works, and public supplies. The board were given almost unlimited powers. They
could purchase land for any public purpose for buildings, parks, playgrounds, theaters,
art gallery, swimming pools, in fact anything desirable or useful for the public, and
erect buildings thereon. Included in the many utilities they might if they so desired
purchase an aviation landing place, an innovation in charters that caused considerable
newspaper comment. The trustees appointed all of the sub-officers including the
assessor, clerk, treasurer, collector, engineer, fire chief, attorney, chief of police, and
five library trustees. The salary of the sub-officials was fixed by the trustees, the
library trustees receiving no salary.
The First Commission Convention
The next move in the reformation of politics and the betterment of the city was
to elect to office those men who would faithfully carry out the new policy. With this
end in view about 150 business men and citizens met in Schafer's Hall, May 3, 1911,
to nominate a nonpartisan ticket. A nominating committee was appointed. Their
chairman, George R. Stoddard, stated that the object of the convention was to nomi-
nate representative men who would give the city a businesslike administration. The
committee reported the following names, which were endorsed by the convention: for
mayor, George Wren ; for trustees, George Perley, C. W. Swan and L. T. Moss ; for
school trustees, Frank A. Cressey, Jr., W. R. High, J. R. Broughton, J. W. Davidson
and J. W. Corson.
The Socialist Ticket
The Socialists were early in the field with a ticket which they called the "Socialist
and Union Men Ticket." It was strictly partisan and they hoped to carry the elec-
tion by the votes of the labor unions of Modesto. In order to strengthen their party
they imported that famous socialist, J. Stitt Wilson, of Berkeley. He spoke on the
court house square June 5, 1911, the eve of election, and delivering a socialistic
address, attempted to argue that the business men's ticket was nothing but a capitalist
ticket and consisted of bankers and capitalists only. The socialists had placed in the
field, Griffin D. Brice for mayor, C. A. East, L. D. Graham and Ira T. Bridges for
trustees, and Mrs. J. P. Purvis, W. D. Baker, C. R. Little and Gustavius Ramech
for school trustees. Mrs. Purvis, the wife of ex-sheriff Purvis, and a school teacher,
was the first woman in Stanislaus ever placed on a political ticket, and she received
the highest vote of any candidate on the Socialist ticket. The woman suffrage move-
ment was then in the air and in October, 1911, the woman suffrage amendment to
the state constitution carried by a big majority. In the last state election, Miss Esto
Broughton, daughter of J. R. Broughton, was elected to the assembly from Stanislaus
county. She was one of the first women to sit in the legislative halls, and in the heated
contest taxing the corporations, she voted for the tax, although her father is the presi-
dent of a corporation bank.
Election Day, 1911
The election on June 5, 1911, was very exciting and a very large vote was polled,
a total of 929 votes. The business men's ticket was elected by an overwhelming ma-
jority. The vote as tabulated was as follows: For Mayor: George J. Wren, 542;
Griffin D. Brice, 222. For Commissioners: George P. Schafer, 643; L. T. Moss,
642; Charles D. Swan, 596; George Perley, 573; C. A. East, 171 ; L. D. Graham,
244; Ira T. Bridges, 251 ; John Harrison, 122. For School Trustees: J. W. Cor-
son, 675; T- R- Broughton, 627; R. W. High, 665 ; J. W. Davison, 659; Mrs. J. P.
Purvis, 289; W. D. Baker, 245; C. R. Little, 224; Gus Ramech, 158; C. W.
The last board of trustees under the old system comprised C. D. Post, S. W.
Coffee, John D. Ross, John Harrison and W. S. Mann. It was charged during the
112 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY
campaign that John Harrison was the boss of the trustees; that they did his bidding
and many contracts were let in which he was directly interested. He had the temerity,
however, to again run for the office and he received the smallest vote on the ticket.
Modesto's First Commissioners
In accordance with the provisions of the charter, the commissioners assembled
July 1, 1911, and organized. They assembled at eight o'clock that morning and
George Wren was elected president and George Perley, vice-president. Lots were
drawn for the two-year and the four-year term and for the different departments,
according to the charter. C. D. Swan, two years, public health; L. T. Moss, two
years, finance and revenue ; George Perley, four years, public works ; and George P.
Schafer, four years, supplies. In the selection of subordinate officers, Walter O.
