Yorba Linda History

Historic Documents

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close this bookYorba Linda - Its History
View the documentDedication
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentPreface
View the documentChapter 1 - The Indians
View the documentChapter 2 - The Hacienda Era
View the documentChapter 3 - Carlton
View the documentChapter 4 - The Pioneers
View the documentChapter 5 - The Business District "Down Town”
View the documentChapter 6 - Recreation and Celebrations
View the documentChapter 7 - Water
View the documentChapter 8 - The School Story
View the documentChapter 9 - The Library
View the documentChapter 10 - The Churches
View the documentChapter 11 - Organizations
View the documentChapter 12 - Incorporation
View the documentChapter 13 - Richard M. Nixon
View the documentChapter 14 - Famous Citizens
View the documentChapter 15 - A Forward Look
View the documentChapter 16 - Yorba Linda - What Now?

Chapter 14 - Famous Citizens

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Yorba Linda has been fortunate in having four citizens, either present residents or Yorba Lindans by birth or early life here, who have become famous internationally. Richard Nixon, of course is our most famous son and we have told of him in a previous chapter. But we are proud of the three people who have won fame and of whom we shall tell about in the following pages.


A woman who has acquired international fame as a novelist spent her childhood and early adulthood in Yorba Linda. She is Jessamyn West, the author of "Friendly Persuasion," the novel that has been printed in a great many foreign languages and still brings royalties to its author. The motion picture version of the story is one of the greatest in that field and has been shown in late years on television to an ever delighted audience.

The Eldo West family moved to Yoba Linda when it was still a bare tract of semi-arid land, and planted a lemon grove north of Yorba Linda Boulevard near Club Terrace in the eastern part of the tract. The family was of Quaker belief, from Indiana, having a family history of deep devotion to the "Friendly [165] Persuasion." They were related to the Nixons though the Milhous (Hannah Nixon's) family.

Jessamyn was an excellent scholar, a fact attested to by those who knew her when she attended Yorba Linda Grammar School, Fullerton Union High School and Fullerton Junior College. Perhaps her inclination toward a writing career was first expressed when she wrote nonsense skits for some of her girl friends to dramatize, as entertainment for their own age group while on a Campfire Girls outing. A brother remembers that she used to write down new words each day to memorize and thus increase her vocabulary, although she probably had no thought of writing professionally at that time. In her Junior College days she took part in athletics and was a good basketball player.

In an address given at the dedication of Whittier's new public library in 1959, Miss West recalled her excitement when the little new library was opened in Yorba Linda in 1913, with a handful of donated books and magazines. She was a seventh grader at the time but had a great love for books which has never diminished.

After Junior College Jessamyn entered Whittier College and after graduation was married to Mr. H. M. McPherson, in the Friends Church in Yorba Linda, by the then Friends pastor, the Rev. Clifford Jones. The couple moved to Hemet and operated an apricot orchard. Mrs. McPherson worked as a school secretary for a while. Not knowing how to type she used the month before school started to learn this art and was able to handle this part of her job without trouble when the school year opened. At one time she taught in a country school where she handled all eight grades in the one room building.

The remarkable Mrs. McPherson went to Europe and studied at Oxford University doing post graduate work in English.

After this she became ill with tuberculosis and spent some time resting in bed to overcome this disease. It was during this time that she wrote the series of short stories that, when put together at the instigation of her publisher made the novel "Friendly [166] Persuasion." The stories were ones she had heard relatives tell of the people and times in Indiana.

When a movie producer decided to make a film of the story Miss West was hired to do the script for the entire film. Her book "To See the Dream" tells of her experience in carrying out this assignment. She later wrote other scripts for the films, one of them being for 'The Big Country," starring Gregory Peck.

Her book, "South of the Angels," contains some of her impressions of early Yorba Linda Life.

Mrs. McPherson now makes her home in Napa Valley, California.


A woman who has won international fame in the field of photographic art has been a resident of Yorba Linda for fifty-three years. She is Julia Foss Alexander, A.R.P.S. Julia Foss came to the new town of Yorba Linda in 1915 as the wife of Ben Foss, about whom we have a story in the chapter on "Pioneers." During the earlier years of her life here Mrs. Foss was kept busy as a rancher's wife and mother of two boys, Norman and Paul.

