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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 124 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 124 of 177)
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quence, good judgment and fair dealing of the auctioneer. One grade Holstein sold
for $255, perhaps the highest price ever paid for a grade cow in Stanislaus County;
and two of her sisters brought $200 each.

In the light of the public-spirited character and attractive geniality of this rep-
resentative citizen, it is particularly sad to narrate an accident that befell him some
time ago, distressing in nature and through which he might easily have lost his life;
the one satisfaction being that, thanks to able surgery, that life so valuable to the



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1117

community, was saved. While cleaning his clothes with gasoline at Bakersfield, the
Colonel was terribly burned when his suit caught fire, the shock rendering him uncon-
scious. He was removed to the Modesto Sanitarium, and there Dr. J. C. Robertson
transferred over 250 square inches of skin from the bodies of the Colonel's friends,
and so well succeeded in the wonderful grafting that today the unfortunate man is
again as well as ever. A facetious newspaper scribe could not let the occasion pass
without perpetrating the following in reference to the event, under the caption,
"Skinning and Grafting":

"Who's the grafter— Colonel Cy N. Clark or Dr. J. C. Robertson? Regard-
less of location of guilt, Colonel Clark is wearing this afternoon 250 square inches
of skin taken from the legs of several of his friends this morning at the Modesto Sani-
tarium. Forgiveness for 'skinning' his friends may be granted to the Colonel on the
ground of dire necessity for the act, since by such grafting alone could he hope to
recover fully from the severe burns about his back and legs, received at Bakersfield
two months ago while cleaning oil spots from his clothing with gasoline. With this
grafting the Colonel will now rapidly recover."

REV. JAMES W. GALVIN.— On December 6, 1919, Rev. Father Galvin was
appointed administrator of St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church at Modesto, and
since then he has been giving all his time, and the benefit of his experience and years of
arduous pioneer work, to his new charge. During the period of his incumbency, a mis-
sion church at Hughson has been started, and Father Galvin has also established a center
of religious instruction at Westport, Paradise Road and Salida, in which places,
together with Modesto, nearly 400 children receive the benefit of religious instruction.

Under Father Galvin's leadership, St. Mary's Hospital has also been established
in Modesto as a branch of St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco, and so well has this
Modesto institution been patronized as a most needed agency, that plans have been
perfected to build, at an early date, a large establishment, modern in every respect, and
calculated to meet not merely present needs, but the demands of the rapidlv growing
city for years to come. St. Stanislaus parish, already one of the most thriving along
the Coast, has also purchased the property necessary for a new school to be located at
Sixteenth and I streets, and since this parish has grown 1,000 per cent in eight years,
this school, as well as a church high school, are sure to be realizations of the near
future. In the department of rural instruction, arrangements are being made to care
for 1,000 children.

As an evidence of its growth, St. Stanislaus parish has a lodge of the Knights of
Columbus, with 235 members ; a Catholic Ladies' Aid with seventy members, and the
Children's Sodalities. Modesto is proud of St. Stanislaus parish and what it bids fair
to become in future years, congratulating Father Galvin on the work he has thus far
planned and carried out to consummation.

CLARENCE J. WALTHER. — A popular young man who is a worthy repre-
sentative of an esteemed Oakdale family is C. J. Walther, the proprietor of the
Oakdale Garage. He was born at Oakdale on November 11, 1893, the son of
Philip Christian and Alice (Bishop) Walther, the former a native of Germany,
the latter of Stockton. Grandfather Bishop came from Ohio to California in 1849.
Mr. and Mrs. Philip C. Walther both live in Oakdale, and they are the parents
of seven children — five boys and two girls.

C. J. Walther grew up in Oakdale and attended the public schools in Stanis-
laus County. His father followed dry farming, and raised from 500 to 1,000 acres
of grain, and the lad drove the horses and otherwise helped about the farm. He
attended the Oakdale high school, but he did not graduate. Instead, he went to work
at the automobile trade as a machinist in San Francisco and became a first-class
mechanic, although starting at sixteen. He was employed in San Francisco and Oakdale
and for three years in Susanville, Lassen County, and Jamestown, Tuolumne County.

