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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 117 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 117 of 177)
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years, as business became more pressing, Mr. Knorr took in a partner, Mr. Rausch,
and eight years later he sold out his share, in order to engage in the automobile busi-
ness. He then moved to Neillsville, and established the automobile warerooms and





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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1053

garage in that city. In 1919, Mr. and Mrs. Knorr came to California, and the fol-
lowing six months were spent between Santa Cruz and Ocean Park. In October,
1920, he invested in the Modesto Motor Company, and he has since become president
and manager of that institution.

Myrtle, the second eldest of Mr. and Mrs. Knorr's three children, is a graduate
of the American Conservatory of Music at Chicago, and Shirley, the next in the
order of birth, is a graduate of the Milwaukee State Normal. Both daughters are
most accomplished young women. Lynn, the first born, is deceased. He graduated
with honors from the University of Wisconsin, where he had also been prominent
in college athletics, and he also graduated as a certified public accountant and served
as assistant comptroller of the university at Champaign, III., and afterward he
engaged as a public accountant in Milwaukee. He lined up cheerfully and bravely
for duty in the World War, and just one month before he would have received a
commission, he passed away at Camp Grant in October, 1918. Mr. Knorr is a
Knight Templar Mason and a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and
Mrs. Knorr and her two daughters are prominent in the Eastern Star.

MELVIN HAMMETT.— One of the proprietors of the Tynan .bar and cigar
store, the Moose headquarters in Modesto, who has been an active business man and
builder up of the county for the past twenty years as a leading contractor in plain and
ornamental plastering, is Melvin Hammett of Modesto, who has become prominent
and holds an influential place in the life and activity of the county, having completed
contracts for the principal buildings, both business, civic and residential, which have
been erected in Modesto and vicinity within the last several years. His work was of
the highest type, and in all his dealings with his fellowmen he is honest, sincere and
just, rendering in full for value received, and expecting others to do likewise. He
employed a force of thirty- three plasterers, fifteen lathers, and eighteen hod carriers
under ordinary building conditions. In charge of his art work was the famous artist,
Charles S. Porta, who did much of the art work and moulding on the beautiful Palace
of Fine Arts at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, this being one
of the few buildings to be retained as permanent structures. He is a finished artist in
his line, and Mr. Hammett is especially fortunate to have his services.

Mr. Hammett is a native of Nebraska, born in Antelope County, May 30, 1886.
His father was F. R. Hammett and his mother Lillie May Walrath, a native of Polk
County, Iowa. They now make their home at Lockford, Cal. Lillie May Walrath
was the daughter of James Walrath, who came from Germany with his wife and
located in Iowa in the pioneer days of that state. The Hammetts came originally
from old English stock, and figured prominently for several generations in Pennsyl-
vania and Ohio, being engaged in the building and contracting business. Melvin
Hammett spent his boyhood in close association with the plasterer's trade, this being
his father's occupation. When he was a lad of but fourteen he went regularly to
work with his father during vacations.

In 1902 Mr. Hammett first came to California, locating at Ceres, where he
engaged in the plastering trade, soon becoming a journeyman plasterer. Following
the earthquake and fire in San Francisco, he went to that city and engaged in con-
tracting there. In 1915 he went into Old Mexico for about a year and in the fall of
that year returned East. He has worked in practically every large city in the United
States, and is, therefore, especially well informed regarding building conditions
throughout the country. For a time he was in Chicago, and has been employed in
El Paso and Dallas, Texas ; Cincinnati, Ohio ; Newport, Ky. ; Des Moines, Iowa, and
other leading cities. In Des Moines he became associated with Charles Weitz & Sons,
the leading general contractors of the city, and was soon promoted to the position of
foreman, having charge of extensive contract work.

While in Des Moines Mr. Hammett was married, June 30, 1917, to Miss Ida
Hazel Green, the daughter of Chas. W. and Susie (Smith) Green. The following
year, in March, 1918, he returned with his bride to Modesto, where he has since
made his home. He built an attractive residence on Waterford Road and Santa Rita
Avenue, where he maintained his offices, while his studio and casting shop were at 711



1054 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Eleventh Street. Mr. Hammett planned his own residence in every detail and intro-
duced many beautiful modern features which added to its comfort and attractiveness.
In February, 1921, he sold his residence for $12,000 and purchased a thirty-acre ranch
on Woodland Avenue, which he improved to a Thompson Seedless vineyard, and
July 22, 1921, he sold the ranch for $30,000, each deal yielding him a large profit,
showing what can be done by a man who is not afraid to spend money and time im-
proving and building up a place in a good location like Modesto. While living on
Woodland Avenue their little son, Melvin, Jr., was born, an added blessing.

