Glendale, California Biographies

John Calvin Sherer

        John Calvin Sherer. As indicated by his given name, Mr. Sherer descended from old Scotch-Irish Presbyterian stock. His mother’s parents and ancestors back to the days of George Fox were orthodox Quakers. She was Margaret Chambers of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and married “out of meeting” when she wed Robert Sherer. The Chambers homestead, where the subject of this sketch spend much of his boyhood, is located on the line between Pennsylvania and Delaware, while the Maryland line is but two or three miles distant.

        Mr. Sherer was born on May 6, 1852, in Cecil County, Maryland, halfway between Philadelphia and Baltimore. His parents moved with three children to Kansas in 1855, the father taking up a government quarter section of land near the site of the city of Leavenworth. Here the mother died after a few months in the new home and the father, discouraged, returned with his children to Pennsylvania. The boy attended the public schools during the fall and winter, working on a farm in summertime for such wages as he could get. At the age of 17 he attended the Normal School at Millersville, Pa., for one year. The following year he spent at Eastman’s Business College, Poughkeepsie, N. Y. There, in addition to studying bookkeeping and theoretical business, he acquired some knowledge of telegraphy and the next year found him in a small telegraph office in a Philadelphia suburb, where as he says, he “received six dollars a week and paid five dollars for board.”

        He remained in Philadelphia for three years, in the meantime becoming an expert telegrapher, and in the latter part of 1875 started for California. In San Francisco he obtained temporary employment with the Western Union Telegraph Company and was sent to Yreka, California to assist in the office. He spent the winter at Yreka and the following being the Centennial year, he returned to Philadelphia to help celebrate. He worked for the Western Union in their main office and in the fall of 1877 sailed again for California via Panama. After a short stay in San Francisco he went to Mendocino County where he had charge of a small telegraph office in an out-of-the-way place, called Kibesillah. After remaining there for six months he again was on the move, arriving in Los Angeles in 1878, he again became employed in the Western Union office. He remained with that company for several years, attaining the position of Chief Operator. In the meantime he had his attention called to the valley in which Glendale is now located and in 1880, bought 17 acres of land on Verdugo Road, where he still resides. For a portion of his land he paid fifty dollars an acre.

        In 1883, a sister, Miss Rachel M. Sherer, joined her brother and they began housekeeping in a two-room California cabin on the “ranch.” Mr. Sherer continuing to work in the telegraph office, drove in and out of Los Angeles daily, Sundays excepted, for many years. His activities in the work of helping to build up the community, began in 1883, and have continued without cessation, helping to organize water companies, build churches and school houses, conduct a fruit growers co-operative association and organize a city. He was the City’s first Treasurer, being at that time acting in the capacity of the first cashier of the first bank in Glendale, (having left the telegraph office to accept that position).

        In 1894 Mr. Sherer was married to Miss Elizabeth C. Parker, of Boston. Mrs. Sherer was a descendant of that Captain Parker who fell at Lexington. She was a woman of fine artistic talent and her love of trees and flowers and all things beautiful, was evident in many ways about her home; and “Somerset Farm,” one of the show places of Glendale, is a living and growing testimonial to the success of her many years of home building in the place that she loved. She came to Glendale as one of its pioneers, and in company with her brother, Charles E. Parker, she “camped out” on the place that afterwards became her home, in 1880. She was a member of the Tuesday Afternoon Club, and chairman of its Civics committee in the early days of its history. Mrs. Sherer passed away in January, 1919.

        Seeing the necessity for co-operation among fruit growers, Mr. Sherer with some of his neighbors organized the Glendale Fruit Growers Association in 1894, being its manager for the first season. The following year he was one of the organizers of the Southern California Fruit Growers Exchange, and went to Minneapolis as a representative of that organization in 1896, remaining some months. In 1905, he became cashier of the Bank of Glendale which position he held until January, 1907, when he purchased the Glendale News, then a weekly paper, conducting the same until March 1913, when he sold out to the present proprietor, Mr. A. T. Cowan.

        He was a candidate for the Assembly in 1912, on the Republican ticket, but is was a bad year for Taft Republicans, and he was not elected. In 1914 he was elected City Clerk and was four times re-elected to that position, resigning in 1921 to accept the appointment of treasurer, which position he now holds.

        Mr. Sherer has been a contributor of special articles for newspapers and magazines for a number of years and occasionally “drops into verse,” admitting modestly that, in a few instances, the result of his rhyming has narrowly escaped being poetry. In 1887, he served for a short time in the capacity of reporter on the Los Angeles Times, when Mr. Charles F. Lummis was city editor.

        Altogether Mr. Sherer has lived a busy and useful life, carrying out literally the program which he mapped out for himself when he came to California, to “grow up with the country.”


From History of Glendale and Vicinity by John Calvin Sherer. The Glendale Publishing Company, c. 1922 F. M. Broadbooks and J. C. Sherer. Pgs. 475-476. A photograph J.C. Sherer appears on page 1, opposite the title page of this book.