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 112 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 112 of 177)
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and held that post until January, 1920, when he succeeded Chas. A. Jeglun as presi-
dent. He purchased a home, and has made this town his place of residence ever since
coming to California. He also purchased land in this county, and owns twenty acres
of land in Tulare County. Six children have blessed the home life of Mr. and Mrs.
Carlson: Anne E. lives at Berkeley as the wife of R. D. Lindquist, principal of the
Columbus grammar school of that city. Edna A. is a junior-class student at the State
University at Berkeley, and Reynold C. E. is a freshman in the same institution.
Wallin C. is at the Patterson high school, as is also Linton A. ; and Vivian E. Carlson
is in the grammar school. Mr. Carlson is a member of the Patterson Swedish Mission
Church, and has served as trustee and as superintendent of the Sunday school.

Mr. Carlson was also honored as the first mayor of Patterson elected by the will
of his fellow-citizens, and he filled that position of delicate responsibility until the
beginning of a new term, in January, 1920; and he was a member of the Patterson


town council since its organization. He was a member of the Patterson school board
for four years, and served as clerk of that organization. He was helpful to the work
of the Y. M. C. A. in Stanislaus County as vice-president of the county board for
one year during the late war, and was chairman of the Liberty Loan committee,
handling all the "drives," with the result that Patterson decidedly "went over the top"
— once over its quota with the first loan, double over its quota with the second, four
times its quota with the third, and three times its quota with the fourth loan. Mr.
Carlson also worked hard for the Red Cross drives. He is vice-president of the Patter-
son water works and has just been appointed a member of the California Bankers
Association agricultural commission. A Progressive Republican in matters of national
political moment, Mr. Carlson belongs to the non-secret organization, the "North
Star," in which, as always, he works for the highest standard of citizenship.

EDGAR L. PITTS. — A fruit-rancher of experience and ability, well-known for
his enterprise, is Edgar L. Pitts, manager of the famous ranch owned and operated
by Metzger, Pitts & Son, some eight miles north of Modesto on the McHenry Road,
where he is assisted by his son, H. J. Pitts. He was born on May 27, 1862, at Free-
burg, St. Clair County, 111., the grandson of Kinchon Pitts, a native of Tennessee,
who was married in that state to Elizabeth Eldredge, with whom he came to Central
Illinois in pioneer days. One of their three children was James Pitts, the father of our
subject, who came to own 100 acres of land and died in 1865; he was married in St.
Clair County to Miss Mary J. Varner, a native of Illinois and the daughter of
Abraham and Edna (Million) Varner, born in Illinois and Kentucky, respectively,
also pioneers in Illinois. Two children blessed the union- — Edgar L. Pitts, the elder
and the subject of our review, and James Pitts, who is still a resident of St. Clair
County. Mrs. Pitts married a second time, choosing as her husband L. D. Stuntz,
but he died in that county, leaving one child, Lucius D. Stuntz.

Edgar Pitts attended the local country schools and, growing up, took up agricul-
ture and became an extensive grain farmer at Freeburg. He was married in St. Clair
County, 111., on May 27, 1884, to Miss Annie D. Sawyer, a native of England, who
came to Illinois when she was eight years old and settled with her parents in Perry
County, later removing to Freeburg. Her father was James Sawyer, an operator in
the coal mines. She had a lovable disposition, and was highly esteemed for her woman-
ly qualities; and when she passed away, on November 4, 1918, she was mourned by
a wide circle of friends. She was the mother of seven children. Bessie E. lives at
home. Herschel J. is married and maintains his own home on the same ranch. Ethel
resides in San Francisco; Leon lives at Escalon ; Arthur and Harry are assisting their
father; Edna is Mrs. Green of Modesto.

Mr. Pitts was married a second time in February, 1921, being united with Mrs.
Jennie (Pledger) Hughson, who was born in Franklin County, Ark., a daughter of
Marshall and Eliza Pledger. Marshall Pledger served in the Confederate Army in
the Civil War, after which he moved to Arkansas, where he died and later his widow
brought the children to Los Angeles and she now makes her home in Manteca. Mrs.
Pitts was reared and educated in Los Angeles. Her first marriage was to Ora M.
Hughson, a son of the late Hiram Hughson. The family attend the Baptist Church,
and are standpat Republicans and hearty supporters of President Harding.

