John Shary came to the Rio Grande Valley in 1912. While here, he established a small local market for citrus fruit. No one had realized citrus fruits’ potential for mass production as a commercial crop; it was Shary who foresaw this development. He had the means to begin production of citrus on a large scale and did so. In 1914, he purchased 16,000 acres of brushland and named it Sharyland. Within a year, Shary had planted the Rio Grande Valley’s first commercial citrus orchard, and in 1923, he had established the Valley’s first modern citrus packing plant. Valley citrus is now shipped all over the United States and several foreign countries, and John Shary is recognized as the father of the Texas citrus industry. Because of his successful business practices, John Shary has been labeled “King Citrus” and the “Father of the Texas Citrus industry” by numerous national writers and economists.
Mr. Shary was a benefactor of the Sharyland Independent School District, which bears his name. He built a beautiful home on FM 494 (now Shary Road) to which many dignitaries were invited. Mr. and Mrs. Shary’s daughter married Allen Shivers, a future governor of Texas, at the Sharys’ mansion in 1937. President Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed at the Shary mansion in 1953, as well.