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 88 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 88 of 191)
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Church, which repeatedly honored him as their ruling elder. Mrs. Finley was Miss
Caroline Gibson before her marriage, and she was born in Lincoln County, Mo. Her
father, George Gibson, was a farmer of Scotch-Irish descent. She died in Santa Ana
on .\pril 5, 1901, aged seventy-one, the mother of a large and devoted family. While
the family home was in Lincoln County, Mo.. Solomon Henderson Finley was born on
October 10, 1863. so that he was about seven years old when the Finleys removed to
California. Besides the typical public schools of his locality and period, he attended
Monmouth (111.) College, from which he was graduated with the class of '86. Three
years later, he was honored by receiving the degree of .\.M. from the same institution.

Returning to California at the close of his college days, Mr. Finley located in
Santa .\na and went into his profession, that of surveying and civil engineering. His
ability was soon recognized in his election, in 1891, as surveyor of Orange County, and
in 1899 he was reelected. During these years he laid out many additions to Santa .\na
and other cities, and was chief engineer in constructing the reservoir on the Modjeska
ranch, which has a concrete dam with a capacity of three million cubic feet.

As might be inferred from his enviable title. Colonel Finley has had a military
career important as a chapter in the annals of California. On January 6, 1890. he
entered the ranks as a private, enlisting in Company F, Ninth Infantry, National
Guard of California, and gradually rose until, in January, 1895, he was commissioned
as captain. .\t the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, his company was mustered
in on May 5. 1898. being accepted as Company L. Seventh California U. S. Volunteers,
and Governor Budd tendered Mr. Finley his commission as captain. The regiment
was stationed at San Francisco, and was mustered out of service in Los .\ngeles on
Deceml)er 2 of the same year. Subsequently he continued as captain of Company L of
the National Guard, and in .\pril, 1902, he received promotion to the rank of major of
the Seventh Regiment. In 1904 he was commissioned colonel, and in 1908, at the
expiration of his term of service, he was retired with the rank of colonel.

Not less interesting nor important has been Colonel Finley's part in the develop-
ment of railroading in Orange County. Natural bent as well as first class technical
preparation eminently fitted him to become chief engineer and superintendent of con-
struction of the Santa .Ana and Newport Railway, which was later extended to Smeltzer.
In 1891 he was made chief engineer for the Bolsa drainage district, and constructed
its svstem of drain ditches. He likewise had charge of the planning and construction


of the ditches for the Talbert drainage district, a work that extended from 1904 to

1909, and the Delhi district in 1910, and several other drainage districts of the county
at other times. He built, as has been said, the concrete dam for Madam Modjeska at
her ranch in the Santiago Canyon in 1900; and the following year, he purchased with
the Hon. P. A. Stanton of Los Angeles and the Hon. J. N. Anderson of Santa Ana, the
site of what is now Huntington Beach, and incorporated the West Coast Land and
Water Company, serving as one of the company's directors. They laid out Huntington
Beach, which was at first called Pacific City, and as engineer, Colonel Finley had the
responsibility of laying out the site.

On January 8, 1890, in Santa Ana, Colonel Finley was united in marriage with Miss
Ida Hedges, a native of New York, and the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Telford)
Hedges; they have had five children — Gailene, Malcolm H., Knox H., Wendell W.
and Rhodes A. Finley. The family attend the United Presbyterian Church, and the
Colonel belongs to both the Sunset Club and Radio Club of Santa Ana and the Demo-
cratic party. Upon the organization of the city of Santa Ana in 1888, he was made a
member of the first board of education, and it was when he was secretary that the
Central school house was constructed. He was one of the charter members of the
Chamber of Commerce and served as one of its' directors.

ELMER L. CRAWFORD.— An Orange County banker whose conservative
aggressiveness typifies the twentieth century spirit animating and directing the financial
interests of the Golden State is Elmer L. Crawford, the popular cashier of the Cali-
fornia National Bank. He was born at Danville, Iowa, on September 17, 1881. the son
of Franklin P. Crawford, and his good wife, Mary J. Six children lilessed this union,
and Elmer was the third in the order of birth. Both parents are still living, and they
make their home at Tustin.

