This collection consists of personal and business papers
primarily related to the family of Southern California land developer James De Barth
Shorb (1842-1896) and their business ventures and estate settlements. There is also
a substantial amount of material about Benjamin Davis Wilson (1811-1878) and his
business dealings in California. Topics covered in the collection include
agriculture, land development in southern California, the history of the San Marino
area, mining operations, water rights and irrigation, politics, society stories, and
wills, court documents, and settlement papers related to the Shorb estate.
James De Barth Shorb (1842-1896) was born in Frederick County, Maryland, a son of Dr.
James Aloysius Shorb (1798-1867) and Margaret McMeal Shorb. He came to California in
1863 looking for oil in Ventura County, and married Maria de Jesus “Sue” Wilson
(1844-1917), the daughter of Benjamin Davis Wilson (1811-1878) and his first wife
Ramona Yorba, in 1867. Shorb partnered with Wilson in developing their extensive
land holdings in what is now San Marino and Pasadena. Together Shorb and Wilson
founded the San Gabriel Wine Company, and Shorb was also president of the San
Gabriel Valley and Alhambra Railroads and founded the Lake Vineyard Land and Water
Company in 1871. In 1874, Shorb, through the Lake Vineyard Land and Water Company,
acquired large tracts of land in San Marino, Pasadena, and Alhambra. By the late
1870s, many of Shorb’s business enterprises has begun to lose profits, and when
Shorb died in 1896 he left his wife Maria and their children heavily in debt. The
Shorbs had nine children who survived to adulthood: Maria Ynez Shorb White Buck
(1868-1933), James De Barth “Barty” Shorb Jr. (1870-1907), Edith Octavia Shorb
Steele (1872-1954), Ramona Yorba Shorb Murtaugh (1874-1921), Joseph Campbell Shorb
(1878-1919), Ethel Rebecca Shorb (1880-1959), Donald McMeal Shorb (1883-1933),
Norbert Newlands Shorb (1887-1951), and Bernardo Yorba Shorb (1888-1928).
5,143 items in 24 boxes, 4
oversize folders, and 1 rolled map.
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activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is
one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services
Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.