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 46 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 46 of 191)
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as handsome a walnut orchard as one would wish to find. He also set out, in 1891,
the first oranges — luckily, Valencias, and now he has eight and one-half acres. While
his trees were maturing, he raised peanuts, cabbage and potatoes, in order to cover
expenses; and by 1892, he was enabled to erect a good home. He endured many hard-
ships in these trying-out years, before he was even on the road to that success which
he now enjoys and which he so richly deserves; for farming was an experiment in
those early days, particularly until the problem of transportation had been solved and
markets were established. Now, one of the charter members of the Fullerton-Placentia •
Walnut Growers Association, and a member of the Placentia Orange Growers Associa-
tion, and also a shareholder in the Anaheim Union W'ater Company, he has the esteem
of all who know him as an honest man, and the good will of all who have followed his
patriotic course during the trying days of the World War. He came to California to
establish here a permanent home, and he has been loyal to the country, state and county,
and has heartily supported all those measures which have meant the greatest good to
the greatest number in the community.

Mr. Rorden has been twice married. His first wife was Rebecca Knudtsen — a
.good companion, who died at Los .\ngeles in 1912. For his second wife, he married
Mrs. Marie (Togel) Klement of Anaheim, the widow of a butcher of that place, and
the mother of one daughter. Miss Pauline Klement. who makes her home with Mr.
and Mrs. Rorden. In 1894, Mr. Rorden returned home to Europe for the second time,
and in 1907, while Mrs. Rorden was still living, he made a third trip, taking her. His
fourth and last visit to Germany was in 1913.

FRED A. MAURER,— After an eventful life, in which he traveled thousands oi
miles over the entire \\'est. with many adventurous experiences, which he recalls and
narrates in an interesting way. Fred .\. Maurer is now living retired at his comfortable
home in .Anaheim. .\ native of Lorraine. Mr. Maurer was horn there March 12. 1849,
when that beautiful little country was still a part of France, and her peaceful inhabi-






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tants undisturbed by the hand of the conqueror. He was the son of Jacob and Mary
(.Seigel) Maurer, his father being the owner of a vineyard in that country.

While still a babe he was brought to America by his parents, the trip being made
on a sailing vessel and eighty days were spent in crossing the Atlantic. The family
settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where Jacob Maurer engaged in business, and here Fred
A. grew up, attending the schools of that thriving city and learned the trade of cooper.
The spirit of adventure was strong within him, however, and in 1878 he made up his
mind to see something of this great country. Starting west, he went first to Green
River, Wyo., and then to the Ontario silver mines in that state, remaining six months.

Going to Salt Lake City, Mr. Maurer, with two companions, equipped themselves
for a trip across the desert, and traveled the whole length of Utah to Wlashington, in
the southwestern part of the state. Going down into Arizona they crossed the Colo-
rado River at Lees Ferry, making their way from there to Bingham City, a distance of
100 miles. Their supplies gave out on this trip and they had only two flapjacks apiece
on the whole journey so they were almost famished when they reached Bingham City.
There they obtained a sack of flour for twenty dollars which they divided with another
party and going over Simpson Pass continued on to Prescott, where they remained to
prospect for gold for some months. From there they went on to Globe, Ariz., working
in the Stonewall Jackson silver mine and later Mr. Maurer went on to the Silver King
mine, spending five years there. In these days Mr. Maurer spent much time among
the Indians and he can recall many interesting reminiscences of the different tribes,
among whom he always fared well, as he understood their ways and knew how to
treat them.

Coming to Anaheim in 1884, when this country was covered with vineyards, Mr-
Maurer remained here for some months, and during his stay helped to make tanks
and barrels for the Boege Winery. The lure of gold, however, drew him to the north
part of the state and here he prospected for about a year, returning to Anaheim, where
he has since made his home. Soon after coming back to this part of the country Mr.
Maurer began shipping lemons from here, being the first shipper from the county out
of the state and into Arizona; he purchased fruit from the groves around Orange,
Placentia and Anaheim, packing them in a cooper shop near the Southern Pacific depot.

