James Griffin Boswell

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James Griffin Boswell (May 13, 1882 - September 11, 1952), was founder of the J. G. Boswell Company, known today as the world's largest privately owned farm. Primary crops include Pima cotton, alfalfa hay, tomatoes, onions, and wheat, all cultivated on some 135,000 acres (550 km2) mostly in Kings County, California. Boswell, who came to Pasadena, California as a regional cotton broker from Greene county, Georgia, established his company in Corcoran, California in 1921. With the help of his brother, William Whittier Boswell, J. G. Boswell began growing and ginning cotton as well as marketing it.[1] From 1952 to 1984, the company was headed by William Boswell's son, James G. Boswell II (1923–2009), who is credited with the company's massive growth during the last half of the twentieth century. Currently, the J. G. Boswell Company is led by the son of J. G. Boswell II, James W. Boswell.[2]

Born in Penfield, Georgia, J. G. Boswell was the son of Georgia State Legislator Joseph Osgood Boswell and Minnie Griffin both members of pioneer Georgia families. J. G. Boswell joined the Army in 1903 and left in 1920 due to back problems. Upon leaving, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was married twice, first to Alaine Buck (1886–1938) and secondly to Ruth Chandler (1897–1987) daughter of Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler and his second wife Emma Marian Otis, Secretary of the Times-Mirror Company.[1]

Boswell was also a major supporter of the California Institute of Technology, serving on the board of trustees in 1946, and of Claremont McKenna College, donating $85,000 for a new dormitory - Boswell Hall.[1]

Boswell's farm is located on what used to be the largest body of fresh water in California, Tulare Lake, which he worked on keeping dry with dykes, ditches, canals, and dams in order to farm its fertile bed.[1][3]Despite this, Tulare Lake is still home to some of the world's biggest cotton farmers, with water subsidized by the state.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Arax, Mark; Rick Wartzman (2005). The King of California: J. G. Boswell and the Making of a Secret American Empire. New York City: PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-58648-281-5. 
  2. ^ Fresno Bee, April 5, 2009
  3. ^ Piper, Karen (2014). The Price of Thirst: Global Water Inequality and the Coming Chaos. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 9780816695423. 
  4. ^ Gottlieb, Robert (1988). A Life of Its Own: The Politics and Power of Water. San Diego, Calif.: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. p. 12-13. ISBN 9780151951901.