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James De Barth Shorb Papers Addenda: Finding Aid
mssShorb addenda  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Related Materials in the Huntington Library
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: James De Barth Shorb Papers Addenda
    Dates (inclusive): Approximately 1821-1957
    Collection Number: mssShorb addenda
    Creator: Shorb, James De Barth.
    Extent: 5,143 items in 24 boxes, 4 oversize folders, and 1 rolled map.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: 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.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. James De Barth Shorb Papers Addenda, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift of Edith Shorb Steele, December 1, 1934 and April 27, 1936; gift of Shorb Steele, June 30, 1955 and August 1, 1955; gift of Gift of Ethel Rebecca Shorb, May 7, 1959.

    Related Materials in the Huntington Library

    The Huntington has a variety of other collections containing material on James De Barth Shorb and the Shorb family. These collections include:
    There are also a significant number of court cases related to the Shorbs and Benjamin Davis Wilson in the Los Angeles Area Court Records   held by the Huntington.

    Biographical Note

    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).

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of personal and business papers primarily related to the James De Barth Shorb family and their business ventures and estate settlements. There is also a substantial amount of material about Benjamin Davis Wilson 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.
    Notable individuals represented in various places throughout the collection include Phineas Banning, Joseph Lancaster Brent, Ynez Shorb Buck, Louis Henry Dielman, Andrew Glassell, Henry Hancock, Winfield Scott Hancock, Isaias W. Hellman, Esther S. Hereford, Thomas B. Hereford, Margaret Irvine, Matthew Keller, Baron Frederich Ferdinand von Levetzow, Catherine McMeal, Ramona Shorb Murtaugh, Francis Noel Parke, Albert Packard, George S. Patton (1856-1927), Ruth Wilson Patton, Anthony Shorb (brother of James De Barth Shorb), Donald McMeal Shorb, Ethel Rebecca Shorb, Dr. J. Campbell Shorb (brother of James De Barth Shorb), James De Barth Shorb, Joseph Campbell Shorb (son of James De Barth Shorb), Margaret McMeal Shorb, Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb, Norbert Newlands Shorb, George Hugh Smith, Edith Shorb Steele, James M. Tiernan, Annie Wilson, Benjamin Davis Wilson, John B. Wilson, Margaret S. Hereford Wilson, and Tomas A. Yorba.
    Companies and ventures represented in the business and land papers include the San Gabriel Wine Company, B.D. Wilson & Co., the San Marino Ranch, the Southern Co-Operative Warehouse and Shipping Association, the Barton Real Estate Company, the Huntington Iron Works, and The California Arc Lamp Company.
    The collection is organized into seven main sections: 1) Correspondence and personal papers (including genealogy and photographs), boxes 1-4; 2) Business and legal papers, boxes 5-7; 3) Financial papers, boxes 8-12; 4) Land papers, boxes 13-16; 5) Newspaper clippings, ephemera and objects, boxes 17-19; 6) Ethel R. Shorb files, boxes 20-24, and 7) Oversize (5 items). Legal documents dealing specifically with land titles or agreements are included in the Land Papers section. Some correspondence relating directly to Edith R. Shorb’s newspaper activities and other Shorb family members’ estate dealings are included in those portions of the collection. Condolence letters on the death of James De Barth Shorb are included in the Personal Papers series of the collection.
    Series I: Correspondence and Personal Papers

