Biography of Edwin Caldwell

Last Updated on May 1, 2021 by

Edwin Caldwell, of Riverside, was born in Putnam County, New York, September 13, 1824. His father, Absalom Caldwell, was a native of that State, and a farmer by occupation. Mr. Caldwell was reared upon his father’s farm, and educated in the public schools.

In 1846, deciding to seek his home in the great west, he went to Wisconsin, and located in Washington County, establishing his residence in the town of West Bend. There, in partnership with his brother, he built saw and flour mills, and was prominent in building up the pioneer industries of that section.

The California gold fever claimed him as a victim, and in 1849 he joined the army of gold seekers, and crossed the plains. Upon his arrival in California he located in the mining districts, and for a year or more endured the hardships and discomforts of a miner’s life. In 1851, having met with moderate success, he returned via the Isthmus route to his Wisconsin home, and engaged in his old pursuits In 1856 he sold out his business interests in Wisconsin, and transferred the scene of his operations to St. Paul, Minnesota. There he engaged in a brokerage and commission business. The year 1861 again found Mr. Caldwell seeking the Pacific coast, and in that year he located at Gold Hill, Nevada, and again engaged in mining. While there he was superintendent of the famous Yellow Jacket mine, which during his superintendence advanced from $25 per foot to $2,700 per foot.

In 1864 he resigned his position, and came to California, first residing at Petaluma, and later in Oakland and San Francisco. During the next four or five years he was interested in developing mines and dealing in mining properties in White Pine, Eureka and other points in Nevada. He was, also, in the years 1868 and ’69 engaged in the commission and produce business in San Francisco. In the early years of the Riverside colony Mr. Caldwell became interested. He was a firm believer in the future of Southern California, and in 1871 he visited Riverside and purchased a twenty-acre tract on the north side of First Street, just east of Orange Street.

In 1873 he erected a cottage upon the land and a residence for his family. He was at that time engaged with his mining enterprises in Nevada, but he directed the planting and improvement of his lands, planting orange trees and a large variety of deciduous fruits. In 1878 he established his permanent residence in Riverside, and gave his personal attention to his horticultural interests. He corrected his previous mistakes by uprooting his deciduous trees, and planting orange trees. In 1882 he sold the south ten acres of his tract to J. J. Hewitt, and purchased ten acres on the west side of Orange Street, which he made his home. He planted that tract in oranges and grapes, and has erected one of the pleasantest and most comfortable homes to be found in-Riverside. He has not confined his enterprise entirely to Riverside, but is interested in real estate in other sections of the county. He is a part owner of the well-known Waters Ranch, at Old San Bernardino, upon which he is planting an orange grove of over fifty acres in extent.

Mr. Caldwell is an enterprising and public-spirited citizen, and has, during his residence contributed in no small degree to those public enterprises that have made Riverside so prominent, and enabled her to gain an enviable position in the ranks of the leading cities and colonies of Southern California. He has proved a desirable acquisition to the community. He is a consistent member of the Congregational Church, and is president of the board of trustees of the society in Riverside. In political matters he is a Republican.

In 1852 Mr. Caldwell married Miss Martha A. Hayt, a native of New York. There are two children from this marriage: William A., who is a resident of Washington Territory, and Albert A., who at this writing (1889) is a student in the California State University at Berkeley.


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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