Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


The Hon. George Cleveland, representative in the general assembly of the state of California, a veteran of the Spanish-American war with a record of service in the Philippines and a veteran of the World war with an overseas record, is today a prominent rancher in the immediate vicinity of Watsonville in Santa Cruz county and one of the best known men in that community. He is a Yankee by birth, of colonial and Revolutionary stock, but has been a resident of California since the days of his infancy and thus feels himself as much a Californian as though really "native and to the manner born," as the poet would have it.

Mr. Cleveland was born in the ancient and picturesque city of Skowhegan in the beautiful valley of the Kennebec in Somerset county, Maine, March 19, 1874, and is a son of George S. C. and Julia (Drumy) Cleveland, both members of old families in the Pine Tree state and whose last days were spent in California. This is the Cleveland family from which sprang Grover Cleveland, twenty-second president of the United States. Moses Cleveland, the founder of the city of Cleveland, Ohio, also was a representative of this family, which had its beginnings in this country far back in colonial times and was honorably and actively represented in the Continental army during the days of the Revolution. Mr. Cleveland's great-grandfather was a soldier in the War of 1812; his grandfather, Samuel P. Cleveland, was a soldier of the Mexican war; and his father was a soldier of the Civil war. George S. C. Cleveland rendered service in behalf of the cause of the Union with a Maine regiment and for some years after the completion of his military service made his home at Skowhegan. In 1875 he disposed of his interests there and with his family came to California, bought a tract of two hundred acres near Watsonville, established his home on that place, set out a good orchard and engaged in general farming, he and his wife spending the remainder of their lives there, among the substantial and influential residents of the community. He died in 1910 and his widow survived him about three years, her death occurring in 1913. They left three sons, the subject of this sketch having two brothers, Charles Cleveland, who is associated with him in the operations of the old home ranch, where he resides and A. L. Cleveland, who is now making his home in Salinas, Monterey county.

George Cleveland was but a babe one year old when his parents came to California in 1875 and he was reared on the home ranch in the vicinity of Watsonville, which place he still makes his home, and to the operations of which ranch he has. for some years devoted his active attention. His initial education was received in the Watsonville schools and this was supplemented by attendance at Stanford University. He early turned his attention to the study of law and in 1895, when twenty-one years of age, passed the examination before the state supreme court and was admitted to the bar. Thus qualified for practice Mr. Cleveland entered the office of Garby, Boalt & Bishop, prominent lawyers at San Francisco, and was there engaged in practice when the Spanish-American war broke out in the spring of 1898. He at once enlisted in the First Regiment, California Volunteer Infantry, and was assigned for Philippine service. For one year and five months Mr. Cleveland was in the Philippines, a part of this time being on duty as a teacher in the schools of the new island possessions and as a deputy internal revenue collector.

Upon the completion of his military service Mr. Cleveland returned to his old home on the Watsonville ranch and in 1904 was elected to represent his district in the lower house of the California general assembly, serving one term. As chairman of the committee of the house which had to do with the development of the states horticultural interests Mr. Cleveland was able to secure some much needed new legislation along that line, his practical experience as a horticulturist giving him an insight into the needs of that department that proved valuable to his confreres on that committee. When this country took a hand in the World war in 1917 Mr. Cleveland attempted to get back into the army but was rejected on account of age limitations. Feeling him self "as young as ever" he declined to accept this disqualification as final and went to Canada, where on May 12, 1918, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces and with the detachment to which he was assigned was straightway ordered abroad for active service in the field. He was assigned to the famous English Tenth Battalion and with that command rendered service in the dread Ypres sector in Belgium during the time of the fiercest conflict there and in the hottest part of that historic engagement had several escapes from death which could be considered hardly less than miraculous. During his service in the Philippines he also had one or two hairbreadth escapes from death and he thus can account himself a pretty thoroughly seasoned soldier. During a part of his service in Belgium he had charge of the dynamite squad of the Tenth Battalion and in that connection had some very vivid experiences.

When the Canadian troops were returned to this side following the conclusion of the war Mr. Cleveland came back, received his discharge at Montreal and returned to the home farm at Watsonville, where he resumed his accustomed vocation along the quiet paths of peaceful horticulture. In the campaign of 1920 he again was elected to represent his district in the lower house of the state legislature, was reelected in 1922 and again in 1924, and is thus now serving his fourth term and third consecutive term in that legislative body. Mr. Cleveland has been a member of the important committees of the house having to do with ways and means, education, motor vehicles, public health and quarantine and medical affairs and in these several connections has rendered valuable service to the state. When the nationwide movement began in connection with the establishment of American Legion posts throughout the country following the return of men who had rendered service in the World war Mr. Cleveland took an active part in the local movement along that line and was one of the most active and influential factors in the organization of the post of the American Legion at Watsonville, in the affairs of which he continues to take a very earnest interest, one of the prime movers in all the activities of that patriotic body. He also is affiliated with the local lodges of the Masons, the Knights of Pythias, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Foresters of America and the Improved Order of Red Men.

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.