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 116 of 177)
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cows, and marketed to the Modesto Creamery. This herd was begun with a number
of cattle from the famous herd on the Mailliard estate of Marin County, which were
brought into California in 1867 around the Horn from the old Hood Stock Farm in
New York state. Since then Mr. Watson has always taken a great interest in breed-
ing and in raising the standard of registered stock, and is regarded by those in author-
ity as one who thoroughly understands his business, and has done his part in advancing
California husbandry. He served for four years as deputy sheriff under George Davis.

One son was granted Mr. and Mrs. Watson, John Allen Watson, who died in
youth. The sister already referred to is Dr. Edna Bailey, of Oakland, the widow of
Captain Bailey of the Marine Corps, who died, leaving her with two little children.
She finished her studies with honor at the University of California, and since 1915 has
been in the service of the city of Oakland, and is now superintendent of all science
work in the Oakland schools. Mr. Watson enjoys, as does his good wife, a wide circle
of friends, and is particularly popular in Modesto Elk circles.

GEORGE D. MEAD. — A vigorous supporter of the Eighteenth Amendment to
the Constitution of the United States is George D. Mead, long enjoying the esteem
of many because of his enviable status among Stanislaus County agriculturists as a
successful rancher. He was born in Warren County, Pa., on May 3, 1857, and grew
up near Oil City, the eldest son of Hiram Mead, a native also of that county, where
he was born in 1832, and became a farmer and lumberman. He married Miss Sarah
McKay, who came from the same vicinity, and was born about 1838.

The Meads trace their ancestry back to the Whites, who came to America in
the ship Lyon in 1632, when the record of John White begins. He was one of the
selectmen of Cambridge in 1633. The McKays, on the other hand, are able to trace
back to 1760, when some plucky Scotsmen came from the land of Burns to Warren
County. They were merchants and lumbermen, and as such had a very honorable
part in the building up and developing of early Pennsylvania. What will be of espe-
cial interest to many readers not so familiar with the distant past is that the great-


grandfather of George D. Mead founded Meadville, Pa., in 1799 — a splendid illus-
tration of the triumph of the pioneer American who overcame the many obstacles of
those trying days. George Gordon Meade, the distinguished general of the Civil
War, although he spelled his name differently, could also claim descent from this
original Mayflower stem. George D. Mead attended the local public school, while he
was reared on the farm and got an all-around knowledge of farm work. He also
worked at saw milling and well remembers the day when the first oil well was brought
in in that section. It was called the Drake well, and was sunk near Titusville.

On November 9, 1892, Mr. Mead was married in Warren County to Miss Caro-
line M. Osborn, who was born the day before Christmas, in 1871, the daughter of
Frank C. and Jane (Smith) Osborn. Her mother was a distant relative of the Mead
family, and her paternal ancestors were lumbermen and came from the Susquehanna
Valley to Meadville, Pa. Her great-grandmother was a Boone, an own cousin of
Daniel Boone, and her husband was killed by the Indians. Miss Osborn was care-
fully brought up at home, and enjoyed the best of Warren County schooling. Six
children have been granted Mr. and Mrs. Mead. Hazel E. is a graduate nurse.
Homer A. enlisted for service in the World War, trained at Camp Lewis, went over-
seas with the Three Hundred and Sixty-third Regiment, Ninety-first Division, and
saw active service until his discharge. He is a mechanical genius and has been work-
ing on various useful inventions. He is a rancher and lives at home. George Dewey
is also a rancher, as is Frank Hiram, while Lawrence C. attends the high school at
Turlock, and Sarah Louise is a pupil of the grammar school. The family attend the
First Methodist Church. Mr. Mead is a Republican, but one who voted for prohibi-
tion. He is a member of the Odd Fellows, in Grand Valley, Pa., lodge.

On November 11, 1914, Mr. Mead "pulled up stakes" in Warren County and
came out to California and Turlock, and two weeks later he was located on his farm
a mile and a quarter south of the town. He is a charter member and a stockholder
of the T. M. & G., incorporated in 1915, and of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.
CHRISTIAN H. HANSEN. — A successful building contractor widely known
for his extensive operations, is Christian H. Hansen, of the firm of Hansen & Woods.
He was born in Minneapolis on February 1, 1881, the son of Hans and Lena Hansen,
and there attended both the grammar and the high school. His father was a building
contractor as well as a farmer, and became a settler in 1856. He came to the States
from Schleswig, and, having pitched his tent in Minnesota, did his part in building
up the country round about Minneapolis.

