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 65 of 191)
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There were ten children in the Coate family, six of whom are still living: Susan
W. Conway, in her eightieth year, the widow of a Civil War veteran, lives at Bloomfield,
Iowa; Elwood; Esther C. Rose lives at Tucson, Ariz., the widow of Captain Rose, of
the Civil War; D. A., of Parsons, Kans.; Cynthia Ann Stallings, of Oswego, Kans.;
Olive Hart, of Macksburg, Iowa. Elwood Coate was reared in Ohio until 1853, when
he removed to Iowa with his parents. There he was educated in the public schools
and fully caught the spirit animating all Americans as more and more the great struggle
between the North and the South came to a focus; and on March 26. 1864, when he
was twenty years of age, he enlisted as a volunteer in Company I, Second Iowa
Volunteer Cavalry, and was mustered in at Davenport on April 9, 1864. He served in
Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, and was in the
battles or skirmishes of Tupelo, Cormory's Cross Roads, near Harrison, Littlehatchee
River, Old Town Creek, Shoals Creek, Campbellsville, Lynville, Columbia, Spring Hill,
West Harpeth, Franklin and Nashville, and then on Hood's retreat, at the Battle of
Spring Hill, Lawrenceburg, Richland's Creek, Tuscambia, and various other places
After the war Mr. Coate served in the South during the Reconstruction period, and the
regiment was honorably discharged at Selma, Ala., on September 19, 1865. He returned
home October 6, 1865.

After the war Mr. Coate established himself in the harness business at Le Grand,
Iowa, but owing to ill health he sold out and learned the cabinetmaker's and the
carpenter's trades, which he followed for eighteen years, engaging in contracting and
building. During that period he was also township clerk and school director. In 1885
he removed to Oakland Township, Cloud County, Kans., and having previously
purchased 160 acres of land, he added more until he had 480 acres. He engaged in
raising grain and stock and also in horticulture, raising peaches and apples. He was
elected township clerk and was re-elected to the office, serving two terms of two
years each. After three years as county treasurer, Mr. Coate returned to his farm
and remained two years, when his wife's health became impaired and he sold out and
came west to California. This was in 1905, and he at once located at Orange, and
for some time owned and managed an orange ranch, which he later sold. With his son,
he still owns seventeen acres of Valencia oranges and lemons.

Mr. Coate's first marriage occurred in Iowa, on p-ebruary 1, 1866. when he was
joined to Susan Elleman, a native of Ohio, who died two years later, leaving one
child, Orin M. who resides at Orange. He was married a second time, 1869, to Sarah
Diefenbaugh, of Ohio, by whom he has had three children, two of whom are still


living. Herman E. is an orange grower, living near Orange, with his wife and four
children; and Samuel Rush was a banker, but is now an orange grower near Anaheim.
Mr. and Mrs. Coate also reared a motherless girl, Bessie Wilkins, who is now
living on Grand Street, Orange.

Mrs. Coate lived for ten years after commg here, and then she passed away. Two
years later, at Santa Ana, on June 12, 1918, Mr. Coate married again, taking for his
bride Mrs. Myra E. Morse Holderman, a native of Johnson County, Iowa. Her
father was Nathaniel J. Morse, a native of Ohio and a pioneer farmer in Iowa, where
he died, closing his useful life when only twenty-five years of age. Her mother was
Emily Parks in maidenhood; she was born in Indiana and died in Tustin, Cal. The
town of Morse, Iowa, on the B. C. R. & N. Ry., was named for an uncle, Edwin K.
Morse. An only brother, Charles N. Morse, is now a resident of Tustin, Cal. Myra
E. Morse was married the first time in 1867 to Upton Holderman, a native of Iowa,
who also served in the Civil War, a member of Company A of the Twenty-second
Iowa Volunteer Infantry. After the war he was a farmer in Iowa, and then moved
to the vicinity of Hastings, in Adams County, Nebr., where he farmed for twenty years.
Then he came to Tustin, in Orange County, in February, 1893, and bought an orange
grove of twenty acres, served four years on the board of supervisors from the Fifth
District, and there died in 1913. They had seven children, six of whom grew up and
are living: Uppie Ethel is Mrs. Walter E. Parker, of Omaha, Nebr.; Emma is the
wife of J. C. Lamb, tax collector of Orange County; Myron is a contractor and builder
of Bakersfield; Lyda is Mrs. Eugene Marsh of San Pedro; Nelson Miles grew up in
Tustin, and was familiarly called "Neb," was a bugler in the National Guard, and then
educated at Occidental College. He served with troops at the San Francisco fire and
earthquake, April and May, 1906, and was very efficient as a bugler. He was a natural
tactician and deeply interested in military affairs and served as captain on the Mexican
border, then as captain in the World War, and was overseas in the Second Division.
He was in the fainous Lost Battalion, when six hundred of our brave men were
surrounded by Germans. They had only two days' rations, yet they held the Germans
oflf for six days until, through the agency of a carrier pigeon, they were discovered and
relieved by troops who reached them just in time to save the balance of about one
hundred. Captain Holderman was wounded ten times during these six days, but he
recovered and served in the Army of Occupation, and returned home in the fall of
1919. He is now commander of the National Veteran's Home, at Yountville, Cal.,
with the commission of colonel. He is married and has two children. The youngest
child of Mr. and Mrs. Holderman is Upton Grant, now a rancher, living near Tustin.

