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 162 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 162 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Ranch," located in East Empire Precinct, Stanislaus County, Cal., half way between
Empire and Waterford on the paved county road. He was born in Indiana, February
9, 1898, the son of Dr. Alva A. and Rosetta R. (Jones) Shanahan. His father is a
leading surgeon in Grant County, Ind., and is the operating surgeon at the Grant
County Hospital, having been at the head of this institution for some time. Grand-
father James A. Shanahan was a pioneer of Grant County, Ind. He and his father
came from Cork, Ireland, and taking a claim, blazed the trail, and cleared the land.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1413

Thus he helped to make the early history of that section, and in later years when
the History of Grant County was published, he contributed a number of interesting
pages to this work. He fought through the Civil War and was wounded during
his service. He died at eighty-six, on January 12, 1921, in Indiana.

C. O. Shanahan was the second child of nine children and he grew up at
Swayzee, Ind., attending the public schools in his home city and later the Normal
School at Marion, Ind. At the age of twenty years he was united in marriage with
Miss Floss Cox of Jonesboro, Ind. He engaged as a glass blower in Marion, Ind.,
making such articles as electric bulbs, lamp chimneys and glass tumblers. He also
farmed for some time in Indiana. In March, 1917, he volunteered for service in the
World War, and entered the U. S. Remount Service and was stationed at Louisville,
Ky. During this time, while participating in one of the maneuvers, his horse fell on
his left leg and broke it, disabling him so that he was unable to serve in this capacity,
and he was honorably discharged. He then came to California in 1918 and began
to work at the Union Iron Works at San Francisco where there were 10,000 men
employed, but he had not much more than started when the armistice was signed and
the shipbuilding for the Government came to an end. He then came on to Modesto,
and while stopping at the Hotel Modesto, he met Mrs. J. A. Hindman, the widow
of one of the leading lawyers of Marion, Ind., an old-time Indiana friend, and find-
ing that she had land to lease, he took a three-year lease for eighty acres at East
Empire. That was in 1919, and 1920 found him making good as a farmer and more
than delighted with California and Stanislaus County. Mr. Shahahan's mother is a
member of the Friends Church and both he and his wife were brought up in that
faith, where they are faithful workers. He was a member of the Eagles in Indiana.

PETER BA VASTER.— A son of the hardy little Republic of Switzerland,
Peter Bavaster is a self-made man, an orphan from his early childhood, who has won
his way through his own efforts, and is today one of the successful dairy farmers of
McHenry precinct. He has resided on this property for five years and has brought it
under a high state of cultivation and to a great degree of productivity. Mr. Bavaster
was born in Canton Graubunden, Switzerland, August 31, 1882. His father, Angelo
Bavaster, was a stage driver, and for twenty years drove a stage through the Alps.
He married Margaret Bleish, also a native of Switzerland, and they were the parents
of four children, three sons and one daughter. The mother passed away when our
Mr. Bavaster was only four years old, and he was but ten when his father's death
occurred. The five orphaned children were 'taken in charge by a sister of their mother,
who received financial assistance from well-to-do relatives of their father, and also
from the Swiss Government. They were strictly brought up in the Catholic faith
and educated in the public schools, learning the German language.

When he was eighteen years of age the spirit of adventure stirred strongly in
Peter Bavaster, and he determined to come to America, and in October, 1900, he set
sail from Havre, France, landing at New York City, and coming directly to Cali-
fornia, where he joined relatives and friends in Sonoma County. Here he soon ob-
tained employment on a dairy ranch, and was so pleased with the conditions he found
in the New World that his brothers and sister soon followed his example. The sister,
Ursula, returned later to Switzerland, where she is happily married. The brothers
are : Frank, a rancher on the Standiford Road, this county, and who was married to
Miss Helen Pones, in Modesto, October 6, 1920; Joe, who was accidentally killed by
being thrown from a horse in 1908, when he was twenty-nine years of age; Peter, the
subject of this sketch; and John, single, and residing in Modesto.

After eight years in Sonoma County, Mr. Bavaster came to Stanislaus County
and in partnership with his brother, Frank, rented the Hayman ranch, which they suc-
cessfully operated for nine years. During this time the Bavaster brothers became well
known in the dairy business. In 1915 Peter Bavaster bought his present place of
forty acres, where he engaged in dairy farming, running a herd of fourteen high
grade milch cows and owning a registered Holstein herd sire. His place is fully
equipped with modern machinery necessary for the scientific development of his chosen
industry, and has been brought under a high state of cultivation.



