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

. (page 131 of 191)
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 131 of 191)
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culturist who was esteemed for both his integrity and his industry is pleasanth- recalled
in the story of Mrs. Streech's equally successful enterprises in continuing to manage the
estate she and her husband had together, as hard working helpmates, acquired. She was
born at Rio, Columbia County, Wis., the daughter of Frank Gallagher of New York
State, an agriculturist who went in for general farming, and who had married Miss Isa-
belle Halpin. born in Wisconsin, and she attended the public school at Rio. When she
was_ sixteen years of age. her parents removed to \\'illiams County, N. D.. afterwards
Divide County, and there in 1907 her father homesteaded a quarter section of land, with
the result that for four years she experienced the pleasures and the inconveniences
of pioneer Dakota life. There she completed her education and there, too. she formed
the acquaintance with the estimable gentleman whom she afterwards married at Crosby,




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HISTORY OF ORANGE COUNTY 1173

August 9, 1911, being united with Fred G. Streech, a native of Minnesota, where he
was born on a farm near Renville, the son of Fred and Wilhelmina Streech. He
attended the district school of his home place, and spent his boyhood days on his
father's farm. He had been in California in 1910 and had purchased ten acres devoted
to the culture of Valencia oranges on South Raymond Avenue, south of FuUerton;
and as this land was under the Anaheim Union Water Company, the grove was prom-
ising in every respect. Prior to his marriage, and when he was only twenty-one, Mr.
Streech had also taken up homestead land in North Dakota, and he was thus prepared
to develop his new California acquisition. After their marriage they spent a few months
in travel until January, 1912; they located on their Fullerton ranch where Mr. Streech
cared for their \'alencia grove and enjoyed the salubrious climate of Southern Cali-
fornia, but unfortunately he was not permitted to see the culmination of his ambitions,
for death called him from his labors, on July 1, 1915. He had been a consistent
Methodist, and he left a widow and two children, devoted Catholics. The children are
.\very \'. and Wilbur J., and with their mother they are comfortably situated on their
handsome little ranch.

Mrs. Streech has shown unusual ability in the management of her property, mar-
keting her choice fruit through the Placentia Orange Growers Association, and she
often looks back with fondness to the six months of travel spent with her husband
before they settled down to the more serious responsibilities of life.

WALTER WRAY.— A thoroughly-trained mechanic, whose ambition led him to
the higher work of an engineer, and whose ability has been recognized in his appoint-
ment to a responsible public office in California, is Walter Wray, a native of Ireland,
where he was born on January 4, 1868. His father was Joseph Wray, and he married
Miss Jane Farel. They had nine children, and Walter w-as the youngest.

He began his schooling in Ireland, and continued it in the United States, and
in both countries attended the private rather than the public institutions. When the
opportunity came his way, he took up mechanical engineering, and for nineteen }-ears
followed that line of work, for the most part in Massachusetts. Success attended his
labors in the East, but the lure of California drew him more and more to the shores
of the Pacific.

In 1909 Mr. Wray came to the Golden State and settled at Santa Ana. He
bought a ranch, and became a California orange grower. In October, 1918, the city
council of Santa Ana appointed him superintendent of water and sewers, and while
still retaining his orange ranch, he entered upon his present responsibilities.

Mr. Wray's marriage united him with Miss Helen Parke Doty, a lady who has
demonstrated many times her especial capabilities as a companion and helpmate. Mr.
Wray is a Republican in national political affairs, but both he and his public-spirited
wife support all local movements for the betterment of the community regardless of
partisanship.

A thirty-second degree Mason, he is a life member of the Massachusetts Con-
sistory. He is a Knight Templar, the present commander of Santa Ana Commandery
No. 36, K. T., and belongs to Al Malaikah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., at Los Angeles.
He is also a member of the Odd Fellows. He is still very fond of music, and has an
enviable record', from his down-east days, as musician in the First Light Artillery
of Massachusetts.

No better person could have been selected for the responsible post of city water
and sewer superintendent, and it goes without saying that Santa Ana has a water and
sewerage system that is thoroughly up-to-date and satisfactory in every respect.