In October, 1893, Mr. Maurer was married to Mrs. Mary (Gade) Wilkins, a
native of Milwaukee, who came here in 1880 with her brother, Harry Gade, who ran an
express business in Anaheim. Mrs. Maurer was the owner of a tract of six and a half
acres in Anaheim, its boundaries being Broadway, V/est, Center and Walnut streets,
and for some years they made their home there, selling it in 1909 and building a resi-
dence in Resh Street; this they also disposed of after living there a year, purchasing
a home on North Citron Avenue. On August IS, 1920, Mrs. Maurer died, aged sixty-
three years. In 1894 Mr. Maurer purchased ten acres of land, renting it out until 1910,
when he disposed of it. Mr. Maurer was also the owner of a forty-acre ranch thirty
miles from Bakersfield on the Santa Fe Railroad, on which he raised hay, buying this
in 1910 and selling it two years later.

Coming here in the early days, Mr. Maurer has not only viewed the wonderful
transformation that has taken place in this vicinity but has contributed his share in
this great work of development. Kindly disposed and generous in his attitude toward
his fellow beings, he has a large circle of warm friends. In politics he has always been
a believer in the principles of the Democratic party and marches under their banner
when he casts his vote.

ELI S. HARRIS. — During the long period of his residence in California, dating
from 1857, when, a child of two years old, he accompanied his parents to the Pacific
Coast. Eli S. Harris has been an eyewitness of the wonderful changes that time has
wrought since early pioneer days. He was born near Denton, Texas, on February
20, 1855, and is the son of .Andrew S. and Lou Ann (Major) Harris.

Andrew S. was born in North Carolina in 1816, and attained the age of seventy-
seven, dying in 1893. His wife, who was born in 1829, died in 1918, and was buried
on her eighty-ninth birthday. Mr. Harris removed from his native state to Missouri,
and was with the militia who were called out in 1836 to meet the encroachments of
the Mormons, who in those days became very bold. He finally moved to Texas, in
1847, where he had a novel experience with the Indians, who were intent on stealing
all the horses they could lay hands on, so that he was obliged to chain his horses
to his log house to preserve them from the thieving Indiarrs. Of his family of
thirteen children, three of whom accompanied him to the Pacific Coast in the seven-
months' journey overland by ox-team in 1857, five are living, and are residents of
Orange County. The family stopped in San Bernardino County one year, then
moved to El Monte and bought grant land, but lost it. In 1867 he moved with horse-
teams back to Texas, where he had land, traded off hi> land and came back to Cali-


fornia. sold his horses and in 1869 purchased forty acres of unimproved land in Los
Angeles County, after arriving in his new home, and took up the vocation of farming.

Eli S. Harris moved to Orange County in 1873, vvfhere he remained six years,
locating south on the Bolsa, and was one of the first men to build in Garden Grove
in 1876. Milton Teal has the honor of being the first man to build in that place.
Mr. Harris owned a ranch of forty acres and followed general farming. Like most
pioneers, he bought and sold several parcels of land before finally settling down. He
was absent from Orange County from 1881 until 1914, with the e.xception of two
years, and in the meantime followed ranching. He resided in San Diego County
twelve years, and for seven years was "in the saddle" as a stockman, a business he
enjoyed and made profitable.

His marriage, in Azusa, occurred in 1894, and united him with Miss Susan
Danks, a native of Kentucky, who had been a resident of California since 1869, having
crossed the plains with ox-teams. Her father, a major in the Mexican War, and
Mr. Harris' father were Texas pioneers together. Eight children were born of their
union, six of whom are living, viz.: Albert Andrew, of Orange; William W. makes
his home with his parents; Simeon W., of Santa Ana: Charles D., of Santa Ana;
George F. is in Orange; Dora B., wife of Leroy Brittingham of Los Angeles.

George F. and William W. were in the U. S. service in the late World War;
George F., who saw active service in France, was wounded at the Battle of Argonne.
He was promoted to the rank of corporal, and belonged to the Three Hundred Sixty-
fourth Infantry,, Ninety-first Division. His brother, William W., who was in the
heavy artillery, did not see active service, getting no farther than San Diego.

Eli S. Harris's five-acre ranch on the Garden Grove Road, which he purchased
in 1916, is devoted to the culture of Valencia oranges. Mr. Harris is a worthy citizen
of industrious habits, and enjoys the esteem of his fellow-citizens. In politics he
affiliates with the Democratic party in national affairs, but in local matters supports
the best men and measures.

