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

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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 114 of 177)
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sons and six daughters. His father, William M. Oberkamper, was born in Germany,
and when two years old was brought to America by his father who was a farmer of
Alsace-Lorraine, and sought for his children the advantages of the New World.
When William M. Oberkamper grew up, he married Miss Sophia Stube, a native
of Missouri, whose parents, also of old German stock, were among the first pioneers
in Missouri to clear the forests and to break the virgin soil. Both of the parents
of our subject are still living, and reside at Jefferson, Iowa, where they are enjoying
retirement in near proximity to all of their children save the one son in California.

William Adolph attended the grammar school in Missouri and then for a couple
of terms went to the high school in Iowa, to which state his father had removed from
Missouri, locating at Jefferson ; and as a young man he hired out for farm labor at
twenty-six dollars per month — good wages for those times — and continued at that for
five years. Then he farmed for John Edwards, near Bagley, Iowa, for four years,
who, for a quarter of a century, lived in Guthrie County, not far from Des Moines,
where he was a township trustee, and while acquiring wealth made also an enviable
reputation for fair and square dealing.

On December 18, 1906, Mr. Oberkamper married at Bagley Miss Jessie J.
Edwards, the eldest daughter of the pioneer, and soon took full charge of his father-in-
law's farm, enabling Mr. Edwards, in 1907, to come out to California on an extended

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visit. In 1910 Mr. Oberkamper disposed of his personal property at Bagley and came
to California, and for one and a half years he was farming near Turlock. Today
he is the owner of three twenty-acre farms in Stanislaus County, one of which he
devotes to the growing of alfalfa and the running of a dairy, the other — the home
place — he uses to grow peaches and for a vineyard, and the third, of twenty acres,
which he intends to develop as a vineyard. He is a member of the California Asso-
ciated Raisin Company, and has been a member of the Stanislaus County Farmers
Union since its organization. He is also interested in horticulture, and in all the
movements in that field to benefit California husbandry. He holds considerable
stock in the Co-operative Garage of Modesto, being also a director on the board,
and he has an interest in the Union Warehouse. He was one of the organizers of the
Farmers Press Association, which publishes the Farmers Daily Journal at Turlock,
published solely in the interests of the farmers, and is the only paper of its kind in the
entire West. As a keen business man he has great faith in the Co-operative Farmers
Protective Association. He has been a hard worker in his time, and has always
made a success because of his fidelity to the tasks in hand.

Five children have been granted Mr. and Mrs. Oberkamper: Ivan, Orvis,
Elden. Verdella and Leona. Mr. Oberkamper is president of the board of direc-
tors of the Keyes district school, and he helps to support the Christian Church. He
is also a member of the Odd Fellows. During the war he was a member of the Loans
Committees, and there also demonstrated his capacity and willingness for hard labor.

F. D. VOLKMAN. — Still hale and hearty among the early pioneers of Stanislaus
County, F. D. Volkman enjoys the distinction of being the oldest living inhabitant, as
he was the second settler at Valley Home, formerly called Thalheim. He is the owner
and proprietor of the Pioneer hotel, delightfully and conveniently situated on the State
Highway; and there, with the aid of his gifted and tactful wife, while attending
closely to business and the wants and wishes of his many patrons, he proves the popular
host and the large-hearted, generous and loyal citizen. He was born in Hanover, Ger-
many, on September 1, 1853, and, while attending the schools of that country, was
brought up in the Lutheran Church. He early went to Hamburg, and for five years
was employed in that city. Later, he was a couple of years in the German postal
service, and while in his native land married Miss Katrina Wolf, with whom, and
their one child, he came to America in 1883.

He settled for a while at Lincoln, Neb., and indeed lived twenty years in that
state. He worked as a clerk in a store at Lincoln, and while there joined the
A. O. U. W., the same lodge of which Hon. William J. Bryan was also a member.
Afterwards he was engaged in the mercantile business in Lincoln and became an enter-
prising and progressive citizen of the capital city. Mrs. Volkman died in Lincoln, the
mother of two children. The elder child, Fred, is an upholsterer and an expert maker
of mattresses; and Freda, the daughter, has become the wife of Anton Schultz, the
farmer, at Valley Home. During his residence in Lincoln, Mr. Volkman was mar-
ried a second time, choosing for his wife Miss Clara Lagner, of Waverly, Kans. He
is a prominent Lutheran and also influential as a standpat Republican.

