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George Henry Tinkham.

History of Stanislaus County California : with biographical sketches of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the pres online

. (page 145 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 145 of 177)
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an auto mechanic near Turlock; Karl enlisted in March, 1917, as an aviator of the
United States in the World War, and in January, 1918, went overseas, served under
Captain Baker, was wounded, and is now at San Jose. Dr. Wilson and family are
members of the Brethren Church, and he serves as treasurer of that congregation.

GLEN E. THORNBURG.— A Stanislaus County rancher of whom Turlock
in particular may well be proud is Glen E. Thornburg, who was born at Turlock
on February 21, 1894. His father, L. E. Thornburg, set out from Iowa in 1860
and crossed the plains to California, and here he married Miss Hannah Crispin,
who reached the Golden State in much the same manner, when she was a mere infant.
They went through the trying and also the pleasurable experiences of pioneers in
Stanislaus County, and sent Glen to school at Turlock. Now the devoted and
esteemed parents live at Modesto, in the circle of devoted friends.

When he had reached his eighteenth year, Glen Thornburg was engaged in
dairying for himself on his father's farm, and there, under the kindly direction of his
experienced father, he learned all about California ranching. In 1912, he took up
general farming, and in 1916 he purchased twenty acres as the first ranch property
of his own. This he has handsomely developed, and he has also rented outside acre-
age. He operates according to the latest word of science and with the most up-to-date
appliances and methods ; and he is a welcome stockholder in the T. M. & G.

At Turlock, in 1914, Mr. Thornburg was married to Miss Lulu Borden, who
was born in San Diego in 1894, the daughter of J. H. and Mary Borden, well-known
residents of Turlock. They have three children, who share their popularity, and
their names are Merl, Laverne and John. Mr. Thornburg belongs to the Modern
Woodmen of America, and no one in that excellent organization is more at home.

RAY H. THORNBURG. — A veteran committeeman who can point with some
pride to the war work accomplished by him or under his direction, is R. H. Thorn-
burg, the experienced and prosperous rancher, who was born in Turlock on November
30. 1889, thereby attaining, as by prophetic good-luck, the honor of a native son.
His parents, now honored residents of Modesto, are L. E. and Hannah (Crispin)
Thornburg, natives of Iowa, and his father came to Turlock as long ago as the '60s.
There, too, in time, our subject spent his boyhood on his father's trim farm to the
northwest of the prospective city.

R. H. Thornburg's first business venture was a partnership with his older
brother, D. C. Thornburg, in a dairy on their father's farm; but he made his first
real start for himself when, in 1911, he purchased thirty acres, a short distance from
the old-home place, up the State Highway three miles northwest of Turlock. He put
intelligence as well as assiduous industry into the undertaking from the start ; and
from the beginning he was successful. He is still farming there, and still adding



1310 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

to his satisfactory results and to his prosperity. He has lately tacked on another
twenty acres to the original tract, making half a hundred acres in all which he culti-
vates. He is a stockholder in the T. M. & G. which was incorporated in 1915.

On July 31, 1912, Mr. Thornburg was married at Sacramento to Miss Zella
Neville, a native of Oregon, where she was born near Le Grande. She is a daughter
of S. H. and Julia (Hill) Neville, esteemed natives of the great Hawkeye State.
Mrs. Thornburg has entered into the life and work of her husband, as is the usual
tradition — and a most excellent one at that! — in the Thornburg families, and
shares with him his popularity. Mr. Thornburg is a Republican, and both as such,
and as a patriotic American, worked hard for Liberty Loan and Red Cross drives.

