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 97 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 97 of 191)
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field. N. Y. He came to Wisconsin and as a pioneer farmer broke the prairie. Mrs.
Ransom was Martha Hubbell before her marriage, and she was born in New York
state. She became the mother of five children, among whom Ida was next to the
j'oungest. and is now the only one living in California. She also was educated at
Milton College and there she met Mr. Davis.

In 1894, Mr. and Mrs. Davis located at Orange. Cal.. and here, on South Glassell
Street, he opened an office for the transaction of a real estate and insurance business.
Soon after this he became an oil broker in Los Angeles, and with an office at 104 Stim-
son Building, he bought and sold crude oil. He sold oil to gas plants as well as other
manufacturing establishments, and being an expert machinist and engineer built up
a good trade. At the same time he made his home in Orange; and inasmuch as he
was musical and ha'd been leader of the Wisconsin band at Milton, he was naturally
made the leader of the Orange Band and Orchestra, and he also sang in the Presby-
terian Church choir. He joined Orange Lodge of the Odd Fellows and became a


past grand, and was a member of the Encampment and Couton in Santa Ana, being
a past chief patriarch in the Encampment, and is a member of the Rebekahs, the
Modern Woodmen of America, the Royal Neighbors, and the Fraternal Aid Union,
and was also an elder in the Presbyterian Church at the time of his death, on July 16,
1917. After his death his son, Percy R. Davis, conducted the business, and then, when
he was called to the war, Mrs. Davis discontinued the business.

Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Davis. Leon died at the age of twenty-
seven; Percy R. served in the Three Hundred and Sixteenth Engineer Corps, Ninety-
first Division, overseas, and on his return here took up his residence in Orange; and
/^rline, who graduated from the Orange Union high school and also the Library School
in Riverside, before going to Pomona College, where she was assistant librarian, was
graduated from Pomona with the Bachelor of Arts degree, and is now librarian of
the Girls' School at Riverside.

Mrs. Davis is a member of the Presbyterian Church and the Ladies' Aid Society,
and is active in the missionary work of that organization. She is a member of the
Rebekahs, and is a past noble grand and is an ex-representative of the same order,
and a past district deputy president. She is also a member of the Veteran Rebekahs,
where she is a past president; and she belongs to the Royal Neighbors, and has passed
all the chairs.

BENJAMIN KRAEMER.— One of the oldest settlers of the Placentia district,
having come here with his parents in 1867, is Benjamin Kraemer, who was born in
Belleville, 111., in the year 1867. His father, Daniel Kraemer, was born in Bavaria;
he came to the United States in 1842, arriving in New Orleans, then came up the
Mississippi River to St. Louis and walked out to Belleville, the county seat of St. Clair
County, III., where he obtained employment on the farm of Mr. Schrag and became
acquainted with his daughter Eleanora Schrag, resulting in their marriage. They
became owners of a farm there and resided there until nine children were born to
them. As early as the fall of 1864 Daniel Kraemer made his first trip to California,
visiting Southern California and purchased 3.900 acres of land a part of the Rancho
San Juan Cajon de Santa Ana; the land was then a wilderness of mustard, brush and
cactus. In 1866 he made a second trip to his California possessions and in 1867 he
brought his family out and located on his ranch. Each trip he had come via New York
and Panama to San Francisco and thence by boat to San Pedro, from which place he
came overland to Anaheim. His was the first white family in the Placentia district and
our subject was the first white baby in what was then the Cajon school district. A few
years later Daniel Kraemer's friend, Mr. Kossert, came out to Santa Ana and was
associated with Messrs. Spurgeon and McFadden in Santa Ana real estate; when he sold
out he went to Mesilla, N. M., and was never again heard from by them.

Daniel Kraemer was active in irrigation matters and was one of the builders of
the Cajon ditch, when it was first attempted, but it proved a failure at that time and
he lost what he had put into it. Later, however, the Cajon ditch was carried through
under the Bush Act and was later merged wtih the Anaheim Water Company, now
the Anaheim Union Water Company. Daniel Kraemer was, however, the first individual
to irrigate in Orange County from a ditch taken out of the Santa Ana River. He
received twenty shares of stock in lieu of his old water right of fifty inches from the
Anaheim Union Water Company, which is non-assessable stock. This stock is now
owned by our subject. Daniel Kraemer engaged in ranching and set out vineyards and
the first walnut orchard here; he was very optimistic for the future greatness of this
region and said that this part of California would be the garden spot of the United
States and also from the Brea deposits he predicted it would some day develop into
an oil field. He died in 1882, aged sixty-five years; his wife surviving him until 1889.
All of their nine children are living but one.

