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 33 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 33 of 191)
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great boom; and later he purchased twenty acres handsomely set out as an orange
grove at Riverside, which has since proven very valuable ranch property. This ranch
is now in charge of their only child, Joseph Eugene, who is a graduate of the Univer-
sity of Southern California, and married Miss Carrie Wilson, daughter of J. A. Wilson
of Santa Ana. Mrs. Copeland is also the owner of a walnut grove on Grand Avenue,
Santa In March, 1915, at the ripe old age of eighty, Mr. Copeland passed to his
eternal reward, rich in the esteem and affection of those who best knew him. Mr. and
Mrs. Copeland were firm believers in cooperation, hence they were members of both
the local Citrus Association and the Santa Ana Walnut Growers Association, since
their organization.

Mrs. Copeland belongs, as did her exemplary husband, to the First Presbyterian
Church of Santa Ana, in whose religious and social work she participates as best she
can for one of her age. Public-spirited to a remarkable degree, she also took a very
active part in the work of the Red Cross during the recent war, and at the age of
eighty-two knit not less than 150 pairs of socks for the soldiers.

THOMAS J. WILLIAMS.— A native of Wales, Thomas J. Williams, one of
Orange County's honored pioneer ranchers, brought with him to this country the
sturdy characteristics of his Welsh forbears, the Williams family being men of power-
ful physique and long-lived, some of them living past the century mark. Mr. Williams
was born at Carmorden, Glamorganshire, Wales, April 23, 1852, the son of John
and Martha (Binon) Williams; the father was a farmer as was the paternal grand-
father, John Williams, who lived to be 104 years old. Mrs. Martha Williams' father,
Thomas Binon, was a carpenter of Glamorganshire, Wales, and also lived to be 104
years old. There were two sons and six daughters in the Williams family, Thomas
J. being the sixth in order of birth, and the only one in America. He had only'fair
educational advantages, as there were no public schools in their locality, and every
family had to pay tuition for each of their children, so in the case of large families,
schooling was something of a luxury, and, too, his schoolhouse was seven miles away.

In early youth, Thomas J. Williams was apprenticed for four years to learn the
blacksmith's trade, receiving as payment his board and clothes. His training in this
work was very thorough, and included plow work and horseshoeing. During the haying
and harvesting season he worked on the farms of the neighborhood, one year swinging
the scythe' and cradle for sixty-seven days straight. In those days their agricultural
implements were very primitive, and the first threshing machine Mr. Williams ever saw
he owned and operated — a flail — and the first mowing machine he was familiar with
was wielded in the sweat of his brow in the form of a Welsh scythe.

On December 25, 1870, Mr. Williams was united in marriage with Elizabeth
Williams, who was no kin, although of the same name. She was born in the same
shire as her husband and educated in the subscription schools. Her parents were
James and Mary (John) Williams and she was an only child. The father was a farmer
in Wales and passed away in her early childhood. Her mother married a second
time to David James and they came to San Bernardino in 1853, where they farmed
for a number of years; Mr. James passed away at San Bernardino, and the mother
spent her last years at the home of her daughter, Mrs, Thomas J. Williams, passing
away at the age of ninety years.

In 1872, T. J. Williams decided to try his fortune in America, and accompanied
by his wife and infant son, James, landed at Castle Garden, May 3, of that year. They
went directly to Newark, Lincoln County, Ohio, and lived there for about five years,
Mr. Williams working in the rolling mills there, making iron railroad rails. While
in Newark, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States, and cast his first vote
for Rutherford B. Hayes as president. In 1876, they came on to California, reaching
San Bernardino December 26, remaining there until the following .April, when they
located in the New Hope district, now Orange County, then Los Angeles County, rent-
ing land belonging to the Rancho Los Bolsas. For six years he farmed on rented
land, then purchased twenty acres of land, later investing in two more twenty-acre
tracts, which comprises his present well-kept ranch of sixty acres. For four years he
raised corn and hogs, but had to sell his meat as low as two and a half cents a pound.
Later he engaged in dairying and general farming, growing alfalfa, barley, corn, beets,
potatoes and chili peppers, and has set out an apple orchard of three and a half acres,
besides a family orchard. He has put down two wells, one ten-inch and one seven-
inch, and has two pumping plants run by electric power, producing 100 inches of water.


sufficient to furnish ample irrigation for all his land. He also has a well, windmill and
tank for domestic purposes.

