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 12 of 177)
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The fair was held in Tuolumne City and opened September 22, continuing three days.
The pavilion show was very poor, also the stock exhibition, for the farmers would not
take the trouble to make any exhibits. The ladies, however, exhibited some beautiful
needlework and some creditable oil paintings were exhibited. The horse racing at
Miner Walden's track, two miles west of the town, was a success and the gamblers
and track saloon did a big business. On the second day of the fair the ladies gave a
festival for the purpose of raising money to build a brick schoolhouse. Roanoke, the
Independent's traveling correspondent, said, "The festival was a grand success and
Stanislaus' most favorite daughters were present in large numbers. The ladies made
$250 clear of all expense." Bartholomew's circus gave performances during the fair
and on Wednesday evening the circus band serenaded every one of the fair sex. The
"Thunderer," a correspondent in the Stanislaus News, much disgruntled over Roanoke's
criticism of the fair, said: "Roanoke appears to have got matters terribly muddled.
He had evidently spent the most of his time on the race track and imbibed too freely
of the ardent or else had been betting on the losing nag. He appeared anxious to
ridicule the whole affair save the excellent work of the ladies. Even in that he mis-
quoted, and if some of them had him by the scalp he would feel as if he was standing
on hot coals of fire barefooted." In reply Roanoke said : "Keep cool, Spencer, and
don't tear your linen. The article is costly nowadays and printers aren't overstocked
with the needful."

Another fair was held in Modesto in 1875, commencing September 28, and was
as the Nezus stated, devoted exclusively to horse racing and the exhibition of stock. Its
officers were Frank Ross, president ; Colonel Caleb Dorsey, vice-president, and George
Buck, secretary. The feature of the horse races was that a reporter of the San Fran-
cisco Bulletin was present and each day's races were published in the press dis-
patches. That year the county fair association collapsed and the Stock Growers Asso-
ciation was organized. In October they gave four days' racing, and purses amounting


to $1,450. "The races," declared the press, "will make the town assume a more than
ordinary lively appearance." It did. Gamblers, sports and women flocked there from
every quarter and Modesto was soon to be known as the "sporting town of the state."

By the adoption of the new constitution in 1879 every fair association in the state
went out of existence and new associations were organized. Under the new agricul-
tural district laws Stanislaus County was included with San Joaquin County in the
fourth district, but in 1891 the county was classed in a district by itself, Agricultural
District No. 38. In the previous year, on May 3, 1890, the citizens organized the
Stanislaus Agricultural Association, with a capital stock of $30,000, of which amount
$18,000 was paid in. The directors of the association were L. A. Richards, L. M.
Wilson, John J. Dolan, A. J. Cressey, J. W. Davidson, L. B. Walthall and Thomas
Wallace. They obtained a tract of land one and one-half miles west of Modesto and
laid out a fine one-mile track sixty feet in width and eighty feet wide on the home
stretch. They also built a grandstand at a cost of $10,000, the total cost being about
$23,000. In the following year they gave four days of horse racing, the racing begin-
ning October 15, 1891. It was a good winter track for racing, but it was not a success.
The track was plowed up many years ago and used as a vegetable garden, as it was too
valuable for racing purposes.

The Grange or Patrons of Husbandry was a secret organization composed of
farmers only, and their wives and daughters. It was formed for the express purpose
of demanding laws beneficial to the farmer and protecting him against the middlemen
and the railroad corporations. It came into life about the time of Newton Booth's
aspirations to become governor of California. He campaigned the state denouncing the
Southern Pacific and enlisting everywhere the farming interests, succeeding in electing
himself governor and then U. S. senator. It was not in itself a political movement,
but the Democratic and Republican parties quickly noted its importance as a political
factor and for the first time they recognized the farmer in their platforms. The move-
ment had its inception in the farmers' clubs of 1873. They held public meetings in the
counties of the state in which subjects of interest were discussed. The meetings soon
became of interest, however, to politicians as they discussed questions of railroad
freights and fares, public expenditures of money and many other leading subjects. In a
short time the club system was abandoned and they organized a secret organization
known as the Patrons of Husbandry, with an auxiliary women's organization. "The
first grange," says Winfield J. Davis in his "Political History," "was the Vacaville
grange, organized August 26, 1873. They adopted a set of resolutions, which in sub-
stance were adopted by all of the granges in the state. Briefly, they declared, 'We will
support no men for law makers or for any position of public trust whose character and
integrity for honesty of purpose and whose fidelity to the true interests of the farmer are
not beyond doubt. We wage no war againsr railroads or grain buyers only so far as
their treatment of the farming interest is manifestly unjust or aggressive. But when
they form rings or odious combinations to oppress, cripple and crush out the farming
interest, then we may be compelled to declare war and go after the common enemy.' "