1414 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

ANTONE AMARANTE.— What splendid things may be accomplished in the
providing of a comfortable income through hard, intelligent labor, is demonstrated in
the life-story of Antone Amarante, the wide-awake and experienced dairyman, who
was born on the Isle of St. George in the Azores, May 4, 1876, the son of Manuel
and Mary (Clarry) Amarante, respected farmer folk of that far-away land. The
mother is still living at a ripe age, but Manuel Amarante died in 1910.

As far back as 1896, Antone Amarante came out to California and settled at
Watsonville, where he worked as a farm hand for Frank Sullivan for three years.
He next put in five years on Mr. Traft's dairy ranch, where he was required to do
many a long, hard day's work ; but a turn in the road came when he was able to
go to Castroville and lease 120 acres of land, on which he started a dairy, raising
grain and alfalfa. His dairy herd grew to be forty head; and when, at the end of
fourteen years, Mr. Amarante left Castroville, he brought his stock to the present
place of ninety-one acres four miles southeast of Newman. The tract is favorably
located and has proven to be excellent land for alfalfa raising and dairying. His
herd, too, has grown to sixty-five head of cows. In 1917, Mr. Amarante purchased
a ranch of forty-three acres three miles southeast of Newman, and there he intends
in time to live. He has also devoted this ranch to alfalfa, and continues to manage
both his own and his leased acreage.

On November 23, 1910, Mr. Amarante was married at Elmhurst, Cal., to Miss
Anna Garcia, a naxive of Fayal in the Azores; she is the daughter of Manuel and
Mary Garcia, farmers in Fayal. The former has passed on and the mother is living
at the old home. Mrs. Amarante came to Oakland in 1904. Their union has been
further blessed in the birth of two children — Edwin and Madeline. Mr. Amarante
belongs to both the Watsonville I. D. E. S. and the U. P. E. C. of Castroville,
while Mrs. Amarante is a member of the Castroville Lodge, S. P. R. S. I., and the
Gustine U. P. P. E. C, being a past president of the former.

PETER LIBERINI.— A living example of what can be done on a California
dairy ranch is given by Peter Liberini and his family. Mr. Liberini came to California
directly from Italy in 1906, and to Stanislaus County in 1910. Here he has estab-
lished himself in the dairying business, leasing a fine farm of 120 acres, and owning
a valuable herd of seventy-five high-grade milch cows, ten good horses, and a full
complement of modern farm machinery. His sons are attending the Modesto high
school, and helping on the farm in their time that is free from study. Mr. Liberini
has been in the .dairy business all his life and understands all details of this great
industry. When he was eleven years of age he learned to make cheese, and he is an
excellent judge of the value of stock and an expert in their care.

A native of Italy, Mr. Liberini was born near the city of Brescia, Division of
Lombardy, January 8, 1881, a part of that district being for a time under the control
of Austria, although the people always spoke the Italian language. He is well edu-
cated and holds a certificate of graduation from one of the best schools of the province.
His father was Bertolo Liberini, a dairy farmer and fisherman, who lived to be seventy-
nine years of age. His mother was Mary Balduzzi, who became the mother of eight
children, of whom our subject is the fifth. She passed away at seventy-two.

It was in January, 1906, that Mr. Liberini came to San Francisco, having sailed
from Havre, France, for New York, and thence by rail across the continent, the fame
of California being the magnet which drew him from sunny Italy. He had been
married to Fiore Cosi in Italy in 1902, but left his family behind him, making the
long journey alone, and being joined by them in Sacramento, in 1909, Mrs. Liberini
arriving with her two sons on March 6. The following year they came to Stanislaus
County, and in 1914 leased the Keeley place, on the Salida-Oakdale Road, where he
engaged in dairying until the fall of 1920, when he purchased 130 acres, a part of the
old Cottle ranch at Oakdale, where he moved and built his home and farm buildings.
He has put in twenty-five acres of alfalfa and is now engaged in dairying. Mr. and
Mrs. Liberini and their children are all communicants in the Roman Catholic Church.
Two sons, Bert and John, were born in Italy ; Alice was born in San Francisco.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1415

JOHN T. BORBA, JR.— A leader in the growing business circles of Crows
Landing, John T. Borba, Jr., together with his father, has done much to solve the
problem of properly and most cheaply provisioning the residents of that locality. A
native son, he was born at Pescadero, San Mateo County, Cal., on February 16,
1895, the son of John T. Borba, who had married Miss Maggie K. Marshall, who
was born at Pescadero, a member of an early pioneer's family. The senior Borba came
from the Isle of St. George in the Azores in 1888, when he was only seventeen years
old, and for a number of years worked in San Francisco. Four sons blessed the
union of Mr. and Mrs. Borba. John T., Jr., is the first-born, and the others are
Frank P., Henry and Gilbert, all of whom are at home.