Mr. and Mrs. Williams have had eight children: James, born in Wales, died in
Newark, Ohio; John J., born in Newark, Ohio, died at San Pedro at the age of forty-
two, leaving a widow; Mary Ann, now Mrs. Swindler of Anaheim, is the mother of
four children; Thomas died at the age of nine years; Martha is the wife of Will De-
venney, a rancher of Orange County; Elizabeth, is the wife of Fred Mersel, an orange
grower and rancher of Santa Ana; they have one child; George is in the U. S. Navy,
having served in Asiatic waters and now in the Philippines; he married Miss Irene
Lee of Santa Ana and they have one child living; Margaret married Henry Devenney.
a rancher at Wasco, Kern County and they have one child.

In the early days, Mr. Williams was well acquainted with the McFadden brothers,
John, Robert and James, those pioneers whose names will always be associated with
the early development of Orange County. He was connected with the construction of
their railroad, the Santa Ana & Newport, and also worked at loading and unloading
their boats which ran between San Francisco and Newport. Always public spirited
and progressive. Mr. Williams helped organize Orange County and has always been
keenly interested in its development, and is now a promoter of the Santa Ana River
Protection District. While a supporter of the Republican party, he is inclined to be
liberal in local afifairs,.voting for the best men and measures. He served four years as
constable of Westminster township. Mrs. Williams is a member of the Church of
Latter Day Saints. Mr. Williams still looks after twenty acres of his land, which is
devoted to apples and alfalfa, and rents out forty acres. He and his family stand
high in the whole community, a trilnUe to their more than forty years of useful

ROBERT EDWIN LARTER. — Numbered among the leading citizens of the
Westminster district, Robert Edwin Larter has occupied a place of prominence for
many years in the agricultural, commercial and financial interests of Orange County.
A native of Canada, he was born in the Province of Ontario, ten miles west of Niagara
Falls, September 7, 1861. His parents were Robert and Mary J. (Hansler) Larter, the
latter a native of Canada; the father was born at Norwich, England, and came to
Canada with his mother when a boy of fifteen. He was a millwright and cabinet
maker, and later became interested in farming. He became prominent in the politics
of his locality, being a man of excellent judgment, and served on the township and
county councils of his Canadian home. In 1875 he made a trip to California, and while
here he bought 160 acres of land; returning to Canada he remained there until the
fall of 1876, when he came with his family to make California his permanent home.
This was just after the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and his land lay
in what was then Los Angeles County, this being some years before the organization
of Orange County. It was peat land, and was then a morass of willows, tules and
blackberries, and it took much hard work to put it under cultivation, but it eventually
became very productive. Robert Larter passed away in 1904; his widow survives
him and resides at Westminster, having reached the age of eighty-four.

The first fifteen years of Ed. Larter's life were spent in Welland County, Ontario,
his birthplace, and there he received his early education, attending the schools at
Westminster after the family removed here. He early began to work, however, help-
ing his father reclaim the swamp lands of their farm and breaking the virgin soil,
and this practical experience he found to-be of great value later in life when he took
up farming on his own account. He purchased 120 acres of land and devoted it to
general farming and dairying, in which he was very successful, also engaging in the
celery industry when that business was at its height. Business acumen and wise
investments have added to his capital and he now enjoys an affluence, the reward of
industry and intelligence. Always public spirited, Mr. Larter has for years been
prominent in the affairs of the community. A stanch Republican, he was chosen some
years ago to represent that party on the board of supervisors, an office which he filled
with great satisfaction to his constituency. He is now a member of the County
Republican Central Committee, and prominent in all the councils of the party. He
lias always been interested in the cause of education and has given of his time to help
raise the standard and equipment of the schools here, having served on the Hunting-
ton Beach Union High School Board. He was on the building committee of the
Orange County Court House when that structure was under way and was prominent
in the establishment of the Talbert Drainage District and the reestablishment of the
Bolsa Drainage District. An authority on financial affairs in the locality, he is a
director of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Santa Ana. In fraternal circles he
is a charter member of Westminster Lodge No. 72, I. O. O. F.


