A native of California, and numbered among the prominent pioneer builders of El Monte is the name of James D. Cleminson, who is held in high esteem for the qualities of character revealed during his life in this district.
Mr. Cleminson was born February 14, 1870, in San Bernardino, his parents being James and Caroline Cleminson, his father being a native of Missouri, a sketch of whom is to be found elsewhere in this work, and his mother a lady of English birth. In 1852 the father with his family came by wagon train to California, stopping first in San Diego, and the following year, removing to San Bernardino.
When but a child of three, James D. Cleminson was brought to El Monte where the father engaged in farming. He was educated in the public schools of El Monte, and remained at home assisting his father in the operation of the ranch for a number of years, later entering into partnership with his father in this work with which for a time they combined the operation of a dairy. Successful in his endeavors, Mr. Cleminson later acquired a considerable amount of land of his own. His father died August 13, 1910.
Mr. Cleminson had an important part in the city’s public improvement, and building program. In 1904, he an A.N. Wiggins formed a partnership and acquired property in El Monte where they engaged in general contracting. In addition, they also did an extensive teaming and livery business. In 1904, during this partnership, they installed the first public water system in El Monte. In the following year they erected the present business block on the north side of Main Street near Lexington and 1907, bought the tract of land which is now his home ranch, north of town. This tract consists of forty-six acres and is highly productive. In 1911 Mr. Cleminson moved onto his ranch and began its development and improvement, erecting an elegant residence, commodious out buildings and modern conveniences. He was actively engaged in thus managing his property until in 1930, when he discontinued the more strenuous farming operations and retired, leasing his land for vegetable raising. Mr. Cleminson later acquired a twenty-one acre tract near his original holdings, on which he developed a model dairy. This he still owns and leases to private parties. He and Mrs. Cleminson continue to live in their ranch house.
Mr. Cleminson has been twice married, his first marriage being in 1893 to Miss Lula Caldwell, a native of California. To this union was born an only son, James Ercel, who is at present, Superintendent of the City Park, Street and Water Departments; also Building Inspector. The mother died in 1896.
In 1903 Mr. Cleminson was married to Miss Elizabeth Weigand, a native of California, whose father was of German birth, and the mother a native of Louisiana. They came to California in 1883, first to San Francisco, and a year later, moving to El Monte. To Mr. and Mrs. Cleminson have been born three more children, namely: George D., of San Gabriel; Elizabeth, Mrs. B. Martin of San Pedro, and Caroline, who died in infancy.
Politically Mr. Cleminson is a staunch Republican, and for years was active in promoting the interests of his party by serving as a Lexington Lodge #104, F. & A.M., ow which , for 24 years he served as Treasurer. He also received the Royal Arch and Commandry Degrees of that order. Both he and Mrs Cleminson are members of the Order of the Eastern Star. Mr. Cleminson supports the Presbyterian Church of which Mrs. Cleminson is a devoted member.
Mr. Cleminson is, and has been for years, active in the upbuilding of El Monte and vicinity. For a time he held the office of County Road Overseer in the El Monte District. He has been a director of the El Monte Chamber of Commerce, a Director for years of the Southern Counties Bank, a member of the Mountain View Walnut Growers Association, and is, and for many years has been, president of the Masonic Temple Association. He has contributed much of his time to educational affairs, having been elected and re-elected for over twenty years a trustee on the El Monte Union High School Board. He also served many years as trustee of the El Monte Grammar School.
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.