The Works Progress Administration

Biography of Thomas Reece McMichael of El Monte California

Prominent in the early walnut raising industry of the Mountain View district, and at present, active as a realtor and subdivider of his properties, is Thomas R. McMichael, who came to California in the early nineties and settled in the vicinity of El Monte a short time later. Born November 14, 1868, in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, Mr. McMichael is the son of Kester and Elizabeth (White) McMichael, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania.  His early education was acquired in the public schools of his home communities.  At about eight years of age, his parents moved to Rock Island, Illinois, where they spent the remainder of their days. The subject of this sketch remained with his parents until after attaining his majority, and, in 1893, came to California, settling first at Whittier, where he located on a tract of land and developed one of the first lemon and orange groves in that district.  Here he remained until about 1896, when he moved to El Monte. Upon coming to El Monte, Mr. McMichael engaged in the development of water wells for the Whittier Water Company, which concern conveys water by pipe line to a large area east of the City of Whittier.  He was thus engaged for several years, during which time he had charge of the water company’s pumping operations here. In about 1900, he resigned his position with the water concern and engaged in general farming and walnut raising.  A few years later, he purchased a ten-acre tract of land now situated at Gilman and Kerwood Streets in the Mountain View district.  This he set to walnuts and otherwise improved to a high degree of productivity. In 1900, Mr. McMichael was married to Miss Annie Maxson, native of California and daughter of Benjamin F. and Olive (Merwin) Maxson, natives of Wisconsin, who were El Monte pioneers.  A sketch of Mr. Maxson is to be found elsewhere in these pages. To Mr. and Mrs. McMichael two children were born, namely:  Dudley of Maywood; and Corinne (Mrs. Dr. L.T. Palmer) of Portland, Oregon. In 1910, Mr. McMichael built the splendid residence on the property in Mountain View, which had been acquired by Mrs. McMichael through inheritance from her father.  Of recent years Mr. McMichael has sub-divided much of the properties into acre tracts, in which enterprise he is still engaged together with a general real estate business.  He has taken an active part in public affairs, among other things, serving for over fifteen years on the High School Board of Trustees.  He was also a member and director of the Mountain View Walnut Growers Association.      In religion, both he and Mrs. McMichael are members of the Presbyterian Church.  Mr. McMichael is affiliated with the Masonic and Odd Fellow orders, while politically he is a staunch supporter of the principles of the Republican Party. Mr. and Mrs. McMichael reside in their old home at 412 Maxson Road, east 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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