    The correspondence consists of both personal and business letters. The majority of the personal correspondence was exchanged between members of the Shorb family and their friends and relatives, and include letters written while the family was living in Maryland from the 1820s- 1860s. Other items include letters regarding the history and genealogy of the Shorb family, particularly those written in response to Louis Henry Dielman’s inquiries on the topic. The business correspondence includes references to the wine industry, agriculture, land sales, railroads, mining, politics, and estate settlements. Authors and addressees of the letters include Ynez Shorb Buck, the Earl Fruit Company, Winfield Scott Hancock, Mayo William Hazeltine, Catherine McMeal, John McMeal, Francis Neal Parke, the San Gabriel Wine Company, Ethel Rebecca Shorb, Dr. J. Campbell Shorb, James De Barth Shorb, Margaret McMeal Shorb, Mary Shorb, Norbert Newlands Shorb, Edith Shorb Steele, Adelaide Shorb Tiernan, James M. Tiernan, Charles Augustus Wetmore, and Marcos Yorba. Some notable or interesting pieces of correspondence include:
    • A letter from Dr. J. Campbell Shorb regarding his involvement in the “case of Ogier,” in which he asserts that he never gave a medical opinion on or to Ogier before his death (1833).
    • A letter probably written by Donald McMeal Shorb to his parents James Aloysius Shorb and Margaret McMeal Shorb in which he asks them “in giving me up [to the Confederate Army] do not mourn too deeply, for if it is the will of the Almighty to call me from this life on the field of battle, regret me but do not grieve over me as though I had yielded to sickness on the couch of luxury” (1864).
    • A letter from Mayo William Hazeltine to James De Barth Shorb, lamenting the latter’s departure from San Francisco. “[W]hen a thirst for gold drives [another friend] to San Buenaventura the void he leaves is not soon…filled. I am told it never thunders in [the] San Francisco sky, but…since you went away there seems less electricity than ever” (1865).
    • A letter from E.B. Washington to James Aloysius Shorb and Margaret McMeal Shorb consoling them on the death of their son (1866).
    • A letter from Annie Ogier to Winfield Scott Hancock, in which she writes of the Rio del Llano mining claim and touches on politics, noting “I suppose you are a Greeley man. I don’t know what I am but I am against Grant that’s certain” (1872).
    • A letter to James De Barth Shorb thanking him for “securing the reinstatement of those employees who were discharged from the service of the Los Angeles Terminal Railroad Company” (1892).
    • Three letters to Edith Shorb Steele regarding Baron Frederich Ferdinand von Levetzow, including one from a distant relative who notes that Levetzow is “on a walking tour round the world passing San Francisco and Japan on accident of a wager” (1897); one from Levetzow’s stepmother M. von Levetzow-Ehlorstorff confirming that “he…is traveling now through America…on account of a wager to cross the world in a certain time” (1897); and a final note from H.F. Studevart informing Edith of Levetzow’s death “while out hunting…[he] became overcome with the severe cold and perished. His remains were found the next morning” (1899).
    The personal papers relate primarily to the Shorb family and include Donald McMeal Shorb’s signed oath to the United States following the Civil War (1865), Ethel R. Shorb’s passport (1929), condolence letters on the death of James De Barth Shorb (1896), and other items relating to Anthony Shorb, Norbert Newlands Shorb, and Edith Shorb Steele. Also included are an essay by Baron Frederich Ferdinand von Levetzow, a handwritten Ramona Echoes newsletter (1896), and a copy of Gladys A. Wood’s San Marino Play: Adapted from History (1932), among other items.
    Also included in this section of the collection are genealogical notes on the Shorbs and Wilsons; photographs, including those of Baron von Levetzow, James De Barth Shorb, and Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb; a scrapbook of clippings and letters (1886-1893); and the manuscript of Memoirs of the Mines of Almaden and Almadenejos by Fernando Bernaldez and Ramon Rua Figueroa (1861).
    Series II: Business and Legal Papers