Christian H., being one of a large family of children, did all he could to aid his
parents until eighteen years of age, when he was thrown on his own resources. He
worked his own way through school and the University of Minnesota, where he took
an engineering course, graduating in 1901. Upon completing his studies he went into
the contract building field, and the year of his graduation he settled in San Francisco.
For the next fifteen years Mr. Hansen, as construction engineer, was in constant
demand in the great work of erecting new office buildings, and also in important enter-
prises for both the national and the state governments, having charge, for example,
of the Physicians' Building on Sutter and Powell streets, the Government warehouse
at Fort Mason, as well, for three years, of the Agnew Insane Asylum. This was
directly after the earthquake. During his last years of residence in San Francisco, as
superintendent he had charge of the erection of various large public buildings in
different parts of the state, among them being the historical Donner monument at
Donner Lake, near Truckee.

In May, 1920, with a most enviable record for experience and ability earned in
one of the cities of highest record for modern building, Mr. Hansen came to Modesto,
taking charge of the new high school building, then being constructed by Messrs.
McLeran and Peterson, San Francisco contractors. His experience in the attractive
inland town was so agreeable and satisfactory that he decided to make Modesto his
home and scene of future labors, for he was also impressed by the business and the
educational advantages. On August 1, with J. H. Woods, he opened an office, and
then formed the Hansen-Woods Company, which contracts for all kinds of buildings,



and makes a specialty of the larger and more difficult. During the late war he was
sent to the East and the Middle West in the service of the U. S. Government, which
needed the most expert co-operation, and in Utah he superintended the construction
of terminal depots and roundhouses.

On June 27, 1909, Mr. Hansen was married to Miss Nettie Gondring, a native
of Columbus, Nebr., and the daughter of Judge John M. Gondring, a highly esteemed
jurist, and his cultured wife, Delia. Three children have blessed this union. Kenneth
G. and Harold Lee Hansen are pupils of the grammar schools at Modesto, and the
youngest is Christian H., Jr.

HARRY LESLIE BROWN.— As the owner and proprietor of the leading
hatchery in Stanislaus County, the Jubilee Hatchery at Ceres, H. L. Brown is recog-
nized as one of the leading poultrymen of the county, and also as an authority on the
question of poultry breeding in all its details and ramifications. He has made a care-
ful study of his subject, and the fact that he has thoroughly mastered it is best attested
by the large measure of his success. He came to Stanislaus County from Santa Cruz,
in 1906 and bought ten acres at Ceres, where he now operates his hatchery. Starting
in on a small scale, he has constructed all his own buildings, poultry runs and other
improvements, and now has a hatchery of the latest improved design, with fifty-three
Jubilee incubators with a capacity of 28,000 eggs, a brooding house of 15,000 capacity,
and poultry yards capable of caring for some 2,000 fowls. He ships his baby chicks
over the entire county, and receives many orders from greater distances, but as yet
has not been able to supply his market. In fact, he often has the entire capacity of
his hatchery under contract before the opening of the season, and with continued suc-
cess expects, in time, to double his capacity. As a general idea of the growth of his
business it is interesting to note that in the spring of 1915 Mr. Brown sold some
25,000 chicks, and in 1920 over 70,000 were day-shipped throughout the county.

Mr. Brown's birds have taken many prizes throughout the county and state, in-
cluding the poultry fairs at Modesto and Fresno, and the State Fair at Sacramento.
He confines himself strictly to thoroughbred White Leghorns, breeding only the D. W.
Young strain. His birds are noted for their size and beauty, as well as for their
record as egg producers. His baby chicks are very carefully handled and shipped
and are unusually strong and hardy. He has given up the brooding end of the industry,
which has been taken over by his brother-in-law, H. Goertz, who has a modern
brooder house of 3,000 capacity. Mr. Brown gives every detail of the business his
personal attention, and is constantly endeavoring to improve the strains which he
breeds. He is a member of the Central California Poultry Association, and markets
all his products through this organization. His hatchery and his poultry yards are
models of their kind, and his place is well worthy of a visit.