FRED ROHRS, SR., — .\n enterprising, progressive and self-made business man,
who takes a very live interest in all that pertains to the building up of both Santa Ana
and Orange County, is Fred Rohrs, the realty owner and rancher of 1245 East Seven-
teenth Street, Santa .\na. With Christian standards to guide them, he has reared a
family such as would do honor to anyone: and is therefore both a beloved husband
and father. He had a truly historic beginning, if dates count for anything, for he
was born in Germany on the birthday of Washington, in the memorable revolutionary
year of 1848. When eighteen years of age he left his native land, sailing from Bremen
for New York, having for his destination Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio. There he
hired out as a farm hand, receiving at first only from six to seven dollars and his board
a month. Then he removed to Kelleys Island, Erie County, Ohio, and became interested
in horticulture, working among the vineyards and fruit orchards, and making wine for
years. Two of his brothers followed him to America, and one, Henry W., is at
present in Orange County.

On April 17, 1874, Mr. Rohrs married Miss Anna Gobrugge. a native of Germany.
who had also come to .\merica to better her conditions, .\fter that, he took up a timber



1174 HISTORY OF ORANGE COUNTY

claim in the Ohio forests, and cleared some valuable land, on which he later raised
grain and stock. He was not phenomenally successful, however, and could not be said
to have much in return for his hard labor. Five children, however, blessed their union.
Henry is a rancher in Orange; Fred, Jr., is a rancher in Santa Ana; John also has a
ranch in Orange; George is farming on the home place, on Seventeenth Street; and
Minnie is the wife of Charles Maier, ranching at the old home. All the sons are mar-
ried, and are doing well.

When Mr. Rohrs first came to Santa Ana in the early spring of 1881, when there
were no roads and no fences, he purchased a barley field of twenty-five acres, his
present home place; later he added twenty acres to the home place, and also improved
other acreage with the assistance of his sons. He tried first to raise grapes, then grain,
then apricots; but he finally set out walnuts and both Valencia and Navel oranges.
Now he has many other important interests besides his ranch home on Seventeenth
Street, where he has a tractor and horses for his ranch work, and has two residences.
He has built a modern, up-to-date brick business block at the southeast corner of
Sycamore and Fourth Streets, 44x100 feet in size, two stories in height with a full
basement, at a cost of $30,000; and he also owns another brick block, situated on West
Fourth Street.

For many years Mr. Rohrs was a director of the Santa Ana Valley Irrigation
Company, and he is at present a member of the Tri-Counties Reforestration Committee.
In national politics a Republican, in his religious affiliation Mr. Rohrs is a member of
the Santa .\na Evangelical Association and has always been active in promoting better
citizenship and a higher class of clean living. When he canie here he could ride horse-
back through the tall mustard to the one brick store in Santa Ana; he has seen the town
grow up and has taken an important part in its development, having hauled lumber
from Newport for the early buildings in Santa Ana; and has seen the town built to its
present size and splendor. He has always aided in the upbuilding of the city and can
well exclaim, "All of which I saw and part of which I was."

CHARLES R. NUTT.— The popular and efiicient city clerk of Huntington Beach,
Charles R. Xutt, is a native son, born August 14, 1869, in Yankee Jims, Placer County.
He is a son of Nathaniel and Helen (Keeler) Nutt, natives of Ohio and Michigan,
respectively. Nathaniel Nutt was a '49er who crossed the Indian infested plains to the
Golden State, where he engaged in mining. C. R. Nutt was reared at Dutch Flat and
at the early age of twelve years began to work. His occupations during his career
have been many and varied and include mining, saw mill and pulp mill work, railroad
telegraph operator and station agent. At one time he was in the employ of the
Southern Pacific Railway Company in Placer County; later he was with the San Fran-
cisco and San Joaquin Valley Railway, which afterwards became a part of the Santa
Fe system. Mr. Nutt became agent for the Santa Fe Railway at Tulare, where he
remained until 1898. Later he was associated with the Power, Transit and Light Com-
pany, stationed at Bakersfield. In 1907 he located at Huntington Beach, where for
three years he filled the position of bookkeeper for the Huntington Beach Company.
Afterwards he opened an electric shop and engaged in contract work and did the elec-
tric wiring in many of the residences and buildings in Huntington Beach.

In 1914 Mr. Nutt was elected to the important post of city clerk and ex-officio
assessor of Huntington Beach. That his duties have been ably and most intelligently
discharged to the entire satisfaction of the community is attested by the fact that he
has thrice been reelected to this office, his last election being for four years. Aside
from his above duties he is also acting as city tax collector. During his term of office
many important improvements have been made in public works, paving, sewers and a
municipal gas system were installed. Mr. Nutt is especially fond of instrumental
music and has the distinction of having organized the Huntington Beach band and
his artistic rendition of solos, both on the saxaphone and melophone, have delighted
the citizens of this up-to-date beach city. He is very public spirited and is always
ready to give his assistance to every worthy movement that has as its aim the up-
building of the best interests of Huntington Beach. He is a member of the Chamber
of Commerce and was clerk of the high school board for five years.

