|Birth: ||Sep. 19, 1867|
JAMES RICHARD AYERS.—Of unique interest as the farm where rice was first cultivated on a commercial scale in California, is the J. W. Browning Ranch in southwestern Butte County, formerly the Balfour-Guthrie Ranch, of which James Richard Ayers is superintendent; and few there are among ranch directors in all the state who have accomplished more than he in solving the difficult problems laid before him. Mr. Ayers entered the service of Mr. Browning in 1889, and with the exception of a single year, he has since been constantly in his employ. He was born in Green County, Mo., on September 19, 1867, a member of a family that originally came from Scotland, and the son of William Amon and Matilda (Campbell) Ayers, both of whom were born in Tennessee. There they were also married, after which they moved to Arkansas, before the Civil War. The father enlisted in the Union Army from Arkansas, Company K, Arkansas Volunteer Infantry, and fought all through the terrific struggle, receiving his discharge with honors as sergeant. After the war he settled at Bolivar, Polk County, Mo., and there became a well-to-do farmer, who owned one hundred sixty acres of land. The father and mother are both dead, the latter having passed away some five years ago, aged seventy-five.
When he was twenty years of age, James Richard left his home and came to California, going to Los Angles at first. There he secured work, for four or five months, on "Lucky" Baldwin's Ranch, and then he came north to put in some fourteen months on the Friesleben Ranch in Butte County, six miles east of Gridley, where he remained from July, 1888, till August, 1889. He then moved to Merced, and for fifty or sixty days labored on the Crocker and Huffman Ranch, when he came back to Grimes and went to work for J. W. Browning. This was on October 18, 1889, and there he has been busy as one of the "indispensables" all the intervening years, except the period from September 1, 1891, to September 12, 1892, when he revisited Missouri. From 1892 until May 16, 1916, when he assumed this superintendency, he worked on the Browning Ranch at Grand Island.
A most faithful worker and capable superintendent, whose jurisdiction on the great ranch extends to those portions devoted to grain and pasture. Mr. Ayers is a single man, and both prominent and popular in the ranks of the I. O. O. F. He had a sister Sarah, who became the wife of W. B. Erwin, a farmer in Missouri; and another sister, Virginia A., who became Mrs. Charles Payne, and also lived on a farm in Missouri. She, too, is dead. A third sister, Eliza Llewellyn, is a singer, and resides at Bolivar, Polk County, Mo. Mr. Ayers joined Grand Island Lodge, No. 266, I. O. O. F., on February 9, 1895, and is now a Past Noble Grand. He also belongs to the Rebekahs.
It was upon this Browning Ranch of five thousand five hundred acres, while the farm still belonged to the Balfour-Guthrie Company, and while William Grant, now of Vacaville, was its superintendent, that the successful growing of rice was first accomplished in Northern California. Mr. Grant began the experiment about the year 1907 and continued for about two or three years. He had a Japanese cook, K. Jukta, who interested another young Japanese in the idea of renting one hundred ten acres from Mr. Grant for the purpose of raising a crop of rice. That was in 1910, and the field averaged fifty-three sacks per acre.
This experiment attracted wide attention, and by 1912 rice-growing became an industry for which California had become noted. Biggs still continues to be the center for rice production in the state, although vast areas in Colusa County have recently been prepared for rice-growing. It is estimated that fully one hundred thousand acres are devoted to rice in California alone, most of which lies in the valleys of the Feather and Sacramento Rivers, while over a thousand acres of the J. W. Browning Ranch in Butte County have also been given up to rice-growing. This acreage is leased to Japanese tenants, among whom may be mentioned Mr. Y. Suychiro, a young man of thirty-five, whose father is a successful rice-grower in Japan, and who himself is a pioneer in the rice industry in California, and a rice expert and importer of seed-rices from Japan. Mr. Browning, the owner of this renowned ranch, is an extraordinarily successful man, and that success is largely due to his selection of the right kind of men to do his work. On his ranch in 1918 there are twenty-three hundred acres in rice and seven hundred acres in barley. The balance is in pasture for some eleven hundred fifty head of cattle. Source: "History of Butte County, Cal.," by George C. Mansfield, Pages 1128-1129, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918.
Matilda A. Ayers (1835 - 1912)
Virginia Agnes Ayers Payne (1866 - 1916)*
James Richard Ayers (1867 - 1933)
Grand Island Cemetery
Created by: cjgriffith
Record added: May 05, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 69400377