The following is an excerpt from a work-in-progress called The Town I Live In.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the City of Fullerton, some local residents interviewed many early pioneers of the city in 1937. These interviews were paraphrased and compiled into a document entitled "The Story of Fullerton and Its Founders" which is available in the Local History Room of the Fullerton Public Library.
The following information is taken from a series of interviews with George Henry Amerige, one of the founders of Fullerton. The interview was conducted by Darrel A. McGavran, whose father worked for the Chapman ranches.
McGavran begins with this statement: "Any organization, community development or social improvement is usually but 'the lengthening shadow of one man,' and so it is with the founding and growth of the community of Fullerton, California. That man is George Henry Amerige, who with his brother, Edward, founded Fullerton. Thus it is appropriate that this story of Fullerton first consider the biography of the Ameriges."
The Amerige family is of ancient Italian origin, being one of the oldest protestant families of Italy. The name, in Italian, Amerigo, is from the same derivation as that of Amerigo Vespucci (1451-1512), Italian explorer after whom the American continents were named.
Because of religious persecution (Italy was catholic, the Ameriges were protestant), the Amerige family moved to Germany. Maurice Amerige, grandfather of George Henry Amerige, came to Boston, Massachusetts around 1807. Maurice Amerige was a dealer in horses, and the Ameriges became one of the prominent colonial families of New England. Maurice Amerige and his wife Sarah had three sons:
George Brown, who went to California during the gold rush of 1849 and became the owner and editor of the Alta Californian, the first paper ever published in California.
William Amerige, who went to China as a trader, and died there in 1839.
Henry Amerige, father of George Henry Amerige, who became a prominent sail-maker and ship outfitter in Boston. Among the ships outfitted by Henry Amerige was the "Star of the East," which carried missionaries to Honolulu, Hawaii. Henry Amerige outfitted the ship for the arctic explorer Dr. Elisha Kent, for his trip to the North Pole in 1852. In his early years, Henry traveled extensively and visited almost all of the continents of the world.
Henry Amerige helped develop the Boston suburb named Malden (after which Malden street in Fullerton is named), and became a leading citizen and city planner. There is a park in Malden called "Amerige Park."
Henry Amerige married Harriette Elizabeth Russell, who also came from an old and prominent New England colonial family. Her great great grandfather, Eleazer Giles, lived in Salem, Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials. Her grandfather, also named Eleazer Giles, fought in the American Revolutionary War, commanding the armed brig "Saratoga." He was a seafaring man and actually had a wooden leg. Her father, Benjamin Russell, was a slave trader.
Harriette and Henry Amerige had five children, of whom George Henry Amerige was the second born.