The Stanislaus Granges
The Patrons of Husbandry was a national organization with national', state and
county officers, each county having its local granges. The first grange in the county
was Stanislaus Grange No. 4, which was organized April 15, 1873. It was organized
by Deputy H. W. Baxter and located at Modesto. J. D. Spencer was elected master
and James McHenry, secretary. Late in the year, December 23, the delegates from the
seven local granges assembled in Odd Fellows Hall for the purpose of forming a county
council. The delegates meeting in the afternoon were called to order by Theodore
Turner. For chairman of the meeting they elected J. D. Spencer; Vital E. Bangs was
elected secretary. The committee on credentials, comprising Theodore Turner, A. S
Fulkerth and C. H. Heining, reported that the following delegates were entitled to


seats in the convention: W. B. Harp, John Service and John M. Henderson from Ceres
Grange; George H. Copeland, R. B. Smith and J. W. Van Benscroten from Grayson
Grange; Adam J. Lucas and William J. Fisher from Bonita Grange; C. H. Heining,
Benjamin Parks, Harvey Chance and A. G. Carver from Salida Grange ; J. D. Spencer,
J. V. Davis, Theo. Turner, Vital E. Bangs, Mrs. E. J. Turner and Mrs. Frank H.
Ross from Stanislaus Grange; Samuel Crane, Jacob Hayes, A. S. Fulkerth and J. A.
Henderson from Turlock Grange. The council continued its organization until 1876.
Then by authorization of the national council the local organization was reorganized
and was henceforth known as Pomona Grange, with farmers and their wives as charter
members. The new council included the following granges and charter members:
H. W. and Mrs. L. J. Brouse, Ed Hatch, John Service and Mrs. Julia Service from
Ceres Grange ; C. R. and Mrs. M. Calendar, Oakdale Grange ; J. D. and Mrs. Rey-
burn, B. F. and Mrs. B. A. Parks, J. F. Kerr and A. H. Elmore from Salida Grange;
Vital E. and Mrs. M. G. Bangs, John D. and Mrs. M. A. Spencer, Stanislaus Grange ;
A. S. and Mrs. C. Fulkerth, W. L. Fulkerth and Ed McCabe from Turlock Grange;
R. R. Warder, S. M. Gallup and Mrs. M. A. Gallup and James Kinkead from
Waterford Grange.

Five years passed and in 1881 the local grange was a defunct organization. In
fact, the pioneer organization, Stanislaus Grange, died a natural death in 1879, and
the only tangible object of the local movement is the Grange store and warehouse
company. The council of 1873 declared that its object was to facilitate "the trans-
actions of business in buying, selling and shipping and for such other purposes as may
seem for the good of the order." "Its main object," said Vital E. Bangs, "was to
establish a business agency, but no such agency was established. In place of it, inde-
pendent local associations were created and chartered, whose leading business was
buying, selling and storing wheat." At least two of these have proved successful
ventures, The Grange Company of Salida and that of Modesto. The last-named com-
pany passed into the hands of a business board of directors years ago and remains a
Grangers' business in name only.

Hundreds of pioneers who immigrated to California in '49 had seen service in
the Mexican war and early in the history of the state they organized military companies
in the valley and mountain camps. When the Civil War broke out these companies
were greatly increased in number and formed what was known as the "Home Guard."
Stanislaus had one such company. It was located at Knights Ferry and was known as
the Knights Ferry Mounted Rifle Company. They wore the U. S. regulation uni-
form, the officers wearing a dark blue coat and dark blue trousers and the privates
wearing dark blue jackets and dark blue trousers with a buff stripe. The company,
numbering about forty men, appeared on parade in Stockton one July 4th, having
ridden from their home town the day previous. They were in command of John Dent,
who later went east to join the staff of his brother-in-law, Gen. U. S. Grant. Without
his inspiration the members lost interest and soon disorganized.

