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 45 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 45 of 191)
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dent for twenty-two years, or until he resigned in 1919. He saw this institution grow
from assets of less than $20,000 to over $800,000. He was the most prominent factor
in building up the Olive Milling Company, and his management and financing was
such that it was brought to such success it never failed to pay a semi-annual divi-


dend. He served as its president for ten years, until it was sold, in the fall of 1919,
to the Central Milling Company of Los Angeles.

Mr. Pixley has for many years been a director and vice-president of the Abstract
& Title Guarantee Company of Santa Ana, having been interested in the company from
its organization as a stock company, and he is also a director of the Fidelity Savings
and Loan Association of Los Angeles. He built and owns the Pixley Furniture Store
block on North Glassell Street, as well as other valuable property here, and property
of worth in Los Angeles and San Diego, and owns a stock ranch in the Santiago
Canyon, as well as one in the Laguna hills.

About sixteen years ago, Mr. Pixley was supervisor of Orange County from the
FourtIT district for a term, and then, although pressed by friends to continue in the
public service, declined further honors in that line. Yet he has never failed to take a
leading part in good roads movements, and was chairman of the highway commission
of the county, and had a very honorable share in providing, at a generous expenditure
of $1,270,000, the e.xcellent Orange County highways, permanent in their construction
and well serving the detailed districts of the locality, enjoyed by the public today.

At Ingraham, 111., Mr. Pixley was married to Miss Florence M. Boring, a native
of Illinois, and a sister of J. P. Boring, the well-known pioneer of Orange. Five
children have blessed the union. Walter C. is at the head of the Pixley Furniture
Company; Osman is secretary of the Orange Building and Loan Association; Frances,
the wife of J. R. Fletcher, a prominent citrus grower of El Modena; Florence is the
wife of J. G. Marks, a merchant in Los Angeles: .\lma is the wife of .\rgus Dean, a
horticulturist at Nuevo, Riverside County. Mr. and Mrs. Pixley are charter members
of the Christian Church in Orange, where for many years he was a deacon, and was
also active in Sunday School work.

Mr. Pixley was made a Mason in Orange Grove Lodge, No. 293, F. & A. M., and
was exalted in Santa Ana Chapter, R. A. M., but is now a charter member of Orange
Grove Chapter, No. 99, R. A. M. He was knighted in Santa Ana Commandery of the
Knights Templar, and he is a member of Al Malaikah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of
Los Angeles. In 1916 Mr. Pixley took an ocean voyage to Australia, including the
South Sea Islands, and four years later he repeated the delightful maritime adventure.

STEPHEN KISTLER.— .\n example of well-directed industry conducing to suc-
cess, is found in the business career of Stephen Kistler, the wealthy retired baker and
landowner of Anaheim. He was born June 25, 1863, in Strassburg, .Alsace-Lorraine,
fnder the French Flag. After the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, this historic and pic-
turesque territory, by the Treaty of Versailles, became a part of the German Empire.
Stephen Kistler was, therefore, educated in the German schools of his native land.

When school days were over, Stephen learned the trade of a baker, serving an
apprenticeship of three years, after which he followed the business of a baker for
several years in Strassburg. Possessed of a desire to see more of the world and to
seek his fortune in .\merica, he emigrated to the United States in 1888, with his cousin,
landing at New Orleans. During the same year he journeyed still farther westward
until he reached Los Angeles, Cal., where he secured employment in Louis Ebinger's
bakery, at the corner of Spring and Third streets, as a candy maker, remaining there
three years. During one summer season Mr. Kistler was engaged as the baker for the
Redondo Hotel, Redondo Beach; this was during the opening season of the new and
popular hotel of that day.

In 1891 Mr. Kistler came to Anaheim, where he purchased the Anaheim bakery
on North Los Angeles Street and continued to operate it until 1896. when he built a
bakery of his own on the corner of East Central and Claudina streets. For three years,
in connection with his bakery, he conducted a restaurant which was known far and
wide as the best place in Anaheim and it attracted patrons from many sections of the
county miles away and traveling salesmen from the East always stopped there. He
also conducted an ice cream parlor and installed the first soda fountain in .\naheim.
.A-S an example of his progressive business spirit mention is made of the fact that Mr.
Kistler installed the first electric light, for business purposes, in Anaheim, having them
in use in his old bakery on North Los Angeles Street; and also was the first baker here
to use an oil burner. Thrift and frugality are strong characteristics of Stephen Kistler.
whose early practice of them has brought him abundant financial success. As his busi-
ness prospered he saved his money and wisely invested in land. In 1910 he purchased
five and three-quarters acres of land one mile south of .Anaheim at $150 an acre;
planted it to oranges and after developing the place, sold it at the end of nine years
for $4,000 an acre.

