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 87 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 87 of 191)
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being engaged in this hazardous work for a period of two years; then we find him
riding the range in Oregon and later in Washington and British Columbia. After
spending four j'ears in the northern country he returned to Santa which by
comparison he decided was the best region he had ever seen and here he settled down
to make his home and improve his ranch.

In 188S occurred Mr. Jones' marriage to Maud Turner, the ceremony being per-
formed at Santa Ana, and their union has been blessed with four children: Edward M.,
Annie L., Jane and Frances, and all make their home under the parental roof. Mrs.
Jones is a native of Purdy, Tenn., where she was liorn on June 7. 1870, and presents
in a charming and unpretentious manner the culture of the South. All in all Mr.
Jones has had a valuable, if at times a discouraging experience along agricultural
lines. When he purchased his ranch he set it out to grapes, and these having proven
a failure, he set out walnuts. When he found that the soil was not adapted to their
growth, he put in apricots, and after testing the foregoing fruits, he planted oranges,
succeeding at last with his latest venture. Mr. Jones has been a member of the Santiago
Orange Growers Association since its organization. He has always enjoyed popularity
and nowhere more so than in the circles of the Odd Fellows, to which famous order
he belongs.




JOSEPH W. SKIDMORE.— A native son of the Golden State, Joseph W. Skid-
more of Laguna Beach, was born in Los Angeles on September 9, 1891, a son of
George E. and Catherine A. (^Brenizer) Skidmore. George E. Skidmore was born in
Lamar County, Texas, on November 10, 1846, was a prospector and an explorer and
was one of the first to blaze a trail through Death Valley and, like others bent on
scientifically studying the unknown parts of the earth and in time paying a fearful
price for their intrusion upon untamed Nature, Mr. Skidmore's life was shortened
through exposure. He was married in 1882 and the family lived in Newhall, then
Riverside, and finally moved to Santa Fe Springs in the hope of benefiting his health,
but he died there on March 26, 1899. Mr. and Mrs. Skidmore had four children: Lee
Ethel, the wife of Oscar Farman, of Los Angeles; Joseph W., of this review; Guy.
who was born on the same day and month five years later than our subject and on
Admission Day at that; and Anita Maria, Mrs. Maurice D. McElree, of Orange. After
the death of Mr. Skidmore his widow married the well known pioneer, "Nate" Brooks,
of Laguna Beach.

"Joe" Skidmore, as he is known by his friends, attended the schools of Laguna
Canyon, and in 1908 was graduated from the Orange County Business College. His
first employment was by \^'. P. Fuller and Company of Los Angeles, and on Saturdays
and Sundays he worked as a life guard at Redondo, being an expert swimmer and
water-polo player. In the declining days of his stepfather, "Nate" Brooks, he assisted
in the management of his business interests and upon his death he assumed heavy
liabilities and became manager of his mother's estate; also for the C. A. Brooks estate.

Mr. Skidmore has made numberless improvements for the interests of the citizens
of the beach city, including the water system for Laguna Heights, which serves a six-
mile frontage. He bought water-producing land at high prices to insure against a
water shortage, and now there is a large reservoir in the canyon and three four-and-
one-half inch pipe lines leading into Laguna — one line being 25,000 feet long. There
are three reservoirs with capacities of 250,000, 40,000 and 100,000 gallons respectively,
the system costing about $100,000. Grading, leveling and subdividing is continually
being done, all to please those who live at or visit Laguna and Arch Beaches. There
is abundant evidence that the labor and money thus spent in bettering conditions,
and in advertising, have not been spent in vain.

Mr. Skidmore helped organize the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, of
which he is serving as treasurer; is a member and the secretary of the Laguna Beach
Sanitary District board; has served as clerk of the school board and cast his influence
in favor of the most modern equipment for the school rooms; and also as one of three
members of the board of control of the Laguna Art Association. In fact there has
been no movement for the bettering of conditions at the beach city that has not had
his support and encouragement. With his brother, Guy Skidmore, he is owner of the
Coast Royal and Tract No. 99, and other lots and business property there; and he
and his wife own the famous Laguna Terrace and numerous lots in the district.

On September 18, 1912, Mr. Skidmore was united in marriage at Los .Angeles
with Flora Bel Geier, a native of California and a daughter of Samuel C. and Nancy
Geier of Los Angeles, now residing in Laguna Beach, and they have two promising
sons Donald and Orville. Mr. and Mrs. Skidmore and their family enjoy a deserved
popularity in Orange County, where he is known as a loyal "booster."

