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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

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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 122 of 177)
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bell bought out Boone. Mr. Campbell has installed a two-ton ice plant, and has other-
wise fixed up his market, which is mainly finished in marble and enamel, and has
every convenience for the refrigeration and the preservation of meats.

Mr. Campbell is a Native Son in the fullest meaning of that term — having been
out of the state only once in his life, when he attended the gathering of the Native
Sons at San Diego in April, 1920, going as a delegate of the Oakdale parlor, and
went from San Diego just over the border to Tia Juana. He is a past grand in the
Stanislaus Lodge No. 1 70 of the Odd Fellows at Knights Ferry, and also stands high
as an Elk, being affiliated with the lodge of Modesto. He is a past master of the
Oakdale Lodge of Masons, and was formerly a member of Summit Lodge No. 112,
F. & A. M., at Knights Ferry. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell have two children: Cecil R.
enlisted in the Navy, performed honorable and efficient service, and is still in. the naval
reserve. He resides at Oakdale and is the livestock buyer for the Bald Eagle Meat
Market. The daughter, Bess L., has become Mrs. A. E. Kelliher, the wife of the life
insurance agent at Oakdale, and the mother of one child, Raymond Edwin.

JAMES A. BRENNAN.— A native son of California who has lived his entire
life in the vicinity of his birthplace and has thereby come to know his native section
well and to be able to render the best of service as a public-spirited citizen, is James
A. Brennan, the well-known breeder of mules, cattle and hogs near Westley, Cal. He
was'born in Trinity County, near Weaverville, on August 3, 1857, the son of John
and Johanna Brennan, natives of Ireland, who were married in Boston, Mass. In
1852 John Brennan made the trip by way of the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco
and began placer mining in Trinity County, Cal. His wife joined him in a short
while, also coming by the Panama route. He continued mining until 1859, when he
moved to San Francisco, where he busied himself with stone work. In 1868 he came
to Grayson, Stanislaus County, where he was one. of its earliest settlers and pioneer
upbuilders, and there he and his estimable wife spent the remainder of their days, the
father passing away in 1882 and the mother in 1885. Of their family of nine children
two are living, Mrs. Kelley of San Francisco and James A., the subject of this interest-
ing sketch.

He attended the public school in San Francisco for a while, and later went to the
Rising "Sun school at Grayson, when it was first organized. At that time his father
preempted the old Brennan place of 160 acres, and when James was twenty-one, he
himself bought 320 acres at ten dollars an acre. Since then, he has acquired an addi-
tional quarter-section and now owns 480 acres in that neighborhood. Mr. Brennan,
aside from stock raising, was engaged in raising grain on a large scale and for the
purpose leased land in the vicinity, at times farming as much as 1,500 acres each year
to grain, operating this large area with four ten-mule teams. As early as 1896 he
established a summer home at Capitola, Santa Cruz County, where his family spent
the summers. Of late Mr. Brennan has retired from the duties of ranching, the farm-
ing being now carried on by his son-in-law, Joseph G. Ryan.

In October, 1883, Mr. Brennan was married to Miss Weltha Hammonds, the
daughter of William and Polly Hammonds, pioneer folk who came into the valley at
about the same time when Mr. Brennan's parents arrived. Miss Hammonds prepared
for teaching, and for a few terms she taught school until her marriage to Mr. Bren-
nan. A daughter, Ethel, married Joseph G. Ryan, who now farms the old home
place, and they have three children — Ray, Lloyd and Dorothy. Mr. Brennan was
bereaved of his faithful wife, who had been his very faithful and ambitious helpmate,
when she passed away in Santa Cruz in December, 1919, mourned by her relatives
and friends, and leaving a void that cannot be filled.




'W/tsi'&n^



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1101

JACOB WITMER.— Now living in comfortable, enviable retirement at
Denair, in Stanislaus County, Cal., Jacob Witmer was born near. Fort Wayne, in
Allen County, Ind., on December 29, 1846. He was reared in Allen County, and
there attended the local grammar schools in the days when high schools were unknown ;
and his. father was Peter Witmer, a native of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time a part of
France, who migrated to America in 1842. He located in Allen County, then went
to Wayne County, Ohio, to marry, and moved back to Allen County, Ind., where he
farmed 160 acres of Government land. He met an accidental death, when Jacob was
four years of age, and left a widow and six children, among whom Jacob was the
third in the order of birth. Mrs. Witmer was Miss Anna Souder before her mar-
riage, and she was born in Holmes County, Ohio.

