The Hydes of Visalia

The following family history was compiled by Shelley Hyde, in acknowledgment of information gathered by Joseph L Vincente as presented to the Tulare County Library Annie R. Mitchell History Room and other news sources through the years.

Ms. Hyde wrote this history as a tribute to her brother David who passed in April. 

The Hyde family was one of the earliest pioneers and founders of Visalia and figured prominently in Visalia’s evolution and development.

Richard Eltinge Hyde (R.E. Hyde) originally from New York, moved to Visalia in 1860, followed by his brother, Jeremiah David Hyde (J.D. Hyde) in 1873. These two visionaries were instrumental in shaping the destiny of the far West in the fields of energy, finance, industry, commerce, transportation, agriculture and conservation.

The current Hydes are descendants of J.D. Hyde.

Beginning with early business enterprises in the mid 1860s. R.E. Hyde established the Bank of Visalia, the pioneer monetary institution of Tulare County in 1874. Additionally, R.E. Hyde was a leader in establishing the Visalia Railroad Company that same year. R.E. Hyde proudly represented his fellow citizens of Visalia for many years as an elected city treasurer, city council member and mayor through the 1880’s.

J.D. Hyde in 1878 worked with naturalist John Muir in protecting the area watersheds. J.D. earnestly worked among a group in the battle to save the giant redwoods in 1885 as part of the conservation of natural resources. These efforts were instrumental in the creation in 1890 of Sequoia National Park and General Grant National Park (later to be renamed the Kings Canyon National Park in 1940). J.D. was a dedicated public servant as evidenced by many years as councilman and mayor for the Visalia City Council, as well as serving multiple terms on the local school board.

Together in 1886 the two brothers helped establish the first electric power plant, the Visalia Electric Light and Gas Company.

Soon thereafter, the Hyde family’s growing interests extended to cattle ranching, the farming industry, commercial endeavors and continued contributions to the San Joaquin Valley region which continues through the present day.

R.E. Hyde had no children, while J.D. Hyde had two heirs; Richard Eltinge Hyde II, (R.E. Hyde, the namesake of J.D.‘s brother) born in 1878 and Lawrence David Hyde (L.D. Hyde) born in 1881, both born in Visalia.

L.D. Hyde studied pre-med at the University of California, Berkeley, and finished his education at the University of Charlottenburg near Berlin, Germany. He practiced medicine for a time in San Francisco, California. Failing health brought him back to Visalia where he died in 1913 at the early age of 32 years, never having married and with no heirs.

R.E. Hyde II graduated in 1900 from the University of California, Berkeley. He married Luella Edda
Burrel, the daughter of another valley pioneer in 1905. Luella’s father, Cuthbert Burrell, first came to the San Joaquin Valley in 1846 as a member of the second survey unit led by General John Fremont. Later he founded the community of Burrel, northwest of Visalia, in 1860, where he started one of the earliest cattle ranches in the area. He assisted in founding the Bank of Visalia with R.E. Hyde Sr. in 1874, and later the Visalia Savings Bank.

Together R.E. Hyde II with his wife, Luella Burrel Hyde, were directly responsible for expanding the financial success for the Visalia branch of the Bank of America, directly descended from the pioneer Bank of Visalia.

R.E. was a director of many agricultural associations, ditch companies, and was the driving force behind Visalia’s westward growth between 1910 and 1930. He was a founder of the Visalia Homebuilders Association and involved in developing several residential subdivisions throughout the area. He developed Visalia’s east Main St. into an industrial and automotive center and erected a number of other commercial buildings in downtown Visalia.

R.E. started the Hyde Ranch Dairy in the 1920’s, serving Visalia and vicinity with a major portion of its domestic milk supply. In 1926 the famous Hyde Ranch Dairy water tank was built. This was a giant replica of a multi-story milk bottle, clearly noticeable at Highway 198 and County Center, marking the western gateway to the City of Visalia for many years. The Hyde Ranch Dairy was sold in the early 1960s and the holdings of dairy cows were converted to beef cattle operations in the local foothills, which are still operational today.

R.E. constructed an airstrip on the north side of Goshen Avenue for the use of crop dusting companies. Hyde Field was later renamed the Green Acres Airport and served pilots into the 1990s.

R.E. and Luella developed the Visalia Country Club Golf Course in 1921. This 18-hole course has continued as a favorite recreational destination in Visalia today.

R.E. was a life member of many service and community organizations until he died in 1934 at the age of 56.

In 1930, the Visalia Fox Theater opened. In 1936 it posthumously honored the Hyde family by naming the theater “The Hyde” in recognition of the family’s long association with community development and interests in Visalia. It later reverted back to being the “Fox Theater” and still operates in downtown Visalia today.

R.E. and Luella raised two sons. Charles Burrel born in 1909, followed by his brother Richard Elting born in 1910.
Luella, a knowledgeable and savvy business woman, took control of the Hyde interests upon her husband‘s death in 1934. In the mid 1930’s, the title of the family ranching and real estate business was changed to “Luella B. Hyde and Sons.” Her sons, Burrel (C.B.) and Richard (Dick) were taught to be altruistic at an early age. After their father’s death, the name “Hyde” would continue to have influence in the community.

Dick studied law at the University of California, Berkeley. He married Virginia Hudson in 1936 settling in Woodside, California. He was a successful attorney and rancher, making weekly trips to Visalia as he continued to stay directly involved with the family business. Dick had three children: Richard Elting Jr. (Rich), Lawrence (Larry), and Diana. Six grandchildren and several great grandchildren followed. Dick died in 1989 at the age of 79.

Luella‘s older son, Burrel preceded his brother by a few years at University of California, Berkeley. After graduating he returned to Visalia where he excelled as an innovative and influential businessman. He married Daphne Grant in 1939. They had two children: David Grant (David) and Shelley. Followed by four grandchildren, and several great grandchildren.

The matriarch of the family, Luella, died in 1967 at the age of 84.

Burrel continued to engage in cattle ranching, property management and finance. He took a special interest in reaching out to the community youth through the sport of baseball. Burrel was one of the early organizers of the National Little League in Visalia, coaching the Visalia Redlegs to many league and city championships.

His involvement in the community, serving on several Board of Directors, the Visalia Rotary Club, and in contributions of property to benefit various needs of Visalia.

Burrel died in 1979 at the age of 70. Daphne died 16 years later in 1995 at the age of 82.

David took over the family operations guiding these interests into the 21st century. His involvement in the community extended into the Visalia Rotary Club, coaching in the National Little League, assistant basketball coach at College of the Sequoias, and as an alumni of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, where he graduated in business agriculture.

The business interests have been managed by a partnership with David, sister Shelley, and Dick Hyde’s son Rich. The management has been transitioning to the fifth generation primarily David’s children, Brian and Jennifer, and Dick Hyde’s grandsons Rick Hyde and Ryan Bailey.

David’s success in managing the cattle ranch, along with the commercial properties throughout Visalia have come to an end upon his recent death in April of 2024, at the age of 75.

A celebration of life for David Hyde will be Monday, May 20, from 4 to 6 PM, at the Visalia Country Club.

3 thoughts on “The Hydes of Visalia

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  1. Great story on the Hyde family. Such a strong presence and huge contributors to Visalia.

  2. Intresting. For a time I worked for the county in what was then called the “hyde building” out on west mineral King close to one of thhe McDonalds. Had no clue as to the significance of the Hyde name till now.

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