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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 123 of 177)
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ducing to success is found in the career of Leonard Anton Richina, an enterprising and
progressive rancher at Oakdale, Stanislaus County, who settled there in the old pioneer
days and has never missed an opportunity to aid in the upbuilding and improvement of
not only his home community, but in the larger interests of the commonwealth as well.
He was born in Bellinzona, Canton Ticino, Switzerland, July 4, 1857, the son of
Peter and Catherine (Albertoni) Richina, both of whom were born in Robasaco,
married there and were counted among the most prosperous farmers and stock raisers,
where they were the owners of a 100-acre farm which, the parents having died some
time ago, is now owned by the various heirs. They were the parents of eight children :
Margaret, who was married in Switzerland to Albertoni Domingues, died and left
five children ; Berthold went to South America to the Argentine Republic when only
fifteen years old, was held up in a train robbery at Lima, Peru, and not only robbed
of his money, but also lost his life ; Teressa is Mrs. Bunn, whose husband is a railway
agent in Switzerland ; Peter lives on the home farm and is the father of Mrs. Rossini,
whose biography appears on another page of this work; Barbara is Mrs. Borsatt,
farmers in Switzerland; a little girl died in childhood; Leonard Anton, our subject,
and John Richina. who was born in 1860 in Switzerland, and following his brother to
America, landed in San Francisco in 1884. In 1894, in San Luis Obispo County, he
chose for a helpmate Miss Catherine Stanuseich, who was born in Guadalupe, Cal.
Her father, Anton Stanuseich, now ninety years old, is one of the oldest farmers in
San Luis Obispo County, Cal. Mr. and Mrs. John Richina became the parents of
eleven children, ten of whom are living: Henry is a foreman machinist for the Holt
Manufacturing Company at Stockton ; John served in the recent war for six months,
training for the artillery at San Diego ; Albert helps operate the farm ; Ida Ernestina ;
Marguerita Lucile ; Steve C. ; Leonard A., Jr.; Clement; Viola; Nellie; Willie died
when four months old.

Leonard A. Richina, the subject of this sketch, came to America in 187S, sailing
from Havre, France, via London, crossed England and reembarked at Liverpool and
then took the steamship "Julian" of the White Star Line and landed at Philadelphia
in March, 1878, crossed the continent and reached San Francisco March 31, 1878.



1110 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

His first work was as a milker at San Rafael, in Marin County, and then later he
went to Santa Clara County. Then growing tired of this work, he with four others
took a contract to build two miles of road in the hills in San Mateo County, close to
Santa Clara County. When this was finished, he came over to Modesto in 1880 and
loaded a grain header wagon and helped to thresh. The season being over, he wended
his way back to San Francisco and engaged in the grocery business until 1888, having
been joined by his brother, John Richina, who is now his partner, in 1884. In 1889
he kept a cigar store on Market Street in San Francisco. Selling out, he was manager
of a coffee, tea and spice store on Front Street in San Francisco for three years. He
was then employed by Attorney T. I. Bergen, a prominent San Francisco lawyer of
that day, as a butler, and remained in this work for the next four years.

Again going to San Mateo County, Mr. Richina ran a butcher shop at San
Gregorio, and it was here that he displayed his ability as a first-class sausage maker
and his services are now in constant demand among the big Swiss and Italian dairy
farmers in the San Joaquin Valley. He is an expert in making Salami sausage of
such excellent quality that it is quite the equal of the imported article. After two
years in the butcher business, he sold out and went into the cattle and dairy business
and has been engaged in his line of business ever since. In 1899 his brother, John,
joined him in the dairy business at Guadalupe, Santa Barbara County, and here the
brothers rented a 2,000-acre stock and dairy farm until 1905, when they moved to
San Jose and rented a place containing 2,000 acres, bringing with them 300 head of
cattle, but in the acclimatization 200 of them died. They lived here for five years
and in 1911 moved again, this time to Modesto, and there ran the old Davis place in
Westpoint precinct, living there until January, 1919, when they bought the place
where they now live. They are now the owners of the old Carmichael place of ninety-
six acres, where they have one of the most complete and modern equipped dairy and
stock farms in this section. Both he and his brother are counted among the oldest
and most highly esteemed settlers and now are enjoying the fruits of their industry,
foresight and thrift. They are always ready to aid in any movement for the good of
the community and are stanch adherents of the Republican party.