Having finished the usual courses at the excellent grammar and high schools of
Iowa, Elmer continued his studies at Howes Academy, at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, taking
a two-year teacher's training course, after which one year was spent as a teacher in the
public schools of Iowa. Not contented with this life, however, Elmer next enrolled as
a student with the Gem City Business College of Quincy, 111., from which he was
graduated with a master of accounts degree. When twenty-two years of age, he left
home and the Hawkej'e State and came west to California. He found much to enlist
his attention and to appeal to his imagination for the future; but Santa Ana looked best
of all, and in Santa Ana he pitched his tent.

In Santa Ana, also, he first engaged in banking, taking service for a year with
the old Commercial Bank. Then, for four years, he was assistant postmaster, and in

1910, at the time of the organization of the California National Bank, he joined its
staff. In the beginning, he acted as teller and bookkeeper, later becoming assistant
cashier and for the past two years has occupied the cashier's desk. He is also a
director in the bank.

At Tustin, in May, 1907, Mr. Crawford was married to Miss Maud Leek, a charm-
ing lady with a wide circle of friends. He is fond of out-of-door life, especially moun-
tain climbing, hunting, fishing and camping in the open, and together Mr. and Mrs.
Crawford enjoy pleasures unknown to those devoting so much of their time to the less
profitable attractions of society. In matters of national politics Mr. Crawford is a
Republican, but he is one of the first to volunteer for work in any local movement
eschewing partisanship and having for its goal the development of the community on
broad and permanent grounds, and the uplift of social conditions.

C. L. NORTON. — A successful, popular man of affairs, who always finds some
time to "lend a hand," and generally a very helpful one, to advance every worthy
movement in local affairs, is C. L. Norton, who was born on December 7, 1878, the
son of H. J. and Clara (Turner) Norton, pioneers who helped to settle the great
plains of Republic County, Kans. His mother died when he. the oldest child, was only
three years old, and so he was reared by his aunt, Rebecca Woodard. He attended the
little red schoolhouse of the district, and there got that fine general training which has
proven so useful to thousands and thousands of American young men.

In 1894, Mr. Norton's stepmother came west to California and Tustin, and at the
station of Aliso, on the line of the Santa Fe just to the south, was made agent. The
following year, the sad death by accident of his only brother occurred, and Mr. Norton
came to California from Republic County to attend the funeral. What he saw of Cali-
fornia industries and California prospects interested and encouraged him so much that
he remained here. A stepbrother, E. B. Collier, also in time established himself in
California, and is the secretary and manager of the Central Lemon Growers Association.

Mr. Norton became especially interested in the handling of Navel oranges, and
soon became an expert packer. He worked in the packing houses at La 'Verne, River-

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side, Fontana and Rialto, and learned all that they could teach him. For a couple of
years he was connected with the E. E. Wilson Fruit Company, packers and shippers,
and is now with the Golden West Citrus Association as field man.

On May 26, 1909, Mr. Norton was married to Miss Lela Holford, the daughter of
J. D. Holford. a rancher of Tustin, who passed away in 1918. She was born at Tustin,
and attended the Tustin schools. She has grown up a talented artist, and still studies
with Miss Minnie C. Childs, of Chicago, who has established her well-known studio
at Tustin. Two children, Helen L. and Claude James, have blessed this marriage. Mr.
Norton is a Republican in national political movements, but nonpartisan when it seems
best to support local affairs without regard to party lines and for the real and lasting
good of the community.

HENRY DIERKER.— A progressive, broad-minded and liberal-hearted Ameri-
can citizen who is such a distinguished resident of Orange that he has been pro-
nounced "the finest old gentleman that ever lived," is Henry Dierker, a native of
Hanover, Germany, and just eighteen months old when his parents concluded to
remove to the United States. His birth occurred on April 5, 1840, and his father
and mother were Victor and Clara (Koenig) Dierker. They pushed on west into
St. Charles County, Mo., and at St. Charles became farmers. They cleared a farm
of timber and later sold it, and in 1858, moved to Wentsville, in the same county,
and there died. They had seven children — three boys and four girls, and of these
Henry and his younger brother George are the only ones now living, George residing
at Wentsville.

