San Francisco County








IRVINE, JAMES, Capitalist, San Francisco, California, was born in that city October 16, 1867, the son of James Irvine and Nettie H. (Rice) Irvine. He married Frances Anita Plum (now deceased) at San Francisco, in 1892, and to them were born three children, James Irvine, Jr., Katharine H., and Myford P. Irvine.

      Mr. Irvine is descended from one of the notable men of America, Harvey Rice, his maternal grandfather, having been one of the upbuilders of the city of Cleveland, Ohio. Born in June, 1800, he went from Corway, Massachusetts, to Cleveland about the year 1832, when the population of the place hardly exceeded four hundred persons. He remained there until his death, at the age of ninety-two years, and during the period of sixty years was one of the leaders of public affairs, being connected in many ways with the early history of the city. He held public office at various times, served as State Senator, wrote a history of the Western Reserve and founded the public school system of Cleveland. After his death a monument of the founder was erected to his memory by the school children of Cleveland, and it stands to-day in Wade Park of that city.

      James Irvine, who is regarded as one of the most active forces engaged in the development of California’s resources, received a part of his education in the public schools of Cleveland, but concluded his studies in a private school of California, being graduated therefrom in 1889. His mother having died when he was seven years of age and his father when he was about eighteen, Mr. Irvine was compelled, while still going to school, to handle important business affairs connected with the estate of his father.

      Mr. Irvine inherited considerable property from his parents, but it was not in a producing condition and in addition, carried about $200,000 encumbrance. Consequently, it became his duty, when he was twenty-two years of age and just through with his schooling, to embark upon the serious work of a business man. He set about developing the property to which he had been made heir, but it was a gigantic undertaking, for soon after he assumed care of the property the country experienced one of its severest business panics, and it was not until ten years of hard work and steady application had gone by that he had the property restored to a sound condition.

      Since that time Mr. Irvine has been steadily engaged in business enterprises of many kinds and is to-day classed as one of the substantial men of the Pacific Coast. His life has been one of unceasing activity, but it has also been a highly successful one and he is in a position to witness and enjoy the splendid effect of his efforts to develop the lands and industries of his native State.

      Mr. Irvine has lent his time, money and brain power to a multitude of interests, including railroads, manufactures, agriculture, insurance, oil, mining and other productive enterprises, but his chief work, perhaps, has been land improvement, subdivisions and the other branches of real estate operation.

      To Mr. Irvine is due a large part of the credit for establishing in California what has become one of its chief industries – the ripe olive canning business. This line of commerce was opened up many years ago and its career has been one of uncertain success at times, but Mr. Irvine has worked consistently to upbuild the industry, often in the face of greatly unsatisfactory and discouraging conditions, and has been one of the principals in placing the business in its present firm position. For some time past the consumption of ripe olives has been steadily on the increase and at this time (1913) the annual output of the California canneries amounts to hundreds of thousands of gallons. In the same way as he was the leader in the development of the business, he is at the head of its maintenance, being a Director and the largest stockholder in the American Olive Company, the parent concern and the largest ripe olive canning organization in California.

      Similarly, Mr. Irvine has been one of the chief supporters of the beet sugar industry in California, the leading sugar producing State of the Union, and is the principal factor in more than one concern engaged in the beet sugar industry in that State. The production of sugar in California was begun about the year 1880 and in 1912 the output of its factories was estimated at 300,000,000 pounds. Of this amount the Santa Ana Co-Operative Beet Sugar Company, of which Mr. Irvine is President and the largest stockholder, produced 20,000,000 pounds, or one-tenth of the total output of the State. This company has a model, up-to-date plant at Santa Ana, California, which makes from ten thousand to fifteen thousand tons of sugar annually, at times exceeding the latter amount, and Mr. Irvine, as the dominant force in the operations of the concern, has direct supervision of this great industry.

      Another important enterprise in which Mr. Irvine is connected is the Southern California Sugar Company, which has a large sugar refinery near Santa Ana, and in this, as in the Santa Ana Co-Operative Beet Sugar Company, he is the largest individual stockholder. These two factories are among the largest in the State of California and, employing many men the year round, form an important part of the industrial life of Southern California.

      Mr. Irvine is the owner of approximately one hundred and four thousand acres of land in various sections and ranks as one of the largest landowners of the West. Unlike many others, however, he believes in developing the land and has a large percentage of his vast holdings under cultivation.



Transcribed by Vicky Walker, 1/25/07.

Source: Press Reference Library, Western Edition Notables of the West, Vol. I,  Page 607, International News Service, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta.  1913.

© 2007 Vicky Walker.



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