Bio- Pen Pictures

            F. M. Righter, whose home, in the Hamilton District, is situated a short distance north of Campbell Avenue, was born near Indianapolis, Indiana, March 4, 1843.  He is the son of George G. and Salome (Kilbourne) Righter, his father being a native of Virginia and his mother of Ohio.  He was left an orphan while a youth, his father dying in 1860, and his mother following her husband the succeeding year.  Mr. Righter attended the public schools near Indianapolis, and afterward the National Normal School, near Cincinnati, Ohio, at which institution he graduated in 1873.  Directly after graduation , he came to California, and, after spending a short time in teaching in Los Angeles County, went to Solano County, where for nine years he followed the profession of teaching.  In the spring of 1882 he came to Santa Clara County, and soon after bought his present home.  The property, for which he paid $180 per acre, had then just been set to trees.  It contained a fraction more than ten acres, nine of which were planted with apricot trees (principally Hemshirks, with a few Moorparks), while one acre was devoted to the production of peaches and grapes.  That the orchard has received good care is shown by the fact that in 1887 the apricot trees, then five years old, yielded fifty tons of fruit, which was sold for a little more than $1,600.  Mr. Righter still continued teaching after coming to this county, being engaged first in Franklin District, and later in Mayfield, San Jose, and Saratoga Districts.  His last school, which was in Saratoga District, closed in June, 1887.  He at once returned to Ohio, and on the twenty-eighth of that month married Miss Belle Lutes, the daughter of A. J. and Lavinia Lutes, who reside near Cincinnati, where Mrs. Righter was born.  Returning to California with his bride, the subject of our sketch immediately took possession of his fine fruit ranch, to the care of which he has since devoted his time.

            In politics Mr. Righter is an independent.  He is connected with the Masonic Order, being a member of San Jose Lodge, No. 10, and also of Howard Chapter, No. 14, both of San Jose.  He believes in the desirability, and, what is more, in the practicability, of the union in one church of all the evangelical churches, and in consequence of this belief is a member of the “Christian Union,” an organization which has for its object this result.  Mr. Righter’s successful career as a teacher for so many years in this State, and the education and qualities which have made him a success in his chosen profession, have won for him the respect of the community in which he makes his home.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.

Pg. 407-408
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy



A very successful horticulturist, whose attainments have encouraged others to work for higher standards and better, larger results, and who thereby has greatly advanced the science and art of California husbandry, is Francis Marion Righter, a resident of Campbell. He was born in Indiana, near Indianapolis, March 4, 1843, and is the son of George G. and Salome (Kilbourne) Righter, born in Virginia and Ohio, respectively. George G. Righter was a farmer and blacksmith and also ran a sawmill and threshing machine. He passed away at the age of fifty-four, and the mother survived him several years.

Francis M. Righter received a good education in the grammar and high school and assisted his father in operating a sawmill. After his father's death, wishing to gain a higher education, he determined to obtain the funds by manufacturing lumber. He was under twenty years of age, but arranged for backing and credit and purchased a sawmill and made a success of the enterprise. After several years he sold out, having made sufficient to pay his way at the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, after which he taught school in his native state, Indiana, and during a part of the Civil War he served in the commissary department at the front. Coming to California in 1873, he taught in the schools in different parts of the state, and then going to Southern California, he taught in the schools, now within the city of Los Angeles. After that he went to Santa Clara County and taught in the Mayfield and San Jose schools, and for a short time in Saratoga. During this time he was principal of the schools at Eugene, Ore., and the fourth ward school in San Jose.

In 1879 Mr. Righter was united in marriage with Miss Belle Lutes, a native of Ohio, who was born near Cincinnati, July 15, 1857, the daughter of Alex J. and Lavinia (Willey) Lutes, also natives of Ohio, who were farmers there. Mr. and Mrs. Righter became the parents of two sons, George Lutes and Cornelius Erwin Righter, both graduates of Stanford University, and both served in the World War, George, the oldest returning with a first lieutenant's bar. The younger son, better known as "Swede," has made a name for himself as an athlete while at Stanford, playing on the football and basketball teams. Perhaps his greatest honor came when he was selected as a member of the All-California Rugby team which represented the United States at the Olympic games in 1920. In the final game at Antwerp they defeated France and became Olympic champions, for which they were presented gold medals by King Albert of Belgium. A tour of Southern France followed the Olympic games in which the team was successful against the French. During the intervals between the games the members visited points of interest in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. Both of the boys are now engaged in physical education work in California.

In 1882 Mr: Righter purchased a ten-acre ranch at Campbell which was set out in apricots, so in 1887, when it had begun to bear fruit, he decided to retire from teaching and now spends his time in improving and taking care of his orchard, which is a model in many respects. He also owns a ten-acre prune orchard at Valley View, which is well improved. Mr. Righter has been prominent and active in local affairs, having been a director in the Santa Clara County Mutual Fire Insurance Company since its organization more than twenty-five years ago. He was also one of the organizers of the Farmers' Telephone Company of Campbell and is president of the company. He was also one of the original stockholders in the Bank of Campbell, has been an active participant in every cooperative movement in the valley, and is a member of the California Prune & Apricot Association and the California Peach Growers Association. He has given many years of study to cooperative selling and, as he says: "There is but one all-sufficient cooperative law, and that is the Golden Rule. All things being equal, one must do unto others as he would have others do unto him, there being no other right basis of action. Those who accept this foundation and build their organization on it may hope to form a permanent association." Mr. Righter wrote a pamphlet on cooperative marketing of all farm products, outlining the method and showing that by this method the producer receives more for his product and the consumer pays less. The Farmers Club of San Jose published and distributed Mr. Righter's pamphlet. Mr. Nutting, living near Fresno, who had done a great deal along cooperative lines of marketing, heard of Mr. Righter's method, and after obtaining a copy of the pamphlet substituted Mr. Righter's method for his own, changing only the method of price making. Mr. Righter's method was to sell at public auction to the highest bidder, the organization reserving the right to reject any or all bids. The association's method was to make its own prices without reference to the buyers. On this basis Mr. Nutting and W. H. Wrightson. with a large number of other prominent cooperators, organized the California Raisin Growers Association. It goes without saying that this association has not only brought untold prosperity to the producers, but has also greatly benefitted the consumers. W. H. Wrightson, ex-state president of the Farmers Educational & Cooperative Union of America, publicly stated at a state meeting of the above Union in San Jose that F. M. Righter has the honor of having furnished the basis of the California Associated Raisin Growers.

For over twenty-five years Mr. Righter has made a report of his weather observations to Washington. having a U. S. Weather Bureau station on his ranch--latitude N. 38° 18', longitude west 121° 57', elevation 217 feet above sea level—his station being established before there was a public station in San Jose. He is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and in religious faith is a member of the Congregational Church. Mr. Righter has taught a Bible class for more than forty years. He has not been ill for more than sixty years and will be eighty years old on his next birthday. He has no use for pessimism, for he believes optimism is the mainspring of progress. He has always been independent in his political views, voting for men and measures rather than parties, and wielding his influence for the good of the community.

From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1144


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight