The Haven Seed Co. was a family
operated business throughout its life and as such, the corporate
records cannot be understood completely without reference to the
accompanying mélange of the personal and business papers of family
members. The company existed in one form or another, in one place or
another, and in the hands of one family member or another for 73
years as seen through the surviving records; outside sources, such
as the Orange County directories in the Santa Ana History Room of
the Santa Ana Public Library, indicate the addition of at least 10
years to that figure, but they tell nothing of the human involvement
that was present.
beginning, the seed business was located in Bloomingdale, Michigan,
and at first may have been called G. W. Haven and Sons as early as
1873, but no later than 1875. This name has been applied by the
arranger to the earliest of the papers. It is derived from a letter
sent in 1878 by Edwin M. Haven., one of the sons, stating that his
new seed enterprise was the successor to his father's. Some years
before, in the spring of 1875, young Edwin had spent some weeks in
Rockford, Illinois observing the seed trade as operated by J. B.
Root; on his return home, he stepped out on his own.
"Bloomingdale Seed Farms" founded
in 1875 was, from the company point of view, the starting place of
all that came later. It proposed to grow seed for retail customers
as well as the wholesale seed merchants. In 1878 Edwin Haven
married., and a number of his children were born before both company
and family moved to South Haven, Michigan in March, 1891.
South Haven was a railroad and
steamer terminus on the east shore of Lake Michigan. The Haven Seed
Co. was incorporated here in 1893, and officers some friends, some
family, some local business people - served it in various capacities
until the fall of 1903. Both wholesale and retail aspects were
continued and expanded. "Sales agents" were employed - sometimes
family (most notably son Arch B. Haven), but a number of local
people as well. The remaining children were born during these years;
there came to be nine in all, and seven of these grew to adulthood.
Early in 1903 Edwin Haven started
the wheels turning toward a rove of both seed company and family to
the gentler climate of California. This was accomplished by late
November of that year after travels that took him from Los Angeles
to San Jose, Modesto, and finally to San Luis Obispo County. Once in
this area, he settled on the town of Arroyo Grande as the location
for the Haven Seed Co. of California formed on November 30, 1903.
Local business men were willing to invest in its operations and
serve on its board of directors. Son Arch was appointed vice
president but stayed in South Haven until early 1904 to wind up
affairs there. The new company proposed to grow seed for the
wholesale trade only.
A severe disagreement developed in
late 1904 between the Havens and the members of the board of
directors. As a result, Arch Haven traveled north to Acampo,
California (near Lodi) to make arrangements for relocation. The
Haven Seed Co. of California was dissolved July 6, 1905, and both
business and family became residents of the Lodi area after that
Starting over once again and with
simply Edwin and Arch in control, the Haven Seed Co. continued its
emphasis on growing for the wholesale trade only and moved toward
tomato seed as a specialty. Various lands were leased for growing
crops, and many workers (a number of Japanese) were employed.
Despite all efforts however, by December, 1909 Arch was forced to
Leaving Edwin in charge at Lodi,
Arch Haven came south as far as the Santa Ana-Tustin area through
the winter of 1909 - 1910 to look over the possibilities for the
relocation of the company. Once in Orange County he made the
acquaintance of C. E. Utt and other local people who became
interested in the venture; by July 1910 the move was announced.
Hardly was the crop of 1910 a
certainty than came the news of the illness of Edwin Haven's second
son., Harris. The family left Lodi to divide itself between Banning
to be near Harris and Tustin to oversee the seed business. Arch
Haven and Lizzie Hattie Brown of Tustin were married in the summer
of 1911; their first home was "a horse-drawn cook house" so that
"they could move from place to place so that she could cook for the
help." After Harris' death in January, 1912 the family was reunited
in Tustin. The seed company had been given a Santa Ana address from
Edwin Haven died September 15,
1917, and Arch Haven and his brother Lawrence carried on the seed
business as president and secretary respectively. In 1918 a large
seed warehouse was constructed by the J. S. Fluor Co. of Santa Ana
on the southwest corner of Flower St. and Edinger Road within the
city limits. A barn, designed by Arch, and other out-buildings
together with equipment for cleaning and drying seeds adjoined the
warehouse. Tomato seed was the specialty and was grown for the
wholesale trade only.
After their early experience living
in the horse-drawn Arch and Lizzie Haven resided in Tustin and also
on the warehouse property at Flower and Edinger. Around 1928 they
took their growing family to a leased house and property on the
Rancho Santa Margarita in San Onofre in northern San Diego County.
It was at this time that the Haven Seed Co. records were first
packed into crates for storage. Lawrence and Robert Haven remained
in Santa Ana, and the company affairs were handled by all three
brothers for a number of years.
The latest seed company record in
the collection is a time book dated 1944 to 1946. The Orange County
directories available to researchers in the Santa Ana History Room
of the Santa Ana Public Library indicate that sometime after 1940
Arch Haven was less connected with the seed business; that Lawrence
Haven became president around 1947 and had several non-family
partners; that he lived on or near the warehouse site from about
1933 to perhaps 1956; and that after 1955 the Haven Seed Co. no
longer showed up in a separate listing.
The company records were moved to
Oxnard to the ranch of A. B. Haven, Jr. in the early 1960s and
fork-lifted into the barn. In the 1970s they were brought little by
little to Orange County by Mr. Haven's step-son, Randy Ema. In
1978 he presented them to the Orange County Historical Society; they
resided at the Society, Archives/Depository in the Special
Collections section of the CSU Fullerton Library from 1978 to 1980. They are now in Orange County Historical Society's archive storage