Mr. Coate is a member of Gordon Granger Post No. 138, G. A. R., and is a past
commander; he has been adjutant, and is now ofhctr of the day. Mrs. Coate belongs
to Gordon Granger Post, No. 54. \\'. R. C. Both husband and wife are Methodists
and also equally loyal Republicans.

MRS. MARY McKEE GILCHRIST.— A woman who is very enthusiastic over the
exceptional advantages of Southern California, and particularly Orange County, is Mrs.
Mary McKee Gilchrist, the widow of the late Duncan Gilchrist, who passed away on
January 21, 1908, lamented by many. She was born at Addison, Vt., and made her
first trip to California in January, 1906. The following March she returned East, and
in November of the same year was back again in California, and has located at Orange
— such was, to her as with so many thousands of others, the lure of the Golden State.

Her father, John McKee, of Scotch Irish descent, was married in New York
State to Miss Sarah J. Bingham, and the wedding took place on May 13, 1848. She also
came of Scotch ancestry, and proved the right kind of a helpmate for a man forging
ahead in that early period of the country. As farmers, Mr. and Mrs. McKee moved to
.'\ddison, Vt., but after four years they returned to Moriah, Essex County. N. Y., where
Mr. McKee farmed along the shores of Lake Champlain. And there he .died, on No-
vember 7, 1901. Mrs. McKee spent her declining years with Mrs. Gilchrist and
passed away at her home in Orange on January 18, 1914. She was the mother of two
children, one of whom, Samuel Bingham McKee, was a civil engineer and prominent in
railroad building, and died in Los Angeles on November 29, 1910.

Mary McKee, the younger of the children, was brought up in New York and there
attended the Sherman Collegiate Institute, after which she engaged in teaching in her
home county. In time she became the principal of a school, and so continued in educa-
tional work until her marriage in 189S. Her husband, Duncan Gilchrist, was born in the
Isle of Islay, Scotland, and when fifteen years of age crossed the ocean to Ontario
with his parents. He was a mechanical engineer — and none better worked near him;
and when still young came to Michigan, where he was a master mechanic in the iron ore


mines at Marquette, and then at Ishpeming, for seventeen years, and later at Duluth,
going- from there to Mineville. N. Y., where he was over twelve years with the Witherhee
and Sherman Company, when he resigned to come to California. As an exceptionally
qualified mechanic, he was always both well known and well liked, and was frequently
consulted on account of his expert knowledge. He had desired always to return to
Scotland for a visit, and once with Mrs. Gilchrist went on to New York, but he was
called back to Mineville on business before he could sail, and putting it ofT, he died Jan.
21, 1908, so he never was able to make the cherished visit. Mr. Gilchrist was a mem-
ber of the Masonic order. Since his death, his estimable widow has resided at Orange,
treasuring the memory of the last years with him. and has built for herself a fine
home at 237 North Orange. She is a devoted Presbyterian, and belongs to the same
denomination in which Mr. Gilchrist was for many years an elder. Mrs. Gilchrist is a
Republican, and belongs to the Gordon Granger Post, W. R. C. where, as well as in the
church, the cultured and refined influence of her pleasing personality is especially felt.