Mr. Pitts and son, H. J. Pitts, and J. E. Metzger own an excellent ranch of
ninety acres planted to wine grapes, peaches, apricots and almonds, and they operate
under the firm name of Metzger, Pitts & Son. Mr. Metzger lives in Sonoma County,
where he is an extensive ranch owner; and Mr. Pitts, aided by his son, gives personal
attention to the Stanislaus County project. Mr. Metzger is the husband of Wilmos
Varner, a sister of Mr. Pitts' mother, that is, an uncle by marriage, and he was the
ineans of inducing Mr. Pitts to come to the Golden State in 1910. They bought the
ranch in 1911, and moved on the place. When they first acquired the land, all but
three acres was planted to grapes, peaches, apricots and almonds; and since then Mr.
Pitts has set out the remaining three acres to apricots, so that the entire ranch is now
in full bearing. Mr. Metzger and the Messrs. Pitts also were organizers and build-
ers of the California Cooperative Canneries, which was organized at Modesto in.

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1920, and which has already given fame to its brands of peaches, apricots and other
kinds of fruit. This cannery was built in 1920 and Mr. Pitts has been a director
since its organization. He is a member of the California Peach Growers, Inc., and the
California Almond Growers Association. Mr. Pitts served as school trustee in Illinois
and was trustee of Stoddard school district in Stanislaus County for one term, serving
as clerk of the board and now his son, H. J., is clerk of the same board.

IRVING BOYD THOMPSON, M. D.— Medical and surgical science find skill-
ful expression in the career of Dr. I. B. Thompson, a native son of California. Besides
being a general practitioner, he is interested in and the manager of a private sana-
torium of which his brother, J. G. Thompson, was the founder. He was born at
Oakdale. February 6, 1878, the eighth of ten children of Mr. and Mrs. James
Thompson, early and honored pioneers of that place. Irving Boyd grew up on the
home ranch, Lanark Park, taking an active part in the hard and difficult farm work
for seven and a half seasons. Though but a boy, he could manage the thirty-two
horses on the harvester as well as an older man.

His education was secured first in the district schools, then a course in the Oak-
dale high school, followed by two years in the San Jose Normal. At this period of
his life he was taken very ill with typhoid fever, which left him in an enfeebled
condition, his recovery being slow. During his convalescence, in his desire to regain
health, his thoughts turned toward medicine and as soon as he was able he entered
Cooper Medical College of San Francisco. After his graduation in 1907, he successfully
passed the state board examination, located in his home town and took over the sana-
torium of his brother, J. G. Thompson, at Oakdale. Success has followed. The
sanatorium, which has nine beds, is equipped with all necessary appliances for surgery
and a general practice, as well as the first X-ray used in Oakdale. There are two
or three trained nurses in constant attendance.

In 1913, while on a six months' tour of Scotland, England, France and Ger-
many, Dr. Thompson took a three months' post-graduate course in Berlin Hospital,
Berlin, and also attended clinics in other leading hospitals in London and Edinburgh.
He is a member of the county and state medical societies, and was head of the examin-
ing board at Oakdale during the late war, for which service he refused remuneration.

In 1917, Dr. Thompson was made a member of the city board of trustees of
Oakdale, and in 1920 was chosen the chairman of this board, which is tantamount
to mayor. Fraternally he is an Elk and a member of the N. S. G. W., Oakdale
Parlor. The many sturdy qualities which distinguish the life of Dr. Thompson in this
neighborhood have called forth the esteem and respect of his fellow-townsmen and he
has attained an enviable position as a citizen of Oakdale.

JOHN EDWARDS.— A man who has for years so applied the Golden Rule that,
although three-score, ten and one, he might easily be taken as having only the snows
of sixty or less winters upon his head, is John Edwards of Keyes, who was born near
Albia, Monroe County, Iowa, on December 22, 1849, the third son in a family of
fourteen children, eleven of whom have survived. His father was Thomas Edwards,
a native of Indiana who came to Iowa in 1847 and settled on Government land which
he purchased at one dollar and a quarter an acre. The father was always industrious,
and spent the prime of his life in the hardships and toil of the Iowa frontier where
he broke the virgin soil. He also was there during the great snow storm of 1847
which started on November 3 and continued unceasingly for three days and three
nights. John owed much also to his mother, who was Nancy Kinser in her maiden-
hood, a noble woman of excellent German ancestry, who was born in Virginia. John
spent his boyhood on his father's farm, attending the public school for only three
months of the year, when he studied his lessons in the evening by means of a lard-
burning lamp. Later on his mother dipped candles and also spun the thread and cloth
from the wool that was shorn from the backs of the sheep upon their farm.

