Short History of James Myford Irvine's Family Lineage
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.
James Irvine II
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.
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.