CHRISTEN P. JORGENSEN.— The success Christen P. Jorgensen has
achieved has been entirely the result of his own efforts and hard work, for he had only
bis energy and ambition upon which to build his hopes for the future. Born on the
Island of Alsen, in Schleswig, on June 13, 1872, the son of Jacob P. and Anna D.
(Schmidt) Jorgensen, farmers of that country, he was educated in the schools of his
native land and in his youth helped his father on the farm. In 1 889, when he was a
lad of only seventeen, he left Schleswig to seek his fortune across the sea, landed in
New York June 1, crossed the continent, and on June 13, 1889, arrived in San Fran-
cisco. Reared to agricultural pursuits, Mr. Jorgensen worked on a farm in Sutter
County near Yuba City for one season. Then in 1890 he went to Modesto, where
he again engaged in farm work, but owing to the wet season, at the end of six weeks
was compelled to seek other employment. From Modesto he went to Newman, then
a new town, and from February 20, 1890, to 1896 worked for Miller & Lux, who
were engaged in stock raising on such an extensive scale at that time. After leaving
the employ of Miller & Lux he accepted a position on the canal, where he remained
until August 1, 1898, and then engaged as a tiller of the soil for himself on the
Carlosolitos land grant of 22,000 acres west of Los Banos. He cultivated 400 acres
of this land until 1906, when he moved on the Hays ranch, located eleven miles north-
west of Newman, where for twelve years he farmed 800 acres belonging to the Simon
Newman Company. In 1918 he purchased a ranch of 586 acres in partnership with
Ben Peterson, devoted to grain farming and owns about fifty head of horses. He is
raising horses and mules and for breeding purposes he owns a full-blooded Percheron
stallion. Loyal to the land of his adoption and appreciating his many opportunities,
Mr. Jorgensen has been a citizen of the United States for many years, taking out his
first papers May 12, 1902. Politically he is a Republican, and fraternally is a member
of the Knights of the Maccabees of Dos Palos.

DELWIN C. THORNBURG.— A progressive, successful native son of whom
the county may well be proud, is Delwin C. Thornburg, who was born in Turlock
on April 10, 1887, the eldest son of L. E. and Hannah (Crispin) Thornburg — now
residents of Modesto — by whom he was reared on a farm situated northwest of
Turlock on the State Highway. He attended school at Turlock in the days when
all the pupils were taught by one teacher.

On attaining his twentieth year, Delwin Thornburg, with his brother, R. H.
Thornburg, established a dairy on their home place, where they rented the land
from their parents, but this enterprise they discontinued in 1908. The previous
June, our subject had been married to Miss Petra Bella Sanders, who was born in
Westport, Stanislaus County, and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Sanders,
extensive landowners in Stanislaus County, having been pioneers at Westport, where
they live. Two children sprang from the union — Vernon and Frances.

Mr. and Mrs. Thornburg have a most attractive home place of fifty acres, which
they handle in an admirable manner, and they own, besides, a handsome farm of
twenty acres which they have recently purchased. Mr. Thornburg is a stockholder
and also a trustee in the T. M. & G. Inc., and is a member of the Woodmen of
the World. He prefers the political tenets of the Republican party; and he is
repaying handsomely all that Stanislaus County ever did for him, thus setting an excel-
lent example, as a public-spirited citizen, for others.







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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1313

PETER MERMANN.— A native Iowan who has become a successful Califor-
nia rancher is Peter Mermann, who was born near St. Marys, in the Hawkeye State,
on August 12, 1857, the eldest son of Herman Mermann, who emigrated from
Germany to America with his parents at the age of sixteen, and settled at Water-
town, Wis., where his father, Peter Mermann, was a Baptist minister, with
brothers-in-law who were preachers in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Later,
Herman Mermann, who had married Miss Margaret Sanborn, moved on into Iowa.

Our subject grew up on this Iowa farm, attending the district school and filling
in all the odd hours in hard labor. When school days were over, he set out into
the wide world to depend upon his own resources; and about 1881, he reached Miner
County in South Dakota, where he homesteaded. The hardships of this pioneer
enterprise were many and severe, but Mr. Mermann was not the man to be downed.

In 1905, Mr. Mermann came to Petaluma, Sonoma County, and engaged in
raising chickens for two years, then spent four years in Santa Rosa. Six years later,
in 1911, he removed to Turlock and today, having made this wise and even
momentous step, he is the owner of thirty acres of the finest ranch property one
could wish for, one mile northwest of Turlock.

At Dell Rapids, S. D., occurred the marriage of Mr. Mermann with Miss Clara
Walters, a native of Iowa and the daughter of John and Mary J. Walters, an admi-
rable woman for a busy man's companion. They have six children. Lester E. is
manager of the Stockton branch of the Western States Life Insurance Company.
Bruce married Miss Iva Shaffer of Stockton, resides in that city, and is also very
successful selling insurance, and George is also engaged in the same calling. The
other members of the family are Gladys, who married Elmer Gilliland ; Carol and
Opal. All the Mermanns belong to the Methodist Episcopal Church, of Turlock,
and Mr. Mermann has been a Prohibitionist for years, while his devoted wife has
been a member of the W. C. T. U. for years, also serving as president.