When twenty-eight years old, Mr. Edwards came out to Carroll County, Iowa,
and there purchased a farm which he soon sold at a good profit, — his first real business
transaction on his own account. In 1883, having located in Guthrie County, Iowa, he


purchased a farm of eighty acres when he had to go into debt to make the first pay-
ment. He progressed so well there that he spent twenty-six years in that locality,
about fifty miles from Des Moines, and he served for years as township trustee. He
was called upon, in fact, to take higher office, but he was so interested in the problems
of his farming and stock raising that he never aspired to public honors. When he
sold out there he owned 245 acres.

In 1908 Mr. Edwards made a trip to California, and before returning to Iowa
he purchased two farms in Stanislaus County — one of 160 acres near Keyes, on
which he at present resides, and one of thirty-seven acres, two and a half miles west
of Turlock. He returned to Iowa, but the following season came out to California
for good, selling his farm of 245 acres and his personal property in Iowa. Mr.
Edwards is a member of the Fresno Peach and Raisin Growers associations, but he
has not been active in farm work since 1915. In 1920, however, from ten acres of
nine-year-old Malaga grapes, he derived a gross return of $8,295.

On November 5, 1876, Mr. Edwards was married to Miss Emily Taylor, a
native daughter of Ohio; and three children have blessed their union. Ada Verda is
deceased ; Jessie Frances is the wife of W. A. Oberkamper of Keyes, and they have
five children, and Isis E. has become Mrs. Lewis F. White, living near Keyes.

Lewis F. White was born in Ford County, Illinois, and attended the grammar
and high school at Hoopeston, and later was graduated with honors from Hoopeston
College. When twenty years of age he started farming on 140 acres of land in
Guthrie County, and in November, 1904, he was married to Miss Edwards. Five
years later he came to California and settled at Keyes, where he is the owner of forty
very desirable acres. He also controls a farm in Missouri. Five children give joy to
the lives of Mr. and Mrs. White — Roy, Fay, Wayne, Edna and Edith. Nonpartisan
in politics, Mr. White belongs to the Yeomen and the Modern Woodmen of America.

PERCY MERWIN SMITH.— Well-known among the prominent and successful
young farmers of Stanislaus County, may be mentioned Percy Merwin Smith, who
has been a resident of the county since he was a lad of twelve years, completing his
education in the public schools of McHenry precinct. He is associated with his
father, D. C. Smith, in the operation of the latter's fruit ranch, numbering fifty acres
of the finest land in McHenry precinct, and is making a great success of his under-
taking, the ranch being operated on a profit-sharing basis. It is principally set to fruit
and vineyard, there being fourteen acres of peaches, eighteen acres of Zinfandel wine
grapes, eight of Thompson Seedless grapes, five of Malagas, and an acre in Navel
oranges. The remaining four acres constitute the residence portion, including the
barns and dairy yards, and the place is one of the most highly improved in the precinct.

Mr. Smith is a native of Rapid City, S. D., born August 19, 1891, the son of
D. C. and Alice (Underhill) Smith, and the youngest of the children. His father
was a prospector and miner, and a native of Niles, Mich. For a time he was engaged
in mining in the Black Hills, -S. D., where he met and married the mother of his
children. Later he became engaged in cattle raising and ranged 3,000 head of beef
cattle near Leeds. He came to California with his family in 1905, and located
on his present place, where he has since made his home. To Mr. and Mrs. Smith
were born five children, only three of whom are living, a daughter and two sons:
Edith M., now the wife of Cato Holden, and residing at San Diego, where Mr.
Holden is employed as a machinist in the Government Navy Yards ; Clarence L., an
electrician living in Modesto, and married to Miss Beryl Torst, a native of this
county; and Percy Merwin, the subject of this sketch, residing on the home farm
with his father. The mother, who was a woman of splendid character and attain-
ments, a good wife and a tender mother, passed away February 21, 1920, at the age
of sixty-four. She was a member of the Methodist Church, and an active worker.
Mr. Smith is a Republican in his politics, and a strong believer in clean govern-
ment and the election of high-principled men to public office. Fraternally he is a
member of the Loyal Order of Moose and of Modesto Lodge of Elks.