In 1913 he disposed of his bakery business on East Center Street, but still owns
the building. In 1917 he erected a modern two-story brick building adjoining his
property on East Center Street; the upper floor is occupied by the Knights of Columbus


Hall. At 110 North Claudina Street he built a substantial residence, then in 1919, he
bought five acres of oranges and a house on East Center Street, one mile from the
center of town, where he now lives retired from active business cares, as the result of
thrift and industry, coupled with judicious management and keen business judgment.
Mr. Kistler is a public-spirited citizen and has always freely given his aid and support
to those movements which had as their aim the benefit of the best interests of Anaheim
and Orange County.

In Los Angeles, August 1, 1891, Mr. Kistler was united in marriage with Caroline
Kaiser, a native of Basle, Switzerland, a daughter of Ignacio Kaiser, the pioneer land-
scape gardener and expert grafter and pruner who was active in vineyard work in the
early days of Anaheim and Orange. Mary Kaiser, a sister of Mrs. Kistler, has made
her home with them since they came to Anaheim. Mr. Kistler is a member of the
Knights of Columbus, the Turnverein Society and the Catholic Church.

RICHARD EGAN.— A truly distinguished citizen of San Juan Capistrano is
Richard Egan, popular as "Judge Dick," who was born in County Waterford, Ireland,
in 1842, and who came to the United States when he was about ten years of age and
lived with an uncle on Long Island. He attended the public schools, caught the
spirit of the New World, and when about twenty-three years of age, sailed around
Cape Horn to San Francisco. He remained there for a year and a half, and then
returned East; and in 1866 went to Europe and took in the Exposition at Paris.

On his return to California, he again met a gentleman whom he had come to
know in Paris, a Mr. McCowen, who proposed to take up some land, from the Govern-
ment if possible, to which young Egan assented. Mr. McCowen agreed to sail alone
to San Diego, buy a horse, travel in the saddle toward the north or until he found
what seemed most attractive, and then return to San Francisco, to report to Mr.
Egan, when the two were to go South together, look over the prospective purchase,
and make their final decision. In time, they arrived at Wilmington Harbor, from
which place they traveled by stage to Los Angeles, and then to San Juan Capistrano,
whose location had seemed to McCowen quite ideal. .\ square league of this public
land was then open to settlement, at $1.25 per acre; and they lost no time in acquiring
title to some of the land promising soon to flow with milk and honey. At the Mission
they found a settlement of about 2,200 Mexicans and Indians, only three of whom
could speak English.

Now Judge Egan owns 600 of the acres he originally acquired, and lives in a
well-built brick house on Central Avenue, a part of the State Highway running
through San Juan Capistrano. He himself set out several walnut groves; he rents
out his land, and the tenants give him one-fourth of the produce and one-half of the
walnuts. He has the finest row of Lombardy poplar trees in Southern California,
some of which at the bottom are seven feet in diameter. He also has a number of
giant eucalyptus trees set out by his own hands, and his well-kept lawns show that
he has an eye for the artistic, and that he especially appreciates shrubs, flowers and
canes of Japanese propagation.

Both a public-spirited man and a leader of wide and valuable business experi-
ence, Mr. Egan served for four years as supervisor of Los .\ngeles County prior to
1889. He never sought the office, but the ofiice sought and found him. Indeed, he
has been repeatedly called upon to assume public trust, and never has he been found
wanting. With James McFadden, for example, and a Los .\ngeles man he served on
the commission appointed to adjust disputed questions between the counties of Los
Angeles and Orange at the time of county division and he has always been ready to
serve his own community. He held the office of justice of the peace for many years,
during which time he rejected all fees for his services and devoted the fines imposed
to the alleviation of the poor in that locality. He himself paid out money for the
same cause, and in that way prevented any burden to the taxpayers. He did valiant
work for the Santa Fe Railway in securing rights of way that they might build
their road, which was the first great boost for Orange Countv as well as all Southern
California. He was one of the commissioners along with D. C. Pixley and M. M.
Crookshank appointed by the supervisors to look after the construction of the present
svstem of Orange Countv public highways, in which he took an active part in the
disbursement of the $1,270,000 bond issue that had been voted for that purpose.
The splendid highways and good roads of Orange County, the pride of the citizens,
as well as thousands of tourists, reflect great credit to the hard work and integrity
of the commission. He also worked hard for good and still better highways.