Mr. Larter's marriage, in April, 1889, united him with Miss Pearl Kiefhaber,
who was born in Indiana, but who came to Westminster with her parents when
l)ut a child. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Larter, two of whom passed
away in infancy. Those living are Marie L., the wife of Orel C. Hare of Westminster,
whose review appears elsewhere in this work; and Lutie, who is Mrs. Will McClin-
tock, her husband being a rancher at Garden Grove.

HENRY OELKERS— In naming the pioneers of Orange County any list would
l)e incomplete without special mention of Henry Oelkers, who for nearly forty years
was identified with the wine industry of Anaheim. He was born near Hamburg, Ger-
many, February 17, 1856, and received liis education in that country.

In 1882 Henry Oelkers immigrated to America and settled at Anaheim, where
he obtained employment with his uncle, William Konig, now deceased, who came to
Anaheim from Germany in 1859- Mr. Konig purchased twenty acres on South Los
Angeles Street, where the Southern Pacific Railway depot is located. Here he planted
a vineyard, erected a winery and continued to manufacture wine for many years. The
land has greatly increased in value and is now built up with residences and business
blocks. William Konig was very public-spirited and always willing to support every
worthy movement that had as its ultimate aim the upbuilding of the best interests
of Anaheim. One of his most noted acts — one that expressed in a very substantial
way his keen interest and pride in the civic affairs of Anaheim — was the donation of
the site of the public library. Being an able and successful business man, possessed
of sound judgment and executive ability, William Konig was recognized by his fellow
citizens and duly elected to the important office of trustee of Anaheim, which he filled
with great satisfaction to his townsmen and credit to himself. He passed away in
1911, mourned liy a host of friends.

Henry Oelkers was associated with his uncle from 1882 to 1911, where he learned
the business of winemaking and grape culture, eventually becoming the superintendent
of his plant. In recent years he has been engaged in pruning and grafting and other-
wise caring for orange and lemon groves, and is recognized as an expert in his line
of work. During his nearly forty years of residence in Orange County he has wit-
nessed marvelous changes — the development of the citrus industry, the growth of
small villages into up-to-date and prosperous cities and the wonderful development of
the oil fields.

In October, 1914, Henry Oelkers was united in marriage with Lisette Pohl, a
native of Germany, but for a numlier of years a resident of Chicago. She had a son
by a former marriage, who is now known as George Oelkers, now attending the Poly-
technic High School in Los Angeles.

Fraternally, Henry Oelkers is a memljer of Anaheim Lodge No. 199, T. O. O. F.;
Concordia Singing Society; charter member of Lincoln Hospital of Los Angeles, and
religiously belongs to the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.

JOHN B. NICHOLS— Well known in Santa Ana as an attorney-at-law, John
B. Nichols is a native of Fond du Lac County, Wis., and is the son of Thomas and
Clarissa (Brown) Nichols, both deceased. Thomas Nichols was born in the State of
New York and his wife was a native of Maine, their marriage being solemnized at
Albion. Edwards County, 111. The parents died when John B. was a small boy, and
as a consequence he went to live with an uncle in Edwards County, 111., for a few
years, but ever since he was twelve years old he has made his own way in the
world. He returned to his native state and worked out on farms near Fond du Lac
and lived with an uncle there until he was about fifteen years old. then returned to
Illinois. His elementary education was received in the rural school of his district
during the winter time, as he was obliged to work on the farm during the other
seasons of the year. He finished his high school course at the Albion high school, after
which he attended the Southern Illinois State Normal University at Carbondale
from which he was graduated. Later he entered the University of Illinois at Cham-
paign, working his wav through this institution by teaching school, and after grad-
uating he engaged in educational work in that state.

In 1897 Mr. Nichols came to Santa Ana, where he was principal of what is now
the Roosevelt school three years, afterward becoming principal of the schools at
Orange. From 1903 to 1907 he filled the post of superintendent of schools for Orange
County, elected on the Republican ticket, and then moved to Oxnard. Ventura County,
where he was principal of the Oxnard schools. Later Mr. Nichols went to Los
Angeles County, where he accepted the position of principal of the Union high school
at Compton. where he remained two years.