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ALONZO W. GANT. — A man of recognized sterling worth in the community
where he resides is Alonzo W. Gant, an esteemed citizen of Stanislaus County and
Modesto, and the owner of a thriving ranch of six acres, located on the Paradise
Road at the southwest limits of the city of Modesto, and of residential property in
that city. He was born near Gallatin, Sumner County, Tenn., on October 2, 1872,
the son of William Henry Gant, born in North Carolina in 1843, and when a child of
three years he was taken to Sumner County, Tenn., where he was reared. He was
a farmer of note in his section of Sumner County and served as a justice of the peace
near Gallatin for eight consecutive years, his opinion often being sought on many
cases by attorneys and individuals involved. He married Malinda Frances Cline,
a native of Tennessee and she is still living in Nashville. Mr. Gant died at the old
home in Sumner County. They had four children: Anna Laura, Mrs. Denning
lives on the old home farm near Gallatin; Alonzo W., of this review; Herman F., and
Mamie, Mrs. William Bryan, both reside in Nashville.

Alonzo W. was reared on the farm of 160 acres owned by his father near Gal-
latin, attending the public schools in pursuit of an education. For five years after
finishing his studies he taught school, and in 1903, with his family, came to California
and Stanislaus County, where Mrs. Gant's brother, Shruder Young, was living.
After locating in this county Mr. Gant was employed on the Baker ranch near
Paradise, then for three years was employed on the construction of the Modesto
Irrigation District canals. In 1908 he bought his present place of six acres and has
since improved it into one of the model small ranches of the county by erecting a
comfortable home and bringing the soil to a high state of productiveness.

The marriage of Alonzo W. Gant with Miss Clara Young was solemnized in
Sumner County, Tenn., on April 23, 1895, and this union has been one of mutual
satisfaction. Mrs. Gant was a daughter of Wright and Narcissa (Brackin) Young,
both born in Tennessee, whither their parents had migrated at an early day from
North Carolina. She is one of a family of eleven children, nine of whom are living:
Charles, Joseph F., Jordan H., William, Shruder, all residents of California and
Narcissa; Mrs. Rippy, Louisa McGlothlin, Polly Barber, residents of Tennessee, and
Mrs. Gant. The two sisters who died were Mrs. Fannie Young, who died in Mo-
desto, and Mrs. Sallie Young, who passed away in Tennessee.

Mr. and Mrs. Gant have had six children, viz. : Vernon Franklin, who enlisted
at the entrance of the United States in the World War and saw active service in the
Navy and rose to the rank of ensign. He was discharged from the service in San
Francisco on April 7, 1919, returned to Modesto and is studying law in the office
of T. B. Scott. Almeda Ruth and Winnie both graduated from the Modesto high
school and are now employed as stenographers in Modesto. Alonzo LeRoy Paul,
Hoyt Raymond and Denver Russell are still attending school. Mr. Gant is a mem-
ber of the Woodmen of the World. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Gant has been
a true partnership in the joys and responsibilities of life and Mr. Gant attributes much
of his success to her self-sacrificing efforts.

DENVER M. WOOTTEN.— A worthy representative of an interesting Cali-
fornia pioneer family is Denver M. Wootten, the dairyman, who of late years has
been engaged in ranching with both his father and his brother. He was born near
Modesto on April 13, 1885, the son of Jacob Simpson and Fannie (Ritchie) Wootten,
and all his workaday life has been busy advancing American agriculture. His father
came to California in the early fifties and took up grain farming just outside the city
of Modesto, both acquiring and leasing land, sometimes farming 5,000 acres.

Denver attended the common schools near Modesto and later a business college
in that town, and at the age of twenty started out for himself. He formed a partner-
ship with his brother, W. I. Wootten, for the sale of cigars, and up to the spring of
1919, when they sold their business, they enjoyed a brisk and profitable trade. Then,
embarking in farming, he cultivated 2,400 acres on which he raised grain for three
years, using a full tractor equipment for operating on a large scale. For six years, also,
he worked the Morton Ranch near Modesto.