MANSFIELD W. BRADY.— Forty miles distant from the historic field of the
Battle of Gettysburg, on his father's fifty-acre hillside farm on the slopes of the
Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania, Mansfield W. Brady first saw the light of
this world. He was born during the throes of the country's great Civil War, June 5,
1863, and his father, George Washington Brady, was lieutenant in the Sixty-first
Pennsylvania Volunteers. He enlisted in 1861, was wounded in the battle of Fair
Oaks, and upon recovery went back to the ranks, but was discharged on account of
physical disability. Continuing the vocation of a farmer, he became secretary for the
local Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Company at Ambrose, Indiana County, Pa.,
and died at the age of eighty-four ; his wife having preceded him to the Great Beyond
two years previous, in 1915, aged seventy-five.

Mansfield W. was educated in his home district schools, was a student at Marion
Summer Institute for one term, attended the Kelleysburg Institute one summer, and
studied another summer at Glade Run Academy. When eighteen years of age he
passed examination for a teacher, and taught two terms of school in Pennsylvania.
He then went to Johnson County, Kans., and continued teaching for two terms.
He afterward entered the commercial school at Lawrence, Kans., and graduated from
that institution in 1887. He then went to Abilene, Kans., and became stenographer
and bookkeeper in connection with the real estate business, afterward becoming a
partner in the business with his cousin, James H. Brady, who was afterward governor
of Idaho, and later senator from that state, being a colleague of Senator Borah. The
panic of the nineties rendering the real estate business very dull, Mr. Brady entered
the employ of the Santa Fe in their offices at Abilene. He learned telegraphy and
remained in the company's employ at Abilene eight years. Afterward they appointed
him station agent at Mitchell, Kans., and later stationed him at Navarre, in that
state, and finally appointed him agent at Solomon City, where he remained eight years,
altogether making sixteen years of service in the railway business. While agent at



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1111

Navarre he procured data from various chambers of commerce of the leading cities of
Central and Southern California, and in 1905, during a sixty days' leave of absence,
visited Modesto, Cal., and purchased twenty acres of land where his home now stands.
In 1906 he made a trip to his old Pennsylvania home with his family, and in 1907
brought them to California to make a permanent home. His home place now com-
prises forty acres of land, which was virgin soil and a stubble field when he pur-
chased the property. A man of indefatigable energy, he has made all the improve-
ments on the place himself. He first lived in a tent, then built a barn 80x52 feet in
dimensions with his own hands, in which he lived until he could build his first house.
He learned carpentry with his father, who was a carpenter, and has built two sets
of buildings, and rents the old buildings out. In 1919 he built a fine modern up-to-
date bungalow in which he and his interesting family are comfortably domiciled. He
first engaged in dairy farming, disposing of the herd to devote his acreage to horti-
cultural purposes, and now has the greater part of his place planted to the best varieties
of grapes and peaches. The extension of Virginia Avenue was due to his energetic
efforts in that direction, and on the east side of this thoroughfare he has recently
platted twenty acres, called North Central Tract, for city lots in Modesto.

Mr. Brady's marriage occurred in Johnson County, Kans., and united him with
Miss Carrie Ouderkirk, a native of Indiana. The six children born of their union
are: Ralph, a student in the College of Arizona; Mabel, the wife of Attorney Walter
Johnson of Stockton, who became a captain in the late World War ; Howard, who
was in the U. S. Navy at Gibraltar in the hardest kind of service against the sub-
marines ; Albert and Alberta, twins; and Ronald. Mr. Brady registers voters for
High Precinct voting district, and has served as clerk of the election board in that
precinct. He is a member of the Raisin Growers Association and of the Dairymen's
Association of Central California, and is also a member of the Cooperative Creamery.
Mr. and Mrs. Brady are members of the Christian Church at Modesto, and fra-
ternally Mr. Brady is affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America.

CARL F. SALBER. — An experienced, wide-awake business man whose pleasing
personality may have had a good deal to do with his wonderful success, is Carl F.
Salber, a native of Salem, Henry County, Iowa, where he was born in 1877, the eldest
of four children in the family of John and Mary (Hill) Salber. He was reared in
Henry County until his sixteenth year, when he accompanied his folks to Page County,
in the same state. There he completed his schooling, after which he opened a res-
taurant in Clarinda; and in 1912 made for the Pacific Coast, and selecting Stanislaus
as the most inviting county for the future, he located at Modesto, and on the corner
of J and Tenth streets opened a first-class grocery. It was also the first business
house at that corner, now such an important center.