Thompson was appointed auditor and clerk; E. B. Morse, treasurer and collector;
E. L. Jones, city attorney ; George Freitas, city engineer ; R. L. Dallas, chief of police,
and S. P. Kinnear, street superintendent. A few days later, July 11, the chief of
police put on the lid and notified all saloonkeepers and red-light inmates that the laws
would be strictly enforced, and August 3 the commissioner of public works, George
Perley, announnced : "The old order of things is past, the new is on."
Commissioners Elected to Date
From this time on there was a wonderful change in the progress, morality and
policy of the city. First-class men were elected to office, but it is well to be mindful
of the fact that there were many events that contributed to the community uplift. One
was the giving of the vote to women, another the organization of the Women's Im-
provement Club, another the organization of a Chamber of Commerce and a Mer-
chants' Association, and last of all the destruction of the liquor traffic. The following
are the city commissioners elected up to date:
April 8, 1913, trustees, Lowell Gum, C. D. Swan, L. T. Moss, elected to fill
the unexpired term of George Perley.
April 13, 1915: D. W. Morris, mayor; George W. O'Connor, L. T. Moss.
April 24, 1917: trustees, John C. Cuneo, C. D. Swan.
April 8, 1919: George J. Ulrich, mayor; C. C. Parks, Alvin H. Turner, vice
C. D. Swan, resigned.
CHURCHES OF MODESTO
Unfortunately for the present generation, the pioneers of Stanislaus County took
no means whatever to preserve their history. Hence it has been very difficult to
obtain facts, and in some cases impossible to get either data or facts. The newspaper
men, presumed to be men of intelligence, capable of understanding better than others,
except teachers, the value of history, are no better in that respect than the common
citizens, and scarcely any of the newspaper files are saved. One of the most difficult
records to obtain have been those of the church, and two denominations only had pre-
served a fair history of their organization.
THE WESTPORT METHODIST CHURCH
The first religious denomination in the present county of Stanislaus was the little
Catholic Mission at La Grange, to which I have already referred.
The second religious denomination was the Methodist Episcopal north. It was
organized March 13, 1861, by the missionary, John P. Hale, in the home of J. V.
Davies. The charter members were John and Elizabeth Davies, Joel Griffin and
wife, M. and Elizabeth Moyle, Mrs. Carpender and Mr. Marvin. Services were
held in the Westport schoolhouse until the erection of the new church in 1880. The
first trustees were L. J. Morrow, John Davies and Joel Griffin. The church was in
HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 113
existence in 1881 with Joseph Vincent, John Vivian, Osmond Johnson and M. Moyle
as trustees. The first pastor was John P. Hale and the pastor in 1881 was Rev.
T. B. Palmer.
THE CONGREGATIONALIST CHURCH
The Congregational Church seems to have been organized in the early 70s and
died in its infancy for lack of numbers and financial support. According to meager
reports, it seems to have been organized in 1872-73, and a small wooden church was
erected on the I Street alley between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets. It was the first
building in Modesto erected for church services. They were in existence in 1879 with
the Rev. J. L. Jones as their pastor. They struggled along for several years and
then, disorganizing, united with the Presbyterians, then as now, one of the largest
denominations of the city. After the Congregationalists vacated their building, it was
occupied for religious worship by the German Lutherans. In the fire of July, 1890,
they succeeded in saving the pulpit and the seats. Several years later, in 1911, the
Lutherans were holding services monthly in Schafer's hall, Rev. George Jacobson of
the Lutheran Church, Stockton, acting as their pastor.
THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
A number of the members of the Christian faith or Disciples of Christ, who lived
in Stanislaus County assembled first in the Jackson district schoolhouse, about eight
miles from the present city of Modesto. Some months later they resolved to organize
a church. Assembling in the Congregational edifice April 23, 1873, they were organ-
ized by J. M. Monroe, with forty charter members. Following the organization they
held a protracted meeting under the leadership of Reverend Monroe. The result
was that 1 1 1 professed the faith and united with the Christians. For several months
they held service in the Congregational church. Near the close of the year 1873 they
built a small brick house of worship on Eleventh and G streets. They worshipped in
that building until 1905, when the present handsome edifice was constructed. The
first elders were appointed and ordained in 1873, namely: W. H. Finley, W. R. Ican-
berry and W. S. McHenry. The late Elder C. H. Hinning was a valuable member
of the church.
The first deacons were James Berry, John B. Caldwell and William Wilkinson.
The following pastors have served up to date: The Rev. J. M. Monroe, twice pas-
tor, C. A. Wright, A. G. Burnett (now judge of the Appellate court), Henrv Coge-
shall, Henry Shadle, J. W. Blake, George E. Shanklin, D. A. Leak, William H.
