The Fielding Wesley Gibson Story

FIELDING WESLEY GIBSON. There is no man more widely known by the early settlers of the San Gabriel Valley, in the days of the [18]50's, than the subject of this sketch.   The brief facts given in relation to his early history and association with Los Angeles County are of interest. Mr. Gibson was born near Natchez, Mississippi, in 1809.  His father, David Gib­son, was a native of South Carolina, and was among the pioneer settlers of that section of Mississippi. His mother was formerly Frances McKinley, a native of Pennsylvania, and a de­sendant of an old family of that State. Mr. Gibson was reared as a farmer, well-schooled in the hardships and labor attending pioneer farm occupations in his native State of Louisiana. He was also a large dealer and speculator in lands. In 1851 he started from New Orleans and traveled through Mexico to Mazatlán, and thence by steamer to San Francisco. After a short stay in that city he went to Sacramento and immediately sought the mines, remaining for two months. He again returned to the mines, remaining five months, and during that time made $7,000. Cattle being high in that county, he concluded there was a speculation in that business.

Procuring a suitable outfit at San Gabriel Mission, he hired Mexican herders and proceeded to Sonora, Mexico, where he purchased 550 head of cattle, which he intended driving into the northern counties of California. The Mexicans in his employ, combining with others. commenced a systematic stealing of his stock as soon as the herd was in route for the North, and so successfully did they conduct their stealing that upon his arrival in the San Gabriel Valley he had but eighty-two head left. While recruiting his stock, Mr. Gibson determined to settle in the valley. He therefore purchased from Mr.Dalton 250 acres of land, located about one-half mile west of El Monte. This land was wild and uncultivated, but of a rich, deep soil. He took up his residence upon this purchase and devoted himself to its cultivation and improvement. He engaged in general farming and stock-raising, and soon bad one of the representative farms of the valley. He was also engaged in dealing in land in other sections. His long business experience, keen fore­ sight and practical knowledge rendered him uniformly successful in his operations, and secured him a fail competency.  Mr. Gibson is at this writing (1889) in his eightieth year, with all his faculties seemingly unimpaired; but desirous of relieving himself from the cares a11d labors of agricultural pursuits, and at the same time make a sure provision for his children, he has deeded to each of them fifty acres of the old homestead. Mr. Gibson's long residence and able dealings and manly qualities, have gained him the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends and acquaintances. In political matters he is a consistent Democrat. I n 1861- '62- '63 he served as county supervisor from his district. In 1853 Mr. Gibson married Miss Betsey Aldrich, a native of Vermont. She was the daughter of Hazen Aldrich, also of that State. From this marriage there are five children living, viz.: Edward, who married Miss Alma Jaqua, now living in Los Angeles; Fielding, Brace S., who married Miss Luty Renfro (she died March 24, 1888); Blanche, wife of James S. Chapman, residing in Arizona; and Gadi S. Fielding is a resident of San Jose. Brace and Gadi are residing on the old homestead, and are engaged in its cultivation, giving their attention to general farming. Mr. Gibson has given all his children the benefit of a good education.

addendum to Fielding Story based on Sixty Years in Southern California 1853-1913

Containing the reminiscences of Harris Newmark
New York, The Knickerbocker Press, 1916

Pg. 90

Fielding W. Gibson came early in the fifties. He had bought at Sonora, Mexico, some five hundred and fifty head of cattle, but his vaqueros kept up such a regular system of side-tracking and thieving that, by the time he reached the San Gabriel Valley, he had only about one-seventh of his animals left.  Fancying that neighborhood, he purchased two hundred and fifty acres of land from Henry Dalton and located west of El Monte, where he raised stock and broom corn.

Pg. 261

Broom-making was a promising industry in the early sixties, the Carpenters of Los Nietos and F. W. Gibson of El Monte being among the pioneers in this handiwork. Several thousand brooms were made in that year; and since they brought three dollars a dozen, and cost but eleven cents each for the handles and labor, exclusive of the corn, a good profit was realized.