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 143 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 143 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


CHRIS NICKERT. — An example of the man who came to Stanislaus County
without capital, and through hard work, industry and application has become the
owner of a 165-acre ranch, is Chris Nickert, who was twenty-three years of age when
he came to California and located in Stanislaus County. He went to work im-
mediately for Fred Bartch on his ranch just south of Westley for thirty dollars a
month. For fourteen years he continued to work for Mr. Bartch, during which time
he saved his money and was eventually able to buy his present ranch property, where
he has since been engaged in raising grain. He has improved his property and owns
a complete equipment of modern farm machinery.

Mr. Nickert is a native of Germany, born at Laur, Baden, in 1862. His parents
were Andrew and Katie (Moll) Nickert, both natives of Germany, his father being
engaged in farming. He was a very capable man, and from him Mr. Nickert
learned not only the art of successful farming, but to make many useful things for
home and farm use. His boyhood days were passed on the home farm, where the op-
portunities for education were very limited, and as soon as he reached his majority,
Mr. Nickert came to America. He spent two years in Michigan, where he worked
on a farm for wages, and then answered the call of the far West and came to Stanis-
laus County, Cal., where his brother-in-law, Fred Bartch, resided.

Mr. Nickert is a loyal and true American, and during the recent World War
gave generous support to the Government of the United States in the matter of the
purchase of Liberty Bonds, and in the support of other war activities, to all of which
he subscribed generously. Politically, he is a Republican and supports the party prin-
ciples in all national issues.

SWEN SWENSEN.— A successful rancher whose up-to-date methods of farm-
ing have brought him success, is Swen Swensen, who was born in Stavanger, Norway,
on September 25, 1872, the son of a worthy farming couple, Swen and Bertha Swen-
sen of that section. He attended the excellent local schools for which his country is
famous, and grew up on the home farm, where he remained until he was sixteen years
old. In 1888 he migrated to America and settled at Madison, Wis., where he went
to work for wages on a farm near McFarland. He also took up the raising of tobacco
on shares, and cultivated for himself six acres between Stoughton and Madison, con-
tinuing at that place and work until 1893. Then, aware of the great educational
benefit of a visit to and study of the World's Fair, he made the journey to Chicago,
and when he had enjoyed everything to his heart's content, he located for a winter
at Ottawa, 111. When he left that town, he went to Joliet, in the same state, and for
four years was in the employ of the Illinois Steel Company.

Just ten years after he had first landed in the United States, Mr. Swensen came
to California and at San Francisco he became a riveter in the Union Iron Works and



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1291

was so employed until the devastating earthquake and fire, in 1906, when he went to
Santa Barbara County and engaged in farming on Mission Hill. He devoted sixty acres
to lima beans, and seventy acres to grain. In 1914 he came to Patterson and bought
twenty-three and one-half acres at Sequoia and Vineyard, devoted to alfalfa, and
placed there twenty head of milch cows. On April, 1918, he rented 300 acres at
Westley, and that tract he farmed in connection with his Patterson enterprise.

While at Joliet, 111., on February 3, 1900, Mr. Swensen was married to Miss
Anna Stanglend, a native of Norway, who came from practically the same home dis-
trict where Mr. Swensen first saw the light; she is a daughter of Jens and Marie
Stanglend, worthy Norwegian folk. Seven children blessed this union: Selma has
become a trained nurse at the Children's Hospital at San Francisco ; Mildred is a
student at the Patterson high school; Sawyer, Kenneth, Verna and Lester are pupils
of the Grayson school, and Ellen Katherine is at home. The family attend the Luth-
eran Church. Mr. Swensen in matters of national political moment has preferred to
work for improved government along lines indicated in the Republican platform.

ANTONIO M. SOUZA. — As an example of the opportunities offered by the
Golden State to young men of ambition, the business career of Antonio M. Souza
furnishes a fitting illustration. He was born on Fayal, of the Azores Islands, on
February 17, 1867, the son of Joseph and Rose Souza, farmers of that country. Mr.
Souza left his native country for the shores of America when only fifteen years of
age. He remained eleven months in Boston, Mass., and then came direct to Wat-
sonville, Cal., in 1883, where he worked in a store four years, then in Ryder's lum-
ber mills for three years and then again four years in a store. He next formed a
partnership with F. J. Bettencourt in the grocery and fruit business in Watsonville
as Bettencourt & Souza, but two years later sold out his interest in same and went
into the same business for himself, which he continued until the year 1904, when
he disposed of all his interests in Watsonville and on July 16, 1904, he arrived in
Newman, where he started a general merchandise business on a small scale. Through
unceasing efforts and perseverance this business gradually grew until today Mr.
Souza is numbered among the prosperous merchants of Stanislaus County. He also
acts as local agent for two steamship companies between New York and the Azores —
White Star and Fabre Lines. He is a director in the Bank of Newman.