Briggs, J. A. Brown, L. O. Ferguson (pastor for ten years), J. J. Haley and the
present pastor, H. S. Saxby. This church has a large membership, over 500 in num-
ber, fifty being non-residents. The church has a number of societies, among them a
Young Ladies' Club, Ladies' Aid Society, Women's Board of Missions, senior, inter-
mediate and young people's societies and a Bible class of over 400 members.
THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH SOUTH
"This denomination," said Jefferson D. Bentley, "was organized some time in
1872, the congregation erecting a small wooden church on the corner of Eleventh
and J streets." A few years later an earthquake shook down all the plastering of the
auditorium and, as the building was poorly constructed, the trustees concluded to
erect a new and larger building. The cost was not given, but as carpenters then
worked ten hours at $2.50 per day, the cost was not heavy. The building was in use
many years, and in 1919 they sold the property to the Elks for $32,000. The trustees
then purchased a lot at the corner of Elmwood and Needham Avenue and at a cost
of about $40,000 erected a handsome building seating about 600 persons. While the
building was being erected, the congregation held their services in the basement. The
edifice was completed in 1920." The first church bell in the valley was placed in the
steeple of the pioneer church and its tone ringing out loud and clear called the people to
pray and praise from far and near.
Five of the pastors of this church were the Rev. J. C. Simmons, L. G. Hargis,
J. C. Pendergast, 1881, M. G. Burris, 1889, and Z. J. Needham, 1919. The first-
114 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY
named pastor, J. C. Simmons, father of the wife of L. J. Maddux, the attorney, was
one of the pioneer pastors of California. In a reminiscent lecture of his ministry
since February, 1852, he said: "The boy preacher was sent to Grass Valley by the
bishop, who remarked: 'If you cannot sleep on bearskins and eat bear meat, you are
not fit for a missionary.' On arrival I found a rough clapboard church and a clap-
board shed as my home and parsonage. On one occasion I walked sixteen miles to
a new diggings and found not a finished house in the place. I found a frame house
without any floor, and this I occupied as a church. Empty boxes were used for seats,
and empty bottles for candle sticks. There I began singing hymns and soon a crowd
gathered around. Services were held at different times under trees, in bar-rooms, ten-
pin alleys and gambling houses, and many a time I preached with barrels and boxes,
bottles, bowie knives and pistols around me." The first trustees were Maj. James
Burney of Burneyville, who had charge of the Sunday School, J. D. Bentley and
THE BAPTIST CHURCH
The Herald some time since stated that the Baptist Church "was the youngest
Evangelical Church in the city," having been organized seven years ago (1903). Mrs.
L. H. Pratt, the widow of the deceased pastor, Rev. L. H. Pratt, says she has been
a member for fifteen years and that the church was organized long before that time.
It seems they were organized in the Congregational Church and there held occasional
services. When the building was destroyed by fire, in 1890, the congregation moved
to a building corner of Seventh and J streets. The building was later sold and a
second building was secured, which was sold after a time to the Seventh Day Adventists.
Again without a home, the Baptists, having Increased largely in numbers and wealth,
concluded to erect a home of their own. Purchasing a lot on the corner of Eleventh
and K streets they erected a handsome concrete edifice at a cost of $15,000. It was
dedicated during the summer of 1911, there being a general church building boom
about that time. The present pastor is the Rev. Edgar Gum.
THE CATHOLIC PARISH AND CHURCH
The Catholics and the Episcopalians have what is known as parishes, and ofttimes
a parish covers an extensive scope of territory. When Father William B. O'Connor
was assigned by Archbishop Alemany in 1872 to St. Mary's Church, Stockton, his
parish not only included Stockton and San Joaquin County but the entire county of
Stanislaus. At that time there was neither parish nor church building in the county
save at La Grange, the little French church which we have already noted. Father
O'Connor, visiting Modesto occasionally, would hold mass in the homes of the Catho-
lics, and in 1875 a parish was organized. Father O'Connor, who was a very zealous
worker for church progress, soon began agitating the question of building a house of
worship. Money was subscribed and collected for that purpose. A lot was purchased
on Seventh Street near J Street, and a little chapel erected at a cost of $2,500. It
would seat about 300 persons and, free of debt, it was dedicated June 23, 1878, by
Archbishop Alemany, assisted by Father O'Connor. Seventh Street at that time had
"just been laid out and was the main thoroughfare of the infant community."