Mrs. Hammett is prominent in club circles and has a wide circle of friends. As
the leading contractor in his line, Mr. Hammett enjoyed the confidence and esteem
of the leading business men of the county, and held the contracts for his line of work
on such buildings as the Modesto high school, the depot at Modesto, the Silva garage,
considered one of the finest in the San Joaquin Valley, the new Winter Garden, the
Merced Theater at Merced, the new American National Bank Building, the new
Thompson Building, and residences recently erected by such leading men as Judge
Hawkins, A. B. Shoemake, Roy Morris, W. F. Ramont and Mayor Ulrich. In
August, 1921, Mr. Hammett, with his brother, Earl J. Hammett, purchased the
Tynan bar, to which they both now give all their time and attention, necessitating his
retiring from the field of contracting in which he had been so successful. The Tynan
bar is a very popular club room, having the patronage of the very best element in the
city and particularly so as headquarters for the Moose. Fraternally, Mr. Hammett
is a member of the Moose, while politically he is a staunch Republican.

MILTON A. GROSS.— A successful farmer and dairyman of Ceres is Milton
A. Gross, who brought his family there in 1904, and has since made it his permanent
home. During these years he has been closely identified with the ranching interests
of this section and has contributed largely to the development of the cooperative idea
among the farmers. He is a charter member of the Milk Producers Association of
Central California and a well-posted member of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.

It was in 1891 that Mr. Gross first came to California, from Abilene, Dickinson
County, Kans., and located near Los Angeles on the Christy ranch. Two years later
he returned to Kansas, but his experience was that of many another man, who, after
a year or two in California, finds on returning to his former home that it fails to meet
his expectations. Accordingly, Mr. Gross returned to California in 1895, and locat-
ing on the Christy ranch, formed a partnership with Joe Lakey, continuing two years,
until his marriage, when he embarked in business for himself. Leasing land from the
Christy, McDonald and Dominguez ranches, he began to branch out in ranching and
was extensively engaged in dry farming, operating at one time as much as 1,800 acres.
For eight years he followed this line of endeavor very successfully, making his home at
Gardena; at this time, however, a change of climate was deemed necessary and he
came to Stanislaus County in 1902. He at once purchased forty acres of the C. N.
Whitmore lands at Ceres and added to it until he owned 110 acres in the Turlock
Irrigation District. In 1904 he brought his family to their new home.

One of the pioneers under the Turlock Irrigation system, Mr. Gross planted
his home ranch to alfalfa and engaged in the dairy business, combined with stock and
hog raising, and also raised grain and beans, being one of the first men to raise white
beans in this locality. He met with splendid success in his undertakings, but disposed
of his live stock a few years ago and now markets his hay to the neighboring dairy-
men. He has greatly increased the value of his property by planting vines and trees,
and in 1912, disposed of part of his acreage.

A native of Pennsylvania,- Milton A. Gross was born at York, York County,
October 24, 1870, the son of Andrew and Jane (Lauer) Gross, both representing old
families of Pennsylvania and pioneers of Kansas, where they now reside. Four of
their seven children are living. Mr. Gross was married in 1897 in Los Angeles to
Miss Cora Troxel, a native of Decatur, 111., who was reared in Kansas and came to
California in 1897. Her parents, Jacob and Clara (Fenton) Troxel, natives of
Ohio, came to California in 1901, and now live in Modesto.




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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1057

Mr. and Mrs. Gross are the parents of five children, all of whom are making
good records for themselves in school and college work. The eldest son, Lloyd C,
enjoys a splendid record for service in the World War. He enlisted in the aviation
service, trained at March Field, and there received his commission as second lieutenant.
He was honorably discharged at March Field, May 8, 1919. Prior to his enlistment
he had been in attendance for two terms at the College of the Pacific, at San Jose.
Of the younger members of the family, Gladys is a student of the University of
California; Orvil Lauer and Merle are attending the Hughson high school, the
former a member of the class of '21, while Iva is still of grammar school age. Mr.
Gross takes an active interest in all local affairs of importance arid is ever ready to
lend his support to all projects for the betterment of the welfare of the community.
He is a veteran member of the Independent Order of Foresters, since 1895.

