Copyright
George Henry Tinkham.

History of Stanislaus County California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the pres online

. (page 107 of 177)
Online LibraryGeorge Henry TinkhamHistory of Stanislaus County California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the pres → online text (page 107 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Salida. He was married at Knights Ferry in 1872 to Miss Guadalupe Ramirez, a
native of Tuolumne County, and settled on his 800-acre ranch. Two children were
born of this union, James, the subject of this sketch, and Richard, foreman for the
Miller & Lux Company, of Los Banos, Merced County, and superintendent of their
cattle department. The mother of these boys passed away in 1882, and Mr. Gibson
later married Miss Crecencia McLean, who is still living in Oakland, with her chil-
dren, of whom there are six, Abraham, Samuel, Clement, Rudolph, Marianna and
Hortense, half-brothers and sisters of our subject, the father having passed away
in 1896, at the age of sixty-five years.

James Gibson remained on the ranch with his father until he was nineteen, when
he started out for himself. He attended the public schools, and for a time attended the
York Business College in Stockton, but an attack of typhoid fever interrupted his
studies, and he did not return to complete his course, but worked for a time on various
ranches, and in 1905 started farming for himself. He was married first in 1896 to
Miss Alice Strothers, born in Stanislaus County, and by her had two children, Gladys,
now the wife of Dewey McMurray, employed with the Holt Machine Shops in



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 957

Stockton, and Rollyn, a mechanic in the F. E. Smith Garage at Modesto. Mrs.
Gibson passed away in 1906, and in 1917 Mr. Gibson espoused Mrs. Lina Bellocq,
nee Wolhuter, a native of Strassburg, Alsace-Lorraine, France, who had come to this
country with her sister, Mrs. Defosset, of San Luis Obispo. Mrs. Gibson was educated
in Strassburg in both French and English and speaks both fluently. She is a woman
of pleasing personality, highly accomplished, and has a wide circle of friends.

During his long and active career in Stanislaus County, Mr. Gibson has made
many close friends, who appreciate his worth and good judgment. He was associated
for seven years with the late J. W. Beasley, contractor and rancher, who constructed
most of the irrigation ditches of the Modesto Irrigation District, it being Mr. Gibson
who moved the first dirt in this work. He became Mr. Beasley's superintendent and
was associated with him in his extensive operations for many years, handling for him
as many as fifty and sixty men and a hundred mules, acting as superintendent of ditch
construction. Mr. Gibson is entirely a self-made man, to quote his own words,
"Never having received a five-cent piece from any man in his life, unless he had
earned it." He has owned extensive property in the county, recently having sold a
valuable forty-acre tract on the Carver Road. He has recently remodeled his resi-
dence on the home place at a great expenditure, making of a handsome, modern coun-
try home. He is a member of the Stanislaus County Farmers' Union, and of the
Milk Producers Association of Central California, his dairy being one of the most
valuable in the vicinity. Fraternally Mr. Gibson is a member of the Odd Fellows of
Modesto, while Mrs. Gibson is an Eastern Star and the Sylvan Improvement Club.

JOHN P. SNYGG. — An experienced, industrious agriculturist whose foresight
and hard labor have brought him substantial rewards, is John P. Snygg of Turlock,
who was born in Kalmarlan, Sweden, on October 7, 1849, the son of N, P. Snygg,
who was born in 1822. He was a soldier in the Swedish army until he was twenty-
five years of age, when he was honorably discharged ; and in the fall of 1 869 he came
to America bringing with him all of his family except our subject, who came six months
later. He located as a farmer at New Windsor, 111., and then he went to Fremont,
Iowa, after which he bought a farm at Stanton, in the same state. In 1881, he removed
to Oakland, Nebr., where he lived retired until his death in 1884. He had taken for
his wife Miss Sarah Elizabeth Pearson, and she died in 1916, aged eighty-seven years.

The oldest of four boys, John was brought up on the home farm, while he attended
the local public schools; and in 1870 he came to New Windsor, 111., where he attended
school in the winter time and worked on farms during the summers. In 1874, he re-
moved to Fremont, Iowa, and there he remained until 1881, when he went to Burt
County, Nebr., and bought eighty acres for $1,000. He went in for farming and bought
more land until he had 160 acres; and he also owned, at one time, other farms, which
he sold. He raised corn, cattle and hogs, was very successful, and during the best part
of twenty-one years rendered good, volunteer service as a school trustee and as modera-
tor in the Swedish Mission Church.