One day, twenty years ago, while in the city, she admired the exhibit in a photographer's window. A lover of beautiful scenery, she stepped into the shop and engaged the photographer in conversation about photography and cameras. When she left the shop she was the owner of a $400 Rollei camera. She was a bit aghast at herself but knew she would manage to pay for her purchase.

Mrs. Foss began making an intensive study of the techniques involved in getting the unusual and the excellent in photographs, an art which requires much patience, experimentation and, most important of all, a talent for artistic achievement. She was helped, while learning, by Dr. Ronald Green who was a student of Mortenson in Laguna Beach. For the most part she was self taught. She says that she early learned that in getting a truly good picture [167] although the subject is important, the most necessary ingredient is the skill of the person operating the camera.

Mrs. Alexander (she married Mr. Alexander about six years ago) has exhibited her pictures in many cities of America, in Europe and in China and has won many awards. She won a prize in the U. S. Newspapers' exhibit in Los Angeles for her picture "Four Little Birds." She is a member of the Photographic Society of America and is a three star exhibitor in that organization. She has a number of gold medals won at international exhibitions, one fom Taiwan. She was named as one of one hundred "best monocrome exhibitors in the world." She is an associate of Royal Photograhpic Society of Great Britian, a distinction which is given to only a very few people. This accounts for the A.R.P.S. which she is authorized to use after her name.

In her home, Mrs. Alexander has a photographic laboratory where she works out the experiments in enlarging and processing to produce the extremely excellent pictures which she exhibits.

A short time ago, the Bank of America branch in Yorba Linda exhibited on its walls some of Mrs. Alexander's masterpieces. A particularly winsome one was "Friendly Persuasion," a view of a young lad coaxing the pigeons at San Juan Capistrano Mission, with wheat grains. A grandson of Mrs. Alexander posed for the picture. Also exhibited was "Charlie," which won a gold award in the Photographic Society of America exhibit.

One day Mrs. Alexander met a stranger, an elderly gentleman whom she asked to pose for her. He complied. She entitled the picture "Quaker Gentleman" and won many prizes on it.

As Yorba Lindans we are proud to have this talented woman in our community, where we are privileged to view her genius as expressed in her wonderful photographic masterpieces.

In the summer of 1969 Mrs. Alexander and Hoyt Corbit, whose story earlier is in this book, were married. Yorba Lindans were surprised and delighted. [168]


Yorba Linda has the distinction of being the home of a scientist who has achieved recognition in Europe as well as in America. This gentleman, Mr. Otto Luther, has lived in Yorba Linda for seven years, having moved here in 1961. He is a native of New York, educated there and working there most of his life as an art director for several different companies. He has worked in depth on electronic photography, having developed and patented a device permitting the conversion of motion picture film to television images. This he accomplished while still in the industry and before his retirement. Before this accomplishment, the two systems were regarded as incompatible.

Since his retirement Mr. Luther has gone more deeply into the study of science, especially physics, a subject that has fascinated him since he was a child. He is mainly self taught in this field, devising techniques and working out concrete devices to prove his theories.

Our notable scientist has also researched that elusive bugbear of the human mind — the Einstein Theory of Relativity. He states that it is in error and he has invented a device by which he says he can prove his theory. He maintains that Einstein's equation E=MC squared (Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared) will have to be abandoned.

Albert Einstein himself said that if a single one of his conclusions drawn from the theory were proved wrong, the whole principle would have to be renounced because it cannot be modified without destroying it. Mr. Luther contends that there are many errors because an initial postulation was in error. This was the fact that Einstein did not take into account the existence of transverse movement of light, and accounted for movement in only one direction.

Two books have been published by Mr. Luther, the first entitled "Return to Reason" and the second "Relativity is Dead," and a third is in process of writing in which the author aims at [169] giving the public more understanding of scientific facts rather than toward the professional scientific mind.

More complete explanations of Mr. Luther's theories for which we do not take space here, are in our library files. His theories have not as yet been generally accepted in the world of science but he is confident that eventually this will have to come.

