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 136 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 136 of 191)
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tellership; and so he resigned to work for that banking house. In 1893 he resigned
again, having purchased an interest in a new shoe store in Santa Ana; and there he
continued until July, 1895, when he returned to Orange, as cashier of the Bank of
Orange — a position of increasing responsibility which he has filled with signal ability.

In 1906 the bank was nationalized and named the National Bank of Orange,
starting thus with a capital of fifty thousand dollars; and later the capital of the bank
was increased to $100,000. Now the deposits total over $1,250,000. In 1906 was also
sfarted the Orange Savings Bank, affiliated with the National Bank of Orange, and of
this Mr. Porter has also since been cashier. Undoubtedly, both of these splendid
institutions owe much of their progress and prosperity to Mr. Porter's conservative
policy and careful management, for it is looked upon as one of the strongest banks in
Orange County. The character of its officers has had much to do with favoring it with
the confidence of the public; and never yet has that confidence been shaken.

Some time ago Mr. Porter improved ten acres of orange grove on Batavia Street,
but this excellent property he has recently disposed of. He now owns a walnut orchard.
He is a member of the Santiago Orange Growers Association, and most emphatically
believes that it is the cooperation of the growers, there brought about, that spells
the success of the enterprise.

Mr. Porter was made a Mason in Santa Ana Lodge, F. & A. M., and is now a
member of Orange Grove Lodge, No. 293, F. & A. M. He belongs to Orange Grove
Chapter, No. 99, R. A. M., and to the Santa Ana Commandery, No. 36, K. T. He is
also a life member of Al Malaikah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., and a member of the
Santa Ana lodge of the Elks.

DILLARD E. FORD AND RAY FORD.— The Ray Ford Company of Santa
Ana, the popular and well-known dealers in hay, grain and feed, is composed of Ray
Ford and his father, Dillard E. Ford. Ray Ford is a native son, born at Fullerton,
August 30, 1897; his father is a native of Missouri, while his mother, who in maiden-
hood was Polly Steele, was born in Georgia. They are the parents of seven children:
Helena, Ray, Le Roy, Richard, Russell, Mary and Eleanor.

Dillard E. Ford located in Fullerton in 1895, where he was engaged with the
St. Helena Ranch Company, north of Fullerton, and planted walnut trees which were
among the first planted in that district. Later he purchased land near Placentia, part
of which he sold, and on this same land oil is now being developed, .'\fterwards Mr.
Ford located at Huntington Beach, being one of the pioneers of that thriving beach city,
having been there when the town was laid out, and became foreman of the Huntington


Beach Company. He was also foreman of the Bolsa Ranch, then owned by Robert
Norton. For three years Mr. Ford was engaged in raising celery in the peat land
section of Orange County. Later he became buyer for the Interstate Fruit Distributors
Association, the first association to ship fruit and vegetables out of Orange County.

In 1912, when the Holly Sugar Factory at Huntington Beach was built, Mr.
Ford entered their employ and so efficient has been his service that he is still with
the company and now fills the important post of agriculturist. On Fairview Avenue,
south of Santa Ana, Mr. Ford owns a five-acre ranch set to young walnut trees, and
here he also engages in poultry raising, having 500 chickens in his flock. He has always
taken an active interest in the growth and development of Orange County and at one
time was the owner of fifty-five acres near the race track, south of Santa Ana, which
he devoted to sugar beets. Fraternally Mr. Ford is an Odd Fellow, a member of
Downey Lodge.

Ray Ford received his early education in the public schools of Huntington Beach
and Santa Ana, after which, for a year and a half, he looked after his father's ranch.
His next employment was as storekeeper for the Holly Sugar Factory at Huntington
Beach. During the World War he valiantly responded to the call of his country, en-
listing June 29, 1918, in the U. S. Navy as a seaman gunner. He was attached to the
U. S, Mine Carrier Lakeview. and saw fourteen months of service, receiving his honor-
able discharge August 16, 1919. After leaving the Navy Mr. Ford returned to Santa
Ana, where, in partnership with his father, they bought the feed store of R. S. Smith
on North Birch Street. They deal in hay, grain, mill feed, fuel, seeds and poultry
supplies. Mr. Ford is making a splendid success in his new enterprise.

On January 14, 1920, Ray Ford was united in marriage with Miss Florence N.
Cary, born at Talbert, a daughter of Robert J. Cary, who was formerly a rancher
there but is now a resident of San Bernardino County.