JOHN G. LAUNER. — Among the public-spirited citizens of Orange County,
John G. Launer, pioneer resident of La Habra, is deserving of special mention in the
annals of the county. A native of Switzerland, he was born at Berne on January 16,
1863, the son of John and Anna (Stambauch) Launer, both of whom came from sturdy
French and Swiss families. In order to find more congenial surroundings than were
to be found in their own country, Mr. and Mrs. Launer left Switzerland in 1866. when
their son John was three years old, and sailed for America, their destination being
Highland, a suburb of East St. Louis, 111. Two years after landing there Mr. Launer
started to raise grain and stock on an eighty-acre farm he had purchased, and this was
later increased to 160 acres. They lived to a ripe old age and died mourned by a wide
circle of friends.

John G. attended the grammar school and at the age of fourteen had to leave
his books to help with the farm work. When he was eighteen he worked at the thresh-
ing business during the season and in winter took up the sawing of wood and when
that was dull he butchered for two winters, thus showing he was willing to do any
honest labor in order to make a living. On October 16. 1888. he was united in marriage
with Miss Rosa Niggli. the daughter of Chris Niggli, a well-established farmer of East
St. Louis. Three children were born of this union: Albert, a graduate of the Uni-
versity of Southern California and now city attorney of Fullerton; he is married and
the father of two children — Catherine and Leland; Nelson M.. is a rancher at La Habra
and secretary of the La Habra Water Company; he attended both the Universitv of
Southern California and the Lhiiversity of California; his children are Eunice and Ruth
Launer; Erwin. is cashier in the Commercial National Bank in Los Angeles, he has one
son, Malcolm Launer. In 1893 the wife and mother passed to her reward and on
March 2. 1894. Mr. Launer married Miss Anna Niggli. a sister of his first wife, and two
children have come to bless their home: Richard E., secretary of the Chamber of
Commerce of Manhattan Beach and an employe of the Standard Oil Company of El
Segundo. He has a son, Raymond. The youngest child, Glenn Launer, is at home
with his parents.

It was in the early part of 1898 that John G. Launer first came to California as
a tourist and so well pleased was he with conditions and future prospects here that
he purchased thirty acres of land in the La Habra Valley, paying seventy-five dollars
per acre. Twenty acres of the land was devoted to barley and the balance had de-
ciduous trees on it. This land was situated in what is now the limits of La Habra
town and after he had returned East and disposed of his holdings in Illinois he brought
his family here in the fall of 1898. dry farmed for several years with more or less
success, and marketed his products in Fullerton, Anaheim and Whittier. Mr. Launer
is never idle and is a hard worker, though always ready to do his part as a citizen who
has the interests of his community at heart. As the town grew he sold off all but ten
acres of his' original purchase in acreage and town lots, the tract lying east of Hiatt
Street and extending to Cypress Street, north of Central Avenue. The ten acres left
is set to oranges. He also has four acres in walnuts, the balance of ten acres south
of' the Pacific Electric Railroad. He also owned twenty acres west of Hiatt Street.
where the main business section of the town now is situated. This property he sold
to the Pacific Electric Railway Company, after he had dry farmed it for four years.
He paid $150 per acre for this tract at time of purchase. He erected a fine home on
his original ranch and in 1919 he built a $9,000 garage building at the corner of Main
Street and Central Avenue that is a credit to the town.

Mr. Launer was instrumental in building up the La Habra Domestic Water Com-
pany, which obtains its water from the La Habra Water Company. This company was
a mutual affair at first but is now a public utility and under the control of the State


Railroad Commission, hut Mr. Launer is the president of the company. He helped
to lay out the system, install the pipe lines and put it on a sound basis. The source
of supply of the La Habra Water Company is the San Gabriel River and the water
is carried in lateral ditches to the consumers. It has often been said that the good the
consumers have derived from this company far exceeds the cost of the service.

For six years Mr. Launer served as a member of the board of trustees of the
La Habra grammar school; for two terms he was a member of the Union high school
board of Fullerton, and while he was serving there the property was purchased and
the school buildings were Ijeing constructed. For five years he was deputy assessor
for his district, and four years was deputy under Sherifif C. E. Ruddock.. He was one
of the organizers of the La Habra Citrus .Association and the La Habra Walnut Asso-
ciation. During the World War he and his wife were active in the work of the Red
Cross and other allied drives and supported liberally the various loan drives. Politically
Mr. Launer is a Republican and at one time served as a member of the County Cen-
tral Committee. He was a member of the right-of-way committee that brought the
Pacific Electric through La Habra and the first depot out of Los .\ngeles on the line
was built at La Habra. A self-made and self-educated man, Mr. Launer has the best
interests of the county at heart and is highly respected by all who know him for his
public spirit and integrity. It is to such citizens that Orange County owes its great
progress in recent years.