CHARLES BONTADELLI. — A most worthy couple, well meriting all their
prosperity as the fruits of long years of incessant toil and hardship, are Mr. and Mrs.
Charles Bontadelli, who have forty choice acres at the corner of Lemon and Sycamore
avenues in Patterson, which they have brought to a high state of cultivation, and
where they have their cosy home. Mr. Bontadelli was born in Personico, Canton
Ticino, Switzerland, on December 21, 1880, the son of Charles and Ambroseni
Bontadelli, and it was through his father's migration to America at such an early day
that he at first left his farnily in Switzerland, that our subject eventually came to
California. Mr. Bontadelli settled for a while in Salinas, and then for a period had
a dairy at Virginia City, Nev., after which he returned to his home in Switzerland.
He established the first post office the Swiss Government installed in Personico, and
today, at the age of sixty-eight 'years, is still in active service as postmaster in his native
town. Mrs. Bontadelli died in Switzerland in 1897, leaving five children.

When he was eleven years old, Charles Bontadelli quit school, left his comfort-
able home, and went to Brussels, Belgium, and there, as grocery clerk, he worked for
wages for six years. Then he went to London, and for thirteen years was in the hotel
and restaurant business. While there, on November 18, 1906, Mr. Bontadelli married
Miss Emma King, a native of London and the daughter of William King, who had
taken for his wife Miss Mary A. Downey. Emma was the third child, but the oldest
daughter in a family of twelve children, and when she had gone through the fifth
standard grade in the London schools, and was somewhat over twelve years of age,
she had to leave her studies and help support her younger brothers and sisters. Mr.
King was a skillful mechanic, living in Essex during the recent World War, and the
vicinity of his home was under constant bombardment, so that the strain and terror
of the experience caused his death. His good wife had passed away in London in
1905. A son is living today in Sydney, and two sisters are residents of New Zealand.

After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Bontadelli spent two years on a trip through
Belgium, France and Germany, and then they went to Mr. Bontadelli's native place in
Switzerland intending to make their home there. After eleven months, however, they
returned to London, from which city Mr. Bontadelli, after leaving his wife with her



1314 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

people, set out for California to establish here their home. He came to Crows Land-
ing, and took work on Jim Crow's farm, where he remained for eighteen months.
Then he sent for his wife, and at the same time entered the service of the Parnell
Ranch at Ingomar, where he stayed for eighteen months.

Mr. Bontadelli then leased the Tom Bowles ranch of eighty acres, devoted to
alfalfa, and placing there 105 cows and seven horses, established a first-class dairy. In
the summer of 1900 he removed to Patterson and bought forty acres of alfalfa at the
corner of Sycamore and Lemon avenues, out of which he has evolved a splendid ranch.
He moved fifty-seven head of his stock to the Patterson ranch, and he still has about
thirty head on the Bowles ranch, where he leases acreage for pasture purposes. His
horses he has also brought over to the Patterson ranch. Two little girls, twins, aged
six, named Alma Lina and Amelia Elveria, are the light of the Bontadelli household.

CHARLES A. FIPPINS.— Another native son of California who has been
actively and aggressively identified with the affairs of state and nation throughout the
years of his maturity, is Charles A. Fippins, born near Penryn, Placer County, Novem-
ber 29, 1876. He has been a resident of Patterson since 1911, at which time he
bought a fine ten-acre tract on Fig Avenue, which he has highly improved, building
himself a comfortable modern residence, barns and outbuildings, and bringing the
acreage under a high state of cultivation. For a time he engaged in the poultry busi-
ness with merited success, developing an extensive industry. Later he disposed of his
fowls and engaged in double cropping, going largely to bean raising.

