Continuing the saga of E.J. Marshall's rescue of Rancho Chino after founder Richard Gird went into foreclosure.
The final two of the powerful partners of Edwin J. Marshall in the Chino Land and Water Company, which acquired Rancho Santa Ana del Chino in 1905, were two of the most well-connected and influential business leaders of greater Los Angeles in the era.
Edwin T. Earl (1858-1919) was a native Californian, born in the small town of Antelope near Red Bluff in the northern part of the state. His father Josiah was a 49er seeking his fortune when the Gold Rush erupted, and his mother came overland in a wagon a few years later. Josiah Earl was a lumber business owner, mining investor and a farmer, specializing in fruit orchards. The family lived in the silver boom towns of Virginia City, Nevada and Independence in eastern California before settling in Oakland.
With his father’s assistance, Earl got into fruit shipping at just 18 years of age and quickly became a success, starting in Lodi in the Central Valley where he worked for about a decade. Coming to Los Angeles in 1886 during the famed boom of the Eighties, he rapidly became a powerful figure in transporting oranges on the newly completed Santa Fe transcontinental railroad to and from the area. He shipped fruit from Riverside, Santa Ana and other key citrus centers through his Earl Fruit Company.
A problem, however, was either freezing or the lack of ventilation with existing rail cars, so, in his early thirties, Earl invented the C.F.X. (for his Continental Fruit Express company) car that revolutionized shipping of fresh produce. He was bought out in 1900 by Chicago’s powerful Armour and Company for the princely sum of $2.5 million and turned to other business interests.
One was the Los Angeles Express newspaper, one of the three major dailies (with the Herald and the Times). Another was the purchase of huge acreage in the San Fernando Valley with investors like Moses Sherman (known for Sherman Oaks), Leslie Brand (of Glendale notoriety), railroad and real estate mogul Henry E. Huntington, and competitors Harrison Gray Otis and Harry Chandler of the Times. Knowing that the Los Angeles Aqueduct was coming before the public did, these powerful figures made fortunes when water flowed into the largely dry San Fernando Valley allowing for its future development.
Mr. Earl was a Progressive Republican, whose paper called for more citizen involvement in government. He was, until his death, the owner of a mansion on Wilshire Boulevard next door to Mr. Otis.
Finally, there is Jared S. Torrance (1852-1921), who was born near Buffalo, New York. Mr. Torrance came to Los Angeles during the 1880s boom. In Pasadena he jumped into real estate. In Fontana and Santa Barbara County he partnered with Mr. Marshall. With investors like John S. Cravens (mentioned last month), he developed his namesake city of Torrance. He did business with Valentine Peyton, whose story as part of Chino Hills history will soon be told in this column.
Mr. Torrance was also involved with Isaac Milbank, another Chino investor, and with utilities, oil companies, and telephone companies. Mr. Torrance was a prominent figure in the development of the Chino/Chino Hills area with his partners in the Chino Land and Water Company.
(Paul Spitzzeri, a historian and author who lives in Chino Hills, maintains a blog on the history of Carbon Canyon called carboncanyonchronicle.blogspot.com.)