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 141 of 177)
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he filled a similar position. Then for short periods he filled the same position at
Mingo Junction on the Ohio River, Steubenville, Ohio, Duquesne, Pa., and Youngs-
town, Ohio. Having become interested in and desirous of locating in California, he
came to Turlock in October, 1903, and purchased forty-four acres in Youngstown
Colony, across the county line in Merced county. Here he built a residence and made
improvements, engaging in general farming until he died October 8, 1918, mourned
by his family and many friends.

He was a consistent Christian and in the various places had been prominent and
active in the Swedish Mission Church, and was a trustee of the church in Turlock
when he died. For many years he had been a leader of the choir and possessed a
beautiful deep bass voice that was much appreciated. Mr. Lundgren was also inter-
ested in the cause of education, having been a member and clerk of the Johnson
joint school district for years. A believer in protection, he was naturally a Republican.

The union of Mr. and Mrs. Lundgren resulted in the birth of three children:
Carl Henry died when a baby; Ruth Elizabeth is a graduate of Heald's Normal at
Stockton and is a teacher in the Johnson school ; Melvin Carl is operating the home
farm. After Mr. Lundgren's death the family resided on the farm for a year, when
Mrs. Lundgren moved to Turlock, purchasing a home at 318 Vermont street, where
she lives with her daughter, both being active members of the Swedish Mission Church
and the Dorcas Society.

LELAND A. HALL. — Among the expert grain growers in Stanislaus County
may well be numbered Leland A. Hall, who comes honestly enough by his proficiency,
tor he is a great-grandson of Johnny Jones of San Joaquin County, who in his day
was the "wheat king" of California.

He was born on April 18, 1890, on the W. W. Hall, formerly the E. A. Hall
ranch, and is the oldest son and second child of the late W. W. Hall, who married
Orilla Adeline Rowe, the daughter of Thomas S. Rowe, one of the extensive grain
growers in pioneer days, and very well known, as was E. A. Hall, one of the largest
tax-payers of Stanislaus County. He attended the public schools of the Union and
the Rowe districts, and at the Western School of Commerce at Stockton.

In 1909, W. W. Hall died, and it fell to our subject, as the oldest of the fam-
ily, to get down to hard work. He therefore, assumed the responsibility of running
the 2.600 acres of the home farm. As early as 1907 he had become his father's
right-band helper, and he continued as the head man on the home ranch until his


widowed mother, in 1917, married Hugh Head, at which time she deeded each one
of her three children 640 acres.

Although a young man, Mr. Hall is without doubt one of the best grain farmers
in Stanislaus County. On the first of March, 1921, he had on hand 6,200 sacks of
barley of the 1920 crop, all raised on a half-section, the best grain crop in the dry
tanning section of the county, for he summer-fallows half a section each year, and
crops the other half. He relies on horses and mules, for the most part, for hi-
motive power needed on the farm, and owns and uses twelve mules in his operations.
He owns an interest in a large combined Harris harvester and thresher, and co-oper-
ates with Mr. Head, Mr. Barnes, and his brother, William Edgar Hall, in harvest
nine. This gigantic harvesting machine is propelled by means of a seventy-five horse-
power Holt tractor and can cut, harvest and thresh fifty acres per day, and is used
to harvest all of the grain grown on the four ranches carved out of the original E. A.
Hall acreage. In 1917, when he located on his 640 acres, he built a fine residence,
with large barns that will easily hold seventy tons of hay.

In 1912 Mr. Hall was married to Miss Ethel Fern Yancey, a member of the
distinguished family of that name so pleasantly associated with the annals of Georgia,
and they have had two children — Fern and William Abner. Mrs. Hall is a daughter
of A. J. Yancey, who came to California from Georgia in 1889 and settled at
Ceres. Later he became a merchant at Montpellier, and a large landowner. Mrs.
Yancey, who was Amanda Barnes, is also a native of Georgia. They now reside in
Tuolumne County. Of their four living children Mrs. Hall is the second youngest
She was born ai Ceres and educated there and at the high school at Stockton.

Mr. Hall is a Republican when it comes to matters of national political moment,
but in local affairs he is always willing to pull with his neighbors.

