The pioneers of Lemon Grove were the first to settle the area, but not the first to inhabit it. That honor goes to the Kumeyaay who traversed the coastal sage habitat and its cactus strewn lands. The pioneers found land fit for grazing cattle, but without sufficient water for development of farms.
Lemon Grove grew because of its proximity to San Diego. It grew because a rail line was built through it, running from San Diego to the town of Foster and the wagon road from Foster to the gold camps of Julian. That rail line provided easy access to markets in San Diego and eastern markets beyond.
What the town needed was water. The pioneers raised money, formed water companies and built a flume which brought water from the Cuyamaca Mountains some thirty-seven (37) miles to the east. They built reservoirs. They subdivided the land. They cleared the sage scrub and planted lemons – “a sea of lemons” – and set about building a community. Meet the pioneers of Lemon Grove.
Allen, Sherwood R. (1862-1893) Lemon Grove’s first postmaster (1893).
Allison, Benjamin Franklin “Frank” (1848-1936) Son of Robert Allison. Sold meat in San Diego from family sheep business. Built the first house in Lemon Grove in 1891, a “small shack” on the corner of modern day Lemon Grove Avenue and Golden Avenue. He signed the original petition to form the Lemon Grove School District in 1893.
Allison, Joseph Augustus (1852-1915) Land developer. Son of Robert Allison. Instrumental in building a flume to bring water to Lemon Grove. Filed the original subdivision maps for the town site of Lemon Grove in 1891. He (along with A.S. Crowder) would file the La Mesa Springs subdivision map in 1894.
Allison, Robert (1814-1891) Pioneer sheep rancher. Purchased 3,000 acres in Cuyamaca and 8,000 acres of former mission lands from heirs of Santiago Argüello. The latter purchase included modern day Lemon Grove and parts of La Mesa, Spring Valley and Encanto. Allison was an investor in and provided right-of-way for the San Diego Flume Company which brought water to Lemon Grove in 1889. He was a director and stockholder of the San Diego and Cuyamaca Railroad which ran through his Lemon Grove and La Mesa holdings.
Allison, Temperance “Tempa” Waterman (1815-1890) Wife of Robert Allison. She is one of two people credited with naming the community “Lemon Grove.”
Argüello, Santiago (1791-1862) Soldier. Son of the founder of the Pueblo de Los Angeles and twice Spanish colonial governor of California. His brother, Luis Antonio Argüello, was also a Spanish colonial governor of California (1822-1825). Santiago received Mexican land grants including Tia Juana Rancho in 1829, the Trabuco Rancho in 1841 and San Diego Ex-Mission lands in 1846. The Mission land grant included modern day Lemon Grove.
Bates, Elizabeth Chandler (Hall) (1846-1934) Rancher. Upon the death of her husband, shortly after arriving in Lemon Grove, Elizabeth became the head of the Bates family. She purchased twenty (20) acres from Joseph Allison in 1892 making her one of the first early land owners. With her sons she planted an orchard, then sold the land for subdivisions in 1910 and 1912. She signed the original petition to form the Lemon Grove School District in 1893.
Beidleman, Edward Thomas (1858-1939) Rancher. He was a founding director of the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove (1894). He was the longest serving of the original board members remaining on the Board of Trustees for over a decade.
Brand, Henry L (1855-1936) Mining Engineer, rancher and early merchant. Bought the first lot in the Lemon Grove subdivision in June of 1892 and built the third house in Lemon Grove. He is credited with selling the first box of lemons from his Lemon Grove orchard for $1.65 in November 1894. Brand ran the Lemon Grove store and was named Lemon Grove’s third postmaster in 1895.
Fletcher, Edward (Col.) (1872-1955) Produce farmer, real estate developer, promoter. He lived in a sod house on Vista Street in 1888 at the beginning of his career. He later built a home in Lemon Grove for his grandfather, Charles K. Fletcher. Fletcher was elected to the California State Senate three times. He brought piped water to Lemon Grove (1910).
Geer, Levi (1843-1898) Merchant. Town Clerk in Dansville, Michigan 1876-1880. Purchased 30 acres from Joseph Allison and built the Sunset View Ranch in 1895. He was a founding stock holder of Lemon Grove Fruit Association (1896).
Hall, George P (1841-1915) Businessman. Civil War Veteran. He was a rancher and co-owner of the San Diego Engraving Company. He was a founding stock holder of LG Fruit Association. He signed the original petition to form the Lemon Grove School District in 1893. He was a founding director of the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove (1894). Hall gained a reputation as a horticulturalist and author. He served as a horticultural commissioner in San Diego County and was the President of the California State Board of Horticultural Commissioners.
Ingram, William B (1850-1921) Rancher. He signed the original petition to form the Lemon Grove School District in 1893. He was a founding director of the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove (1894) and a founding stock holder of LG Fruit Association (1896).
Miller, Earnest Charles (1868-1901) Rancher. Purchased 10 acres of land in Lemon Grove in 1893 and began a citrus tree nursery.
Nickerson, Joseph Samuel (1856-1941) Construction Contractor. Nickerson was hired by Joseph Allison to build the first house in Lemon Grove in 1892 near the south east corner of Golden Avenue and Imperial (now Lemon Grove Avenue). Nickerson was involved in building roads, reservoirs, pipelines and homes in the Lemon Grove, San Diego and surrounding areas. With offices at Ninth and L street in San Diego, he was one of San Diego’s most popular and best known contractors during the 1890’s.
Stiles, Benjamin B (1862–1896) Rancher. He was a founding director of the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove (1894).
Troxell, George Arthur (1867-1937) William Troxelll’s younger brother. He built a Victorian home on “Lemon Grove Road” in 1894. The home was used as a stage coach stop and hotel. It was demolished in 1993 to make way for the Home Depot.
Troxell, William Slaughter (1863-1945) First citrus rancher in Lemon Grove. After amassing a fortune in the candy business in Illinois, Troxell relocated to Lemon Grove for the weather. He built the Troxell Manor in 1892, extant but threatened. One of two people credited with naming “Lemon Grove.”
Waite, Jerry William (1854-1950) Pioneer orchardist from Michigan. Fruit grower. He bought 20 acres in June of 1893 and planted one of the first orchards in Lemon Grove. He later acquired over 100 additional acres, building one of the largest ranches in Lemon Grove. His produce was sold nationally under the Waite Orchard Fruit Label. He was a founding stock holder of LG Fruit Growers Association (1896). He was a founding incorporator of Lemon Grove Packing Company Inc (1903) Waite Drive is named for the family.
Willingham, John Quincy (1857-1947) Rancher He was a founding director of the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove (1894).
Wood, John Andrew (1874-1931) Battalion Chief San Diego Fire Department (1905-1931). John was known for his colorful stories about the early days of Lemon Grove. He hauled water to railroad construction workers in Lemon Grove and La Mesa at age of 14 in 1888. He later worked for the Nickerson Construction Company based in Lemon Grove. John and his brother,
Wood, Charles E. (1876-1931), signed the original petition to form the Lemon Grove School District in 1893.