Jacob grew up in the county in which he was born, and on April 3, 1870, he was
married to Miss Catherine Yaggy, a native of Stark County, Ohio, where she was
born on August 4, 1847. Her father was John Yaggy, a native of France, who had
married Miss Anna Schlunger, a native of French Switzerland. She lived in Ohio
until her seventh year, and then her parents removed to Allen County, Ind. Thir-
teen children were born to this union. Noah J. is married, and has three daughters;
he was formerly a director of the Turlock Irrigation District. Anna died at the age
of six. William J. had three children by his first wife. Matilda is Mrs. W. H.
Herr, the mother of two children and resides at Denair. Adam is the father of five
children and lives at Watsonville. Jacob, Jr., died in his fifth year. John resides
at Denair and has three children. Aaron is married and lives with his wife at Wat-
sonville. Simon, who is married and has two children, is manager of the Ward
Lumber Company's yard at Ripon. Frederick, a lumber man, dwells with his wife
and four children at Modesto. Samuel Witmer, with his wife and child, lives at
Turlock. Ida died in infancy. And Katherine, a graduate registered nurse, lives
at home with her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Witmer have twenty-three grandchildren,
and they celebrated their fiftieth or golden anniversary on Aoril 4, 1920.

In the fall of 1884 Mr. Witmer emigrated to Reno County, Kans., where he
farmed until 1904; and in the fall of that year he came out to Stanislaus County,
Cal., and settled about three miles north of Denair, where he purchased eighty acres
of the Gratton Tract. Half of this area he improved, and the other half he sold again.
Here he built a fine ranch house and made numerous improvements. After a strenu-
ous life Mr. and Mrs. Witmer have been able to retire to the comfortable home-place
at Denair. For thirty years Mr. Witmer has been a deacon of the Missionary Church
Association, and ever since he was sixteen years old he has been a professing Christian.
Public-spirited, he has always been willing to serve his fellow-citizens; and when they
wished him to be a road supervisor and a school director, he qualified and served.

ANGELO GIOVANETTL— One of the old California pioneer families is that
of Angelo Giovanetti, who came to this state in 1861 from his native canton in Swit-
zerland, and through hard work, honesty and integrity, has amassed a fortune,
acquired one of the largest grain ranches in Stanislaus County, and leaves to his sons
and daughter as a rich legacy a reputation for fair dealing, justice, kindliness and
good-will which they are doing much to maintain. Mr. Giovanetti, now retired from
active business at the age of seventy-six years, resides on the old home place with his
son, Albert H., whose sketch appears in this volume, and who, together with his brother
Frank, operates the home place, numbering 900 acres of the finest land in the county.

Angelo Giovanetti was born on March 19, 1845, in the village of Auriagno,
Canton Ticino, Switzerland, the son of Giacomo and Maria (Grocici) Giovanetti,
both natives of Switzerland, the father being a farmer and stonemason by trade.
Angelo attended the village school and worked with his father on the farm until he
was sixteen, when he answered the call of the New World and sailed for America, in
1861, crossing from Havre, France, to New York, and thence to California by way
of Panama, arriving in San Francisco in June of that year. For several years he
was employed in Tuolumne County, working in the mines and on the farms. Later
he engaged as a mechanic in a machine shop, where he remained for several years,
going from there to a dairy farm in Tuolumne County, where he remained for two



1102 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

years. Frugal and industrious, Angelo had saved his money and now bought a stock
of goods and for eight years engaged in peddling throughout the rich farmlands of
f hat district. But the urge of the soil was in his blood, and he saved his money and
bought land which he planted to orchard and vineyard, and eventually gave up other
enterprises and gave his attention exclusively to farming, becoming one of the most
extensive grain farmers of Stanislaus County. The home place, which originally
numbered but 350 acres, but now contains some 900 acres, was purchased in 1884,
and here Mr. Giovanetti engaged in dairying, starting with a herd of sixty cows and
increasing that until he had at one time 200 head of high-grade cows. Most of his
land was devoted to grain, with a small orchard and ten acres in vineyard. This prop-
erty lies six miles northeast of Modesto, in Prescott precinct, and it is here that Mr.
Giovanetti is passing the sunset of his life. In 1901 he built the Giovanetti Block, on
H and Tenth streets, Modesto, once occupied by the Farmers & Merchants Bank.