Mr. Luther is described in science publications as a "theoretical analyst," "free thinker," "scientist," and "science researcher," to name a few. He describes himself as a retired art director and inventor who is "Working harder now than I ever have in my life."


We have given a brief sketch of four people who have lived in Yorba Linda and who have achieved international fame. We will tell briefly of some other people who have done outstanding things or who show a potential for fame.


Adolph Friend at seventy-two is engaged in a business that was thought to have disappeared from this area many years ago. He is a cattle rancher and his eight thousand acre ranch encircles Yorba Linda on the southeast, east, northeast and north and contains part of Santa Ana Canyon, all of Telegraph Canyon, Soquel Canyon and parts of Carbon Canyon.

Mr. Friend was born on this ranch and follows much the same pattern of operation as was used a hundred years ago. Cattle are herded and driven by horseback and handled by cowboys. The Friend stock is branded with an A/F. The greater part of the ranch is leased from the oil companies, Mr. Friend owning only a small portion.

In early days the cattle were driven to Anaheim to the meat packing house there. Today they are loaded on trucks and taken to Chino or Artesia to market. The price of beef on the hoof has varied over the years from 5 cents per pound to 33 cents per pound says Mr. Friend. [170]

Surprisingly, water has not been too big a problem. There are two shallow wells on the ranch, not over forty feet deep that are pumped with windmills and keep the stock watered.

Mr. Friend raises his own horses on the ranch. He uses quarter horses for working the cattle. Thoroughbred race horses are also raised and some real winners have been foaled on the ranch which have won races throughout the state.

One of the greatest deterrents to the cattle business is the same as it was in the old days, cattle rustlers. Although there are fifty some miles of fencing and cross fencing with locked gates, rustlers still steal quite a number of the Friend cattle. Sometimes they butcher them on the spot, taking the meat away by truck.

Mr. Friend's wife is the former Lorena Vetter, sister of Tad Vetter, well known Yorba Lindan and foreman of the lemon packing house for many years. The Friends have two sons and six daughters and twenty lucky grandchildren who can go to their grandparent's ranch right here in Orange County and enjoy the thrills of horseback riding, watching the calves and colts and exploring the canyons just as it's done in the western movies. Mr. Friend died on February 16, 1969, after this story was written.


Living in Yorba Linda at the present time is a sixteen year old young man who set world's record on January 18, 1968, his sixteenth birthday, by soloing in twenty-five different type aircraft. He is Cody Walters, son of Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Walters.

Mr. Walters has been his son's instructor in the art of flying. Cody hopes to be a commerical pilot when he is through college. His record of achievement on his birthday was approved by the Federal Aviation Agency. Cody has a fourteen year old brother, Cory, who, at present is interested in flying only to the extent of being able to fly a private plane.


Perhaps Yorba Linda's youngest business woman is Miss Michelle Harris, age fifteen, who has been in the doll making business for two years. [171]

At the age of thirteen she made a rag doll and took it as a gift to her grandmother who was in the hospital. A woman there saw and admired the doll and asked Michelle to make and sell her some. Since that time our young doll maker has made and sold over a hundred dolls. She makes them in three sizes, the fifteen inch which sells for $3.50, the twenty inch with a $6.00 price tag and the twenty-five inch, priced at $8.00. Besides working on her dolls, Miss Harris also makes her own clothes.

Does she plan to go into a branch of the sewing business when she finishes school? No. Michelle wants to be a nurse. And if she continues in this ambition we would surmise that a very fine nurse she will be.


We, at the library have watched the course of a most promising young artist for a period of twelve years. When he was five years old, young Chris Miller brought to the old library on Olinda Street, a collection of his plasticene modellings. They were so extraordinarily good that at first we thought he must have had adult help on them, but after watching him work with this medium we realized that Chris was a person who tolerated no interference from anyone in his work. He was a master of his art even then. He made various animals and a knight on horseback among other things all in miniature of from two to four inches long. Feeling that he should produce something that could be fired and preserved to show what he was able to do at such an early age, we got some regular earthen modelling clay and suggested he try it. This medium was awkward for the small fingers and much more difficult for him, but he tried doggedly to succeed with it. He finally produced a fine looking dinosaur but it was solid clay. We explained to him that it would have to be hollowed out or the firing would explode it.

