Judge Erskine Mayo Ross was one of the first Americans to acquire a large tract of land in the valley, and in connection with Capt. C. E. Thom began its improvement and development. In 1872 they set out orange trees, some of which are still bearing. This was the first orange grove planted on the Rancho San Rafael. In 1883 he built a large residence on the ranch, which he named “Rossmoyne” and made it his home for may hears. In 1883 the Glendale Hotel (now the Glendale Sanitarium) was built by Judge Ross, Capt. Thom and H. J. Crow, and for many years Judge Ross was prominently identified with all activities for the growth and development of the community.
Judge Ross is a Virginian by birth and was born June 30, 1845, at Belpre, Culpepper county, a son of William Buckner and Elizabeth Mayo (Thom) Ross. His father was of Scotch ancestry and his mother of English descent. His early days were spent with is parents at their home which was called Belpre (Beautiful Meadows). The first school he attended was one established by a few neighbors for the benefit of their children. Subsequently, when about ten years old, he went to a military school at Culpepper Court House, where he continued most of the time until the summer of 1860, then entering the Virginia Military Institute—an institute modeled after West Point. At the outbreak of the war the corps of cadets at the institute was ordered to Camp Lee, at Richmond, which it reached on the night of the day Virginia seceded. The corps was the first to arrive and the cadets, of whom Ross was one, were put to drilling the raw recruits as they came in. Like most of the others Ross was too young to be mustered into the army, but acted as lieutenant in various commands, and was in several battles with the Confederate forces. In 1863 his father insisted that he return to the institute, which he did. In 1864 the Confederates were in such straits that the corps of cadets was again called out, and the body took part in the battle of New Market, sustaining a loss of fifty-five killed and wounded out of a total number of one hundred and ninety. At the close of the war young Ross returned to the institute and graduated with the class of 1865.
In 1868 he came to Los Angeles, to engage in the study of law in the office of his uncle, Cameron E. Thom, who at that time was a leader in his profession in the city. In 1869 he was admitted to the bar, and in 1875 to the bar of the Supreme Court of the state. In 1879, he was elected justice of the Supreme Court of the state. In 1879, he was elected justice of the Supreme Court of the state of California and having drawn one of the shortest terms, was re-elected for a term of twelve years. In 1886 Judge Ross resigned his seat on the supreme bench, his resignation taking effect October first of that year, and resumed the practice of law at Los Angeles. A few months later he was appointed by President Cleveland, as Judge of the United States District Court for Southern California, when lately created. During President Cleveland’s second term he was appointed United States Circuit Judge, which position he still holds. This appointment, without solicitation, was given in response to the opinion that he was the man for the place.
Judge Ross has always stood high as a man, as a lawyer, and as a judge. He as that sensitive regard for justice which is the crowning virtue of a judge, and without which no justice is thoroughly equipped, however learned he may be, in the law, or how brilliant he may be intellectually. Judge Ross’ record on the supreme bench of the state was most important to the people of Southern California, because of his intimate knowledge of the vital question of water, or irrigation. His influence with his brother justices in these matters was exceedingly valuable, and it was gratifying to him to know that his services were appreciated by the people. His record for thirty-six years as United States Judge has justified the utmost confidence of the legal profession and the general public as to his ability, fairness and breadth of comprehension in handing the many matters which usually come before this court.
He still owns and operates his ranch property on North Verdugo Road, which approximates eleven hundred acres. It is deveote3d to citrus, deciduous fruits, olives and general farming. The ranch has its own fruit packing plant and a mill for the making of olive oil. In politics Judge Ross has always been a Democrat. He is a member of the Episcopal church, and was one of the founders of the Greek letter fraternity Alpha Tau Omega. Rev. Otis Allen Glazebrook, an Episcopal rector, who was formerly American Consul to Syria, and Capt. Alfred Marshall were the other founders. He is a member of the Pacific Union Club of San Francisco and the California Club at Los Angeles.
At San Francisco on May 7, 1874, Judge Ross married Ynez Hannah Bettis. They became the parents of a son, Robert Erskine Ross, of Los Angeles. Mrs. Ross died in 1907.
From History of Glendale and Vicinity by John Calvin Sherer. The Glendale Publishing Company, c. 1922 F. M. Broadbooks and J. C. Sherer. P. 305-306.