Irvine History
Short History of James Myford Irvine's Family Lineage
Irvine Ranch
Irvine Ranch
James Irvine I
James Irvine I
The Land Baron
James Irvine I - Great Grandfather


James Irvine I was Scottish but his father moved the family to Anabilt, County Down., Ireland. When Ireland’s potato crop failed in 1845, James Irvine I took a ship to New York, United States because his family was too poor to support him. In 1849, he took a ship to San Francisco at the beginning of the California Gold Rush. He worked in a store as a stock boy and worked his way up and soon bought the store naming it “Irvine & Co.” The store would sell supplies, food and clothing to the miners who came for the California Gold Rush.  James Irvine I began investing his profits in San Francisco real estate and soon became a wealthy man. In 1864, he started purchasing land in Orange County, California and soon he had 115,000 acres which is the size of 3 New York Cities, 185 square miles or 1/3 of the land in present day Orange County. During this time, the land was used as a stock range. James Irvine I died March 15, 1886. He had one son James Irvine II also known as J.I.
Passengers on the ship
Passengers on the ship "Humbolt" who became successful and made history in California.
  • To get from New York to San Francisco, James Irvine I booked passage on the Rip Van Winkle tub Humboldt, which took 102 days making the voyage going thru Panama. He arrives in San Francisco on August 30, 1849 just in time for the California Gold Rush.
    Notable Passengers: C.P. Huntington, Isaac E Davis, Ben Flint, Dr. John F. Morse, James Anthony and A.B. Perkings.
James Irvine II
James Irvine II
The Farmer
James Irvine II - Grandfather


Upon his father’s death, James Irvine II (aka J.I.) who was 18 years old at the time, inherited the land in Orange County, California. He and his friend rode penny farthing bicycles from San Francisco to Orange County to see the land for the first time. Through determination, smarts and hard work he turned the chaparral range into one of the largest, most productive agricultural enterprises in the United States. He came up with a gravity fed water distribution system where about 80,000 acres could have water on a continual basis. Every piece of land was used to grow crops and raise 10,000 head of cattle. The ranch was the leading producer of lima beans, barley, sugar beets, oranges and other row crops. In 1910 the Los Angeles Times declaired Irvine Ranch to be "one of the greatest cultivated farms in the world."

He built a large estate home the family calls “The Ranch House.” The ranch house is now a public library called the Katie Wheeler Library and is in a 16-acre park named Irvine Ranch Historic Park administered by the Orange County Parks and is filled with historic Irvine Ranch Headquarter Buildings and artifacts. This is where Jim and Susan are getting married.

James M. Irvine Family Lineage
James M. Irvine Family Lineage
  • James Irvine II had 3 children; Katherine, James (Jase) and Myford.
  • Katherine Helena Irvine (1894-1920) died giving birth to her child Katie. Katie is Jim’s cousin Katie Wheeler whom the library is named after. Katherines middle name Helena was named after the world famous actress Madam Helena Modjeska.
  • “Jase”, James Irvine III (1894-1935) died when he was 42 years old of tuberculosis in 1935. He married Athalie Richardson in 1929 and had one daughter, Athalie Anita "Joan" Irvine in 1933 (aka Joan Irvine Smith).
  • Myford Irvine is my fiancé’s father and was James Irvine II’s only surviving child.
  • In 1935, James Irvine II made Myford Irvine the President of the James Irvine Foundation. Myford held that position for 24 years (1935-1959). He also became the President of the Irvine Company when James Irvine II died in 1947.
  • When James Irvine II incorporated the Irvine Company in 1935 he left approimately 58% of the Irvine Company stock to be given to the James Irvine Foundation upon his death.
Photo of James Irvine II and his friend riding penny-farthing bicycles from San Francisco to Orange County to see the land he inherited for the first time.
Myford Plum Irvine
Myford Plum Irvine
The Visionary
Myford P. Irvine - James M. Irvine Father


When James Irvine II died in 1947, Myford Irvine took over the presidency of the Irvine Company. He began opening sections of the Irvine Ranch to urban development which included: Irvine Terrace and Bay Shores, Bayside Drive for homes, Irvine Coast Country Club, Newport Center and Irvine Bowl. The City of Irvine was the largest master planned community on the planet at the time when Myford Irvine created it. This would come to include the University of California, Irvine.

During his term of Presidency in 1953, Myford gave all the land and facilities to hold the third National Boy Scout Jamboree with over 50,000 scouts from all 48 states and 16 foreign countries attended. Hence Jamboree road!
Myford was the President of the Irvine Foundation when it was established in 1937 until his death. Today the James Irvine Foundation has 2 billion dollars in assets and over 1 billion dollars has been awarded since its inception. In 2017, the Foundation awarded over 90 million dollars to worthy charities. To learn more, go to:
Myford Irvine was first married in 1922 and had one daughter Linda Jane Irvine. He divorced and remarried in 1950 to Gloria Wood White. She came to the marriage with two children from her previous marriage, Bill White and Gay White Bryant. Myford and Gloria had one son, James Myford Irvine who is my fiancé and is the only descendent that still carries the first name James and the last name Irvine - James Irvine.
In 1959, Myford Irvine died at the age of 61. When Myford Irvine died, James Myford Irvine and other decedents of James Irvine II became the heirs of the Irvine Company along with the James Irvine Foundation. In 1977 the family and Foundation started selling shares to Donald Bren and he became the majority shareholder by 1982.
James Myford Irvine
James Myford Irvine
James Myford Irvine - Groom

James M Irvine was born on April 17, 1953 in Santa Ana, California. He lived in the Ranch House (Katie Wheeler Library) when he was a young boy. Jim will be the last Irvine that lived in the home and that will be married at the Katie Wheeler Library. Jim has two children from a previous marriage.
James Myford Irvine is the only descendent that still carries the first name James and the last name Irvine - James Irvine.

To read more go to James M. Irvine on this website.
Photo of James Myford Irvine and his parents Myford and Gloria Irvine taken on the front porch of his home which is now called the Katie Wheeler Library. This photo is up in the library located on the left side of the staircase.