:: The Founding Documents of Riverside


The collection contains various documents related to the early years of Euro-American settlement of Riverside and the surrounding area. The items include primary source documents such as legal paperwork and advertising circulars. Secondary source materials include typed manuscripts of a history by Dr. James Greves and a diary by Mrs. F. Daniels Battles, early residents of Riverside. The originals of these two items are not part of the collection. Each of these items provides a glimpse of Riverside during its pioneer days. Furthermore, an account from an early settler can also be a valuable perspective when compared to that of Dr. Greves, providing a broader view of life in early Riverside.

The collection measures one linear foot, and is contained in one box.


Though the collection contains documents dealing with the founding of the City of Riverside, it is only part of a longer history of human settlement in the region. The Cahuillas and the Serranos occupied the area long before the coming of the first Euro-Americans in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Between 1810 and 1850, large landholders of Spanish descent (or related to them by marriage) dominated the cultural landscape, including such early Californios as Bernardo Yorba, Juan Bandini, and Louis Rubidoux. Cattle and sheep ranged over vast ranches as the primary economic holdings. Following floods and drought in the early 1860s, other business activities entered southern California. Louis Prevost, a Frenchman, tried to establish a silk industry on 4,000 acres of the Rubidoux Rancho, aided by the state government in the form of bounties. But with his death in 1869, and the retraction of state aid, the Silk Center Association failed.

Judge J.W. North of Tennessee also came with a vision for the area. He formed the Southern California Colony Association ( S.C.C.A.) with other people intent on growing semi-tropical fruit. On 17 March 1870, he distributed posters announcing the formation of a colony in California. Judge North and his associates purchased some lands formerly belonging to the silk association and founded the City of Riverside, with the colony stockholders choosing the name due to its location near the Santa Ana River. Later, the water from the river was diverted to the town by canals, allowing Riverside to prosper. In addition to Judge North, other early pioneers to the city included Dr. James P. Greves, A.J. Twogood, and Lyman C. Waite with their families. Gordon Pattee and W.P. Lett planted the first groves in Riverside at Jackson and Indiana, taking full advantage of the area's soil and the California climate that Judge North advertised. In 1874, Samuel C. Evans advertised his holdings in Riverside as the New England Colony of Southern California. With other investors, Evans purchased a controlling share in the Southern California Colony Association, organizing the various entities into one company in 1875 as the Riverside Land and Irrigating Company.

The City of Riverside developed briskly. The first school opened in the summer of 1871. Dr. Greves became the first postmaster of the post office, established on 12 June 1871. In 1874, Captain C.C. Miller purchased the block situated between Main and Orange, Seventh and Sixth Streets, which later became the site of the current Mission Inn. Magnolia Avenue, noted for its use of ornamental landscaping in the newly settled community, was developed in 1876. On 11 October 1883, the citizens of Riverside incorporated their city. On 2 May 1893, it became the seat for the new County of Riverside.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of four series. Series I contains books and manuscripts regarding Riverside's early history and landmark businesses. The series is divided into four folders ranging from 1875 to 1907. Legal documents compose Series II. The series includes court documents, paperwork related to the Southern California Colony Association, and related material from the 1850s to the 1880s. Series III contains five folders of advertising materials in the form of broadsides or circulars dating from 1870 to 1882. Most of the items in the series relate to the S.C.C.A. Series IV has a clipping from a Massachusetts newspaper, detailing life and farming in Riverside, nicknamed the "Yankee Settlement" at the time due to its population of resettled easterners.

Series Description

Series I: Books and Manuscripts

Inside Folder 1 is a booklet printed for the Riverside Land and Irrigating Company to promote the company. Though undated, the booklet probably has a relative date range between 1875 and 1877. The booklet contains information about the company's history and irrigating facilities; land prices, water rights, and construction costs; and Riverside's ecology, including climatic conditions, natural resources, and its fruit production capability. The folder also contains an undated price list for the booklet. Folder 2 contains a photocopy of a typed manuscript, itself a copy of a diary kept by Mrs. F. Daniels Battles from November 1875 to December 1882. After the death of Mrs. Battles, Mrs. J.S. Bordwell obtained a copy of the diary. She made the handwritten notations evident on the manuscript. The diary in Series I.2 contains brief but colorful entries on neighbors and acquaintances: injuries, deaths, and births; buildings and businesses; various wildlife and geological occurrences including quakes and floods; and recreational activities and criminal incidences. The folder also includes a 1967 cover letter by Esther Klotz regarding the diary's history and three items regarding early residents in the Riverside area: Captain Cornelius Jensen and his wife, Mercedec Alvarado and the Cover family (T.W. Cover had been a director of the Silk Center Association and later trustee of the S.C.C.A.). The information on these individuals had been compiled from other sources, some dating from the twentieth century. The connection of these three items to the Battles diary is unclear, other than that they may have been copied and donated by Klotz at the same time. Folder 3 contains paperwork regarding the manuscript written by Dr. James P. Greves in 1877. Though the folder does not include the original document, it does have a typed version created by Priestly Hall, who had misspelled the surname "Greves" in the copy. A photocopy in the folder contains the same information as the typed version with one notable difference; the photocopy shows handwritten notations, which are typed in the other document. A cover letter, probably from the 1950s, regarding the documents' history, is also in this folder. Folder 4 has a book by Arthur Bennett on the Mission Inn written in prose form. Both Bennett and Frank A. Miller signed the copy. The book has some acid migration of the print.