While there, Mr. Walther enlisted in Battery D, Second Field Artillery, in
the regular army, on June 17, 1917, and spent nine months in the Philippines, after
which he came back to the United States. He trained for four months at Camp



1118 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Fremont and for four months at Fort Sill, Okla., before going overseas. He landed
in Brest, on November 9, 1918, and was in the interior of France when the armis-
tice was signed. He left France on January 4, 1919, and landed at New York
fourteen days later. He was mustered out at Camp Taylor, in Kentucky, and hon-
orably discharged on March 14, 1919. During the period of this sea-service, Mr.
Walther visited Japan, Guam and the Hawaiian Islands twice, going and coming,
and was with the Motorized Field Artillery. He is a member of the American Legion.
The Oakdale Garage, of which Mr. Walther is the wide-awake, accommodating
proprietor, was started by J. W. Ball and Mr. Walther in 1911, and after a year
Mr. Walther disposed of his interest to Mr. Ball. In 1919, however, Mr. Walther
bought the equity back again, and became the sole owner. It has always been known
as the Oakdale Garage, and since the war, Mr. Walther has handled the Dodge
Brothers cars and motor service trucks. His repair shop contains every necessary
modern appliance for doing up-to-date, high-grade vulcanizing and acetylene welding.

INGEVALL JOHNSON. — A very enterprising threshing contractor who, having
taken long ago a keen interest in all movements for the progress and the prosperity
of the community in which he lives and thrives, has become a first-class "booster"
for the entire Stanislaus County, is Ingevall Johnson. He was born near Ridgeway,
Winneshiek County, Iowa, on January 27, 1872, the son of John O. Johnson, who
was born in Carlstad, Sweden, and married Miss Inger Anderson, a native of Bergen,
Norway. They immigrated to America in 1865, when they became pioneers of
Ridgeway, Iowa. John Johnson had been a moulder in the iron foundries at home,
but after coming to America he engaged exclusively in general farming in Iowa.

Ingevall Johnson attended the public school of his district until he was sixteen
years of age, and when twenty he went away from home in search of a warmer
climate. He reached Louisiana and worked in the saw mills at Jennings for six
months; and in 1892 he made a trip to California, by way of the Southern route,
and located at Turlock, where he took up work in the harvest fields. During the
following ten years, he spent four years at farm labor, and six years in extensive grain
farming, leasing the Judge Waymire ranch of 740 acres, and renting in addition 260
acres adjoining, three miles south of Turlock. He farmed altogether 1,000 acres, rye
being his chief grain crop ; and he sold his product at the best market price, sometimes
realizing fifty-five cents per cwt., and at times one dollar. He farmed successfully,
although it must be said that the results were not at all gratifying to him.

In 1902, he disposed of his stock and personal property, and moved to San
Jose, where he invested his savings in a small fruit ranch and also engaged for two
years in the grocery business; but selling out again, he moved to Elk Grove, Sacra-
mento County, where for six years he engaged extensively in dairying. He next went
to Manteca, San Joaquin County, for a couple of years, and resumed dairying; but
in 1914 he came back to Stanislaus County, and located three miles west of Modesto
on a farm, where he again continued dairying with usually one hundred head of cattle
in his herd. Now he owns forty acres on wTiich stands the home place, and he also
has eleven acres, recently purchased, lying across the County Road from his home
ranch, seven miles from Turlock, nine miles from Modesto.

Mr. Johnson makes a specialty of contracting for thresher harvester work, and
he and his sons, working together, have a monopoly in the county on extensive con-
tracts. For the past seven years they have engaged in the largest fields in Stanislaus
and San Joaquin counties, running one J. I. Case separator, two Rumely separators,
and one Russell separator, two oil pull Rumely and one Holt caterpillar tractors.

At Turlock, on September 6, 1896, Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Daisy
Ronk, a daughter of David William Ronk, who was born in Green County, Ind.,
and who married Miss Susan Tiller of Iowa. Her parents came to Turlock in 1888,
and were extensive grain farmers, cultivating 5,000 acres in wheat and rye in the early
days when prices were poor, which kept the ranchers from becoming wealthy. Mr.
Johnson was confirmed in the Norwegian Lutheran Church, and is now a member
of the Brethren Church at Turlock, and serves as treasurer of the conference board,
as he has also served as a delegate to the state conference. He is a Republican in mat-



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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1121

ters of national political moment, and has served as a trustee of the Rustic school dis-
trict, and of the Pala school in Santa Clara County.

