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 27 of 191)
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mittee, with federal and state aid supplemented by the water companies, can con-
tinue to protect the watershed of the stream from destructive fires and to store
its flood waters in the debris cones and gravel beds for summer irrigation. And
the wells and pumping plants, which have multiplied more than two and a half
times in the last decade, will continue to increase in number and usefulness.

Thus with the three great requisites for success in agriculture and horti-
culture, viz. : Fertile soil, equable climate and abundant water. Orange County is
forging ahead with giant strides, as note the increase in annual productions from
$12,294,694, reported by the county statistician in 1910, to $77,152,500. reported
by' the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce in 1919.



WILLIAM H. SPURGEON.— The family represented by William H. Spurgeoa
the founder of Santa Ana, is of English extraction, and has been identified with
America for several generations. His father, Granville Spurgeon, a native of Bourbon
County, Ky., engaged in agricultural pursuits in Henry County, that state, for some
years and from there removed to Bartholoinew County, Ind., in 1830, and became a
pioneer farmer of the Hoosier state. Ten years later he took his family to Clark
County, Mo., and there, too, undertook the development of a farm from raw prairie.
Admirably qualified by nature for the task of pioneering, he led a busy life in the
midst of frontier surroundings that would have daunted a less adventurous spirit. In
1864, he decided to come to California, and accompanied by his family, he crossed the
plains in a prairie schooner drawn by mules. After a long, tedious journey they
reached Solano County, and near what is now Cordelia, settled and remained until his
death, which occurred in 1867, a short time after the death of his wife, Lavinia (Sibley)
Spurgeon, a native of Prince Edward County, Va., and of Scotch lineage.

It was during the residence of the family in Henry County, Ky., that their son,
William H., was born on October 10, 1829, When a babe in arms he was taken to
Indiana, and thence in 1840 accompanied his family to Missouri, where he was reared
and received a practical common school education. At the age of sixteen he became
a clerk in a country store at Alexandria, where he was employed for several years.
Shortly after the discovery of gold in California he determined to seek his fortune
here, coming by way of New Orleans and the Isthmus of Panama, He spent four
years in California, working in the gold mines, and met with financial success; he also
served in the Rogue River Indian War. In 1856 he returned by way of Panama to
New York City, and thence to Missouri, becoming connected with a mercantile busi-
ness at Athens, where he remained for some time.

The second journey made by Mr. Spurgeon to California was in company with
his father and other members of his family across the plains in 1864. In 1867 he went
to Los Angeles, and during his brief stay there his wife, Martha (Moreland) Spurgeon,
a native of Kentucky, died. Soon afterward he returned again to Clark County, Mo.,
and from there, in 1869, came to what is now Santa Ana. Upon his arrival he pur-
chased seyentv-six acres of the Santiago de Santa Ana grant, which originally con-
tained 62,000 acres. Immediately after buying this property he proceeded to lay out
the present town of Santa Ana, employing for this purpose Mr. Wright, a well-
known surveyor and civil engineer. The name the town bears was given it by Mr.
Spurgeon in honor of the old Spanish grant. When he located here there were but
few trees in the entire valley and the country was covered with wild mustard so high
that he could not look over it from horseback, and in order to view the valley that
contained his purchase he climbed one of the sycamore trees. The town of Tustin
had just been started and the Los Angeles and San Diego stage road lay through the
town and about three miles from Mr. Spurgeon's land. In order to get the stage to
come through his purchase and to get a post office established he cut a road through
the mustard at his own expense. He then built a small building of redwood on what
is now the southwest corner of Fourth and Broadway, and in this conducted a gen-
eral store, the first in Santa Ana, and it is said that all the goods contained therein
at the opening could have been hauled away in a wheel barrow. As the population
grew and the needs of the community became greater he added to his stock until he
carried a large variety of general merchandise, and for eighteen years conducted a
successful business, during which time he became widely known throughout this sec-
tion as a reliable merchant and progressive citizen.

