George W. Pierce

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George Washington Pierce Jr. (December 10, 18501929) was the leader of the State Farm Promotion Committee which sought, in 1905, to bring the University Farm to Davis. Pierce was the only surviving child in his family; his early years were spent with relatives in Wisconsin while his parents worked to acquire wealth in Northern California; after they had achieved an acceptable level of material comfort, Pierce was able to finally join his parents in California around the age of ten.

Some years later, Pierce had the honor of being the first Sacramento Valley resident to earn a degree from the University of California, and he therefore understood the impact of a quality education on an individual as well as the potential economic benefits for the whole community. After earning a Ph. D. in civil engineering, he landed a job with the Southern Pacific railroad Company. In later adulthood, he became a land-owning farm manager, taking on the responsibilities of his father who had suffered an unfortunate accident. The farm consisted of 1200 acres located on Putah Creek, five miles to the west of Davis. The farm included an orchard of 150 acres of almond and prune trees.

He was a member of the Almond Growers' Association of Davisville and served as its vice-president for some years. He aided in organizing, and served as president of, the California Grain Growers' Association, which held its first convention in 1902.
In addition to managing farmlands, in his later years Pierce became the president of the Davisville Almond Growers Association and the California Almond Growers Association. Pierce was also an early investor in Davis' first bank, the Bank of Yolo, and he considered himself the first depositor.

Pierce was elected to the State Assembly in 1898, and so, by 1905, he was a widely recognizable figure with considerable weight to his words. Because he was familiar with the local lands and people, he was able to make speculative plans that greatly increased the chances of Davis being picked for the University Farm site. Perhaps most importantly, he was able to persuade landowner Martin Sparks into a binding agreement to sell off his 788 acre farm in the case of Davis being picked by the University Farm Site Selection Commission. Although there were many hurdles and uncertainties along the way, Pierce never lost sight of his goal, and at times dug deeply into his own wallet to keep the speculative plans moving.

He was married to Miss Susan Gilmore. They had four children, two of whom, Gilmore and Eunice, died in infancy. George G. Pierce and Dixwell Lloyd Pierce.

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