The first resident pastor was Rev. Patrick Walsh, who was assigned in 1881 to
the Modesto church. His parish included all of the towns of the county, Modesto,
Turlock, Gustine, Patterson, Newman, Crows Landing, Oakdale, La Grange and
Knights Ferry. Father Walsh was in charge about three and a half years, when he
was taken sick, and died in the parochial home, Stockton, December 23, 1884. Father
Walsh was succeeded January 9, 1885, by Father Thomas McGuire. He was the
parish priest during the following ten years and during his priesthood a little parish
church was built at Turlock. Then came Father Patrick Smith, January 28, 1894,
;md the close of his earthly work was the most tragic perhaps of any priest in Cali-
fornia. Father Smith was a man of middle age and of a delicate constitution. On
April 10, Easter Sunday, 1898, the church was crowded with worshippers who had
come to celebrate Easter high mass. Father Smith was assisted by two altar boys, and
as with the lighted tapers in his hands, he knelt during the consecration, he fell over
HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 115
on his side, dead. The congregation believed he had fainted. Four persons hastening
to the altar carried the lifeless body into the rectory. The sexton returning dismissed
the congregation, saying: "Father Smith will be unable to finish the mass." He died
of heart disease hastened by weakness from fasting.
The next priest in order was Father W. J. Madden. His first mass was in April,
1898, and because of ill health he retired in 1903. While he was in charge, Oakdale
was given a resident priest, Father Nevin. A division was also made of the parish.
Father Nevin was placed in charge of all that part of the county east of the Santa Fe
Railroad track while Father Madden took the west side of the roadbed.
Sixteen years is a long time for a priest or pastor to remain in charge of a con-
gregation. It bespeaks a duty well done, a man beloved by his parishioners. Such
is the record of Father M. J. Giles, whose crowning work is the beautiful church of
St. Stanislaus with a parish of between 400 and 500 families and nearly 2,500 com-
municants. Born in Ireland, he attended the Black Rock College, Dublin. Coming
to these United States he arrived at San Francisco in 1894. After having served as
coadjutor in the San Francisco church of St. Francis, St. Rose and Star of the Sea,
he was sent to Modesto in June, 1903. His first baptism was at Newman, July 11,
1903, that of John Souza, a son of Manuel and Mary Silveria Souza. His first mar-
riage, in November, 1903, united John Podesta to Man' Brichetto. In 1904 Newman,
Gustine, Patterson and Crows Landing missions were eliminated from his parish
and Father Leal became the resident pastor,- residing at Newman. Turlock also was
given a resident priest in Father Bailey. Notwithstanding these eliminations, his con-
gregation rapidly increased and in 1912 a committee was appointed to consider ways
and means for the erection of a fine edifice, one that would be a credit to the beautiful
city of Modesto. The work was hastened and May 1, 1913, the plans were accepted
for a reinforced concrete building of the Spanish colonial style of architecture to cost
about $22,000. The inside measurement of the building was 46x112 feet, with two
towers, each tower 75 feet in height. The first shovelful of earth was turned May
15, 1913, and the wall erected awaited the laying of the cornerstone. August 13,
1913, was an important church day in Modesto and thousands came from the entire
surrounding country to witness the laying of the cornerstone. At eight o'clock mass
was celebrated in the old church. Two hours later a special train arrived from
Stockton having on board a delegation from the Young Men's Institute, the Stockton
Drum Corps and the Young Ladies' Institute. A procession was then formed under
the direction of W. H. Langdon, now judge of the Appellate Court, and they paraded
the streets, led by the Modesto Brass Band. Returning to the church high mass was
was celebrated in the open air, Father J. L. Cunha acting as celebrant. At the noon
hour a lunch was served to all of the visitors from Stockton and the surrounding coun-
try, and during the afternoon there was a baseball game between the Young Men's
Institute team of San Francisco and the Modesto Reds. At the same time a sacred
concert was given by the' Modesto Brass Band. Late in the afternoon the cornerstone
was laid by Archbishop Hanna of San Francisco, he also delivering a sermon in
English. Father Cunha gave a sermon in Portuguese. Upon the cornerstone is
engraved these words from the sacred writ: "Upon this rock will I build my Church
and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." '
The building was dedicated December 28, 1913, by Archbishop Hanna. At the
celebration of high mass Father J. J. Cantwell of San Francisco was celebrant ; Rev.