Mr. Brown is a native of Wisconsin, born at Milwaukee on November 29,
1864. He was reared in Nebraska, where his father, Silas S. Brown, a native of
New York State, moved with his family when the subject of this review was a lad.
Here he bought land, paying four dollars per acre for lands that are now selling for
three hundred to six hundred dollars per acre, and owning 480 acres in all. The
mother, whose maiden name was Miss Elizabeth Tuttle, died when our Mr. Brown
was a lad of eight years, and his father married a second time, Ella Keel becoming his
wife. There were five children born of these two marriages, three sons of the first
wife and one son and one daughter by the second. The father and step-mother still
reside at Lyons, Burt County, Nebr., where H. L. Brown passed his boyhood days,
engaged in the farm duties and attending the district school during brief terms each
year. At the age of twelve years he worked as a man in the field, and his educational
opportunities were limited, but he has always been ambitious and is today exceptionally
well-informed and a truly well-educated man in the broadest sense of the word.

At the age of twenty-one Mr. Brown started farming, running the home farm
for his father on the shares. This he continued for some two years, and in 1888 he
determined to come to California in search of wider opportunities. He located first
at Fortuna, Humboldt County, and later in Santa Cruz County, where he was engaged
in the saw mills at Laurel, being a grader for the Hihn Lumber Company. While in


Santa Cruz he became widely interested in the lumber industry, and was injured
financially by a fire, which destroyed valuable property. He came to Stanislaus
County in 1906, and for five years he worked in the lumber business at Ceres. In
the meantime he had bought his ten-acre ranch, and was gradually developing his
poultry industry, which has now grown to such splendid proportions.

Mr. Brown has always taken a keen interest in agricultural and horticultural
pursuits, and has attested to his faith in Stanislaus County by putting his available
surplus funds into farm and orchard lands. Five of the ten acres constituting his
home place he has planted to fig trees, which are just coming into bearing. Adjoining
this place he owns another five acres which is planted to figs of a high-grade variety,
and he has recently added a twenty-acre alfalfa tract, in the Waterford District.

In 1904 Mr. Brown was married to Miss Hilda Goertz, at Santa Cruz. She
is the daughter of Charles and Minnie Goertz, and a native of San Mateo County,
where her parents are well-known pioneers. Her brother is H. Goertz, of Ceres.
She has borne her husband three sturdy sons, of whom Walter and Earl are students
in the Ceres grammar school, while the younger boy, Charles, is not yet of school
age. Both Mr. and Mrs. Brown take an active part in the social life of Ceres and
are well known for their pleasant hospitality. Mr. Brown is a prominent member of
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and of the United Artisans. He is espe-
cially alive to anything that will benefit the community and is a strong advocate of
co-operation among farmers and horticulturists. He is a member of the Fresno Peach
and Fig Growers Association, and of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.

JOSEPH C. SPENKER.— A retired farmer whose life story must always appeal
to those interested in the pioneers of California, is Joseph C. Spenker, of 1004 Four-
teenth Street, Modesto, who first came to Stanislaus County in 1866, two years after
he came from Defiance County, Ohio, to California. He sailed from New York for
Panama, then crossed the Isthmus, and proceeded from Aspinwall to San Francisco
by steamer, landing in the Bay City on November 20, 1864. A bit of diversion on
the steamer still recalled was the balloting for president, the candidates being Lincoln
and McClellan ; and it is needless to say that the former received the majority of votes.

Mr. Spenker was born at Mecklenburg, Germany, on December 12, 1846, and
when seventeen years of age he came out to America, accompanied by his uncle, Fred
Spenker. He stopped for only a day in San Francisco and then went on to Stockton,
traveling inland by boat. He worked for his uncle for a while, and he soon learned to
operate some of the first headers in San Joaquin and in Stanislaus counties. The
first winter was very wet, and work and money were scarce; and wheat was $120 per
ton; but the second spring he went to work for Thomas Yolland, whose son, Charles
Yolland, was once county clerk of San Joaquin County, and now lives at Oakland.

Becoming acquainted with the late Albert L. Cressey, he engaged with him, or
with Cressey Bros., on their wheat farm as a farmhand, and established then and there
a life-long friendship. Through them, in 1866, he came to Stanislaus County, where
the Cresseys had 2,500 acres in grain, on the four-section ranch due north of TModesto,
or what was then the site of the future famous town; and in the spring of 1867 he
herded Cressey s mules and horses on the land where Modesto now stands, then given
to the growth of fillerie and bunch-grass.