A. THORMAN. — An esteemed citizen of Tustin who has found here the comforts
and pleasures of home life, so that he has very naturally become a "booster" for
Orange County, wishing others to know the truth and to come here to reside, is A.
Thorman, the well known rancher of East Sixth Street. He was born in Fayette
County, Iowa, on December 10, 1863, the son of two sturdy pioneers, William and
Augusta (Schmidt) Thorman who came out from Germany to Fayette County, Iowa,
in about 1840, so early that they were sixteen weeks on their journey from Bremen.
There his father located on sixty acres and raised grain and stock. Of this union, our
subject is the only son and survivor.

He attended the school in the district in which he was born, while he worked on
the farm of his father, and remained at home until he was twenty-three years of age.
Then, for five years, he rented his father's farm, and after that he purchased land
and settled down to farming.

In 1899 Mr. Thorman's first wife died and having always had a desire to see
California with its balmy climate and tropical fruit, in comparison to the bleak cold
winters of Iowa he concluded to come hither, so he brought his children to Southern
California in 1900 locating at Pomona and there purchased a nine-acre orange grove.

While living at Pomona Mr. Thorman was married to Miss Maude Freeman of
Pomona, who was a native of Chicago, III. In 1906 he sold his Pomona holding and
removed to Tustin where he immediately purchased his present orchard of eleven


acres, set to Valencia oranges and walnuts. He also owned 115 acres known as the
Rogers property, near Santa Ana, which he farmed for several years, when he disposed
of it and purchased thirty-eight acres at El Modena, which he has set to oranges and
lemons. He is a member of the Tustin Hill Citrus Association and the Santa Ana
Walnut Growers Association. The four older children of his family are; Clara, who
is training at the Angelas Hospital, Los Angeles; Otto has the distinction of having
served as a soldier overseas; and is now a rancher at El Modena; Emma, a graduate in
pharmacy of the University of Southern California, is now practicing at the City Hos-
pital in San Francisco; Albert F. attends the California Institute of Technology at
Pasadena; the youngest are named Ida and Charles and are attending school at Tustin.
Mr. Thorman is a Republican, and he and his family are members of the Presbyterian
Church of Tustin.

WILLIAM J. HANSLER. — Few. if any, of the present generation of citizens
of Orange County fully appreciate the debt of gratitude they owe to the early pioneers,
those fearless and courageous men and women who experienced great hardships in
blazing the path for future civilization and laying the foundation for the present pros-
perous conditions of the wonderful "big-little" county of Orange. Great honor is due
to these men and women and their names should be perpetuated in the history of the
county. Numbered among such are the names of Henry and Mary A. (Phillips) Hans-
ler, parents of the subject of this review. They were born in the Dominion of Canada
and New York, respectively, and migrated to California in 1876, locating near West-
minister, in November of the Centennial Year, where they purchased the ranch now
owned and occupied by their son, William J.

Whether the early pioneers came to the Golden State by ox teams, across the
plains, sailed around the Horn, or were among the more fortunate ones who later came
by rail, they were all greeted by an uninviting, sandy desert in the section now known
as Orange County, formerly a part of Los Angeles County. It has taken many years
of arduous endeavor, great patience and endurance on the part of these hardy pioneers,
to make the desert waste blossom as the rose.

The Hansler family are descendants of an old Pennsylvania Dutch family that
moved from the Keystone State to the Province of Ontario, Canada, locating at Pelham.
William Hansler's grandfather, Andrew Hansler, lived for many years in Pelham Town-
ship, where he followed farming and it was in this same township that he married
and continued to reside until he passed away. He could read and write the Dutch
language fluently. Great-grandfather Hansler was one of the first settlers in Pelham

