By Mark Gutglueck
One of the several colorful founders of Redlands was Richard Harrison Garland.
Garland was one of the members of the Chicago association that founded the original colony properly regarded historically as the beginning of the modern city of Redlands.
His life began and for some time proceeded far away from California. He was born in Zanesville, Ohio on July 22, 1842. His father, Andrew Garland, was a stone mason by trade who superintended the building of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, the capture of which was the first open act of hostility at the beginning of the Civil war. His son, Richard Harrison, was a soldier of some valor in that war, by his efforts helping restore the Union sundered by the fall of Fort Sumter. Sometime after his son’s birth, Andrew Garland moved from Zanesville to Mount Vernon, Ohio, and was a farmer and stock raiser there until his death in 1873.
Richard Harrison Garland grew up in Ohio, and at the beginning of the Civil War enlisted in Company A of the Sixty-fifth Ohio Infantry. He participated, as a member of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s brigade, in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville, Stone River, Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and at Missionary Ridge his brigade captured the batteries in front of General Bragg’s headquarters and turned the guns on the enemy. Wounded in battle and partially disabled, at least temporarily, young Garland was assigned to the Eastern Army, in the Quartermaster’s Corps. At the close of the war he remained in the service of the army department in the Freedman’s Bureau and agency of the Treasury Department, and engaged in disbursing claims and distributing supplies and establishing free schools for the liberated slaves in the South. Later he was transferred to the Pacific Coast with the staff of General Thomas, and was present at the death of that great leader at San Francisco.
He returned to civilian life in 1870, and took a course of study in one of the educational institutions of San Francisco. At that point, he relocated to Chicago, where he became a manufacturer of art furniture and interior decorations, finding further professional engagement in the supervision of building details, for a number of years.
In 1872 Garland married Miss Margaret McGovern, a native of New Haven, Connecticut who as a child moved with her parents to Chicago in 1864. She was the fifth in a family of nine children. Her brother John served throughout the Civil war and was killed at Atlanta by a sharpshooter at the very close of the war.
In 1886 a consortium from Chicago formed an association and planned the founding of a town and community in Southern California. Mr. Garland was one of the most active promoters of this project.
An investigating committee was sent out and selected 440 acres, divided among the forty members of the association. Seventeen acres was set aside as a townsite and is now the central downtown section of Redlands. Mr.
Garland came to Redlands in 1886, and began the development of his own lands and worked with his fellow citizens in matters of general improvement, being among the very first to commence improvements in East Redlands. He was placed in charge of the East Redlands Water Company’s plant, by F. E. Brown, until its completion, and was president of this company for several years. He subsequently was involved in the development of his tract of some thirty acres situated on Citrus Avenue in East Redlands as an orange plantation. He also received his lot on the townsite on West State Street. He deeded this to his wife, and seven months later she sold it for $1,400. The original cost was $25. During the twelve active years he spent in Redlands, he converted a sage brush tract into a profitable plantation. He leveled the land and filled up the ditches, installed irrigation, and by his planting started the development which grew into what was once one of the most visually appealing spots in Redlands. The home he constructed was erected from materials he transported by team and wagon from San Bernardino, there being no railroad to Redlands at that time.
Garland was elected to the board of trustees of the city, which was the initial incarnation of the Redlands City Council. His approach to public service was toward bettering his community and he did not perceive politics as a source of personal honor. He was also a director of the Redlands Chamber of Commerce from the time of its inception. He was a staunch Republican and a Scottish Rite Mason.
On May 27, 1898, as it must to all men, death came to Richard Harrison Garland. He was a little less than two months shy of his 56th birthday.
In their book published in 1922, “The History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties,” John Brown, Jr. and James Boyd said of Garland, “His death removed one of the strongest and best men from local citizenship. He did the work of a pioneer, work that continues cumulative benefit to all subsequent generations.”
His death created a burden on his widow. With Richard, Mrs. Garland had three children. living, a daughter then attending the state university at Berkeley and a son and daughter in the Union High School. Her husband’s passing came in the midst of water shortages, creating a crisis for orange growers. Mrs. Garland, through the strength of her character, courageously met these tribulations head on, and by her personal resources and prudence and foresight maintained the Garland orchard under difficulty, sustaining its beauty and productivity. According to Brown and Boyd, “She fulfilled every obligation scrupulously, and succeeded in rearing her children and was, moreover, a kind neighbor and loyal friend, so that many outside her family circle had reason to be grateful for her numerous acts of generosity and kindness.”
Mrs. Garland died October 27, 1918, at Redlands. She retained her vigor to old age and it was said that “her appearance was that of a woman many years her junior.”
By Mark Gutglueck