On October 10, 1893, his marriage united him with Miss Catherine Smith, born
in Santa Cruz, the daughter of Frank and Margarette Smith. Mr. and Mr>.
Souza are the parents of one son and two daughters: Arftonio, who is employed
in the Modesto Bank ; Alvena, who keeps books in her father's business ; and Cecilie,
who is a graduate of the Newman high school and now attending Mills College. The
family reside on their fine five-acre home place and are members of the Newman
Catholic Church. Mr. Souza is an active member of the Foresters of America
and also of the I. D. E. S. and the U. P. E. C, of which he is president. In national
politics he is a Democrat and a member of the Newman Chamber of Commerce.

ORE N. MINNIEAR. — A patriotic representative of a pioneer family is Ore
Minniear. the well-known merchant of Westley, who served as a U. S. soldier both
in the troubles with Mexico and also in the World War. He was born at McCook,
Nebr., on April 25, 1893, the son of Charles W. and Nellie Minniear, and when only
nine months old was brought to California by his parents, who settled at Modesto.
There his father opened the Ramona barber shop, which he managed for seven years.
Then he embarked in real estate and insurance, and in that field he is still active at
Riverbank. Ore atended the grammar schools at Modesto, and later the Poly-
technic high school at Los Angeles, finishing off his education at a Los Angeles busi-
ness college. Thus well-equipped, he took a responsible position with Guy M. Rush,
the dealer in realty at Los Angeles, and had charge of the rental department. Later,
this was developed into the Flack Realty Company of Los Angeles, and with the
Flacks he remained for a year.

In 1916, Mr. Minniear enlisted in the service of the American Army as a mem-
ber, of Company B of the Seventh California Infantry, and was sent to the Mexican



1292 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

border, and at Nogales, Ariz., he did duty from June to November 1. On his return,
he received an extended furlough as a sergeant in Company B. After a year, how-
ever, he was transferred to the ambulance unit of the regular army and was sent to
Monterey, Cal. There he held the rank of corporal chauffeur in the ambulance corps.
He was later promoted to be sergeant as drill instructor and for six months remained
at Monterey. His next appointment was to the officers' training school at Camp
Kearney, and in the third school, on January 1, he was commissioned second lieutenant
in the infantry. Then he was sent undetached to Camp Gordon, Ga., and after a
month there he went to the machine-gun center of the technical school at Camp Han-
cock, Ga., where he graduated as a technical machine gun instructor. He stayed at
Camp Hancock until he was discharged on December 24, and returned to Modesto on
January 1, 1919.

In February of that year Mr. Minniear went to work for Mr. McConnell in
his general merchandise store at Westley, and after six months there he bought out
Mr. McConnell, and he is today, therefore, the proprietor of that popular and pros-
perous emporium, the headquarters for many miles around. He carries a complete
stock of general merchandise, and has met with splendid success in anticipating wants.

At San Jose. Cal., Mr. Minniear was married on October 27, 1917, to Miss
Hazel D. Howard, the daughter of S. W. and Jennie Howard, early settlers in the
Golden State. Mr. and Mrs. Minniear now have one child, Ore H. Mr. Minniear
is a Republican, has served as deputy county clerk, and is a member of the Modesto
Lodge of Masons, Chapter No. 49, R. A. M., and of the Sciots, Pyramid No. 15.