After attending the grammar schools of Pescadero, John was graduated from
the Newman high school and then matriculated at St. Mary's College, in Oakland.
When in his fifteenth year, he had removed with the rest of the family to Crows
Landing; and on his return from St. Mary's, he engaged, in 1910, in business with
his father who had bought a farm of fifty acres near the Orestimba Creek. It was
under the irrigating canal, so that it was devoted to the growth of alfalfa ; and there
they built up a fine dairy, with thirty head of milch cows.

On August 1, 1920. Messrs. Borba sold the dairying business to the Avila broth-
ers, while John T. Borba, Sr., still retained the land, and then they established a
first-class meat business, running a wagon through the country districts. Having been
careful from the beginning to handle and offer only that which is first class, they
have easily acquired more patronage than they can well take care of, and they serve
customers as far south as Volta, as far north as Patterson, and east to the Stevenson
Colony. They buy and kill their own beeves, hogs and mutton.

Mrs. Borba is the daughter of John and Elizabeth Marshall, among the best-
known pioneers of San Mateo County, hailing from St. George's Island in the
Azores. Their son, Frank Borba, enlisted on September 21, 1917, in the Three Hun-
dred Sixty-third Infantry of the Ninety-first Division, and trained at Camp Lewis;
after which he was transferred to the Spruce Division. He reached the grade of
corporal, and returned safely and with the coveted credentials for faithful service on
January 16, 1919.

CHARLIE ERICKSON.— One of the first settlers in his section is Charlie
Erickson, who was born near Parsburg, Vermland, Sweden, in 1872. His father died
when Charlie was five years old, and the mother and six children were left without
means of support, so the family moved to a small place and each member of the family
went to work. Thus from a lad he has had to make his own way in the world. It
was a mining region and the lads worked for the mining company, washing out the
iron ore, meantime attending the public schools for limited periods.

Taking up hotel work subsequently, he was thus employed until about the time
he was to be called into the army service. Instead, he obtained a permit to immigrate
to the United States three days before he was to be called. Arriving in America, he
came on to Chicago, reaching there in 1893, and there he was employed on the drain-
age canal and on farms in the vicinity, until he went to Minneapolis, where he fol-
lowed cement working for different concerns.

In 1903, Mr. Erickson came to California, remaining at Fresno for the first
winter, and then coming to Turlock, where he purchased his present twenty acres,
being the first to buy in this section. Going to San Francisco, he was soon on his way
to Alaska, where he spent some time on Ophir Creek. When he returned to Turlock,
he began at once to improve his place, meanwhile working at Turlock, Modesto, San
Francisco and Fresno, contracting cement sidewalks, curbs and foundations. He built
the foundations for the Swan, Herald and other buildings in Modesto, and spent one
summer in Humboldt County, busily engaged in earning money to pay for the ranch
and improvements. After he had accomplished this, he gave all of his attention to the
lanch, where he is raising peaches, Zinfandel grapes and alfalfa.

The marriage of Mr. Erickson occurred in Oakland, uniting him with Miss
Wilhelmina Dahl, who is also a native of Sweden, and working together in harmony
thev have made a success of life. All these years, Mr. Erickson has contributed



1416 HISTORY OI STANISLAUS COUNTY

liberally to the support of his mother in Sweden, and particularly in these last years
since he has had a larger income, he has much happiness in being able to provide
generously for her wants. She is still living in Sweden at the age of eighty-one years,
and in 1900, Mr. Erickson made a trip back to the old home to visit her. A firm
believer in the principle of protection. Mr. Erickson is an ardent Republican.