The next company of which we have any record is the Modesto Cadets. It was
an infantry company of young men organized June 18, 1885, with Fred Case as cap-
tain; James Casserly, first lieutenant; John Weatherod, second lieutenant; William
Standiford, orderly sergeant, and J. C. Rice, second sergeant; H. S. Manning, first cor-
poral; Jack Kane, second corporal ; W. S. Chase, third corporal. The executive officers
were W. S. Chase, president; H. S. Manning, vice-president; George A. Beecher,
secretary, and D. S. Freeman, treasurer. A committee appointed to drum up members
succeeded splendidly and they soon had the number required by law. Being an inde-
pendent company, they received no state aid and were obliged to go into their pockets
to pay all the necessary expenses. The following year, however, they made application
to the adjutant general of the state for admission into the National Guard. Their
application was accepted and October 29, 1887, they were mustered into the National


Guard by Capt. T. W. Drullard. They elected the following officers: Captain,
T. W. Drullard; first lieutenant, R. K. Whitmore; second lieutenant, C. E. Brain-
bridge. Their name was changed from Modesto Cadets to Company D, and they were
assigned to the Sixth Regiment, Third Infantry Battalion, N. G. C. They received
from the state a monthly allowance, ammunition and rifles for target practice and
uniforms. They were required to hold target shoots, annually parade in full dress on
each Fourth of July and attend state encampment when so ordered. The uniform
issued them comprised a full dress suit and a fatigue cap, navy blue blouse and trousers.

Orders were issued for the state militia to encamp at Santa Cruz and July 1 1 , 1890,
Company D marched to the train en route for the seacoast town. Rank and file, they
numbered thirty-two men, one-half of the company not being able to leave their busi-
ness. First in line was Capt. R. K. Whitmore, who later became a major, Lieutenants
W. H. Wood and P. H. Medley, Sergeants John Kane, W. L. Canfield, George Good-
win, W. H. Bartii and H. J. Stevens; Corporals D. W. Morris, P. A. Peterson,
George Freitas, John B. Zimdars, Carlton Zandes, Sol Elias; drummers, Charles Jones
and Thomas O'Donnell; privates, A. A. Jackson, E. Bishop, F. L. Simon, Bardo
Whittle, William Kingfield, Harry Vogelman, Isidore Loventhal, Joseph Jones, Alonzo
Convoy, Thomas Jones, S. D. Stone, S. B. Bailey, George Day, Thomas Harp, Eugene
Harker and Mark Andrews; chaplain, Rev. J. C. Webb.

In the great railroad strike of July 4, 1894, Company D was ordered to Bakers-
field to protect the railroad property. In the Spanish War of 1898, the Sixth Regiment
were ordered to the coast points, expecting to be sent on to the Philippine Islands. The
companies from Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced and Modesto boarded the train for Stock-
ton and were then crowded like cattle on board a steamer en route for San Francisco.
Company D, stationed at San Francisco, was mustered into the U. S. Army July 11,
1898. They were mustered out the same year, December 15, and marched home. In
recognition of the faithful services of the state militia the citizens had struck ofijj
handsome bronze medals. The Native Sons and Daughters were given full charge of
the medals, one to be given to each honorably discharged soldier. Company D received
their medals late in the year. The time set was Sunday afternoon, December 10, 1899.
It was a public event and Armory Hall was crowded. Company D appeared in full
uniform and the medals were presented in an eloquent speech by Judge Conley of
Madera County. The company had just moved into their new hall from the skating
rink, their former place of drill and assembly. In their new hall, the second story of
the Woods & Turner building, the company gave many social and other entertainments.
The youngest member of the company, Roy L. Walthall, saw service in the Philippine
Islands and later, entering West Point, graduated with high honors.

Usually no students are admitted to West Point except upon the recommendation
of the congressman of their district. Young Walthall, however, was admitted without
any recommendation because of a law passed by Congress. This law admitted to West
Point all of the lieutenants within the age limit who had seen service in the Philippine
Islands. Walthall was one of the thirtv lieutenants who had thus served.