In the meantime Mr. Nichols had been improving his spare moments by reading
law, having always cherished a desire to enter the legal profession. While living at
Urbana, 111., he took part of a course in law and finished his course in Los Angeles


and was admitted to the bar in 1915, first practicing his profession in Los Angeles.
On February 1, 1919, Mr. Nichols returned to Santa Ana. where he opened his
office and has since prosecuted his profession in this city.

Mr. Nichols has been twice married; his first marriage was solemnized at Albion,
111., when he was united with Miss Jane Marriott of that city. She passed away in
1903 at Santa Ana, leaving five children: Claude W.; Nora, Mrs. D. D. Dawson; Edna,
Mrs. Lucien Wisser; Ruth, Mrs. C. O. Harbell, and William H. The second marriage
of Mr. Nichols, in Orange, in 1908, united him with Miss Mary S. Schofield. In his
religious associations Mr. Nichols is a Methodist. In politics he is a Republican,
and fraternally is a Knights Templar Mason, afiiiiated with the Santa Ana lodges.

DOMINGO AND MARIA BASTANCHURY.— Among the pioneer settlers of
what is now Orange County, the names of Domingo and Maria Bastanchury will never
be forgotten, for they were liberal supporters of all movements that had for their aim
the betterment of local conditions and the upbuilding and development of the new
county. Of foreign birth, Domingo Bastanchury first saw the light of day at Aldudes.
Basses-Pyrenees, France, in 1839, the son of Gracian Bastanchury. Domingo never had
the opportunity to obtain an education, as he had to work hard from a very early age,
but what he lacked in book knowledge he made up in business sagacity, and from an
humble sheep herder he rose to a position of prominence and wealth in his chosen home
place. When a young man of twenty-one he left home and friends and came to
America, for he knew that brighter opportunities awaited the man of energy and judg-
ment than were to be found in his own home locality in the Pyrenees. His objective
point was California and he left on a sailing vessel that took six months to make the
journey from his local port around Cape Horn to California. The ship encountered
many storms and the passengers sufifered many hardships, but they bore them all with
fortitude and eventually landed in the land of their hopes — California.

Arriving here in 1860, Mr. Bastanchury worked as a sheep herder for wages and
after several years in that capacity he gradually acquired a band of his own and as these
increased he became independent; at one time he was the largest sheep owner in Los
Angeles County, having from 15,000 to 20,000 head that were grazed all over the south-
ern part of the state. During the dry years when feed was scarce he would take his
flocks into the mountains and try to save them from starvation. At other times the
sale of wool was so slow on account of the tarifT conditions that after it had been
kept for two years it had to be sold for two cents per pound. What .that meant to the
sheep men, no one but themselves knew. As the ranges were diminished in size by
ranchers vvho began to grow various kinds of crops the sheep men gradually went out
of business and Mr. Bastanchury acquired large land holdings in what is now Orange
County. He had 1,200 acres south of Fullerton and later had 6,000 acres northwest from
that city. There still remains of the original acreage 3,300 acres. Tlie family together
have 3,000 acres planted to citrus fruits, the largest individual citrus grove in the world.
All the development of the large tract has been accomplished within the past ten
years, as prior to 1910 it was grazing land or barley fields. This work was done by
the Bastanchury brothers, Gaston A., Joseph F.. and John B., who comprise the Bastan-
chury Ranch Company, now owners of most of the property.

Domingo Bastanchury was united in marriage in Los Angeles, on July 16, 1874,
with Miss Maria Oxarart, who was born in 1848, in the same place as her husband and
who came to California in 1873. Her parents were John and Martha Oxarart, farmers
in Basses-Pyrenees, who raised grain, cattle and goats. The daughter obtained a limited
education in her native home, but after coming to America she attended school a year
to perfect her English. Mrs. Bastanchury shared with her husband all the trials and
hardships incident to pioneer life on the plains of Southern California and while he
was in the mountains with his sheep she was alone with her little family, her nearest
neighbors being several miles away. She well remembers the country when there was
no sign of the present town of Fullerton; all trading was done in Los Angeles or Ana-
heim. The whole country was devoted to grain raising and to the raising of stock,
with the exception of the grape industry that was being developed about Anaheim.
Then came the making of wine, one of the industries of note in the state at one time
There were only two houses between her home place and Los Angeles, and where
now hundreds of autos travel the main road between Los Angeles and Fullerton, in
the early days there would not be more than one team a week.