Mr. Spurgeon put down the first artesian well in this section, which yielded an
ample supply of water at 300 feet and supplied the town for some time, thus estab-
lishing the first water works here. In order to induce settlers to locate at first he
would give one lot to anyone buying one, and in that way sold a lot at the corner
of Fourth and Main streets for fifteen dollars, and to induce the man to accept the
bargain, he threw in another one of equal size adjoining. To show the wonderful


growth of Santa Ana, this property has increased in value until it is now held at
approximately $85,000.

During his life as a merchant Mr. Spurgeon acted as agent at Santa Ana for the
Wells Fargo Express Company, and also filled the office of postmaster. After the
organization of Santa Ana as a city he was chosen a member of the first board of
trustees and served as president of same. Scarcely an enterprise was organized for
the benefit of Santa Ana with which his name was not identified, either directly or
indirectly. For twenty-five years he held the lot where the courthouse stands for
its present use, refusing many offers for it for other purposes. He donated the lot
for the Spurgeon Memorial Methodist Church South. It was his privilege to see the
city, started by his foresight and built up by the energy of such men as he, take its
place among the representative cities of Southern California. How much of the
credit due for this result is due to his wise judgment would be difficult to state, but it
is a recognized fact that Santa Ana owes to no citizen more than it does to Mr. Spur-
geon. He was always an advocate of good schools and every movement for the
social and moral betterment of the community met with his cooperation.

Realizing the necessity for the town to possess favorable banking facilities, Mr.
Spurgeon turned his attention to the establishment of a bank and, with others, incor-
porated the First National Bank of Santa Ana, of which institution he was chosen
president, and during the term of his service the bank secured the solid financial
basis upon which its subsequent prosperity has been built. He promoted the Santa
Ana Gas Company, which he served as president, was a stockholder and director of
the Santa Ana Gas and Electric Company, which succeeded to the business of the
former company, and he was financially interested in the Santa Ana Valley Irrigation
Company for five years, and for three years served as its president, and also as a
members of the board of directors. As a home place he owned twenty acres of land
at the east end of Fourth Street, part of which he sold to the Southern Pacific and
to the Santa Fe for depot and yard purposes. Realizing the value of transportation
facilities he used all his influence to get the roads to extend their lines to Santa
Ana. He later owned a tract of thirty, and also one of ten acres which he, himself,
planted to walnuts.

Mr. Spurgeon was always a staunch Democrat, and was chosen by his party to
various positions of trust and honor. He served as a member of the state assembly,
representing his district of Los Angeles County, this being before Orange County
was organized. He served one term as supervisor before the partition of Orange
County, and after the organization of the county was again elected supervisor, serv-
ing as chairman of the board. He was an active member of the Merchants and Manu-
facturers Association, and also of the Chamber of Commerce of Santa Ana.

Mr. Spurgeon's farsightedness and keen perception is seen when supervisor of
Eos Angeles County. In the early days he was not slow to see that this end of the
county was neglected and did not get the aid nor public improvement it was entitled
to, so it was then the idea came to him that the proper way to get what was due
in this end of the county was county division and a separate county, and in that
case he saw that Santa Ana would no doubt be the county seat, and so strong was
his desire in that direction and so certain was he of it, he kept the block now occu-
pied by the court house for that very purpose, and would not consent to sell it to
any one, although he had some splendid offers for it. His ambition was finally realized
— Santa Ana as the county seat and his choice of block selected as the court house
site was no longer a dream but became a reality, thus fulfilling his ambition.

Mr. Spurgeon's second marriage occurred in Santa Ana on April 14, 1872, uniting
him and Miss Jennie English, a native of New Madrid County, Mo., who came to
this part of California from Santa Cruz County in 1869 with her parents. Her father.
Robert English, first crossed the plains in 1850 from Missouri, and after some time
spent in California, returned to his home. From there he subsequently moved with
his family to Texas, from which place, in 1861, they crossed the plains from Red River
to California by ox team, settling at El Monte. While on their tedious journey they
were joined from time to time by different immigrants until their train numbered
sixty wagons. They had several skirmishes with the Indians, but suffered no losses.
Both Mr. and Mrs. English died in Santa Ana. Mr. and Mrs. Spurgeon became the
parents of five children: Grace, the wife of R. L. Bisby of Santa Ana; Lottie and
Mary deceased; William H., Jr., is prominent in the furniture business in Santa Ana,
and Robert Granville resides at Long Beach, having served in the U. S. Navy in the
World War.