The citizens of Tuolumne City and Paradise began agitating the removal of
the county seat from Knights Ferry to a more central location long before the exact
site of the new railroad town of Modesto was known. The Tuolumne News, hinting
at a more suitable point for the county seat, declared November 25, 1870, "As the town
will be nearer the center of the county than Knights Ferry the embryo town is expected
to be made the county seat of Stanislaus County because the most important place in
this portion of the valley." Knights Ferry citizens opposed the removal with all their


power, but it was the power of a declining era, that of gold. As an evidence of this
declining power let us look at the vote of two mountain counties, Tuolumne and Cala-
veras. These two counties border Stanislaus County, and at that time contained very
few women or children, hence the vote of the counties will give a fair idea of its popu-
lation. In 1860 Calaveras County polled 4,418 votes and in 1868 only 2,192 votes.
During the same years Tuolumne County polled, in 1860, 5,592 votes and in 1868 but
2,109 votes. Thus it will be seen that over one-half of the population of those two
counties alone left their mountain homes in less than ten years. Wheat, not gold, was
king, and Modesto was the most reasonable location for the county seat. It was the
center of a section rapidly heing settled by farmers, merchants, and their families, not
for a day, but a century. It was in the midst of a splendid agricultural and horti-
cultural country. It was in a locality where the citizens from any part of the county
could easily reach the town in a day, transact their official business and return home.
And last, but not least, it was in quick communication by rail with any part of the
state and on the highway to Southern California. It is said, and no doubt true, that
the Southern Pacific was very favorable to the change and that a heavy vote was polled
by the colonization of railroad laborers and mechanics who were engaged in building
the passenger and freight depot, the Tuolumne bridge and laying tracks. It was a good
thing for them, for Modesto as the county seat would bring increased travel to the
town, and its growth and prosperity would rapidly increase the value of their town
lots. There was no doubt as to the result of the vote and but two contestants for the
■Osier. The contest took place on the same day as the state election, September 6, 1871.
It may be interesting to know how the various towns of the county voted. The vote of
each individual was influenced by his own self interest and that of his friends. The
bahot when counted by the supervisors sitting at Knights Ferry was reported as fol-
lows: For Knights Ferry — La Grange, 75; Grayson, 11 ; Empire District, which in-
cluded Modesto, 11. For Modesto — La Grange, 45; Tuolumne City, 48; Gravson,
33; Modesto, 130. Scattering votes— For Oakdale, 17; Waterford, 3; Hill's Ferry,
1 ; Grayson, 1. The total vote on county seat was 1,324, Knights Ferry receiving 340
and Modesto 893 votes. As the vote for governor, Henry H. Haight, Democrat, was
817, and that of Newton Booth, Republican, 527, it will be seen that the contest for'
county seat brought out nearly every vote.

The supervisors of the county, H. G. James, Caleb Dorsey and Davis Hartman,
assembled at Knights Ferry, September 30, 1871, to count the vote for state officers
and for the citizens' choice of county seat. Tabulating the result, they ordered that
"When suitable buildings had been provided for the public officers, the county seat and
the records of the county be removed to Modesto between the 10th and the 15th of
October, 1871. That each officer superintend the removal of the records and furniture
to the county seat and that the county clerk and sheriff repair to the building now
erected on lots 14-15, block 42. After October 15 the county seat shall be at Modesto."
The county clerk was located in a one-story frame building at the corner of I and
Eighth streets, later occupied by John C. May. The building in 1881 had been
removed to Thirteenth Street near the Methodist Church and fitted up as a residence.
A brick vault was hastily constructed for the county records' safe keeping. The sheriff's
office was in an adjoining frame building. Somewhere in that vicinity the other county
officers were located. Several attorneys' offices were not far distant, Schell & Scrivner
having an office next to Tregea's harness shop, and Judge Hewel an office on the alley
in the rear of H. J. Houston's store. Two other lawyers, Thomas A. Coldwell and
H. A. Gehr, had offices near the court house. One of the houses, ten years later, was
occupied by W. K. Walters as his tailor shop and residence. Without losing much
time the supervisors rented the second story of the Eastin building, the brick structure
now known as the D. S. Husband building. It was fitted up for a court room and
offices, the supervisors paying eighty-three dollars per month rent. Below was the
Eastin saloon, where the judge and jury could get refreshments.