Two years later, Mr. Salber sold out and removed to Oakdale ; and there, for
four years, he conducted another restaurant, to which he also added a confectionery
store. Some friends from his old home in Iowa came along, however, and induced him
again to part with his undertaking; whereupon, in 1918, he returned to Modesto. In
the spring of that year, he opened Salber's Cafeteria, on J Street, near Tenth ; and
since then he has enlarged and remodeled the place, doubling its capacity, until today
he has one of the finest cafeterias in the county. Meantime, in 1920, he also started a
grocery store in Modesto ; but he sold it the same year and then opened a cafeteria
in Turlock, where he built up a lively and profitable trade. This he also disposed of by
sale, in February, 1920. He belongs to the Chamber of Commerce in Modesto, and as
might be expected of one whose habit seems to be to make a success of all that he
undertakes for himself, Mr. Salber is active in civic and business affairs of all kinds.

In January, 1892, at St. Louis, Mo., Mr. Salber was married to Miss Marie
Lilja, a native of Iowa, and two children have been born to them, Mary and Margaret.
Mr. Salber was made a Mason in Oakdale Lodge No. 75, F. & A. M., and he is now
a member of the Modesto Chapter No. 49, R. A. M., and the Oakland Consistory of
the Scottish Rite, where he has been raised to the thirty-second degree. And he is also
a member of the Ancient and Egyptian Order of Sciots, in Modesto, and of the
Knights of Pythias there.



1112 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

THEODORE J. GOTTE.— Among the energetic and far-sighted young busi-
ness men of Modesto, is T. J. Gotte of the firm of Anker and Gotte, wholesale and
retail butchers and the proprietors of the City Market. He was born at Hinsdale,
a suburb of Chicago, 111., November 21, 1881, and is the son of J. B. Gotte and
Susanna (Dunn) Gotte, who came from Alabama to Chicago and now reside at 110
Olive Avenue, Modesto, Cal. When he was a child Teddy, as Mr. Gotte is familiarly
called by his friends, removed with his parents to Piano, 111., where he grew up,
receiving a good education in the grammar and high school, after which he began
clerking and learned the butcher's trade.

In 1908 Mr. Gotte came to California, settling at Modesto, where he began
working for Grider and Van Vlear, his predecessors and the former proprietors of
the City Market. His partner, Mr. Anker, also worked for the firm during the
time he was with them, from 1908 until February 1, 1917, the date the young men
purchased the business. They have grown up in the business and are thoroughly con-
versant with every detail in connection with it. They do a large, important and
growing business which amounts to about $100,000 a year. Mr. Anker attends to
the outside work, including the buying and the slaughter house, while Mr. Gotte gives
his attention to the retail part of the business. Lately they have built a new abattoir
on their twenty-acre ranch on the Crows Landing Road about one and a half miles
west of Modesto, where they have installed a pumping plant. The abattoir is
equipped with an ice machine with two large boxes for cooling all of the meat. The
equipment of the City Market is most modern. A five and a half-ton ice machine is
used for refrigerating. The manufacturing department is in the rear.

His affable manners and the courteous, accommodating treatment accorded his
patrons have made many friends, who in addition to the proprietor's popularity, are
attracted by the cleanliness and sanitation of the market and the quality of the meat.

Teddy Gotte was married in Oakland, March 29, 1920, being united with Miss
Sylvia Daniels, who was born in Missouri, the daughter of O. B. and Lillie Florence
(Craft) Daniels, born in Illinois and Missouri, respectively, who migrated to Stanis-
laus County, but now make their home at Aetna Springs, Napa County. Mrs. Gotte
is a graduate of the Modesto Business College, a charming and refined woman. Thev
reside in their new bungalow at 106 Olive avenue, where they enjoy dispensing hospi-
tality and good cheer. Mr. Gotte is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and
takes a just pride in Modesto's civic affairs and is ever willing to assist in all things
that pertain to the common good.