On February 24. 1909, Mr. Spurgeon incorporated his property under the title
of the W. H. Spurgeon Realty Company, the members of his family being associ-
ated with him as directors of the corporation, and he himself being president until

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his death on June 20, 1915. During the last years of his life the company built the
W. H. Spurgeon Block on the corner of Fourth and Sycamore streets, the largest
and most pretentious building in the city, a fitting monument to its founder. Mrs.
Spurgeon survives her husband and continues to make her home in the city she has
seen built up from a stubble tield and in the development of which she has taken a
woman's part, aiding and encouraging her husband in his ambition to see it a beau-
tiful city with modern public improvements, with its paved streets, as well as being
one of the principals in making it the seat of government of the county, a desire that
was very keen and dear to them both. Her children are looking after the large
afifairs left by her husband, and by their love and devotion do all they can to shield
her from worry and care.

The life of Mr. Spurgeon illustrates the possibilities which Southern California
offers men of energy and judgment, where the opportunities for wise investments
and large returns are even greater than they were in the early days. The record of
Santa Ana's founder, who started with less than $1,000, is an example that is worthy
of emulation and one that will encourage many another young man in his struggle
toward success. In October, 1909. during the carnival of the Parade of Products
held in Santa Ana, Mr. Spurgeon was presented with a memorial — a beautiful piece
of art work done in colors with a pen, setting forth his identification with the county's
interests. By a happy coincidence it was the eightieth year of Mr. Spurgeon's birth,
the fortieth year of the founding of Santa Ana and the twentieth year of the organiza-
tion of Orange County.

NOAH PALMER.— The passing away in January, 1916, of Noah Palmer, at the
age of ninety-six, closed a career whose value and service to the community, indeed
to the whole of Orange County, would be difiicult to measure. Intimately associated
with practically every enterprise that concerned the early development of Santa Ana,
it is perhaps in his especial ability as a financier that he was most closely identified
with the great progress made in this section of Orange County. Possessed in an
unusual measure of keenness and discernment of mind, he was always quick to grasp
advantages, albeit he was of a conservative temperament, so that, although his judg-
ment was quick and decisive, he was never led into developments of a speculative
character. A pioneer of '49, it was his privilege to witness such a transformation
throughout the commonwealth of California as can never again take place within the
confines of the United States, so marvelous has been the change that has been wrought
in those years.

The Empire State was Mr. Palmer's native home, his birth having occurred Sep-
tember 3, 1820, at Lowville, Lewis County, N. Y. His parents were Ephraim and
Hannah (Phelps) Palmer, natives of New York, and there they spent all their days.
Ephraim Palmer came of a long and honored line of English ancestry, his forbears
being of the Quaker faith, and he lived a well-rounded out life, reaching the age of
eighty-eight years; the mother passed away in early womanhood, when Noah was
but seven years of age. An older sister lived in Jefferson County, N. Y., and there
Noah went to live after his mother's death. He remained there until he was eighteen
years old, receiving a good education in the local schools of the vicinity. He then
began life on his own account as a school teacher, continuing in this profession
for ten years, first in New York, until 1840, when he went to Indiana. In 1849, when
the news of the discovery of gold in California went like wildfire over the country,
even to the backwoods hamlets, Noah Palmer, like thousands of other young men,
was fired with an ambition to seek his fortune in this new Eldorado. Joining the
Isaac Owen missionary train he set out on the long journey, and for six long, weary
months they slowly wended their way acress the plains and desert, a journey that
was fraught not alone with hardship but with many dangers. The hard work of
mining, at Hangtown, now Placerville, however, proved too much for Mr. Palmer,
so he went to San Jose and began farming, later removing to Santa Clara, where
he continued ranching for many years. In 1852 he returned East and with his
wife and little daughter started back to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama,
making the rough trip across the Isthmus on mule back, there being no railroad
in those early days. The family established their home in Santa Clara County, and
for a number of years Mr. Palmer was quite active in political life, being a leader in
Republican circles. For four years he served as tax collector of Santa Clara County,
and represented his district in the state legislature for one term.