William McGough of St. Mary's Church, Stockton, deacon; Rev. Thomas McNaboc,
sub-deacon ; Father M. J. Giles, master of ceremonies. The Rev. M. Gallagher of
Oakland, Fathers Thomas Bailey of Turlock, and Dollard of Lodi were present. A
special choir with W. W. Higgins as director sang Bateman's Mass in F. The build-
ing complete cost $23,500, the fittings $4,000, pews $1,500, and the memorial win-
dow, $1,000. The instrument used in the church was a small reed organ, but in
February, 1919, a $2,500 pipe organ was installed.
116 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY
THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The First Presbyterian Church of Modesto was organized in the Methodist
Episcopal north edifice March 30, 1879, by Rev. Thomas Fraser, a missionary of
the Synod of the Pacific. He was assisted in the organization by the Rev. Thomas
Cookson of the Methodist faith and the Rev. J. L. Jones of the Congregational
denomination. The congregation held services for a few months in Rodgers Hall,
with Rev. John B. Warren as pastor. Purchasing a lot at the corner of I and Four-
teenth streets in 1880, they erected a neat building of wood at a cost of $4,300, the
Presbyterian board of erection contributing $500 of that amount. The building was
dedicated as a house of worship, January 2, 1881, and in a few years was free from
debt, principally through the earnest efforts of Mrs. Matilda McHenry
and of Mrs. J. S. Armstrong, the wife of Elder Armstrong. The people of
the congregation continued worshipping in the little building until 1910. At that
time there had been a great reformation in the city ; it was growing by leaps and
bounds and the members concluded to erect a much larger and finer edifice, one that
would be in harmony with the times. It was their purpose to erect an institutional
church, embracing such features as a lecture room and Sunday school rooms, a social
parlor, auditorium, swimming tank, gymnasium and all of the features of a first-class
Y. M. C. A. It certainly was an innovation up to date. There is none other like it
except the Institutional Church in Hollister, San Benito Count}-. The congregation
now adjourned to Schafer's hall for worship and the old building was torn down.
The new building, covering a space of 60x150 feet, was hastened to completion, and
in January a $5,000 pipe organ was installed. The church was dedicated July 2,
1911, the dedicatory sermon being delivered by Dr. Lyman White of San Rafael.
There was special music by the choir, the soloists being Mrs. Laura De Yoe Brown
and Mrs. Grace Cox. In the evening a union service of all of the Protestant churches
was held. The Rev. Lyman White again delivered the sermon and the Rev. Edgar
F. Brown, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, spoke in behalf of the sister
churches. There were over 800 persons present, more than filling the auditorium and
balcony. The edifice cost about $50,000. The charter members of the church are
Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs. William H. Rice, Mrs. Alice Brock,
Mrs. Mary E. Hammond, Mrs. Mary D. Crow, George W. Cameron and Mrs. Mary
J. Crawford, who is the only living charter member. The elders of the church for
many years past were J. S. Armstrong and J. S. Rice, 1879; Benjamin Drake, 1880;
W. B. Cullom and W. B. Elmore, 1882; Henrv Voight and J. E. Ward, 1886;
James Thompson, 1890; Dr. B. F. Surryhne, 1894; Edbert Stearns and G. P. Scha-
fer, 1903; Dr. B. F. Surryhne and his wife, who united with the church in 1893, are
No church can remain long in existence without an income from some source. In
this respect the Presbyterian Church was particularly fortunate; as a small amount of
money, from $150 to $600, was annually supplied by the Home Board to assist in
paying the pastor's salary until 1886. At that time the church became self-supporting.
A little later, in 1896, a generous provision was made for the partial support of pastors
by Mrs. Matilda McHenry, an early member of the church. At the time of her
death that year she left a bequest of $15,000. Of this amount, $5,000 was to be placed
in the building fund and $10,000 placed at interest as a permanent pastor's fund.
The interest was to be used in paving pastors' salaries.
The first session of the board was held May 12, 1879, and Rev. John B. Warren
was called at a salary of $1,000 a year. In six months he resigned. The pulpit was
then filled in succession by Rev. Alexander Robert L. Beck and Rev. H. A. Newell.
Rev. H. E. Mathena, elected in 1881, remained until 1884, when he was succeeded
by Rev. John W. Atherton. He filled the pulpit until 1887, and he was followed by-
William O. Melvena, H. C. Gillingham, whose resignation was requested in 1891,
J. M. Thompson, E. B. Hayes and Enos P. Baker, each with a pastorate of three