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 137 of 177)
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ANSEL LITCHFIELD KNOWLES.— A public official of varied and valuable
experience, Ansel Litchfield Knowles was born at Stockton, on March 29, 1862, and
in that interesting city of the San Joaquin Valley passed his boyhood and grew to a
vigorous manhood. His father, Isaac Hazard Knowles, crossed the great plains in
1849, and then returned to Rhode Island by water, after which he brought his wife,
who was Miss Eliza Wilson before her marriage, and his two children with him on
his return journey to California. He teamed for a while to Coulterville, and was
elected judge at that place, and in later years he was best known as a bookkeeper.

Ansel Knowles attended the public schools at Stockton, and after that entered the
volunteer fire department, and as a result of this early gratuitous service was a paid fire-
man in Stockton for twenty-five years. He acted as chief of the fire department at
times, worked hard for its development and advancement and overworked, and so
broke down his health. His physician gave him only a year in which to live and
idvised him to get "out into the open — God's open world."

He had been married at Stockton to Miss Ethel L. Gardenhire, daughter of Fred
Gardenhire, a native of Tennessee, a member of one of the early families in San
Joaquin County. In 1907 he bought twelve acres just outside of the town limits of
Hickman, and this he has since operated, with the aid of his devoted wife, and with
such excellent results from the enforced living in sunshine and fresh air that he has
been mercifully restored to health, and has been able to serve as constable of Waterford
Township, and is also deputy sheriff. He is a popular member of the Firemen's Asso-


ciation of Stockton, and the Stockton Parlor of the Native Sons. Mrs. Knowles is a
member of the Native Daughters of the Golden West at Stockton, and both Mr. and
Mrs. Knowles attend the Congregational Church.

The Knowles family has an interesting origin and history. It is of English ex-
traction, and during many generations there have been substantial farmer-folk of that
name in Rhode Island. The Wilson family, on the other hand, came from Ireland,
and as Protestants they were prominent, the great-great-grandfather of our subject
having been a Methodist preacher in Rhode Island. I. H. Knowles was one of the
first New Englanders to cross the wide plains to California; and he died at Stockton
seventy-six years old. Mrs. Knowles also passed away in that city, the following year,
in 1901, in her seventy-seventh year. They had six children; Frank W., Elizabeth,
the wife of Dr. Lucky of Portland, Ore.; William H., now deceased; Edward B.,
Ansel Litchfield, and Mary, who died in Stockton when she was two years old. Mr.
and Mrs. Ansel L. Knowles are the parents of two children. Verna E. has become the
wife of W. E. Hall, a rancher of the Hickman precinct. Ray is a student in the
Modesto high school.

GUY LAUGHLIN. — An interesting representative of the bonanza farmers of
Stanislaus County who have done so much, by their foresight and intelligent industry
and courageous enterprise, to make this favored section of Central California still
more famous, is Guy Laughlin, who lives southwest of Hickman on the L. N. Mires
ranch. He was born on January 1, 1872, in Osage County, Mo., the son of J. C.
and Martha (Dallas) Laughlin, whose life-story is given elsewhere in this historical
work; and when eighteen months old came with his parents to California, when they
settled at Riverbank. The father then moved east of Modesto, where he bought 280
acres of land, which he farmed to wheat; and later he bought 640 acres, north of
Turlock. He sold this tract and bought and sold various other places, and at one
time owned two sections seven miles southeast of Oakville in the Claribel section, so
that for many years he was regarded as one of the most extensive wheat farmers in
the country. He had six sons, and they all helped their father in these farming opera-
tions. Now he is living retired, and is director in the First National Bank at Oakdale.
Seven of their ten children are still living, and among them our subject is the third son.

Guy Laughlin grew up on the home farm, and attended both the public schools
and was for two years at the Stanislaus Seminary and Normal School at Oakdale.
He took a commercial course in the same institution, and graduated in the first class
sent out from that expanding institution. Then he rented the old George Murphy
place of 320 acres, near Oakdale, from his father, as his first business venture in 1894.

Mr. Laughlin and his brother, Herbert G. Laughlin, now at Oakdale, next
together bought 1,400 acres three miles east of Waterford, and with 1,100 acres of the
Reservoir Ranch, they farmed 2,500 acres. At the end of three years they divided
the land, which they continued to farm until the Modesto Reservoir district bought
the land they had leased, when he farmed his own place.

