James Cleminson was a representative of one of the pioneer American families of the El Monte District. He was born at Independence, Missouri, August 7, 1833, son of John and Lydia (Lightner) Cleminson. The children, who came with their parents to California in 1852, were: James, whose name heads this sketch; john Jr., Lydia and Diantha. Laura, wife of G.W. Durfee, and Mary M. wife of E.T. Mills, came a few years later. The journey of the Cleminsons was a long and tedious one. The first winter was spent at or near Harrisonville, Missouri; the next, at Tucson, Arizona. At one time, losing nearly all their stock, one wagon was hauled by hand, sixty miles, and sold at Santa Cruz, Arizona. After trials and troubles , which we have not the space to relate, the family reached this sunny land, James arriving at San Diego in time to participate in celebrating the national birthday, July 4, 1852, and the family, a few days later. At San Diego, the first American wedding ever solemnized was the marriage of Lydia Cleminson with S.S. Reeves. This occurred April 15, 1853. After a short residence at San Diego, the family made their home in San Bernardino County, and in 1858, upon a ranch near El Monte. The mother died, August 11, 1873, and the father, November 28, 1879. He was a man well known in Los Angeles County, and respected by all. James Cleminson married, in San Bernardino County, Mrs. Caroling Beck, widow of Thomas Beck. She was a lady of English birth. Two children were born of this union, James D. and Willis S. the former, a sketch of whom is fount elsewhere in this volume, resides on his ranch two miles north of El Monte, and the latter died, January 10, 1882, aged four years and three months. Their mother departed this life march 27, 1880, aged thirty-six years. From her first marriage, one son, Charles Edward, is living. On October 11, 1885, occurred the second marriage of the subject of this sketch to Miss Emma Crist. She was born in the State of Iowa, a daughter of Levi Crist. Since the death, August 13, 1910, of Mr. Cleminson, she has resided in Los Angeles, with her son, Hugh Delbert Cleminson, who was born November 18, 1886. Mr. Cleminson owned fifty acres of land at El Monte, and also a tract of ten acres near Azusa. Politically, he was identified with the Republican Party, and was a member of the Ancient Order of Free Masons. He died August 13, 1910.
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.