Sunday, February 21, 2021

Kilson Drive and Kilson Square, Santa Ana

Ad for Kilson Square, Santa Ana Register, June 28, 1923

The Kilson Square subdivision in Santa Ana (Tract 466) is named for its owner/developer, George Elmer Kilson. He came into the world in Iowa in 1857, fifth of the seven children of Lewis Kelson (born Lars Kjellson Bøe) and Caroline “Carrie” Kilson (born Milvey Erickson) who had emigrated to America from Norway in 1838 and eventually homesteaded a farm in Butler County. George was educated in Bristow, Iowa and worked on his father’s farm until the age of 21.

“At that time he came to California to carve his own destiny in the land that offers so many inducements to the worthy citizen, arriving in the Golden State February 7, 1882,” wrote Yda Addis Storke in her 1891 Memorial and Biographical History of the Counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura Counties. “He had already obtained some knowledge of telegraphy, and his first move was to finish learning that business, at Pino, Placer County. He was afterward sent to Arizona and at different times had charge of several stations: was three months at Yuma, one year at Dragoon Summit, the highest point on the Southern Pacific Railroad, and was two years at Nelson” in Butte County, California.

The Kilsons’ home in Kilson Square, 1923. 

George married native Californian Laura F. Williams on December 17, 1886. While still in Nelson, their first son, Lewis, was born. The left Nelson for Saticoy, in Ventura County in November 1887. 

George worked for over thirty years as the local ticket agent and operator for the Southern Pacific Railroad in Saticoy. Their second son, Elmer, was also born there. 

Original tract map for Kilson Square.

George retired in 1916. By late 1919 they still had an address in Saticoy, but also had a home at 402 McFadden Ave in Santa Ana and were in the process of building a six-room bungalow at 425 McFadden. They were settled into this second McFadden address by 1920. Orange County’s real estate market was booming and the Kilsons would stay and make the most of it. 

1923: Supposedly a view of both John L. & Ida Rudolph’s home at 921 Hickey St. and Michael P. & Elizabeth Lynch's home at 926 Halladay St. in Kilson Square. Both John and Michael worked for the City Water Dept.

By 1923, George had purchased a walnut grove bounded by McFadden on the south, Halladay St on the east, Oak St on the west, and approximately the line of E. Wisteria Place on the north. They built a home for themselves there and (in conjunction with the Guaranty Finance Co.) they subdivided the land as “Kilson Square.” Sales began in 1924 and went well. The new tract including at least eighteen houses built “on spec,” including ten homes built by local contractor Verne E. Maynard. It was prime real estate, being close Spurgeon Elementary School and the new (still under construction) Lathrop Intermediate School. The sales pitch also promoted the fact that most of the lots included four mature walnut trees, which might produce enough nuts to pay for the interest and taxes on the property.

In 1925 the Kilsons moved to another house they’d built for themselves the year before on the 820 block of S. Broadway. They were still living there as of 1926, but by 1928 they were living at 2438 N. Park Blvd. It was at this address where George E. Kilson died on November 16, 1932.

Kilson Drive during the development of Kilson Square, 1923.

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