At the end of fourteen months' service with the Cresseys, Calvin Cressey advised
Mr. Spenker to take up 160 acres of land, one and a half miles east, and this he ac-
quired as homestead land, at the same time taking a preemption. In addition to that,
he bought 444 acres on the Stanislaus River, making his total possessions now 604
acres. All in all, he has bought and sold several farms. This acreage along the
Stanislaus River is sub-irrigated bottom-land, tip-top for the raising of alfalfa. The
other property, on the Waterford Road, likewise devoted to alfalfa, is well irrigated,
and is rented for a dairy ranch.

On May 19, 1872, Mr. Spenker was married to Miss Julia Stelling, a native of
Schleswig-Holstein, who settled in Stockton on coming out to America; and they
have had nine children. Ida is the wife of Ben Rinehart, the rancher, and resides eight
miles northeast of Modesto, toward Riverbank. Charles F. is a farmer; he married


Frieda Cook, and they'reside in the Wood Colony. Amelia married Robert H. Davi-
son, the rancher, and they reside near Empire City. Joseph J. Spenker is employed
by the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, and lives at Burlingame with his wife.
Nellie is the wife of Frank Goodwin. Harry was accidentally shot on the ranch
when he was seventeen years old. Leonard R., who married Selma Rose of Modesto,
was a sharpshooter in the American Army in France, and has only recently returned
home, to work as bookkeeper for the Associated Oil Company at Modesto. Julia died
in infancy. Donald S. saw valiant service for his country abroad, and gave his life
in support of principles he believed worth fighting for. He was assigned to duty in
the quartermaster's department, and went to France in 1918; and while there was
seized with pneumonia and died from that disease. In 1913, after having decided to
retire in Modesto, Mr. Spenker bought Judge Minor's attractive home in Modesto,
and there he and his family reside, esteemed as hard-working, honorable pioneers.

When Mr. Spenker was admitted to American citizenship, he was ripe to appre-
ciate its advantages, and he has made a splendid record as a citizen. In national poli-
tics a Democrat, Mr. Spenker is too broad-minded for any narrow partisanship in
local affairs. He is a member of Stanislaus Lodge No. 206, F. & A. M., of Modesto.
In his extensive farming operations, Mr. Spenker has been ably assisted by his sons,
and in particular by Charles F. Spenker; and the firm was Joseph Spenker & Sons.
They farmed not only Mr. Spenker's wide acreage, but they also leased the Leach
place, and they cultivated as many as 3,500 acres, and for many years were among the
largest and most successful grain farmers in Stanislaus County.

LOUIS C. JACOBSEN. — A well-known citizen, influential through his success
in business, is L. C. Jacobsen, whose good wife, endowed with much native ability
and much business acumen, has proven an able helpmate. He came to California
in the late nineties, and when only about a year here showed his foresight in sizing
up the future prospects of Stanislaus County, and casting here his lot.

Mr. Jacobsen was born in Bornholm, Denmark, on December 16, 1870, the son
of Jens P. Jacobsen, a coal miner who was accidentally killed when our subject was
six months old. His mother, Karen Christene Ibsen before her marriage, died when
the lad had reached his sixth year, leaving four children, only one of whom is now
living. Brought up at Bornholm, he made his own way from his seventh year, work-
ing out on a farm while he attended school. A brother had come to America and
Solano County, Calif., three years before, and when L. *C. Jacobsen was eighteen, he
concluded to follow him. In April, 1889, therefore, he arrived in the Golden State
and was soon busy ranching for Louis Lambrecht near Rio Vista.

In October of the next year he came to Modesto, then a small town, and went to
work again on a farm, the ranch of Oramil McHenry, where he remained for nine
years. He was later in the employ of the city, and drove the first team ever owned
by Modesto. After that, he was appointed city superintendent of streets, a position he
held for three years, and then he entered the service of the Modesto Soda Works on
Eighth Street, on the railroad reservation, leaving there in 1913 to go to Turlock and
buy the Turlock Soda Works. He became one of two partners in the firm of Sollars
& Jacobsen, which conducted the business for eighteen months, when he sold out to
Mr. Sollars, who continued there.

