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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

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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 154 of 177)
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his business because he began at the lowest round on the ladder and has worked his
way up by hard, intelligent labor, is Andy Thorsen, proprietor of the largest plumbing
establishment in Turlock. He was born in Norway, on March 14, 1884, and came
to the United States and Illinois with his parents in 1893. They were Ammund and
Dorothy (Oglen) Thorsen, and they eventually removed from Illinois to San Jose
to join their son, who had preceded them to the Pacific Coast, and had located there.
Later still, they came south to Turlock, where Mr. Thorsen died, survived by the
mother, who is still living here. The maternal grandfather, Andres Hansen Oglen,
was a sea-faring man, and as a sailor before the mast, sailed around Cape Horn in
those early days, buying tallow and hides on the West Coast, and then returning to
Boston. In 1847, he was wrecked on the Pacific Coast, and managed to put in to
San Francisco, at that time called Yerba Buena. He remained there a while, and
the next year gold was discovered, and he and a friend named Petersen obtained a
boat and went up river to the mines, and were among the earliest of the gold diggers.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1369

He obtained the gold longed for and was successful, and started to return to Norway
for his family. Crossing the plains, he made his way to New York and there he was
murdered, and the party or parties guilty of the crime are supposed to have obtained
his gold. All of his children who grew up came to the United States, and those that
lived came to California, and all of his grandchildren but two are in California.

Andy Thorsen was educated in the public schools of Pontiac, 111., and in 1895
accompanied his folks on their removal to Joliet, where he continued his studies until
he was thirteen. Then he was apprenticed to learn the plumber's trade ; and on being
declared a journeyman, he came out to California in 1900. On account of his youth-
fulness, he served again an apprenticeship, this time with George Humphreys at Sar
Francisco; and then he worked in different shops in that city until 1910. In Ma>
of that year he came down to Turlock to enter the employ of the Turlock Hardware
Company; but in October, 1911, he resigned to start in business for himself.

Mr. Thorsen's first location was on High Street; but when his trade expanded,
he purchased, in July, 1917, his present site on Lander Avenue, and built the structure
into which he moved — its large, ample quarters for work and supplies making appeal
to an appreciative, knowing public demanding the most up-to-date, satisfactory service.
Among other contracts undertaken and faithfully carried out by Mr. Thorsen, may be
mentioned both theatres in Turlock, the Emanuel Hospital — both plumbing and
heating — the Salberg Block, and the Broadway Garage.

At San Jose, Mr. Thorsen was united in marriage with Miss Bertha N.
Anderson, a native of Sweden, who came out to San Francisco to join her brother.
Two children have been granted the happy couple — Rodney Bjorn and Esther Dorothy.
Mr. Thorsen is interested in ranching, and owns a farm of some twenty acres near
Turlock, on which he raises the choicest of cantaloupes and the greenest of alfalfa.

HARRY FOLETTA. — A progressive dairyman whose success has been due to his
keen insight into business, and his constructive methods, is Harry Foletta, who was
born in Canton Ticino, Switzerland, on March 25, 1876, the fourth son of a family
of six boys and four girls. His father was Gasper Foletta, also a native of Switzer-
land. The maiden name of the mother was Filomina Patrazzi, a native of Italian
Switzerland. Gasper Foletta was both a farmer who devoted himself to dairying
and to general farming, secretary and director of the town council of Garra, Ver-
zasia. Harry Foletta attended the district school in that delightful region known
as Italian Switzerland, and under the experienced guidance of his father, learned
agriculture as the Swiss practice it. When seventeen years old, he bade good-bye
':o his home and made his way to the coast and across the Atlantic to America. He
had worked hard for what he thus spent on his journey, and he took particular
pride in the venture, as it was the result of his own hard toil.

Coming West to California, Mr. Foletta settled with three brothers who had
already located at Pescadero, in San Mateo County, and there took up the work
of dairy farming under American conditions, while he went to school for a couple,
of months to learn English. At the end of a year with his brothers, he started out
for himself, and for nine years he worked for wages. Then he leased 1,300 acres
at White House Ranch, in San Mateo County, formerly owned by Mrs. Elk Brown,
and kept the lease for five years. He was so successful, as the result of his consci-
entious, honest work, that at the end of the period of lease he owned forty head of
cattle of his own breeding. He went in for cheese and butter-making, and sold his
entire output to a San Francisco commission house.