In 1902 Mr. Snygg came to Turlock and bought 160 acres in Hilmar, which lie
leveled and checked and improved to alfalfa. He had twenty acres in peaches and
Thompson seedless grapes, and ran a Holstein dairy which he still owns. While in
Nebraska he was married for the first time, his bride being Miss Augusta Peterson,
a native of Sweden; but she died at Hilmar, in 1916, the mother of seven children.
Sarah Rufina is Mrs. Erickson of Wright, Cal. Simon Peter resides at Arboga.
Lillie M. is Mrs. Erickson of Arboga. Frances Cecilia is Mrs. Richards of Turlock.
Edwin is on the home ranch. John Paul is in Hilmar; and Clinton Linne is in Arboga.
Simon Peter was in the World War, serving overseas with the American armv. and
went over the top and also served on German soil. Mr. Snygg's second marriage
took place in Turlock, when he became the husband of Mrs. Hanna (Anderson) Lund-
quist, a native of Ovemorla, Koppeborslan, Dalena, Sweden, who came in '88 to Amer-
ica and Minneapolis when nine months old. In 1891 she was married at Denver, Coin.,
to Andrew Lundquist, and they resided at Central City, Colo., where Mr. Lundquist
followed mining, until the spring of 1902, when they removed to Seattle, Wash.,
In August of the same year they came to Turlock and bought some farm land at



958 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Hilmar, which they improved to a good ranch, and there on March 8, 1905, Mr.
Lundquist died, leaving one child, Philip Lundquist, who was in the medical depart-
ment of the U. S. army, but now is married and residing at Turlock.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Snygg were charter members of the Swedish Mission Church
at Hilmar, where Mr. Snygg served as treasurer and moderator. Since coming to
Turlock, they have been members of the church here, and Mrs. Snygg is a member of
the Dorcas Society. Mr. Snygg was also a school trustee at Hilmar for several years.
In 1908, three years after the death of Mr. Lundquist, his widow, with her son, made
a trip back to her old home in Sweden, where she visited for about six months, return-
ing to Turlock better satisfied than ever with her adopted home.

JOHN D. CARLSON. — A successful contractor and builder of Turlock who

has established an enviable reputation throughout Stanislaus County for having both
met and anticipated the wants of the local communities, is John D. Carlson, who was
born in Ostergotland, Sweden, on May 20, 1879, the son of C. A. Carlson, now a
prosperous farmer in Sweden. His good wife, Charlotte, is also living, the mother of
eleven children. The fourth oldest and the only one now in California, John, was
brought up on a farm at the same time that he was sent to the public schools. In
1903, he came out to America and located for a while at Des Moines, Iowa, where
he learned the carpenter and cabinetmaker's trades ; and four years later, in the spring,
following the great earthquake and fire which called for rebuilding, he came out to
San Francisco and for ten months worked at his trade.

Late in that year, Mr. Carlson came down to Turlock and bought a forty-acre
ranch in the Stevenson Colony — a stretch of the rawest land which he pluckily
checked and leveled, so that he soon had the most luxuriant alfalfa growing there.
He went in for dairying, but later raised beans instead ; and so well did he succeed in
bean culture that he leased other lands. At the same time, Mr. Carlson saw the need
of a satisfactory bean cleaner, and he therefore invented and duly patented and put on
the market the Carlson Bean Cleaner, one of the best devices of the period, having a
capacity of 120 sacks an hour. In 1918 he sold his ranch, having begun the year
before to take contracts for building in Turlock, since which time he has put up
many of the best residences and bungalows. He also built the Turner Hardware
Company Garage, the Macky Garage, the Modesto Packing Company's plant, the
Lowell Grammar School, Star Auto Stage Company depot, and many other edifices.

At Des Moines, Mr. Carlson was married to Miss Lydia Marie Anderson, a
native of Sweden, by whom he had had one child, Edith Anna Marie. Mr. and Mrs.
Carlson are members of the Swedish Free Mission Church of Turlock, and Mr. Carl-
son is a member of the Brotherhood of American Yeomen.

PROF. G. F. JONES. — A highly esteemed citizen of Modesto whose family may
boast of an enviable association with the pioneer history of America is Prof. George
F. Jones, proprietor of the Modesto Auditorium. A native son, he was born in San
Joaquin County, two miles south of the old Salmon Ranch, on June 26, 1866, the son
of Benjamin and Vandalia (Cookson) Jones. They had a son also named Benjamin,
who was the first male child born in Modesto. The elder Jones was a native of Maine,
a member of an old Colonial family, and came to California in an early day, settling
on a ranch in San Joaquin County. He later teamed between Stockton and the mines
for a time. Mrs. Jones was a bright, broad-minded woman, a daughter of Rev.
Cookson, the first Methodist preacher of Modesto, and a pioneer preacher of Cali-
fornia. The Jones family moved to Stanislaus County, settled at the town of Empire,
when that place was on the opposite side of the river from what it is today, and here
Mr. Jones and wife ran a hotel until the railroad came, then moved into Modesto.

