Lewis Cutler

Lewis Cutler was a key participant in the expansion of San Bernardino County into a major agricultural region and into what was one of the leading citrus producing districts in the world at the turn of the 19th Century to the 20th Century and shortly thereafter. His contribution came as both a farmer and developer of the irrigation systems that supported the nearly 100 square miles of orange, lemon and grapefruit groves that blanketed the region by the 1920s.
Lewis Tasheira Cutler, who was born April 6, 1871 at Santa Paula, California was the son of Jonathan Peter Cutler and the grandson of Abligence Waldo Cutler.
Abligence Cutler was born in Massachusetts in 1797, the son of Jervis Cutler and Philadelphia Cutler. Jonathan Cutler was born in Tennessee in 1837.
Jonathan Cutler was a California pioneer whose enterprise would come to be directed in a particularly fortunate way for the development of the Cucamonga District.
Jonathan Cutler came with his family to Iowa and by the early 1850s was among a crew driving an ox train across the plains to Carson City, Nevada. He settled there and for a time was engaged there as a mercantilist, handling hay, grain and provisions, obtaining most of his commodities in San Francisco and making numerous trips to the coast while in this business.
On one of his trips to San Francisco he married Mary Gasting, a native of New York State, and in the early 1870s he took his family to Ventura, where he was engaged in ranching until 1884. In that year he moved to the Jomosa tract, now known as Alta Loma, where he bought twenty acres of wild land.
At that time, the area was rough, covered with chaparral and stone. With the aid of his sons, George W. and Lewis T., he cleared it. He then set about completing a task that would have a lifelong impact on his son Lewis – providing the land with water. Immediately adjoining Alta Loma was Cucamonga, an Indian word meaning “place of many waters.” Though Alta Loma and Cucamonga lay within an alluvial creek at the base of the extreme east end of the San Gabriel Mountains, the available water had to be channeled to where it was needed.
Once a rudimentary irrigation system was set up, father and sons planted the property, setting out five acres to oranges and five acres to peaches. This orchard was subsequently sold, and was one of the first plats thoroughly improved in that region. It was located well north, on Hellman Avenue. Jonathan P. Cutler also bought and developed with his son, Lewis, ten acres on Olive Street, transforming it from its wild condition. Here they built and improved and set out a larger orange grove. After selling his land there, Jonathan bought a home in Hollywood. While living there in comfortable retirement he was severely injured when his horse bolted and threw him, resulting in his death on December 18, 1914.
In their tome “The History of San Bernardino And Riverside Counties” published in 1922, John Brown, Jr. and James Boyd wrote “Jonathan Peter Cutler was hardy, honest, hard working, achieved material prosperity, enjoyed rugged health in spite of his roughing experiences, and always entertained the honest respect of his fellow men.”
Jonathan Cutler had with his wife four children: George W., later a successful businessman at Douglas, Arizona; Mary Genevieve, who eventually became the wife of R. W. Thornbury, of Hollywood; and Elsie J., the wife of J. R. Tweedy, of Walnut Park; and Lewis.
After his birth in Santa Paula, Lewis Tesheira Cutler was about thirteen years of age when the Cutler family located at Cucamonga. He attended school there, spent two years in school at Pasadena, and he and his brother did their share of the toil on their father’s ranch.
Later Lewis T. Cutler took up the business of driving water tunnels in the development of various irrigation systems, and he handled a great deal of tunnel construction and concrete work for the Arrowhead Reservoir Company. He entered the service of this company in 1892, and for eight years was in the engineering department. During that time the Little Bear Valley system was constructed. When he and his father bought a ten acre tract together, Lewis paid for his five acres out of his wages. By the early 1920s, his development work made him one of the leading fruit growers in the Cucamonga District. One of his spreads boasted avocado trees.
Nevertheless, Lewis Cutler was continuously presented with the opportunity to engage in tunnel work. In numerous instances he took tracts of wild land, improved and set them to fruit. He sold or traded these improved-upon properties to obtain more real estate, and in time counted among his holdings both farm and city properties.
Brown and Boyd wrote of Lewis, “Like his father he has been a hard worker, and has fully earned what he now enjoys. “
On March 20, 1905, at San Jose, he married Julia Johnson, who was born January 28, 1875, in Hadley, Massachusetts, the daughter of Edward and Lucy (Dane) Johnson. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Cutler had three children: Howard, born October 15, 1906, who was educated at Cucamonga and in the Chaffey Union High School; Lucy, who was born August 30, 1907, and likewise attended Chaffey Union High School; and George, born May 3, 1909. All the children were natives of Cucamonga. After his marriage, Lewis Cutler bought a now-long gone landmark, the old saloon and roadhouse and first store building in Cucamonga. In pioneer days that one-room structure housed the post office, general store and saloon. It was remodeled under Mr. Cutler’s ownership as a residence, and he and his family lived there until 1919, when he sold it. He then moved his family to a comfortable abode on East Ninth Street in Upland.
Decades later Lucy would recall that her father had taught her to drive when she was barely tall enough to see over the steering wheel, and that her father had outfitted her feet with boxes so she could reach the pedals.
Lewis Cutler was killed in a traffic accident on Mt. Baldy Road when the leather brake on the vehicle in which he was a passenger failed.

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