The marriage of Mr. Giovanetti occurred in Tuolumne County, Cal., July 4,
1881, uniting him with Miss Fidelia Prescott, a native of Boston, Mass., and the
daughter of Henry and Margaret (Callaghan) Prescott, the Prescott family being
one of the oldest in New Hampshire. Her parents pioneered into California in 1857,
rounding Cape Horn in a sailing vessel, and her father became a farmer in Tuolumne
County, near Gold Spring. Following this he engaged in the hotel business until the
mines began to fail, when, leaving his family in San Francisco, he joined a whaling
expedition, and was drowned at Magdalena Bay, on his way to the whaling grounds.
Mrs. Giovanetti bore her husband four children, three sons and one daughter, all
residents of Stanislaus County, where they are known as valuable and progressive
citizens. Of these, Frank William is married, and together with Albert H. operates
the old home place ; John resides in Modesto ; Albert Henry, living on the old home
place with his father; and May, a graduate of the Modesto high school and the busi-
ness college, presides gracefully over her father's home. Mrs. Giovanetti passed away
May 15, 1905, in Stockton, whither she had been taken during her illness for special
medical treatment. Mr. Giovanetti has always been interested in public affairs until
his failing health of recent years. He is a stanch Republican and has been a loyal party
man, but in local matters he has stood for civic progress and betterment, and the
election of clean, upright men.

HANS JONS. — A highly respected early Californian who, as the result of hard,
intelligent labor, has become one of the most successful grain ranchers of Stanislaus
County, is Hans Jons, who was born in Schleswig, Germany, on September 14, 1868,
the son of Detlef and Margaret Jons, farmer-folk who were comfortably established
and who enjoyed the esteem and good will of their neighbors. Hans went to the
grammar school and later studied for a couple of years in what would correspond to
the American high school ; and until he was eighteen years of age, he lived at home
on his parents' farm, where he thoroughly learned the first principles of agriculture.

Mr. Jons then came out to America, and after getting a glimpse of the East,
settled at Ogden, Boone County, Iowa. For ten months he worked for fourteen
dollars a month, and by that time he had progressed sufficiently that he was able to
push on to the Pacific Coast and to settle in Stanislaus County, where he secured
employment for two and a half years on the Dick Richards Ranch at Westley. He
then returned to Iowa, and there he was married to Miss Helen Schwatzkopf, a native
of Holstein, Germany, daughter of Theodore and Margaretha Catharina Schwatzkopf.

After their marriage the happy couple remained in Iowa, and Mr. Jons leased
a farm of 200 acres, and ran it for a year. When his lease expired, he came out to
Spokane County, Wash., and there rented a farm of 200 acres. He endeavored to
raise wheat, but the times were "hard," mighty hard, in fact, and he soon went "broke."
At that point of crisis in his affairs, Mr. Jons thought again of Stanislaus County, and
hardly had he begun to think of the advantages offered by the Golden State and he
was back again. For a second time, and while working for wages, he started out in
life; and just how hard he and his wife did work, at harvesting for Harry Fish, may
be seen from the fact that together they received only twenty-five dollars a month.
Next he went to Crows Landing and worked for a harvest season for George Thorn-



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1105

ing. After that he rented a half-section of land at Tracy and farmed it to grain for
a year. His next move was to Willamette Valley, Ore., where he stayed for three
months at Albany, but he returned to California, and during fifteen months of work
in Monterey County, he helped build the Salinas Sugar Factory. Then he farmed for
three years at San Lucas in the same county.

On his return to Stanislaus County, Mr. Jons rented a farm near Grayson and
on 800 acres raised hay and grain. It was the old Smith and Droge farm, and he did
sufficiently well there to be willing to remain for two years. Then he removed to
Tracy and farmed 640 acres for a year, raising barley. Coming back once more to
where he is at present located, three and a half miles northwest of Patterson, Mr. Jons,
in the fall of 1909, resumed agriculture again, and with increasing prosperity, he has
since farmed as much as 2.900 acres in a season. In 1919, his sons took over the farm
by renting the land, now brought to a high state of cultivation ; and Mr. Jons retired
from all active labor. Besides this land mentioned, Mr. Jons has forty-five acres in
Tracy, surveyed out in town lots.

