The Works Progress Administration

Biography of Henry Guess of El Monte California

A native son, pioneer and son of a pioneer of El Monte and vicinity, Henry Guess, bears the added honor of being the first American white child born in Los Angeles County.  His parents were John and Harriet (Holifield) Guess, both natives of Arkansas who came to California by ox-team in 1852.  A sketch of John Guess and his parents is given elsewhere in this volume. Henry Guess was born January 14, 1853 on the old Lugo Ranch, a few miles southwest of El Monte.  He attended the first public school in El Monte, located in what is now the Rio Hondo wash, which was taught by a Mrs. Reese.  His education was completed in the Lexington Street Grammar School.  He remained at home with his parents until he was twenty-six years of age, the last few years being spent in partnership with his father in stock raising in the vicinity of el Monte.  In 1881 they dissolved the partnership and Henry moved to Pomona and engaged with success in building contracting business for nine years.  In 1896, he returned to El Monte and settled on a forty-six acre tract west of town, which in 1889 he had acquired.  Here he built a nice residence and in that year retired – renting out his land for general farming. In 1876, Mr. Guess was united in marriage with Mary Arborn, born in San Bernardino, whose parents, Robert and Ann Arborn, were of English birth, coming to California in 1857. To them were born four children, namely:  Sallie (Mrs. E.A. Sickels) of Pomona; Lydia (Mrs. Barney Winterer) of Riverside; and John and Hattie, both deceased.  Mrs. Guess was taken by death in 1933, a short time following, Mr. Guess rented the home west of town where they had resided since 1896, and went to live with his daughters Lydia and Sallie. Politically Mr. Guess is a staunch Democrat, and takes a great interest in political matters.  He served for two terms as deputy sheriff from sheriff from 1878 to 1882, voluntarily declining to serve longer.  In educational matters he was also active serving for two terms as a school trustee, and was influential in his efforts for the general upbuilding of the community. Healthy and happy at the age of eighty-four, Mr. Guess lives with his two daughters, dividing his time between the two homes.  In addition to this he takes time out periodically to return to El Monte, Where for a few days at a time, he enjoys the association of old friends and watches the changes in the “old town”.

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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