Mr. Laughlin then went into the sheep business, on Collins, Ward & Bishop's
ranch, where he had from 1,200 to 1,500 head. He also farmed his 700 acres, and
rented three places besides, operating again about 2,500 acres. He was in the sheep
business another three years; but in 1920 he sold the 700-acre ranch.

Mr. Laughlin had rented his present place, the Lou N. Mires ranch, as early as
1917, of 960 acres, and here he and his two sons are associated in their farming opera-
tions. He rents in addition 1,200 acres of the Hickman ranch. They have also been
running, for the past four years, with the home place, 2,700 acres. They use a big
team of ten mules, and one Best tractor of seventy-five horsepower. They also own
and operate a Holt self-propelled, combined harvester and thresher, propelled by a
fifty-five horsepower engine. Mr. Laughlin is a prominent member of the Waterford-
Hickman Center of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, and he is also a director in the
Federation of American Farmers. In national politics he is a Republican.

Mr. Laughlin has built a fine residence at 107 Tuolumne Boulevard, in Mo-
desto, and in that city Mrs. Laughlin attends the Episcopal Church, of which she is


a member. Mr. Laughlin was married for the first time in 1894 to Miss Maria Steele,
a daughter of Lafayette Steele, and a native of Stanislaus County; and in June, 1896,
she passed away. Two years later he married Miss Johanna Holm, a native of Copen-
hagen, Denmark, a daughter of the late J. P. Holm, of Oakdale. He was born on
the Island of Bornholm, and was married in Copenhagen to H. C. Mathilda Hansen,
who was born on the Island of Fyen. They came to California in 1888. The father
was a shoemaker by trade, and the worthy couple had eight children, but only two are
living: Johanna Mathilda, nee Holm, now Mrs. Laughlin, and Inger Marie Holm,
now Mrs. H. J. Coffee, the wife of the rancher living north of Modesto.

Six children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Laughlin: Raymond is a
graduate of the Modesto Business College, and in 1920 was married to Miss Edna
Anderson of Montpellier, a prosperous rancher; Arthur is also a graduate of the
Modesto Business College and lives at home. These two sons are partners of their
father in the farm enterprises. Doris I., who was graduated from the Modesto high
school in 1919, is a sophomore at the State University. Marie attends the Modesto
high school in the class of '22, while the younger members are Edwin and Howard.

SYLVESTER FITZPATRICK.— A well-known stockman of Central Califor-
nia, whose father was one of the biggest cattlemen of early California, running hun-
dreds of head of sheep and cattle on his own acres and on the public domain, Sylvester
Fitzpatrick owns one tract of 700 acres in this county on which he has always grazed
stock, or leased it for purposes of pasturage. But the onward march of progress is
manifested by the fact that this will soon be under irrigation, and then Mr. Fitzpatrick,
veteran cattleman though he is, purposes to subdivide and sell it off in small farms.
And so the old era passes to make way for the new.

Mr. Fitzpatrick is a native of California, born in Marysville, Yuba County,
February 5. 1865. His father was Owen Fitzpatrick, and his mother Rose Fitz-
simmons, both natives of County Cavan, Ireland. Owen Fitzpatrick came to America
in 1854, landing at New York and coming on immediately to California, where he
engaged in mining industries in Yuba County, his wife soon after joining him, making
the long journey around the Horn. In 1868 he came with his family into Stanislaus
County, three years before the railroads arrived. Here he preempted and bought
2.000 acres of land and engaged in sheep and cattle raising ; the old homstead place is
still marked with a few oak trees where the cabin stood when the family came from
Marysville. Soon after this Mr. Fitzpatrick died, leaving his wife with four sons.

The district school, called "The Junction," furnished the only available educa-
tional opportunities of the place, and here the brothers were educated. The first
business enterprise of Mr. Fitzpatrick was stock raising, which he has always followed
with great success, while his brothers, James and Peter, have followed general farm-
ing and dairying. He had 400 or 500 head of stock at an early age, and his constant
attention to business, his wide knowledge and careful study of marketing conditions
have been important factors in his success.

Mr. Fitzpatrick has not confined his interests to Stanislaus County by any
means, but has been in the stock raising business in Fresno and Santa Clara Count)-, on
Kings River, and on the McDermott ranch, where for eight years he was foreman.
Besides the 700 acres of grazing land previously mentioned, Mr. Fitzpatrick owns
residence property and other real estate in Modesto, 350 acres of valuable land in
Tuolumne County, and valuable city property in Richmond, Cal. He is a member of
the Roman Catholic Church in Modesto, and takes a keen interest in all matters which
concern the welfare of the community, and carrying into his neighborly goodfellow^hip
the same splendid energy and efficiency which has made him such a success in business.

