Biography of John Cleminson of El Monte California

The Cleminson family are prominent citizens of the Los Angeles County, where the pioneer, John Cleminson established the name at an early date in the history of California, two succeeding generations serving to keep alive the records and deeds of their ancestor, who proved himself worthy to cope with the trials and hardships of a new land. The pioneer John Cleminson, Sr., was a native of England, who, in 1812, came with his father to St. John’s, New Brunswick, whence them made their way to the United States and finally located in Louisville, Kentucky. Later in Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri, he engaged in teaching school, then worked as a cabinet-maker and carpenter. Removing to Galena, Illinois, he made his home in that section until 1852, when he came to California and engaged with his older son, James, in farming, first in San Bernardino County, then in El Monte, until his death in the latter place in 1879, at the age of eighty years. His wife, formerly Lydia Lightner, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and went to Missouri with her parents. Her death occurred in 1873 at the age of seventy-three years. She left a family of four daughters and two sons, all of whom are now deceased.

John Cleminson, Jr., was born in Hancock County, Illinois, December 8, 1842, the youngest in the family of his parents, and but ten years of age when he accompanied the family across the plains. Leaving Illinois in the fall of 1851, they went to Missouri, where they wintered and in the early spring, the company collected their belongings and outfitted for the tedious journey. Their route lay through the Indian Territory, Socorro, New Mexico, and Arizona. Just before they reached the latter place, the Apaches stampeded their cattle, leaving but half enough to draw their wagons, and three days later, one of the number was murdered while gathering fuel. They remained a few days at Santa Cruz to rest up, then moved on to San Xavier Del Sac Mission, and on to Tucson, one of the largest towns they passed through. This was a post for the Spanish soldiers, who kept on the watch for the Indians. Here was witnessed the crude method of grinding corn with stones. The only money in circulations was a copper cent, about the size of a twenty-five cent piece. They remained in Tucson several months, then came on by the Pima Indian Village, Maricopa Wells and crossed the Gila River about the point where it empties into the Colorado. Here they had to giver nearly everything they possessed to be ferried across and waited on the opposite bank until a government train came along, when they were taken to San Diego. Thence they made their way to San Bernardino county, where they were established on a farm for five years.

Mr. Cleminson received but one year of schooling in that place, his services being required in the improvement and cultivation of the home farm. He accompanied his father to El Monte in 1857, and there took up farming. Finally becoming dependent upon his own resources he engaged in general farming and dairying. Like his father and brother, James, he was one of the leading citizens in the up-building of the country, seeking every avenue for the development of the section, giving time, money and personal effort to promote the general progress of the community. He donated the right of way to the Pacific Electric Railway, which gave to this section a great impetus toward development. Mr. Cleminson was a Republican, his first vote being cast for Lincoln. The highest esteem of the community is given to this gentleman for his citizenship, as well as his personal character, which was such as to have won the friendship of those with whom he had business or social intercourse through the long years of his residence in this section. John Cleminson Died July 24, 1917.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top