In 1907, Mr. Foletta purchased sixty-eight and a half acres near Los Banos.
Merced County, which he devoted to the raising of alfalfa and dairying, selling his
cream in Los Banos, and becoming a director of the First National Bank of that
town ; and he is still interested in Merced County real estate and securities, having
160 acres in one tract, and retaining an equity in stock raising. He was one of the
organizers of the First National Bank of Los Banos, and so may be said to have
done what he could to more rapidly develop a town that has been retarded through
a combination of circumstances peculiar to that locality and period. In March, 1920.



1370 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Mr. Foletta came to Modesto and located on a ranch of forty acres fiVe miles to
the southwest of die town, and here he has since engaged in dairy farming.

At Gonzales, in Monterey County, on April 23, 1905, Mr. Foletta was mar-
ried to Miss Annie Giacometti, a native of that town and the daughter of Gaetano
Giacometti, who was born in Mogheno, Switzerland, and married Miss Laura
Rianda, also of that place. Mr. Giacometti came out to California in the early
seventies and settled first at Watsonville, and then at Gonzales, where he devoted
400 acres to grain farming. He had six children, and they were all "native sons and
daughters." After a while, he removed to Modesto, and here he ranched until his
death, on October 9, 1917, twelve years after his devoted wife had passed away.
Three sons have blessed this fortunate union of Mr. and Mrs. Foletta. Leo Harry
attends the Jones School in the Westport district; and the others are Elmer Raymond
and Wilbur Ernest — all three also native sons. He belongs to the Foresters of
America and the U. P. E. C. in Los Banos. Mrs. Foletta belongs to the Woman's
Improvement Club of the Westport district. Mr. Foletta received his naturaliza-
tion papers at Santa Cruz on August 19, 1904.

LARS EKLUND. — An esteemed resident at Turlock who has the distinction of
being the father of one of the boys who made the supreme sacrifice in the World
War, among the first to be "gassed" and then wounded at the battle of the Argonne,
is Lars Eklund, who first came to California in 1906, although he did not locate at
Turlock until seven years later. He was born in Vermland, Sweden, on June 10,
1847, the son of Peter and Christine (Olson) Eklund, both of whom died in Sweden.
He attended the public schools for which Sweden is so famed, and after that was
apprenticed to learn the tailor's trade, at which he continued for a year. Then he
took up the shoemaker's trade, which he took five years to learn thoroughly, and
for two years he worked as a journeyman.

In 1868, Mr. Eklund came to the United States, sailing on the steamer "Que-
bec," and in due time he reached Chicago and later St. Paul. Ln Minnesota he worked
in the harvest fields and the pineries, and for ten years he chopped cord wood. In
1870 he went to Becker County, Minn., and homesteaded ninety acres, after which
he bought land adjoining until he had 140 acres, all well improved. For a while it
was uphill business, and hard times and grasshoppers conspired to set him back; and
in 1880 he sold his farm and removed to Kittson County, where he was a pioneer
and where he bought a farm in Red River Valley, and later was in Red River town-
ship and had 160 acres, which he devoted to the raising of wheat, oats and barley.
He built a comfortable residence, and then bought the balance of the section, giving
him in all 640 acres, 400 of which are in one body. He raised cattle and horses,
became a school trustee, was township supervisor for eleven years and also served as
chairman of the board, and filled that office when the court house was built.

In 1906, Mr. Eklund removed to California, and since 1913 he has resided in
Turlock, where he owns a comfortable residence on West Main Street, looking after
his various financial interests and contributing, in whatever way he may be able,
under the banners of the Republican party, toward a better citizenship. In 1870 he
was married for the first time, his bride being Mary Olson; but she died in 1893,
the mother of seven children. Victor, Peter and William are in Portland, Ore. ;
Ervin and Mamie are in Minnesota; Betsy is in Spokane, and Anna is in Turlock.
In Kittson County, Minn., Mr. Eklund was married the second time on June 16,
1894, being united with Miss Magdalena Stafanson, who was born in Gemtland,
Sweden, on April 11, 1867, and came out to Minnesota and Douglas County with
her folks in 1869. Her parents were Mons and Mary Stafanson. worthy settlers
respected by all who knew them. Seven more children blessed this second union.
Martin, the eldest, lives in Minnesota; then came Herman, the soldier boy; Amanda
graduated from the normal school and is a teacher at Orleans, Minn.; Fred is on
the farm; Mary resides at Turlock and is employed in a photo studio; Esther is in
the high school; and the youngest of the family is Eldora.