JONATHAN WATSON.— One of the few remaining '49ers in California is
Jonathan Watson, and his life stands out as one of the hardy pioneers who, with his
great strength, courage and determination, was utterly fearless in facing the many
hardships that they encountered in those early days. His memory of his pioneer
e.xperiences is splendid, and it is most interesting to hear him recount the story of
his boyhood escapades and his hunting experiences up on the San Joaquin, when
they made corrals from elkhorns picked up on the plains. He has seen herds of
elk numbering 500 in a bunch, 20,000 antelope, and in the Santa Cruz Mountains of
San Benito County as many as 300 bears in one of the mountain valleys. At one
time since living in Santa Ana Canyon, he hunted game for the market, and has ■
killed as many as twenty-five deer in a day in Santiago Canyon.

Jonathan Watson was born near Independence, Jackson County, Mo., on July
24, 1844, the son of Henry Watson, a native of Virginia, where he was born in the
historic year of 1812. He married Matilda Cox, also a native of the Old Dominion,
the ceremony taking place in Virginia, and the young couple a few years later
settled in Missouri. They began to rear their family on a farm in Jackson County,
and he followed freighting to Santa Fe with ox teams, over the old Santa Fe Trail.
The story of the discovery of gold in California made him restless, however, and he
joined the thousands hurrying westward, in the hope of bettering his condition and
that of those dependent upon him. Owing to his having been an experienced frontiers-
man, with considerable knowledge of the language and characteristics of the Indians,
many neighbors and friends applied to join his company, and so Henry Watson's
train came to have 500 wagons and over 1,000 men, and turned away many others
who applied. As captain of the train he scouted ahead, picked the camping places
and killed the game — buflfalo and antelope — for their food. The Indians massacred the
train before them but, thanks to Henry Watson's vigilance and diplomacy, they
came through all right.

Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Watson in Virginia: Mrs.
Jane Barham, who passed away some years ago, and Mrs. Sarah Ann Bush, who
died at the old Bush home above Olive, March 26, 1920. Two children were born to
them in Missouri: Jonathan Watson, of this review, and David, who died at Olive
a few years ago. Two children were also born to them after they came to California.
Jacob, a native of Sapta Clara, is a rancTier in San Diego County, near the old San
Luis Rey Mission. Charles, who was born in Monterey, or what is now San Benito
County, is an engineer and is employed at the city water works at Orange.

Henry Watson came to California to make his home, and so brought with him
eight ox wagons loaded with merchandise. One wagon was full of clothing, and an-
other loaded with bacon and other provisions, and all of his six and eight-yoke

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wagons contained something substantial, such as hardware, tools and the like. He
left Jackson County, Mo., in 1849, and after a journey of three months, pulled up
at Sacramento. He went to Bear Creek, and soon after to Dry Creek, built a hotel
and engaged in freighting to Nevada and the adjoining mining towns. He received
$100 a day for a team, wagon and driver, and for three yoke of oxen, a wagon and
driver he received $300 a day, but flour was then a dollar a pound, mining boots
iifty dollars a pair, and other essentials proportionately high.

As a mere boy, Jonathan Watson drove teams; in fact, he drove the first load
of freight that ever came into Nevada City, Cal. He passed through Hangtown,
and there saw three desperadoes dangling by the neck, the work of Vigilantes.
His education was very limited, for from a boy he assisted his father in the sheep
business. Henry Watson and his family first lived in the Santa Clara Valley, moving
from there to Monterey County; later he owned stock ranches in Fresno and Tulare
counties, near Visalia. Then he operated in the Kings River country, in what is
now Kings County. He worked hard and prospered, became a large landowner
and held title to land for twenty-five miles up and down the San Joaquin River.
This land he afterward sold to Miller & Lux. Henry Watson died at Olive at
the age of eighty-seven, the mother having passed away when she was sixty years old.