Henry, next to the youngest in age. was reared on a farm, while he received only
a private school education, there being then no public school there. His oldest as
well as his youngest brother went through the Civil War, and during the raids of
the notorious Bill Anderson, Henry served in the Missouri State Militia for three
months. On Washington's Birthday, 1866, he was married to Miss Marie Gruer, a
native of that state, who died in Orange on November 7, 1913. They had ten chil-
dren. Annie is Mrs. Henry Benne, of Stanton, Nebr., and she is the mother of six
children. Ella is Mrs. Holstein, of Dodge, Nebr., and she has four children. George
is married and is a rancher here, and the father of four children. Tillie presides grace-
fully over her father's home. Fred is a rancher in Orange, is married and has one
child. Ed is married, and lives at Orange with his wife and three children. Ben also
is married, lives here, and is the father of four children. Albert is a horticulturist
in Yakima, Wash. Harry is married and ranches at Anaheim, and Mamie is Mrs. Will
Kogler of Orange. There are twenty-two grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Henry Dierker and his brother built a hotel at W^entsville, which he conducted
as the Wentsville Hotel until 1870. when he sold out his interest to his brother and
then removed to West Point. Cuming County, Nebr. The previous year he had bought
400 acres of land at $3.75 per acre, and he now began to improve it. He raised corn
and stock, and fed cattle, hogs and sheep, driving them to market; and he met with
such success that he bought more land until he had 1,140 acres, paying for this highest-
priced ten dollars an acre. In 1891 he sold 700 acres at thirty-five dollars- an acre, and
three years later he disposed of the balance at fifty-five dollars an acre.

In 1891 Mr. Dierker brought his famliy to Oranger and from T. J. Lockhart he
bought a forty-acre ranch near the town. It was set out to walnuts, but he improved
it with oranges and bought first one. and then another ranch, until he had 115 acres
in all. When his children came of age. he divided the property up and gave each
his share. Then, about 1902, he bought his residence on South Glassell Street. He
has belonged to the Lutheran Church all his life, and has done yeoman civic service
as a Republican. Mr. Dierker has always been public-spirited, and while in Nebraska
he had the local school for two years in his house, and he also acted as school trustee,
and gave the two acres on which the school eventually was built.

ARTHUR E. KOEPSEL.— Prominent among the leading attorneys, who have
steadfastly sought to maintain a high standard of ethics for the Orange County Bar.
Arthur E. Koepsel. of the well-known firm of Eden and Koepsel, enjoys that esteem,
both indicative of the confidence of his fellow-citizens in the past and desirable and
enviable as a guarantee of profitable patronage for the future. .\ native of the
splendid commonwealth of Kansas, he was born at Yates Center on July 30, 1883. the
son of Herman Koepsel. a faithful and highly-honored clergyman of the Methodist
Church, who had married Miss Augustine Burchardt. After retiring from a rather
strenuous life, the Reverend Koepsel came to Santa Ana, Cal.. in 1907 and in 1913 he
passed away, his devoted wife surviving him until November 20. 1919. Besides serving
his congregation with the true conscientiousness of a shepherd caring for the sheep.
Mr. Koepsel served his country, when the Civil War broke out and the Federal Govern-


ment had need, enlisting and fighting in Company C of the Seventeenth Wisconsin
Infantry Regiment.

Educated in the public schools of Kansas, Mr. Koepsel was graduated from the
Kansas City high school and for some seven years was engaged in railroad work.
During this time he studied law privately and on coming to California in 1907, he
entered the law department of the University of Southern California, and on July
22, 1908, he was admitted to the bar and until January, 1911, he practiced in Los
Angeles. Then he joined the staff of the district attorney of Orange County and
remained there until the beginning of 1919. On January 1 of that year he associated
himself with Walter Eden, in the partnership already referred to, in the general
practice of law.

A Republican in matters of national politics, Mr. Koepsel has shown his will-
ingness to do civic service by acting as a member of the board of health. He has
been an active member and is chairman of the Republican County Central Committee,
and is president of the local Republican club. He had previously belonged to the
State Militia, Company B, Third Missouri Infantry, from 1901 to 1903, and since
August, 1917, has been captain of Company F, Infantry, California National Guards.