Particular honor and everlasting remembrance should be tendered Herman
Eklund, who so freely and so bravely gave his life for his country. He was in the



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1371

employ of the bank at Hallock, Minn., when the World War broke out, and when
the United States declared war on Germany, he enlisted in a Minnesota regiment
and joined the One Hundred and Thirty-ninth Infantry Regiment. He served over-
seas, and was one of the first American soldiers "gassed" at the Argonne; was at St.
Mihiel, and in the defense sector; after which he was mortally injured while in
action by the explosion of a bomb, from the effects of which he died ^r> October 2,
1918. He lies buried in the Argonne American cemetery; and as long as men tell
if American heroism at the front, the name of Herman Eklund will be repeated
with pious reverence. Mr. and Mrs. Eklund have always stood for the best in th(
community, and Mrs. Eklund has been active for years in the W. C. T. U.

JOSEPH GRONQUIST.— Of sturdy old Norse ancestry, Joseph Gronquist was
Porn in Saint Sigfried parish, Sweden, June 14, 1875. His parents were Johan and
Amelia Gronquist, both descended from well-established families of Sweden, when
they have always resided. The father was a minister of the Swedish Lutheran Church
and our Mr. Gronquist was reared in the simple atmosphere of that faith. He at-
tended the public grammar and high schools of Kalmar, and after his education was
completed found employment on a farm near there. But the opportunities were limited
and in 1903 he came to America to seek his fortune in more productive fields.

Mr. Gronquist located for a time at Boston, Mass., where he was variously em-
ployed. Three years later he came on to California, going first to San Francisco, where
he arrived early in 1907. For five years he remained in the Bay District, the first year
in San Francisco and the following four in Oakland. During all this time he had
worked hard, saved his money, and in 1912 came to Stanislaus County and bought
nine acres near Patterson, which he planted to alfalfa and peaches. In 1919 he pur-
chased an additional seven acres, and now farms in all sixteen acres, located at the
corner of Fig and Sycamore streets.

Since acquiring this property Mr. Gronquist has transformed it from an open
field into one of the most attractive homes in the vicinity. He has built a beautiful
modern bungalow, together with barn and other outbuildings, and has planted gardens
and trees, and is from time to time adding other improvements which go to make a
modern California country home. His land lies under the Patterson Irrigation Dis-
trict's irrigation canals, and is very valuable.

It was at San Francisco that Mr. Gronquist was married to Miss Ellen Peter-
son, on June 2, 1917. Mrs. Gronquist is also a native of Sweden, born in Grondal,
Oland, where she grew to young womanhood. When she was twenty years of age
she came to America, stopping but a short time in New York, and then coming on to
Patterson, where she has since made her home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gronquist have
many friends in Patterson, where they are recognized as progressive and worthy citi-
zens, giving of their best effort for the upbuilding of the community.

MRS. CAROLINE OLSON. — An enterprising business woman who is a native
daughter of the Golden West is Mrs. Caroline Olson, born in San Francisco, Cal.,
April 24, 1859, a daughter of Charles and Gertrude (Whippier) Bloed, natives of
Germany who, on immigrating to the United States, came to Boston and in the early
fifties came to California and located in San Francisco, and later came to Mariposa
County, where they engaged in the hotel business at Mt. Bullion, also called Prince-
ton. This worthy couple had nine children, of whom three are still living, Caroline
being the fifth in order of birth. Afterwards her parents moved to Merced Falls,
where they followed the same line of business until they retired. After a visit to his
daughter, Mrs. Olson, and while crossing the Tuolumne River on his return home,
the father was accidentally drowned February 17, 1881, aged fifty-five years. His
widow, after this, made her home with Mrs. Olson until her death February 6, 1893,
being over sixty-six years of age.