Four children Mr. and Mrs. Jons have reared : Hannah is the wife of C. Krohn ;
Otto H. took care of the farm during the World War; Walter D., the third in the
order of birth, served in the late World War; William J. is the youngest.. In
national political affairs Mr. Jons is a Republican ; but in local affairs he seeks to favor
always the best men and the best measures.

CHARLES H. SIKES.— It has been almost forty years since Charles H. Sikes
first came to California, and during these years he has taken an active interest in the
welfare of his adopted state. He is a man of ability and wide experience along many
lines, although he calls himself a farmer, and has, indeed, been engaged in farming
industries since, at the age of twelve years, he took charge of his plow and team of
horses, and began to follow the turning furrow around the Ohio field. He is now one
of the most prominent and influential business men of Ceres, where he owns eighteen
acres of valuable land, improved with a handsome modern residence. He is actively
engaged in the real estate business, is a director of the Ceres branch of the Oakland
Building and Loan Company, president of the Ceres Telephone Company, and one
of the city trustees, in which capacity he has served for two terms.

The son of James and Lucina (Parks) Sikes, natives of Massachusetts and Vir-
ginia, respectively, Charles H. Sikes was born in Ohio, at Columbus, where his father,
a well-known educator, was engaged in teaching school. The father also owned farm
lands, and for many years the family resided in the country, where the young son
spent his early youth, attending the Tickridge school near Columbus, and assisting with
the care of the farm. He always liked the outdoor life and at an early age became
proficient in the care of the farm stock and in the discharge of farm duties, plowing
as well as a man. After he reached the age of maturity he came West to Kansas,
locating in Rice County, where he engaged in farming.

The marriage of Mr. Sikes occurred in Rice County, Kans., November 15, 1882,
uniting him with Miss Julia Elizabeth Ratledge, a native of North Carolina, who
came to Kansas with her parents in 1876. That same year the young couple deter-
mined to cast in their fortune with the pioneers of California, and bade farewell to
family and friends and came West, locating in Shasta County. Here Mr. Sikes pre-
empted land near Redding, owning in all 480 acres, where he engaged in general
farming and stock raising. He met with much success and was for more than twenty-
five years one of the best known cattlemen and farmers of the northern part of the
state, and contributed much toward the development and upbuilding of these industries
in that part of California.

It was in 1908 that Mr. Sikes came to Stanislaus County, where he has since
resided. He leased the Carter ranch at Esmar from the Vilas brothers and farmed
there for two years, meeting with merited success. In 1910 he purchased his present
home place of eighteen acres at Ceres, which he has vastly improved and brought under
a high state of cultivation and development.

Mr. and Mrs. Sikes are both very popular personally with a wide circle of friends,
as is also their daughter, Miss Alta, the youngest of a family of four, and the only one



1106 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

still remaining under the parental roof. Of the others, Clarence W. is married to
Miss Annie Carlson and resides in Modesto ; Glen, married to Miss Jessie Boyd, is a
merchant in Modesto; and James W., married to Miss Julia Mall, is a rancher at
Keyes. These three sons are all prosperous and highly esteemed citizens of their
respective communities, all native sons of California and enthusiastic boosters.

Since coming to Ceres, Mr. Sikes has done much toward furthering the develop-
ment of all industries in this section of the county, and has been active in many ways
for the improvement and upbuilding of Ceres. His association with such projects as
the Ceres Telephone Company has served to give Ceres an excellent telephone service,
while in all his activities as a realtor he has kept the best interests of the community
ever in the foreground. Politically he is a Republican, standing firmly for party
principles in national issues, but eliminating party and factional lines in local affairs.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Sikes are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Ceres
and are prominent in church and social circles, and community activity.

