Samuel Armor.

History of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present online

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Online LibrarySamuel ArmorHistory of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present → online text (page 114 of 191)
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first school building, out of which later grew Dartmouth College.

The father of our subject was Clarence M. Sprague, the shoe manufacturer at
Windsor, \'t., and Kennebunk, Maine, who later removed to Grundy Center Iowa, and
became a farmer and a stock raiser. He is still a resident of that place, but lives
retired. He had married Miss Abbie E. Weston, a native of Plymouth, Vt., and a
member of another old Massachusetts familj' proudly tracing its ancestry back to
Plymouth. She died in Iowa. Grandfather Weston was a farmer in Vermont, while
Grandfather Edgerton Sprague was a farmer in Vermont and also owned a fine tract
of land in Iowa. Clarence M. Sprague had three children; two of whom are in Iowa,
and one in California.

The second eldest, Edgerton Sprague was brought up at Windsor and at Kenne-
bunk. and when a boy of four came to Iowa. He went to school at Grundy Center;
assisted his father on the farm, and then entered Cornell College, at Mt. Vernon, Iowa,
from which he was graduated in 1903 with the decree of Bachelor of Arts. He ne.xt
entered the law department of the University of Michigan, where he remained until his
senior year when, in 1905, he made a trip to California and the Coast, and what he saw
here, he liked so well that he concluded to remain.

On November 5, 1906, Mr. Sprague entered the service of the Orange County
Title Company of Santa Ana, having previously been employed in surveying at Laguna
Beach, where he became acquainted with Mr. Mansur, who persuaded him to enter the
employ of the Title Company; and he resigned from the escrow work of that concern
only because of an offer from the California National Bank, whose assistant cashier
he became on March 1, 1915. On the first of October, two years later, he was made
cashier of the Orange County Trust and Savings Bank to the satisfaction of all the
patrons. He is a stockholder and a director in the bank, and a stockholder, director
and vice-president of the Home Mutual Building and Loan Association of Santa Ana.

In 1910. at Santa Ana, Mr. Sprague was married to Miss Agnes McBride, a native
daughter born in Sacramento: and their fortunate union has been further blessed
through the birth of their two children— Clarence Edward and Weston Finley. The
family attend the Presbyterian Church, in which Mr. Sprague is a trustee. He is a
Mason, associated w^ith Santa Ana Lodge No. 241. Santa Ana Chapter No. 73, Santa
Ana Council No. 14, and Santa Ana Commandery No. 36. K. T.; and he also belongs
to the Al Malaikah Temple, .\. A. O. N. M. S., of Los Angeles.

In addition to his banking responsibilities Mr. Sprague is interested in horticulture,
and he has business property interests in Santa Ana. He has owned various pieces
of property at different times, and has never failed to identify himself in the most
helpful manner with the growing city and county.


OSCAR ROSENBAUM.— A highly intelligent, well-educated rancher who. despite
various handicaps inherited through financial reverses of his father, has succeeded in
attaining for himself and his family a considerable degree of affluence and comfort, is
Oscar Rosenbaum. the progressive owner of the fine acreage on the State Highway
about two and a half miles north of San Juan Capistrano. He was born in the San
Juan precinct on May 24, 1869, the second oldest child of Henry George Rosenbaum, a
pioneer cattleman at San Juan Capistrano, contemporary with Don Marco Forster and
Judge Richard Egan, who came to California in 1850 around Cape Horn. He married
Susan Bolton, a native of England, who was reared in Australia and came to California
in 1861. He came to San Juan Capistrano about 1868 and had a rich pioneer experience.
He was extensively engaged in the raising of cattle, but met with reverses, leaving
little or no property for his children, of whom there were nine. Broken down, he
retired to Los Angeles, where he died; and in that city, also, Mrs. Rosenbaum, a
devoted mother and wife, passed away, neither of this worthy couple having been
granted the pleasure of knowing how well their children would succeed in their struggle
with the world.

Oscar grew up on his father's ranch in what is now San Juan precinct, near
San Juan Capistrano, and attended the grammar schools in that old town; and when
sixteen years old, he left home and finally drifted to Colorado. He worked at anything
that his hands could find to do — ranch work at first, but later in the mines; and
after a while had succeeded so well that he could take the next important step in life.

