The Valley of Heart's Delight

Saratoga, California

SURNAMES:  Arthur, MacVicar, Cilker, Stewart

The pioneer cooperative fruit packer of the Santa Clara Valley, Lawrence Russell, of the Saratoga district, has been associated with the fruit industry as an orchardist ever since his advent in this county, whither he removed in 1888. A native of the land of Burns, he was born at Calderbank,
Scotland, on August 5, 1850, the son of Andrew and Isabella (Arthur) Russell, both born, reared and died in their native land. The father was a baker by trade, following that until his death. Lawrence was educated in the public schools of Calderbank and the Airdrie Academy of Airdrie, Scotland, and when he was through with his studies he became office boy for the Monkland Iron and Steel Company at Calderbank and remained with this firm for sixteen years, advancing from one post to another until he became cashier, and during the time he read law and became a chartered accountant while in their employ.

Having left the employ of the steel company he secured a position with the Arizona Copper Company of Edinburgh, and in 1883, came to Clifton, Arizona, where in 1885 he was joined by his family. He held the post of cashier for the Arizona Copper Company, later was made its president and manager. He was also president and manager of the Arizona and New Mexico Railroad, owned by stockholders of the Copper Company, running between Clifton, Arizona and Lordsburg, New Mexico. During 1888 he came to California and to San Jose, but stopped for only a  few months in the city, when he went to the Saratoga district, and on the Mountain View road, in 1889, he purchased eighty acres of orchard, which is now set to prunes and apricots. This was about the time that the transformation of the country from grain farming to fruit raising was in progress, with no markets for the fruit, or when marketed, with the prices so unstable as to discourage development of orchards. There was no coordinataion among any of the growers and each indiviual did the best he could to advance his own interests. Mr. Russell circulated among the growers of his district and finally organized a cooperative association of three men for the packing and marketing of fruit, with his sons to aid him in his work. They secured the best method of commercial packing of good fruit and from their first year, when only two car loads were sent out, they steadily advanced until now an average of thirty cars are sent to the markets of America annually.

During the years intervening from 1889 to the present time, Mr. Russel's forceful personality has been felt in the orchard and packing industry, and though practically retired from active duties he is still acting in an advisory capacity in the plant that he founded thirty years ago. They still retain among their customers people who bought their fruit at the beginning and the "Russell Brand" of first class packed dried fruit stands for quality in all the markets of the East.

As a fruit grower, Mr. Russell utilizes every up-to-date method to be found on all first class ranches and his industry and perseverance have been the main factors in his success.

In Scotland, on December 19, 1870, he was united in marriage with Miss Mary MacVicar, born in that country, and they have become the parents of eight children; Andrew, connected with Richmond-ChaseCompany in San Jose, and the father of two children. Dorothy and Norman A.; Hamilton, on the ranch with his father, formerly a garage owner at Saratoga; Jessie, the wife of A.L. Cilker of Los Gatos; Isabella, at home with her parents; Alexander, a civil engineer in the employ of the state and living in Berkeley, and has two children, Alexander and Mary Inez; Margaret, also at home; Mary, the wife of A.E. Stewart, of Berkeley; while Lawrence, widely known among a large circle of friends, died at the age of twenty-four.
Mr. Russell is a stalwart Republican and alive to the interests of his party in national issues, but in local matters he is above partisanship and supports the men and measures for the greatest good to the greatest number. He is a stanch advocate of education and has served as a member of his local school board for many years. He is a member of Liberty Lodge No. 299, F. & A. M. of Santa Clara. He is public spirited to a high degree, giving freely of his time and means to promot movements for the moral and social uplift of his adopted state and county. He has witnessed the steady growth and development of Santa Clara County and now in the evening of his days, with his good wife by his side, and surrounded by his children and grand children, enjoys life to its full, and well-deserved reward for his busy years.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 500