Coming to Placentia in his first year, Benjamin Kraemer's earliest recollections
are of the place he still owns and has resided on since 1867. Here he learned ranching
from the time he was a lad and attended the local public school. Desiring to obtain
a higher education he worked his way through St. Vincent's College in Los .\ngeles,
as well as Woodbury's Business College, graduating from the latter in 1886, when
nineteen years of age, and then returned to the old home ranch, where he took up his
residence in the old house built by his father, and here he lived until he completed his
new residence in 1919; he has the unique distinction of living longer in one house than
any other one person in Orange County — over fifty-two years. His ranch comprises
sixty-seven acres of which thirty acres is devoted to raising oranges and twenty acres
to walnuts, having set out every tree in his orchards. He was one of the organizers
of the Placentia Mutual Orange Growers Association, of which he was a director for


eight years until he resigned; he is also a member of the Fullerton-Placentia Walnut
Growers Association.

Mr. Kraemer was married in Anaheim, where he was united with Miss Mary x\llec,
who was born in France, and they have been blessed with twelve children: Mary, Mrs.
Victor Reis of Whittier; Emma; Elizabeth, deceased; Gladys; Jennie, deceased; Lucy;
Benjamin, Jr.; Louisa; Annie; Jonathan, deceased; William and Rosa Belle. Mr.
Kraemer is a great reader, is well posted on early history and is a very interesting
conversationalist; he has been a life-long student and is a linguist, speaking several
languages fluently, and he has frequently been selected as interpreter in different

ROY D. TRAPP. — A native son of the Golden West, born at the old home place
at Ninth and Lemon streets, Los Angeles, October 28, 1882, the late Roy D. Trapp was
a very successful rancher and business man, accomplishing more in a few short years
than many men do in a long lifetime. By his energy and optimism he accumulated a
competency as well as contributing very materially to the building up and improving
of Orange County, thus contributing his share towards making this one of the most
important agricultural and horticultural counties on the Pacific Coast. His father,
Frank M. Trapp, was a native of Missouri who crossed the plains with his parents
in an ox-team train over the old Oregon Trail in 1849. Grandfather John M. Trapp was
a rancher in Oregon until about the year 1860, when the family came to Los Angeles
and located at the corner of Ninth and Lemon streets, where Frank M. Trapp and his
father farmed together, raising oranges, limes and lemons as well as grapes and small
fruits with success, so much so that at the Centennial Fair held in Los Angeles Frank
M. Trapp received the first award for his exhibit. He was married in Los Angeles on
November 4, 1869, to Elizabeth Pierce, also born in Missouri, a daughter of James
Pierce who brought his family across the plains to San Bernardino, Cal., in 1849.

After he left the old home at Ninth and Lemon streets, Los Angeles, Frank M.
Trapp engaged in farming at Artesia, then for a few years engaged in raising cattle on
the Toler ranch near Whittier, after which he spent five years at Compton. He then
returned to Los Angeles and there his wife died in 1901, while he survived her until
December 23, 1905. They were the parents of nine children: Wm. C. is a business man
in Los Angeles; Chas. E. was a successful farmer in Florence until his death; Ida E.
is Mrs. Levreau, residing at Florence; John M. died at Huntington Park; Geo. O. a
farmer at Buena Park; Lillian C. is the wife of Edward E. Chapella of Hollywood:
Roy D., our subject; Frank M. resides at Florence; and James B. who served in the
U. S. Army overseas in the World War is now a farmer at Norwalk.

