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Billingsley (Ray) papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing History
  • Historical Background
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Related Collections
  • Bibliography

  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine Libraries
    Title: Ray Billingsley papers
    source: Meadows, Don
    Creator: Billingsley, Ray, 1854-
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.R.013
    Physical Description: 5.2 Linear Feet (13 document boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1870-1928
    Date (bulk): 1886-1900
    Abstract: This collection comprises the professional and personal papers of Ray Billingsley, a prominent lawyer in Santa Ana, California from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Included are records from his legal practice and his business interests in the Villa Park Orchards.
    Language of Material: English .


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Copyrights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Ray Billingsley papers. MS-R013. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Processing History

    Processed by Carole McEwan, 2010. This collection was obtained as part of the Don Meadows Papers, MS-R001 in 2003. It was incorrectly labeled "Otto" Billingsley papers.

    Historical Background

    Ray Billingsley, a prominent lawyer and orchardist in Santa Ana, California at the turn of the 20th century, was born in 1854 at Richmond, Iowa. He attended the University of Iowa and in 1879 received his LL.B. and began practicing law in Vinton, Iowa. He married Eleanor A. Patterson in 1882 and they moved to Orange County, California in the summer of 1886. They settled on 84 acres of land in Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana and named their house "Villa Park". The land was bought at $125 to $225 an acre and about 2/3rd was eventually planted in orchard oranges, lemons, apricots, and walnuts and olives. The Billingsleys had seven children: William Patterson, Helen May, Harlowe Ray, Carey Val, Hester Sophia and Maynard John (who died at 12 years).
    In 1886, Ray Billingsley opened a law office in Santa Ana, about 9 miles from his home. He had various partners over the years (Painter and Cooke) and specialized in real estate including mortgages. By 1904, he stepped back from his law practice and concentrated on his orchard business - Villa Park Orchards - and worked for grower cooperatives for better fruit handling and prices. He also devoted time to his many civic interests (e.g. Orange County College, Serrano Water District), and business investments (e.g. Orange Auto Power Company, Mission Film Corporation). He was also instrumental in the foundation of the First Congregational Church of Villa Park in 1889 and served as an official for 20 years. He was a progressive Democrat and was a founder of the first Bryan Club in Santa Ana in 1896 to support the Presidential candidacy of William Jennings Bryan. He was an Orange County delegate to the Democratic State Convention in 1908.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    This collection consists primarily of the professional records from Ray Billingsley's law practices from 1886-1904 in Santa Ana, California and his personal records from his other business interests, specifically Villa Park Orchards from 1887. Included are legal forms, handwritten notes and transactions, receipts, correspondence, and ephemera.

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in 3 series:
    • Series 1. Professional papers, law practices 1879-1904, 4.0 linear feet
    • Series 2. Personal papers, 1870-1918, 1.0 linear feet
    • Series 3. Ephemera, 1886-1918, 0.2 linear feet

    Related Collections

    Related archives can be found in the following collection:
    Ray Billingsley Papers, ca. 1875-1930, collection number 227, at UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections, Manuscript Division, Los Angeles, California.


    For further biographical information, see History of Orange County California. Los Angeles : Historic Record Company, 1911.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Fruit growers -- California -- Orange County -- 20th century
    Lawyers -- California -- Santa Ana -- 19th century
    Real estate lawyers -- California -- Santa Ana -- 19th century
    Citrus fruit industry -- California -- 19th century
    Fruit growers -- California -- Orange County -- 19th century
    Meadows, Don
    Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana (Calif.) -- History-Sources
    First Congregational Church of Villa Park -- Archives
    Billingsley, Ray, 1854- -- Archives