In August, 1873, Mr. Palmer came to Santa Ana, then only a small hamlet.
There was little to attract one at that time, as there had been but little improvement
of the surrounding country, and this offered but scant promise of the possibilities
that eventually were unfolded. With that keen foresight that was ever a dominating


characteristic. Mr. Palmer felt that success awaited the pioneer here who had patience
and perseverance, coupled with energy. He returned to Santa Clara, and on Decem-
ber 1, of that same year, he closed a deal for 1765 acres, comprising a part of the
old Santiago de Santa Ana grant, originally a tract of 62,000 acres. On his return
to this locality he was accompanied by a number of his friends in Santa Clara,
and to them he disposed of 1065 acres, giving them their choice of location. He re-
tained 700 acres, and this he put under cultivation and produced some of the best
crops ever seen in this section. This land was all within the corporate limits of
Santa Ana, now all subdivided into town lots except forty-five acres. His friends
built on their various properties, and also farmed with success for years.

In 1882 Mr. Palmer began his active interest in the banking field, for which
his abilities especially fitted him. With W. S. Bartlett, Daniel Halladay and others
he organized the Commercial Bank of Santa Ana, with Mr. Halladay the first presi-
dent. After a very few years Mr. Palmer succeeded to that office, and held it until
.A.pril 23, 1910, when he retired. He was one of the organizers of the Bank of Orange
and served as its president until the bank was sold. He was also a director of the
Bank of Tustin and of the Orange County Savings Bank — now the Orange County
Trust and Savings Bank. He was active in the promotion of the Santa Ana, Orange
and Tustin Railway and was the first president of the company. In each of these
developments he was enabled to further the material progress of the county by
stabilizing the financial foundation of the locality through his wise oversight, and
by aiding those who were in need of capital to carry on the agricultural and horti-
cultural development that has brought undreamed-of wealth to the county.

While a school teacher in Franklin County, Ind., Mr. Palmer was married in
March, 1843, to Miss Susan Evans, born January 28, 1824, in that county. She
passed away on October 28, 1903, after a wedded life of over sixty years, in which
there had been more than the usual share of eventful interest. Five children were
born to Mr. and Mrs. Palmer, two of whom are living: Emma Palmer, Mrs. George
J. Mosbaugh, who is the mother of a son by a former marriage — H. Percy Thelan
of Santa Ana: and Miss Lottie E. Palmer. Mrs. Almira A. Hewitt, the eldest daugh-
ter, died in March, 1912, leaving three children, Fred P., William L., and a daughter,
Mrs. Susy Deuel. Mrs. Mosbaugh and Miss Lottie E. Palmer are residents of Santa
.\na, and through their loving ministrations the latter years of Mr. Palmer's well-
spent life were surrounded with every care and comfort.

WILLIAM N. TEDFORD.— Coming to Newport Valley, then in Los .\ngeles
County, in 1868, William N. Tedford was the first settler of the Valley, as he and
his family were the only Americans here at that time. Following him were Isaac
Williams, Jacob Ross, Thomas Smith and Thomas Cozad, all of whose names were
associated with the pioneer days of this section.

Of Scotch-Irish extraction, the first representative of the Tedford family in
this country was an early settler of Virginia, members of the family subsequently
settling in Tennessee. This state was the birthplace of John Tedford, the father of
our subject, and he continued the westward march of the family, removing to Ran-
dolph County, Mo. While a resident of Tennessee he had married Miss Catherine
Hannah, and there Wilfiam N. Tedford was born on August 16, 1826. At the age of
five he accompanied his parents to Randolph County, Mo., where he grew to man-
hood. Here he was married, May 19, 1852, choosing for his companion Miss Nancy
Jane Baker, the daughter of Isaac and Jane (McCullough) Baker, natives, respectively,
of Kentucky and Tennessee.