Roy D. Trapp was reared on his father's farm, so from a youth became familiar
with farming operations as well as the marketing of the produce. During these years
his education was not neglected for, after completing the public schools, he took a
course and graduated at the Woodbury Business College in Los Angeles, accumulating
a knowledge that was of so much assistance to him during his business career as a
ranclier. His marriage took place in Los Angeles, March 10, 1906, when he was united
with Miss Elfrieda Warnke who was born in Berlin, Germany, and came to Chicago,
111., with her parents, Fred and Minnie Warnke, when she was a very small child. In
that city she received a good education; when she was sixteen years of age her father
passed away and soon afterward the family came to Los Angeles and it was here that
she met Mr. Trapp, the acquaintance resulting in their marriage, and was a union that
proved exceedingly happy to them both. With youth, health, energy and ambition
they started out to gain a competence; Mr. Trapp by this time had saved enough to.
own a team of horses, a plow and cultivator, so full of hope he started out and leased
twenty-seven acres, which he devoted to raising wax beans and watermelons, the begin-
ning of his success as a vegetable grower, gradually increasing the number of acres he
farmed each year. In 1912 his home at Eightieth and South Park avenue, Los Angeles,
was destroyed by fire and the next year they removed to San Jacinto for a year, and
then located in Orange County, purchasing ten acres on Brookhurst Avenue, which he
improved to Valencia oranges and which he afterward sold at a good profit. At the
same time he leased ninety acres of the Bastanchury ranch, raising cabbage and beans
and cleaning up $90,000, as prices were then at their highest level. He then leased
350 acres of the Irvine ranch near Tustin, where he engaged in intensive farming, raising
hay and vegetables, specializing in cabbage and cauliflower, which he was able to market
at a large profit, so that he was able to purchase forty acres on West Common-
wealth Avenue in the west end of Fullerton, which he proceeded to improve, grub-
bing out a few acres of walnuts and setting the whole place to Valencia oranges. He
also purchased a citrus grove of about t%vo acres on an elevation overlooking the city
and here he and his wife planned and built a beautiful residence where they were


enjoying life to the fullest, when on July 14, 1920, the horrible tragedy occurred which
resulted in his death, an incident that is very fresh in the minds of the people of
Southern California, This same year he was also farming the Norwalk ranch of 275
acres. Such had been his success, his optimism was strengthened so that his plan was
another five years of close application on the large scale he was undertaking and he
would quit and arrange his affairs so he and his devoted wife could travel abroad and
enjoy the scenes of other countries. In all his plans he always included his wife, who
had ever entered heartily into his business operations, assisting him in every way
she could and encouraging him in his ambition so that he always gave her much of the
credit for his success, but he was not permitted to enjoy the fruits of his labors for
he was cut down by an assassin while still in the prime of life.

He was a splendid type of man. of a pleasing and attractive personality that drew
men to him. so he counted his warm friends by the thousands who esteemed him for
his good fellowship, kindness and honesty of purpose and appreciated him for his
integrity and worth. Since his taking away Mrs. Trapp is caring for the property they
accumulated in the way they had talked and planned and thus she is carrying out. as
far as she is able, his plans and ambitions for the place. Mr. Trapp was a great home
man. was a member of but one lodge, Anaheim Lodge No. 1345, B. P. O. Elks.

GEORGE W. WELLS. — Well known in Orange County for years as the proprietor
of the Santa Ana Soda Works and the pioneer in that industry in the county, George
W. Wells is now the owner of a fine citrus ranch at Yorba Linda, having developed it
from the very beginning. Born in Kirkwood, Warren County, 111., August 21. 1861,
Mr. Wells is the son of W. J. and Doratha (Berican) Wells, and his forbears were
well-established tradesmen of Pittsburgh, Pa. W. J. Wells, who was born in 1820,
at Pittsburgh, Pa., was a veteran of the Civil War, having been a member of the
Eighty-third Illinois Infantry, and for a number of years he farmed in Illinois. The
mother, who was born in Germany, came to the L'nited States in 1856, her marriage to
W. J. Wells being solemnized at Quincy, 111. The district schools of Warren County
furnished George \N'. Wells his early education and when still a lad he accompanied
his parents, with their family of five children to Wellington, Kans. These were the
early pioneer days in that state and the country was sparsely settled, and Mr. \\'ells
keenly remembers the hardships of that period, many times the only available food
being buffalo meat and cornbread.

Until he was nineteen years of age Mr. Wells worked on his father's Kansas
farm, then taking up an apprenticeship in harness and saddle making, to which he gave
three years, later becoming the manager of a branch house in this line of trade, buying
out the interest and establishing the business under his own name. During his resi-
dence in Kansas Mr. Wells also became heavily interested in the stock business, but
during the extreme cold in the winter of 1900 he was frozen out and suffered a dis-
couraging loss. The next year he came to California with his family and located at
Santa Ana, where he began the manufacture of soft drinks. He began on a very
modest scale, doing all his own work, but year by year his business grew until it
reached such large proportions that he was employing six men and buying his bottles
by the car load, his products being sold all over Southern California. Mr. Wells made
a scientific study of his enterprise and was the originator of Wells' Orange. Phosphate
and other fruit punches.