    The business papers include contracts, articles of incorporation, insurance policies, and estate records, primarily relating to the Shorb family (including Anthony Shorb) and their business ventures, as well as to Wilson and Banning businesses. Corporations included in the contract and articles of incorporation section include the Southern Co-Operative Warehouse and Shipping Association, B.D. Wilson & Co., the Barton Real Estate Company, the Huntington Iron Works, and The California Arc Lamp Company, as well as various produce companies who made distribution agreements with the Shorbs. The insurance policies primarily consist of those taken out by James De Barth Shorb for properties in San Marino and Ramona (1892-1897). The estate records are mainly those of the Shorb childrens’ settlements and agreements regarding the estate of Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb. Other estate matters include those of A.W. Sublette, Stephen S.White, Benjamin Davis Wilson, and Tomas Yorba.
    The legal papers include wills, power of attorney documents, and some assorted court records. The wills include those of Edward S. Hereford (1894), Ethel R. Shorb (1930 and 1959), James De Barth Shorb (1875 and 1878), Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb (11 items, 1887-1917), Edith Shorb Steele (1949), John J. Williams (1881), Annie Wilson (1930), Benjamin Davis Wilson (1869), and John B. Wilson (1869). The power of attorney documents include those given and received by William T.B. Sanford, James De Barth Shorb, Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb, Norbert Newlands Shorb, James M. Tiernan, and Benjamin Davis Wilson, including a document giving Wilson’s power of attorney to James De Barth Shorb (1875). The court records include case files on The Farmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles vs. Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb (c.1899), a judgment in the mental competency hearing of Donald McMeal Shorb (1918), a pauper’s affidavit of Norbert Newlands Shorb (1917), and a report regarding the guardianship of Thomas Yorba (1897).
    Series III: Financial Papers

    The financial papers consist of statements of account, bank statements, tax records, promissory notes, stock records, receipts, cancelled checks, and account ledgers. The statements of account and bank statements include those for the San Gabriel Wine Company (c.1887), the San Marino Ranch (statements and plan for liquidity, c.1883-1900), James De Barth Shorb (1879-1915), Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb (1881-1913), Sierra Vista Ranch (1897), James M. Tiernan (c.1886-1895), and Benjamin Davis Wilson (1862-1875). The tax records and receipts include those related to James De Barth Shorb (c.1880-1894), Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb (1868- 1897), Ramona Shorb Murtaugh (1895), William M. Shorb (1889), James A. Tiernan (c.1885- 1893), and Benjamin Davis Wilson (1850-1855). The promissory notes include those of James De Barth Shorb (1872-1895), Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb (1885-1898), Benjamin Davis Wilson (1852-1877), and Wilson & Packard (1850-1851). The stock records relate to the California Arc Lamp Company, the California Fruit Company, the Los Angeles and Soledad Turnpike Company, and the San Gabriel Wine Company, as well as including stock notices from Anthony Shorb. The assorted receipts and cancelled checks include those of James De Barth Shorb, Maria de Jesus Wilson Shorb, James M. Tiernan, Benjamin Davis Wilson, and Wilson & Shorb (c.1870). The account books and ledgers were kept for and by the San Marino Ranch (1874-1897), James Aloysius Shorb (1836-1842), and James De Barth Shorb (1896-1897). Also included is James M. Tiernan’s notarial record (1887-1896).
    Series IV: Land Papers

    The land papers consist primarily of deeds, conveyances, certificates of title, mortgages, and maps. The deeds, conveyances and certificates of title are mainly connected to the property dealings of the Shorbs and Wilsons. The properties described are almost exclusively in the southern California area, including Lake Vineyard, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Wilmington, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Stockton, and Rancho Santa Anita. There are also a small number of deeds for land in San Francisco. The mortgages and assorted land papers are also primarily related to the Shorbs and Wilsons and their land holdings in southern California, and include items on the Rancho El Rincon (1899), the General Stoneman House (1873), properties of the James Irvine trust, lots on Meridian Avenue in Oneonta Park sold by Ethel R. Shorb (1917- 1930), land near the Banning house (1874), San Marino Ranch lands, citrus crop mortgages made with the Porter Brothers Company, documents regarding a railroad right-of-way suit in Alhambra, complaints regarding Rancho San Antonio, a memorandum of agreement to Donald McMeal Shorb regarding purchase of the Yorba Grant in Lower California (1914), and documents on the transfer of property from the Tomas Yorba estate to George Smith Patton (1896). The maps are of land in Alhambra (Calif.), Alhambra (Ariz.), San Antonio and Ice House Canyons (1892), San Pasqual, Emmitsburg (Md.), Wilmington (Calif.), and the estate of Bernardo Yorba in Riverside County.
    Series V: Newspaper clippings, ephemera, and objects