JOHN D. CHAFFEE, M.D.— A pioneer of Garden Grove, whose homestead.
The Pines, was one of the most valuable properties of that district. Dr. John D.
Chaffee was a member of an old English family that settled in Vermont. His father,
Eber C, was born near Bellows Falls, that state, and the son of Rufus Chaffee,
a farmer. When a youth he learned the trades of tanner and currier, but after re-
moving, in 1839, to Kane County, 111., he turned his attention to agriculture, and
improved a farm of 400 acres in Campton township. He married Anna Davis, who
was born in Rutland County, Vt., of Welsh and English descent. Both died on their
homestead in Illinois. Of their twelve children all but two attained mature years.
They were as follows: Sereno S., who died in Los Angeles, Cal.; Fernando H., Mrs.
Marcia Ryder; Edmond, who died in Texas during the Civil War; .Alonzo. Dorr B.,
who served in an Illinois regiment during the rebellion; John D., Simon E., also a
veteran of the Civil War and Albert J.

Near Elgin, Kane County, 111., Dr. Chaffee was born November S, 1843. On
completing the studies of the district schools he attended Mount Morris (111.) Semi-
nary. From boyhood it was his ambition to enter the medical profession and, in
spite of obstacles, which would have daunted one less determined, he persevered,
making every occupation in which he engaged a means to the end desired. While
still living in Illinois he conducted a large dairy and furnished milk for a condensing
factory, building up a business that was profitable and important. On account of ill
health brought on by the strenuous life he led while building up and conducting his
dairy business, Mr. Chaffee came west to California in 1875, stopping for three months
in Los Angeles, then going to Westminster. He found that the climate of this part
of Los Angeles County agreed with him and decided to remain here and in February.
1876. he located in the vicinity of Garden Grove where he purchased thirty acres of
land. He soon sold off twenty acres and thereafter gave his attention to the develop-
ment of the ten he retained by setting out various kinds of fruit trees. He acquired
another tract of ten acres and set out eucalyptus trees and from the small grove
he had in five years' time he cut and sold eighty cords of wood. When Dr. Chaffee
bought his land he paid for it in currency and in exchanging for the "coin" of Cali-
fornia he lost eleven cents on each dollar as greenbacks were not legal tender in
this state.

Years ago, with only one text-book to assist him. Dr. Chaffee began the study
of medicine, and his rudimentary knowledge of the science was acquired without the
aid of an instructor. Other books were afterward added to his medical library and
the contents of each absorbed by his receptive mind. In 1884, the year following its
organization, he entered Hahnemann Hospital Medical College in San Francisco,
from which he was graduated in 1887. However, he had practiced prior to his gradu-
ation, and he was. in point of years of professional activity, one of the oldest physi-
cians in Orange County, and was beloved by many who appreciated him for his true
worth and nobility of character.

The marriage of Dr. Chaffee took place in Elgin, 111., September 29, 1868, and
united him with Miss Ellen M. Bradley, who was born at Dundee, Kane County, 111.
She is eligible to membership in the Daughters of the Revolution, some of her paternal
ancestors having participated in the first war with England. Her grandfather, Anson
Bradley, spent his entire life in Vermont, and her father, William S. Bradley, was


also a native of that state, born in Fairfield, but in 1838 settled at Dundee, Hi.,
becoming a pioneer farmer near that town. In 1881 he removed to California, where
he remained retired from active cares until his death, at seventy-six years. He traced
'his ancestry to English and Scotch progenitors. In religion he was connected with
the Methodist Episcopal Church. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Lucia
Keiser, was born in New Hampshire and died at Garden Grove, Cal. Their family
consisted of four daughters, namely: Jane C, Mrs. VVanzer, a resident of Chicago
but who died in Wisconsin; Mary E., Mrs. Hill; Ellen M., Mrs. Chaffee, and Lois E.,
Mrs. Hitchcock. After completing her education in Elgin Academy, Mrs. Chaffee
became a teacher in Kane County, continuing in that profession until her marriage.
Dr. and Mrs. Chaffee were charter members of the Methodist Episcopal Church
of Garden Grove and he was always one of its leaders and an important factor in
its progress, both as a member and through his service as chairman of the board of
trustees and in other official positions. In his political adherence he was a staunch
Republican and active in the local work of the party, but at no time in his life an
aspirant for official honors. In 1901 the family moved to Long Beach and where Dr.
Chaffee built up an extensive practice, and there he passed away on May 2, 1907, in
the fine home he had erected on Cedar Street.