Mr. and Mrs. Bastanchury became the parents of four sons: Dominic J., who
owns and lives on his 400 acres near La Habra which is planted to walnuts and citrus
fruits; Gaston A., manager of the Bastanchury Ranch Company; Joseph F., and John
B., all of whom reside on the ranch and assist in its care. It is marvelous to realize
that when so much land is continually changing ownership that this large holding is




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still intact and under the highest state of development, all accomplished by the young
men who have grown up in Orange County. On July 21, 1909, Domingo Bastanchury
passed away at his ranch home, the house having been erected by himself and his
good wife in 1906, and was counted one of the show places of this section of Orange
County. Mrs. Bastanchury makes her home on her 200 acres and is in the enjoyment
of the best of health and enters heartily into all movements that mean progress and
better living conditions in the county. Much of the prosperity now enjoyed by the
family is due to the capable management and foresight of this pioneer woman who has
been a witness of the wonderful transformation of the county and Southern California
since she first settled here, a young girl. She believes in living and letting live and
when she can aid any worthy enterprise for bettering local conditions she is ready and
willing to do so. Now in the evening of her days she can look back upon a life well
spent and forward without fear, for she has done her part to make the pathways of her
descendants smoother than the paths she once trod and to prepare them for the
tasks that lead to success.

D. EDSON SMITH.— A well-known pioneer, highly esteemed for his scholarship
and long years of fruitful labors, is D. Edson Smith, of West Seventeenth Street,
Santa Ana, whose accomplished wife is almost as favorably known for her art studies
and work, particularly in experiments with architecture. He was born in Dorset,
Bennington County, Vt., on January U, 1839, and came westward with his parents
when he was only a year old, residing successively in ten different states. He was a
member of the first class to be graduated from the University of Iowa in 1858, and
for a while taught school in Missouri, and next served as a teacher eighteen miles
southwest of Syracuse, K. Y. He also taught in Pennsylvania, and at the close of
the Civil War he was engaged by the Freedman's Bureau to instruct some of the
freed slaves in Virginia and North Carolina.

In 1867 he settled in the Oneida Community in New York State, where the colony
made iron and steel devices, and also silverware, and there he remained until 1881.
when he came to California and purchased a home. He went back to New York
for a year, but in 1883 he returned to the Coast and the Golden State.

For ten years he was secretary of the Pomological Society of Southern Cali-
fornia, and he became well-known throughout the Southland as the editor of "Re-
pute." He also edited work for the month department of the Rural Californian for
three years, and then he published an article entitled, "Ten Acres Enough," in which
he set forth the argument that in California ten acres handled properly was sufficient
for any man to take good care of, and quite as suflicient for his prosperity. This
article was widely copied, and gave Mr. Smith national fame. In 1901, Mr. Smith was
sent to the Buffalo Exposition to represent the Rural Californian. A son of Mr.
Smith having become manager of the Oneida Community silverware factory, with
his headquarters at Niagara Falls* Mr. Smith spent some time with him during the
Exposition visit.

The purchase made by Mr. Smith in 1881 included ten acres, which he developed
so cleverly that it became known as the Model Ranch, Then he sold his land, and
rrioved into town. The removal involved their building a new home, and Mrs. Smith,
who had made a special study of architecture, particularly the antique, designed
their dwelling and created a structure that was so notable as to attract wide attention.
The first Mrs. Smith was Miss Sarah Frances King before her marriage, and a mem-
ber of a long-honored family in the Empire State, and their one living son is Eugene
Deming Smith, who is at present in San Francisco as manager of the office there for
the Oneida Community, The present Mrs. Smith, to whom he was married in May,

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 33 of 191)