:: Riverside Blue Ribbon Groves Records

Introduction

The Riverside Blue Ribbon Groves Records consists of a book entitled The Combination Corporation Book. The book is divided into five parts: an alphabetical index, the by-laws, the minutes, a journal section, and a ledger. The minutes are from the monthly meetings of the directors and the annual gatherings of the stockholders -- the years 1911 to 1927 constitute the bulk of the material. The company's secretary, Robert Russell, wrote most of the entries until his resignation in 1922. The journal records the number of stock certificates issued and cancelled from November 1912 to December 1921. The ledger also details the cancellation and distribution of stock certificates from November 1912 to December 1919. Most of the items in the book date from the 1910s, when the company and its affiliated members were most active.

The collection of the Riverside Blue Ribbon Groves, along with the related collections of W. T. Henderson and the Riverside Navel Growers Association, can provide the researcher with information on local packinghouses operating during the early 1900s. The records of the Blue Ribbon Groves company shows their interaction with such businesses as the First National Bank of Riverside, Western Lithograph Company, Mutual Orange Distributors, and Parker Machine Works.

The collection is contained in one box and measures .5 linear feet.

Administrative History

The company was organized in 1911 as a mutual association serving Arlington Heights growers for the shipment of citrus fruit: oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. The packinghouse was located on 485 Evans in Casa Blanca. Blue Ribbon Groves bought the location from the Earl Fruit Company in 1911 for $1600. Arthur McDermont (former manager of the California Citrus Union) served as the manager, overseeing the picking of the company's fruit and the operations at the packinghouse for a monthly salary of $75. In the mid 1910s, he represented Blue Ribbon Groves at the Mutual Orange Distributors, and managed Jurupa Groves Inc. Other early officials of Blue Ribbon Groves included Harwood Hall, president; Robert Russell, secretary; Walter E. Dauchy, a civil engineer who served as the company's vice-president; Edgar T. Wall, a later vice-president; and Newton J. Kellam, who succeeded Hall as president.

Early business activities included the purchasing of brand designs from Western Lithograph Company for $150 (one of which may have been the design for the Blue Bow brand), and the determination of pricing for the packaging of fruit. For instance, the board of directors decided that non-member customers should pay 35 cents per box of fruit, and that the packages would be shipped under another brand name. In September 1913, the company later charged 40 cents per box of fruit. This change in price followed the cold weather spell in Riverside in early 1913, as indicated by the company minutes from January of that year. The price changed again in September 1915, when the directors decided to charge a flat rate of 45 cents per box, using the additional funds to pay off their outstanding loans.

Though the company received many authorizations to borrow money from First National Bank, other notations in the minutes indicate that there were problems with funding. In April 1915, the directors made the decision that oranges must be sold prior to shipment, or sold directly to retailers and/or customers. In September 1915, the directors motioned to cancel stock certificates that had not been claimed by their holders (holders who were no longer in the citrus business). In January 1917, the directors also made the decision not to pay a city tax. In January 1918, the directors decided to discontinue lights, power, telephone service, and insurance policies, with a few exceptions. The company also faced problems with their stock. In November 1915, they sold 1,040 shares for a dollar each, but they had no authority from the state to do so. In 1918, they attempted to obtain authorization to sell more stock and ratify the previous shares in order to make necessary repairs and pay off debts.

*By 1919, the company leased their property to Wall, McDermont, and Russell, who had formed their own business alliance though they also continued their affiliation with Blue Ribbon Groves. In 1920, Kellam resigned as president, with McDermont succeeding him. Russell departed in 1922, with McDermont and Wall purchasing his shares. By 1927, the remaining directors of the company decided to sell the company's two lots in Casa Blanca. Sierra Madre Fruit Co. later operated at the Casa Blanca location.

Edgar T. Wall and Arthur McDermont continued to be involved in the citrus business in Riverside. Following a joint venture in the late 1920's as McDermont and Wall at 280 Vine, the men ran their own growing, packing, and shipping businesses into the 1950's. Located on 3230 Vine, E. T. Wall shipped under the brand names Gold Bow and Red Bow. McDermont Fruit Company, a family business on 3141 Ninth Street, used the brands Rain Cross (using the famous Riverside city symbol) and the Circle brand series, a noted lithographic set designed in the commercial art style by Ontario native Dario De Julio for Western Lithograph Company in 1938.

Scope and Content

The collection contains one series divided into three folders. Folder 1 consists of the Combination Corporation Book, a bound volume kept by the secretary of Blue Ribbon Groves from 1911 to 1927. Many of the pages and the entire index are blank. Written sections include pages 1-5 (by-laws); 31-91 (minutes); 127-131 (journal); and pages 179-180 (ledger). Several of the items in the book date from the 1910's, when the company and its affiliated members were most active. The date ranges for the sections are by-laws (1911); minutes (1911-1927); journal (1912-1921); and ledger (1912-1919). Most of the entries are handwritten by Robert Russell, the exception being the later typed written minutes of the 1923 and 1927 special meetings of the directors. The information in the book is either written directly on the pages or pasted on as a means of attachment. A few items have been simply inserted, though not apparently haphazardly. The loose-leaf pages of the 1927 minutes follow the 1923 minutes, thus not interrupting the chronological order of this section. Folder 2 has two lists (one typed, the other handwritten) containing the same information: a listing of shareholders with the certificate numbers and number of shares indicated. Though undated, the lists probably date to the 1920's according to the names listed. Folder 3 contains a list of growers who intended to deliver their produce to Blue Ribbon Groves for shipment and sale. This item dates from 1912-1913.

Series Description

Series I: Corporation Book

The minute section constitutes the bulk of the material. Though the directors were supposed to meet monthly, they did not do this in practice according to the minute entries, especially in the later years of company when they only met occasionally. The last stockholders meeting found in the book was on 19 September 1921, when they had to adjourned early due to a majority of stockholders not being present, another indication of declining interest in the company. Many of the entries are also very brief, with only the topic of discussion mentioned but not described in full. Subjects include scale eradication, packing charges, fruit marketing, insurance costs of the company's property, and the practice of pooling fruit. In addition to the minute entries, this section also includes correspondence, voting proxies, and financial statements. Also found in the book is a letter signed by George Parker, a noted machinist in the fruit industry, regarding the rental cost of a separator and the purchase of a new washing and drying machine by Blue Ribbon Groves for a cost of $1785 with an allowance of $235 for their old machinery.

Folder 1: Combination Corporation Book, 1911-1927

Folder 2: Shareholders Lists, circa 1920's (two items)

Folder 3: Miscellaneous (one item)

Related Collections

Citrus Label Collection

W. T. Henderson Scrapbook Collection

Riverside Navel Growers Association Records

References

California Orange Box Labels: An Illustrated History. McClelland, Gordon T. and Jay T. Last. Beverly Hills, California: Hillcrest Press, 1985.

Fruit Box Labels: An Illustrated Price Guide to Citrus Labels. McClelland, Gordon T. and Jay T. Last. Santa Ana, California: Hillcrest Press, Inc., 1995.

Riverside Blue Ribbon Groves Records.

Riverside City and County Directory. 1910 and 1915/1916.

Riverside City Directory. 1918/1919, 1925, 1929, 1943, and 1951.

Local History