EMANUEL V. CARLSON. — Ambitious, industrious and enterprising, Emanue!
V. Carlson is actively identified with the farmers and dairymen of Patterson. The
son of Lars E. and Christine Carlson, he was born in Smaland, in the southern part of
Sweden, on February 13, 1880, and when only a lad of seven he migrated with his
parents to America. On arriving in the States, the Carlson family went directly to
Minnesota, where they settled on a farm in Polk County, where Emanuel V. Carlson
attended the grammar school and later the high school at Fosston, Minn. He lived
with his parents until he was twenty years of age, when he left home to teach school
in Polk and Red Lake counties. During his residence in Red Lake County, he took
up a homestead there and during his spare time, after his duties at school were over,
he made improvements on his claim. .He then went to Akely, Minn., where he had
charge of a cooperative store for one year. In 1912, in company with his father, he
visited Southern California, and they were so favorably impressed with the country
that he purchased his present holdings of eighteen acres at the east end of Pome-
granate Avenue, while his father purchased the thirty acres adjoining, which he now
leases, devoting twenty acres to alfalfa and ten acres to Egyptian corn. In 1914 he
moved his family to Southern California.

On December 24, 1903, Mr. Carlson was united in marriage with Miss Ida
Estby, born near Fargo, N. D., the daughter of John and Christine (Nelson) Estby.
the father a native of Norway, while the mother's birthplace was Sweden ; after com-
ing to America, Mr. Estby engaged in the lumber business at Crookston and Akely.
The following children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Carlson: Ora C, attending
'he University at Berkeley ; Beulah, in the Patterson high school ; Earl and Verna,
students at the grammar school at Patterson, and Irma, Keith and Reuel.

P. W. WITTEN. — A representative, leading business man of Crows Landing
who lives comfortably on his own ranch, one of the best "show places-" for its size in
Stanislaus County, is P. W. Witten, a native of Pike County, Mo., where he was born
at Bowling Green on January 4, 1861. His parents were K. D. and Annie Witten,
and his father was a typical Middle West rancher following general farming. Our
subject had little schooling save that which he obtained in the grammar grades at
Bowling Green, and as he was the second son in a family of eight children, and his
father died when the lad was fourteen years old, he early had to begin "hustling."

By 1896, however, Mr. Witten managed to remove to California, and since coming
here he has steadily prospered more and more. He settled for two and a half years in




'fiXAS-rUte***^



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1295

Kings County, and at Lemoore he worked, and worked hard, in the service of others
for wages. After that he came to Stanislaus County, and here he purchased thirty
acres of land east of Crows Landing. The land is all under irrigation, but he devotes
some of it to grain. He has also a ranch east of Newman, where he has slaughter-pens
for his butcher business established about fifteen years ago. He buys all of his stock
on the hoof, and has a shop in Crows Landing and one in Patterson. From the former
place he runs a meat wagon into the farm country, purveying fresh meat, and offering
only the best at reasonable prices, he enjoys a very satisfactory patronage.

Back in 1889, and at Bowling Green, Mr. Witten had married Miss Maggie
Lewis, a native of Virginia, whose father, James H. Lewis, was a stockman operating
extensively. They moved to Pike County, Mo., when she was a little girl — she never
knew her mother — and there she went to school. Two children have blessed the
anion — Howard, who is at Stockton, and Beryl L., who is an instructor in the Patter-
son high school and makes her home with her parents. Mr. Witten marches under
the banners of the Republicans, and he fraternizes with the Modesto B. P. O. Elks.

EVERETT BOWMAN.— A native of Missouri, Everett Bowman was born at
Cross Timbers, Hickory County, March 7, 1884, is the son of Samuel Bowman.
The father was a native of Virginia and moved to Indiana, where his first wife died,
leaving four children. Afterward he was married to Delilah Sarver, a native of
Indiana, and they removed to Hickory County, Mo., where they were farmers until
Samuel Bowman died. His widow survived him and came to California, making her
home in Modesto until her death in 1910.

Of the second union, there were five children, all of whom are living, Everett
being the youngest of the family. He attended the public schools in Missouri and
grew up on the farm at Cross Timbers, assisting his father and also his brother, who
was a well driller, working for him and learning the business. He continued in
Missouri until 1904, when he came to Modesto, where two of his brothers, John and
U. G., had preceded him. Mr. Bowman went to work on a grain farm, but soon
quit that to take up well drilling again, entering the employ of W. T. Howell. He
became his foreman, running a well rig for him until he resigned in 1910 to engage
in business on his own account. He built his well rig and entire outfit as well, using
a gas engine for power, his rig being fully equipped for drilling both shallow and deep
wells. While with W. T. Howell he put down three of the city wells in Modesto,
each over 370 feet deep. In the fall of 1915 he put down five holes and did the
sounding for the piers of the Tuolumne River bridge under Captain Annear. His
residence and headquarters are at 217 California Street, his work being mostly in
Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

