Honored and esteemed by El Monte citizens for his fine character, culture and Christian influence in the community, was Roger L. Choate, who in 1886 came to California settling in El Monte three years later, and continued to make his home through the years until the time of his death, January 10, 1937.
Mr. Choate was born June 18, 1854, in Nashua, New Hampshire. His parents were Charles and Mary (Cogswell) Choate, farmers, both of whom were also natives of New Hampshire. During his early childhood, Mr. Choate’s parents moved to Derry, New Hampshire, where he received his common school and academic education. He aspired to the legal profession and at twenty-one years of age received an attractive offer to enter the offices of the State Attorney General; however, his parents opposed his wishes preferring that he prepare for the ministry, which profession he ultimately chose. Befor entering the ministry, however, he entered the mercantile business in Derry and continued in this work until his twenty-fifth birthday. He then moved to Cherry Point, Illinois, where he engaged in a like business for two years. In September 1880, he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church and four years later at Danville, Illinois, competed his training. He was given his first charge at Silver Cliff, Colorado, later filling pulpits at Leadville and Salida until 1886, when he moved to New Mexico. In April of that year he came to California, stopping first at Long Beach. Soon after his arrival, he went to Sierra Madre, where he engaged in Fruit farming for the benefit of his failing health.
In 1889, Mr. Choate came to El Monte, where for many years he more or less continuously engaged in farm work, both independently and for local farmers in the vicinity of El Monte. In 1922, he was engaged as a janitor at El Monte High School, which position even at eight-two years of age he continued to fill efficiently until a short time prior to his death which occurred while visiting his son Rufus, of Indio, California.
Mr. Choate — not alone by his educational training, but by natural inclination — was a great love of literature. He enjoyed poetry, and himself wrote several beautiful poems, among which were many class poems for the El Monte High School graduating classes. He was also a great student of the languages having mastered about ten and translated the Bible into many languages, including Hebrew, Greek and Latin. He had a remarkable memory for verse, his favorite being Lord McCauley’s “Horatio at the Bridge” which he had memorized and loved to recite in its entirety.
In 1892, Mr. Choate was united in marriage with Miss Effie Kallmeyer, a native of Missouri and daughter of G.H. and Sarah (Quick) Kallmeyer, early settlers who came to El Monte at about the same time as did Mr. Choate. A sketch of Mr. Kallmeyer is to be found elsewhere in this work.
To Mr. and Mrs. Choate were born three children, namely: Rufus M., who is practicing dentistry at Indio;;; Lois, at present in ill health in a sanitarium; and Ruth, who died in infancy. Death called the mother in 1935.
For a number of years Mr. Choate was a member of, and an active worker in, the A.O.U.W. and the Order of Foresters. In politics he was a Republican and in religion, as stated above, a Methodist, although for a number of years he supported the Presbyterian Church, and many times substituted by filling the pulpits of various El Monte churches. He also served for several years on the Board of Trustees of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Choate resided at 129 Los Flores Drive, which home he had owned for many years.
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.