CHAS. F. HOLT. — A builder who is making a success of his business in Tur-
lock is Chas. F. Holt, who is a native of Ohio, born at Toledo, February 21, 1878.
His father, Fred Holt, was born on the Rhine in Germany. Grandfather Louis
Holt was born in England, but removed to the Rhine region in Germany where he
was a manufacturing cooper and a distiller. Fred Holt, when a young man, came to
Toledo, Ohio, where he was engaged in farming until he retired, continuing to reside
at his home, 349 Dorr Street, until he died at the age of ninety-four years and six
months. Mr. Holt's mother, Sophie Brown, also born in Germany, died in Toledo.

Of the fourteen children, C. F. is the seventh child and the only one of the family
living in California. His childhood was spent on the farm, receiving a good education
in the public schools in Toledo. When sixteen years of age he was apprenticed at the
carpenter trade, working for two years, when he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he
worked at his trade until he went to Walworth County, Wis. When twenty years
of age he began working as a horseshoer, continuing for a couple of years, and then
again went back to the carpenter trade in Harvard, 111., and later in Woodstock, 111.
Then he was a millwright at the Oliver typewriter factory from the starting of their
factory at Woodstock until they had an output of 375 machines a day. Next he soent
four years with Jno. J. Murphy as foreman of his ranches, and then for Mr. Cun-
ningham for two years.

In June, 1906, Mr. Holt came to Hollister, Cal., where he worked on the
Masonic Temple, and then on the Alpine Creamery at Gonzales, and then located
at San Jose, where he spent eight years. In that city he was married, in 1908, to Miss
Hazel Brown, born in Santa Rosa, the daughter of Garrett and Elizabeth (Milliman)
Brown, natives of Georgetown and Madison County, N. Y., respectively, who came
out to California after their marriage. For some years Mr. Brown was a flour miller.
Later he was a contractor mason and plasterer in Santa Paula until 1900, when he
located in Eldorado County, where he ranched for two years. Next he moved to
Auburn, where he followed contracting until he died. His widow still makes her
home in Auburn. Of their family of six girls, Hazel was the fourth oldest, receiving
her education in the grammar and high schools in Auburn.

After his marriage Mr. Holt was foreman for building contractors until 1915.
when he moved to Fresno, where he was with the Wingate Construction Company
and superintended the building of the Fresno State Normal ; then he was with the
Daily Construction Company and for them was in charge of the building of the addi-
tion to the high school, the Edison school, the Chevrolet garage, the Enslen garage,
Liberty market. Warner's jewelry store, and the natatorium. He was then with the
California Raisin Association, reconstructing and rebuilding machinery for a period
of one year, until he engaged in farming at Flagstaff, Ariz. However, he did not like
the climate there so he returned to California and located in Turlock. Here he was
foreman on the building of the~sweet potato plant. Since the spring of 1921 he has
been engaged in contracting and building on his own account. He thoroughly under-
stands the building business and has a good record as a builder, so he already enjoys
a large patronage. Mr. and Mrs. Holt have been blessed with four children: Adah,
Carl, Clarence and Garrett. Politically he espouses the principles of the Socialist party.



1058 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

GEORGE H. STARR. — A man of wide experience in the wholesale growing of
small plants and bedding stock, who has been unusually successful in his efforts to
specialize in the furnishing of vegetable plants and cut flowers for the market, is
George H. Starr, of Turlock, who was born in Greensboro, N. C, on September
11, 1880, the son of George J. Starr, a native of Natal, South Africa, and the son
of Stephen Starr, who was born in England. The latter immigrated to South Africa,
where he established himself as an agriculturist on a grant of 21,000 acres he had
received from the Queen of England. Later, he came to the United States and
located at Winston-Salem, N. C, where he resided until his death. George J. Starr
was educated in North Carolina, and there learned to be a florist, following that
line of work all of his life. He still owns a flourishing business in his native state,
and also his portion of the old Starr estate in South Africa. He married Miss Clara
Williams, a native of Virginia, who is still living, the mother of three children.