DENNIS J. McCarthy.— A well-traveled and well-informed rancher who is
particularly familiar with Alaska, having visited and thoroughly explored that country
several times, is Dennis J. McCarthy, at present farming to the northeast of Anaheim.
He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 5, 1857, the son of Jeremiah McCarthy,
a railroad man, who had married Mary Holland. They were both born in County
Cork, Ireland, but were married in England and there they followed farming until 1854,
when they came to Cincinnati, Ohio. During the Civil War Jeremiah McCarthy was
in the government employ as a wagon maker.

In 1865 they removed to Osgood, Ripley County, Tnd., where they purchased a
farm and resided there until their demise. This worthy couple had seven children
Dennis J. being the second oldest. The lad attended the Ripley County schools, and
just how hard he had to strive for what educational advantages he enjoyed may be
gathered from the fact that he walked four miles to the schoolhouse, which was opened
for only four months in the year. Like his father, he took up railway work, and it
was not long before his services were fully appreciated by those employing him.

In 1881 he came west to Colorado for railroad construction, and the next spring
to Wyoming and in the fall of 1882 proceeded on to San Francisco, Cal. For a short
time he was busy in railroad building in San Francisco and vicinity, and then he re-
moved to Idaho and settled at Pocatello, where he took up bridge building. From
Pocatello, he worked for the Oregon Short Line out toward Butte, Mont., and Hunt-
ington, Ore., Granger, Wyo.. and Ogden, Utah, and he assisted in erecting some of the
most notable bridges along the great railway lines.

In 1902, Mr. McCarthy returned to California and settled in .Anaheim, where he
purchased ten acres at the corner of North and Sunkist avenues. It was bare land
when he acquired possession; but in 1914 he set out a fine grove of Valencia trees, and
now he owns one of the handsome, promising orchards of the county. His land is
served by the .\naheim Union Water Company, and he markets through the Red Fox
Packing House.

Mr. McCarthy is an authority on .Alaska, although he speaks with modesty of
what he has seen and accomplished there, having made no less than five trips to the
land of the Midnight Sun. He first went there in 1898. at the time of the rush to the
Klondike for gold, and in partnership with S. W. Evans went over the White Pass,
leaving Skagway February 1, over the snow. They took 3,500 pounds of provisions,
as well as tools, and used one horse and two sleds on this trip and camped on snow
over forty feet deep. In 1899, he made a second trip, and the next year a third. In
1916 he went to .Anchorage, Alaska, and the next year to Juneau. He was an eye-
witness to stirring events in historic days, and took an active part of the making ot
history in .\laska. It is no wonder, therefore, that he is nonpartisian in politics, and
decidedly believes in selecting men fit for office regardless of party.


HENRY DEAN POLHEMUS.— An interesting representative of a tine old Cali-
fornia family long identified with the pioneer history of Orange County, is Henry D.
Polhemus, who was born on the old Polhemus ranch on the State Highway, south of
Anaheim, April 27, 1890, the son of Henry D. and Emma M. (Hanna) Polhemus.
Henry D. Polhemus, Sr., was born in Valparaiso, Chili, October 13, 1843. His father,
John Hart Polhemus, was the American minister to Chili at the time, serving during
President Tyler's administration. In 1849 they made the voyage back to the States,
locating at Mt. Holly, Burlington County, N. J., where Henry D. received his prepa-
ration for college and entered the Jersey Collegiate Institute. After completing a
course there he entered a pharmacy, continuing until August 26, 1862, when fired by
patriotism he enlisted in the Twenty-third New Jersey Volunteer Infantry and rose to
the rank of hospital steward. He was in the battle of Fredericksburg, December 13,
1862. He continued in service until June 27, 1863, when he was honorably discharged
by reason of the expiration of his term of enlistment.

In August, 1863, he migrated to California via Panama and made his way on to
Empire City, Nev., where he was assayer for the Silver State Reduction Works for
one year when he returned to San Francisco and became agent for the San Francisco
and San Jose Railroad until the fall of 1868, when he resigned and came with the
Los Angeles and San Bernardino Land Association with whom he continued for several
years. In February, 1876, he became agent at San Rafael for the North Pacific Coast
Railroad and in May, 1877, he assumed the same position for the company at Tomales.
In 1880 he came to Anaheim and purchased thirty-five acres on what is now the State
Highway at Flores station on the Southern Pacific where he was agent for a time.
However, he soon engaged in farming and improved the place to walnuts. He died
in 1900. His widow survives him and resides in Artesia; she was born at Clintonville,
Va., November 5, 1852. Her father, John Hanna, was also a pioneer of Orange County
and had a thirty-five-acre ranch on the State Highway, having located in this section
as early as 1862.