ERIC A. NELSEN. — A native of Illinois, born in Chicago on February 21,
1889, Eric A. Nelsen, machinist and rancher, came to California with his parents
when only five years of age. Prior to coming West his father, Jacob Nelsen, was for
a number of years in the life-saving service at Evanston, 111. After the family was
settled in San Francisco the father went on the police force and, having served faith-
fully for twenty-five years in the police department of that city, is now on the pension
list, he and Mrs. Nelsen now making their home at Oakland. Eric A. Nelsen was
educated in the Hamilton grammar school of San Francisco and made that city his
home until his marriage, which occurred on January 12, 1912, when he was united
with Miss Gunda Knudsen, who was born in San Francisco, the daughter of John
and Clara Knudsen. Her father was a seafaring man on vessels in coastwise trade
and passed away when Mrs. Nelsen was a little girl of four, so she and her sister,
Clara, were reared on their grandfather's ranch in Washington near Vancouver and
she received her education in the Portland grammar schools.

Mr. Nelsen's first employment was in a machine shop in San Francisco, where
he learned the trade with the Sanitary Device Manufacturing Company, then three
years with the Oakland Traction Company as a machinist, and another three years
with the Great Western Power Company as oiler and fireman, later returning to the
Oakland Traction Company where he worked for two years as a blacksmith's helper.
In April, 1918, he came to Crows Landing, purchased his present holding of eleven
acres of alfalfa land and embarked in ranching, and here he expects in the coming
years to spend his entire time and energy. From April, 1918, to April, 1919, Mr.
Nelsen and his father operated the Depot Garage at Oakland, but at the expiration
of a year disposed of the business and Eric A. Nelsen took a position with the Gilbert
& Morgan Garage, at Patterson, as a mechanic.

Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Nelson: Vendell Clare, Char-
lotte Jennette, Jacob L., and Eric A., the two eldest attending the Bonita school at
Crows Landing. In national politics Mr. Nelsen is a Republican and in fraternal
circles is a member of Lodge No. 336 F. & A. M. of Fruitvale.

CARL B. HEDMAN. — A very enterprising business man who has been helpful
in all worthy movements promising both to upbuild as well as build up the commun-
ity, is Carl B. Hedman, who was born in Smaland, Sweden, on February 13, 1875, the
son of Eric Hedman, a native of Dalene, who was employed as expert foreman of the
dyeing department of a cloth factory at Alvestad. In that vicinity our subject was
reared, while he attended the thorough local public schools; but on account of the
death of his father when he was a mere child, he had to go to work very early, and
when only thirteen crossed the Atlantic and came out to Colorado. There, at Black
Hawk, he went to school for another two and a half years. He then worked as a
carpenter for a while, and then found employment in a quartz mill, where in time
he was made foreman. After that, he removed to Denver and there, having worked a
great deal at pipe work in the quartz mills, he worked for a plumber. In 1912, he
made one more important move by migrating to California, and at Turlock found
employment as plumber with the Turlock Hardware Company and for several years
had charge of the plumbing.

On May 14, 1918, Mr. Hedman started in business for himself, having demon-
strated that he was a conscientious workman of a high order, and also having widened
greatly his circle of friends and acquaintances. He went into partnership with B. H.
Beynon and formed the Turlock Plumbing Company, and after securing satisfactory
headquarters at 119 Lander Street, installed a first-class stock of up-to-date goods and
commenced their present excellent trade in contract plumbing. Most of the best
recent public and private buildings in Turlock are in part what they are because of



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1417

the workmanship of these capable plumbers, whose motto has been the simple but ever
worthy standard, "the best." Mr. Hedman is appreciated as a loyal member of the
Board of Trade, while as a Democrat he seeks to do his duty in good citizenship.

At Central City, Colo., Mr. Hedman was married to Miss Amanda A. Warlum,
a native of Minnesota, and four children have added joy to their cosy home: Ber-
nard W. is in the Turlock high school ; and the other younger children are Merrill,
Doris and Virginia. Mr. Hedman belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows,
and also to the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church, of which he is a trustee and
treasurer, having been secretary of that active organization.

P. J. SWANSON.— The late P. J. Swanson was born in Westergotland,
Sweden, and came to Pocahontas County, Iowa, where he did farming until he pur-
chased a farm and raised grain and stock. In that county, too, he formed domestic
ties. On April 4, 1888, he was united in marriage with Miss Selma Ekstrom, who
was born in Sodermanland, Sweden, a daughter of Carl J. and Augusta C. (Holm-
berg) Ekstrom, who immigrated to Iowa when Selma was 18 months old, home-
steading eighty acres in Pocahontas County. This they farmed for many years, until
they sold and located near Fonda, Iowa, where the father died January 10, 1903.
Selma is the youngest of their two daughters; the elder was Mrs. Ellen Johnson, who
passed away in 1889. Selma Ekstrom was reared in Pocahontas County, this being
the scene of her first recollections and there she received a good education. Remain-
ing at home, she assisted her mother until her marriage.

