Copyright
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 133 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 133 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


as one of the leading grain farmers of the county. He has not always owned his
acreage; for eighteen years he farmed more extensively on rented lands in conjunc-
tion with his own lands. He belongs to both the Merced and the Stanislaus County
Farm Bureaus, and no member is more welcome there.

On September 28, 1902, Mr. Bromley was married to Miss Birgette M. Ras-
mussen, who was born in Bornholm, Denmark, on July 6, 1880, the daughter of
Hertel Rasmussen, who married Miss Clara M. Olsen, both natives of the same



1198 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

province. Mr. Rasmussen died on Christmas Day, 1910, and his devoted wife fol-
lowed him seven years later, on August 6. They left two sons and two daughters.
Mrs. Bromley came to America on September 4, 1898, and located at Modesto, where
her uncle, the pioneer James Johnson, already lived. Since then, a brother of Mrs.
Bromley, James Rasmussen, has come to settle in Ripon, San Joaquin County. Four
children have given joy to these worthy parents. Alfred Bromley is at home and
ranches, and Edith, Alton and Orvel are students. Mr. Bromley belongs to the
Woodmen of the World. He is a true American, and supported the various "drives"
during the late war. In matters of national import he is a Democrat, and bv all
who know him he is rated as a progressive rancher who has contributed something
definite to the development of California husbandry.

WILLIS DALTON SHARP.— A highly respected native son who, through
steady, intelligent labor has been very successful as a dairy farmer, is W. D. Sharp,
who was born in Lake Citv, Modoc County, Cal., on January 30, 1887, the son of
James Wesley Sharp, a native of Texas, who had married Miss Viola Tranquil, also
of the same state. Sometime in the later fifties, Mr. Sharp came to California and
Modoc County, went in for general farming and the raising of live stock, both buying
and selling stock in that countv so long that they became very well known there.
Mr. and Mrs. Sharp are still living retired at Porterville. A daughter, Miss Alia
Sharp, and our subject, are the only representatives in Stanislaus County of this
interesting family.

W. D. Sharp worked on his father's farm as he grew up, but being fortunate in
his parents who appreciated education, he was able to attend, first the district and
then the high school, and after that take a course in the Modesto Business College.
In 1908 he removed to Modesto with the family, and for eight years they resided
here. J. W. Sharp then owned fifty-seven acres at Prescott, upon which he engaged
in dairying, horticulture and general farming. Later, disposing of his holdings, he
returned to farming on Watcrford Road ; then sold out and went to Porterville.

The trim little farm of W. D. Sharp, one of the attractive ranches of the
neighborhood, consists of twenty acres in Paradise precinct, off the Maze Road some
three and a half miles from Modesto on the west ; and there he has thirty head of fine
registered Holstein stock, with a sire from the Peter Brunold herd. He is a charter
member of the Milk Producers Association of Central California, in whose activities
he participates with keen interest, and he also finds time to serve as clerk of the board
of trustees of Paradise School.

On Christmas Day, 1912, Mr. Sharp was married at Modesto to Miss Laura
Lucile Crispin, a native of Waterford and the daughter of T. J. Crispin ; and they
have been favored with two children, Thomas Benjamin and Charles Milton.

CHARLES TORNELL. — An enterprising upbuilder of whom men speak well
is Charles Tornell, at present a grain dealer at Ripon, San Joaquin Countv, who was
born in Sweden on December 5, 1864, the son of a prosperous farmer. Charles was
reared on the home farm, while he attended school ; and when he was old enough to
learn a trade, he was apprenticed to a carpenter. At twenty he enlisted in the Swedish
army, and was selected as King Oscar's body guard — one of 500 men who served in
that capacity for three years, at the same time attending the officers' school. Wishing
to come to the United States, he laid his request before King Oscar, and that sovereign
gave him a discharge and passport. Through this relationship, it came to pass that
Mr. Tornell knew personally Crown Prince Gustave, now King of Sweden.

In 1888 Charles reached Pomeroy, Iowa, where he followed farming for three
vears, and then he went in for contracting and building at Fort Dodge. In l^O.-i. he
came further west and with his brother located at Oakland, and there together they
did a large business in contracting and building. Through the earthquake and fire,
however, their materials were destroyed, and by the time they had completed the jobs
for which they had contracted, they lost all they had made.