JAMES ALEXANDER FORBES.— A full and eventful life has been the portion
of James Alexander Forbes, scholar, historian and musician, who at the age of eighty-
two is now living at San Juan Capistrano, hale and hearty, and, gifted as he is with a
remarkable memory, he can relate many of the interesting happenings of the early
days of California. A native son, born March 17, 1838, at Santa Clara, Mr. Forbes has
spent practically all his life in the state of his birth, except for some years in Mexico
in the consular service, and later spending some time there in superintending his
mining interests.

His father, James Alexander Forbes, Sr., one of California's earliest pioneers, was
born at Inverness, Scotland, and highly educated there, being a professor of languages
and music in a college at Inverness. Entering the service of Spain in the warfare
against the Moors, he later came to California on a Spanish man-of-war, landing at
Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, in 1829. Returning to Scotland, he came a second
time to America, making a prospecting tour to Vancouver, and coming to California in
1833 with a party of the Hudson Bay Company, camping on the San Joaquin River
where the city of Stockton now stands. During this time he wrote a history of
California for the English Government, which was later published in London, and
which is the first history of this part of the country written in the English language.
Appointed consul by England. Mr. Forbes removed to the Mission in Santa Clara
County, and was stationed there when California became a part of the United States.
He soon took a prominent part in the development of the country under the new
rule, and built a beautiful residence in Santa Clara, with many modern conveniences,
such as dumb waiters, speaking tubes, etc., and bringing from England the first cook-
stove to be brought into California. He also brought the machinery for a flour mill
from Rochester, establishing the mill at Los Gatos. He was the owner of the rich
New Almaden mines, and took out of them enormous sums of money, but later he
lost much of this fortune through litigation. Mr. Forbes married a native daughter of
California. Anita Maria Galindo, the daughter of Juan Crissotomo Galindo, and spent
his last years in Oakland, leaving a name that will always be associated with California's
early development.

The second son of a family of twelve children, all of whom were talented,
inheriting the literary ability of their father, James Alexander Forbes was given a
thorough education at Santa Clara College, and after his graduation he began teaching
school at Santa Barbara in 1865, having charge of the public schools there until he
went to San Francisco, where he was an instructor in St. Joseph's College. Later he
was appointed translator of the California state statutes, and from 1867 to 1870 he
pursued this work at Sacramento, and after completing this important work he was
called to San Francisco, where he became court interpreter in all the Courts of Record,
including the LTnited States Federal Court. Appointed keeper of the Spanish and
Mexican archives by the Secretary of the Interior in 1877, he served as official trans-
lator for the Government under the following surveyor-generals: Theodore Wagner,
William H. Brown, Richard P. Hammond, O. C. Pratt and William Green, holding that
position until 1892. Under President Harrison he received appointment as consul to
Guaymas, Mexico, in 1892, serving throughout his administration. Coming back to
California, he remained here for a time, but returned to Mexico in 1906, becoming
extensively interested in silver, copper and quicksilver mines in Jalisco, which would
have undoubtedly brought him great wealth, but everything was lost in the revolution
during the latter part of the Diaz regime. Returning to the United States in 1918. he


came to San Juan Capistrano in 1919 to make his home. His wife, who before her
marriage was Carmen Vasquez, passed away in 1916. She was born in Sonora, Mexico,
but was reared and educated in San Francisco. The only surviving member of Mr.
Forbes' family is his brother, James Alonzo Forbes, of Monterey, Cal., a former judge
of Monterey County.

Mr. Forbes has been deeply engaged in his literary labors of late years and has
finished for his publishers the manuscript of a comprehensive historical work entitled,
"Forbes* Chronology of the World from the Date of Its Creation 4004 B. C. to the
Present Time." '"The Golden West," just off the press, is one of the most reliable,
clear, brief but interesting histories of California ever published for popular use in

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 65 of 191)