Caroline Bloed attended the public schools in Princeton, Mariposa County, re-
moving with her parents to Merced Falls, and in that place, on March 22, 1880, she
was married to Jacob Olson, a native of Sweden, born May 22, 1852. Coming to
Wisconsin with his parents when twelve years of age, he obtained his education in the



1372 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

public schools of that state. On arriving at young manhood he came to California,
accompanied by his parents, in 1870, locating at La Grange, where he followed team-
ing, hauling heavy freight between Stockton and Coulterville and other Mariposa
County points; by way of La Grange and Snelling. After their marriage, Mr. and
Mrs. Olson located on a farm near Snelling, Merced County, where they engaged in
grain raising. In 1905 they came to Stanislaus County and purchased 640 acres in
Montpellier Township, which they devoted to grain raising, and here Mr. Olson was
actively engaged until the time of his passing away, September 12, 1913, being deeply
mourned by his family and friends, and particularly by his fellow members in the Odd
Fellows, Encampment and Rebekah lodges, his membership being in Snelling. Mr.
and Mrs. Olson were blessed with seven children: Chas. W., who died from an
accident; Edward G. resides in San Jose; Gussie E., deceased, was the wife of Herman
Harder; Elmer died in infancy; Fred resides in Montpellier; Luella G. assists her
mother in presiding over the home, and Ozeila Delia, while attending the Stockton
Normal, was taken ill and died six weeks before her father.

After the death of her husband, Mrs. Olson continued to operate the ranch until
1918, when she disposed of her holdings and located in Modesto, where she lives in
her comfortable residence on McHenry Avenue, and also owns a fifteen-acre ranch
near Ceres devoted to alfalfa. An accomplished and energetic business woman, she is
looking after and managing the property she and her husband accumulated and is giv-
ing a good account of her stewardship. She is a native daughter of whom the state
may well be proud and in turn she appreciates the land of sunshine and flowers.

JAMES S. ROBERTS. — A native son and, therefore, one of a very goodly
cormany, James S. Roberts was born near Salida on October 8, 1886, the son of
William Sperry Roberts, who crossed the great plains to California in 1850. He
married Miss Viretta Durst, who had come to Stanislaus County in the '80s; and he
died when our subject was six years old. James was then taken by the family of
Charles D. Butler, a pioneer of Salida, mentioned elsewhere in this volume, and
attended school until the end of the eighth grade, after which he was thrown upon
his own resources.

He hired out on farms and in lumber mills; and on returning to Modesto was
married, on April 24, 1910, to Miss Sadie Sale, who was born near La Grange in
1890, the daughter of William H. Sale, a pioneer of mining days at La Grange and
now a retired resident of Denair. Mildred and Floyd, the older of the three chil-
dren, are students, and the youngest is Dorothy. Mr. Roberts is a Mason.

Besides cultivating twenty acres in the Gratton Tract at Denair devoted to gen-
eral farming, Mr. Roberts has served as superintendent of the county roads at Denair
for the past eight years, has been a deputy sheriff, and is now acting deputy assessor
of the Turlock district. In national politics a Republican, he is broad-minded and
large-hearted in his attitude toward local issues, exerting a wide and helpful influence.

WALTER C. FILIPPINL— A native son who, having had a long and valuable
experience in the repairing of automobiles, was able to render exceptional service to
his Government in the recent World War, is Walter C. Filippini, the wide-awake
and accommodating proprietor of the popular garage at Crows Landing. He was
born in Salinas, Monterey County, Cal., on June 4, 1896, the son of Charles and
Chastie Filippini ; his father, who was a native of Paris, France, came to America when
he was seventeen years old. He eventually settled at Point Reyes, Marin County,
Cal., where he worked on a dairy ranch; and when our subject was three years old, his
father moved to Crows Landing and stayed another three years. Then he and his fam-
ily moved back to Point Reyes, where he again took up dairying. After four years
there, Mr. Filippini once more moved back to the Crows Landing country.

Having had all the schooling possible at the Bonita grammar school, Walter Filip-
pini commenced work as an auto mechanic when the old side-crank cars first came into
the market, and he may be said to have been mastering auto-mechanic science since
he was ten years of age. Seven years ago he wisely took the step of starting a repair
shop of his own in Crows Landing, and since then he has built up a flourishing trade



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1373

in general and first-class shop work. No one who ever takes his car there fails to at
least wish to return there again, for he makes it a principle to inspect each machine in
such a thorough manner that nothing is left undone which he may be expected to mend
or set in order. He uses only the best of materials and parts, employs the latest
machinery and tools, and works for results of a permanent character rather than to
make a record for speed. Yet the speed is there, also, and no one complains of having
to wait needlessly in his garage.

