The Works Progress Administration

Biography of George B. Renfro of El Monte California

The first public weighmaster in this district, is George B. Renfro, who for fifty years, has conducted a public weighing service at the same stand on West Valley Boulevard. Mr. Renfro was born on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, in a log cabin, about fifteen miles from St. Louis, October 9, 1843. He is the son of James and Martha Renfro, natives of Illinois, and Missouri respectively. The father died in Illinois, in 1881, while he mother lived to come to California, where she died in the home of her son, the subject of this sketch in 1904.

In 1862, Mr. Renfro was married to Margaret Williams, a native of Kentucky. Her parents were David and James Williams, who were natives of Illinois, later moving to Kentucky.

Mr. and Mrs. George B. Renfro, became the parents of four children, a son and three daughters, of whom the son, Alva, of Pasadena, Mrs. Etta De Garmo and Delia M. Gidley, both of El Monte, are still living. Mrs. Renfro died in 1930, a short time after the celebration, by the family, of Mr. and Mrs. Renfro’s sixty-eighth wedding anniversary.

George B. Renfro, with his family, came to California in 1882, stopping first for a few months at Santa Rosa, and then going to Sierra Madre, where they lived for two years. In 1885, Mr. Renfro moved to El Monte, buying a farm at the location of his present (1936) home on Valley Boulevard, a mile or two west of the Rio Hondo Bridge. At this location, Mr. Renfro, has spent practically all of his time since settling here in ’85. In 1886, he installed the first public scales in this district, on the boulevard in front of his home, and in addition to farming, has maintained a public weighing service since that time, adding larger capacity scales as the years passed, and public service demanded.

Mr. Renfro is a Civil War Veteran, enlisting in the 80th Illinois Infantry, (Co.E.) in 1862, under the command of Captain S.T. Stratton of Mt. Vernon, Illinois. He fought under General Sherman and was in many battles, “All the way from Nashville, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia.” Mr. Renfro had some very harrowing experiences during the war. He was captured and for a time held a prisoner of war at Tuscumbia, Alabama being later exchanged and returned to serve actively until the end of the war. During the time he was in the prison, he contracted typhoid fever, but recovered. He was with General Sherman near Atlanta, Georgia, at the time the incidents occurred which prompted the General to make his famous and oft-repeated remark: “War is hell.” When the war ended, Mr. Renfro was in Greenville, Tennessee, the home of the then future president, Andrew Johnson.

Mr. Renfro, at nearly ninety-three years of age, is hale and hearty, and lives alone at his home west of El Monte. He has served the community well and long, and is worth of the honor and esteem in which he is held. He takes an active interest in his business and in current events. Initiated into the Masonic fraternity in 1869, Mr. Renfro became one of the early members of the Lexington Lodge #104, F. & A.M.

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.

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