He was married at San Bernardino, Cal., to Miss Ella May Brumbly; and their
union, the happiness of which was assured through the bride's genial and winning
personality and her industrious habits, has been further blessed in the birth of eight-
een children, fourteen of whom are living and honored as active American citizens.
Three of their sons were in the war: Clarence Honier who was in the Mobile Ordnance
department, is now operating the Imperial Valley ranch; Frank Oscar, who served
overseas in the Three Hundred Sixty-fourth Infantry, is now attending the Davis Agri-
cultural College; Fred George served in the Second Engineers until the armistice and
is now in charge of his father's upper ranch.

As a result of their hard work and frugality, Mr. and Mrs. Rosenbaum are now
the owners of two excellent ranches, one two miles, and the other four miles north of
San Juan Capistrano, including a combined area of 1,000 acres besides acreage in Santa
Ana and Imperial Valley. This last-mentioned ranch, further to the north, is managed
by one of Mr. Rosenbaum's sons, Fred George. Mr. Rosenbaum himself is both an
experienced farmer and an able business manager; and while for the most part follow-
ing stock-raising or mixed farming, he has planted much of his land to walnuts and
oranges, and is now developing an excellent orange grove on the ranch two miles
north of San Juan Capistrano. At the same time, he finds it possible to enlarge his
culture and keep up his reading and general studies so that as a conversationalist he is
always able to attract and hold his own.

WALTER D. LEDFORD.— Six of the eight years that Walter D. Ledford has
owned his seven-acre ranch, which he purchased in 1912, has been devoted to the busi-
ness of poultry raising, and he is one of the promising and progressive poultrymen
of his section of Orange County. The ranch is situated on the Santa Ana branch of
the Pacific Electric Railway, north and west of Cypress. Mr. Ledford was born in
Cherokee County, Kans., on June 16, 1873, a son of Calvin T., born in Indiana, and
Welmet (Hobson) Ledford. The mother was born in Iowa and is a cousin of Rich-
mond P. Hobson. There were six children in the Ledford family, four living and all
residents of California, and two, Walter and Charles, live in Orange County. The
father died in Indiana, in 1877, and when Mrs. Ledford married again she chose
for her husband Calvin Luther Newlin, by whom she had a daughter, Stella G., now
the wife of Espy Hawthorn of Fresno County.

Mr. Newlin and family started from the Kansas homestead en route for California
via Texas, but stopped two years in Colorado, from which place, in 1891, they landed
in the Golden State. Walter resided in Redlands., after his arrival here on May 5,
1891, and for seventeen years he worked at the trade of carpenter. He had learned
the trade earlier in life and was capable to do any and all kinds of work in his line
and helped to build up the city of Redlands as well as the surrounding country. In
1908 he came to Orange County and bought his present ranch and upon this he has
placed all the improvements, lie began in the poultry business in a small way and
gradually increased his production of eggs and his broods, now having some 2,000
laying hens of the single-comb White Leghorn breed. He raises chicks for commercial
purposes as well. His housing pen is 200x20 feet, and that and other buildings neces-
sary for the conduct of his business have been built by himself, and it was here that


his knowledge of carpenter work has stood him in good stead. He has gradually built
up a profitable business and become an authority on raising chickens.

Mr. Ledford was united in marriage in Parker County, Texas, May IS, 1896, with
Miss Martha E., a daughter of Thomas B. and Martha A. (^Martin) Callison, the latter
a cousin of Congressman John D. Alderson of Virginia. Mrs. Ledford was born in
West \'irginia and came to California after her marriage and this has since been her
home. Mr. and Mrs. Ledford have had eleven children, nine of whom are living:
Calvin T.. served in the World War in the heavy artillery and was in training at Camp
Lewis when the armistice was signed. He is married and has two children, Margaret
and Elizabeth A., and the family live at Buena Park. The others are Muriel A.. George
L., Walter D., Carl H., Gladys M., Dora L, Grace A. L., and Robert C. Politically
Mr. Ledford is independent of party and casts his vote for the men and measures that
he deems most important for the good of the county and people. He is a member of
the Masonic order, Buena Park Lodge, No. 357, F. & A. M., and is held in high esteem
by the members of that order.

WILLET S. DECKER. — One of the most successful and, therefore, one of the
best-known contractors and builders in Orange County, who has also demonstrated his
ability to manage and maintain a line lemon grove, is WiHet S. Decker, who was born
at Newton Center, near Scranton, Pa., on May 21, 1862, the son of Amzi and Sophia
(Shoemaker) Decker. His grandfather, on his father's side, was a pioneer of Luzerne,
later Lackawanna County, Pa., and had much to do with the history of Newton
Center, being one of its leading citizens.

