The Works Progress Administration

Biography of James R. Durfee of El Monte California

James R. Durfee, successful rancher and realtor, and a native son of El Monte, was born January 22, 1874. He is the son of James D. and Diantha (Cleminson) Durfee, well known early pioneers of this district a sketch of whom is to be found elsewhere in this work.

James R. Durfee, was educated in the La Puente district school, now known as the Temple School situated near the old family homestead. He remained at home until he was twenty years of age, when he married and engaged in farming for himself on about one hundred acres comprising a portion of his father’s ranch. Here on the site of his present home on South Lexington Road, he built a residence and otherwise improved the property. General farming was followed for a time including the raising of vegetables, grain, and fruit. Later, the place was set to walnuts, in which undertaking he was very successful, the Durfee grove being widely recognized as one of the finest in the state. Mr. Durfee later added to the attractiveness of his property by erecting a beautiful two-story home. Unfortunately, however, this building was in 1918, destroyed by fire. Following this loss, the present excellent residence was erected.

On September 11, 1894, Mr. Durfee was married to Miss Estella Lucella Cain, a native of Iowa who at the age of eleven, was left an orphan and shortly afterward came to California with her elder brother (James) and family. Her parents Morris and Mary Cain both of whom were also natives of Iowa.

To Mr. and Mrs. Durfee were born nine children, namely; Ruth D. (Mrs. E.M. Wyne) of El Monte, residing on the old original homestead of her grandfather, James D. Durfee, on Durfee Road; Miles R., of El Monte; Eva, (Mrs. K McIntire) of Sacramento; and the remaining children, Hillard, James, Olen, Glenn, Mildred and Allamay, are all members of the Durfee household.

Politically, Mr. Durfee is a Republican and is greatly interested in the welfare of his party. He has contributed much to the betterment of the community and his courage and far-sighted initiative have given him a place among the most progressive and successful men in the community. For several years he served as a trustee of the Temple School, and is at present, Vice-president and director of the First National Bank of El Monte.

Following the death of his father in 1920, Mr. Durfee extended his interests beyond the promotion of his ranch activities, engaging extensively in the real estate business in and adjacent to Los Angeles.

Successful in this work he continues busily engaged in the promotion of his varied interests, maintaining his residence (as he and Mrs. Durfee have through the years) on the old ranch south of El Monte.

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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