Mr. Fitzpatrick has been twice married. His first wife was Miss Millicent
Malone, to whom he was wed in 1898, and by whom he had one son, Sylvester A., a
student in the Bakersfield school, taking up mineralogy. After her death, he was
married July 5, 1908, to Mrs. Lucy (Oaman) Herlilie, in San Francisco, a widow
with one daughter. Miss Marjorie Herlilie, a student in Modesto high. Of this
marriage have been born two daughters and a son : Lucile and Millicent, in the grajn-
mar school, and James, the latter born September 24, 1920.


MRS. HUGH HEAD. — A native daughter, distinguished for her natural ability
and definite attainments, is Mrs. Hugh Head, until some years ago the widow of
W. W. Hall, and now residing on the old Hall ranch some three miles south of Hick-
man. Her father was Thomas S. Rowe, who was born in New Hartford, Conn., in
1832, the son of Jacob and Maria Rowe. The latter died when Thomas was only
three years old ; and he emigrated from New England to Michigan with his father in
1835. Two years later, they moved on to Mineral Point, Wis., where they remained
nntil 1849; and then he crossed the plains with his father and settled in Nevada.

Upon arriving, eventually, in California, they found everyone in a great fever of
excitement, and as many as could go were in the mines delving for gold. Among
them was Jacob Rowe, who had caught the fever and had come with the real Argo-
nauts to dare and to share. All were armed for defense ; and as most of the company
were young men, active, healthy, and often well-educated, and full of hope and en-
thusiasm, they became the flower of the West. In their ignorance of the nature of
auriferous deposits, they expected, unless extremely unfortunate, to strike places where
they should dig up two or three hundred pounds of gold in a day without difficulty;
and in visions by day and dreams by night, they uncovered dazzling treasures.

Soon after reaching California, Thomas Rowe decided to return for his family ;
he brought them to Nevada, and after remaining there for a few months he returned
to the Golden State, removed to Tuolumne County, and settled near where he later
resided, locating his Stanislaus County home in 1855, a year after the organization of
the county. Jacob Rowe died in 1862, ten years after Thomas S. Rowe had married
Miss Clarinda Browder, by whom fie had nine children — five girls and four boys —
named Augustus F., James H., Maria, Josephine, Orilla A., Laura, Victoria, Thomas
G., and Andrew Rowe. Thomas S. Rowe, who died at Los Angeles May 28, 1914, in
his eighty-third year, came to own 1,100 acres of land and to farm four rented sec-
tions, devoted principally to grain — a handsome farm, well-watered and well-tim-
bered, on the Tuolumne River, ten miles east of Modesto. His good wife, who was
a native of Missouri, died in her forty-third year, when Mrs. Head was only eight
years of age. Augustus and James Rowe reside in Marysville. Maria married
O. H. Murray and died at Westport on April 30, 1918. Josephine is the wife of
John Lyons and resides at Colfax, Wash. Orilla Adeline is the subject of our review.
Laura is Mrs. Beyrle of Los Angeles. Victoria is the wife of Bert L. Dallas, of
Berkeley, who ranches at Hickman. Thomas still lives at Los Angeles, and Andrew
is at Weed in Shasta County.

Mrs. Head was born within four miles of her present home and in that district
•^he attended the public schools. When eighteen years of age, she was married to
W. W. Hall, a native of San Joaquin County, but later a farmer enviably associated
with the history of Stanislaus County. He was the son of a very representative citi-
zen, Edgar A. Hall, who was one of the largest tax-payers and most substantial and
influential citizens in Central California. He was born at St. Johnsbury, Vt., in
1835, the son of William and Maria (French) Hall, both natives of and long resi-
dents in Vermont, and his early occupation was that of a farmer. He enjoyed a
common school education, and when seventeen years of age, went to Boston, where he
worked for three years. At twenty years of age, he left St. Johnsbury to try his
fortune in the El Dorado ; and at New York he took the steamer for Panama, crossed
the Isthmus, and arrived in San Francisco on July 28, 1855. He then went to the
mines in Sierra County ; and after spending some three years there, he was glad to
retire with only fifty dollars in his pocket. He then traveled through all the northern
counties, and finally, in 1860, located in Stanislaus County, where he engaged in
raising and selling stock for seven years, finding it more profitable than prospecting;
and after that his career illustrated what steady industry and perseverance might
accomplish in a few years, enabling him, for example, to rise from the position of a
poor boy to that of one of the enviable men in the county. In February, 1866, he
married Miss Mary Elizabeth Jones, a native of Missouri, and their union was blessed
with William Wheeler, Georgia, Alice Maud, and Mary Elizabeth Hall.