George H. Starr, the eldest in the family, was brought up in North Carolina,
sent to the public schqols and then entered at Trinity College, at Durham, where
he studied until he resolved to abandon his printed books for the book of Nature.
He took up the work of a florist in Gainesville, and the continued at it in Birming-
ham, Ala. In 1908, he moved to the Pacific Coast, and spent one year in Wash-
ington; and then he came to California. Soon after his arrival, he was employed
by M. J. Shaw, the florist at Stockton, and later he purchased an interest in his
business. Together they became growers as well as retail florists in Stockton, and
the extent of their operations may be judged from the fact that in their flower gar-
dens they had 10,000 square feet of glass. When his health became impaired, how-
ever, Mr. Starr in 1915 sold his interest and came to Turlock.

Here he entered into partnership with J. A. Lind, which he continued for a
year; and then, buying out his interest he purchased his present place of three and
a half acres on Wayside Drive, which he devotes entirely to floriculture. He raises
many varieties of flowers in large quantities, and ships out flowers to different cities.
He is also engaged in growing hardy nursery stock, as well as ornamental trees, and
he raises millions of vegetable plants. As a landscape gardener, also, he has done
some excellent work for others. To equip his own property for the extensive opera-
tions involved, Mr. Starr sunk a well and installed a first-class pumping plant.

At Stockton, Mr. Starr was married to Miss Jennie V. Shaw, a native of that
city and the daughter of Moses J. Shaw, who was born in Maine, and in 1850
came out to California, sailing around the Horn. Here he followed mining and
later engaged in the poultry business in Stockton; he became an extensive buyer,
and was known as "Chicken" Shaw, and he sent his wagons all over the state. At
one time, he was a partner of Mr. Johnson, who was known as "Turkey" Johnson.
Mrs. Starr is a graduate of the Stockton high school, and as a well-read, wide-awake
woman, she is the most helpful of companions to her husband in his various ventures
and responsibilities, so that part of his success is undoubtedly due to her ability and
cooperation. Mr. Starr's attainments in his chosen field have brought him increasing
reputation and an enviable regard gladly shown him by his competitors, as well as
patrons ; and it is not surprising that he is the chief district horticultural inspector.

CHARLES L. MORSE. — One of the handsome modern residences erected in
Modesto was that of C. L. Morse, prosperous farmer and successful business man of
Stanislaus County since 1910, who leased his farm lands in 1917 and moved to Mo-
desto in order to give his family the advantage of the excellent schools, churches and
other social conditions, and where he, himself, could be more conveniently located for
the transaction of his extensive business interests. It is the type of home which speaks
volumes for the well being of the farmers of this county and for the productivity of
the surrounding lands. At present Mr. Morse is residing on his ranch, having moved
back in January, 1921.

Mr. Morse's present financial status is the direct result of his farming enterprises
in this vicinity, where he owns sixty acres of very valuable land in the Carmichael
Precinct, forty of which he purchased on coming to Stanislaus County in 1910, and
twenty in 1920, located in the Rossmore Park tract. He is a scientific farmer in the



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1059

best sense of the word, and has greatly improved his land and has developed it to a
high degree. Starting with a small herd of pure-bred Holstein heifers, he gradually
worked up his dairying business until in 1919 he owned ninety-five head of Holstein
stock, some of which were registered, this number having been reduced to fifty head
in 1920, there being a great demand for stock from his herd. He is now engaged in
breeding registered Holstein stock, having two herd sires of note, one from the Stevens
herd, of Liverpool, N. Y., and one from the Fields herd, Monticello, Mass. In 1921,
he bought from the Bridgeford and Cornwell herds, Holstein heifers, to further im-
prove his stock. The equipment of his dairy is of the finest in every detail, and he
uses two Perfection milking machines.

Mr. Morse transformed his ranch from a stubble field to its present high state
of improvement and productivity by careful, conscientious, energetic business applica-
tion, of which he is a thorough master. The property is well improved with ranch
house and outbuildings that do credit to its owner and tend to lend stability to the
locality. Soon after starting his dairy farm, he established a retail route for the deliv-
ery of milk directly to the consumer from the ranch. He was one of the original
organizers and a large stockholder in the Modesto Milk Company until selling out
in 1919, since which time his milk has been delivered through the Olivewood Dairy,
a large dairy, selling direct to the consumer in Modesto.