In the fall of 1906, Mr. Tornell came to Turlock and engaged in farming, pur-
chasing a farm on West Main Street and residing there for four years. Then he sold



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1199

the ranch, and under the firm name of the Charles Tornell Lumber Company, he
opened a lumber yard and started a planing mill. He built up a large trade, and had a
fully-equipped mill located on West Olive Street.

After doing a large business there for five years, he sold out to advantage and
bought his present ranch on Colorado Avenue, Turlock, where he built a residence and
engaged in the raising of cantaloupes. He is now a member of the firm of Tornell,
Larson & Company, dealers in feed and fuel at Ripon. For two years he was general
manager for the United Growers Association, but in January, 1920, he resigned.

Mr. Tornell was married in Iowa in 1888 to Miss Ellen Ekstrom, a native of
Sweden, and their marriage was blessed with the birth of four children. Evar is a
rancher of Turlock; Gothard, an employee of the American Fruit Growers, and
served overseas in the U. S. Army; Carl, who is running the home ranch, also served
in the army, and Edith has become Mrs. C. E. Johnson and resides near Turlock.
Mr. Tornell has been a member of the Swedish Mission Church, and prominent and
active as a trustee, always working for the best interests of the congregation, and in
Iowa he was the superintendent of the Sunday school.

DAVID W. HOLVECK. — A rancher whose intelligent operations and enviable
results entitle him to general respect, is D. W. Holveck, living a mile and a half east
of Turlock. He was born near Colo, Story County, Iowa, the son of Louis Hol-
veck, a native of Luxemburg, who came to America when he was thirty years of age.
He was married in Iowa to Miss Laura Robinson, who proved a devoted wife and
mother. She died at Colo in 1912, leaving eight children.

Our subject attended the district school in Iowa, and for six months pursued
courses of study in a business college at Des Moines. In between, he passed his boy-
hood on the farm of 400 acres, which his father bought in 1874 for seven dollars an
acre. In 1919 a younger brother there sold the same land at $325 an acre. Mr.
Holveck came to Turlock in 1907, but the following year returned to Iowa to marry
Miss Bessie Violet Farber, who was born at St. Anthony, in Iowa. They have five
children: Muriel R., Harold, Verna, students at Denair ; Elane and Richard R.

A comfortable fortune has come to Mr. Holveck, who owns ninety acres of fine
land east of Turlock and leases part of the ranch to responsible parties. When the
duties of his ranch do not occupy all of his time, Mr. Holveck has a grading outfit
and takes contracts for leveling, ditching and checking land, which business he has
carried on since 1911 and during that time has materially improved considerable
ranch land. He is a member of the Farm Bureau and a Republican ; and he also
belongs to the Turlock Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America.

IRVIN CLAYTON BELLAMAN.— An energetic young man from the Key-
stone State who is making good in California, is Irvin Clayton Bellaman, who owns
thirty acres on the Coffee Road four and a quarter miles from Modesto. Mr. Bella-
man is the son of Daniel and Lizzie (Geib) Bellaman, and was born in Heidelburg
Township, Lebanon County, Pa., December 20, 1888. His parents are still living
in their Pennsylvania home, and Irvin Clayton is the eldest of their four children. His
earliest recollections are of farm life as he plowed and worked on the home farm,
meanwhile attending the public schools. He remained at home until twenty-three
years of ago, and from the time he was a mere youth he assisted his parents on the
home farm, and the lessons of frugality and thrift learned in these early experiences
have been of inestimable value to him in later life.

In 1911 he and G. G. Wenger, now of the Wood Colony, and two other young
people, Miss Emma Brandt and Ellen Bachman, who afterward became the wives of
the two young men, came to Modesto, Cal., from Lebanon County, Pa. Mr. Wenger
had been in Stanislaus County, Cal., previously, and upon a visit to his old home told
such glowing tales of the land of sunshine that Mr. Bellaman was prone to try
his fortune in the land of opportunity. His first work on arriving in California
was hauling grapes from the vineyard to a car at Salida, and he continued to work
for various farmers and grape growers until in August, 1912, he rented a place in
Wood Colony and began farming on his own account. He was on the place as tenant