Frustrated and doubtful, Chris took it home and tried to hollow it. He brought it back and we had to warn him that it might break in the firing because it was still too thick. Mrs. Van [172] Vliet fired the piece but it broke and Chris' disappointment was hard for us to bear.

Chris is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Miller. He has three brothers, one older and two younger than he. He has continued in his art work and has done some wonderfully fine and intricate pieces. He does much carving and has a ship model that is approximately three feet long, true to scale and complete in all detail. He especially likes to make miniature violins. He has made one only 2½ inches long, complete with pegs, bridge, finger board and tail piece. He makes cases for the tiny instruments with hinges and closing clasps. Some of the violins are larger but none over 5 ½ inches long.

He now, at seventeen years, is able to model successfully in clay and has a piece depicting an old man sitting in a rocking chair with a chess board before him. He also has done some sculpture in alabaster and has a life sized man's hand chiseled from this stone that is truly excellent.

Chris would like to make a career of art if he can make a good living from it, but is undecided as yet what branch he might follow. He is much interested in dramatics and has played a number of roles in school productions.

We are thinking if this young man's interest should ever turn to human anatomy, what wonders of surgery those clever fingers might perform. But whatever the future may hold for this modest and unassuming young man we wish him well.


While Yorba Linda was still a rural community, fruit growing and packing were the mainstay of our economics. We had about thirteen years of spectacular success at the fairs and shows where fruit and produce were exhibited. This attainment was due to our good fortune in having as citizens such people as Ole and

Edna Martin and Paul and Kathleen Netherland. Of course, these people were aided by community organizations and the ranchers, and the result was truly gratifying to the town. [173]

It was in the 1940's that Mr. and Mrs. Ole Martin, who operated a cafe in Yorba Linda, began pushing the idea of entering exhibits at the National Orange Show, the Los Angeles County Fair and the Orange County Fair. Such an endeavor represents a considerable amount of hard work but the Martins were capable. They enlisted help from the Paul Netherlands and the show was on the road, with co-operation of the merchants and growers. Their efforts were generously rewarded with prizes and this pattern was followed for well over a decade.

At the end of the first three years, the Martins moved away and the Netherlands became chairmen of the organization. They kept up with the work for ten years and their ingenious skill in handling the displays was phenomenal. The two complemented each other. Kathleen had the artistic ability to design the displays which followed a chosen theme. Paul, a mechanical wizard, worked out the mechanisms which brought the displays to life. They entered displays in all the above mentioned fairs and also designed and helped Hoyt Corbit with his avocado exhibit at the San Diego Fair. Mrs. Netherland thinks the true success of the exhibits was due to the mechanisms, and they were indeed most effective.

Thinking back on them, the Netherlands feel that the most outstanding exhibits were "The Magician" and "The Easter Parade." In the midst of a wonderful display of citrus fruit and garden vegetables was a magician mechanized to perform a disappearing act with the aid of a girl manikin in a box. The doors would open showing the girl, then the magician would wave his wand. The doors would close and open again but the girl would be gone. The Netherlands enjoyed standing by and listening to the public as they pondered on how this could be, even going behind the display but not discovering the secret which was that Paul had cleverly arranged a turn table to turn the girl manikin around and out of sight as the doors opened.

In the "Easter Parade" a man sat on a park bench reading a newspaper. As the pretty manikins passed by, the man would lower the paper and gaze at them, then raise it again until another [174] girl came past. The Netherlands and others in the know had much fun maneuvering Val Lucas, then publisher of the Star, to inspect the exhibit and discover his own masthead on the newspaper.

Those days are gone, along with the citrus and avocado groves, but those who worked on the exhibits and gloried in the many first prizes won through those years and those of us who were just viewers remember with pride the clever inventiveness of Paul and Kathleen Netherland and the resourcefulness of Ole and Edna Martin.