Edgar A. Hall had nearly 5,000 acres located fifteen miles east of Modesto, and
in addition to raising grain, he had some 2,500 sheep, seventy-five horses and mules,




and 200 hogs. The ranch home of the family was a large residence with ample
verandas, with an observatory tower from which fine views could be had of the plains
and distant mountains. Besides the best of machinery and modern appliances then
obtainable, Mr. Hall kept about eighty head of horses and mules for the operation of
the ranch. At his death, he left his son, W. W. Hall, 2,600 acres of land, including
the Hall home place, while the widow had about 5,000 acres. On November 18,
1910, Wm. W. Hall died, aged forty-four years, the father of three children by the
subject of our sketch. Georgia is the wife of Siddall Barnes, rancher, who lives on
640 acres adjoining. Leland is another prosperous rancher, with the same amount of
acreage, and he married Ethel Yancey. And Edgar also does well with another 640
acres. He married Verna Knowles, a daughter of A. L. Knowles. This fact of
equal ownership among the children is to be explained by the fact that their mother,
when she married Hugh Head, of Napa, first distributed her property.

The late Mr. Hall was a graduate of the college at Lytton Springs, and Mr.
Head, who was born at Napa, in 1875, on November 24, is also a man of attainment,
particularly as an agriculturist. He grew up in Napa, went to school there, and be-
came a farmer and a stockman. He also studied civil engineering, and became an
engineer of ability. Mr. and Mrs. Head live in the comfortable residence on a knol!,
three miles southeast of Hickman overlooking the Tuolumne Valley; and as they are
both good workers, and large-hearted, broad-minded folks, they dispense a generous
hospitality, and seek to participate in local movements in such a manner as to enable
them to be of the greatest service, unostentatiously, to the community.

NIELS ANDERSON. — One of the representative grain ranchers of Stanislaus
County is Niels Anderson, owner of 800 acres of fine grain land on the West Side. He
was born on November 1, 1866, in Guldbrandsdalen, Norway, son of Andres and Anna
Nelson. His father was a farmer until an injury diverted him into merchant tailoring.
He passed away in 1892, his widow surviving him until 1913. The Nelsons had five
children reaching maturity, our subject being youngest. He grew up in a farming
community and received a good education locally.

When nineteen he wandered Californiawards to Stockton. In July, 1886. he
settled in Waterford and ranched there. He then leased a 700-acre farm for one year
in partnership and later leased a 1,200-acre grain farm alone near the Halfway House,
between Modesto and Crows Landing. He next leased a 320-acre farm five miles east
of Modesto and then a 580-acre farm southwest of Crows Landing, where he raised
barley and wheat. Mr. Anderson finally purchased a half section of the old Spriggs
ranch in 1908, later buying additional land adjoining until he now controls 800 acres,
devoted to grain raising. He owns a seventy-five-horsepower Holt caterpillar, with a
fiftv-eight foot harrow, and a Haines-Hauser combined harvester. He keeps only
sufficient horses, cattle and hogs for domestic use.

Mr. Anderson's first visit to his native land was in 1902, while his mother was
still living. Returning to California he resumed farming. However, yearning to see
the fields and fiords of his youth, he made a second trip to Norway, remaining a year,
and renewed the acquaintance of Miss Nora Marie Hansen, whom he had met at his
earlier home-coming in 1902. This acquaintance resulted in their marriage October
14, 1911. She was born at Narmestad, near Christiania, a daughter of Hans Lauritz
Dohlen, who married Mathia Thori. They were well-to-do farmers, owning the
Gaard Dohlen at Gjerdrum. He was also a stone mason engaged in contracting and
building, was a manufacturer of brick and tile and operated a stone quarry until his
death in 1916. His widow continues to reside in the old home, while the oldest son,
William Herman Dohlen, has succeeded to his father's business. Ten children were
the issue of this couple, but only five survive. Mrs. Anderson is the oldest, and the
only one in America. When fourteen, Marie went to live with an aunt and uncle in
Christiania, and it was there she first met Mr. Anderson. Since 1911 the Andersons
have dwelled and farmed near Crows Landing, and one child, Alfhild Madalene, has
blessed their union. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are members of Patterson Lutheran
Church, and are Republicans.