Folder 1: "Southern California, the Riverside Land and Irrigating Company"
circa 1875-77 (two items)

Folder 2: Diary of Two Decades, November 1875 to December 1882 (five items)

Folder 3: The James P. Greves manuscript, 1877 (three items)

Folder 4: The Mission Inn, copyright 1907 (one item)

Series II: Legal Documents

Folder 1 has an eleven-page document regarding Juan Bandini's 1852 petition to the United States Commissioners to validate his land claim. The document includes as evidence the transcript of the 1838 grant to Bandini by Juan B. Alvarado and the 1852 deposition of Abel Stearns on behalf of Bandini's claim as well as the 1854 opinion of the board of commissioners confirming Bandini's claim to the Jurupa Rancho. Among the information in the document is the description of the land grant including its boundaries. Folder 2 has two items. The first item is the certificate of incorporation for the Southern California Colony Association. The document includes the corporation's objectives and amount of capital stock. The other item is an 1885 certificate of authority concerning the name change from Jurupa to Riverside, which had been decided by the S.C.C.A. stockholders fifteen years earlier. Folder 3 also contains items related to the certificate of incorporation of the S.C.C.A., though badly deteriorated. The folder also includes two certificates, one by the notary public (14 September 1870). Both mention an attached document; though none is directly associated with either certificate, it probably relates to the incorporation papers of the S.C.C.A.

Folder 1: Jurupa Petition of Juan Bandini, 1852 to 1854 (one item)

Folder 2: Certificate of Incorporation—the Southern California Colony Association, 12 September 1870, and Certificate Authority, 14 March 1885 (two items)

Folder 3: Miscellaneous certificates, 1870 (three items)

Series III: Advertising

Folder 1 contains two copies of J.W. North's broadside, A Colony for California, which laid out the colony's plan for settlement in Southern California. Folder 2 has the 25 March 1870 broadside by James P. Greves, Ho! For California!!, which detailed the costs of the scouting trip to California. Folder 3 contains three copies of the 1870 broadside, Southern California Colony, by North proclaiming the incorporation of the S.C.C.A. and its land purchase. Information on this circular includes the layout of the town-site, the costs of the lots, and the suggestion that investors only buy small parcels of land. Folder 4 contains a broadside for the 1873 Fourth of July celebration in Riverside, providing a look at recreational activities enjoyed by the town's inhabitants. Concerning the business interests in early Riverside (other than the S.C.C.A.), Folder 5 contains an 1882 notice by the Riverside Fruit Company regarding raisin production and packing procedures.

Folder 1: A Colony for California, 17 March 1870 (two items)

Folder 2: Ho! For California!!, 25 March 1870 (one item)

Folder 3: Southern California Colony, 10 October 1870 (three items)

Folder 4: Broadside – Fourth of July celebration, 1873 (one item)

Folder 5: Notice – Riverside Fruit Company, 29 August 1882 (one item)

Series IV: Newspaper Clippings

In addition to promoting the climatic conditions in California (a norm for advertisements of the time), the article also includes information on the profits of various farming and harvesting interests, another tactic used to encourage settlement in the state.

Folder 1: "Correspondence: Southern California as a Place to Live In", 27 April 1876 (one item)

Related Collections


Gabbert, John Raymond. History of Riverside City and County. Riverside: Record Publishing Company, 1935

Gunther, Jane Davies. Riverside County, California, Place Names: Their Origins and Their Stories. Riverside: Rubidoux Printing Co. 1984

"Riverside historical items found upstairs in library." The Press. 23 November 1964: D-1.

"Southern California, the Riverside Land and Irrigating Company of San Bernardino." San Francisco: Frank Eastman printer, undated.

Local History