GEORGE J. ULRICH. — An expert mechanic who has risen to become one of
the leading contractors in Stanislaus County, and a patriotic Californian of French
and American extraction who has been honored with the highest office at the dispo-
sition of the citizens of Modesto, is George J. Ulrich, the popular mayor of Modesto.
He has lived here since 1910, and now occupies a beautiful modern home at 1425
Stoddard Avenue. Mr. Ulrich was born at Covington, Ky., January 8, 1867, the
son of Charles Ulrich, who was a Union soldier, enlisting from Kentucky and serv-
ing throughout the Civil War. He was born in Alsace, and was a French army
officer serving in Algeria before coming to the United States. His father was Carl
Ulrich, a textile manufacturer in France. Charles Ulrich was well educated and
became a prominent builder in Cincinnati. His wife was Miss Amelia Snell before
her marriage, and she died in Kentucky when George was only five years old. ■ She
was the mother of five children, among whom our subject was the third. Edward
Oscar Ulrich, the oldest, is distinguished as a paleontologist, and is in the United
States service at Washington as a geologist; for ten years he was associate editor of
the American Geologist, and he is also connected with the Smithsonian Institution at
the capital ; Charles K. was formerly a well-known newspaper and magazine writer
and is now editor of press books for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation in New
York; Albert is a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Apple River, 111.,
and Kate, the only daughter, is the wife of T. B. Taulbee of Oakland, Cal. Charles
Ulrich married a second time, choosing a French lady, and they had three children.

George J. Ulrich grew up in Kentucky and there attended the public schools.
In 1887 he left that state and came to San Francisco, accompanied by his brother,
Albert, and soon engaged in building in Berkeley. He studied at night, and took the
I. C. S. course in architectural drawing. He had previously worked with his brother
and father at Cincinnati, and attended the School of Mechanical Arts, also taking the
architectural course at the night school in Cincinnati. He thus learned the practical
end of the building business as a boy.

While in San Francisco, on September 12, 1888, George J. Ulrich was united
in marriage with Miss Minnie Mersfelder, born in Stockton, Cal., the daughter of
Charles and Minnie (Haupt) Mersfelder, pioneers of Stockton, where they con-
ducted the old Magnolia Hotel, of which they were the owners. Her brother, Jules
Mersfelder, is a distinguished California artist of national reputation. This happy
union has been blessed by the birth of four children. Lillian C. is the wife of Arthur
A. Worthen, a C. S. practitioner; Edna is the wife of Ray Bradbury, who is a part-
ner with Mr. Ulrich in the Blue Seal Cleaning and Dye Works, the largest establish-
ment of its kind in the county and among the very best in the San Joaquin Valley.
The building they occupy was erected by Mr. Ulrich for that purpose and is under
a long term lease ; George J., Jr., married Gladys Ding and they have two children,
Jack and Alice. George is a foreman for his father, and Carl is a student in the
Modesto grammar school. All of the children are living in Modesto.

After his marriage Mr. Ulrich continued for several years as a builder in Oak-
land. Then he took up soliciting for the International Correspondence School and




^ &,. SZ^Cu



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1109

met with well-deserved success. It was while traveling for that well-known institu-
tion that he took a fancy to Modesto; and in 1910 he located here and at once
engaged in the general contracting business. Since then he has erected the majority
of the most important residences and business structures in Modesto and vicinity. He
employs from twenty to sixty men — masons, carpenters, brick masons, plasterers, roof-
ers and other workmen — securing only the best, most efficient help and often paying
a wage in advance of the regular union scale to command the skill he requires. When
necessary he draws his own plans and as his own architect is able to secure in designs
the very thing that is wanted. Mr. Ulrich was one of the first to buy property and
build in the Rose Addition of Modesto; and this venture is indicative of the active
part he has taken in all movements for the common welfare, especially in moral uplift
and the improvement of living conditions, and in civic affairs.

In 1919 Mr. Ulrich entered the race for mayor of Modesto and after a hard-
fought campaign he was elected, and entering upon the duties of that important
office he has injected common sense business ideas and methods that mean much
to the citizens. He believes in a square deal, and all of his acts have been character-
ized by practical ideas and economy. He plays no favorites and insists on the great-
est good to the greatest number. A person in his position naturally has those who
do not agree with him, but yet those same persons respect his sound judgment and
business acumen. Mr. Ulrich is a member of Wildey Lodge No. 149, I. O. O. F. of
Modesto, in which he is a past grand, and he is a past district deputy of the order;
he also belongs to the Encampment of the I. O. O. F. ; he is a member of the Rotary
Club of Modesto and a director of the Modesto Chamber of Commerce. Mrs.
Ulrich is a member of the Woman's Improvement Club, that has done so much to
beautify the city of Modesto and to improve its parks and playgrounds, and with her
husband shares in the esteem and good will of all who know them.

LEONARD ANTON RICHINA.— An example of well-directed industry con-



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 122 of 177)