After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Swanson continued to farm their 240 acres
until in 1909 they decided to come to California. Disposing of their farm, they
arrived in Turlock that year and purchased thirty-five acres in the Citrus Tract,
which they improved to alfalfa and built a home. Here they ran a dairy and met
with excellent success. Mr. Swanson, however, was not permitted to enjoy the fruits
of his labors, for he was taken away in 1918.

Mr. and Mrs. Swanson were blessed with eight children: Alice is Mrs. E. F.
Johnson, who, with her husband and two children, Fern Bernice and Maxine Eldora,
resides at Dinuba ; Arthur W. served overseas for thirteen months in a trench mortar
battery as a sergeant in the U. S. Army, is married to Ruby Whitefield and now
employed in the implement department of Berg's; Oscar R. also served overseas
thirteen months in a trench mortar battery; is now in the employ of Andy Thorsen,
Turlock; Carl Edwin died January 16, 1919, of influenza; J. Elmer married Gladys
Rhoy and has one child, Carlos Clayton. He owns a thirty-acre farm and also operates
his mother's ranch. Then there is Clarence E., Roy L. and Ellen Viola, who live
at home. Mrs. Swanson resides on West Main Street, in Turlock, but owns a forty-
acre ranch in the Willoughby Tract in Merced County, six miles southeast of Turlock,
which is devoted to raising alfalfa and grain. Mrs. Swanson is a member of the
Christian Church in Turlock and participates in all good work.

EDWIN LINCOLN VARLEY.— A native son of California, Edwin Lincoln
Varley was born in Ferndale, Humboldt County, October 30, 1884. His father,
Edwin Varley, was born in Scarborough, England, and came to America when a young
man of twenty. Farming occupied his attention in Iowa until he came to Humboldt
County, where he was married in Eureka to Miss Ida King, who was born in Visalia.
Her father was a pioneer of California, having crossed the plains in an ox-team train
early in the gold excitement. She was left an orphan and was raised by Captain
Angney, an old Mexican War veteran. She was teaching school in Eureka when she
met and married Mr. Varley, after which they engaged in dairying at Ferndale,
panning, skimming and churning by hand. Later they brought horsepower into use
for churning butter. Selling the farm in 1897, they are now living, retired, in Fern-
dale, members of the Episcopal Church, while the elder Varley is a Mason. This
worthy couple had four children, all living, of whom Edwin L. is the oldest. He was
brought up on the farm in Humboldt and educated in the grammar and Ferndale high
school, after which he entered Ferndale Business College, graduating in 1902.



1418 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Coming to San Francisco, he entered the employ of the Union Iron Works, where
he was apprenticed as a machinist. Owing to an injury to his eye he was ohliged to
rest, having lost the other eye when, as a lad of four, a scissors point penetrated it.
After working at odd jobs as bookkeeper and timekeeper, he went to work for the
Socrates quicksilver mine in Sonoma County and soon became master mechanic. He
continued three years, until the mine closed down in 1906 after the big earthquake.
Then he returned to San Francisco with the Bishop Lumber Company as tallyman for
three years, until closure of the yard. Then he was fireman at the Fairmont Hotel
for six years, resigning to go with the Pacific Lumber Company at Scotia in 1915 as
assistant engineer under his brother, Alfred C, who was chief engineer. However,
after two and one-half years he returned to the Fairmont Hotel as machinist. Three
days later he lost the second finger of his right hand and was laid up for six months.
He then went to Scotia and for three months assisted his brother, who was sick, after
which he came with Libby, McNeill & Libby at Loleta as chief engineer. This position
he held six months, and in 1917 he came to Hughson as chief engineer of the Hughson
Condensed Milk Company for two years. Next he installed the machinery for the
Borden Condensed Milk Company of Modesto, where he has charge of the plant's
engine and machinery.

Mr. Varley's first marriage was in Santa Rosa, where he was united with Miss
Clara Noble, who was born in Mendocino County, and of whom he was bereaved ten
months later. His second marriage was at San Rafael, where he took for his wife Miss



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 162 of 177)