William J. Hansler's mother, before her marriage to Henry Hansler was Mary
Ann Phillips, a native of Cattaraugus County, N. Y. Their family consisted of ten
children: Asa, a farmer in Pelham Township, Canada; Sarah Ann, who died in child-
hood; John Andrew, passed away when two and a half years old; Truman resides in
Fresno County; Elizabeth Esther is now Mrs. Edwin Wiggin of Colusa County;
Margaret Ellen married J. E. Miller, a rancher in Orange County; William J., the
subject of this review; Rosanna is the wife of Luther R. Newsom, a rancher of Stanton;
Julia Ann is the wife of Ernest Carner, who resides at Winkleman. Ariz.; Robert
Oscar, the youngest member of the family, is a rancher at Seeley, Imperial \'alley,
Cal. The Hansler family is a very large and influential one and every year a family
reunion is held. A newspaper of Welland, Canada, in speaking of the family says:
"The Pelham Hanslers have a record rarely exceeded. The homestead of .\ndrew
Hansler has been that of the family for the past four generations, 120 years. During
that time the property has never been mortgaged." The great-grandfather, as well as
the grandfather of William J. Hansler, were ministers of the Dunkard Church.

William J. Hansler was born in Pelham, Canada, on November 13, 1869. His
father having died before becoming a naturalized citizen. William J. was obliged to
take out his naturalization papers, which he gladly did. and is a most loyal and
patriotic citizen. Mr. Hansler became a member of the Friends Church, known as the
Quaker faith, uniting with the Alamitos Friends Church. His first wife, Miss Mary E.
Hirst, who passed away in 1899, was a member of that church. The second marriage
of Mr. Hansler occurred in 1915, when he was united with Miss Cora .\lice Stith,
daughter of William Fletcher and Hettie (Hubbard) Stith, her father being a black-
smith at Long Beach, employed by the Long Beach Water Company. Mr. and Mrs.
Stith are the parents of three boys and four girls; the boys have all passed away, two
dying in infancy, and the third being accidentally electrocuted while engaged as an
electrician at Stockton, Cal. The daughters are: Cora Alice, Mrs. Hansler; Nellie.
Mrs. Simmons of Richer, Okla.; Ita, Mrs. Riddick of Long Beach; and Bertha, Mrs.
Mitchell also of Long Beach.

''2^^- jZ. .;Uc^^-^^


Mrs. William J. Hansler's grandfather, Rev. Jeremiah Hubbard, a minister of the
Friends Church, was sent by the missionary board as a missionary, with the sanction of
the President of the United States, to Indian Territory, to seek to pacify, civilize and
Christianize the fierce Indians of the Territory and of the Southwest. He labored
with telling efTect for over forty years. He wrote several books telling of his experi-
ences there, among them, "A Teacher's Ups and Downs frorn 1858 to 1879," and "Forty
Years Among the Indians." He also wrote several books on the histories of the various
Indian tribes. He was greatly beloved by the entire community, and when he died the
business houses of Miami, Okla., closed their stores during his funeral.

SAMUEL T. MILLER.— A highly esteemed citizen of Santa Ana who never
tires of sounding the praises of Orange County, is Samuel T. Miller, the retired
apiarist, who is also well-known as a wide traveler who has experienced no end of
profitable adventure. He was born in North Carolina on December 1, 1837, the son
of Nicholas Miller, a descendant of an early and prominent Carolina family, who ca::iJ
to be extensive planters. His wife, the mother of our subject, was Nancy Smith before
her marriage, and she also descended from a fine, old-time family.

When Samuel was six years of age, his father removed with the rest of the
family to Rockport, Ark., and there took up a tract of raw land, commencing new-
chapters in an arduous existence terminated only when, in Arkansas, he died at the
ripe age of eighty. Having attained the age of seventeen, the young man pushed out
into the world to support himself. At first he went to El Paso, then of importance as a
station on the way to Mexico, and as the headquarters of stage companies having
routes throughout the Southwest, and for a couple of years he was employed as a
stage driver. The route through the wild country constantly exposed him to great
perils. He was also exposed to both sun and storm, so that he was glad to say goodliye
to such savagery and engage in merchandising in Juarez, Me.x., in which line he did
very well until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Then he furnished horses to the Confederate Army, and also other war supplies,
and when the Confederates had to retreat, he went with them, hoping to get money due
him which was never paid. Another six months of hard work as a storekeeper led
to his venturing into Mexico and starting a stage line from Monterey south to San Luis
Potosi. He kept at his hazardous task for eighteen months, when everything was taken
from him by the Mexican .A.rmy. Thereupon he returned to the United States and ran
a stage route from San .Antonio to EI Paso, Texas, but this was soon cleaned out by
the Indians. Then he was engaged as a guide by General Wesley Merritt who was
building up the old forts on the Mexican border, destroyed during the war, for which
services he received five dollars a day and his board.

