Thursday, July 10, 2008

Shell House in Rivery Park

Prepared by Southwestern University Paideia Scholars Natalie Mahlberg, Amanda Mohammed, and Megan Mullins and Paideia Professor Michael Kamen. Artwork by Carlos Barron

Dr. Michael Kamen's Paideia class at Southwestern University researched and wrote the information contained in this post as a part of the San Gabriel River Trail Project (, funded by a Vision grant from the 3M Foundation. The text and graphics shown here will be put on Kiosk that will be placed in the park by the City of Georgetown.

The Shell family were early pioneers who lived along the North San Gabriel River just north of Georgetown. Remains of the Shell family home can be seen near the pavilion at Rivery Park. The Shell family moved to Georgetown and built the house in the late 1800s. During this time Jonas Montgomery Shell Sr. was elected district clerk and served for a year before becoming sheriff. After the 1921 flood, Jonas Montgomery Jr. raised the house on stones to avoid the house being severely damaged by future floods. Following this incident, a house fire was caused by wood heaters, which were used for heating and cooking until the addition of electricity in the 1930s. The surrounding land was used as a ranch where cattle, workhorses, and other livestock grazed. In addition, the family tended pear and peach orchards. They also grew a variety of vegetables in a garden that included corn, tomatoes, and peppers. A tank still stands today, which was built by Jonas Montgomery Shell Jr. in the 1940s in addition to a fence that was built as a coral for the horses and cattle.

The Shell family still resides in the Georgetown area: Sister Marguerite Shell Murray, and brothers Jonas (Son), Wiggy, and Sidney Shell all married and continued to ranch in the Georgetown area. The 263 acre property was sold in 1972, and traded hands several times before becoming Rivery Park.

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