Fruit of the Land

Below is an early label for one of the main products of San Diego County agriculture, courtesy of the California Secretary of State’s Office and the U. S. National Archives:

C.C. Brandt applied to the California Secretary of State’s office for trademark rights to his lemon juice in April 1900. At that point lemons and their by-products had become a major cash crop for San Diego County farmers. Just a few months earlier, The San Diego Union had made “the lemon-growing industry” the focus of most of its edition of Sunday, October 22, 1899.

“The subject of lemons was the sole topic of discussion at a meeting of the San Diego Horticultural Society held in the chamber of commerce rooms in this city last Tuesday,” noted the Union. Six of the paper’s twelve pages were dominated by articles reporting on the meeting, which included addresses by local growers offering advice on growing and marketing lemons.

Unique soil and climate conditions had made San Diego “the center of the lemon industry in the United States,” according to the Union.

“In round numbers,” reported a separate Union article, “San Diego County has 500.000 lemon trees. Of these, one-fifth are now bearing, their product being 500 carloads or over for the present year.”

That’s railroad carloads they were talking about. Up to October, according to industry statistics, 401 carloads had been shipped to markets across the country. That was compared to 228 carloads just three years earlier.

“In no county in the United States has lemon-growing assumed the proportions it has reached in San Diego County, and nowhere can lemons be produced more successfully than here, the frostless belt of the bay region being peculiarly adapted to this fruit. The industry has a magnificent future.”

Just as an update, according to the latest crop report from the County of San Diego, in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available, 73,295 tons of lemons were harvested, tops for all local citrus fruits.


From the Horse’s Mouth-Literally

William Perry Bevington, like a lot of other San Diego County residents in the 19th century, originally came from elsewhere. Born in the Midwest in 1850, he’d come to southern California with his family in 1871, originally settling in San Jacinto. In 1873 he married and in 1875 he and his wife Elizabeth acquired land in the San Pasqual Valley. In the 1880 United States Census he is listed as a farmer. But in 1887 he moved to the budding new town of Escondido where he started pursuing a different line of work, one still critically important to San Diego County life in that era, a “liveryman.”

In the 1892-93 city/county directory, Bevington is listed as the proprietor of “Fashion Stable.” Below is a view of his corral and stables, also known as “Fashion Livery,” from an 1892 fire insurance map of Escondido, part of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Collection of the Library of Congress. It was a pretty large operation, covering most of a block along the intersection of Ohio Avenue and Ivy Street:

From the early 1890s until Bevington’s death in 1917, Escondido newspapers frequently ran ads for his stable, offering horse breeding as well as stabling services, as shown by the ad below from the March 24, 1911 Escondido Times-Advocate:

An add from June 30, 1905 shows another service Bevington offered:

Equine dentistry may have become his primary business, as the 1910 U.S. Census lists his occupation as “Veterinary Surgeon.”

When he died in September 1917 one of Escondido’s prominent citizens, Judge J. N. Turrentine, gave the eulogy, and the Times-Advocate noted “Many beautiful flowers and floral pieces were brought by loving friends in token of the high esteem in which they held the memory of the departed.”