Bidding San Antonio farewell, Mr. Miller took the New Orleans steamer to
Omaha, about 1867, and from there crossed the great plains into California and the
Sacramento Valley. He had really sailed up both the Mississippi and Missouri rivers,
and had tarried at Omaha for a while to work at the construction of the Union Pacific
Railroad. After arriving in California, he spent several years in farm work. Deciding
to return east to New York, Mr. Miller sailed for Buenos Aires, traveling on a sailing
vessel that took sixty-two days to make the voyage; and having seen something of
the country, he set sail again for Southampton and Liverpool. Then he steamed
across the .Atlantic again to Philadelphia, and in 1870 once more arrived in California
at Sacramento.

In 1873 he came south to Santa .\na. to which place his attention had been directed
through an acquaintance formed with, a teacher at San Diego. He located on 160 acres
in Belle Canyon, built himself a log cabin, still to be seen, and lived there for fifteen
years before he got his title. He went in for bee culture and the gathering of honey,
and made a record as an apiarist with a harvest of forty tons of honey in a single year,
and had twenty tons left from the year before, so had si.xty tons on hand at one time.
One of the results of these later years of hard, successful work is Mr. Miller's ownership '
today of considerable choice residence property in Santa Ana.

Mr. Miller was married in Los Angeles by Reverend Bovard, in 1878, to Mrs. Amy
(Taylor") Inman, and they are the parents of one son, Cyrus G. Miller, a rancher at
Imperial. Mrs. Miller was born near Quincy, Adams County, 111., a daughter of Thomas
and Hester Ann (Rundell) Taylor, born in Tennessee and New York, respectively, who
were farmers in Illinois. Her father served in an Illinois regiment in the Civil War.
Afterwards he removed to Oregon where he resided until he died. He was a prominent
G. A. R. man. His widow spent her last days with Mr. and Mrs. Miller, and died at the
age of eighty-nine years. Mrs. Miller was educated in the public schools of Illinois
She was first married in Illinois in 1869, when sixteen years old, to Mr. Jno. W. Inmnn.


who followed farming there until he removed to Nevada and later came overland to
California, locating at San Juan Capistrano about 1877. Her husband passed away at
that place. Later she made the acquaintance of Mr. Miller and they were married.
By her first marriage she had two daughters: Emma Viola, now the wife of W. A.
Webster, resides in Sacramento; Lorena is the wife of W. D. Anderson of Santa Ana.
Mrs. Miller is a member of the Congregational Church of Santa Ana. In national
politics a Democrat, Mr. Miller is second to none as an American citizen.

ARTHUR WEST. — An early settler of Orange, who for years has given freely
of both his time and means to advance the growth and prosperity of both city and
county, is Arthur West, whose pleasing personality has naturally drawn around him a
large circle of devoted friends. He was born in Wiltshire, England, in 1852, the son
of Stephen and Eliza (McCluen) West, the seventh in a family of nine children; and
while being reared on a farm, received the best educational advantages afforded by
the excellent country schools. When he had put aside his books, at the age of
sixteen, he was apprenticed to learn the carpenter's trade in Bristol, and having become
a master carpenter at the age of twenty, he worked for three months in London and
then came out to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, landing from the
steamer Mohongo in 1873 at San Francisco. There he worked at his trade until 1875,
when he came south to Orange.

At McPherson he bought ten acres of land; but as it was a very dry year, he
had no crop, and it became necessary for him to return to San Francisco to make
sufficient money to meet the periodical payments and interest on his ranch. On return-
ing to Orange he assisted his brother Henry in contracting and building, erecting,
among other structures, the first two schoolhouses put up in town. Success followed
all of their subsequent efforts, and for the next twenty-five years they completed
many of the finest homes in Orange.

During this time Mr. West improved his ten acres, on which he also made his
home, and set out Navel oranges which grew into a splendid orchard, so that he was
able to ship thirty boxes of the citrus fruit to the World's Fair in Chicago, one box
of which was selected .for presentation to Carter Harrison, at that time mayor of
Chicago. Just as he was hailed with the prospect of success, however, the red scale
appeared to alarm the citrus world; and as there was then no means known by
which to destroy the pest, the orchard was ruined, and he had to grub out the trees,
and burn them up. He then set out walnuts and cultivated them until they were ten
years old.