ROBERT R. FOWLER.— The bar of California acknowledges in R. R.
Fowler one of the influential members, whose untiring devotion to the advancement
of the communities in which he has lived places him in the forefront of legalists of
Stanislaus County. A native of Pawnee City, Nebr., he was born August 15, 1870,
a son of William F. Fowler, a native of Indiana, but who migrated to Nebraska and
became a pioneer merchant of Pawnee City. His partner in the mercantile business
was David Butler, the first governor of Nebraska. During the year of 1875, he
migrated with his family to California, settling at Tehachapi, going into business
there and so continued for the eighteen months residence there ; then he removed
his family to Lemoore, engaging in farming at Mussel Slough, and was one of the
families who suffered the loss of five years' work on account of the railroads claiming
the land which they owned and operated. The family then removed to Fresno
County, purchasing farming land near Selma; later the family moved into Selma and
Wm. Fowler engaged in the real estate business, successfully operating this business
for about eight years. The next move was to settle in Madera, then to Turlock,
where he passed away in February, 1913. Mr. Fowler's mother was Elizabeth
Anderson, born and reared in Kentucky. Her grandfather and great-grandfather
were pioneers of Kentucky and were celebrated Indian fighters, using the old flint-
lock gun, and maintaining forts for their families during the Indian raids. Mrs.
Fowler passed away in December, 1912.

The seventh child of a family of ten children and the only surviving member
of the large family, Robert R. Fowler obtained his education in the public schools.




j^2*^U^ e.j&z&



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1115

of Madera; after completing his course, he entered the law office of R. L. Hargrove
and was admitted to the bar June, 1895, and began the practice of law at Madera.
He was the fourth district attorney in the county, serving from January, 1899, to
January, 1907. Soon after the expiration of his term, he removed to Turlock and
was the first city attorney of that thriving town, serving from the incorporation for
five years, thereafter serving as legal adviser for the city.

The marriage of Mr. Fowler occurred in Oakland and united him with Miss
Blanche Butler, a native of Nebraska, a daughter of A. B. Butler, a prominent
physician and surgeon of Hanford. She is a niece of ex-governor David Butler. Mr.
and Mrs. Fowler are the parents of one son, Robert B. Fraternally he is a charter
member of Fresno Lodge No. 439 B. P. O. E. and Knights of Pythias of Turlock.

ANDREW LARSON. — A widely experienced, unusually expert cement con-
tractor of Turlock, Andrew Larson was born in Helsingland, Sweden, on January 11,
1876, and was there brought up on his father's farm, at the same time that his
parents safeguarded his education in the excellent Swedish public schools. These
parents are both still living, honored and beloved by their five children. Andrew,
when he was twenty-one years of age, entered the military service of Sweden and did
his duty by his native land ; and having been honorably discharged, he came to the
United States in 1901, and spent four months in Carthage, S. D. He then removed
to Minneapolis and there learned the cement worker's trade.

On November 30, 1905, Mr. Larson was joined in matrimony with Miss Gerda
Josephine Peterson, a native of Westergotland, who crossed the ocean as a young
lady and came all the way to Minneapolis. Two children have come to gladden the
hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Larson — Lillian Evelyn and Harold Andrew — and with their
parents they attend the Swedish Mission Church.

In May, 1911, Mr. and Mrs. Larson moved west to California and located at
Turlock, and with his brother Louis he started the firm of Larson Bros., and engaged
in contracting for cement and concrete work. At the end of three years, the brothers
dissolved partnership, and since then Mr. Larson has continued alone in business,
becoming one of the leading cement contractors in the county. Among the work
thus undertaken and successfully carried through by Mr. Larson may be mentioned the
cement work for the Turlock Theater, the Broadway Garage, the Warner Garage, the
Turlock Implement Company, the Simon Garage and various residences and sidewalks
and curbs; and he is at present doing work for the state at Delhi. He also does
plaster and stucco work, and with two power mixers makes short work of big jobs.

TOBIA LESNINI. — Few Stanislaus County agriculturists have shown more
industry, thrift and progress than Tobia Lesnini, who was born in Locarno, Canton
Ticino, Switzerland, on December 9, 1862, the son of Pasquale and Mary (Gagetta)
Lesnini, who were born, lived and died in Switzerland. Of the eleven children,
four are living, and among them our subject was the third. Martina is the widow
of Frank Cantelli, who died in Switzerland ; she is now living at San Jose. Ange-
lina is the wife of Pete Gervazoni, and resides at Santa Cruz. Tobia Lesnini is the
subject of this review; Marco Lesnini resides at Stockton.