A courteous, genial and well-read gentleman. Judge Egan has a well-stored mind
and a fund of interesting things he is ever ready to dispense to others when they
evince any wish to hear what he has learned and experienced. He is a member of
the Southern California Historical Society, and kept valuable records and acquired


many relics; but in 1898 his house was burned and nearly all his collections were
destroyed — a great loss to the would-be historian of the section. Since then he has
gathered together other relics, largely from and before the period of the Mexican
War; and among other things of curious interest is a baptismal font hewn by Indians
out of a solid block of granite, and a massive, beautiful chair, made in Spain and
used by the Archbishop of Mexico.

OWEN HANDY. — A pioneer in California whose years of prosperity, crowning
years of hard work, have made him public-spirited and confident, is Owen Handy,
who was born in Boone County, 111., on February 24, 1841, the son of John Handy, a
farmer who helped develop early Wisconsin and died in 1850, honored by all who knew
him. His wife was Celinda Shattuck before her marriage, and she was a native of
the Empire State. She enjoyed the esteem of a large circle of appreciative friends, and
bade goodbye to this world while a resident of Illinois, in 1864. Our subject is the
only one of this family to survive.

The ordinary country schools in his district furnished his early education, and
in time he became manager for his mother of her forty acres near Belvidere, 111. In
1'866 he left Illinois bound for Oil Creek, Venango County, Pa., and there, as engineer,
he became an employee of the Noble Well Company. From March, 1866, to August,
1874, he was a driller and a dresser of tools for a brother-in-law, who was a contracting
driller; but in 1874 he removed to Nevada, Story County, Iowa, and there he purchased
160 acres of land, on which he raised corn, wheat, rye and stock. In Iowa he remained
until 1881, and by that time no part of the earth appealed to him so strongly as did
the great commonwealth along the milder Pacific.

As early as October, 1870, Mr. Handy had made a visit to Anaheim, Cal., and
hoping that times and conditions were better than when he then found them here, he
brought his wife and family here in the early eighties, arriving again at Anaheim on
March 25, 1881. He then secured a position as manager for Messrs. Hellman and Good-
man, who owned some eighty acres of oranges and lemons and limes, and wished to
bring it to a high state of development. These gentlemen believed that they found in
Mr. Handy, a man out of the ordinary, and he must have "made good," for he was
with them for twelve or thirteen years.

In 1882, Mr. Handy bought for himself some thirty acres in Villa Park, and in
1898, ten acres on what is now Handy Street, later named in his honor, and he spent
a great deal of time, labor and thought in developing these properties. He came to
understand thoroughly the conditions peculiar to Orange County, and was accus-
tomed to trim his sails to the local winds.

On July 2, 1865, Mr. Handy was married to Miss Mary A. Parker, born in Buffalo,
N. Y., but living near Marengo, 111., and they have had the blessing of four children:
Celinda J., born May 12, 1866, wife of J. L. Conley of Yorba Linda; Harry B., born
September 1, 1878, both of whom were born in the Middle West; and Joell B., born
December S, 1881. and Robert Ray, on April 13, 1884, native sons of California. There
are seven grandchildren in the Handy families. While in Orange, Mr. Handy served
for a year on the board of aldermen. He retired to Long Beach in January, 1913, and
in August moved to San Pedro, and there built for himself a handsome residence at
1016 Santa Cruz Street. He makes weekly trips to Villa Park, and so keeps in touch
with both his relatives and those business investments in which he so long had an
interest. Both Mr. and Mrs. Handy are members of the Maccabees, where he has
gone through all the chairs.

In national politics Mr. Handy is a Republican, and under the banners of that
long-established party, he seeks to elevate the standards of citizenship and to increase
the highest and purest types of American patriotism. But he knows no partisanship
when it comes to "boosting" local movements worthy of support, and is intensely
loyal to both Villa Park and San Pedro, the later town of his adoption.