As we think about the youth in our community and hear of their good works and high grades we realize that we have a reservoir of potentiality here. We know there will be many who will go on to win acclaim and make their home city proud of them.

I have in mind one young man who did some poster type of work for me during the past winter. His work was so excellent that I became interested in learning more about him. He is Patrick Smock, seventeen year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Smock. He has a sister, Megan. He is interested in all manner of crafts, does ink drawings and poster work. He enjoys working with colored lights and has handled the lighting at a number of theatrical and entertainment functions. His greatest love is Theater Arts in which he expects to major in college. When a freshman in high school he had a part in two productions, "Finian's Rainbow" and "Carrousel." He did some of the scenery in both plays. He was elected to The Thespians Honor Drama Society while still a freshman which was a real achievement. He is a Latin student and won first prize at the State Latin convention for the most authentic toga, which he designed.

Patrick is also a member of the Junior Classical Society which holds a Latin banquet each year with participants dressed in costume. Pat has done lighting arrangements for some of these functions. [175]

This young man holds a part time job at a local florist shop and is learning the art of floral arrangement to add to his other accomplishments. We think his chosen field is a good one for him and his talents are so diversified that he will certainly succeed and without boredom.


Albert B. Stephens, now in his eightieth year, likes doing nice things for people. He has over one hundred forty names on his "birthday list."

There are many women in our community who, having lived here for a goodly number of years wait, on the morning of their birthday each year, for the telephone call and a very familiar voice singing out the Birthday Song. Personally, I never feel that my birthday has quite arrived until I hear this happy greeting from Steve.

Mr. Stephens was an insurance agent for a number of years in Yorba Linda. He is an amateur astronomer and built a telescope through which he could study the planets and the stars. I had my first close-up view of the moon through this telescope many years ago and can never forget the immense thrill I experienced when I viewed actual craters on its surface and, under Steve's direction, located Saturn with its engirdling rings.

Another hobby of this remarkable man is weaving. He does many beautiful patterns of weaving on his two looms. He was president in 1965 of the South Coast Guild and has contributed much in labor and interest to this organization.

He now lives in Fullerton where his wife, Clara Mae, was for a number of years, head librarian of the beautiful Hunt Foods Foundation Branch Library.


We could never close this chapter without telling about Nellie. Nellie is known to any resident of the community of over five years stay, as a master cook and organizer of big dinners.

Nellie (Mrs. Merritt Smith) has lived in Yorba Linda since 1940, but before that she lived in Olinda, "just over the hill from [176] Yorba Linda" as she says. She states that from this vantage point she watched Yorba Linda grow from a bare tract of land in 1909 to the city that it now is. She met and married her husband, Merritt Smith in Olinda.

Nellie got her first introduction to cooking for other people when as a young woman in Olinda she was asked by a boarding house owner to cook for fifteen workers in the Olinda oilfield. The men were hard workers and put in long hours and were hungry at meal time. Nellie was told to alternate at breakfast each morning from toast to hot biscuits. One morning just as she was ready to serve the biscuits she opened the oven door and to her horror realized she had put no baking powder in the biscuits. However, she found enough bread to serve so the day was saved.

Probably the reason Nellie's meals are so good is that she loves to cook. She said that after she moved to Yorba Linda the church and other organizations to which she belonged, learned of her love for cooking and so, through the years, she has probably cooked voluntarily for more people than any other woman in Southern California.

Nellie and her husband still plant a large garden and grow a variety of fruit trees. Most of the produce of this endeavor is given away. During peach season the phone will ring and Nellie is on the wire wanting to know if you can use a few peaches. When you go to pick them up you will probably be laden with fresh picked beans, some beets, some squash, a few lemons and a melon or two.

When Nellie became eighty years old, folks got their heads together and said reluctantly, "We just can't ask Nellie to cook dinners anymore. We didn't know she was anywhere near eighty!" But this did not please Nellie at all. She was still wanting to be where the action was ... in the church or club kitchen.

By the time this book is published Nellie will be eighty five. She stated recently, "Well, I don't get asked so much anymore and I miss it, but if anyone was to come and ask me to cook a big dinner I'd be fool enough to do it!"

That's our Nellie! [177]

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