Swedenborgian Church of North America Swedenborgian Church of North America

Eliza Lovell Tibbets (1823-1898)

Early American activist for progressive social causes, including freedmen't rights and universal suffrage

California’s citrus industry owes a huge debt to the introduction of the navel orange tree—in fact, to two trees in particular, the parent trees of the vast groves of navel oranges that exist in California today. Those trees were planted by a woman named Eliza Lovell Tibbets.

Born in Cincinnati in1823, Eliza’s Swedenborgian faith informed her ideals. Surrounded by artists and free thinkers, her personal journey took her first to New York City, then south to create a better environment for newly freed slaves in racially divided Virginia, and onward to Washington, DC, where she campaigned for women’s rights. But it was in California where she left her true mark, launching an agricultural boom that changed the course of California’s history.

Eliza’s story of faith and idealism will appeal to anyone who is curious about US history, women’s rights, abolitionism, Spiritualism, and California’s early pioneer days. Follow Eliza through loves and fortunes lost and found until she finally finds her paradise in a little town called Riverside.

Reference:  Creating an Orange Utopia: Eliza Lovell Tibbets and the Birth of California’s Citrus Industry by Patricia Ortlieb and Peter Economy, Swedenborg Foundation, 2011