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 163 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 163 of 177)
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Ida Brown, a native daughter of Sonoma County, born at Guerneville, and one child,
Margaret, has blessed this union. Mr. Varley is a member of the Episcopal Church.
Fraternally, he is a member of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics,
beii.g affiliated with the lodge in San Francisco. He believes in protection for Amer-
icans and is naturally a Republican.

PHILIP VAN BERBER. — An enterprising and successful contracting painter
and decorator is Philip Van Bebber, born in Maysville, Mo., January 29, 1885. His
father, J. S. Van Bebber, was a Kentuckian, who came to Missouri with his parents,
and he became a farmer in Dekalb County. He now lives retired in St. Joseph. His
wife was Charity Asher, also born in Kentucky, of whom he has been bereaved. Five
of their children are living: A sister and a brother are in Nebraska, while Philip,
Thomas and Floyd are living in Turlock.

Philip Van Bebber spent his early years on the farm in Dekalb County, Mo.,
meanwhile attending the public school until sixteen, when he was apprenticed to the
trade of painter and decorator, after which he worked at his trade in different parts of
Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico and
Minnesota. On November 13, 1918, he and his wife arrived in Turlock, having
driven through in his automobile from Kansas with the intention of locating here.
For a time he worked at his trade, and then launched into business for himself in July,
1919, since which time he has met with good success. He painted the new high school
and the addition to the Hawthorne school and the Englesby, Osborne, Wahlstrum,
Ballard and White residences, as well as numerous others.

Mr. Van Bebber was married in Mena, Ark., April 24, 1912, to Miss Frances
Pike, born in San Diego, Cal., a daughter of Frank H. Pike, who was born in Farm-
ington, Mass., and came with his parents to Kansas, locating at Lawrence before the
Civil War. Grandfather Joshua A. Pike served in the Civil War as captain in a
Kansas regiment and his were the first troops to reach Lawrence after it was raided by
Quantrell in 1863. He was very prominent in the affairs of Kansas in those early
days, taking a prominent part during the Kansas troubles and aided in making it a
free state. When he first entered the ranks he was first lieutenant of Company A,
Ninth Kansas Cavalry, and afterwards was captain of Company K, Ninth Kansas
Cavalry. His wife was Mary Balcom, who died in 1918, but he is still living in
Kansas in his ninety-first year. Frank H. Pike was with the Santa Fe Railroad in
Kansas, then was transferred to San Diego, where he continued with the company for
sixteen years. He now lives in Shawnee, Okla. Mrs. Van Bebber's mother was Mary
L. Huey, born in Mexico, Mo., whose father, Henry Huey, came from Ireland to


Virginia and then he enlisted in the Union Army for service in the Civil War. After
the war he moved to Kansas, when his daughter, May, was thirteen years of age. She
passed away at Lindsay, Okla., having been the mother of eight children, six of whom
are living, Frances being the next to the youngest.

Philip Van Bebber joined the Odd Fellows at Kinsley, Kans., but has transferred
his membership to Turlock Lodge No. 402. He is a past grand and is now repre-
sentative to the Grand Lodge. With his wife, he is a member of Pansy Rebekah
Lodge No. 230, of which she is vice-grand, and both are also members of the Security
Benefit Association. Mr. Van Bebber is a member of the local union No. 864,
Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers, of which he has been secretary.
He is a Socialist in political views, and in Mena, Ark., as well as Turlock has been
prominent in Socialist circles.

HENRY VOIGHT.— A native son of the Golden West, born on the Waterford
Road, five miles east of Modesto, March 12, 1878, is Henry Voight, whose father,
Henry Girard Voight, was born in Germany. As a lad in poor health, he was placed
on a whaling ship that the sea voyage might benefit him, and it did. He continued to
follow a seafaring life and sailed all over the world. He was on different whalers and
had many hard and harrowing experiences, and was wrecked several times. Once off
the coast of Greenland their vessel was crushed by the icebergs and the crew remained
for a long time on a floating iceberg, subsisting principally on whale blubber until
picked up by another ship.

He first arrived in San Francisco Bay as early as 1838, ten years before the
discovery of gold. He happened into San Francisco again at the time of the gold
discovery in 1848, left the ship and rushed to the mines. After mining awhile at Gold
Gulch, near Sonora, he went broke. He returned to his former calling and as captain
ran a boat between Stockton and San Francisco until the government land was opened
for settlement, when he purchased Stanislaus County land on the Waterford Road.
Here he improved 240 acres and settled down to farming. Later he purchased two
sections of land in Montpellier precinct, where he established a camp and raised grain.
In Sonora he had married Mrs. Lizzie (Strope) Yokum (who passed away in 1900),
and of their union three children were born, two of whom grew up: Mrs. Dora
Hutchings, of near Empire, and Henry, the subject of this review. By her first mar-
riage Mrs. Yokum had four children, three now living: Mrs. Margaret Johnson of
Modesto; Fred Yokum of Oakland, a fig grower in Merced Count}', and Mrs. Addie
Long of Empire.

