Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


A native Englishman who has made the same record for enviable but unenvied success that has made so many of his fellow countrymen notable was Fred Barson, one of the most progressive and substantial citizens of Santa Cruz, who passed away March 9, 1919. He was born in England, in 1839, but when only a child he was taken by his parents across the sea and with them settled in Janesville, Wisconsin. There he attended school, and on growing up, he responded to the impulse that has led sa many persons to abandon the middle west for the Pacific coast, and came to California. He engaged in mining but after two years of venture in that uncertain field he located in Santa Cruz, arriving here in- 1864.

His first work seems to have been with the San Lorenzo Hotel, which was afterwards destroyed by fire, and he then accepted a position with the mercantile firm of Hihm & Field. Somewhat later, he launched his own enteiprise, and although he had only a small capital, he opened a general merchandise store in Santa Cruz, in a short time taking in Edward Kingsly as a partner, the firm becoming known as Barson & Kingsly. They enlarged their business by contracting to operate sawmills, producing lumber and establishing one of the principal industries in this section and at the same time their general merchandise business was prospering. Mr. Barson remained in that line until 1870, when he purchased thirty acres of land adjoining Santa Cruz and this property is now the present site of the Riverside Hotel. His original intention was to conduct it as a home place. He commenced with a few boarders but gradually he made additions, as necessity required, until the present magnificent resort was produced.

The Riverside Hotel, although surrounded by thirty acres of lawns and shrubbery, is centrally located and occupies a fine site at a bend of the San Lorenzo river, which, rising in the mountains, flows through Santa Cruz and empties into the Bay of Monterey. The rooms are large and well furnished, with or without bath, and are heated by steam, have hot and cold water and there is a spacious lobby and writing room and all the appointments of a first class hotel. On the grounds are modern bungalows, for the use of persons and families who desire seclusion, rest and fresh air. The San Lorenzo river surrounds the splendid site on two sides, and salt water tides afford boating and fishing. Since Mr. Barson's death the hotel, still further improved, has been conducted by the children of the deceased.

On September 30, 1866, Mr. Barson was married at Santa Cruz to Miss Mary Ellen Archibald, a native of Truro, Nova Scotia, who died May 7, 1921. They became the parents of eight children, each of whom has reflected creditably upon the family name. They are as follows: Sarah, Alfred, William, Mary, Arthur, Gertrude, Lilla and Robert G., two of whom are married. The good works of the father live after him and he is honored by all who knew him for what he really was.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.