California or Bust

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I am related to the Stewarts through my mother’s father’s side of the family. Elizabeth Young Stewart, daughter of Robert Stewart was my 4th great grandmother. She was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania in 1808 and would marry James Kilgore and have 6 children.  Her brother John Young Stewart had a son Robert, born in 1842.


In 1902, at the ripe age of 60, Robert moved to California. I found an article in the New Castle newspaper where Robert was selling his household goods shortly before heading west. His sister and brother-in-law had previously moved to California, along with Robert’s daughter Mary Stewart. This article explained why Robert and his family decided to move to California.


New Castle News, October 10, 1902


Two Local Families to Move to California


Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stewart and family of the Bleakley block and Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Henderson of Beaver street, have decided to seek a warmer climate and will leave next week for Los Angeles, Cal., where they expect to make their home. Mr. and Mrs. Henderson and Miss Mary Stewart were in that region some months ago and were so pleased with the county the two families came to determination to move there. Fred, a son of Mr. Stewart, has been a semi-invalid for years and the change is to be made partly for his benefit. Both the Henderson and Stewart families have a large circle of friends who will regret their departure as they will miss their companionship. There will be ten in all in the party.


I found the following article interesting, Robert wrote back to his hometown newspaper after finally settling on a place to live in California. I wonder if someone was to move to the exact location that Robert was writing about if their impressions would be the same. I can only assume the quiet tranquility that Robert found is now more hustle and bustle than peace and quiet.


New Castle News, January 14, 1903


Out Among the Orange Blossoms


(Robert Stewart, who, with his family, took up a residence in California, has written us regarding his new home.)


Whittier, Cal. Jan. 4, 1903

Editor News – After wandering up and down the earth for eight of nine weeks we have at last settled in Whittier.


Whittier is a town of about three thousand, lying at the bottom of the foothills, abut twelve miles east of Los Angeles. It is literly situated on the receding slope of the hills and is the most beautiful town site I have ever seen. It stands in the midst of one of the richest valleys in California. The principal products of the surrounding country are oranges, lemons, figs, grapes, olives, etc. Wheat, corn and barley can be raised with some profit, but the fruits named pay go much better to them. Alfalfa is raised in great abundance and is the principal ration for both horses and cattle.


The climate here is simply delightful, the thermometer standing about the same as it does in May or June in the east. There has been no frost here this winter and all kinds of flowers are in full bloom. Gardens may be planted any time in the year. In one yard are tomato vines in full bloom.


People are here from all parts of the world, Pennsylvania being as well represented as any other section. Wes Shaffer, who used to be a blacksmith in New Castle, is located at Pasadena, a few miles from here, and is “well fixed.” I had a call yesterday from Adam Urey, and old Mercer county boy, and Dr. J. H. Reed, at one-time a resident of neat Mt. Jackson, but now of Downey. They are also in prosperous circumstances, and speak very highly of the country and its possibilities; also Mr. Frampton, formerly of Transfer, Mercer county.


The foothills here produce good pasturage, and are literally covered with sheep and cattle. They also abound in oil, the product being considerable. The oil is mostly used for fuel, road-sufacing, etc. It is very black and heavy, and not very profitable for refining.


Three miles below this place they are drilling for gas. A few years ago a well was sunk and a good gasser brought in but, unfortunately, caught fire and nothing was ever done with it. But now they have got an old Pennsylvania man at the head of the company and the chances are that the field will be well and profitably tested.


Whittier has ten churches, three schools, a college and a ten-pin alley. There is not, and I do not think ever will be, a saloon in the place.


A new electric road will be built from Los Angeles to this place in a very short time, which will be sure to make Whittier a place of winter resort.


J. R. Henderson and family are also comfortably located here, and while they would like a handshake with old friends, they do not sigh for the “leeks and onions,: of Lawrence county.


After nineteen years engaged in other lines of business, I am again setting type on the Whittier News.


Robert Stewart

Los Angeles Co., Whittier, Cal.


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