1200 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

farmer for two years, then went back to work again by the month. On January 1.
1916, he purchased the thirty-acre place he now owns. In Modesto, June 6, 1912,
he was united in marriage with Miss Emma Brandt, a native of Lebanon County, Pa.,
and a daughter of Nathan and Amanda (Lehman) Brandt, who now live retired near
Lebanon. Mr. and Mrs. Bellaman's union has been blessed by the birth of a daugh-
ter named Lena Emma. In 1919 Mr. Bellaman built a beautiful modern, up-to-date
bungalow country home, fitted with all modern conveniences. His success in ranching
is due to his diligent and painstaking effort, coupled with the valuable assistance ren-
dered him by his excellent helpmate, who is a model housekeeper, wife and mother.
His dairy farm is one of the best in Sylvan precinct, and they -have a fine high-grade
herd of Holstein cows and a registered Holstein bull. Mr. Bellaman milks sixteen
cows, raises alfalfa hay, has a good family orchard and an excellent vegetable garden,
and is a member of the Milk Producers Association of Central California in Modesto.

E. E. BOESWETTER.— An enterprising, successful merchant who, as pro-
prietor of the well-known Half-Way House, has considerably enlarged his knowledge
of human nature, thereby being the better able to serve the public, is E. E. Boeswetter,
who was born near Port Washington, Ozaukee County, Wis., on June 4, 1862. His
father, Antone E. Boeswetter, was a native of Germany and belonged to a long line
of professional men, such as teachers, attorneys and doctors of high repute, and he
himself was a learned man, capable of speaking and teaching seven languages. He
came to America in 1832, and was a pioneer at Port Washington. He toured Cali-
fornia on foot in 1836, and then settled at Port Washington.

In 1867, however, Mr. and Mrs. Boeswetter moved with their family to Nebraska
City, where they homesteaded on a half-section of land, located twelve miles east and
three miles south of Lincoln. Soon afterward, Mrs. Boeswetter passed away, and
our subject can well remember the hardships of pioneer life in Nebraska. His father,
who had brought with him the true German ideals as to education and its value in
everyday life, used his influence in the starting of the first school; and although he
did not teach himself, he saw to it that every child of school age in that vicinity was in
attendance. This school was held in the basement of the old farmhouse on the Boes-
wetter home place.

When sixteen years of age, the lad was thrown upon his own resources, and he
took up and thoroughly mastered the carpenter trade, and in 1885 he moved to West-
ern Nebraska, and there proved up on 160 acres. This was four years after his
father had broken down in health and had passed away. While in Nebraska, he
served for four years as one of the commissioners or supervisors of Perkins County,
and for fifteen years as county director of schools.

In 1905, in company with a couple of friends, Mr. Boeswetter made a tour of
the Northwest, incidental to visiting the Lewis-Clark Exposition, and he also came
south to California, stopping at Lodi, in San Joaquin County. What he saw there
induced him to purchase ten acres of vineyard ; and having centered some of his treas-
ure here, he soon found that his heart was also in California. He returned to
Nebraska, therefore, only to sell out and prepare to migrate to the Coast. In Novem-
ber, 1908, he moved to Turlock, having purchased a farm of forty acres; and there he
made his first essay in Stanislaus County agriculture. Since that time he has developed
and sold two farms, and now he is proprietor of the Half-Way House, the well-known
headquarters for general merchandise, which he purchased in 1916. The store is
located on the Crows Landing Road, about ten miles from Modesto, and has long
since proven of the greatest convenience to many, with the natural result that it enjoys
an enviable patronage. Mr. Boeswetter is popular as a merchant who studies and
anticipates the wants of his customers, and who leaves no stone unturned in his
endeavors to assist and to please. Progressive in principle, he subordinates all to
the slogan, "America first, last and all the time!" He has taken a live interest,
for example, in the work of the Mountain View Farm Bureau, and for three years
served untiringly as its secretary. He belongs to Lodge No. 212 of the Odd Fellows
.it Grant, Neb., and is also a member of the Rebekahs.




&((& K ^Cr^UJJ^ZUjL,



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1203

GILBERT ERICKSON. — A very successful farmer whose attainments have
encouraged others to work for higher standards and better results, is Gilbert Erickson,
a resident of the region east of Montpellier. He is a Norwegian by birth and first
saw the light in Guldbrandsdalen on July 12, 1860. His father was Erik Olson, who
married Miss Ingeborg Sather, and they were both natives of the same province in
that northern land. Nine children were born of their union, and the mother and
seven children are still living.