At Santa Ana on September 1, 1914, Mr. Koepsel was married to Miss Alfreda
Holzgrafe of that city, a lady proud of her status as a native daughter and a member
of the family of Ferdinand and Helen Holzgrafe. One child, Vernon, has blessed the
union. The family attend the Evangelical Church and Mr. Koepsel is a Knights Tem-
plar Mason and Shriner, being a member of Al Malaikah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.,
Los Angeles, and also a member of the Santa Ana Lodge of Elks as well as the
Orange County Bar Association. As captain of the local company of National Guards
during the recent war^ Mr. Koepsel gave much time and was active in recruiting men
in his company, where he gave them preliminary training, and of the 150 or more
enlistments in the army from his company all but three were made noncommissioned

JOHN WILLIAM FREEMAN. — An energetic, successful rancher interesting as
not only one of the first to grow alfalfa in the vicinity of Santa Ana, but the first to
cut and cure it in the green state, is J. W. Freeman, who has the distinction of having
had four sons in the service of his country in the great war. He had a very valuable
mercantile experience in Alabama in early years, and later conducted arduous and
costly experiments with garden products. Being a man of high principles, industry,
varied experience and definite accomplishment, he is everywhere esteemed by those
who know him.

Mr. Freeman was born near Montgomery, Ala., in September, 1860, the son of
J. Wesley and Carrie (Sistrunk) Freeman, of English and Holland descent and were
planters who owned 500 acres of good land there and raised cotton of a superior
quality. During the Civil War the devoted father died, and later J. W. Freeman left
home to go to Waco, Texas. He attended Burleson College, now Baylor University,
in 1878, and for nine years made his home near Waco,, raising, with his brother, corn,
cotton and stock. While living in Texas, Mr. Freeman was married in Caddo, Indian
Territory, in 1886, to Miss Laura W. White, born in Missouri, also of an old Southern
family, who was reared and educated in Missouri and Texas.

During the height of the great agitation about realty here, known as the "boom,"
on September 14, 1887, Mr. Freeman came to California and settled in San Diego, where
he was employed in helping to build the old Coronado Hotel. At the end of six
months, he went to San Bernardino and was employed in the material department of
the Santa Fe Railroad, and only after a year and a half there, was he able to reach
Santa Ana and Orange County. He farmed on leased land, and then moved near
Norman, Okla., where he purchased 160 acres which he devoted to general farming for
about two years.

On his return to California, Mr. Freeman commenced farming again and went in
for the raising of alfalfa. He cut and cured it in the green state, and soon had the
largest trade, both in the city and the county, for the commodity. He also purchased
and sold various groves, at one time having two of ten, and then one of twenty acres.
He has recently disposed of all the land that he had in Orange County, and has invested
in land near Hemet, Riverside County. He has forty-two and a half acres, interset, of
walnuts and apricots at Hemet, and has a private electric pumping plant and well
with a capacity of ninety inches — one of the finest plants in Riverside County. He is
a member of the California Prune and Apricot Corporation. He is a stockholder in the
Cooperative Cannery of Hemet, and also owns stock in the Federal Grocery Com-
pany, which has a chain of stores having headquarters in Los Angeles.

Fourteen children make up a very remarkable family bearing and honoring Mr.
Freeman's name: Henry A., of Los Angeles, is an expert interior marble decorator.

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whose skill is known at Santa Ana on account of his work in the Orange County
Bank; Claude W. is in the financial department of the Los Angeles Y. M. C. A., a
position he has filled for seven years; James is farming in Fresno County with his
brother; Charles L. was formerly cashier for the Southern Pacific Railroad at Oxnard
and is now farming on his father's ranch at Hemet; Frank is also at home working
on the ranch; Carrie, having graduated from the commercial course of the Santa Ana
high school, is also at home; Minnie K. took the same course and was duly graduated
with honors; John W., Jr., is working at home on the farm; Clarence B. is on the farm
in Hemet with his brother; Ruth M. is a grammar school student; Laura A. is in the
intermediate school; Willie B. died when he was two years old; M"abel E. is in the
grammar school at Santa Ana; and Luella. the baby, is at home. The family attend
the First Baptist Church.