In 1912 Mr. Wells purchased a tract of ten acres at Yorba Linda, which he soon
began to improve. His nursery stock came from orange seeds which he planted himself,
later budding them and setting out his own orchard, which he developed into a very
attractive ranch. This ranch is in the center of the famous Richfield oil fields and is
leased to the Union Oil Company, which is now operating on it. In 1917 Mr. Wells
sold the Santa Ana Soda Works to Albert Biner and with his family removed to the
Yorba Linda ranch, where they have since made their home. In addition to the home
place. Mr. Wells is also managing forty-four acres of citrus groves.

Since coming to Yorba Linda Mr. Wells has taken an active interest in all the
aflairs of the community and has served two terms as director of both the Yorba Linda
Citrus Association and the Yorba Linda Water Company, and is also a promoter of the
good work being accomplished by the Farm Center. During the war he was prominent
m all the drives and war loans, giving both of his time and means to further all the
Government programs. In fraternal circles Mr. Wells is affiliated with the Modern
Woodmen of America, and politically he espouses the platform of the Republican party.

Mr. Wells' marriage, which occurred in 1885 at Caldwell, Kans., united him with
Miss Clara L. Stearns, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William \\'. Stearns. Her father,
who was a successful farmer in that part of Kansas for a number of years, was born
in Steuben County, X. Y.. in 1834. and in 1861 he was married at Hornellville. N. Y..


to Miss Mary Sharp, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1841. Four children were born
to them, Mrs. Wells being the only daughter. She was born in 1865 at Canisteo, N. Y.,
her childhood being spent near Traverse City, Mich., where Mr. Stearns was in the
lumber business. When she was fifteen years of age the family moved to Wellington,
Kans., and it was here that she met Mr. Wells. For some time previous to their
marriage she was engaged in teaching school in Kansas. Four children were born
to Mr. and Mrs. Wells: Glenn W. married Miss Jessie Ross of Santa Ana, and they
are the parents of three children; they now reside in Richfield, Cal.. where they are
interested in the oil business; Leta is the wife of Dr. Edward Abbott of Los Angeles,
and is the mother of two children; Clara is Mrs. Ray Lambert of Lemon Cove, near
Santa Ana, and they have one child; George C. is in the confectionery business at
FuUerton and is also interested in the oil industry.

WILLIAM E. OTIS. — A banker distinguished for his high sense of honor and his
straightforward, intelligent methods of transacting business is William E. Otis, presi-
dent of the Orange County Trust and Savings Bank of Santa Ana, whose keen intuition,
enabling him to accurately and justly judge men, coupled with a pleasing personality,
has well fitted him for years to be the head of a large financial institution. He was
born in Framingham, Mass., on March 29, 1852, the son of John M. Otis, a native of
Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, Pa., where he first saw the light in 1822, a descendant
of an old Pennsylvania family. In 1835, he removed with his parents to Chicago, and
thence to Elgin. 111.; and on attaining his majority, he engaged in mercantile business
in Lancaster. Wis. He married Sarah Georgiana Eaton, a native of Framingham, Mass.,
whose grandfather, Eben Eaton, was born on the same farm in 1789. He was of the
third generation on the old Eaton estate at Framingham, and was a deacon in the Con-
gregational Church for over fifty years. The ancestors on the Eaton side came from
England to Massachusetts in 1635; and his father. Ebenezer Eaton, was an officer in
the Revolutionary War and in command, with others, at the Battle of Lexington. He
also followed the British on their retreat to Boston, and took part in the battle of
Bunker Hill; and when General Warren fell, Mr. Eaton was one of those detailed to
carry him from the field. He fought both bravely and with daring persistency to the
close of the war, after which he returned to his farm at Framingham, and resumed the
pursuits of peace.

