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Guide to the M. Theo. Kearney (Martin Theodore Kearney) Papers, 1887-1907, 1966
MSS #001  
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The M. Theo. Kearney papers span 1887-1907, 1966 and contain correspondence, documents, pamphlets, certificates, maps, blueprints, newsclippings, ledgers, and photographs that relate primarily to Kearney's Fruit Vale Estate, the California Raisin Growers Association, and California Raisin and Fruit Packing Company. Also included are originals and photocopies of Kearney's will, a hand-written epitaph for himself, a Return of Death Certificate (1966), and notes on the interior of the proposed Chateau Fresno.
Official Birth records show that M. Theo. Kearney was born Martin Thomas Carney on February 5, 1842, on Banastre Street near the docks of Liverpool, England. Kearney's family immigrated from Liverpool to Malden, a small community north of Boston around 1854. Kearney's own diary notes do not begin until 1865, and by that time he had assumed the name Martin Theodore Kearney. At age 18, Kearney moved to Boston and found work as a clerk for a trunk-manufacturing company, rising to the position of partner in the firm. For unknown reasons, in 1867, he left Boston for San Francisco, eventually coming to Fresno in the early 1870's. As the advertising agent for William Chapman, and with the assistance of Bernhard Marks, Kearney became an important developer of the colony farm system in Fresno County. He purchased large tracts of land for himself in Fresno and the Fresno area and developed wine and raisin businesses in the city. He acquired the Easterby Rancho, presently the Sunnyside area of Fresno, and started a winery. This property was sold, in 1885, when Kearney purchased his 5400-acre Fruit Vale Estate and switched his focus to the production of raisin grapes. In 1895, Kearney led raisin farmers to form the California Raisin Grower's Association, incorporated in 1899. He traveled extensively to develop agricultural business markets.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Fresno City and County Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Society archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Fresno City and County Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
Collection is open for research by appointment only.