The County Court House
Even county takes considerable pride in having as its county building a magnificent
structure of brick or granite built along the modern architectural lines. Stanislaus


County has no such building, for its court house, a fine structure in its date, 1872, has
long since passed its usefulness or beauty. The first county building, at Adamsville,
was nothing more than a wooden platform, under the shade of a large oak tree. Later,
however, "the county officials," says a correspondent, "taking off their coats, enclosed
the platform with upright boards and put on a roof, between ten and six o'clock P. M."
At Empire City the court house was a small frame building, nothing more than a
shack. Eli Marvin agreed to put up a fine court house at Empire City without any
cost to the county, provided the county seat be located there. He put up a bond of
$10,000 with Judge Dickerson and agreed to have it completed within ten months.
But, as we remember, the citizens gave a majority vote for Adamsville and later voted
for Empire City. When the county seat was removed from Empire to La Grange
in 1855, the supervisors purchased at cost of $1,700 a frame two-story building from
John Meyers. Like many of the buildings of that day the entrance to the second story
was by stairs placed upon the side of the building. The court house at Knights Fern-
was quite a substantial brick structure, comfortable, and with plenty of light and
convenient in every way for county -offices and a courtroom.

The supervisors, having in view the erection of a fine building in Modesto, called
upon the Legislature for authority to act. That body declared February 1, 1872, "the
board of supervisors shall, at their first meeting in February, 1872, or as soon thereafter
as possihle, advertise in a weekly paper for plans and specifications for a court house
and jail, the architect to be paid not over $500 for his accepted plans." To obtain the
money to construct the building, the supervisors were authorized to issue bonds, not
exceeding $50,000, payable in monthly installments at nine per cent per annum. The
supervisors advertised in the San Francisco Examiner and the Stanislaus News for
bids for a court house and jail, the bid not to exceed $40,000 if for one building and
not to exceed $45,000 if the jail be a separate building. No bids were received for
some reason unknown. Again they advertised in the local paper, the News, and in the
Bulletin, San Francisco. Eight bids were sent in from Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose
and Stockton. The lowest bids were J. H. Sullivan, Sacramento, $47,937 ; Robinson
Brothers, Stockton, $47,894; J. H. Neal, Sacramento, $47,492; and Meany & Peck,
Snelling, $44,300. All bids were rejected as being too high. The following day,
however, Supervisors H. G. James and James F. Davis, rescinding their previous vote,
gave the contract to Meany & Peck. Supervisor J. T. Hamlin refused to reconsider
his previous vote as being unfair to all of the bidders. A contract was drawn up June
8, 1872, binding the successful firm in the sum of $88,600, twice the amount of their
bid. They refused to sign it and they assigned their claim to the Robinson Brothers,
Stockton. Both men were mechanics such as today one will seldom find. Concerning
the woodwork, they could build a house complete, framework, walls, windows and
doors. A. A. Bennett, the architect, received $500 for his plans. The supervisors had
previously declared that a courthouse should be built on Block 82, Modesto. In a
little less than a year the building was completed. It was accepted by the supervisors
July 7, 1873, and the following week they ordered the sheriff to procure conveyances
for the removal of the records to the new building. The grounds and courthouse site
were surveyed by the county surveyor, George B. Douglas, and the square was graded
by W. S. McHenry on his bid of $1,582. Branch said in a note in his history, 1881 :
"The present house is a beautiful building, situated in a square, well laid out with
walks and shrubbery." Today, the trees, tall and stately, have grown to magnificent
proportions, an ever-inviting, restful spot to citizen or visitor.

County Officials of 1871
In the new and beautiful building, who were the first county officials to enjoy its
comforts and conveniences? They were elected September 6, 1871, and for the pur-
pose of showing the political complexion of the county at that time, which, by the way,
for forty years was strongly Democratic, I give the names and vote for each party
nominee. The Democrat is the first named: Senator, Thomas J. Kevs, 735; A. S.
Emory, 565. Assemblymen, J. R. Seabough, 820; W. H. Turner, 814; Stephen
Rodgers, 805 ; L. O. Brewster, 834. Clerk, George A. Branch, 806: C. A. Post, 818:


Treasurer, George W. Toombs, 551; C. S. S. Hill, 463. District Attorney, J. J.
Scrivner, 840; A. S. Peaslev, 495. Surveyor, George B. Douglas, 814; J. S. Cope-
land, 495. Assessor, A. H. Jamison, 858; W. H. Moyle, 470. Coroner, Dr. J. H.

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 12 of 177)