HUNT-JEWETT-BONTZ CO.— A thoroughly up-to-date concern, whose enter-
prise has also stimulated other firms, is the Hunt-Jewett-Bontz Company, which
established its plant at Turlcck in 1919, building a fine structure 51Vj\544 feet,
of interlocking tile. They have packing sheds, besides, of the same width and 172
feet long, thus giving their establishment an entire length of 716 feet, and a total
floor area of 36,516 square feet. The firm buys sweet potatoes and stores them until
the market is most favorable for their delivery, when the stock is shipped to Eastern
markets; and with their 385 bins, each with a capacity of seven tens and properlv
ventilated, these men have the only plant of the kind in the West, and largest of its
kind in the world. They are incorporated with a capital stock of $200,000, and the
officers are: President, C. W. Hunt, of Hunt, Hatch & Company, San Francisco:
vice-president, L. E. Bontz, of Sacramento ; secretary and treasurer, E. L. Jewett, of
F. L. Jewett & Company, a produce broker of more than thirty years in San
Francisco. The manager of the shipping department is Grant Hunt, a native son of
Oakland and a graduate of the University of California: the sales manager is Austin
Eimer, also a graduate of the State University ; while another young man of ability,
and also of the same college alma mater, is Van Duyn Dodge, the cashier.

R. K. Bontz is general manager of the company, and is the son of L. E. Bontz,
who came to California from Peoria, 111., in 1891, and was connected with the San Jose
Mercury for fourteen vears. Then he removed to Sacramento, where he was with the
Sacramento Union. R. K. Bontz was born in San Jose, and when a student at Berkeley,
followed the course of the College of Letters and Science, majoring in economics. The
four last mentioned all served in the World War, enlisting from California, and won
commissions. Another member of the company, and a young man of much ability, is
Manuel Gomez, whose father is a large landowner on Sherman Island, in the Sacra-
mento River. He is a sweet potato expert, and a buyer for the company.

The firm is a member of the Turlock Board of Trade and its heads participate
In all that helps build up the town. Besides sweet potatoes, they handle onions,
garlic and tomatoes, watermelons, cherries, grapes, cantaloupes, casabas and beans, and
even during the first year of their existence had shipped over 450 carloads of produce,
the second vear over 500 cars, and in 1^21 will probably increase this output. Thej
have about fifty outlets for their goods, and find their markets chiefly along the


Pacific Coast, in Salt Lake and Denver; but they also send produce as far as New
York. Before they started their plant, sweet potatoes in season fell below one cent a
pound, but through their service to the grower they have been able to maintain a mi'ni-
mum of not less than two and a half cents a pound. In the spring of 1920, they
brought in two carloads of seed of the Nancy Hall brand of sweet potatoes, in the
South well-named the Pumpkin Yam, and these they find sweeter and more satisfactory
to the consumer whose tastes they are in business, to study.

BENJAMIN SISSON. — An interesting couple who still maintain the old-time
California traditions of hospitality are Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Sisson, resident on the
old Bach place near Knights Ferry, south of the Stanislaus River and off the State
Highway. The eldest son and the fourth child in a family of eight, Benjamin Sisson
was born at Oakdale, on December 27, 1878, the son of Benjamin H. Sisson, whose
ancestry was Quaker, and who was born at Poughkeepsie, on the Hudson, a member of
a pre-Revolutionary family. He rounded the Horn in the latter part of 1868, and in
January, 1869, sailed through the Golden Gate. He brought with him his bride, who
had been Miss Ida Simmons, and whom he married at Poughkee-sie, and they settled
early at Langworth, and became neighbors and friends of Henry Langworthy, Thomas
Richardson and Thomas Snedigar, now deceased. Mr. Sisson and Thomas Richardson
formed a partnership, and together they farmed thousands of acres of wheat. After-
ward, operating once more alone, Mr. Sisson moved to Kern County and herded
thousands of sheep close to Delano, and when he sold out in 1875, he established him-
self at Oakdale and went in for draying. On the arrival of the first railway train
at Oakdale. Mrs. Sisson helped to cook the dinner celebrating the event.

Benjamin Sisson attended the Oakdale schools, and then engaged as bookkeeper
for E. L. Barkis of Oakdale, remaining with him for six years. After that he went
to Sacramento, and for nine years was with the American Fish Company. He was
married on May 8, 1901, to Miss Ella May Bach, the fourth of the six Bach chil-
dren described elsewhere, and they have had one child, Margery. As an agreeable
and wholesome change from clerical work, Mr. Sisson, with the assistance of his good
wife, has farmed the old Bach home place in the Knights Ferry precinct for the past
five years, operating some 280 acres. He has fifteen cows, and raises for the most part
beef cattle. He also owns a fine ranch of twenty acres at Live Onk. in Sutter County.
Mr. Sisson belongs to the Masons in Knights Ferry and to the Odd Fellows in Sacra-
mento. Mr. and Mrs. Sisson are also popular in the Eastern Star.