Mr. Fippins' parents were William Wheeler and Mulvania (Duckworth)
Fippins, who came to California in 1874, locating in Placer County, where they
became prosperous farmers. Our Mr. Fippins attended the public schools of that
county, and in 1898, when he was twenty-two years of age, he responded to the
country's call to arms and enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps, in which he saw active
service for five years, being engaged in the naval and military operations in the Philip-
pines during the Spanish-American War, and also in the Boxer uprising in China.
Returning to San Francisco, he was employed in the navy yard at Mare Island for
four years after his term of enlistment had expired, being engaged on construction
work. From here he went with the Hogan Lumber Company of Oakland, in their
mills, for four years. At the end of that time he determined to seek the freer, more
independent life of the farmer, and came to Patterson and bought his present property.

The marriage of Mr. Fippins occurred in Oakland, October 12, 1908, uniting
him with Miss Marie Smith, a native of Iowa, but a resident of California since her
early girlhood. Her parents were Jacob E. and Jane (Salton) Smith, her father
being a farmer. Her mother passed away when she was ten years of age, and soon
afterwards she and her father came to this state, where the father was identified with
a fruit ranching enterprise near Winters, Yolo County. He passed away when Mrs.
Fippins was little past fourteen. Mr. and Mrs. Fippins are the parents of two chil-
dren, a son, Chester, and a daughter, Iola. In politics, Mr. Fippins believes in the
individual fitness of the man for the office, making his decisions on character and princi-
ples of candidates. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Vallejo
lodge, and also of the Stanislaus County Farmers Union.

ANDRES PERSSON.— A ranchman who gets results of the kind which most
progressive agriculturists are looking for, is Andres Persson, a native of Northern
Sweden, who was born on March 13, 1861, the eldest son of Peter Erickson, who
was born on April 13, 1827. He had married Miss Martha Anderson, who first
saw the light on May 2, 1831. Mr. Erickson passed away in Sweden, and his devoted
wife, who had crossed the ocean to make her home in Wisconsin, died more recently.
Peter Erickson was both an experienced farmer and an expert shoemaker, and he
lived his industrious life according to such ideals that our subject was given the best
of schooling in the lower grades, and confirmed, in 1876, in the Lutheran Church.

Starting out in life, he became a lumberman and proved himself serviceable in
marking trees ready for felling and use in the mills; and at that trade he worked
for four years prior to coming to America. In 1893 he reached Miner County,







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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1317

S. D., and there rented land and farmed for ten years. In 1898, he purchased 160
acres, and for five years he successfully farmed that to grain and stock. This addi-
tional experience prepared him for taking up ranching in California.

In 1903, he came to Turlock, having the year before purchased thirty-five acres
here, and in 1904 he added twenty acres to his tract. Nine 3 - ears later, at considerable
expense, he had his handsome ten-room residence built. On June 20, 1905, at
Modesto, he had been granted American citizenship, and having chosen to march
with the Republican party, he has since contributed such influence as he could toward
making Americans realize the precious legacy they have in a free country.

On May 2, 1886, Mr. Persson was married to Miss Christine Anderson, whose
birthplace was Bollnos, Sweden. There, on May 28, 1859, she became the daughter
of Andres and Martha (Olson) Johnson, sturdy farmers who enjoyed everybody's
esteem and good will. Eight children resulted from this happy marriage. Martha
reached her fourteenth year and died in South Dakota. Sadie is the wife of Walter
Morton, of San Fernando, and the mother of one son. Annie is Mrs. Jack Cunning-
ham of Turlock. Eric W., the rancher, was over-seas for eighteen months and a
noncommissioned officer in the army corps. Judith M. is attending the school for
nurses 'in the French Hospital at San Francisco. Alvin P., the rancher, is an ex-
service man and a member of the R. O. T. C. of Berkeley. Harry E. graduated
from Turlock high school in 1920; and Rudolph, a rancher, lives at home.

PETER PETERSON. — A progressive citizen of Turlock, whose success both as
a contracting builder and as a rancher has given him great faith in the future of
Stanislaus County, is Peter Peterson, who was born in Helsingland, Sweden, on
March 28, 1874, the son of a farmer who was also a carpenter and blacksmith. The
lad, therefore, was reared on a farm, and early learned the use of tools. The car-
penter trade he also began to learn while he was still attending school, and when he
was seventeen years old, he started in earning for himself, at work for the sawmills.
This he followed for some years, and made a specialty of running gang saws. He
began as a helper, and in two years was pronounced a journeyman sawyer. His skill
was appreciated by all of his employers, and eventually he worked in the largest mills



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 145 of 177)