Twelve children blessed the union of this fortunate couple: Clarence R. is a
graduate of the National Auto School in Los Angeles, and engages in threshing in
Stanislaus County. He also farms at Keyes. He married Miss Viola McBride, who
was born in Texas. Willard Carl is also a graduate of the same auto school, is a
thresher contractor and rancher at Keyes. He married Miss Anna Zimmerman, the
daughter of F. H. Zimmerman of Keyes, and they have one child. Lee, who lives
at home, enlisted in the Aviation Ground Service, and served as a non-commissioned
officer at Kelly Field, Texas. Percy is a graduate of the Turlock High School, class
of '20, and is taking the academic course in the Junior College at Turlock. Ray, a
farmer and an engineer with the thresher outfit, lives at home. Winona and Wayne,
twins, attend the Turlock High School, and the younger members of the family are
Archie, Daisy, Susie, Stanley I. and Leslie.

WILLIAM C. KOEHN. — An excellent example of what a man, able and suc-
cessful in one field, may accomplish by investing his savings where they can yield the
greatest additional revenue, is afforded in the life of William C. Koehn, who, after
acquiring a handsome competence through his skill as a machinist, secured title to
an excellent grain, alfalfa and stock farm of 320 acres not far north of Oakdale.

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 20, 1875, and grew up in the
Buckeye State, where he attended the public schools. His father was Charles Koehn,
a native of Germany, a sturdy farmer who came to America, and in Ohio was mar-
ried to Miss Dora Schrader, also a native of Germany. Mr. Koehn died in 1881,
at the age of forty-four, when our subject was little more than five years old ; and
his widow died in 1920, at the ripe age of eighty, at her son's California home. They
had two children, and the only daughter is Lizzie, now the widow of George Lin-
denstruth, who resides in Ohio.

When old enough to do so, William Koehn learned the machinist's trade, and
then worked in leading machine and automobile shops in his native state. In 1904,
he concluded to leave the East and come to the Coast ; and at San Jose he began to
work out on farms. Then he came from Santa Clara to Fresno County, and accepted
employment at Sanger; after which he returned to San Jose and once more went into
Fresno County. On removing to San Joaquin County, he purchased his first lot of
land in California, and for the past twelve years he has been farming for himself.
He has owned, in fact, various farms in California, and now he has seventy-five
acres in wheat and fifty acres in barley, as his 1921 crop. The balance of his acre-
age is in pasture land, which he rents out to others, who run cattle and livestock upon
it. From Farmington, Cal., Mr. Koehn came to his present location where, in
November, 1918, he bought two quarter-sections, or 320 acres, well adapted to the
raising of barley and wheat, and also stock.

HARRY EDGAR MILLS.— The late foreman of one of the largest ranches in
Stanislaus County and the present fire warden of the country north of Newman, is
Harry E. Mills, who was born near what is now Gustine, on March 6, 1873, the son
of Gilbert E. and Jennie (Babcock) Mills, born in Maine and Indiana, respectively.
His father, a blacksmith, came to the San Joaquin Valley in the '60s, where he farmed
and raised stock, and here he remained until he passed away in 1908 His widow
resides in Hollister. Of the eight children born, six of whom are living, Harry E. is
the oldest. Edgar Mills, as he is familiarly called, was reared in his birthplace,
received his education in an old 10x20-foot schoolhouse in the Canal district, and
helped his father on the home place raising horses, mules and cattle. Then they
leased a part of the San Luis ranch, where they engaged in grain raising. After his
father's demise, he continued to farm the San Luis ranch for another year, when he
sold his equipment and stock and took a position with the Simon Newman Company,
one of the largest and best known ranch Owners in Stanislaus County, as foreman of
Linora ranch of 8,000 acres devoted to alfalfa and stock. In 1915 Mr. Mills was
transferred to Noxen ranch as foreman. This ranch comprised 2,000 acres, all in



1122 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

alfalfa and devoted to dairying and raising pure-bred Herefords and Holsteins and
as a feeding and finishing place for ranch cattle. About 1911 Mr. Mills had pur-
chased fourteen acres just south of Gustine, which grows splendid crops of alfalfa.