On February 13, 1918, Mr. Filippini was married to Miss Lucile McAulay, the
ceremony taking place at Crows Landing. The bride's parents were Lloyd and Carrie
McAulay, well-known pioneers of the San Joaquin Valley. One son, Elmer Lloyd,
has blessed this union. Mr. Filippini is a Republican, and also a member of the
Native Sons of the Golden West. When the World War was so far advanced that
the United States had need of men, Mr. Filippini enlisted and served as sergeant, from
June 24, 1918, to the following February. He was with aero squadrons Two Hundred
Eighty-three and Two Hundred One, and was expert mechanic on aeroplane motors.

GEORGE B. ANSPACH.— A successful alfalfa farmer and a public-spirited
citizen who is ever ready to work for the advancement of others, as well as himself,
is George B. Anspach, who was born in Ida County, Iowa, on March 29, 1879, the
son of Levi and Carrie Anspach, early settlers and farmer-folk of the Hawkeye State.
He was sent to the Iowa common schools, and spent his early days on the home farm ;
and when he had attained his twenty-first year he set out for himself.

For a year he worked for wages, and then for a year he farmed 100 acres of his
father's land. The third year he took up 160 acres. After that, he moved to Cherokee
County, Iowa, and rented a half-section for general agriculture. At the end of four
}ears, he came west to California and at Long Beach embarked in cement contracting.
He made it a rule, when he first started out, to do whatever he agreed to do in the
most thorough manner possible, and it is not surprising that in the three years of his
activity at Long Beach, he should make for himself an enviable reputation.

In 1915, Mr. Anspach came to Patterson and worked on his father's farm in tin*
Patterson Colony, on the San Joaquin River, and at the end of the year he engaged
as a machinist on the pipe line for the Standard Oil Company, where he remained for
eighteen months. Then he purchased ten acres on Walnut Street devoted to alfalfa,
and the next season set the same out to Thompson Seedless grapes. After that he
bought his father's farm of forty-nine acres on Apricot Avenue, one miles east of Elm,
a fine ranch near the river devoted to alfalfa, and he at present intends to plow up
the alfalfa on Walnut Street and set out there an orchard. He has built for himself
a home, a barn, a tank house and erected a serviceable windmill.

At his farm, near Aurelia, Iowa, on June 6, 1908, Mr. Anspach was married to
Miss Florence Lane, a native of Iowa, the daughter of Henry and Sarah Lane, an
attractive and gifted lady who became the mother of two children — Meredith Fay
and Dorance Dubes, both now at school. She passed away at Aurelia in 1910. In
national politics a Republican, Mr. Anspach is nonpartisan in all local movements.

ROY A. CROUCH. — An experienced, progressive merchant to whose happy
combination of inspiriting aggressiveness and sensible conservatism Denair owes
much, is Roy A. Crouch, the senior member of the Crouch & Johnson Mercantile
Company, who was born near St. Edwards in Boone County, Nebr., on October 1,
1883, the second son of William and Florence (Tiedeman) Crouch, natives of Wis-
consin who now live in Denair. He attended the public schools, and later enjoyed a
business college course, from which he was graduated in 1903.

The following year Mr. Crouch came out to California and settled at Ceres,
where he joined a brother, William E. Crouch, then a rancher near that town; and
with him he remained until he returned to Nebraska in 1905. On coming back to
California, he settled at Denair; for his brother in the meantime had established a
mercantile store there, with a partner named Warren. To the proprietorship of this
business our subject and N. E. Johnson have in time succeeded. William Crouch,
his father, was the eighth child of William and Sarah (Hickmott) Crouch, who came



1374 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

from Kent, England, in 1842; and it is not surprising that with such sturdy ancestry,
Mr. Crouch should be prominent in civic and patriotic affairs, and in anything and
everything likely to "boost" and to benefit the community. He served, for example,
as chairman of the Liberty Loan Drive committees of the Denair district and saw to
it that this section went "over the top."

In 1908 Mr. Crouch was married to Miss Elsie Cottle, a native of Los Angeles
and the daughter of W. W. and Sallie W. (Parish) Cottle, who came from Missouri
to Southern California about 1880, and now reside at Turlock. Their union has been
blessed with three children — Roy W., Edward R. and Robert C. Crouch.

HARRY O. PERRY. — A broad-minded, far-seeing rancher who is ever ready
to serve the best interests of the community at large, is Harry O. Perry, who was born
in Marshall County, 111., on December 20, 1886, the son of Samuel Perry, a native
of Illinois, whose family is related to that of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, and



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 154 of 177)