By that time science had found a means to combat the scale, and the section
in which Mr. West lived was found to be favorable to Valencia oranges, so he took
out the walnut trees and set out Valencias, and in time sold his land for $2,000 an
acre, a splendid price for those days; in fact, one of the highest anywhere recorded,
and that, too, for land for which he had paid only forty-five dollars an acre. This
sale helped to give a decided impetus to the local citrus industry, and Orange moved
to the front as a Valencia orange-growing section.

With Paul Kogler, Mr. West then purchased ten acres near Placentia Avenue,
not far from Anaheim, a tract with two-year-old \*alencia and Navel orange trees,
for which they paid $650 an acre. This orchard he is now caring for, and as it is
already in bearing, it is very valuable property and a source of much satisfaction.
About 1882, also, he purchased a block of five acres on what is now on Palm, between
Lemon and Glassell streets, where for some years he raised apricots and walnuts.
When, however, the town had grown and the time was ripe, Mr. West laid the tract
out in city lots as the Arthur West Addition to Orange, and he has already sold oflf
all but two lots, on which he resides. This investment has also proven very profitable,
as he paid only $500 for the five acres. Naturally, Mr. West is a member of the
Santiago Orange Growers Association, and gives that wide-awake organization his
best support.

As a lover of out-door sports — so natural to one born an Englishman — Mr. West
has been particularly fond of hunting and shooting. In the latter he has long excelled,
and his record at the contests of the California Inanimate Target Association, at
Stockton on May 30, 1896, won for him the diamond medal. He has also won many
honors in live-bird and clay pigeon shooting, and this has made him so well known
among the hunters of the state that nothing pleases him so much as when he can have
the time to spend in the wilds. He has also very naturally for years been a member
of the Los Angeles Gun Club. In national political affairs a Democrat, Mr. West is a
broad-minded, nonpartisan supporter of the best obtainable for local welfare, both
in respect to measures and men.





04j^Uu/z 7ru4^


COL. S. H. FINLEY. — It is not given to many men, as in the distinguished career
of Col. Solomon Hendi-Tson Finley, the civil engineer and county supervisor, to serve
their fellowmen in such a varied manner, and to serve them so acceptably, for he has
been a member of the Santa .\na Board of Education for two years, county surveyor
for twelve years, city engineer of Santa .\na for si.x years, chief engineer of Orange
County Highway Commission for two years, and for four years a member of the board
of trustees of Santa Ana, half of which time he was chairman of the board. In 1916.
also, he was elected supervisor for a four-year term. At various times he has served
as city engineer of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach.

The Finley family in the United States harks back to good old Colonial days
and the generations that lived and died especially in \'irginia. New Jersey, Pennsyl-
vania and Tennessee. Among them were Senator Jesse Johnson Finley. John Finley,
the poet, Robert, Robert Smith, Robert W., and James Bradley Finley, clergymen,
John P., the educator, Samuel, the soldier, Clement .\lexander, the surgeon, and Martha,
the author so well known for her prolific output under the nom de plume, Martha
r'arquharson. the Gaelic translation of her surname. James Finley was born and reared
within the confines of old Virginia so .dear to his ancestors, but as the years went by.
he threw aside old traditions and removed to newer Kentucky, and finally as far as
Lincoln County, Mo., where he engaged in farming. He also did considerable surveying
in both \'irginia and Kentucky — thus carrying on some of the good work begun by
no less a personage than George Washington.

While in Kentucky, a son was born, named .Andrew R. Finley, who inherited his
ability as a surveyor, and for several terms served as county surveyor of Lincoln
County, Mo., including the period when he was judge there for a term. He was indeed
a versatile man, for he also maintained a woolen manufactory and superintended the
farm that he owned near Auburn, Mo. The year 1870 found him in California, first in
Salinas. Monterey County, and after a year on a ranch near Antelope, in Sacramento
County. In 1878 he came to Orange County and bought 200 acres of land near Santa
.■\na. The land was so arid at first as to be of little or no value for crops; but two
huge artesian wells were bored, and thereafter irrigation made of the area a blossom-
ing garden. In 1887 he sold the land to a subdividing company, which laid out the
town of Fairview; and then he removed to Santa Ana. lived here retired, and died in
1897. in his seventy-ninth year. He was a stanch member of the United Presbyterian

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 87 of 191)