George F. Jones attended the public schools in Modesto when the old wooden
benches were still in use, although the last two years of his schooling were obtained in
the new two-story building. He had a natural talent for music and at the age of
eight began playing the cornet and at the age of twelve he organized a boys' band in
Modesto and led it. As soon as he quit school he went to work in the office of the
Farmer's Journal, now extinct, learned the printer's trade and when the Journal went




e^^rC^ZL^






HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 959

out of business George went to Merced, where he secured work on the Star. It was
about that time that the Merced band was organized, 1883, and young Jones was
asked to play the lead. The following year he went to Sacramento, where he had
secured an appointment in the state printing office. From there he went to Santa
Rosa, organized a band and for the following four years continued as its instructor.
His record as a musician in Sacramento again called him back to that city and for nine
years he devoted his time to teaching music on stringed instruments and there built up
an enviable reputation. He was called to Pacific Grove to organize a band and give
concerts on the beach and while there he built a home for his family, intending to
remain there. In December, 1909, they moved back to Modesto, where Prof. Jones
organized another boys' band that proved to be a prize-cup winner and became well
known all over this valley. At the same time, for three years he was leader of the
Modesto Concert Band, which gave concerts in the park and in various towns in the
vicinity ; during all these years Prof. Jones has been a composer of music, having a
decided gift in that field. In 1918 he leased the Modesto Auditorium on I Street
and has been conducting a skating rink and dancing parlor . It is safe to say that there
is no better or widely known man in musical circles in this section of the state than
Prof. Jones, though of late years he has given up the profession and devoted his time
to the auditorium.

On May 5, 1896, Mr. Jones was united in marriage at Santa Rosa with Miss
Alta Wood. She was born in Napa County, the daughter of W. A. and Rose Wood,
early settlers of that section. This union has been blessed with a daughter, Cozette
Jones., born in Sacramento, a talented musician, playing the piano, trombone and saxo-
phone. She is now attending a musical college at Oakland. Mr. Jones is a Republican
in political matters of national import, but in local affairs he is willing to be non-
partisan. In fraternal circles he is a member of the Loyal Order of Moose of Modesto.

WILLIAM L. LEEK. — Prominent among the intrepid pioneers in California
whom a grateful posterity will always be delighted to honor is William L. Leek, the
retired rancher living northwest of Hughson, who was born in Wheeler, Va., on
January 28, 1835, the son of John and Caroline Leek. His father was a tailor by
trade; and when our subject was a mere lad, the family removed to Louisville, Ky.,
where Mr. Leek opened a shop. He remained there only a couple of years, however,
and then he went to St. Louis, where he established himself on a better foundation.

William attended the excellent St. Louis schools, and spent his earlier days in
that bustling city. Then he started out to make his own way by working on farms in
Warren County. In 1859, during the first excitement about gold in Colorado, he
joined a train of gold-seekers, and on his wagon was painted, "Pike's Peak, or Bust."
They reached Colorado, all right ; but when he returned to Missouri the sign on the
wagon read, "Busted." In 1864, he started West again, this time with an emigrant
train for California ; there were seven wagons, and they traveled by the Salt Lake
route. Each night the emigrants would form a corral out of their wagons, placing
their stock in the center, and their horses would be tied to the wagons. One night, as
they were traveling along the River Platte, the hostile Indians bore down upon the
train, created a commotion and scared away the stock ; but after hard work the brave
pioneers succeeded in finding and recovering the stampeded animals, after which they
resumed. After six months of hard travel, they disbanded at Salt Lake.

Mr. Leek spent three years in Utah, and in 1867 he came on to California, set-
tling in Calaveras County at the Quail Hill mine. There he stayed for a year and a
half, and then, after working at odd jobs, he went on to Antioch and settled at Marsh
Landing. He took up market gardening and disposed of his produce at Antioch and
at the coal mines nearby. In 1870, Mr. Leek came into Stanislaus County and
settled in the Cottonwoods district, twelve miles south of Newman, where he rented
from 160 to 500 acres and farmed the land to barley. For thirty years he remained
there, and during that time he purchased a ranch of 200 acres near the Canal school,
and he helped build the schoolhouse in the Cottonwood district.