With the exception of one person, Mr. Volkman was the first settler at this place,
to which he came in 1903, when he bought twenty acres. As soon as he had improved
his property to alfalfa, an orchard and vineyard, he began to boost for a station and a
town. The railroad company took its time to build the depot, and he actually erected
the hotel before the company had built its station.

Through Judge J. C. Needham, then a member of congress, the postoffice of
Thalheim was established, 1903, and Mr. Volkman was appointed postmaster. He
also opened a store in a part of the Pioneer Hotel building, in which he established the
postoffice. After ten years he closed out the store and three years later, although
reappointed, wishing to be relieved from the care of the postoffice, he did not qualify
as postmaster. After his retirement, he received some very flattering letters from the
postoffice department at Washington, commending his long years of honest and faith-
ful service. Mr. Volkman is entitled, therefore, to much credit for his public-spirited-


ness, especially as he was called upon to bear a heavy burden, which he met with heroic
enterprise. In 1916, fire destroyed his comfortable and attractive hotel, and as he
then had only $1,000 worth of insurance, he lost about $6,000. On rebuilding, he
provided for eight handsome, well-furnished guest-rooms, with an adequate kitchen and
dining-room, both equipped with every modern convenience, of which Mr. Volkman is
a genial host, and this he calls the Pioneer Hotel. He has also built for himself a
comfortable residence. When he first settled here, Mr. Volkman, a patriotic Ameri-
can, but with pleasant recollections of boyhood scenes, chose as the name of the place
the German Thalheim — an appellation long popular, not only in Germany, but with
both Americans and English who had German associations; but owing to the feeling
engendered by the World War, this poetic title was translated literally — Valley Home.

OLE TORVEND.— The part which a local bank plays in the life of a rapidly
growing agricultural community cannot be overestimated in its importance, and in
Ole Torvend the Bank of Patterson has found a man well fitted to administer the
affairs of the important office of cashier. Although not yet thirty years of age, he has
proven himself to be thoroughly capable of handling the many duties and responsibili-
ties which are a portion of his daily round.

Mr. Torvend has been a resident of Stanislaus County since 1912, and has taken
an active part in the business affairs of Patterson since that time, and today holds the
confidence and esteem of the leading business men of the county. He is a native of
Polk County, Minn., born near Crookston, January 25, 1891, the son of Severt and
Bertina (Markunsen) Torvend. His father at an early date homesteaded' and pre-
empted extensive lands in Polk County, Minn., where our subject was reared and
educated. After graduating from the grammar school and high school of Crookston,
he took the agricultural course at the Agricultural College at Crookston, and during
bis vacation times he helped with the farm work.

It was in 1911 that Mr. Torvend's parents came to California, accompanied
by five of their seven sons, the eldest of whom is superintendent of schools in North
Dakota, and Ole remaining to complete his college course. He followed his family
the next year, and went into the grocery business at Patterson in partnership with a
younger brother, Henry Torvend, and for three years they successfully conducted this
enterprise in connection with a cream depot, buying for the Oakland, Cal., Creamery.

In 1916 a party of young men of Stanislaus County went into Lassen County
and homesteaded lands on the Madaline Plains, and Mr. Torvend sold his business
interests and joined this party. Within the year, however, they had determined that
the lands were not of sufficient value to justify their further development, and the
party returned to Stanislaus County. In January, 1917, Mr. Torvend accepted a
position with the Kerr Hardware Company as bookkeeper and clerk, remaining with
this firm for a year. On January 1, 1918, he was offered a position as bookkeeper
with the Bank of Patterson, which he accepted, and at the end of six months was pro-
moted to assistant cashier. Here he filled his position with such satisfaction and
ability that on January 1, 1920, he was made cashier, which position he now holds.

Mr. Torvend's marriage was solemnized in Patterson, September 19, 1917, his
bride being Miss Emma Mickelson, the daughter of John and Tilda (Blomgren)
Mickelson, and a native of Minnesota. When she was eight years of age, her father
moved with his family to Norway, Mich., where he engaged in farming. Here Mrs.
Torvend passed her girlhood, receiving her education in the local grammar and high
schools, and after completing her education she engaged in business. In 1913, she
came to California with her parents, locating at Patterson, where her father pursued
his vocation of farmer, and here she accepted a position with the Martin Berlin Dry-
goods Store, which she successfully filled until her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Torvend
have one child, Esmeralda Ovidia. They are both prominent members of the Lutheran
Church of Patterson, and generously support its activities. Mr. Torvend is considered
one of the rising young men of this part of the state and promises to be a power in his
locality. Broad minded and progressive, he adheres strictly to high principles in busi-
ness matters as well as in personal conduct.