WILLIAM C. HANSEN. — Among the progressive grain ranchers of Stanislaus
County may well be mentioned William C. Hansen, who leases the Kearney Ranch.
four miles southeast of Oakdale, with its choice tract of nearly 500 acres. He was
born in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, on July 25, 1867, the son of Christopher
and Elizabeth Hansen, who came to America in 1875. Mr. Hansen died in the
spring of 1898, at the age of sixty-five years, but his devoted widow is still living at
the age of eighty-eight and resides with our subject. Four children gave happiness to
this worthy couple: Minnie is the wife of R. P. Finch, a farmer in Kings Countv.
Cal. ; Sophia, who died in December, 1919, was the wife of A. W. Hansen, a rancher
of Stockton, and the mother of three children; William C. is the subject of this
review ; Henrv Hansen died when he was fourteen years old.

William remained in Germany long enough to attend school there for a year, and
then he accompanied his parents to California and San Joaquin Valley, where the
family spent the first five years of their residence in America, an uncle, Joe Spenker.
having a couple of ranches at Woodbridge. He was a pioneer and a '49er, having
crossed the plains to California with ox teams. In the fall of 1880, he came to
Stanislaus County, rented lands and became a prosperous grain farmer. Mr. Hansen
now rents 480 acres of the Kearney Ranch ; he is a hard worker, very conscientious,
and is esteemed by his neighbors as a fine man and a patriotic, public-spirited citizen.

On August 14. 1904, Mr. Hansen was married to Miss Elizabeth Green, a native
of London, and the daughter of George Green, a lighterman on the River Thames,
who had married Mrs. Emily Haywood, formerly Miss Emily Cowenden. A


brother, Henry S. Green, came to America, lived for a while in Toledo, where he
became an American citizen, and then returned to London, where he died. Mrs.
Hansen, who well remembers Queen Victoria and the great parade of the Golden
Jubilee, came from London to Canada, thence to Toledo to her brother's, and later
worked in Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles, where she arrived in 1895.
The following year she proceeded to Stanislaus County. Mr. and Mrs. Hansen have
had two children, but one — Bessie — died in infancy. The elder, Emily, although only
twelve years old, has developed into a fine pianist. Mr. Hansen is a member of the
Woodmen of the World, and his wife shares with him much social popularity.

CHAS. O. PETERSON.— A resident of Turlock since the fall of 1903, Chas.
O. Peterson, was born in Elskelsheim, Gotland, Sweden, February 3, 1853, the son
of P. G. and Hedvig Sophia Peterson. His father was a graduate of Wisby Seminary
and was a well-known educator in Elskelsheim, where he was principal of the gram-
mar school until he retired from the profession; he died at the age of eighty-seven,
while his wife had preceded him, aged fifty-two years. Four of their children grew
up, two of whom are now living.

Chas. O. received a good education in the public schools of Elskelsheim, and after
his school days were over he was apprenticed at the dyer's trade for three years in
Klinthavn; completing the trade, he traveled as a journeyman in Sweden until he
decided to cast in his lot in the land of the Stars and Stripes. Coming to Philadelphia,
Pa., in 1882, he wished to do outdoor work, and having always had a great love for
flowers, shrubbery and trees and considerable experience in that line, as his brother
was superintendent of the Botanical Gardens, he naturally chose gardening, which
he followed at Philadelphia for a few years and then located in Youngstown, Ohio,
where he continued in the same line. Through reading and hearing from friends at
Turlock of its good soil and irrigation possibilities, he came with a party of forty-two
others, of whom Rev. J. V. Boden was the leader, in a special car, arriving in Turlock
October, 1903. He liked the place, the country and its possibilities and determined
to remain. Becoming owner by purchase of ten acres in Youngstown, Colony, he
was one of its first settlers, improving his ranch and residing there a few years until
he sold it, and then purchased five acres adjoining Turlock on the southwest, which
he planted to trees and later sold it. He had also purchased some lots when he came
to Turlock, which he afterwards sold to advantage. When the new Swedish Mission
Church was completed, Mr. Peterson was appointed janitor, January 1, 1909, and
has since filled the position very ably and creditably.