In 1918 Mr. Bowman responded to the call to the colors and was ordered tc
a camp in Texas, but before he started the armistice was signed and the order can-
celled. His years of experience and natural mechanical ability are invaluable to him
in making a success of well drilling, and through his efforts he has aided very mate-
rially in the development of the San Joaquin Valley by securing much water for irri-
gating from the deep wells he has been able to put down to a successful depth. He
is well and favorably known and has always been ready to do his part as far as it is
possible to aid in building up this favored section of the commonwealth and he is now
the pioneer in his line of business in this county.

ORA T. MEDLIN. — A native son, sprung from an early and honored pioneer,
who has become a representative, influential and useful citizen, is Ora T. Med 1 in, who
lives three miles to the west of Crows Landing. He was born on the old Day Ranch,
three miles north from Crows Landing, on September 17, 18^4, the son of David G.
Medlin, who came to California about forty-five years ago, settled in this locality,
married Miss Frances McMurtry, and then took up his residence on the Day farm,
where he was actively engaged for twenty-nine successive years.

Ora Medlin attended the Bonita grammar school, then studied at the high school
at Newman, and finally topped off his education in Heald's Business College of San
Jose. He spent his early years on the home ranch with his parents until he was ninr -



1296 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

teen years old ; and then, when his father left the Day ranch, he and his brother Roy
took charge there. The estate comprised 1,400 acres; and when his brother died in
1918, our subject shouldered the entire responsibility. The brothers had also farmed
1 .640 acres south of Los Banos, in Merced County, and as raisers of a high grade of
grain, they won an enviable recognition among older ranchers.

In the fall of 1918, Mr. Medlin leased the W. W. Bacon ranch of 1,165 acres,
and in 1919, he raised a crop of wheat. This year he will plant wheat and barley,
mixed. He has a full tractor equipment for grain farming on an extensive scale, and
may well be considered one of the important producers of Stanislaus County. Rather
surprising it must always be, therefore, that during the late World War, he was
drafted despite the fact that he was an active farmer; but luckily for the community,
he was rejected by the examiners on account of a weak heart. As a side enterprise,
Air. Medlin buys and sells mules.

On August 9, 1917, Mr. Medlin was married to Miss Laura Newman, who was
born near Visalia, in Tulare County. Her father was W. B. Newman, and her
mother, before marriage, was Lily Gilmore. Politically an independent, Mr. Medlin
believes in the fitness of man for office, and so is especially serviceable in supporting
the best candidates and the best measures for local welfare.

WILLIAM H. HURD. — A native-born son who has contributed his share to
the development of Stanislaus County through his work as a well borer, having
drilled many wells throughout the county, is William H. Hurd, the son of J. C.
and Anna Hurd, who was born on November 21, 1877, in Modesto, Cal. His
father, a native of Maine, where he was engaged in lumbering, came to California
in 187.i and in 1882 took up a quarter section of land about thirteen miles southwest
of Merced. William H. Hurd was reared on his father's ranch, attending the Lone
Tree district school in Merced County until he was fifteen years of age, when he left
school and for the next twelve years followed farming, working for various ranchers.

Desiring a change of occupation Mr. Hurd took up well boring and was engaged
in that line of work for a period of eight years in Merced County. He then left the
latter place and came to Turlock, where he was likewise employed for the next four
years, one of the most successful wells he drilled while there being one for the Tur-
lock city waterworks, a seven-inch well giving 1,000 gallons of water a minute.
Since 1909 he has been permanently located in Patterson, where he was married on
December 1 , of that year to Miss Ethel E. Osborn, and here he bought a lot and
built a comfortable house. Mrs. Hurd is a native of Turlock and the daughter of
William H. .and Ella Osborn, the father being an early settler of California and a
merchant of Turlock. She is the mother of three children: Elta, Irma and Fern.

Mr. Hurd is a Republican in politics and in religious circles is identified with
the Christian Church. In 1914 he purchased an acre of land at Atwater, Cal., which
was later divided into six city lots, and is also the owner of twenty acres in the Tur-
lock Irrigation District near Hilmar.