In 1864, twelve years after their marriage, and after five of their children were
born, emulating the pioneer spirit of his forbears, Mr. Tedford. with his wife and
family, started on the long journey across the plains with ox teams, reaching Solano
County, Cal., in September of that year. Remaining there for two years, they re-
moved to Monterey County, where they engaged in farming for another two years. In
1868 they came to what is now Orange County, settling on sixty acres of raw land
in Newport Valley which Mr. Tedford had purchased. Although the country was
wild and barren, they set to work to improve the land and make a home, and it
was their privilege to see the surrounding territory transformed from its uninhabited,
desolate state to prosperous ranches and orchards. It is safe to say that none of the
old settlers of Orange County rejoiced in its development more sincerely than did
Mr. Tedford, who had been so closely associated with its earliest days, and who did
his share in helping to make it the garden spot of the country.

The following children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Tedford: Walter B.; Ed-
ward; Mrs. Emma J. Maxwell, now deceased; Thomas F.; Mrs. Katie M. Felton;
Mrs. Maggie L. Young; Charles L.; Mattie Susan, wife of Rev. C. R. Gray; George

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I., ancl Harry A., now deceased. The five eldest were born in Missouri, the younger
children all being native sons and daughters of California. In 1899 Mr. Tedford sold
his ranch to his son-in-law, E. W. Felton, and purchased a residence at Spurgeon and
Third streets, Santa Ana, and here he made his home until his death, on November 9,
190S, Mrs. Tedford surviving him until 1919. Always a Democrat in his political
sympathies, Mr. Tedford took an active part in the affairs of his party, and among
other offices of trust he served as supervisor of Orange County for four years.

CHARLES C. CHAPMAN.— Genealogical records give the year 1650 as the date
of the founding of the Chapman family in .\merica l)y the arrival in the new world of
three brothers from England, who became the progenitors of a numerous race that,
taking root in Massachusetts, spread its branches throughout the growing colonies of
the Central West. No representative of this fainily was more worthy than Sidney Smith
Chapman, who was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, in 1827. He followed the west-
ward tide of emigration at an early age, settling in Illinois when he was a youth of
erghteen and embarking in the building business. While he never achieved wealth he
was singularly fortunate in gaining that which is far more enduring — the sincere regard
of friends and the affectionate admiration of business associates. Into the building of
houses he put the same integrity and the same patient industry that he put into the
building of his fine personal character and his deep Christian faith.

After a long period of labor as a builder in Macomb, 111., Sidney S. Chapman
removed to Vermont, same state, in 1868 and later followed his trade in Chicago,
where he and his first wife were charter members of the West Side Christian Church.
During the World's Fair his health failed and in October of 1893 he passed from earth.
His life, as it was ordered, contained not only happiness, but also sorrow and dis-
appointment. Whatever came to him he bore with simple dignity and quiet courage,
seldom giving utterance to any words save those of hope. As a workman he was not
content with the mere completion of a task, but strove to finish each contract with
greater skill than he had displayed in previous eflforts. He was a firm supporter of
prohibition, and politically a Republican. To his descendants he left the heritage of
a life that was a model of uprightness and simple devotion to duty.

In 1848 S. S. Chapman married Rebecca Jane Clarke, eldest daughter of David
and Eliza (Russell) Clarke, both natives of Kentucky, where the daughter also was
born. The family of Mr. Chapman by this marriage numbered ten children, seven of
whom attained years of maturity and five are now living, viz.: Charles C, whose
name introduces this narrative: Christopher C, an orange grower near Yorba Linda:
Samuel James, who is engaged in the real estate business in Los Angeles; Dolla, Mrs.
W'. C. Harris, whose husband is a well known builder and successful architect of Los
Angeles: and Louella. Mrs. J. Charles Thamer, of Placentia. Cal. The eldest son. Col.
Frank M., died in Covina, this state in 1909. Emma E., Mrs. L. W^ B. Johnson, died
in Illinois in 1888, leaving a son and daughter. The wife and mother passed away at
the family home in Chicago January 2. 1874, and later her youngest sister became the
wife of S. S. Chapman, their union resulting in the birth of three children, Ira, Earl
and Nina. After the death of her husband the widow remained in Chicago for several
years, but subsequently removed to Los Angeles, where she died.

During the residence of the family in Macomb. 111., Charles C. Chapman was
born July 2, 1853. and in that city his education was secured, but he owes more to

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 27 of 191)