Willet S. Decker learned the art of building in Pennsylvania, and as foreman
for C. F. Ward, Taylor and Company, and also Conrad Schrader, broadened his ex-
perience into contracting. On June 22, 1897, he landed in California, and started to
work for George E. Preble at Santa Ana, and in sixty days he was made foreman, with
such satisfactory results all around that he remained for thirteen years with Mr.
Preble. He had the building of the Masonic Temple, the First Presbyterian Church
and the Congregational Church, and in May, 1910, he was appointed deputy state
engineer and placed in charge of the construction of the additional buildings at the
Whittier State School, as well as the repair of the buildings of that institution. In
August, 1912, he was appointed building inspector for the board of education of Santa
Ana, and superintended the erection of the new Polytechnic high school, and also the
Spurgeon school, both of which were completed in the fall of 1913.

The next four seasons, from 1913 to 1917, Mr. Decker was house foreman for
the Santa Ana Valley Walnut Growers packing and shipping establishment, and spent
from September to December in the packing house, while he did contracting and
building for the rest of the year. Since 1917 he has busied himself mostly with gen-
eral contracting. Mr. Decker also has another absorbing interest, a beautiful lemon
grove of ten acres, at Yorba Linda, lying in the new gusher oil district, which he
purchased in January, 1912. All the trees are about nine years old and in excellent
bearing, the grove having a record of being one of the best producers for its age of
any in the district.

On September 23, 1897, Mr. Decker was married to Miss Jettie M. Winslow, the
daughter of J. B. and Hannah Winslow, who are at present residing amid a circle
of devoted friends at 1119 North Main Street, Santa Ana. While Mr. Decker was
superintending the construction of the new additions to the Whittier State School,
Mrs. Decker was the school's popular assistant matron. The family attend the Con-
gregational Church at Santa Ana, and Mr. Decker is an enthusiastic Mason, having
been made a Mason in Santa Ana Lodge No. 241, F. & A. M. He is also a member
of Santa Ana Chapter No. 73, R. A. M., Santa Ana Council No. 14, R. & S. M., Santa
Ana Commandery No. 36, K. T., and with his wife is a member of Hermosa Chapter
No. 105, O. E. S. He is also a life member of Al Malaikah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S..
at Los Angeles. One son, James, blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Decker. In
national politics Mr. Decker is a Republican, but in local affairs he is properly non-
partisan in his views.

WILLIAM I. WALLER.— Probably the largest individual rancher in Orange
County, and also one of its most successful, is William I. Waller, who is operating
3,500 acres at present, practically the whole acreage being devoted to grain farming.
Mr. Waller was born at Conway. Ark., August 18, 1876. and the following year the
family moved to California, settling near Santa Ana. His parents were Samuel R.
and Emma (Holderfield) Waller, both natives of Arkansas. Samuel R. Waller crossed
the plains to California with his parents in 1849, afterwards returning to .\rkansas.
When eighteen years of age he enlisted in the Confederate Army, serving in the Civil
War, during which time he was wounded in one of the battles in which he participated.


After the war he was married and engaged in farming. His wife died in 1882 and in
1885 he brought his children to California and he is still living and makes his home
with the subject of this review, who is the only one living of a family of two girls
and two boys.

William I. Waller started out at an early age to make his own way in the world,
his first employment being on the San Joaquin ranch, where his wages were twenty
dollars a month. The years that followed were filled with long hours and hard work,
but he finally accumulated sufficient to start to ranching for himself. He leased 320
acres of the San Joaquin ranch and here he went through three dry years in succession,
an experience that would have daunted one less courageous, but Mr. Waller stayed
right by his project, even being compelled to go into debt for his seed. He then
removed to the Whiting ranch, farming there three years, and in August, 1911, he
leased the present place, a part of the Santa Margarita ranch. As the years went on,
however, he began to prosper and gradually added to his acreage until he now cultivates
3,300 acres, 2.000 acres being in wheat this year. A large part of this acreage is
Trabuco Mesa ranch of Jerome O'Neill, ten miles above EI Toro. Each year Mr.
Waller summer fallows SCO acres, keeping 3,000 acres in grain crops, and thus the
land lies fallow one year in every seven, in this way keeping the soil fertile and capable
of producing a full crop.