In 1891 C. R. Nutt was united in marriage with Minnie Bond, a native of Mass-
achusetts. She was one of the organizers of the Women's Club of Huntington Beach
and served as its first secretary. This union has been blessed with two children:
Helen, who is now Mrs. Fountain of Los Angeles; and Charles R., Jr., who for five
years has been a musician in Headquarters Company, First Infantry, U. S. Army,
having the rank of corporal. Fraternally Mr. Nutt is a member of Huntington Beach
Lodge No. 380, F. & A. M.; also of Huntington Beach Lodge No. 183, I. O. O.
F., and is secretary of the Huntington Beach L-odge of Modern Woodmen of America.



HISTORY OF ORANGE COUNTY 1177

HENRY LAE. — A native son of Orange County, of French parentage. Henry Lac
is making a fine success of ranching near Brea, in partnership with his brother, Louis
Lae. He is the son of Joseph and Mary Lae, the father coming to America in 1885
from the Basses-Pyrenees, in the southern part of France. Sheep raising is one of the
principal means of livelihood in that mountainous country and being accustomed to
that work Mr. Lae became a sheep herder on the ranch of Domingo Bastanchury,
known throughout Southern California as the largest sheep owner in this section,
having as many as 20.000 sheep in the early days when this great industry was at its
height. When the country began to be more thickly settled and the sheep ranges cut
up into small ranches, the industry gradually ceased to exist commercially, and for a
number of years a flock of sheep has been a rare sight in this county. Like many others
who had been engaged in this business. Joseph Lae took up farming, leasing eighty
acres from the Lhiion Oil Company on the east side of the Fullerton-Brea Boulevard.
Here with his sons he raised large crops of hay, continuing here until his death, which
occurred in Novemljer, 1918, the mother having passed away in 1896, at their home
in Fullerton.

Born at Fullerton, Xovemlier 4, 1895, Henry Lae has spent all his life in this
vicinity. He attended the Fullerton schools, meanwhile assisting his father in the
ranching operations and early learning to do all kinds of farm work, .^fter the death
of his father, with his brother, Louis Lae, he leased eighty acres of land from the
Union Oil Company and the same amount from the Coyote Land Company, this being
situated on the Fullerton-Brea Boulevard, across from the tract formerly operated by
the father. They have been very successful in their work here and their yearly crop
of hay brings them an excellent price.

Two of the Lae brothers served in the World War, Louis being for eight months
in the Coast Artillery, while Phillip saw twenty months' service in Headquarters Com-
pany of the Three Hundred Sixty-fourth Infantry, Ninety-first Division, and went
through the big drives of the war.

GEORGE N. WERSEL.— Of French and Dutch ancestry, George N. W'ersel has
inherited the thriftiness and industry that characterize both of these nations, and this
heritage has had no small part in the success that he has achieved. Born in Cincinnati,
December 14, 1861, George N. is the son of Frank and Mary (Wagner) Wersel. Mr.
Wersel was born in Holland and Mrs. Wersel in France, both of them coming to
.•\merica when they were children.

One of a family of five sons and two daughters, all of whom are living, George
N. Wersel was educated in the public schools and the .Academy of the Holy Cross in
Cincinnati. His father had for years been engaged in the upholstering business at
Cincinnati, and after his schooling was completed George Wersel took up this work,
serving an apprenticeship under his father, later going into business with him, and
continuing in this line for many years.

Coming to California in September, 1913, Mr. Wersel spent a few months in Los
Angeles, coming from there to La Habra, where he purchased the ten-acre ranch on
La Mirada Avenue which is now his home. Seven acres of the ranch are devoted to
walnuts, while the remaining three acres is set to lemons, and the whole tract shows
the gratifying results of intelligent care and painstaking work. Mr. W'ersel has estab-
lished an excellent irrigating system, water being furnished by the La Habra Mutual
Water Company. He markets his walnuts through the California Walnut Growers
-Association of La Habra, and his lemons through the Mutual Orange Distributors. In
1914 Mr. Wersel built a beautiful bungalow on his ranch, and here he resides with
his sisters, Agnes and Estella \^'ersel.