Jonathan Watson started in business for himself as a stockman and sheepman
when he was eighteen years old, on the San Joaquin River, and his flocks increased so
that he soon had a drove of 15,000 sheep. He brought them down to the neighborhood
of Olive in 1868, coming there with his father; then he went back to the San Joaquin
X'alley and disposed of his interests there. With J. M. Bush as a partner, in 1869 he
bought 12,000 acres of land stretching from the Santa Ana River at Olive south and
east to Tustin; and for twenty-five years he was in the sheep business, during which
time, for twenty years he never slept in a house. When Messrs. Watson and Bush
bought this land they also purchased the priority water right and used it for raising
alfalfa. When irrigation was started in the valley below, he and his father looked the
water right over and decided that it was not right for them to keep it all, but that
others should have the use of it, too, so they not only gave up their right to the Santa
Ana \'alley Irrigation Company, but helped build the canal, and later on Mr. Watson
served for a number of years as a director of this company. From time to time Mr.
Watson sold off parcels from his holding, retaining 105 acres under the canal, which
he set out years ago to walnuts, lemons and Valencia oranges, now full bearing and
yielding a handsome income.

A giant in strength, Mr. Watson is still a powerful man; he enjoyed the reputation
of being a better shot than even Buffalo Bill, and has killed more grizzlies than any
other man in California. When he lined up with Colonel Cody and worsted him, he
used a Hawkins rifle; the contest with Buffalo Bill was on the banks of the San
Joaquin River, and on account of his marksmanship he was ofTered $500 a week by an
Englishman to go buffalo hunting with him on the great plains, but he turned the offer
down. He also excelled in running and jumping and his prowess in athletics was
wonderful. His training had not been in the gymnasium as nowadays, but in the great
outdoors, by exercise on the plains and in the fields. In those early days he won many
contests at both running and jumping; thus it was that when he was a boy of seventeen
at Watsonville the manager of Lee's Circus offered him $500 a week to travel with the
circus as an athlete, but he also turned that offer down, for he would not leave his
mother. One shooting contest he had with John Mason, a quarter-breed Cherokee
Indian who thought himself invincible, came near proving a tragedy. Mr. Watson
easily proved his superiority as a marksman, when Mason drew a shotgun on him,
but with lightning quickness Mr. Watson threw the barrel of the gun up with his
revolver and the charge went through his hat; then he covered the would-be murderer,
who cringingly wilted and dropped his gun. The remembrance of his mother and her
teachings came before him and kept him from shooting, and he was ever afterwards
glad, because he did not want the blood of any man on his conscience, even though it
was in self-defense.

Mr. Watson was married the first time in Watsonville, when he made Miss Eliza
Hildreth his wife. They had several children, but only one lived to maturity — Mrs.
Winifred Stoner, who resides near Hemet in Riverside County. Mr. Watson's second
marriage, which occurred at Santa Ana. April 16, 1891, united him with Miss Lenna
May Barger, the daughter of Josiah and Mary F. (Robinson) Barger, born in Virginia
and Ohio, respectively. They came from Nebraska to California September 17, 1884.
settling first at Olive, but later were orange growers at McPherson until they moved
to Hemet, where the mother died September 25. 1919. while Mr. Barger is still engaged
in horticulture. Lenna was the eldest of their six living children and was born near
Meade, Nebr. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Watson by this marriage:


Floyd, of the firm of Thompson & Watson, auto electricians of Orange, resides there
with his wife, who was Eftie E. Whitcomb, they have a daughter, Georgia E.; Errol
Trafford is a rancher who married Beatrice Durkee, they have two children, June L. and
Maxine, and live on a part of his father's ranch; Florence M. is the wife of Herbert
J. Beckler, a merchant at Deshler, Thayer County, Nebr., and they have one child
Virginia; Harold A. is also a rancher, livmg on a part of his father's ranch, he married
Bernice 'Wilbur, a stepdaughter of Dr. Royer of Orange.

Mr. and Mrs. Watson are members of the Christian Church at Santa Ana, and
for many years Mr. Watson has been a school trustee in the Olive district. A Democrat
in politics, he has always been active in civic affairs and took a prominent part in the
formation of Orange County. Kindly, pleasant, straightforward and honest, he is still
hale, hearty and athletic at the age of seventy-six, and can look back on a life well
spent and filled to the full with interesting experiences. Taking it all in all he is one
of Orange County's genuine upbuilders, a true type of the hardy pioneer who has
made possible the wonderful development of today.

