Remembered by pioneers of El Monte and vicinity especially for his stables of fine racehorses in the early days, Christopher C. Steele was one of the district’s most successful farmers and stockmen.
Born in Franklin County, Arkansas in 1844, Mr. Steele was the son of John Steele, a native of Tennessee. In 1861, at the age of sixteen, he enlisted as a soldier in the Confederate Army, and fought in many major engagements in the Civil War. In the Battle of Vicksburg he was captured by the enemy and sent as a prisoner of war to Rock Island Prison. Later released, he returned to civil pursuits in his old home community, and followed farming for a number of years. In 1883, he came to California, settling in the hamlet of Savannah, just west of El Monte. Here, he re-engaged at his occupation of farming, soon acquiring thirty acres of land at the corner of Lower Azusa Road and Ellis Lane. Successful in his endeavors, he later acquired and sold other nearby property, during which time his reputation as a raiser of fine horses became prominent in the community. He established a race tract near his property, which was the scene of many exciting racing events in the nineties and later.
In 1866, before his removal from Arkansas to California, Mr. Steele was united in marriage with Miss Catherine P. Anderson, who, with her father, Neely Anderson, was a native of Arkansas.
To Mr. and Mrs. Steele were born ten children, five of whom are still living: Fred A. of Rosemead; De Barth, of Van Nuys; Rae (Mrs. Shank) of Covina; and Martha L. and Jessie A. of Los Angeles. The deceased are Charles, Elizabeth, James, Robert and Josephine. Mrs. Steele’s death occurred in January 1913, following which Mr. Steele retired from active work. He continued to reside in the old home until death called him January 23, 1923.
In religion Mr. Steele was a member of the Methodist Church, and in politics a staunch Democrat. He was much interested in community welfare and took an active part in promoting all public improvements. He was also a strong supporter of better schools, serving for a number of terms as trustee of the Savannah School District.
Source: C. D. Mayon, F. Brow, L. Stoddard, and C. Mudd; El Monte from the Pioneer Days. WPA Project No. N-5740, 1936. In record 19-187072. (California Historical Landmark No. 765: El Monte). On file at the SCCIC, CSU Fullerton.