John Cleminson Family Return

John Cleminson family newspaper articles



An Illustrated History of Los Angeles County, California Ė
The Lewis Publishing Company, 1889 Page 440


JAMES CLEMINSON, of El Monte, is a representative of one of the pioneer American families of San Gabriel Valley. He dates his birth at Independence, Missouri, August 7, 1833, son of John and Lydia (Lightner) Cleminson. John Cleminson SR was born in England, December 29, 1798. During the war of 1812, he came to the United States, via St. Johns, New Brunswick, with his father, James Cleminson (whose wife had died in England). After a residence of some time in Virginia, the family made their home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Upon reaching manhood, John Cleminson, the father of the subject of this sketch, went to Lexington, Missouri, then a wilderness. There, December 28, 1822, he wedded Miss Lightner, who was of Dutch descent, born at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, July 11, 1800. Mr. Cleminson worked at his trade, cabinet and carpenter work, many years at Lexington, moving from there to Independence and later to Illinois, where with his family lie lived first at Galena and later in Carroll County.

September 15, 1850, with his wife and four of their six children, he started, via the overland Santa Fe trail, for Southern California, with two teams of oxen and cows together for transports. The children who came with their parents were: James, whose name heads this sketch; John, Lydia and Diantha. (Laura, wife of G. W. Durfee, and Mary M., wife of E. T. Mills, came a few years later). The journey of the Cleminsons was a long and tedious one. The first winter was spent at or near Harrisonville, Missouri, the next at Tucson, Arizona. At one time, losing nearly all their stock, one wagon was hauled by hand sixty miles and sold at Santa Cruz, Arizona. After trials and troubles, which we have not the space to relate, the family reached this sunny land, James arriving at San Diego in time to participate in celebrating the national birthday, July 4, 1852, and the family a few days later.

At San Diego the first American wedding ever solemnized was the marriage of Lydia Cleminson with Sam S. Reeves. This occurred April 15, 1853. After a short residence at San Diego the family made their home in San Bernardino County, and in 1858 upon a ranch near El Monte. The mother died August 11,1873, and the father,John Cleminson Sr, November 28,1879. He was a man well known in Los Angeles County and respected by all. His son, James Cleminson, married, in San Bernardino County, Mrs. Caroline Beek, widow of Thomas Beek. She was a lady of English birth. Two children were born of this union, James D. and Willis S. The former has his home in San Bernardino, and the latter died January 10, 1882, aged four years and three months. Their mother departed this life March 27, 1880, aged thirty-six years. From her first marriage one son, Charles Edward, is living.

The present wife of Mr. James Cleminson, formerly Miss Emma Crist, he wedded October 11, 1885. She was born in the State of Iowa, daughter of Levi Crist, now a resident of Washington Territory. Her child, Hugh Delbert Cleminson, was born November 18, 1886. Mr. Cleminson is the owner of fifty acres of land at El Monte, and also a tract of ten acres near Azusa. Politically, he is identified with the Republican party. He is a member of the ancient order of Free Masons. John Cleminson Jr, the youngest of the Cleminson family, owns and resides upon thirty acres adjoining his brother James.

1917 Article about the Cleminson Family


The Cleminson family are prominent citizens of the Los Angeles County, where the pioneer, John Cleminson Sr established the name at an early date in the history of California, two succeeding generations serving to keep alive the records and deeds of their ancestor, who proved himself worthy to cope with the trials and hardships of a new land. The pioneer John Cleminson, Sr., was a native of England, who, in 1812, came with his father to St. Johnís, New Brunswick, whence them made their way to the United States and finally located in Louisville, Kentucky. Later in Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri, he engaged in teaching school, then worked as a cabinet-maker and carpenter.

Removing to Galena, Illinois, he made his home in that section until 1852, when he came to California and engaged with his older son, James, in farming, first in San Bernardino County, then in El Monte, until his death in the latter place in 1879, at the age of eighty years. His wife, formerly Lydia Lightner, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and went to Missouri with her parents. Her death occurred in 1873 at the age of seventy-three years. She left a family of four daughters and two sons, all of whom are now deceased.

John Cleminson Jr, was born in Hancock County, Illinois, December 8, 1842, the youngest in the family of his parents, and but ten years of age when he accompanied the family across the plains. Leaving Illinois in the fall of 1851, they went to Missouri, where they wintered and in the early spring, the company collected their belongings and outfitted for the tedious journey. Their route lay through the Indian Territory, Socorro, New Mexico, and Arizona. Just before they reached the latter place, the Apaches stampeded their cattle, leaving but half enough to draw their wagons, and three days later, one of the number was murdered while gathering fuel. They remained a few days at Santa Cruz to rest up, then moved on to San Xavier Del Sac Mission, and on to Tucson, one of the largest towns they passed through. This was a post for the Spanish soldiers, who kept on the watch for the Indians. Here was witnessed the crude method of grinding corn with stones. The only money in circulations was a copper cent, about the size of a twenty-five cent piece. They remained in Tucson several months, then came on by the Pima Indian Village, Maricopa Wells and crossed the Gila River about the point where it empties into the Colorado. Here they had to giver nearly everything they possessed to be ferried across and waited on the opposite bank until a government train came along, when they were taken to San Diego. Thence they made their way to San Bernardino county, where they were established on a farm for five years.

Mr. Cleminson received but one year of schooling in that place, his services being required in the improvement and cultivation of the home farm. He accompanied his father to El Monte in 1857, and there took up farming. Finally becoming dependent upon his own resources he engaged in general farming and dairying. Like his father and brother, James, he was one of the leading citizens in the up-building of the country, seeking every avenue for the development of the section, giving time, money and personal effort to promote the general progress of the community. He donated the right of way to the Pacific Electric Railway, which gave to this section a great impetus toward development. Mr. Cleminson was a Republican, his first vote being cast for Lincoln. The highest esteem of the community is given to this gentleman for his citizenship, as well as his personal character, which was such as to have won the friendship of those whith whom he had business or social intercourse through the long years of his residence in this section. John Cleminson Died July 24, 1917.