A native of South Dakota, Mr. Morse was born in Hanson County, July 30, 1883,
and was reared on the farm, which was devoted to the raising of corn, wheat and fine
Shorthorn cattle. When he was twenty years of age he took over the management
of this farm of 320 acres for his father, receiving a wage of thirty dollars per month.
In June, 1909, C. L. Morse was married to Miss Frieda Hoffman, a native of Iowa,
but reared in South Dakota, where her parents, Fred C. and Flora Hoffman, were
engaged in farming and where they now own 1000 acres of land. The year following
his marriage, Mr. Morse and his wife came to California and located in Stanislaus.
They are the parents of Flora Isabel, Charles Albert, and Howard Frederick Morse.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Morse are keenly alive to civic responsibilities, and do their
full share toward the upbuilding of their community. He is a strong advocate of,
cooperative marketing for farmers, believing that the ultimate and continued success
of the farmer will be assured only by such methods. He is a firm believer in breeding
and keeping high-grade stock and producing the best of dairy products. He is a mem-
ber of the National Holstein-Friesian Association.

JOHN M. BOMBERGER.— A tactful, far-seeing and able man with such strik-
ing originality that he has succeeded in building up a successful business to the satis-
faction of many, is John M. Bomberger, the head of the Bomberger Seed Company,
one of the best-known of Modesto's many thriving concerns. Although he came to
California as late as the early part of this century, he quickly partook of the Cali-
fornia spirit, and is today one of the most loyal adherents of the Golden State.

He was born at Palmyra, Pa., on July 30, 1877, the son of John S. Bomberger,
who is a merchant and farmer there, and was educated at the usual public schools.
When old enough to ' be of service, he learned the mercantile business under the
favoring direction of his father, and might have continued an Eastern merchant had
it not been for his early interest in California and the West. In 1903, therefore, he
came out to Stanislaus County and commenced farming. He bought sixty-three acres
in Wood Colony, leveled and checked the land, and planted alfalfa; and then he
started dairying. In April, 1919, however, he sold his ranch and dairy.

In 1916 Mr. Bomberger organized the Bomberger Seed Company, a copartner-
ship and he embarked in the wholesale and retail seed business, growing much of their
own farm and garden seeds. So extensive has this enterprise become that they now
send to the East not only cases but car loads of alfalfa seed and Sudan grass. The
Bomberger Seed Company is the only exclusively seed house in this county, and the
only one between Fresno and Stockton, and each year the business increases materially.

Their warehouses are located at C and Tenth streets, with a cleaning establish-
ment at the same place, and ample storage and shipping facilities, with a special siding
provided by the railroad company; while their seed stores and offices are at 725 Tenth



1060 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Street, Modesto, and 834 Van Ness Avenue, Fresno. They deliver to retail establish-
ments throughout California, Oregon and Washington, and wholesale all over the
United States, and across the Pacific to the Orient and Old Mexico. Mr. Bomberger
is a member of the Merchants Association of Modesto and of the Farm Bureau.

At Palmyra, on December 25, 1899, Mr. Bomberger was married to Miss Sadie
Kurtz, a native of the Keystone State, and the daughter of Mays G. and Sadie (Bach-
man) Kurtz, natives of Pennsylvania. Six girls and a boy have blessed their union,
and their names are: Irma, Esther, Sadie, Mary, Dorothy, Ora, Carl.

REV. W. J. QUIRKE.— The rector of the Church of the Sacred Heart at
Turlock, Rev. W. J. Quirke was born in County Limerick, Ireland, January 5, 1886.
He was brought up on the farm, the outdoor life giving him the foundation for his
present health and strength of body. Amending the local schools until thirteen, he
entered Sacred Heart College in Limerick, a Jesuit College, where he was graduated
in classics and then entered St. Patrick's Seminary at Thurles, Ireland, and there
studied philosophy and theology. On completing his studies, he was ordained June
19, 1910, by Archbishop Fennelley for the San Francisco diocese, coming immediately
to San Francisco, where he arrived in December, 1910. He was assistant pastor of
Our Lady of Mercy in Richmond and afterwards was assistant in different churches
in San Francisco and environs. On 1916, he came to Modesto as assistant at St.



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 117 of 177)