On November 27, 1912, Mr. Wootten was married to Miss Lila Wright, a native
of Idaho and the daughter of James and Alice Wright, early settlers in Idaho, who
removed to California when she was one year old and settled for four years at Modesto.
Then they went back to Missouri, but came again to California in later years. Mrs.
Wootten was sent to school in Henry County, Mo., and there she enjoyed a high
school course. For two years after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Wootten made their
home in Modesto, but the last six years they have lived near that city. The father and
sons have 200 acres in alfalfa on the Coffee Road, and forty acres in a vineyard ; and
of this amount they own 120 acres jointly, the whole always presenting the appearance
of land controlled by those who know how to use and master the products of the earth.
Two children have gladdened the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wootten, James Simpson
and Robert. Mr. Wootten is an Elk and belongs to Lodge No. 1282 of Modesto.

CLARENCE W. GANDY. — A worthy representative of one of the important
pioneer families of America, Clarence W. Gandy, the President of the Stanislaus
Nursery Company, at Eighth and K streets, and also president of the Gandy Motor
Company, agents for the Paige and Dorris automobiles, is himself a pioneer in various
important California enterprises. He was born in York, York County, Nebraska, on
September 11 of the Centennial year, 1876, and his father was Samuel E. Gandy, a
native of Illinois, but was reared in Iowa, from which state he enlisted in Company E
of the Third Iowa Cavalry, serving through the Civil War, having been wounded,
and was mustered out as a corporal. After the war he removed to York County, Neb.,
and later to Custer County, where, with two brothers, he founded the town of Broken
Bow, now a busy, thriving town. They named it Broken Bow from the fact that
they had found both a broken Indian bow and also a broken bow of an old ox yoke.
Samuel E. Gandy was the first postmaster of Broken Bow. Next he moved to Logan
County, and helped to lay out and develop the town of Gandy, which was named after
him; and moving on to Wichita County, Kan., he gave Leoti, then being founded, the
best "boost" he could and served as county treasurer and was a successful business
man. Arriving in California in 1893, he did not fail of recognition, and was elected
judge of the justice court of Sacramento township. He married Sarah S. St. Clair,
also of Illinois, and of their four children our subject is second eldest.

In 1889 Clarence Gandy came to Placer County with his parents, and there he
attended school. In 1891 he went back to Kansas, but in 1893 returned to Sacra-
mento, Cal., where he attended the high school, and for a term a private college,
finishing his studies at the Atkinson Business College of Sacramento. Then a young
man, he struck out for himself, and took a clerical position with Ferris & Spinks.
Soon afterward he entered the service of the Spreckels Sugar Company at Spreckels,
Cal., and for four years he had charge of the handling of all real estate and rented
property of the company. He then went to Oakland and established a real estate
office in the Bacon building; and having built up there a successful business, he sold it.
He next organized the South Berkeley Realty Company of Berkeley, and doing busi-
ness under that name he remained in that city until 1913, when he came to Stanislaus
County and purchased several ranches.

In 1915 Mr. Gandy started in the nursery business, which grew until he finally
organized the Stanislaus Nursery Company, Inc., in July, 1918; and this company,
whose activities reach throughout the county, raises and sells deciduous fruit trees.
It also plants certain acreage, and in time offers the improved land for sale. Mr.
Gandv is president of this company, M. C. Richter is the secretary, Nils Hansen is
the treasurer, and C. A. Snow is field superintendent. Mr. Gandy is a member of
the California Association of Nurserymen. In 1920 he organized the Modesto Motor
Company, Inc., but later sold his interest in the same. He was secretary and business
manager of the Lambert Stock Remedies from its organization, and, as has been stated,
he is president of the Gandy Motor Company, for whose use he erected the present
building on the corner of Tenth and L streets, considered one of the finest display
and show rooms in the valley. He also owns a subdivision tract, a part of the Cold-
well-Olivewood tract, on Sycamore street.


At Sacramento on July 14, 1897, Mr. Gandy was married to Miss Beula God-
dard, the daughter of L. L. and Jennie Goddard, and a native daughter of California,
her folks having been early settlers of Sacramento. Her father came from Iowa,
farmed here a number of years, and then retired from strenuous work. Two children
have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Gandy. Bruce is with the Stanislaus Nursery
Company, Inc., and Dorothy is a student at the Modesto high school. The family
attend the Christian Science Church. Mr. Gandy is a Republican and also a member
of the Modesto lodge of Odd Fellows, and has held all the offices in the lodge, as
well as a delegate and member of the Grand Lodge. He is also a member of the
Encampment and is past chief patriarch, and is a member of the Grand Encampment
and is district deputy grand patriarch. He is a member of the Canton and with his
wife is a member of the Rebekahs. He is an active member in the Progressive Busi-

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 112 of 177)