WM. L. BENCHLEY. — As president and owner of the Benchley Fruit Company,
W. L. Benchley has taken his place as one of Fullerton's progressive business men and
is identified with every movement for the betterment of its civic and commercial inter-
ests. A native son of California, Mr. Benchley's entire life has been spent within its
borders and so he has been familiar from his earliest childhood with all the details of the
citrus industry to which he has devoted his time and efforts for a number of years.

W. L. Benchley was born at Ventura, Cal., on December 16, 1880, his parents being
Edward K. and Emma (Wagner) Benchley. The early years of his life were spent at
Los Angeles, the family removing to Fullerton in 1893, and here W. L. Benchley re-
ceived his education in the grammar and high schools, supplemented with a two years'
course of private study. He then became associated in the Benchley Fruit Company as
a partner with his father and in 1911 he bought out his father's interests, since that
time conducting the business of the company alone, and through his foresight and




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efficient management the affairs of the company have pro'spered and the volume of
business has increased each year.

During the war Mr. Benchley was one of Fullerton's most patriotic citizens and
he showed his loyalty by enlisting in the U. S. Army on May 12, 1918; spending some
time in the officers' training camp at Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Ga. He was honored
by recommendation for a commission shortly before the armistice ended hostilities.

Mr. Benchley's marriage, on June 26, 1906, united him with Miss Belle Jennings
of San Diego, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Jennings. An active member of
the Board of Trade of Fullerton, Mr. Benchley is also prominent in fraternal circles,
where he is a member of the Lodge, Chapter, Commandery and Shrine, of the Masons,
and also of the Elks. He is a also a member of the Hacienda Country Club, the Fuller-
ton Club and the ,\merican Legion. Especially fond of out-door sports, he takes his
recreation in hunting, fishing and on the tennis courts. Possessing the business ability
that has brought him success in his own undertakings, Mr. Benchley can always be
counted upon to give his time and energy to all public-spirited undertakings.

THOMAS H. THOMSON.— One of the upbuilders of the Garden Grove district,
Thomas H: Thomson, a wealthy pioneer rancher, is now retired from active business,
living in comfort on the competence accumulated since coming to the West. Of Scotch
ancestry, the qualities of thrift and sagacity which have always characterized this race,
have unquestionably had no small part in the success he has made in all his under-
takings. A native of Bovina, Delaware County, N. Y., Mr. Thomson was born there
August 28, 1837, the son of William and Jeanette (Hamilton) Thomson. The father
came from Ayrshire, Scotland in 1825, and settled in New York, and there he was
married, his wife being a native of Delaware County. He became interested in dairying,
owning a farm of 256 acres. Delaware County was at that time the banner county of
New York for Jersey cows, milk and butter, and was the chief source of supply of
New York City for dairy products. Here in this beautiful and healthful locality the
parents reared a family of six sturdy children as is evidenced by the fact that there
was never a doctor called into the house to attend a case of sickness until all were
grown up and married.

. Thomas H. grew up on the home place, attending the district schools and early
taking a hand in the farm work, driving a team, plowing and harrowing when he was
but thirteen years old, acquiring in this way that practical knowledge of agriculture
which proved such a benefit to him in his later years. The Thomson home was only
nine miles from the birthplace of Jay Gould and Mr. Thomson remembers him very
well. Notwithstanding the 'eminence to which the great financier rose in after life, his
boyhood days were spent in milking the cows and such homely chores, like the other
boys of the neighborhood. When a young man. Jay Gould published the Historical
Atlas of Delaware County, and Mr. Thomson well recalls when he was surveying
and canvassing for this work. Until he was twenty-six years of age, Mr. Thomson
remained on his father's farm, helping run their extensive dairy business. He then
began farming for himself, investing the $3,000 which his father had given him in pay-
ment for his services, in a tract of 120 acres near Meredith, N. Y. He continued there
in the dairy business until November 30, 1870, when he sold out, and went to Clarinda,
Page County, Iowa, in 1871, farming there until 1874, when he returned to Delaware
County. N. Y. Later he bought a farm of 170 acres near Walton, N. Y., and started
in the dairy business again.