GARETT W. HOLDER. — A successful rancher who has recently taken up his
residence and work in the Patterson Colony after years of experience with Orange
County farming, is Garett W. Holder, the owner of fifteen well-kept acres of alfalfa
land on Magnolia Avenue. He was born in the Hawkeye State, near Corydon, in
Wayne Count), on November 9, 1882, the son of a farmer, C. G. Holder, who had
married Mary R. Rilea; and he attended the district school eight miles from Corydon,
after which he spent years on the home farm with his father.

On St. Valentine's Day, 1906, in Wayne County, Mr. Holder was married to
Miss Olive Robinson, a native of that county and the daughter of Moody and Ella
Robinson, a charming lady who had made a wide circle of friends through her teaching
tor several years, and the sister of Alvina Robinson, the successful Christian missionary
to Burmah, India. He then farmed 140 acres adjoining his father's place three years.

In 1011, Mr. Holder came out to California and settled at Fullerton, attracted
by the resources of Orange County; and he had not been there long before he was
engaged to work on the Gillman orange grove and ranch at Placentia, a post he filled



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1299

to everybody's satisfaction for six years. In 1913 he took a trip to Patterson, and
perceiving the still greater advantages, bought ten acres of raw land which he planted
to alfalfa, and whereon he moved a house. In 1920, he purchased five acres adjoining
the ten on the west, and now he has the entire tract sown to alfalfa.

Returning to Southern California, Mr. Holder remained on the Gillman ranch
until 1917, and after that he worked on the Berkenstick ranch on Valencia Avenue,
and at the same time did considerable truck hauling for the farmers of Placentia.
In the spring of 1920, he returned to Patterson for good, at the same time leasing
eighteen acres, which he devotes to corn, at the rear of his fifteen.

Three children make up the interesting family of Mr. and Mrs. Holder: Ila is
the eldest, then comes Cleo, and Calvin is the youngest ; they are all in the grammar
school at Patterson, and they attend the Sunday school of the Methodist Church, of
which Mr. Holder is a member. In politics he is an independent.

J. EDWARD PETERSON.— A resident of Turlock since 1907 who has done
much to beautify the city in an artistic way as a painter and decorator, is J. Edward
Peterson, who was born in Skaraborslan, Sweden, November 4, 1868. His father,
J. G. Peterson, was also born there in 1828, and was one of the founders of the
health resort known as Djursatra, which has become very popular and well patronized,
particularly for the medicinal properties of its waters. He had married Christine Pear-
son, who was born in 1836. He was also engaged in farming until his death.. His
widow now resides at Hallock, Minn.

There were eight children in the family, J. Edward being the fifth, and is the only
one in California. He spent his childhood on the farm and attended the excellent
public schools for which Sweden is noted until the age of 15, when he started out to
make his own livelihood, being apprenticed to a painter and decorator for four years,
after which he continued under the same instructions for another period of four years.
During this time he served the regular time in the Swedish army and received an
honorable discharge and, having fulfilled his duties, was free to travel.

Having a desire to cast in his lot with the land of the Stars and Stripes, Mr.
Peterson came to Kokomo, Ind., in 1893, where for a year he was employed at his
trade, and then removed to Hallock, Minn., but after a short time returned east to
Chicago and there followed his trade. However, he again returned to Hallock and
engaged as a contracting painter until the fall of 1906, when he came to California,
arriving in Los Angeles in November of that year. On his way out he had stopped
off in Turlock and liking the place and its people, he located here in the spring of
1907 and since then has followed painting and paperhanging. While in the employ of
Wakefield & Peterson he painted the Commercial Bank, two grammar schools, Geer
building, and numerous fine residences. Since 1912 he has engaged in contracting
painting and paperhanging. He is a member of the Vasa Order of America and
joined the Good Templars in 1885 in Sweden. He has always been a strong tem-
perance man, and in politics is an independent.

JOHN J. FAY. — Engaged in extensive grain farming near Westley since 1909,
today John J. Fay is the owner of 500 acres of valuable lands which he farms to
wheat and barley, and is regarded as one of the most substantial and reliable men
of his community. Mr. Fay was born at Castle Bar, County Mayo, Ireland, June
24, 1869, on St. John's Day. He is the son of John and Mary (Connor) Fay, both
members of old Irish families. Both lived their entire lives in Ireland, the father
having passed away in 1914 and the mother in 1917.



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 143 of 177)