Lot 99 of 539:
Manuscript on birth of commercial viticulture in Kern County, CA  

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Lot closed - Sold For (Includes Buyers Premium):$1,560
$400 - $600

The Delta Land and Improvement Co. Secretary's Book


Santa Clara, CA




40 pp. 25.5x20.5 cm (10x8"), maroon leather spine with marbled boards and holographic cover label. Laid in letters.

19th century manuscript journal kept by the "Delta Land and Improvement Co." Important early volume memorializes the founding of this Santa Clara, California based land improvement and commercial fruit growing venture in 1891, and chronicles its nearly 20 years of operation through various meetings held by its officers. Company operated from the city of Santa Clara and book's entries were penned by its acting secretaries who also signed their names. The Delta Land and Improvement Company held sway over some 640 acres of Southern California real estate, all of which was located in Kern County.

Company's mission statement is articulated early in book: "The purposes of this corporation shall be to buy, sell, own, hold, let, lease and improve land and real estate, fences, ditches and water rights to plant and cultivate fruits & vines and to carry on a general farming business." Company meetings were held throughout Santa Clara at the homes of various individuals, mostly officers of the company such as Joseph G. Glendenning, C. B. Turner, and J. E. Southworth. The names of other company officers can also be found throughout volume. Joseph G. Glendenning was at helm of the company, serving as its president for the company's entire 18 year history. This was presumably Joseph Guy Glendenning (1851-1936) a descendant of the well-known Santa Clara ranching family of the same name.

Delta Land and Improvement Company's focus on "fruits & vines" is consistent with a J. G. Glendenning in Santa Clara who at the time owned acreage in Kern County that produced wine grapes (see Directory of the Grape Growers, Wine Makers and Distillers, 1891, p. 143). He is also listed as an "orchardist" in various Santa Clara directories of the period. The year in which the Delta Land and Improvement Company was founded coincides with the birth of commercial viticulture in Kern County. The county had long been fertile ground for the peach growing industry, as peaches were the first fruit to be grown commercially by white settlers in the 1860s. Figs, orange and lemon trees followed suit a decade later, however it wasn't until the last decade of the 19th century that wine grapes emerged as being commercially viable. This despite the fact that "the first fruit mentioned in Kern County's history was grapes" in 1772. (see Historic Kern County by Chris Brewer, 2001, p. 22).

"English colonists began growing grapes and other fruit trees around 1890" and their collective efforts would eventually pay off. Today, "grapes are number one in Kern County". Officers of the Delta Land and Improvement Company eventually decided to sell its land holdings at a loss during a special meeting held in 1909 at San Jose, California which is chronicled in the present volume. Although many of the early Kern County commercial fruit growing ventures met with a similar fate, their "concept for planting trees for commercial crops did not." The Delta Land and Improvement Company was among the many early ventures which paved the way and helped to establish Kern County as a dominant force in American agriculture. "Kern County owes its status as a giant among agricultural counties due to the diligence and foresight of its early pioneers and successors." Thanks to the strength of its grapes along with other crops such as almonds, citrus, milk and pistachios, Kern County is today the top agricultural crop producing county in the United States. (see Kern County Farm Bureau statistics).

Lot Amendments

Wear and rubbing to covers, some toning to pages. Overall very good.

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