Mr. Waller has his places splendidly equipped with the latest machinery, and he
has at least $40,000 invested in horses, mules, tractors, headers, mowers, threshers,
etc., and he has a well-equipped blacksmith shop that is ample to handle all his work.
He resides in Trabuco Canyon on the Mesa ranch and here he uses a seventy-five
horsepower Holt tractor and a Holt combined harvester and thresher, besides about
sixty horses and mules, in taking care of his immense grain crops. The other ranch,
which is known as the Governor Adour ranch, and which is also a part of Santa Mar-
garita ranch, consists of 1.200 acres. Here Mr. Waller uses two headers and for his
threshing a Rumely separator.

Mrs. Waller was in maidenhood Miss Pearl Johnson, a native daughter of Cali-
fornia, who was born in Santa Ana, whose parents were pioneers of Santa Ana, and
she presides over their ranch home with grace and dignity. Two children have been
born of this union: \'ivian and William. By his first marriage Mr. Waller has one
child, Eula.

Starting in life with no financial assistance, Mr. Waller put in many years of hard
work in order to get the capital which would enable him to begin his own ranching
operations, but he has made a splendid success and now ranks high among the pros-
perous agriculturists of Orange County. In politics, Mr. Waller has always been con-
sistent in his allegiance to the Democratic party.

GEORGE M. ROSS. — The real estate business presents opportunities for the exer-
cise of the best efiforts and energies of representative men of the community and George
M. Ross, secretary of the Orange County Realty Company and secretary and manager
of the Anaheim Walnut Growers Association has gained a position of prominence in
this line of enterprise. He was born on a farm near Moran, Allen County, Kans., on
June 29, 1879, and is the son of William A. and Ella (Southard) Ross, natives of Ohio,
the father being reared in Missouri and Wisconsin and in the latter state he was
married in La Crosse where his father and his grandfather, James H. Ross, were
engaged in lumbering and logging until they located in Allen County, Kans., and in
that country went through the days of the drought and grasshoppers. Grandfather
Ross died in 1910 at Pasadena. Cal. He had served in a Missouri regiment in the Civil
W'ar and from there they moved to \\'isconsin. Of Southern lineage the Ross family
trace their ancestry back through the early settlers of New England to England and
Scotland. William \. Ross now resides in Anaheim and is president of the Orange
County Realty Company. In 1903 the family came to California and located at

The oldest child in a family of three boys, George M., attended the rural and
high schools in his native state and graduated from liusiness college at Ottawa. Kans.
After this he was employed in the bridge and building department of the Missouri
Pacific Railroad one year and then came to California in 1903, where he was with a
fruit company at Los Angeles for six months. Following this he went to Anaheim
and engaged in the dairy business for a year and a half. Disposing of his interest in
the dairy he helped organize the Anaheim Gas Company, of which he was secretary
and manager for three years. He then sold his interest to the Southern Counties Gas
Company and engaged in his present line of work, selling realty. After seven years
in business in 191S with his father, William A., and brother, Walter J., he incorporated
the Orange County Realty Company to carry on the business on a larger scale, and
of which he is secretary and an active partner. The firm are dealers in real estate and


build residences in Anaheim which are sold to homeseekers and they have met .with
increasing success. He is secretary, director and manager of the Anaheim Walnut
Growers Association and a great part of his time is claimed by his duties in this capac-
ity. He is also a director of the California Walnut Growers Association and takes an
active part in its deliberations.

In establishing domestic ties he chose Miss Marion Johnston of Ontario, Canada,
as his life companion, to whom he was united in marriage June 12, 1912, the fruit of
their union being a son named Donald Livingston. In his religious associations he is
a member of the Presbyterian Church of Anaheim and was superintendent of the Sun-
day school for eight years. He is also active in the Y. M. C. A. work and was treas-
urer of the first county Y. M. C. A. organization west of the Rockies. Politically he
casts his vote with the Republican party and in his fraternal relations is identified with
the Woodmen of the World. He is a member of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce,
having served as a director and is an enterprising, progressive, public-spirited citizen
who takes a warm interest in Orange County's welfare and is active in the civic
improvement of his home town, where his sterling integrity has won the esteem of
many friends.