In the meantime Mr. Thomson Iiad become interested in California through his
brother-in-law, the late James McFadden, who for fifty years occupied a place of such
prominence not alone in Orange County, but throughout Southern California, among
his many activities being the promotion and building of the Santa .\na and Newport
Railway.' Mr. McFadden had come to Salinas in 1864 and in 1868 he came to Santa
Ana and bought 3,900 acres in what was then called Gospel Swamp, paying $1.75 an
acre for it. He returned to Delaware County, N. Y.. and in 1874, came back to Cali-
fornia with his family and entered upon his long career of useful service here. Nat-
urally, Mr. Thomson heard much of the opportunities offered in the great Southwest
through Mr. McFadden, so in 1888 he disposed of his dairy farm in New York and
came to California, bringing his family with him. For a time they lived on Pine
Street in Santa Ana, and then came up to Garden Grove, where in October, 1890, they
purchased sixty acres of land, and later on bought five acres more. Here Mr. Thomson
and Mr. Jackson, now Sheriff Jackson of Orange County, built the Thomson home on
Ocean Avenue, one mile east of Garden Grove, and which has been the center of many
happy social functions since. This was before the days of the electric road at Garden
Grove and forty acres of Mr. Thomson's land had never been touched by the plow.
He began at once to improve the place, at first raising barley and potatoes.


In 1897, with his son William, Mr. Thomson entered upon a ranching enterprise on
the peat lands in the Huntington Beach neighborhood. Taking 200 acres of rough
land covered with tules, willows and underbrush, they at once began grubbing and
draining. Corn and sugar beets were raised and on the latter as high as twenty-
seven tons to the acre were produced. The place was brought up to a high state of
cultivation and in 190S Mr. Thomson retired, his son, William S., maintaining the ranch.
Mr. Thomson's first marriage occurred January 4, 1864, when he was united with
Miss Elizabeth Elliott, who was born at Middletown, Delaware County,. N. Y., and
who passed away at the birth of her first child. Later he was married to Miss Lucy A.
Smith, the daughter of Richard and Maria (Saunders) Smith, both natives of England,
where they spent their early days, and where Mrs. Smith recalled distinctly seeing
Queen X'ictoria driving through the streets of London. Mr. and Mrs. Thomson have
three living children: Luella is the wife of F. E. Farnsworth of Santa Ana, a wealthy
and influential banker there, and a large landowner and walnut grower; they are the
parents of two children, namely, Evlyn M. and Edward G. Mary L resides at the
home place; William S. continues to own and successfully operate the large ranch at
Huntington Beach, in which his father was formerly interested. He married Miss
Zella Irwin of Huntington Beach. Mr. Thomson was reared a Scotch covenanter and
he and his wife are now members of the United Presbyterian Church at Santa Ana. It
is to citizens of the type of Mr. and Mrs. Thomson that Orange County is indebted
to for the wonderful progress that has been made in the past years, and they occupy a
high place in the esteem of a large circle of friends.

ANDREW RORDEN.— An interesting, instructive story is that of the life and
work of .\ndrew Rorden, the rancher of 415 East Chapman Avenue, Fullerton, who came
to America in the early seventies to add to that valuable class of intelligent and indus-
trious citizens contributed for half a century or more to the United States by Europe.
He was born on the Island of Fohr, one of the largest of the Fresian Islands, in the
North Sea, in the former duchy of Schleswig-Holstein, now a part of Germany, and
duly confirmed in the Lutheran Church. In 1872 he joined his brother, Christ Rorden,
who had settled in Los i\nge!es County four years before, and for three years was em-
ployed by William McFadden. At the end of that period, he started at .\naheim to learn
the wagonmaker's trade; but the confinement did not agree with his health, and having
given it up, he took up any kind of work he could find until the dry year of 1879. The
hard times incidental to this reverse led him to make a trip back back to Germany; and
after a year there with his friends, he once more found himself in California.

At first, he went to .\rizona for three years and worked in the quartz mills, where
he earned enough money to make an initial payment on the ranch of thirty acres he
now owns on East Chapman Avenue, at Fullerton, then in the Anaheim district. He
set out a vineyard, but the blight killed it; and then, in 1886, he began to set out
walnuts — an experiment at that time here. Now he has fourteen acres, and they make

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 45 of 191)