Mr. Wersel is held in high esteem by the people of his locality, who appreciate
his many excellent qualities, his integrity and reliability. Nonpartisan in his political
views, he is nevertheless interested in the welfare of the .country in the largest and
broadest sense, and believes in casting hi^ vote for the best men and measures. In
fraternal circles he is affiliated with the Elks and the Knights of Columbus.

GEORGE M. EABY. — That a man need not own extensive acreage in order to
exercise important influence in a community is demonstrated by George M. Baby, the
proud possessor of a modest but enviable grove of citrus and walnut trees, who has
had a hand in the late development of La Habra and vicinity. He was born near Laton.
Rooks County, Kans., on May 21, 1876, the son of .Aaron S. and Cordelia (Gregory)
Eaby, early settlers of the "Garden of the West," the father, a Pennsylvanian. having
moved there in 1874, a year after the mother, who came from Iowa. .Aaron Eaby was
a farmer; hence, while he attended the local schools, George spent his boyhood and
youth on the home farm. Later, he attended the Kansas Wesleyan University at
Salina, there completing his days of schooling.



1178 HISTORY OF ORANGE COUNTY

In 1896 Mr. Eaby came to California and settled at Whittier, where he worked on
various ranches. The next year, on September 23, he was married to Mrs. Alice
Prentice, a native of Iowa, where she was born near Des Moines. Her maiden name
was Alice Hites, and she was the daughter of Joseph and Catherine Hites; and she
attended the country school near Des Moines.

In 1906 Mr. Eaby purchased six acres on La Mirada Avenue, west of La Habra,
three acres of which were set out to walnuts; and the remaining three acres he set
out to Valencia oranges. Seven years later he built his own home there. He buys
the. water he needs for irrigation from the La Habra Water Company, markets his
walnuts through the La Habra Walnut Growers Association, and his oranges through
the Index Orchards of the M. O. D. of Redlands.

A Republican in matters of national political import, and always ready to advance
the principles long set forth by that great body, Mr. Eaby is a broad-minded American,
favoring the best men and the best measures, particularly in local movements, for the
attainment of ends difficult or impossible when partisanship prevails. He takes a keen
interest in all that happens at La Habra, having the utmost confidence in the ever-
increasing prosperity of this highly-favored region.

LUCIAN T. ROGERS. — An enterprising, self-made horticulturist, whose disposi-
tion to work hard when he works, and to play hard when he plays, has enabled him
to become a successful citrus rancher, is Lucian T. Rogers, a native son proud of his
association with the great Pacific commonwealth. He was born amid the excitement
of the greatest boom Southern California has ever known, at Santa Ana, on May 29,
1888. the only son living of Joseph C. Rogers, a very successful lowan who came to
California in 1884 and now lives, a retired rancher, at Long Beach. He had married
Miss Margaret Voris, an admirable lady, who died at Fullerton in 1908, the mother of
three children, of whom our subject was next to the youngest.

He attended the gramtnar school at Fullerton, and then went to the Browns-
berger Business College in Los Angeles, from which he was graduated in 1908. Then
he worked for Fullerton Mutual Orange Association for over two years.

When he took up ranching, he assumed the responsibility of managing and de-
veloping a twenty-eight and one-third acre ranch on East Chapman, the property of
his father and, to facilitate marketing, he joined the Fullerton Mutual Orange Growers
Association of which his father was president. Mr. Rogers is also a member of the
Fullerton Walnut Growers Association. He also took stock in the Anaheim Union
Water Company. The ranch, mostly devoted to raising Valencia oranges, may well
be regarded as a model for one of its size, and the fruit he raises is also of a superior
quality. Mr. Rogers also owns eight and half acres in Yucaipa Valley which he has
set out to an apple orchard.

On June 12, 1910, Mr. Rogers was married at Fullerton to Miss Ida Speheger,
daughter of Abraham and Rebecca (Fritz) Speheger. farmers of Bluflfton, Ind., where
Ida was born. Her father died in August, 1918. being survived by his widow. Miss
Speheger came to Fullerton on a visit to her brother Fred and here she met Mr. Rogers,
the acquaintance resulting in their marriage. They have been blessed with one child, a
son. Donald Lucian.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Rogers are interested in every worthy endeavor for the up-
building of a community, and they gladly discharged their responsibilities toward the
late war and war-work. Mr. Rogers was for some years a member of the Knights of
Pythias, and a good "mixer" in every circle to which he gives his time.