Gilbert spent his boyhood on his father's farm, and attended school until he was
fifteen, when he was duly confirmed in the Lutheran Church. In 1885, he crossed
the ocean to America, and for a season he located in Minnesota. Pushing on to
California in 1886, he found work on a farm at Waterford, and settling there, he
rolled up his sleeves and straightway set about getting on his feet, financially.

At Waterford, too, in 1892, he married Miss Thora Larson, a native of Drammen,
Norway, where she was born on June 21, 1867, a gifted young lady who had come
to America in 1 883 ; and in the course of time seven children blessed the lucky union.
Iver Erick, the rancher, lives at home, as does Ingebel K., Olaf G., and, Carl I., the
last two ranchers also. Thora G. is a graduate of the San Jose Normal School, in
1921. Ellen I. is a graduate of the Oakdale high school, and Louie.

For twenty-five years Mr. Erickson followed dry farming near Oakdale, and in
1918 he moved to the vicinity of Montpellier; and since then, on some sixteen hun-
dred acres of black, rich soil, he has raised grain with pronounced success. He is a
careful student of both past and present conditions, and as a member of the Farm
Bureau he both derives benefit from others and makes his own valued contributions.

In 1896, Mr. Erickson was made a citizen of the United States, in the Superior
Court at Modesto, and when able to exercise the right of franchise, he joined the
ranks of the Republican party. For many years he served as a trustee of the Oakdale
school district ; and having rendered three years military service in his native land
prior to leaving for America, he has always found it natural to do what he could to
stimulate patriotism in America, and to advance her best interests.

ISIDORO P. ROSSI. — A retired dairy rancher and building contractor, Isidoro
P. Rossi, although a native of Switzerland, is a thorough American and a citizen of
whom any community might well feel proud, for he possesses the sturdy qualities of
the indomitable little Republic which gave him birth. He was born in Sementina,
Canton Ticino, Switzerland, April 1, 1870, the eldest of a family of seven children,
all of whom still reside in their native canton except our subject. His father was Basilo
Rossi and his mother Francesca (Cereda) Rossi, both natives of Sementina, which
has been the home of the Rossis and the Ceredas for at least five or six centuries.
The father was a farmer, stone mason and a carver of stone and monuments and
came to California in 1882 and engaged in building industries in Napa City and
Contra Costa County. .He did not remain in California for long, however, but
returned to his native village, where he died, December 23, 1915, aged sixty-eight.

In 1884 I. P. Rossi came to California, joining his father at Napa City. He
became engaged in farming and in assisting his father in the building industry for a
time, and later went to Napa, and still later went to work on a stock farm in Sonoma
County, near Glen Ellen. After fourteen months he went to the dairy farm of
Henry Hagen, near Napa, and later worked for Joe Dedini at Collinsville on a
dairy farm. While here he was married in 1889 to Miss Felomina Rossi, from his
native canton in Switzerland, although not of the same family. From here he went
to San Jose and rented a 1,000-acre dairy ranch on shares from 1892 to 1895, this
being the beginning of his prosperity. He engaged in business in San Francisco in
1895 and 1896, but sold out and worked for wages and at ranching at Benicia,
Martinez, and at Sutter Creek in Amador County, finally going to Richmond, Contra
Costa County, where he built a home and engaged in the carpenter trade for four
years. Following this he went to Stockton, where he engaged in contracting and
building business under the firm name of Rossi & Coradini, in partnership with G.
Coradini, erecting many fine buildings in Stockton and vicinity during the year. But
the call of the land claimed him again, and in course of time he went again to San



1204 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Jose, where he rented the same 1,000-acre dairy ranch of J. M. Toney, which had
brought him good fortune before. In addition to this he also rented the Spreckels
ranch of 590 acres at Coyote, where for six years he ran a dairy of 150 cows.

In 1909 Mr. Rossi came to Salida and bought eighty acres of land from Claude
Heiny, just south of town, where he farmed for ten years. In June, 1919, he sold
his farm and retired to his present home at 330 McHenry Avenue, Modesto. Mrs.
Rossi passed away December 24, 1918; she was the mother of three children, all of
whom are well and favorably known in the county. They are Louise, the wife of
Elmer Tucker, residing in Modesto ; Frank, who married Lenore De Lorenzi on
November 15, 1920, is assistant city civil engineer of Modesto, and Ida, a stenog-
rapher in Modesto. Mr. Rossi is justly proud of the war record of his only son,
Frank, who enlisted early in the World War, in the Three Hundred Nineteenth
Engineer Corps, as a corporal, and came home with three honor medals. He had
charge of the construction work at Brest, France, where he saw seven months' service.

