Henry J. Rudisill. Among the men who for years were prominently associated with the leading enterprises and industries that gave to Riverside that prominence in the history of Southern California that is unequaled, and spread before the people in the marts of the world, her unrivaled productions that induced immigration and brought an unceasing flow of wealth to the beautiful valley, none is more worthy of mention than the subject of this sketch. Mr. Rudisill came to Riverside in February 1875. In the same year the Riverside Land and Irrigating Company was organized and at once assumed control of the affairs at Riverside, securing by purchase the land and water rights of the Southern Califonia Colony Association and other incorporations or associations connected with the valley.
Mr. Rudisill was one of the original incorporators and a resident director and secretary of the company, and in the years that followed was one of the most prominent officers of the company in carrying out the improvements inaugurated. In 1876 he purchased sixty-five acres of land at the head of Magnolia Avenue, just south of Indiana Avenue, and entered largely into horticultural pursuits, which he conducted until the sale of his lands in 1889. During that time he was one of the strongest supporters and promoters of citrus fruit cultivation in Riverside. Be placed his time and means at the disposal of any project that would show to the world the varied and wonderful productions of the colony. Together with a few associates, of whom he was the leading spirit, he organized the first citrus fair ever held in the world. The exhibit was made at the residence of G. W. Garcelon, in Riverside, in the spring of 1878. This proved the value of such exhibits, and he entered heartily into the work for the erection of a snitable building in which to hold future fairs, and as a result the Citrus Fair Association was organized, the pavilion erected, and citrus fairs became the leading exhibitions of the fruit industries of Southern California and the State. During all the succeeding years there was no one more ready with time and money in aiding and establishing the means for a successful display of Riverside products than Mr. Rudisill.
In 1885 he was a commissioner with Mr. James Bettner to the World’s Fair at New Orleans, at which the citrus fruits of Riverside won a well deserved victory, and was crowned with the highest honors, viz.: three gold and one silver medals awarded, in competition with the citrus fruit growing districts of the State of California, the United States and the world. This victory was due in no small degree to the unceasing and well-directed efforts of Mr. Rudisill. He was also one of the original incorporators of the Riverside Improvement Company, and the secretary of the company during the years in which its greatest works were accomplished, viz.: the completion of the splendid system of water supply for domestic use from artesian wells. In fact there has been no public enterprise of real worth and merit established in Riverside during the years of his residence that has not received his support and encouragement.
Mr. Rudisill is a native of Ohio, dating his birth in Fairfield County in 1827. His parents moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in his infancy, and there he was reared and schooled. He was given the advantages of a good education, closing his studies in the Asbury University at Greencastle, Indiana. He perfected himself in civil engineering, and before reaching his majority was County Surveyor of his county. He turned his attention to railroad construction, and for the five years preceding 1862 was in the employ of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad. He then entered into manufacturing, and for some three years had charge of large woolen mills in Fort Wayne.
In 1865 he was elected Auditor of Allen County, overcoming a Democratic majority of 2,800, and was successively re-elected until he had held that office for nine years. During this time he was engaged in railroad enterprises and was a director of the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw Railroad, and secretary of the Indiana Company. In 1875 he determined to seek a home on the Pacific coast, and with that in view established his residence in Riverside.
He is a man of broad and liberal views, well trained in business and sound in his principles. He has been a successful man and a desirable acquisition to the city and colony of Riverside. He is and has been ever since the organization of the party a Republican. He was married in 1857 to Miss Elizabeth Evans, a native of Defiance, Ohio, who is still living. There is but one child living from this marriage, Henry T., who married Miss Ida M. Burnett, a native of Massachusetts.
Mr. Rudisill’s parents, Henry and Elizabeth (Johns) Rudisill, were natives of Pennsylvania. His father was a manufacturer and was prominent is establishing manufacturing industries in the West until his death at Fort Wayne in 1858.