Henry D. Polhemus was sent to the grammar schools of Katella, and later attended
the Harvard Military School at Los Angeles. On September 21, 1912, he was married
to Miss Christine Joens, a native of Oakland, and the daughter of John and Sophia
(Hansen) Joens. who were early settlers of Oakland. Her father was a inerchant of
Oakland, and he came to Los Angeles and was prominent as a produce merchant there
at the time of the marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Joens now reside at the Polhemus home.
Two children have blessed the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Polhemus, and they bear the
pretty names of Evelyn Martha and Henry Dean, Jr. Mr. Polhemus took an appren-
tice's course in electrical work in the International Correspondence School, and was
engaged by the Los Angeles Railroad as an electrician up to 1907. Then he went with
the Southern California Edison Company as operator at the Katella Station, and was
with them for over three years. He resigned and in 1911 was engaged by the Union
Oil Company as chief electrician and has had charge of their electrical work in the
Southern division, extending from Santa Paula in Ventura County to San Juan Capis-
trano and he also had charge of their telephone line as well as all construction work.

On his twenty-first birthday, Mr. Polhemus was given by his mother ten acres of
land on Placentia and Cerritos avenues, and although it was barren then, he has since
set it out to Valencia orange trees now bearing. He has a trim ranch, and markets
through the Anaheim Mutual Orange Distributors Association. Mr. Polhemus was
made a Mason in Anaheim Lodge No. 207, F. & A. M., and politically he votes for
the best man irrespective of party.

WILLIAM L. YORK. — A successful horticulturist and a conservative, yet pro-
gressive financier of philanthropic tendencies, distinguished as one of the public-spirited
citizens in the La Habra Valley, and certainly one who has inspired others to do their
best for society and in particular for their home district, 'WilHam L. York occupies
an enviable position in Orange County. He was born in Aledo, Mercer County, 111., in
1865. the only son of Charles York, a Kentuckian, who migrated to Illinois and there
did yeoman service as a pioneer. He owned many head of oxen, and took up the
work of a prairie breaker, hiring out his ox teams. Once, long ago, he visited Cali-
fornia, but he never settled here. He owned a farm of 320 acres, where he raised stock
and grain, and he served his fellow-citizens as tax collector of his township for many
terms. This farm had been preempted by the maternal grandfather, Zachariah Landreth,
from the U. S. Government, when that state was a territory, and he sold it to Charles
York, and on this farm both Charles York and his wife died. Some of the apple trees
on the place are from seventy to eighty years old. and when our subject and his wife
made a trip East last year, they found the farm still kept up to its normal condition.
Mrs. Charles York was Miss Jane Landreth, a native of the state of Pennsylvania, but
born of English parentage.



William York attended the district school, and then studied for a term at Heding
College; and when he was twenty-one years of age, he assumed the management of
the farm. Later, during the winter months, he taught school. On March 20, 1890, he
was married to Miss Clara Bell Tenney, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Tenney,
pioneer agriculturists in Mercer County, 111. She also was a pupil of the common
schools of her district, afterward attended Simpson College, and, when sixteen years
old, taught the district school. In fact, for a term after their marriage, both Mr. and
Mrs. York taught school.

Mr. York farmed in Illinois until 1902, and for three terms he was a justice of
the peace in Mercer County. When he came West, his destination was Whittier, and
there he paid the record price up to that time for ten acres of citrus fruit. In 1911 he
sold his Whittier holdings and bought seventeen acres of year-old Eureka lemons at
La Habra. He is a member of the La Habra Valley Water Company, and is vice-
president of the La Habra Citrus Association. He is also president of the First
National Bank of La Habra, which is operated in connection with the Federal Reserve.

Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. York: Frank Albert enlisted
November 17, 1917, in the Twenty-sixth Engineers, as a private of the first class, and
was trained at Camp Dix. He was overseas for nine months, and during that time was
on the front for seven months, and participated in the Argonne and the Meuse ofifen-
sives, and fought at Chateau Thierry and at Metz. In April, 1919, he was honorably
discharged from Camp Fremont. After leaving the army he married Miss Clara Bald-
, win, and they have one daughter, Willa Jane. He is engaged in the oil production busi-
ness as a driller. Maribel, the second child, is the wife of David F. Lemke, the rancher
at Placentia. and now has three children, Cloise Dudley, John York and Robert Lewis.
Mr. and Mrs. York and family are Methodists, and Mr. York is a church trustee. In
national politics he is a Democrat, but in local movements decidedly nonpartisan.

H. FRED TOWNER. — .\ man who believes in turning out only the highest stand-
ard of work is H. Fred Towner, the well-known manufacturer of agricultural imple-
ments and tractor attachments at Santa Ana. He was born at Santa Ana on September
26, 1882, the son of A. J. Towner, who had married Mrs. Augusta E. Hamilton. His
parents came from Syracuse, N. Y., in 1880, and settled at Santa Ana, where they
ranched. A. J. Towner was a gunsmith by trade and also conducted a sporting goods
store. Fred's grandfather, Judge James William Towner, an attorney by profession,
was the first judge of the Superior Court in Orange County and when he resigned in
1897 he was presented with a gold-headed cane by the Orange County Bar. This cane
is now a prized heirloom in the possession of our subject. A. J. Towner died in
Santa Ana. while his wife passed away at the home of a daughter in New York. Their
daughter Xarifa succumbed to influenza while on a visit to Michigan.

Tiring rather early of the tasks at the public school, H. Fred Towner left his
books because he preferred to work. At the age of seventeen he began to learn the
blacksmith trade under W. C. Young, a pioneer blacksmith of Santa Ana, working
for wages until October, 1914. The following year he built the first part of his present
place and in 1920 he erected a larger building adjoining and now has a building 100
by 90, and on the rear of his lots a warehouse 30 by 90. His establishment is splen-
didly fitted out with modern machinery and he employs about twenty-one men. each of
them skilled in his particular line. The factory is located at 105-07-09-11 North Main
Street and it is Mr. Towner's intention to continue to enlarge his plant and to give
work to a still larger force of employees.

The es'tablishment is equipped as an up-to-date machine shop, with lathes, shapers.
high-speed drills, power punches, shears, automatic thread cutters and triphammers.
as well as hacksaws and emery stands, the whole being operated by electric power from
motors of a combined capacity of thirty-two and a half horsepower and it is the con-
sensus 'of opinion that it is the best-equipped machine shop in the county. He is the
largest manufacturer of agricultural implements in the county and is equipped to do
all kinds of work in this line. His motto is, "If nobody else will build it we will," and
he has handled a number of jobs that no one else, on the coast would attempt and
ha"s made a success of them because of his initia'tive and experience.

Mr. Towner's specialty is the building to order of farm implements, such as sub-
soil plows, cyclones, bean planters, bean cutters, cultivators, furrowers, gang plows
and other farm machinery. He has patented a subsoil plow which has an oscillating
standard, and has taken out a second patent on this subsoiler, which oscillates below
the frame instead of in the frame; he has taken this out to protect his first patent and
they are the only oscillating subsoilers on the market that one can back up with. He
also has a third patent on the subsoiler called the Perfection subsoiler, an attachment
to the Oliver plow, and it is an exclusive Fordson automatic tool. He has also in-
vented and manufactures a patent hitch for Fordson and Samson tractors and a patent


roller hitch for them and tractors of similar construction. At the present time Mr.
Towner furnishes all the extension grousers for Fordson tractors for all the Pacific
Coast states and all the extension grousers for the Samson tractors in the state of
California. He also carries a large stock of steel, heavy and light bolts and nuts, as
well as coal and general blacksmith's supplies for the retail trade.

On May 14, 1905, Mr. Towner was married to Miss Anna Schlasman, the cere-
mony taking place at Orange. Three sons blessed the union: James William, who
died when he was fourteen months old; H. Frederick and Rutherford Glenn. The
family occupy their own home at 833 North Baker Street, on the corner of Towner
Street, named for his father. Mr. Towner belongs to the Maccabees and is a life
member of the Elks. While a Democrat in national politics, in local matters he is a
man above mere party lines. He is a believer in church and educational institutions
and is always ready to contribute his share toward worthy enterprises and is a mem-
ber of the Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Towner was a member of the old Santa .\na
Volunteer Fire Department and for some years served as its vice-president.