On September 2, 1903, in Gilroy, Mr. Mills was married to Miss Josephine
Clavere, daughter of Jean and Marie Clavere. Her father is a native of Bordeaux,
France, who left the country, of his birth soon after the gold rush in California,
crossed the continent and located in San Francisco, where Mrs. Mills was born on
Sacramento street. In her girlhood days her parents removed to Gilroy, where she
attended the high school and later finished in a French school on Powell street, San
Francisco. In 1920 Mr. Mills resigned from the Simon Newman Company and
moved to his ranch to devote his time to his own interests. Mr. Mills is a Republican
and Knight of Pythias. While farming the San Luis ranch Mr. Mills served as
deputy sheriff under John Swan.

S. WAKEFIELD. — A successful contractor who has been a leader in directing
the building of Turlock and vicinity on broad and permanent lines, is S. Wakefield,
who was born in Klippan, Skane, Sweden, on February 9, 1867, and there reared on
a farm until he was fifteen, during which time he completed the work required in the
excellent public schools of that country. Then he was apprenticed to learn the cabi-
net maker's trade ; and having learned it with a thoroughness characteristic of the Old
World, he followed it until he came to the United States in 1889.

Mr. Wakefield settled first at Campello, Mass., and for three years followed the
carpenter's trade there, and then he went to New York City, where he secured
employment with Gildermeister & Kroeger, piano makers, for whom he did much
fine work. In 1893 hard times caused the piano factory to shut down, and so he
came West to Minnesota and stopped at Hallock, where he kept busy at carpentering
and building. In 1901 he removed to Red Wing and there continued in the same
line ; but two years later, convinced of the opportunities in California, he came here.

He bought twenty acres of land now adjoining Turlock on the north of
East Main Street, and set it out to fruit and alfalfa. He also hung out his shingle
as a contractor and builder. After a while, he laid out his twenty acres into lots, and
now over half of the subdivision, in which he has his home, is built upon. He has
bought and sold other ranches, and has erected a large number of the good residences
in the town, together with all the public schools, the First National Bank building, the
Geer Building and the Carolyn Hotel. He belongs to the Board of Trade and very
properly makes his influence felt there for the greatest good.

While in Minnesota, Mr. Wakefield was married to Miss Ada Manda Moen, a
native of Minnesota, by whom he has had eight children. Weva and Edna are in
the high school, and the others are Milton, Stella, Ada, Willard, Frances and Aneighta.
The family attend the Swedish Mission Church and find their highest pleasure in
actively participating in every good work for moral upbuilding and development.

LOUIS F. BRICHETTO.— Prominent among the far-sighted, unusually active
and eminently successful and prosperous ranchers of California may well be num-
bered the widely known firm of Brichetto Bros., the proprietors of the large and
famous Brichetto Ranch, with which Louis F. Brichetto and his brother, George, are
now associated. Paul Brichetto, the father of these enterprising agriculturists, bought
the Fairbanks ranch, having seen the possibilities of the place; and when he died,
in 1912, at the age of seventy-seven, he left a widow in very comfortable circum-
stances. Her maiden name was Luigia Nasano, and she was born in Orero, in the
province of Genoa, while her husband had first seen the light on an Italian farm
near the village of Orero.

Paul Brichetto was reared in the province of Genoa, and when a young man
came to America and for three years steadily worked for an old bachelor farmer in
Massachusetts. He heard of California gold, and started to come here to get some
of the shining metal. He took a sailing ship around Cape Horn, was six months
on the voyage, and landed in San Francisco in the spring of 1859, from which place
he took the boat to Stockton. He found every seat taken in the stage running to-






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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1125

Angels Camp, his destination, and he and a companion were therefore compelled
to walk. He stayed there for only a few days, however, for he found too much
gambling and wide-open life to give any attractive assurance for the future ; and in
consequence he got back to Stockton as fast as he was able.

There for a while he worked for wages at market-gardening, and then, having
rented some ground, he started market-gardening for himself. The rewards of
industry soon enabled him to buy a small farm at Stockton, and then he came up to
Oakdale and made the investment so important to himself and his family, and of
such significance to all Californians interested in the development of the agricultural
resources of the Golden State. He loaned much money, but never foreclosed on
anyone. While at Stockton, being so well pleased with the country and its oppor-
tunities, he sent for his brother, the late Joseph Brichetto, who became a pioneer
merchant and the postmaster at Banta, in San Joaquin County, and the owner of
10,000 choice acres on the west side of the San Joaquin River.