ALFRED W. FINCH.— A highly-esteemed member of the Maccabees of Santa
Ana, and a successful rancher, is Alfred W. Finch, who was born in Bedford, Ohio,
on June 7, 1884, the son of Charles and Elizabeth I. (Robinson) Finch, born in
Cambridgeshire, England, and Cleveland, Ohio, respectively. The mother was the
daughter of Alfred and Nelga (Bruce) Robinson, who trace their ancestry back to
Robert Bruce of Scotland. Great-great-grandfather Robinson made the trip with ox-
teams and wagons from Connecticut, coming to the site of Cleveland, Ohio, and camp-
ing in the heart of what is now that large and beautifully built-up city. Alfred Rob-
inson became a navigator on the Great Lakes, and for many years sailed as a cap-
tain on lake vessels. Charles Finch, a brother of the late John A. Finch, of Spokane,
Wash., who became a millionaire miner in the Coeur d'Alene district, was a grocery-
man in Bedford, and when he removed to Cleveland in 1886, entered the employ of
the American Wire and Steel Rolling Mill Company. At the end of seven years,
however, he moved onto a farm near Elyria, Ohio, and there Alfred attended school.
The young man had other tastes than those of agriculture, and so went in for
interior decorating, evidencing his talent in the execution of commissions in his home
vicinity. He commenced to work for himself, in fact, when he was fifteen years old,
and he remained an interior decorator in Ohio until he came to California, in 1904.
Then, in partnership with his father, who had also come here, he established a grocery
and meat market at the corner of Sixteenth and Arlington streets, Los Angeles. When
his father died, on March 7, 1908, Mr. Finch continued the business alone until the
following February.

With his mother and his family, he came to Santa Ana in 1909, and purchased a
ranch of ten acres, seven of which were set out to oranges and three to walnuts
and apricots, interset. They installed a pumping plant with a Layne-Boller pump
and a Westinghouse motor having a capacity of seventy-five inches, for irrigating
their orchard, selling the surplus to adjoining orcliardists.

On February 24, 1913. Mr. Finch was married to Miss Frances Rawson, a native
of Wabasha, Minn., and the daughter of George and Nellie Rawson. Mr. Rawson
was a conductor on the first train to pass over the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul
Railroad from Wabasha to Faribault, and he helped to develop that valuable system.
After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Finch moved onto a walnut grove of five acres on
San Juan Street, Tustin; but a year later he removed to Los Angeles and entered the
employ of Albert Cohn on W'est Washington Street, still later working at their down-
town store. In 1914, he moved back to Santa Ana, where he was employed by the
Santa Ana Sugar Company.

While busied there, on October 22, 1918, Mrs. Finch, who had become the center
of a large circle of appreciative friends, passed away, and on the eighteenth of the
following month, Mr. Finch's mother died, having succumbed to influenza. One child.
Harold W. Finch, died in infancy. Not long after these sudden afflictions. Mr. Finch
visited his wi'fe's people in Minnesota, and then went to Utah to sell a ranch of 240
acres. Since then, he has made his home on the North Main Street ranch, living
with his brothers and sisters, and assists in managing the old homestead. Besides
Iiirnself, Raymond C. Finch is operating the home ranch; John A. is with the Western
Union Telegraph Company in Santa Ana; Leonard B. is with the Beach Manufacturing
Compaiiy, Los x\ngeles, and Jennie I., Mrs. Marion Hopkins of Santa Ana. Leonard
served in the United States .\rmy auto school in Los Angeles during the late war.
Fraternally. Mr. Finch is a member of the Knights of the Maccabees.



EDWARD D. MARION. — For over thirty years the ranch property now known
as the E. D. Marion orange grove, on the Garden Grove-Anaheim Boulevard, has been
in the possession of the Marion family. It was purchased in 1887 by E. D. Marion, Sr.,
upon the arrival of the family here from Denver, Colo. He had but limited means and
this he invested in si.K acres of unimproved land located near the Fairview schoolhouse,
to which their children were sent until that district was discontinued and a better and
larger building erected at West .\naheim. Improvements were immediately started to
make a comfortable home by the erection of a house, which at that time was the only
one between Anaheim and Garden Grove, and they kept cows and chickens and did
farming on a small scale, at the same time adding improvements from time to time,
lor Mr. Marion believed it the best policy to "pay as you go," which he always did.
He was a native of New York state, but in early life went to Colorado where he was
united in marriage, in Denver, with Miss Mary Davis, a native of England, who had
come to Colorado early in her life. In Denver Mr. Marion conducted a nursery and

Online LibrarySamuel ArmorHistory of Orange County, California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its earliest growth and development from the early days to the present → online text (page 114 of 191)