Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


When James B. Iverson started for California, twenty-five years ago, he borrowed money to pay the expenses of the trip. To-day he owns a competence, and financially is one of the solid men of Monterey County. Fortune did not hunt him up to lavishly pour her treasures into his lap. He found it necessary to follow the advice of Bobby Burns:

"To win dame Fortune's smile
Assiduously wait upon her,
And gather gear by every wile
That's justified by honor."

Coming to Monterey County when it was comparatively a new country, he has done much to develop the resources of the Salinas Valley, and has profited by enhancing property values, and creating wealth, where, in the undeveloped condition of the county, none existed.

He is a native of Denmark, and was born October 3, 1835, in Apenrade, Schleswig (now a part of Prussia). He was educated in the common schools of his country, having only one teacher during the whole period of his school-boy days. He learned the trade of blacksmithing from his father, and after serving sixteen months in the Danish Army, in 1863 he came to California. He worked at the forge five years in San Lorenzo for Henry Smith. When he had been in California eighteen months, he had paid the friend who loaned him money to come to America with, and had $50 left. This $50 he invested in mining stock, and he has the stock yet. He is keeping it as a souvenir of his first investment.

From San Lorenzo he went to Watsonville, where he worked three months. In September, 1868, he arrived at Salinas with a little more than $2,000, which he expended and went in debt $800 in fitting up a shop. He worked hard and met with success, adding to his shop as his circumstances would permit, eventually adding a machine department, until he had the most complete establishment of this kind in this section of the State.

Shortly after he established in Salinas, his brother, E. P. Iverson, came from Denmark, and worked for him ten years, when he was admitted to partnership. Later Mr. Iverson sent for the balance of the family, and they are now all living in Salinas. His father lives with his youngest daughter, and although eighty-three years old, is hale and hearty.

During the past six or eight years Mr. Iverson has turned the management of the shop over to his brother, his outside interests in land, stock, etc., demanding all his attention. He and Jesse D. Carr and Wm. Vanderhurst bought one thousand five hundred acres of swamp land near Salinas from Eugene Sherwood, which, by the expenditure of a large sum of money and several years of hard labor, they reclaimed. It is now among the finest properties in the county. Mr. Iverson is in partnership with Wm. Vanderhurst in a number of ranches, and is engaged extensively in grain and stock-raising, and is also interested in Los Burros mines. He is President of the Gas, Electric Light and Water Company, and of the I. O. O. F. Hall Association. He has been a member of the Common Council and is a Director in the Agricultural Association, having the management of the track. He is a progressive citizen, prominent in all enterprises that are for the benefit of Salinas or Monterey County.

Source: Monterey County : its general features, resources, attractions, and inducements to investors and home seekers. Salinas, Calif.: E.S. Harrison, 1889, 89 pgs.