Biography of George Lord

George Lord, President of the Society of California Pioneers of San Bernardino County, and a representative of the best type of “Forty-niners,” is a native of New York City, and was born June 27, 1800, and consequently was eighty-nine years old his last birthday. His father, George Lord, was a sea captain, who died of yellow fever at quarantine in New York harbor, having contracted the disease in the West Indies, whence his vessel had just returned.

The subject of this memoir being left self-dependent went to enlist in mercentile pursuits. Stopping for a time in Louisville, Kentucky, he was there made an Odd Fellow, being inducted into the order by Past Master Wildy, who was sent over from England to establish Odd Fellowship in the United States. Mr. Lord joined Boone Lodge, No. 1, in 1833, and is one of the oldest living members of the order. On leaving Louisville he spent about three years in St. Louis, when, not finding the climate agreeable, he returned North and lived a number of years in Richland and Knox counties, in Ohio, engaged in merchandising.

In 1846 he went to Iowa, continuing there in the mercantile business until 1848, when he lost everything by fire. The excitement over the discovery of gold in California, reaching fever heat the following spring, Mr. Lord purchased four yoke of oxen, and fitting out with a wagon-load of supplies-including eight pairs of moccasins, seven pairs of which he wore out footing it across the plains-he started in April, 1849, for the golden El Dorado, via Green River and Fort Hall route. On the way he saw numerous bands of Indians from different tribes, among them a company of Sioux warriors, whom he thought the finest body of men, physically, that he ever saw. Reaching Bear valley, California, September 8, 1849, he did his first mining in Steep Hollow. He spent fourteen months in search for the yellow dust, and was successful above the majority, taking out “an ounce” a day and upwards, though the enormous cost of living reduced the net savings to a much smaller sum. He and his companions paid as high as $3 a pound for butter, brought around Cape Horn; potatoes were $3 per pound; onions $3 per pound; and vinegar $16 a gallon. On one occasion he had a friend to dine with him, and having onions, fried potatoes, beefsteak and bread as the bill of fare, the dinner for the two, exclusive of bread, cost $8. They occasionally indulged in a newspaper from ” the States,” which would be a month old on reaching the camp, for which they paid a dollar a copy.

Varying fortune rewarded their labor in the mines: while prospecting on the Yuba river, near where Downieville now is, they struck it rich, and in one day he and his chum took out of a pocket seven pounds and five ounces of gold dust, and in a week they had taken out $5,000. In 1851 Mr. Lord left for San Francisco with $5,000 in gold dust, on his return trip home. The Pacific Coast metropolis was then a rude country town, containing only one brick house. On arriving there the steamer had sailed; so he took passage on a sailing vessel, and crossed the Isthmus by the then new Nicaragua route, experiencing much delay and difficulty in crossing. He returned to Iowa, expecting to remain, but the Hawkeye State had lost its charms for him, and as soon as he could dispose of his interests there he prepared to move to California.

While in Iowa, in 1851, Mr. Lord married Miss Arabella Singleton, a native of England, who came to America when entering her teens. Again crossing the plains, Mr. and Mrs. Lord reached San Bernardino valley in the summer of 1852. The Mormon colony had come the previous year and purchased and settled upon the Lugo ranch, in which was comprised the site of the city of San Bernardino. Mr. Lord had intended to go on up to Santa Clara valley and settle in or near San Jose; but, finding abundant pasturage in this valley, he sought and obtained permission from the president of the colony to turn out his jaded teams for a few weeks to recruit. With his candid, outspoken nature, the Mormons soon learned that he was not in sympathy with their religion, and he was warned, at first gently, and after-ward sternly, that his gentile presence was not congenial to them, and that he “had better move on.” Mr. Lord is not made of the sort of human clay that is driven or intimidated, and this presumption on his rights as an American citizen aroused a spirit of resentment, and he determined to remain in the San Bernardino valley.

After trying in vain to purchase land from the Mormon leaders, he went outside of their possessions-Lugo ranch-and settled on a 140-acre tract, four miles north of the present city limits, on Lytle Creek, which he improved, and which was the home of himself and family from January 3, 1853, till 1886, when he sold it and moved into the city, getting for his ranch and water right $30,000. After locating on what he supposed to be Government land, entirely free from any encumbrances, he was still persecuted and annoyed by pretended prior claimants. Acting upon the advice of his wife, to effect a peaceable settlement rather than resort to force to vindicate his rights, he paid the claims of two of the pretenders in gold coin. The third one came after he had paid for and obtained his title from the Government, and, forbearance ceasing to be a virtue, Mr. Lord informed him that his demands would be settled with powder and lead if he persisted. Mr. White did not press his claim.

Mr. Lord was the first to demonstrate the successful culture of the raisin grape Muscat in this valley, early in the ’60’s, and took the first prize ever offered in Los Angeles County fur the finest box of raisins: a $5 gold piece. It created quite a sensation, and he supplied thousands of Muscat cuttings to people of San Bernardino and adjacent counties. Up to the time of the civil war, Mr. Lord had always affiliated with the Democratic Party, but when the old flag was fired upon and the life of the nation threatened he at once joined the Republican ranks and stood firmly for the Union. He still marches in the ranks of the party of Lincoln and Grant, Sherman, Garfield and Harrison.

At the solicitations of his friends he has twice been a candidate for the Legislature, but was beaten both times by his Democratic opponent. Mr. Lord was one of the organizers of the Society of California Pioneers of San Bernardino County, and is now serving his second term as its president. He has been an active and prominent member of the Masonic order for sixty years, having joined the order in 1828. He has filled all the chairs of the local lodges in the Master’s and Royal Arch degrees, except secretary. On his eighty-third birthday, his Masonic brethren presented him with an elegant gold watch and chain, as one of the numerous tokens of their fraternal regard for him. In Odd Fellowship he has been honored with every office in the local lodge. He is a veritable patriarch in these two orders of which he has been a zealous and honored member for more than a generation.

Mr. and Mrs. Lord are the parents of two sons and a daughter, the latter deceased. The sons, George Lord, Jr., and Joseph S., are both men of families, and reside in the immediate vicinity of the city of San Bernardino. Their father started each of them in life with a fine homestead. Mr. and Mrs. Lord reside happily in their pretty cottage home on D Street, where, and on an adjoining street, they own several other nice pieces of improved property, the rents of which furnish them a comfortable income. Mr. Lord, though in his ninetieth year, is remarkably well preserved, physically and mentally few men of sixty-five have as much vigor and activity of mind and body as he now possesses. Notwithstanding his meager early educational advantages, he is a well-informed man; he is endowed with a natural gift for extemporaneous speaking; ready in thought happy in illustration and expression, lie never fails to entertain his auditors. He has always led a temperate life, using neither alcoholic liquors nor tobacco. Kindness of heart is a prominent trait of his character. Unswerving in his adherence to his convictions, his con-science is his guide, and to do right his religion.


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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