JOSEPH O'DONNELL.— A successful horticulturist who has attained to still
higher and better things in becoming so widely esteemed for his sterling character
and his genial, kindly nature, is Joseph O'Donnell, the progressive orange grower,
who was born in Fayette County, Ohio, twenty-six miles from Columbus, on July
18, 1859, the son of Patrick O'Donnell, wTio died there, honored for his vigorous
participation in the Civil War, towards the close of the great conflict. He had married
Bridget Breslan, and she also died in Ohio.

The second oldest of the six children in the family — two of whom are living — ■
and the only one in California, Joseph was taken when seven years old to the neigh-
borhood of Indianapolis, Ind., and for a brief period sent to the public schools. He
was coiripelled. however, to go to work early, and to get such instruction as he could
in the limited winter sessions of the school. When he was fourteen, his mother died
and he began to "paddle his own canoe."

For a while, he worked on a farm as a carpenter, and then for sixteen years he
was with F. A. Fletcher, of the Indiana Blooded Stock Company, breeders of fine
Hereford cattle, traveling for that enterprising man for eight years and placing his



HISTORY OF ORANGE COUNTY 1181

blooded stock for him. He shipped into Portland. Ore., thirty-four years ago the
first Herefords ever consigned there, and he also sent cattle of high grade to Washing-
ton, where they were disposed of by auction sale. His full-blooded stock was, in
fact, the first put up at auction in Portland, and received the highest price of any up
to that time.

In 1896 Mr. O'Donnell resigned and went to Indianapolis, where he was on the
police force for seven years. Then he was with the Atlas Engineering Works for
another three years, serving them as a machinist. In 1906, he went to Boise City,
Idaho, and there he was in the transfer business until, in 1908, when he located here.

He bought his present twenty acres, then raw, land, on Rio \"ista Avenue, raised
seedlings, which he budded to Valencia oranges, and set out an orchard, consisting
of twenty acres of rich soil, well located. With this wonderful soil as an almost
magical stimulant, Mr. O'Donnell has been able in this short time to evolve a full-
bearing orchard. When he bought the place, he had only $150 with which to start,
and for the first four years he raised sweet potatoes. Now he has sixteen acres of
Valencia oranges, four acres of Navels, while the balance of the acreage is given up
to residence and yards. Naturally, he belongs to the Mutual Orange Growers Associ-
ation in Anaheim.

Mr. O'Donnell was married in Morgan County. Ind., to Miss Mary Dove, a native
of that state, and they have one child. Harold, a graduate of Anaheim high school,
class of 1920. She shares her husband's interest in independent political action, and
is a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

MRS. PHOEBE ANN BURBANK.— A well-read, deep-thinking woman with an
interesting personality, who has attained, in the school of hard work an enviable self-
poise, is Mrs. Phoebe Ann Burbank, the owner and manager of a well improved orange
and walnut grove of thirty-one acres. She was born near Watsonville, Santa Cruz. Cal.
Her father was the late John M, Bush., Sr., a native of Kentucky, where he was born
on April 10. 1829; and her mother had been Sarah A. Watson, who was born in Inde-
pendence, Mo., eight years later. John M. Bush migrated with his parents from
Kentucky to Clay County, Mo., at the beginning of his teens; and in 1849, when the
country was electrified by the startling news of the discovery of gold in California, he
sought and obtained parental permission to cross the plains, and soon set out overland
to seek his fortune. Having remained in the Golden State, he married in 1851; and
when gold-digging petered out, he went in for farming. He farmed in Santa Cruz
County and was engaged in sheep raising until about 1869, when he located in Santa
Ana Canyon and purchased a large ranch and engaged in sheep raising until his death
February 8, 1913, followed seven years later, by Mrs. Bush, who died March 26, 1920,
aged eighty-four. She had 105 descendants — ten children, fifty-five grandchildren, and
forty great-grandchildren. The ten children are Mrs. P. J. Ralls, Charles T. and
Jonathan Bush, Mrs. L. J. Stone and Mrs. Lillie HoUoway, all of Kern County; Mrs.
Elizabeth Borden, of San Bernardino; and J. M. and T. Taylor Bush, and Mrs. Phoebe
A. Burbank, of Olive, and Mrs. S. C. Howard, of Long Beach.



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 131 of 191)