WILLIS G. MITCHELL.— The efficient manager of the Irvine Company's ranch
at Tustin, Orange County, Cal., is Willis G. Mitchell, a native of London, Canada,
where he was born on November 20, 1867. He is the son of Ralph M. and Johanna
(Allen) Mitchell, also natives of that country. Ralph M. Mitchell was a successful
farmer near London until the family moved to California in 1889, locating in Orange
County, where he engaged in ranching near Tustin, becoming owner of the farm, where
he and his good wife spent their last days. Of their three children Willis G. is the
youngest of the family, growing up on the Eastern farm, receiving a good education
in the excellent schools of that region. As was the custom in that country he made
himself generally useful, thus learning the rudiments of farming from the time he
was a boy.

Since 1889 Mr. Mitchell has been a continuous resident of Orange County, Cal.,
coming direct to this country from his Canadian home when a young man of twenty-
one. In due time he became a citizen of his adopted country and for the past thirty-
one years has been connected with the citrus industry. He is also well versed in
general agriculture. Since 1890 he has been associated with the Irvine Company, and
for a number of years was assistant manager of the Irvine ranch. Since 1915 he has
occupied the important position of manager of the ranch and his knowledge of general
ranching in California makes him a valuable man for the position. The ranch embraces
about 100,000 acres of land, upon which all varieties of grains, vegetables and fruits
raised in Southern California are grown. This vast acreage has been apportioned into
smaller ranches comprising several hundred acres in area, which are leased to about
130 tenants. The Irvine Company operates a part of the ranch, thus giving employment
to a large number of men. Mr. Mitchell has the entire oversight of these vast holdings
with its many cares and responsibilities, including looking after the leases.

Being very optimistic over the future greatness of Orange County land, and
particularly of orange and walnut groves, Mr. Mitchell many years ago purchased
lands which he developed and set out to oranges and walnuts and he has seen to it that
they have had such excellent care that they are among the most attractive properties
of their kind in the district.

Mr. Mitchell established domestic ties- by his marriage in Los Angeles in 1893
with Miss Sarah Emily Green, born in Middleton, Wis., a daughter of John W. Green
of that state. Of their happy union three children have been born: Ralph, Willis and
Florence by name. Mr. Mitchell' is a director in the First National Bank of Santa
Ana, Cal., and has the confidence not only of his employers and employees, but of the
citizens of the county, among whom he is well and favorably known and highly
esteemed. In his fraternal associations he is a member of the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows.

J. D. PRICE. — Influential in many departments of local activity on account of his
enviable status as the largest individual realty owner in Garden Grove, J. D. Price,
the well-known pioneer, has been able to contribute much toward the rapid and sure
development of Orange County interests, and has thus been privileged, while making
progress for himself, to give his neighbors and fellow-citizens, his friends and his com-
petitors, a helpful lift along the way. He was born in the parish of Jefferson, adjoining
that of New Orleans, on March 1, 1845, the son of David Price, a machinist who came
from England, settled in Missouri, and there married Miss Eliza Williams, a native of
that state. He made a specialty of installing sugar machinery, and equipped many
Louisiana sugar cane mills. When only thirty years of age he died in Louisiana, leav-
ing three children, all boys; among whom our subject was the second in the order of
birth, and is the only one now living. Three years later, the devoted widowed mother
also died, and so it came about that the lad was left an orphan at the age of nine.


One of the sons was sent to relatives in Indiana, and two were taken by nearby
kin in Louisiana; with the result that when the Civil War broke out, the latter enlisted
from Louisiana as Confederate soldiers, while the former, the youngest of the trio,
joined the Twenty-fifth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and fought as a Union soldier.

J. D. Price's education was very limited, and he was obliged to abandon his
school books after the age of fifteen. In 1862 he entered Company I of the Eleventh
Louisiana Infantry, and stayed in the service until the end of the war. He was in
Bragg's Army in Tennessee, and fought at Shiloh, Farmington and Perryville; and
upon his being honorably discharged, he reenlisted as a member of Company A,
Ogden's Battalion, Louisiana Cavalry. He was wounded and captured at Perryville,
and exchanged at Vicksburg, and was taken prisoner for a second time near Morganza,
La., and exchanged at Richmond, a month prior to Lee's surrender. At the conclusion
of the great struggle, he was paroled at Baton Rouge, La., on May 18, 1865, and
returned home.

After the war, he went to farming at East Baton Rouge, where he remained until

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 46 of 191)