GEORGE H. HUGHSON. — An enterprising auto-dealer, whose success and
prosperity are evidenced in a modern and very attractive garage with every desirable
equipment, is George H. Hughson, a native of Buffalo, N. Y., where he was born on
December 20, 1893. His father, also a native of New York, was of the same name;
and he married* Miss Juliet Smith. She was a good mother and a good wife; and
George was in luck with parents who bestowed upon him such advantages as they
could. He attended boarding school, and later studied at Ridley College, in St.
Catherine, Ontario, across the Niagara from Buffalo.

In 1911, when George was eighteen years of age, he came out to California and
settled at San Francisco; and for four years he worked with his brother, William L.
Hughson, the Ford agent for San Francisco, in the sales department. In 1917 he
moved inland to Hughson, Stanislaus County, took the Ford agency for the place,
bought a garage and opened a shop, garage and salesroom for business, and from the
first met with success.

In 1920 Mr. Hughson started a new garage building in Hughson, in size 70x150
feet, and built the same of hollow tile at a cost, approximately, of $25,000. The
building has just been completed, and has a salesroom, a storeroom, and a complete
repair shop. Mr. Hughson employs on the average three mechanics, and he carries
such a complete stock of parts that, if necessary, he could assemble a complete car from
his stock, and not every garage can boast of that. He also has the agency for the
Fordson tractors, with implements, as well as all necessary parts. Since the late ruling
that Ford dealers can sell anywhere in the country it has very materially increased
Mr. Hughson's sales. People no longer are required to buy where they live, a ruling
he finds greatly to his advantage.

On July 19, 1916, at Buffalo, N. Y., Mr. Hughson was married to Magdaline
Krauss, the daughter of Dr. W. C. and Clara Krauss. Dr. Krauss was a brain spe-
cialist, and was well known throughout Northern New York. In politics, Mr.
Hughson is a Republican, but as a rule he is a good nonpartisan "booster."

WILLIAM M. REED. — A worthy representative of one of Stanislaus County's
sturdy pioneer families, and himself a native son of California, William Reed is living
on the old home place, where he is engaged in ranching. He was born in the Napa
Valley, near Yountville, February 13, 1864, his parents being William Martin and
Nancy Emeline (Spriggs) Reed. The father was born in Kentucky, and spent the
early days of his manhood there, being a breeder of fine horses and cattle. On coming
to California he continued stock raising and shipped the first herd of Ayrshire cattle
into the state. He was also extensively interested in grain farming and sheep raising,
having from 3,000 to 5,000 head, the sparsely settled country giving him ample graz-
ing room. Stanislaus County was indeed a wild country when William Martin Reed
came there, antelope, coyotes and wildcats abounding in the valley. Settling near
Crows Landing, he erected the old homestead, and it was for many years the finest
dwelling in the vicinity.

William Reed grew up in the Crows Landing district, and received his early
education in the old Orestimba school, but like many of the boys of that time, his
school days were not of long duration and a large part of his education has been gained
through his own efforts. For seven years after his marriage he made his home on the
old home place, and then removed to San Francisco, where he spent the ten succeeding
years with the United Railways Company. Returning at this time to Stanislaus
County, he took up the supervision of the ranch, which had become known as the
Spriggs place, the mother having married J. M. Spriggs after the passing away of
her husband in 1866. Mr. Spriggs was a native of South Carolina, born there in
Greenville County in 1826. Removing to Georgia, he was married there to Miss
S. A. Carroll, and engaged in the mercantile business there until 1850, when with his
family he set out for California with a party of gold seekers. Traveling with a twelve-
mule wagon train, cholera became prevalent, and half of their party succumbed to
this disease. With one companion, Mr. Spriggs left the party and made their way
on foot, with only a pack pony, and as their provisions ran short, they were compelled
to subsist on prairie dog flesh and the seed pods of the wild rose, finally reaching the


American River, where Mr. Spriggs engaged in mining. For a time the Spriggs
family lived in Yolo County, and later in Napa County, where Mr. Spriggs
had charge of a hotel. In the meantime, Mrs. Spriggs passed away and in 1867
he was married to Mrs. William M. Reed, locating then in Stanislaus County, where
for many years he engaged in grain farming on a large scale, cultivating 2,500 acres.
Mrs. Nancy Spriggs died in 1903, her husband passing away at a later date.