JAMES O. RAFTER. — One of the attractive country homes of Stanislaus
County is that of James O. Rafter, four miles east of Modesto, on the Waterford
Road. It consists of thirty acres of fine land, under a high state of cultivation, and
was bought by Mr. Rafter in 1917. Immediately he commenced to improve it. He
has thirteen acres in peaches of Tuscan and Phillips Cling, and seven acres of Thomp-
son Seedless grapes, and the balance in alfalfa. He has erected a handsome modern
bungalow, while the grounds are artistically developed.

Mr. Rafter is a native of New York State, born at Batavia, March 12, 1875.
He is a genuine Californian nevertheless, for this state has been his home since he was
a mere lad, for in 1885 his parents, John and Susan (Passmore) Rafter, came with
their family, then numbering five children, to this state, settling near Salida. Here
three more children were born, all well and favorably known in this section of the
state. For a time the father and the elder sons worked for wages, but later the father
bought land and farmed. He died in 1895, but the widow at seventy survives in Oakdale.

After completing his education in the excellent public schools of Stanislaus
County, Mr. Rafter engaged in farming industries, and has met with much well
deserved success. He has a splendid reputation among his fellows as a man of integrity
and ability, and ranks high in business circles. His marriage occurred August 27,
1914, uniting him with Mrs. Jensine Christensen, who was the mother of one child,
a daughter, Gladys, who has adopted her stepfather's name and is being reared as his
own. Mrs. Rafter is as popular as is her husband, and their hospitable home is the
center of much social activity. Mr. Rafter is a member of the Stanislaus County
Farm Bureau, and of the Federation of American Farmers. Fraternally he is a
member of the Woodmen of the World. Politically he is a Republican, a stanch
party man, standing strongly for clean government and for business administration.

FRANK C. HALDEMAN. — Prominent among the chief owners of business
property at the growing village of Hickman, Frank C. Haldeman is naturally much
interested in the future of this promising town. He has had an extensive experience
as grain warehouseman, storekeeper, drayman and public official, and all this experience
will be at the service of the community as Hickman continues to grow.

Frank Connell Haldeman first came to Stanislaus County about thirty years ago
from Missouri, where he was born at La Belle, Lewis County, on July 9, 1867, and
had obtained a good grammar school education. His father was William Haldeman,
a native of Pennsylvania, who was married in Missouri to Drucilla Connell, who was
born in Ohio ; and to these worthy folks Mr. Haldeman owed the right kind of a
home for boyhood days. In 1883, Mr. Haldeman spent some time in Kansas, after-
wards going to Colorado, where he spent several years; then in Texas and Old Mexico
a short period ; then in New Mexico, where he remained until 1 889.

After five years in Stanislaus County working for the Grange Company at
Modesto, Mr. Haldeman went to Los Angeles, where he worked in a warehouse ;
and while living in the City of the Angels he met and married Miss Ella Williams,
who was born at Indianapolis, Ind. Returning to Stanislaus County, he was again
employed by the Grange Company and sent to Hickman to run the large grain ware-
houses here at the end of the nineties. He was appointed postmaster at Hickman,
but press of business led him to resign, and a few years later his wife was appointed
in his stead. Mr. Haldeman was for many years in the general merchandise business
at Hickman; and a year and a half ago he embarked in auto-truck draying. His son,
Frank C. Haldeman, Jr., is also engaged in the same line at Hickman, and runs his
business independently of his father.

The building in which the post office at Hickman is located is also owned by Mr.
Haldeman — and so is a store building and the public hall at Hickman. They have
three children: Frank O, already referred to, is married and lives in Hickman;
Lucile is the wife of Harold Young and resides in San Francisco; Georgia married
C. L. Robinson, a rancher in Tuolumne County.

In 1919, Mr. Haldeman was appointed justice of the peace in Hickman, with
jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters, sitting as a committing magistrate in case
of felonies. He is well-read, endeavors to be fair, and decides without fear or favor.


The court room and office adjoins the post office building. Mr. Haldeman has been
an active member of the Hickman Board of Trade since its organization, serving as

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 137 of 177)