Reared in his native land of mountains and valleys, Tobia attended the local
schools and when very young learned the ins and outs of dairying. He came to
America in 1880, and locating at Stockton took up work as a gardener. Later he
started a market garden of his own, and he continued to keep busy in that field —
two years at Stockton, two at Modesto. He next undertook to raise grain, and for
seven years he was a grain farmer, cultivating as many as 1,200 acres near Oakdale,
and in 1897, the year he went back to Switzerland, he farmed 1,200 acres. Selling
out, he returned to Switzerland, and once again among his friends, he became a
merchant and bought an orchard and a vineyard. The lure of California, however,
still attracted him, and in 1903 he came back to America and California, and bought
fifty acres in the Stanislaus River bottoms, six miles west of Oakdale. He sold it
again, and bought another tract of 167 acres, which he sold eleven years ago, and
soon after that sale, he bought the 923 acres later identified with him. Two hun-



1116 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

dred acres are given to alfalfa, and the balance to grain and pasture. He and Joe
Codoni, his son-in-law, own the land together, and rent it out for dairy purposes.

In Stockton, Cal., September 27, 1885, Mr. Lesnini was married to Miss Louise
Verzasconi, by whom he has had six children. Adeline is the wife of Joe Codoni,
and resides at Oakdale. Mary is Mrs. John Scerpella of Oakdale. Erminia is at
home. Pearl is the wife of Herman Marcetti of Modesto. Lena is in the grammar
school, and Pasquale died at the age of six. About 1910 Mr. Lesnini bought the
handsome home place on Second Avenue, Oakdale, where he has since resided. In
September, 1918, Mrs. Lesnini suffered a stroke of paralysis, and she passed away
February 9, 1921, mourned by her family and many friends. Mr. Lesnini and fam-
ily are devout and faithful members of the Roman Catholic Church. He was natur^
alized in 1886, and since then has voted the Republican ticket.

COLONFX CY N. CLARK.— A hustling, successful rancher who is a popular
live-stock auctioneer, a good "booster" for Modesto and vicinity, and very naturally
a highly respected citizen, is Colonel Cy N. Clark, of Algaroba Vineyard, McHenry
Road and Bangs Avenue, who was born in Cedar County, Mo., on August 26, 1870.
His father was C. W. Clark, a pioneer farmer and stockman of Southwest Missouri,
who married Catherine McManis, a good woman and a devoted wife and mother.
They had four children, all boys, to whom they gave such educational opportunities
as the local schools of Barton and Jasper counties afforded. Later Cy Clark studied
by himself, mathematics and the other branches required of the surveyor and civil
engineer; and at the age of twenty-five he was elected county engineer of Jasper
County, Mo., an office that he filled for four years. He then engaged in stock rais-
ing and farming, for the stock business appealed stronger to him than civil engineering.

While at Opolis, Kans., in 1894, Mr. Clark was married to Miss Nannie A.
Goad; and in 1905, on account of his wife's health, he came out to California and
settled in this county. They first came to Southern California, and only in 1906
arrived in Modesto. Since then his faith in the city and in Stanislaus County has
steadily increased, and with entire confidence and satisfaction he has invested every
dollar he possessed in Modesto. He has a twenty-acre ranch of alfalfa and stock,
all grown and raised by him, on Floyd Avenue, and he owns a fine residence and
ten-acre vineyard on McHenry Road. Four children have blessed the union of Mr.
and Mrs. Clark, and three share the parental home. Everett Earl, the eldest, mar-
ried Miss Elsie Hughes, and is a pharmacist at Modesto; Carvel N. is a graduate of
the Modesto high school and married Lenora Holtzer and is associated with his
father; and there are Travis E. and Nita M. Clark. The family attend the First
Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Colonel is among the most welcome members
of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. After he
was well established here, his good mother came to California, intending to make her
home with his family ; but within three weeks after her arrival, she was taken ill and
died at his residence in Wood Colony.

For a while Colonel Clark was interested with Col. Benjamin A. Rhoades of
Los Angeles in conducting sales of registered Holsteins and Jerseys, and he has him-
self managed many such registered sales. He is buying and selling cattle all the
time, and in 1919 and 1920 he conducted 120 and 142 sales respectively in the San
Joaquin and Sacramento valleys, to the entire satisfaction of his patrons. A notable
auction conducted by him was that on the Kelly ranch west of Lodi when he dis-
posed of over $26,000 worth of personal property in one day, one of the record sales
of the state, and a newspaper item tells of the sale of dairy cows, by Colonel Clark,
belonging to Tony Amaranti, when record prices were easily obtained by the elo-



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 123 of 177)