Just what Paul Brichetto was doing, both for himself and near of kin and for
California husbandry, so that thousands have already shared in the blessings flowing
from his arduous life-work, is sketched in an article, "Lessons from Our Alien
Farmers," contributed by Forest Crissey some years ago to the Saturday Evening
Post. The well-informed writer characterized the Brichetto Gardens in Oakdale
as among the best in the country, and dwells upon the shrewdness and keen fore-
sight of Paul Brichetto in purchasing some of the rich river-bottom land along the
Stanislaus River. According to this gifted writer, probably the most attractive com-
bination fruit and truck garden in California is this one of the Brichettd estate
breathing the spirit and romance of the Italian occupation of the Pacific Coast. This
garden, some three miles northwest of Oakdale, occupies ninety acres of the Stanis-
laus bottoms, just outside of the gateway to the mining region in which were laid
the scenes of Harte's best-known stories.

When the whole country between Stockton and Oakdale was almost a continu-
ous wheat field — save for the cattle ranches — and held by the ranch kings of "Octo-
pus" fame, Paul Brichetto, then operating a little garden of leased land on the out-
skirts of Stockton, decided he would do a little prospecting, but not with a pick,
shovel and mining pan. As he approached Oakdale, he paused upon the edge of the
bench and looked at the almost level expanse of bottoms on each side of the river.
Though his eye did not miss the great stilted flume that reached high in air from
the river to the bench, he saw the rank vegetation of the bottoms, especially under-
neath the flume. Later, in Oakdale, he learned the geography of the country with
reference to the mining camps and the towns that served as their feeders and supply
centers, and he well knew that a miner was always hungry for fresh green stuff, and
that money was free in mining camps, and he at once bought his pick of the bottom
land. He immediately sent to Italy for a shipment of Italian chestnuts for planting,
and today that double line of chestnuts, gratuitously watered by the flume, yields
an average yearly income of twenty dollars to the tree. Paul Brichetto, however,
made vegetables the backbone of his young industry. His wagon began to call at
farmhouses, and soon he had many wagons, and they pushed their way far up the
mountains, and returned from Grayson's, Sonora, Angels and other famous camps
with gold dust and nuggets that represented a rich profit. Many of the ranch
kings, who sold their land at what they considered a big price and thus practically
threw their money at the lucky purchaser, have disappeared by the bankruptcy trail,
and the clever Italian, who knew an opportunity when he saw it, owned one ranch
of 1700 acres, another of 640 acres in the Modesto district, and a home place of 300 acres.

Mrs. Brichetto is still living, honored of her two sons as she is esteemed by all
who know her, and she makes her home with Louis Frank Brichetto, the younger,
who was born at Stockton thirty-seven years ago, while his brother, George, the
other partner in the firm, was also born at Stockton, forty-three years ago. The
boys attended the public schools of their district, and then took hold of the gardening
with their father. Now they own two tractors — a seventy-five horsepower Holt
and a C. L. Best caterpillar of sixty horsepower. They also own the home place



1126 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

of 300 acres in the Oakdale Irrigation District, and 2,000 acres in the foothills
devoted to stock raising, and they have 1,750 acres four miles south of Oakdale, in
the Oakdale Irrigation District, where they carry on dry farming, and raise wheat
and barley. They are the largest taxpayers in the Oakdale Irrigation District. Both
brothers are stockholders in the First National Bank of Oakdale, and Louis is the
bank's vice-president.

Louis Brichetto was married on November 3, 1912, to Miss Anna Arata, a
native of San Francisco and the daughter of the late G. Arata, the wholesale vege-
table dealer, who was born in sunny Italy, but became a leading merchant of San
Francisco. Three children have blessed this fortunate union, Paul, Lois Ann and
Beatrice. The Brichetto brothers, since the death of their father, have built for
themselves a magnificent country mansion, at a cost of $15,000, which adds greatly
to the attractiveness of the ranch.

MRS. GENEVA MARIA GIOVANNONL— Situated four miles south of New-
man is the finely equipped dairy ranch of Mrs. Geneva Maria Giovannoni, a native
of Avegno, Canton Ticino, Switzerland, widow of Tranquil B. Giovannoni, who
passed away August 8, 1907. He was born in Orselena, Ticino, in 1864. On hear-
ing of the larger opportunities on the Pacific Coast, he left his family at the old home
and came to California alone to investigate the situation in 1870. After a year at San
Jose, he came to Crows Landing in 1871 and worked for Cash Crow. Then with his



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 124 of 177)