In 1852, John M. Otis concluded to come out to the California gold fields and
returned East to Framingham, Mass., where he left his wife and children while he
made his way via Panama to California; and soon after their return to Massachusetts,
William E. .Otis was born. For five years. Mr. Otis engaged in mining at Michigan
Bluff, on the American River, and then, in 1857, he returned to Massachusetts by way of
Panama. The family then migrated to Illinois; but after a short stay there, they
continued on westward to Bentonsport, Iowa, where John Otis embarked in the grain
and forwarding business and established himself as a dealer in agricultural implements.
Finally, when the Des Moines Valley Road, now the C. R. I. R. R., reached that city,
in 1866, he located there and engaged in the grain business, dealing as well in agricul-
tural implements; and at Des Moines this worthy couple passed away.

The second eldest of si.x children, William E. Otis attended both the grammar and
the high schools of that locality, and having completed his studies in June, 1867. he
entered the First National Bank at Des Moines as collection clerk and was soon
advanced to the more responsible position of teller. In March, 1871, he removed to
Kansas, and there at Thayer became cashier of a bank called the Southwest Loan and
Land Company. In November. 1871, he removed to Independence, Kans.. where he
was appointed cashier of J. O. Page's private bank; and he remained in that position
until the fall of 1873, when Mr. Page sold his banking institution to William F. Turner
and William E. Otis, whereupon Mr. Otis conducted the bank under the firm name of
Turner and Otis until October, 1879, when he purchased Mr. Turner's interest and the
name of the firm was changed to William E. Otis and Company. In September, 1883,
he organized the First National Bank of Independence, retaining nearly the entire
stock; but in .\pril, 1886, he disposed of his holdings and removed to Kansas City, where
he embarked in the land business, purchasing considerable real estate.

In October, 1891, he bought the controlling interest in the Winfield National Bank
of Winfield, Kans., and served as cashier until about 1903, when he was elected president
of the bank and his son, E. G. Otis, was elected assistant cashier. In 1901 he organized
the Dexter State Bank at Dexter. Kans., and owning the control for several years, was
also president. In January, 1902, he acquired control of the Farmers State Bank of
.\rkansas City, Kans., and became its president. In 1907 he sold his interest there, and
the following year purchased a third interest in the National Bank of Commerce of
Wichita, Kans., where lie was a director for a number of years, being the largest stock-


holder, in f.ict, in the bank. In 1909, he bought the Bank of Commerce at Udall, Kans.,
became its president and his son-in-law, C. A. Vance, was made cashier. In 1911 he
sold his interest in the Winfield National Bank, having decided, after several visits to
California, to locate on the Pacific Coast.

In 1911, therefore, Mr. Otis came west to San Diego, and in December of that
year he purchased a large interest in the University Avenue Bank of that city, and was
elected vice-president; and in June, 1912, E. G. Otis severed his connection with the
Winfield National Bank and joined his father in San Diego, as cashier. In 1913, Mr.
Otis was elected a director in the Bank of Commerce and Trust Company of San
Diego. In January, 1917, he disposed of a part of his interest in the University Avenue
Bank and removed to Santa Ana; and here he purchased a large interest in the Farmers
and Merchants National Bank and the Home Savings Bank of Santa Ana, and was
elected vice-president of both banks. At the same time, in connection with his son-in-
law, C. A. Vance, he bought a large interest in the First National Bank of Tustin, where
Mr. Vance was made cashier. In the fall of 1917. he sold the balance of his interests in
the San Diego Bank and in the fall of 1918 sold his interest in the Farmers and Mer-
chants National Bank, and the Home Savings Bank of Santa Ana, and on January 1,
1919, retired from the vice-presidency, at the time of its consolidation with the First
National Bank. On February 1, 1919, he purchased a large interest in the Orange
County Trust and Savings Bank, and was elected president of that well-established

During all the years of his residence in Kansas, Mr. Otis had been interested in
agriculture, and in the development of Western lands, and at one time he owned
thirteen farms in Kansas and engaged extensively in the stock business at Winfield,
even carrying it on for several years after coming to California. In the seventies,
he also had an agricultural implement store in Independence. It is natural, therefore,
that since coming to California, Mr. Otis should have the same spirit and faith in lands,
hesitating neither to advise others to invest nor to invest himself. He owns two citrus
orchards, totaling sixty acres, in San Diego County, and 110 acres adjoining Santa
Ana on the south, where on exceptionally rich soil he is raising alfalfa, but will soon

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 97 of 191)