Barton Family History

In 1910, Perry Franklin Barton, a country doctor from Illinois, traveled to California where he saw dramatic innovations underway in agriculture. Many of these changes were due to the advent of controlled irrigation. During his extensive travels from Los Angeles in the south to Chico in the north, Barton saw a wide variety of crops. He was amazed by the impressive yields and extent of California’s booming, yet still nascent, agricultural industry. After two years of careful study and consideration, he purchased land near the towns of Escalon and Oakdale, and the Barton Ranch was established in 1912. The development of the farm required years of extremely hard work. The land, when originally purchased, was overrun with native riparian vegetation that had to be removed by hand with the aid of a horse and a plow.

The farm grew under the management of Perry’s sons, Paul and Bert, who also invented and patented a machine to remove the green hull from the outer shell of the walnut. This invention resulted in the formation of a manufacturing business that they named Barton Brothers Walnut Hullers. Paul purchased Bert’s interest in both the orchards and the manufacturing business in 1947. He then invented a tree shaker and other types of farm equipment that served the needs of over a thousand satisfied customers. The orchards encompassed nearly 200 acres by the time of his death in 1961.

Paul’s son, Jerry, took over the management of the family farm in the late 1950’s, leading to additional expansion of the Escalon ranch. Subsequent land purchases expanded the farming operation to its present size of about two thousand acres, either owned outright or leased to the Bartons.

The Bartons’ prowess and experience in farming and the walnut industry runs deep. Jerry Barton served as Chairman and CEO of Diamond Walnut Growers – the world’s largest processor and marketer of walnuts in the world – in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. His sons, Gary and Brent, remain involved in the management of the farming business, Brent since 1986, and Gary since 1993. Don Barton has spent his lifetime in the food processing and marketing business and joined the team in 2003 to head up GoldRiver Orchards.

We are very excited to welcome the 5th generation of Bartons into the family business, Josh and Jeremy. Josh joined the Ranch in 2008 and now leads the day-to-day management of the farming properties. Josh graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2008 and, with his wife Kendall, has two sons. Jeremy is a graduate of the University of Georgia and the Kellogg School of Business at the University of Indiana. Jeremy is the President of GoldRiver Orchards, the processing and marketing company established in 2003. Jeremy and his wife, Karelia, have one daughter.

Five generations have contributed to the success of the ranch and the processing company. We’re already in the process of recruiting the sixth generation!