Stewart Fruit Company

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Dried Fruit Packer
Main Location

San Francisco, CA

1904 - 1930

Signal [1]

Stewart Fruit Co

Stewart Packing Company was a California-based fresh- and dried-fruit packer in the early part of the 20th century. The company was founded in 1904 with $100,000 capital. There were hints that Stewart was a front for the Santa Fe's efforts to compete with the SP to get fruit shipments from Northern California[2]. W. H. Stewart and R. E. Lyons were both connected with SP's Southern California representative for their fruit agency, and the VP was connected with the distributor's combine, both closely allied with the SP, but Santa Fe's refrigerator manager hinted that Stewart was being inspired by Santa Fe's new push. Both principals were also former employees of Earl Fruit. Lyons had been Alden Anderson's personal assistant while Anderson was general manager of the California Fruit Distributors and Earl Fruit Company, then left Earl in 1904 to start his own company. Stewart had been at Earl Fruit as well[3].

Stewart sold only on commission through others[4]. Stewart packed many different kinds of fruit. They packed oranges, and installed a packing house at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition[5]. They shipped plums from Kings County in 1909[6]. They also packed raisins. They even had a record sale of cherries in 1920, with one boxcar from San Jose selling for $8,280 in New York[7].

The company had offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles[8]]. The company's San Jose plant was run by Alexander Matracia[9][10].

Stewart Fruit Company went into receivership on March 2, 1926[11], and assets were still being sold by 1930[12][13].


Location Years Address Details
Hayward 1925 Built for packing cherries[14].
Lodi 1918
Martinez 1923

Oakland Trib article from 1914 comments on pear harvest.

Porterville 1910- Next to Southern Pacific depot[15].
San Jose 1911 Pleasant Street at Julian Street
San Jose 1916 New Street at corner of Pleasant Street Probably 299 Bassett St - building resembles extension at right in group portrait[16].
San Jose 1931 Pleasant Street at Bassett Street

On SP, Sanborn map.

Vicksburg 1923

Stewart Packing Company in San Jose

Stewart Packing Company had several buildings in the Bassett Street area of San Jose. The land was bought by Stewart in 1918[17]. A 1931 SP Valuation Map shows them at Pleasant and Bassett, next to the railroad tracks, as does 1932 Sanborn map. When the company went into receivership, E.G. Potter, receiver for the Stewart Fruit Company, was selling the lot west of Terraine Street and north of Bassett/South of the railroad tracks. The lot was ~160x860 feet, and included land in reciprocal leases for use with Anderson-Barngrover[18].


Group Photo of Employees at Stewart Fruit Company, San Jose: panoramic photo from John C. Gordon collection, San Jose State Library.


  1. Orange crate fruit label: Huntington Library Digital Collection.
  2. Santa Fe Joins With Fruit Men: Stewart Packing Strongly Suspected of Being Part of Plan for Competition: May 26, 1904 San Francisco Call
  3. R.E. Lyons, of the Stewart Fruit Company, Meets Accidental Death: January 1, 1921 California Fruit News
  4. Henry F. Ellis: in George H. Tinkham, History of San Joaquin County, California, Page 915. Los Angeles, Calif.: Historic Record Co., 1923. "In January, 1918, Mr. Ellis became district manager for the Stewart Fruit Company, this being one of the largest concerns in this line in the state, with shipping and packing houses all over California. They ship strictly on a commission basis, and in 1920 sent out 410 cars of deciduous fruits and grapes from Lodi.".
  5. Citrus Fruits: January 23, 1915 Pacific Rural Press.
  6. Cannery and Packing News: June 19, 1909 Pacific Rural Press. "The Stewart Fruit Co. expects to ship 150 cars of fruit from Kings county this season. It expects to commence packing 15 cars of plums at Lucerne within the next few weeks."
  7. June 26, 1920 San Jose Evening News
  8. Advertisement: July 23, 1916 California Fruit News.
  9. Alexander Matracia: In Eugene T. Sawyer, History of Santa Clara County,California 1922, Historic Record Co., p. 1547
  10. 1920s corporate information
  11. First National Bank of Medford vs. Stewart Fruit Company, 17 F.2D 621 (N.D. CAL. 1927), decided December 19, 1927. Another creditor complained that the First National Bank of Medford shouldn't have been able to name a receiver on its own.
  12. Notice of Sale of Real Property: August 5, 1930 San Jose Evening News
  13. Moore vs. Maryland Casualty Company, Case #3735, Court of Appeal of California, Third District, September 20, 1929. The case involved the receiver for Stewart Fruit foreclosing on a chattel mortgage on a grape crop and harvesting the vines.
  14. Building complete, used for cherries: April 23, 1925 Hayward Review
  15. Two Acreage Tracts Near City Sold to Southerners and Bring Good Prices: July 11, 1910 San Francisco Call. Plant construction under way.
  16. Group Portrait of Employees at Stewart Fruit Co., San Jose: John C Gordon Panoramic Photo collection, San Jose State.
  17. Covenant to Restrict Use of Property: Environmental Restriction: 333 West Julian Ave. between Sobrato Investments II and Reguonal Water Quality Board.
  18. Notice of Sale of Real Property: August 5, 1930 San Jose Evening News