Mr. Reed's marriage, which occurred on September 1, 1895, united him with
Miss Agnes S. Beaagoe, like himself a native of California. She was born in San
Francisco and educated in Modesto, and is the daughter of Christian and Sophie
(Gardemeier) Beaagoe, her father for 5'ears being proprietor of the Modesto Soda
Works. Mr. and Mrs. Reed have three children: Wiletta teaches school at Oakland;
Zella teaches at Patterson, and Clayton is at home. A sterling, upright citizen, Mr.
Reed casts his vote for the man best fitted for the office, regardless of party lines.
Proud of his native state, he is a member of the Native Sons of the Golden West.

MRS. HENRIETTA DUCOT.— Interesting as one of the oldest continuous
residents in the La Grange region, Mrs. Henrietta Ducot, widow of the late Peter
Lucien Ducot, is the oldest daughter of one of the best-known pioneer families at La
Grange. She was born in Germany in 1849, and her father was William Dominici,
a native of Luechow, Hanover, Germany, the son of Henry and Dorathea Dominici.
At the age of fourteen William entered a mill as an apprentice, and he completed the
trade when nineteen. He then took an extended trip through Germany, Switzerland,
Italy and France. In 1846, he was married to Miss Henrietta Nadtler, a native of
Osterwaldt, Hanover. Mr. Dominici carried on his trade in a mill he owned at
Locum. On December 10, 1852, he took passage for New York in a sailing vessel;
and while at sea severe storms were encountered for seventeen days successively, and the
vessel narrowly escaped being wrecked upon the coasts of England and Holland ; but
they at length arrived in New York City on the ship Herschel, which had lost her
bulwark to the starboard side.

While in New York, Mr. Dominici met with a great misfortune, as he paid $400
for tickets for his family to San Francisco on the steamer Uncle Sam, and there being
no such vessel in existence, he lost his money. This occurred during the ticket swindle
of 1853. However, the family left New York on the fifth of April, and took passage
on the steamship Panama ; they crossed the Isthmus, and arrived at San Francisco on
May 5. Mr. Dominici went to French Bar, near La Grange, then in Tuolumne
County, where he settled; and he mined at French Hill until '56, meeting with success.

Later, he came to have a valuable farm of 280 acres, well improved, with a large
vineyard and orchard near the house. It was situated on the Tuolumne River, one
and a half miles from La Grange, thirty-three miles east of Modesto. William
Dominici supplied the valley and mountain towns with fruit and wine from his
orchard and vineyard for many years, for his was a good agricultural section, and
excellent prices were obtained in the mountains for all the produce that was raised.

At the time of his coming to America in 1852-53, the family of Mr. Dominici
consisted of his wife and two little girls, Henrietta and Mary, who died in 1888. A
boy was born in Germany and died there; and five children — Charlotte, Milton, Her-
man, Ernest and Rosa — were born at La Grange. In addition to mining and then
engaged in truck-gardening, Mr. Dominici was the owner of a stock ranch of 280 acres.
He lived to be eighty-two years of age and died in 1904, survived for only a year by
his wife, who passed away in her eighty-first yeas. Of the five children born to the
parents at La Grange, two died in California. Ernest passed away in childhood ; and
Charlotte died in 1916 at La Grange. She married John Burt, and became the
mother of three children. The three still living are: Milton, who resides in San
Francisco; Herman, who lives at Modesto; and Rosa, who is the wife of John
Stockel, and resides at Hayward.