Mr. Peterson is a broadminded and liberal man and has always been ready to do
his bit towards the upbuilding and improving of his adopted country. He is a mem-
ber of the Swedish Mission Church and active in its good work and benevolences.
Politically he is a believer in protection and is a strong Republican.

JOHN P. CORSON. — A strong supporter of the cooperative marketing idea
for farmers, John P. Corson believes that such practical methods will forward the
much-discussed back-to-the-farm movement and solve, in a measure at least, the vexed
questions of supply and demand, uniform price and transportation.

Mr. Corson is a natural leader, and while quite a young man was assistant
secretary for three and a half years to the Board of Trade of Indianapolis, Ind., and
«ince coming to Modesto in 1907, was instrumental in effecting the organization of
the Stanislaus County Farmers Union. He was a delegate to the first State Farmers
Union convention and was president of the Modesto local of the Farmers Union for
several years, and has served as secretary and treasurer of the county union. He is a
booster for all public enterprises and for every forward looking policy, but in every-
thing he is essentially practical, possessing as well the ability to develop the practical
application of such policies.

A native of Indiana, born in Dearborn County, near Aurora, January 25, 1874,
Mr. Corson is the son of J. K. Corson, also a native of Indiana, with whose early
history he was intimately associated. J. K. Corson was a farmer, owning a ranch of
!(>(> acres, where be raised grain and stock, hut he also took a prominent part in the


affairs of his home town, acting as city councilman of Rising Sun for many years.
John P. Corson was born on the farm, and attended the public schools in Indiana, and
gained his first knowledge of life from assisting his father in the daily round of home
duties, and when he was nineteen years old he took over the home place and worked
it on the shares for his father. At the age of twenty-five he moved to Indianapolis
and engaged in the wall paper and interior decorating business for some years and then
was employed in the Panhandle shops, then was three and a half years with the
Indianapolis Board of Trade. In 1907, Mr. Corson came to California and located
his present ranch of sixty acres of land, five miles west of Modesto, on Shoemake Road.
This he planted to alfalfa, and having a dairy of thirty cows, and owning a registered
Holstein herd sire. Seven years ago, in 1913, he retired from the dairy business, and
is now engaged in orchard and vineyard culture, having ten acres of fine peaches and
twenty-one acres of Thompson seedless grapes, the remainder being double cropped.
The marriage of Mr. Corson and Miss Marion Hunt occurred at Indianapolis,
Ind., May 2, 1903. Mrs. Corson is the daughter of Washington M. Hunt, a farmer
in Indiana and also in charge of construction for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
Mr. and Mrs. Corson have four children: James H. being in the Modesto high school,
while Elizabeth, George and Mary are still in grammar school. Mr. Corson is not
a politician, but in response to the urgency of his friends several years ago, he allowed
himself to be put up for supervisor against the present incumbent, Mr. Dunn, his close
personal friend and business associate. The contest was full of interest, and while Mr.
Corson was defeated, it is worthy of note that he and Mr. Dunn came out of the
election still warm friends.

DAVID TERRY LAIRD.— The ox team and the "prairie schooner" brought
to California during the famous ''days of '49" and in the succeeding decade a class of
hardy pioneers, and of such ancestry David Terry Laird, one of Stanislaus County's
prosperous dairy ranchers, is descended. His father was E. G. Laird, a native of Ken-
rucky, a farmer and stockman, who was touched by the lure of the discovered gold,
and who left the comforts of home and civilization to cross the plains with an ox team
in 1850. He located in San Joaquin County, where he engaged in farming after he
had taken the customary trial at obtaining immediate wealth and affluence through
gold mining. His wife was Miss Mary McDowell, also of Kentucky, and had made
the long, hard journey across the plains with her two brothers. They were among the
early settlers in San Joaquin County and for many years were intimately identified
with the growth and development of the county.

David T. Laird was born at Lodi, April 30, 1865, and was reared in Mariposa
County, whither his parents moved when he was a little lad, locating near Jersey Dale.
Later the family moved again, this time into Merced County, where the father pur-
chased a quarter section, where he engaged in general farming and stock raising. He
was among the first men to break the virgin soil of that county, and was one of those
who welcomed the first railroad into this part of the state, giving the right-of-way
to the Southern Pacific Railroad.