EDMUND E. KNIGHT.— .After an interesting life, many years of which were
spent in a foreign land, Edmund E. Knight, the proprietor of the well-known Guatemala
Avocado Nursery, located in Orange County in 1914, purchasing a tract of five acres
on North Eureka Avenue, Yorba Linda, where he has since made his home. Born at
Utica, Mich., May 4, 1860, Mr. Knight was the son of Philip Atwood Knight, who was
a member of one of the earliest classes to graduate from the University of Michigan
at Ann Arbor. For fifty years he was a prominent physician and surgeon at Utica,
passing away there at the age of seventy-seven.

Educated in the public and high schools of his native town, Mr. Knight remained
there until he was eighteen years of age, when he came West with an uncle, and for
five years remained in Nevada and San Francisco. In 1885 he went back to the old
home in Michigan on a visit and was returning to San Francisco by way of Panama
when he decided to stop oflf at Guatemala, and he remained in Mexico, Central and
South America for a period of thirty years. He established himself as a railroad
contractor in different parts of those countries, and a part of the tmie was engaged in
general merchandising and farming. At the time of his leaving there he was the oldest
American resident in point of years of continuous sojourn in Guatemala. During his
residence there he married into a well-known old Spanish family, and two children, a
son and a daughter, were born to this union: Alfred is a train dispatcher in Honduras;
Ellen, Mrs. Martina Vernon, resides at the family home at Yorba Linda. Mrs. Knight
passed away in Guatemala.

Mr. Knight had made numerous trips to the States, and on his trips to California
came to the conclusion there was a splendid opening here for raising avocados. .At the
time of the first Balkan War railroad building in Central .America ceased because the
companies could not borrow the money to finance their building, so Mr. Knight sold his
holdings and came to Los .Angeles. After looking over different portions of Southern
California, he selected A'orlja Linda as the most suitable because it is practically
frostless and has an abundance of good water. So, in March, 1914, Mr. Knight began
an extensive planting of avocado seedlings on his ranch at A'orba Linda, and shortly
afterward went direct to Guatemala, Central .America, to procure avocado buds from
the best trees fruiting in that country, famed for the finest avocados. It was necessary
for him to obtain a special permit from the L^nited States Government to import these
buds, and in order to insure them arriving in proper condition he had a special refrigera-
tor box built on board ship to preserve the buds in their dormant state. Returning to
the United States, he brought with him the first successful shipment of the famous
Guatemala hard-shell avocado, comprising 41,000 buds, and from these he was able to
grow eighty-one sturdy trees. He is the only individual that has imported ^'ocado
buds into the U. S. from Guatemala and made them grow, and this two years before
the Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of .Agriculture at Washington did it
successfully. From the beginning Mr. Knight was quick to see the wonderful possi-
bilities in the avocado industry in the United States, and his thorough study of all
angles of this comparatively new branch of horticulture has made him one of the
authorities in this part of the country, and he has contributed largely toward putting
the industry on a successful commercial basis. He has developed Linda, Queen, Kist
and Knight varieties, all of them the choicest qualities, and he finds a ready market
for all the fruit he grows. He was a pioneer in the use of the overhead or spray
system of irrigation, and also was the first to demonstrate that the avocado thrives
best where the ground around is not cultivated. In addition to his choice nursery of
avocados, he has an orchard of 600 to 700 trees, it being the first close-set orchard of
avocados in California.


Mr. Knight's second marriage occurred at Los Angeles on April 29. 1919, when
he was united with Mrs. Florence (Wade) DeX'ries. She was born at Fremont. Mich.,
a daughter of Warren and Jennie Wade. Her father was a lumberman, being president
of the Michigan Lumber Company. He died in 1910, being survived by his widow.
Mrs. Knight is a graduate of the Ypsilanti State Normal and was supervisor of
manual training of the Pontiac schools for twelve years. She has one son by her first
marriage. Wade DeVries, a senior at the University of Michigan. Mr. Knight was
made a Mason in California Lodge No. \. F. & A. M., San Francisco, and is a charter
member of Yorba Linda Lodge No. 459, F. & A. M.. as well as Fullerton Commandery,

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 136 of 191)