On April 17, 1916, Mr. Jacobsen bought from Mr. Randall the Modesto Soda
Works ; and there, with the latest of modern equipment, he engaged in the manufac-
ture of root beer, syrups and sodas of all kinds. His building, 75x131 feet in size, is
equipped with complete laboratories, the most sanitary devices, in short, a complex
and extensive plant, and has therefore a large capacity. He has a large territory and
ships his bottled wares even to remote and to many near-by points. Mr. Jacobsen is
also engaged in the retail sale of coal and wood, and with a snecial siding connecting
his yards with the railroad, he has the best of facilities. His building is at 1302
Seventh Street, on the State Highway, where he has installed a large scales for his
coal trade. He uses two auto-trucks for delivery. He belongs to the Merchants As-
sociation of Modesto.


At Modesto, on July 14, 1904, Mr. Jacobsen was married to Miss Annie Givens,
a native of Pacheco, Contra Costa County, and the daughter of W. J. Givens who
was born in Boston, Mass., and early settled as a miner in California. Then he be-
came a painter in Contra Costa County, and removing to Modesto, was the first con-
tract painter here. He died in 1916. He had married Miss Margaret Harrington,
of Boston, who now resides in Modesto, the mother of four children, among whom
Mrs. Jacobsen was the youngest. One child blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs.
Jacobsen — Minola Margaret. Mr. Jacobsen is a member of the Woodmen of the
World and the Moose, and resides at 517 Thirteenth Street, Modesto .

CLAYTON K. GRIDER. — A citizen long rated as one of the substantial busi-
ness men of the community, and one now enjoying the fruits of hard work and wise
foresight and investment, is Clayton K. Grider, who was born at Columbia, Lan-
caster County, Pa., on April 17, 1878, the son of Henry and Elizabeth Grider. His
father was a farmer ; and while he spent his early days on the home farm, making
himself generally useful and enjoying the comfortable life of a well-situated Penn-
sylvanian agriculturist, he attended the local district school.

When twenty-one years of age, Mr. Grider enlisted in Company M of the
Twenty-eighth U. S. Volunteers, and served in the Philippines; and in May, 1901,
at the Presidio at San Francisco, he was mustered out. That same spring he settled
in California, and soon after coming to Modesto he secured work on the Bald Eagle
Ranch on the McHenry Road. The Bald Eagle furnished most of the meat for
Modesto ; and during the two years of his engagement, he drove the wholesale meat
wagon for a year or more. Then he opened his own shop on Tenth Street, and
having established a reputation for experience and fair and generous dealing, he built
up a trade such as anyone might wish to enjoy. In 1917 he sold out his business
to Anker & Gotte ; but with W. R. Van Vlear he continued to raise cattle. On his
retirement from the meat and cattle fields, he took up realty and the exchanging of
Modesto property; being widely known for his thorough knowledge of land and
improvement values, he has succeeded even more in his new enterprise.

On April 8, 1918, Mr. Grider married Mrs. Fannie Cousins, a native of
Toledo, Ohio, where she was popular as Miss Fannie Fenton. Her father had come
to Los Angeles when she was a girl and had engaged in the retail grocery trade ; and
in the City of the Angels she went to school. After marrying Mr. Cousins, she
lived with him in San Francisco for eighteen years; and on contracting her second
marriage, she came to reside in Modesto. Mr. Grider belongs to Modesto Lodge
No. 1282, B. P. O. E., of Modesto, and votes as a Republican.

ALBERT J. KNORR.— A Californian of such caliber and personality that Mo-
desto may well be proud to number him among her foremost citizens of enterprise
and progress is Albert J. Knorr, who was born in Sheboygan, Wis., on February 28,
1863. His father was Adolph Knorr, a native son of Wisconsin and now a resident,
hale and hearty, of Chilton, Wis. He married Miss Mary Goebel, who was like-
wise a native of Wisconsin and still resides at Chilton.

Albert attended the district school of Centralville, then went to school in She-
boygan, and later went to work with the grain elevators at Random Lake, where he
continued for five years. At that place, too, on March 25, 1885, he was married to
Miss Alma Bastain, a native of the town. He then moved to Sherburn, Minn., and
remained there and at St. James three years.

In 1888, Mr. Knorr removed to a new settlement in Wisconsin called Granton
and there opened a hardware store; and he was not long in making it the leading
hardware and implement emporium of the place. He was an organizer of the first
bank there, named the Farmers State Bank of Granton, and is at present a stockholder
and a past director. He also worked hard for the incorporation of Granton, and he
served as a councilman of the village, and lived there twenty-seven years. In later

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 116 of 177)