A native of Norwich, Ohio, Alfred Marcy Aplin was born on Oct. 14, 1837 to Benjamin and Esther Marcy Aplin. Between 1865 and 1870 the family lived in Scott County, Iowa, then moved to Chetopah, Kansas, where Mr. Aplin went into the stock business.
A veteran of the Civil War, Alfred Marcy Aplin fought for the Union in some of the most noted battles of the war and received the rank of captain.
In 1875, Capt. Aplin came to California living for three months on Base Line, and working in the mountains at the Talmadge Little Bear Sawmill. Looking about for a permanent location, he homesteaded a quarter section in East Highland, on what was then known as the H.O. Smith Ranch, located the farthest east from anyone else on this north side of the Santa Ana River valley. In fact, the ranch was so far from anywhere that his wife, Mary, called it “The Lost Orchard.”
Aplin was engaged in drying fruit on an extensive scale. He designed his own fruit dryer that was so successful, he built one of the same design in Lugonia.
Seeing the citrus fruit business develop, he purchased twenty acres, which was planted to citrus, mostly oranges. In relation to this, he saw early on the need for conserving water, and some of the first stone and cement ditches in Southern California were built by him.
Active in the Highland Congregational Church, Aplin was a member of the choir and one of the pioneer builders of the church.
Capt. Aplin was married in 1865, at the close of the Civil war, to Miss Mary E. Winn, in Athens County, Ohio, and they had four children; Guy E. Aplin, M.D., Myrtle A. Aplin, M.D.; Donald G. graduate of Claremont and of Berkeley, and Ethel, who studied medicine at Medical College of State University, San Francisco.
George Andrew and Elizabeth MacLean and their teenage son, Edson W., came from Durham, Nova Scotia in April 1889. They lived first on Victoria Avenue in Highland. The East Highlands “Home Place” was purchased from Alfred M. Aplin in 1892. A new house was built in 1906.
By 1893, they had replaced the apricot and seedling orange trees with Washington Navels and Lisbon lemons, and had purchased Big Bear Valley Water shares.
Fruit over the years was packed by George with independent fruit shippers. Edson joined the Gold Buckle Association after his father’s death. Elizabeth continued shipping with Gold Buckle until it burned (1973), and then with East Highlands Citrus until it closed in 1981.
The original piece of property was added to in 1904, 1906, and 1927, restoring the boundaries of the Matt H. Worley original purchase from A.M. Aplin in 1892. The northern portion of the Worley property had been sold in 1893 to Thomas L. Case, who sold to Edward Annable in 1900, Annable sold to E.W. MacLean in 1904. The last piece in restoring the old Worley parcel was completed when Edson purchased the southwest corner from Howard Draper in 1927.