    The clippings include local newspaper stories on the Pattons, Shorbs, Wilsons, and Yorbas, as well as general California history. There are also a few complete copies of California newspapers from the 1890s. The ephemera consists of calling cards, including those of the Shorb, Wilson, and Patton families; memorial programs and notices relating to the Shorb family; a variety of printed advertisements, notices, and programs; printed invitations, mainly relating to Shorb family functions and weddings, including those of Patton family members, from 1855-1940; and other miscellaneous ephemera, including greeting cards, tickets, and envelopes. The box of objects includes cased daguerreotypes, hair and teeth belonging to members of the Shorb and Wilson families, a crest of Dr. James Anthony Shorb, and other items such as a pen box, leather pouch, and gold chain.
    Series VI: Ethel R. Shorb Files

    This series consists of the work files of Ethel Rebecca Shorb, who was the Society Editor for The Argonaut Magazine in San Francisco during the 1950s . The magazine files include press releases and announcements on the activities of local organizations and clubs, including the California Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Children’s Theatre Association of San Francisco, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Junior League of San Francisco, the National League for Women’s Service, the Pan American League, and the Women’s Athletic Club of San Francisco. The society stories include releases and clippings on concerts, holiday events, home tours, memorials, parties, debutante events, engagements, and weddings, in addition to 51 Del Monte Press Bureau Releases. Other manuscripts include Ethel Shorb’s calendars and notebooks, 12 pieces of correspondence addressed to Ethel Shorb, a brief autobiography, and miscellaneous ephemera. Also included are clippings of Ethel Shorb’s published articles, her assorted notes, and newspaper clippings.
    Series VII: Oversize

    The oversize items consist of newspapers and maps. They include a copy of The Capital newspaper (1896), copies of the Pacific Wine and Spirit Review (1896), a map of Douglass (Ariz.) and the Sonora Development Companies (1890), a plat and written description of the “Prospero” land tract near Mission San Gabriel (1875), and a rolled map of Portsmouth, New Hampshire (1850).

    Arrangement

    The collection is organized into seven main sections:
    • 1) Correspondence and personal papers (including genealogy and photographs), boxes 1-4
    • 2) Business and legal papers, boxes 5-7
    • 3) Financial papers, boxes 8-12
    • 4) Land papers, boxes 13-16
    • 5) Newspaper clippings, ephemera and objects, boxes 17-19
    • 6) Ethel R. Shorb files, boxes 20-24
    • 7) Oversize (5 items)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    Banning, Phineas, 1830-1885.
    Brent, Joseph Lancaster, 1826-1905.
    Dielman, Louis Henry, 1864-1959.
    Hancock, Henry, 1822-1883.
    Hancock, Winfield Scott, 1824-1886.
    Hellman, Isaias W. (Isaias William), 1842-1920.
    Keller, Matthew, 1810-1881.
    Patton, George S. (George Smith), 1856-1927.
    Shorb, James De Barth.
    Smith, George H. (George Hugh)
    Wilson, Benjamin Davis, 1811-1878.
    Administration of estates -- California.
    Agriculture -- California.
    Domestic relations -- California.
    Domestic relations -- Maryland.
    Finances, Personal -- California.
    Industrial management -- California.
    Land tenure -- California.
    Land use -- California.
    Mines and mineral resources -- California.
    Reporters and reporting -- California.
    Viticulture -- California.
    Water rights -- California.
    Wine industry -- California.
    Alhambra (Calif.) -- History.
    California -- Description and travel.
    California -- History -- 1850-1950.
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History.
    Maryland -- History -- 1775-1865.
    Pasadena (Calif.) -- History.
    Ramona (Calif.) -- History.

    Forms/Genres

    Business papers -- California.
    Ephemera -- California.
    Estate papers -- California.
    Legal documents -- California.
    Letters (correspondence) -- California.
    Letters (correspondence) Maryland.
    Personal papers -- California.