At Warrenton, Mo., in August, 1861, Mr. Leek was married to Miss Sarah
Rountree, a native of Warren County, and she came to California with her husband



960 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

and died about 1890. Then, in the Cottonwood district, in Merced County, on St.
Valentine's Day, 1913, Mr. Leek was married to Miss Emma Brannen. He has, as
a result of these two marriages, reared a family of four children, and two are now
living. Frances is now Mrs. Bradley of Fresno. Melvina died in 1900. Newton E.
is a court reporter in Judge Fulkerth's and Judge Rice's court at Modesto. And
Jasper is deceased. Newton E. was born in Telegraph City in Calaveras County, and
he married Miss Effie Bledsoe, a native daughter, and for thirty years he has been a
resident of Modesto, active in his profession. The Bledsoes are also early California
pioneers. In 1905, Newton E. purchased a ranch of 200 acres two miles northwest
of Hughson, which he developed, so that forty acres are in peaches and grapes and
the balance of the 200 acres are in alfalfa and grain. Newton E. Leek's son, Elbert E.,
is today interested in this tract of 200 acres, and acts as foreman. He was born in
Berkeley on June 25, 1898. At Modesto, on May 1, 1919, he married Miss Gladys
Maritzen, a native of San Francisco and the daughter of Henry and Dolly Maritzen.
When Gladys was four years old, her father removed to Modesto, and so it happened
she attended the grammar and high schools there. They have a child, Patricia Ann.

LOUIS H. PETERSON. — Among the wide-awake business men and very suc-
cessful automobile dealers in Stanislaus County is Louis H. Peterson, who was born
near Castroville, in Monterey County, on November 6, 1875, the son of John and
Elizabeth Peterson, sturdy settler folk. His father, a Danish seafaring man, was a
pioneer of the pioneers, and came out to San Francisco on a sailing vessel by way of
the Horn in 1852; and when he saw the fast-developing city, he deserted his vessel
and went inland to the mines at Sonora. After that, among the pioneers, he took up
land near Castroville, where he raised grain and cattle; and in 1876, he removed with
his family to San Luis Obispo County and settled on a ranch about nine miles from
San Luis Obispo, where he became one of the leading farmers of the county and
acquired valuable lands. He died in San Luis Obispo in 1910. Mrs. Peterson was
born in New Orleans and in 1852 crossed the great plains with her folks, traveling in
a prairie schooner drawn by oxen, and is still living in San Luis Obispo. Ten children
were born to this worthy couple, and all are residents of California save a daughter,
Edith, who lives in the Philippines.

Louis Peterson attended the grammar schools at San Luis Obispo, and made his
home on his father's ranch until he took a position with the old Commercial Bank, in
whose service he remained for two years. In 1897 he went to Alaska in the gold
rush and prospected up and down the Yukon and Klondike districts ; and meeting with
fair success he remained in the gold fields for three eventful years.

Returning to San Francisco in 1900, Mr. Peterson embarked in the wholesale
produce business, where he made a specialty of dairv products ; and he remained in the
Bay City until 1906. There, too, on March 6, 1901, he married Miss Stella Huyck,
who was a native of San Luis Obispo, and the daughter of James M. and Mary
(Moe) Huyck — related to the Moes, a well-known pioneer family of Indiana. Miss
Huyck was an instructor in music at San Luis Obispo, and enjoyed great popularity
there. It thus happened that Mr. and Mrs. Peterson were living at San Francisco at
the time of the earthquake and fire, and they lost all of their belongings.

After that, Mr. Peterson took up real estate and made a contract to subdivide
some large tracts of land in the San Joaquin Valley, in Fresno and Kings counties.
One of these tracts was the Empire Ranch, and consisted of 20,000 acres in Kings
County, and the town of Stratford is now located in the center of this tract. He
organized the Summit Lake Investment Company for the subdividing and checking
of some 15,000 acres in Fresno County with irrigation. The San Joaquin Valley be-
came known as a fine country for the growing of alfalfa, and there was no trouble to
sell the valuable land, especially when it was offered at a lower price than was asked
for the acreage of the coast counties. Indeed, the farmers in the coast counties from
Ventura to Del Norte were the eager purchasers, for they sought cheaper land.

After a successful career of three years in subdividing, Mr. Peterson went into
the management of a garage at Pacific Grove, in Monterey County, and while main-
taining a first-class machine shop, was distributor for the Hudson and Hupmobile cars.




3



Online LibraryGeorge Henry TinkhamHistory of Stanislaus County California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the pres → online text (page 107 of 177)