The boyhood days of David Laird were the same as those of other farm lads,
but the spirit of adventure always walked with him, and accordingly he answered the
call of the North in 1898, as his father had answered the call of the West in 1850.
He went with the great Alaska gold rush of that year, remaining for four years,
during which he mined for gold with appreciable success. Later he made another trip
ro Alaska, meeting with many interesting adventures.

On his return to California, Mr. Laird located first at Santa Cruz, going later
to Watsonville. But he found that the conditions in Stanislaus County were best
suited to his needs, and in 1907 he returned to make his permanent home here. He
purchased forty acres six and a half miles southeast of Modesto, where he engaged in
the dairy business with great success, and has made of his place a delightful country
home, with a comfortable modern residence.

The marriage of Mr. Laird occurred in 1902, his bride being Miss Eva Ruse
Turner, the sister of George D. Turner, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this
volume. Mrs. Laird is the daughter of William T. and Mary (Camp) Turner, her


father coming to California across the plains when he was fifteen years of age, together
with his father. After his marriage, William T. Turner went to Mariposa County,
where he engaged in grain farming and cattle raising, and owned 2,000 acres of land
at the time of his death in 1892. He also served as sheriff and constable of Mariposa
County for many years, and Mrs. Laird's brother, A. B. Turner, is sheriff of Mariposa
County at the present time. Mrs. Laird is a native of Mariposa County. She is a
graduate of San Jose State Normal and has a life diploma and taught nineteen years in
Mariposa County. She is very loyal to all of California, and is particularly an enthu-
siastic booster for Stanislaus County. She is the mother of three children: Rita Mary
and Terry Turner are students in the Ceres high school, and Jean Nevelle is still
of grammar school age. Both Mr. and Mrs. Laird have a wide circle of friend? and
their home is known for its kindly hospitality. Politically Mr. Laird is a Democrat,
but he supports clean, progressive measures in local affairs.

JOE F. VINCENT. — An early pioneer, but still an energetic and industrious
farmer, who is interesting as one of the very few surviving Portuguese settlers who came
to Stanislaus County before the digging of the Kings River Canal by Miller & Lux. is
Joe F. Vincent, a native of the Azores, where he was born in Flores on February 1,
18.55. His parents were Antone and Isabell Vincent, and his father came to America
in 1865, a short time before his death.

The subject of our sketch, when only twelve years of age, took a trip on a sailing
vessel from the Azores to Boston, and then to New York, and next worked as a day
laborer en a Massachusetts farm. Coming out to California in 1873, he spent his
first two years on a ranch in Alameda County, and later removed to Merced County,
on the Dick Wilson ranch of 800 acres, where he went into the sheei business. He
succeeded so well that he came to have as many as 5,000 head of sheep, and he drove
his sheep over the Government range from the Coast Range to Nevada; but the price
dropped to practically nothing, and he lost so much that he had to quit that field.

Mr. Vincent then went to work again for wages, and for six years labored on
Badger Flat, near Los Banos. In 1898 lie bought twenty acres of land from Mr. Cox,
and set it out to alfalfa, and thoroughly satisfied with its favorable location — three
miles southeast of Newman — he erected there a home and the necessary farm buildings,
and made of it a splendid dairy farm. However, lately he is engaged in raising hay
and dealing in cattle.

At Mission San Jose, on July 7, 1884, Mr. Vincent was married to Miss Isabel
Munyan, a native of Centerville, Alameda County, where she was reared and educated
until she was nineteen. Eight children have blessed this union: Joseph is a graduate
of Oakland Polytechnic, is now a bookkeeper for the Newman Dairy Company ;
Mamie is Mrs. Almeda of Santa Cruz; Morris became a sergeant in the hospital
corps and served fourteen months overseas in the late war, and is now a mechanic in
the Ford garage at Newman; Delphina is Mrs. Machado of Newman; Frank is also
with the Ford Garage at Newman; Rosa is a graduate of the Gustine high school and
is now bookkeeper in the Bank of Gustine; Lucinda is taking the course of the Gustine
high school ; and Isabel is in the Canal grammar school. Mr. Vincent belongs to the
I. D. E. S. Lodge in Newman.

D. POWER BOOTHE.— The record of development and growth which has
been made by Stanislaus County is largely due to the splendid type of public-spirited
men who compose her citizenry, men of vision and ability, who have unselfishly given
of their time and means to develop the natural resources of a region rich in promise
and possibility, building for the welfare and happiness of future generations rather

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 141 of 177)