Mr. Rossi's mother is still living in Sementina, Switzerland, and in the summer
of 1920 he took his first vacation in almost forty years and returned to the scene of
his nativity to visit her. He visited many points of interest and the great cities of
America and Europe en route, but gladly returned to California.

NELS O. HULTBERG. — An active, useful and worthy career has been that
of the Swedish-American, Nels O. Hultberg, who was born near Skane on March
25, 1865, and spent his boyhood in his father's farm, blacksmith shop and implement
factory, from which he attended the local public school. It did not afford extensive
educational advantages; but he learned what he could, and when, as a young man, he
crossed the ocean to America, he was better prepared than many to secure a safe
and satisfactory foothold. He went to work on a farm near Rochelle, 111., but he
also attended the night schools when he could, and so continued his studies. In
1893, he made a trip to Alaska, in the foreign mission work, and he established at
Galovin the first school for the Swedish Mission Church of America. From the
start, he labored earnestly; and such was his success both in religious and educational
work, that he spent five and a half years in that far-north field.

Here it may be noted that Mr. Hultberg was the first white man to notice
the deposits of rich gold-bearing ore in that territory, after watching the natives
going to the place where they found copper and lead deposits. The natives had any
amount of the stuff which they pounded into vessels and implements, without of
course knowing the metal's real worth ; and after studying their movements, Mr.
Hultberg staked a mining claim ; but before he could realize from it, he was forced
to return to the United States on account of his family. He had married, and had
become the father of three children; and it was a deep sorrow to him that the two
eldest should die ere he could return to the United States. In 1894, he was met at
St. Michael, Alaska, by Miss Hanna Holm, a native daughter of Sweden, who had
also made the trip to Alaska in mission work ; and at Unalaklick, on July 8, they were
duly married. Three children were born to this excellent couple. Hilda died in
infancy in Alaska, from a severe cold, and so did Amnon, another infant child.
Albia A. is a graduate of the San Jose Normal School and has become a teacher at
the Gratton school, north of Denair, although she makes her home with her father
at Campbell, Santa Clara Count}'.

Having come back to the United States in 1898, Mr. Hultberg went back to
Illinois; and the same year he made a trip to Sweden, taking with him his wife and
child. He returned to America in 1899, and then located on a ranch in the Santa
Clara Valley, near Campbell, where he remained for four years. He took up col-
onization work in 1901 and the following year went to Turlock, Stanislaus County,
where he began operations in bringing in settlers and developing that section of the
county. He always had the interests of the people at heart and took an active inter-
est in political, social, educational and religious movements.

Mr. Hultberg took an active part in the colonization of the Hilmar Colony
south of Turlock, and he also went in for real estate development in the Turlock
irrigation district. Since 1917 he has been identified largely with Campbell, Santa



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1207

Clara County, and he has scores of friends in both Santa Clara and Stanislaus coun-
ties, for he has done as much as any one man in colonization work in the Turlock
district, always attracting the better class of settlers and home-seekers.

Four more children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Hultberg, two in Santa Clara
County and one in Stanislaus County. Hilmar, born in Illinois, is named in honor
of the colony started by his father, is now a rancher at Campbell, at which place
Charles H. is also farming; and Hazel and Chester are both students. Mr. Hult-
berg is both a Mason and an Elk, holding membership in the former at Turlock and
the latter in Modesto Lodge No. 1282.

He was one of the original members and workers in the California Prune and
Apricot Association, also an early member of the California Cooperative Associa-
tion. In 1902 he advanced the necessary capital for Prof. Fowler to go to England
to study the cooperative plans there and feels gratified that it was largely through
the effort of Prof. Fowler that the cooperative movement has been made a success here.

JAMES D. YATES.— The proprietor of the Turlock Bootery, James D. Yates,
is a young man of indefatigable industry and good judgment, and these traits have
greatly aided him in his business career. He purchased the Turlock Bootery from
Mr. A. A. Lindquist, and his success in other ventures warrants every reason to
expect equal success in his venture in the boot and shoe business.

Mr. Yates was born at Spickard, Mo., December 13, 1886. His ancestry in
America dates to his great-grandfather Howard, who came from England and did



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 133 of 177)