Henrietta Dominici attended the public schools, going for three months in the
year, and in 1863, when she was fourteen years of age, she was married to Peter
Lucien Ducot. He mined for a while at La Grange, and then gardened below La
Grange; and in 1871 he proved up on a homestead of 160 acres, and in 1883 proved


up on a preemption of 160 acres; and he then built the Ducot home on the homestead
of 160 acres, where Mrs. Ducot now lives. This land has never been out of the
Ducot family's hands. The two sons, Ernest and Henry L. Ducot, have since
bought 280 acres, which they own jointly, making 600 acres in all owned by the
mother and sons. Mr. Ducot, who died on October 9, 1914, in his seventy-eighth
year, was born in France, and was one of the early settlers at French Bar who gave
most of his time to farming and gardening. Peter Ducot was a good and very
able man; and it is related that during the great flood of 1862, at the risk of his own
life, he rowed a boat out to a tree in the bottom-land of the Tuolumne River, then a
raging flood, and rescued a man, a boy and a dog — Dr. Booth, Dr. Booth's son and
their pet. who were perched in a tree where they had taken refuge from the mad
torrent. He made two attempts before he succeeded in the rescue ; in the first attempt,
the strong current swept his boat past the tree ; but he exerted all his strength and
brought the boat up a second time to the tree, where men and beast had been two and a
half days. Within a half hour after the rescue, the tree sank, its roots washed out.

Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Ducot. Henry L. died in his four-
teenth year. Marietta is the wife of Robert L. Bright, and they reside with their
eight children in Modesto. Ernest A. was born near La Grange on May 26, 1869.
Charlotte is the wife of J. C. Hall of Redding, Cal., a machinist at the cement works
at Cowell. Lilly and Rosa were twins; Lilly married Frank Morton, the rancher
near La Grange, and they have one child living ; and Rosa is the wife of Lou Spenker,
who is employed by the Southern Pacific at Modesto. Adelcia is the widow of Harry
Handy of Merced County, where he used to ranch ; she now lives in Modesto and
has two children. Henry L. Ducot was born on this family ranch, on September 27,
1877, and at Stockton, on May 10, 1920, he was married to Miss Hazel Palmer of
Tuolumne County. They now reside on the ranch with our subject. Melvina is
the wife of Lou Ferretti, garage owner at Groveland, and they have one child.

The Ducot farm is a typical California ranch, nestling among the undulating hills.
The Ducot brothers, who rent 500 acres in addition, run the place, and they raise
grain and hay. They own and operate a large barley-crushing machine and a threshing
outfit. They thresh not only their own grain and crush their own barley, but they
thresh or clean for neighboring ranchers as well, and they threshed 10,000 sacks in
1920. They have two large machine sheds and a blacksmith shop, and so expert are
they that they build wagons, and good ones, too.

The Ducot brothers pump the water needed for domestic stock and garden pur-
poses from an open or dug well, bricked up to the top, 170 feet deep, and they put that
wanted for stock and irrigation into a roofed circular tank of brick and concrete
holding 28,000 gallons, excavated out of the hillside, while the water needed for the
house is pumped into a smaller cement tank near the dwelling.

MRS. KATHERINE McCABE HIGH.— A distinguished representative of the
Native Daughters of the Golden West, whose influence for good, emanating from her
comfortable home, is much appreciated by all who have the best interests of California
at heart, is Mrs. Katherine McCabe High, who was born on the historic Edward
McCabe Ranch about nine miles from Modesto, on August 3, 1878. Her father, Ed-
ward McCabe, was born in County Monaghan, Ireland, and when a lad migrated to
America -and settled for a while in Massachusetts. Later, he came out to California by
. way of the Isthmus of Panama, and landed at San Francisco; and from there he
went to Columbia, in Tuolumne County, and worked in the mines, near Sonora
Town. Striking some luck, he settled in Stanislaus County in 1868.

Katherine McCabe was sent first to the Adamsville school in the Adams dis-
trict, and later to the Jones school, after which she settled in the Adamsville district
and took up home duties, her parents having died. Her father met accidental death,
while driving a team, and her mother passed away in 1885, and was buried in Mo-
desto. She was Catherine Mullins in maidenhood, and came of Irish descent, having
been born in County Clare, Ireland. The sons carried on the work of the farm, and
Annie McCabe presided over the household.


On October 6, 1900 Katherine McCabe was married to Isaac High, a native
of Tennessee, the ceremony taking place at Modesto and the wedding proving one
of the pleasant social events of the day. Mr. High came to California a young man
of eighteen, worked on ranches until his marriage, when they bought eighty acres in
the Hart district eight miles west of Modesto, which they improved and farmed
until his death. He was highly esteemed as a man, a citizen, a neighbor and a

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 114 of 177)