursery stock for an extended citrus tree planting. He was successful in his enterprise and gradually increased his stock of this world’s goods. His orange-groves gradually extended their area.

His little cabin gave way to extended improvements, and from its site sprang his present home, the well-known Anchorage.” The Judge has a magnificent orange-grove of twenty acres, about one-half of which is devoted to seedling oranges, and the balance to budded fruit of the Washing-ton Navel and Mediterranean Sweet varieties. He has also a large variety of deciduous fruits. The balance of 100 acres of land is utilized in general farming operations, and will soon be planted to oranges. The ” Anchorage ” that forms his home is a retreat for invalids and tourists seeking Riverside as a health or pleasure resort. It is a fine, two and three story building, affording accommodations for thirty guests, well ordered and complete in its appointments, surrounded by ornamental trees and floral productions. The grounds are unusually attractive, being fitted with appliances for out-door sports, such as tennis, croquet and ten-pins; with a charming flower garden, lawns, rustic bridge, summer-house and awnings, great pepper trees with hammocks and easy chairs, forming altogether an ideal Southern California home, a beautiful monument to the Judge’s labor, perseverance, taste and skill, and well de-serves the name he has bestowed upon it. He is a man of most genial manners and cultivated taste, and has always been a devoted and self-sacrificing husband and father. The genial host and hostess seem to have but one object in life, and that is the comfort, the health and the pleasure of their guests.

Mr. Brown is a native of Franklin County, Maine, born in 1821. He was reared as a farmer. His educational facilities were good and he closed his school days by graduating at the Maine Wesleyan Seminary at Readfield, in 1842. Upon reaching his majority he went to New York and spent the next six years as a clerk in the mercantile establishments of Elmira and Rochester, and then established a general merchandise business in Elmira, which he conducted for some years. Be then moved to Iowa and established himself as a grain-dealer at Cedar Rapids, and in the ware-house business, under the firm name of S. C. Bearer & Co. In the fall of 1863 he closed out his business at Cedar Rapids and located at Belle Plain, Benton County, and was there engaged in mercantile life until he came to California in 1871. Judge Brown has always been one of the strongest supporters of Riverside enterprises and industries, and is well known, respected and esteemed. For many years he has been a consistent member of the Episcopal Church and a senior warden of the same. In politics he is a straight Republican, and has been an adherent of the party since 1856. In 1874 he was appointed Justice of the Peace, and was twice re-elected to the same position, holding the office until 1880.

In 1850 Judge Brown was married to Miss Sarah Van Wickle, a native of New York, but a descendant of an old family of New Jersey. Though highly connected socially and drawing about her always the choicest people, she yet shared bravely in the trials of pioneer life, and was in every truest sense a “help-meet.” There were three children born to this marriage, two of whom are still living, viz.: Settie C. and Lyman V. W. His oldest daughter, Catherine L., married S. S. Sweet, of Belle Plain, Iowa. She died in 1872. Judge Brown’s parents were Isaac and Sophia (Clifford) Brown, both natives of New Hampshire.



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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