George Garcelon, Coward Of The County

George William Garcelon, whose cowardice and lack of resolve will ever mark him in San Bernardino County’s Hall of Infamy, was born on May 18, 1832 at Oak Bay New Bruswick in Canada. He was the son of Harvey and Charlotte (Sutherland) Garcelon. George Garcelon was raised and educated in New Brunswick.At the age of twenty he went to Lewiston, Maine, where he operated a pharmacy. In Lewiston, he met Mary Frye Tobie, the daughter of Edward Parsons and Caroline (Frye) Tobie. Mary was born in Lewiston in February 1832. George and Mary were married there in 1858 and lived there until about 1872, raising an adopted daughter.
Toward the end of 1872 or early 1873, ill health compelled Mr. Garcelon to seek a more gentle climate and they came west to Riverside, where he settled for the remainder of his life. Here he regained his health and lived to an advanced age. He bought a block of two-and-a-half acres at the head of Seventh Street, between Vine and Mulberry and Sixth and Seventh Streets, besides buying twenty acres on Brockton Avenue. He was one of the most successful fruit growers in Riverside. He built the finest house at that time in Riverside and made that his home for many years. His home was the first lath-and-plastered house in Riverside. In the spring of 1877 the first citrus fair, the parent of the annual citrus fairs that formed one of the advertising features of Riverside was held there. It was in his house in 1887 that the excellent qualities of the navel orange was first tested.
Mr. Garcelon took a very active part in all of the citrus and fruit fairs of Riverside. He went large into lemon growing and encountered the many difficulties that the early settlers encountered in producing a marketable lemon. These difficulties were overcome by Mr. Garcelon and at a later period when he placed his cured lemons on exhibition at a citrus fair in Los Angeles, he won the first premium of $100 for the best exhibit of lemons and $50 for the best box. At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 he received a medal and diploma from the manager of the fair for his lemon display. He took an active part in the formation of the Fruit Exchange at the time when the growers were nearly ruined by mismanagement in the marketing of their citrus fruits.
Mr. Garcelon, although not an office seeker, took an active part in public matters concerning the welfare of Riverside. This was unfortunate in that his lack of strength and character left San Bernardino County vulnerable to the forces militating against it. Politically, in the early days when feeling ran high and when the discord arising from the Civil War caused a great conflict between the two old parties, Mr. Garcelon was a staunch Republican and helped materially in turning San Bernardino County Republican. At that time, what is most of what is now known as Riverside County was the lower portion of San Bernardino County. The City of Riverside, before the formation of Riverside County in 1893, formed a very important part of San Bernardino County.
Garcelon was elected Third District Supervisor and served from January 7, 1889 to December 8, 1891, which was less than a full term. His two years in office came during the agitation that resulted in the county division and the founding of Riverside County. This was fomented by an inveterate group of malcontents living in the south end of San Bernardino County.
Garcelon lacked the stomach to stand up to these rebels. Ill-equipped as he was, as a result of considerable dissension among the members of the board of supervisors, both Garcelon and W.H. Glass, the Fifth District supervisor, tendered their resignations from the board. Garcelon was succeeded on January 12, 1892, by Albert S. White of Riverside, the most disloyal and infamous traitor in San Bernardino County history. White would spearhead the final push that sundered Riverside County, or most of it, from San Bernardino County. The following year, lower San Bernardino and a smaller portion of northern San Diego County seceded from their respective counties to form Riverside County. Upon that act of perfidy, White resigned as a San Bernardino County supervisor and became a member of the maiden Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
If Garcelon had been made of sterner stuff, had he some steel in his backbone, he might have been able to bear the pressure put upon him to remain in office and prevent the viper White from entwining his serpentine self about the seat of power in San Bernardino and choking and twisting Riverside County into its fate separate from its rightful position as a part of San Bernardino County, which despite the departure of nearly 7,000 square miles of Riverside County, yet remains as the largest county in the Lower 48 States, a land are of 20,105 square miles, larger than the states of New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
Mr. Garcelon continued to enjoy the success of his citrus ranch until he died on March 9, 1905.
He had been a member of the Board of Trade, and was for many years a member and trustee of the Congregational Church of Riverside. He had joined the Masonic Order in Lewiston, Maine, and was a member of the Riverside Chapter #68, Royal Arch Masons and the Riverside Commandery #28, Knights Templar.

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