Mr. Freeman is especially proud of the record of his four l)oys for service during
the great World War struggle. Claude W. trained in Camp Lewis, then served in the
Ninety-first Division of the Three Hundred Sixty-fourth Infantry, where he was per-
sonnel sergeant. He was in the Argonne offensive, and also in Belgium, and was dis-
charged in May, 1919, at Camp Kearny, Cal. James A. entered the service in September.
1917, and trained at Camp Lewis. He served in the postal service in the Three Hun-
dred Sixty-second Infantry, was wounded in Belgium, and was then returned to America
and held in the hospital in the Presidio, to regain his strength and health. In February.
1919. he was discharged. Frank served in the Navy. He was fireman on the S. S.
San Diego, which cruised the Pacific and the Atlantic Coasts. He was discharged
from the navy on account of impaired health, but reenlisted in the army, and served
in the infantry at Camp Lewis until November, 1918, when he was discharged. . John
W. served in the One Hundred Fortieth Regiment, Thirty-fifth Division of U. S. Army,
went overseas to France, was in the St. Mihiel ofTensive and .Argonne drive; then
transferred to the Two Hundred Forty-second Military Police Company, having charge
of troops sent from France to England for trial.. He received his honorable discharge
from service at the Presidio, at San Francisco, September, 1919.

JOSEPH HELMSEN.— A self-made man whose many sterling friends were,
from the start, among his most valuable assets, and who. despite the handicap of
physical disability, amassed a snug fortune accumulated from small and unpretentious
beginnings, was the late Joseph Helmsen, who died on September 11, 1917. He
was born at Leavenworth. Kans., on January 23, 1861, the son of Jeseph Helmsen,
who had married Miss Elizabeth Hesse, parents who were well-to-do and disposed
to favor him in every way; but when a child of tender years, he became afiflicted
with hip disease, and specialists were called from distant cities to minister to and
cure him, if they could. Among the incidents of those troubled days to which he
later referred was the gift from his father and mother of a profusion of toys, pro-
cured from far and near, when he was a bed-ridden sufferer, and then children came to
play with him. stimulated by his unwonted cheerfulness, all his life a characteristic
of him. When his ailment was finally found to be such that no medical aid could
come to his rescue, he was nursed into such convalescence as was possible, and after
years of painful illness, he was able to get about on crutches.

In the days following the Civil War, the fortunes of his parents failed, and tc
add to his miseries, his father, after whom he was named, fell dead of sunstroke as
the lad was succeeding in making his way about the old home. This was a great blow
to the prosperity and hopes of the family; and after enduring the privations of a
scanty income for years, he and his mother set out in 1874 for California. Their
farm at Leavenworth had already been practically abandoned; for years it had yielded
no revenue, and in 1873 a plague of grasshoppers took from them what little there
remained of a once ample fortune. They reached San Francisco in 1874, and young
Helmsen assisted his mother by gathering kindling from the Palace Hotel, which was
then in course of erection. He filled a gunny sack with this material, and many
were the encounters he experienced with city boys before reaching his humble abode
with the fuel.

In April. 1875. young Helmsen and his mother took passage on the steamship
Ventura bound for Anaheim, and on the eighteenth of the month, off the coast of Mon-
terey, the vessel was wrecked and the passengers had to niake for the shore in life-
boats. Being a cripple. Helmsen was put aboard one of the first boats that got away
from the ill-fated ship; and. seeing that his mother was still aboard the sinking vessel,
he sought to leap into the sea and return to her. In this he was prevented; but, as
the boat neared the beach, he sprang into the waters and tried to get back to the
ship. He was picked up by John Bush, of Olive, uncle of the gentleman of that name
now of Anaheim, who was also on the boat, and who thus saved him from drown-


ing. He spent the night on the shore with other passengers who had been rescued,
and not until the next morning did he find his mother — after hours of indescribable
strain and mental agony. All of their scant belongings, together with their savings,
which were in a trunk, went down with the ship; but they were able to continue
south to Anaheim, where they arrived some days after the disaster.

Here his mother found employment, and young Helmsen was not slow in obtain-
ing odd jobs about town to assist in keeping the wolf from the door. He soon
secured a position in the Gazette office and learned to set type, at which he became an
adept, and after, some years of close application he and his mother saved enough
money to establish a fruit and candy store in West Center Street, near where the
post office now stands. Here they remained for years, saving their money and prac-
ticing the most rigid economy. During this time the wonderful climate of the South-
land restored his health, and he discarded his crutches and gained flesh; he was six feet
in stature and weighed about 215 pounds, and was a man of pleasing personality.

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 88 of 191)