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CAPT. ALFRED MARCY APLIN Bio of Highland, Ca Pioneer

Updated February 23, 2010

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CAPT. ALFRED MARCY APLIN. There could be no historical subject of greater interest than that involved in the reclamation, development and improvement of the former desert regions of Southern California into what is now a well connected landscape of citrus groves. Hardly anyone had a more important and practical part in that development, particularly in the districts around Highland, than the late Capt. Alfred Marcy Aplin. Captain Aplin, who received his title as a Union officer of the Civil war, was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, October 14, 1837. While completing a college course he answered Lincoln's first call for volunteers, served a three months' enlistment and then re-enlisted and was with the fighting forces of the North until the final surrender. He was once captured, and for seven days endured confinement in the Belle Isle Prison near Richmond, Virginia. He was in some of the most noted battles of the war, and at Missionary Ridge his captain, Cahil, was killed as he stood looking over Mr. Aplin's shoulder reading a newspaper. This newspaper had been slipped to them by a negro as they lay secreted in the brush, and Confederate sharpshooters had located them by means of the paper. Captain Aplin was an aide to General Thomas in the battles of Chicka- mauga and Stone River, and at the close of the war he participated in the Grand Review at Washington. He went in as a private, was twice promoted for bravery, and retired with the rank of captain. For many years he was a member of the G. A. R. Post at San Bernardino.

In Ohio in 1865 Captain Aplin married Miss Mary Elizabeth Winn, of Athens, that state. She was born in Albany, Ohio, November 14, 1842. When he left Ohio, Captain Aplin lived for two years at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and from there moved to Chetopah, Kansas. With that town as his headquarters he carried on an extensive business as a cattleman, running his herds over a large territory in Kansas and Indian Territory.

Captain Aplin came to California in 1875. He had a temporary residence on Base Line, and for the first three months worked in the mountains at the Little Bear Sawmill owned by Talmadge. In the meantime he was looking about for a permanent location, and in 1875 homesteaded a quarter section in East Highland, what is now known as the Smith Ranch.

Almost immediately he became instrumental in developing an irrigation water system, and also planted much of his land to deciduous fruit. One association of those early times was with F. E. Brown, the well known pioneer and founder of Redlands. They established a plant at the north end of Orange Street, and for two seasons bought and evaporated fruit. Captain Aplin designed and constructed the first commercial evaporator at Redlands, a plant which people came miles to see. He operated this plant on Lugonia Avenue near the Beal place in 1878-79. He also invented, though he never patented, a knife for the cutting of clingstone peaches. The design was subsequently adopted and largely manufactured in the East. While associated with Mr. Brown he was also instrumental in bringing water to the higher mesas in Redlands. He was a pioneer in the building of the Congregational Church at Highland, and was active in its choir.

About 1880 he bought eighty acres of railroad land, a portion of which is still owned by Mrs. Mary E. Aplin of East Highland. This he improved, setting out one of the first Naval orange groves in the district. He had observed the influence of frost on the sunflowers on lower and higher land, and was one of the first to advocate the higher mesa as the best location for citrus fruit, a policy and plan since generally followed and approved. He recommended and promoted the first two higher line water ditches from Santa Ana, partly as a means of saving wasteage due to the loss through the sand and also to serve the higher foothill lands. He was partially responsible for the present high line known as the North Fork Ditch or Canal. His first

 
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