The father, some time before his death, had divided his lands between the children
and at his passing, in April, 1904, was aged seventy-five. He was a Mason and a
Presbyterian, a splendid type of the old hospitable pioneer. Loyal to the Stars and
Stripes first, last and always, he abhorred military oppression in every form. When
Henry Voight w'as four years, his parents moved into Modesto, so it was there he
attended the public school. Having a strong desire to follow an outdoor life, when
sixteen he began working as a ranch hand ; but it was not long before his father resumed
farming. Then Henry became his right-hand man, continuing until his marriage in
Modesto in 1899. There he was united with Miss Rose Kasper, who was born in
Modoc County, Cal., a daughter of Mathias Kasper, who brought his family from
Modoc to San Joaquin County and continued his life as a stockman.

After their marriage Henry Voight farmed on the Waterford Road two years, and
in 1901 located on his present ranch of 640 acres in Montpellier, which had been deeded
to him from his father. Here he has built his residence and substantial farm buildings
and is raising grain, using ten horses and mules for operating the ranch and a McCor-
mick combined harvester to gather and thresh the grain. Mr. and Mrs. Voight have
been blessed with three children: George Girard, Walter William and Ruby Rose.
Mrs. Voight is serving as clerk of the board of trustees of the Dickson school district.
Mr. Voight is a stockholder in the Farm Bureau Exchange Elevator at Montpellier, is
enterprising, liberal and progressive, always ready to assist movements to help the com-
munity. He served in Company D, National Guard, at Modesto. A believer in pro-
tection for Americans, he is naturally a Republican in national politics.


BEN GOMEZ.- — A progressive Portuguese-American who has become successful
■ as a California dairy farmer, is Ben Gomez, the cultivator of upwards of 500 rich
acres near the San Joaquin Power &■ Electric Company's reservoir. He was born in
Portugal forty years ago, the son of Anton, and the grandson of Manuel Gomez.
His father is dead, but his mother, whose maiden name was Rosa Carea, is still living
in her native land. After the, death of his father, when he was only ten years of age.
Hen had to work incessantly, and he therefore enjoyed no school advantages such as
most boys have had in his time and country. He was brought up in the Roman
Catholic Church, and in Portugal was also married to Margareta Vierra, who was
also born in Portugal. They are the parents of six children — Mary is now the wife
of Tony Ormondie, a dairy farmer living near Tipton in Tulare County; Gertrude,
Tony, Rosa, Frank and Ben.

When twenty-seven years of age, Ben Gomez came out to America and Cali-
fornia, and upon his arrival at San Francisco began to work on a dairy farm as a
milker. From the Bay City he went to Tulare County, and thence came to Stanis-
laus County. He has a three years' lease upon the excellent Joe Moll dairy farm of
450 acres in the Reservoir district, and there has some seventy-five acres into alfalfa,
and reserved most of the balance for general pasture land. Mr. Gomez moved onto
this ranch with his family in December, 1920, coming from Riverbank, in Stanislaus
County, where he had rented a dairy ranch and managed the same successfully for
six months, until it was sold. Prior to that he had been in Tulare, Tulare County,
for nine years, and with three partners had had a dairy with 120 cows, on the Joe
Le Marsh estate. Now, in business for himself and family, he has sixty-five head of
cattle, large and small, including one registered Holstein bull, and thirty-five milch
cows ; and despite his lack of school advantages, he has been able, with the cooperation
of his wife and family, to forge ahead to a very enviable degree of prosperity. The
family are members of the Catholic Church at Riverbank, and he and his wife appre-
ciate, as perhaps some who have had all the advantages they wanted do not, the value
of a good schooling, and they are doing their best to give their children the most
complete and helpful education within the reach of rural folk.

MARCELLUS D. TWIGGS.— A far-seeing and progressive rancher, Mar-
cellus D. Twiggs, the successful tenant farmer on the Twenty-six Mile Road, north
of Oakdale, was born in Wisconsin on May 15, 1883, the son of David E. and Ida
M. (Hardy) Twiggs. When he was six years old, his parents moved to Detroit.
Mich., and there our subject was reared by his grandparents, Marcellus and Eliza-
beth (Palmer) Twiggs. They were farmers and had some sixty acres, although
Grandfather Twiggs was a cabinetmaker by trade. He was born in Ohio, and was
a reserve militiaman there during the Civil War. Great-grandfather Palmer was a
large farmer, and a leading spirit in the operation of the Underground Railroad; he
maintained a station on his farm, and helped the negroes to get away to Canada.
David E. Twiggs was born in Ohio, and was married to Miss Hardy, also a native of
Ohio, in Missouri, and they lived on a farm of 160 acres at Meadville, Linn Ccunty, Mo.

Marcellus Twiggs attended the country Ohio schools, and on the death of the
grandmother, in 1898, he went to Dearborn, Mich., a lad of fifteen, to attend a
union grammar and high school. Since then he has made his own way in the world,
although his parents are still living, at Canton, Ohio. Four children were granted
them. Marcellus D. is the subject of our review. Robert Ethelson resides at Ken-
more, Ohio, where he is engaged as foreman in the large machine shops of the Inter-
urban Railroad Company. Florence V. resides at Canton, Ohio, and so does the
youngest of the family, Sydney Edgar.

In the midst of his studies at Dearborn, Mr. Twiggs quit school and enlisted
in the regular army, at the age of seventeen, joining Company C of the Fifth United
States Infantry. He served three years, and was in the Philippines, and he took part
in many noted engagements. A portion of the Filipinos surrendered to his regiment
in the Abra Province, in the Northern Luzon sector; and his company was compli-
mented on its having carried on so successfully one of the most arduous movements


in the Filipino campaign. Having returned to the United States, Mr. Twiggs
leceived an excellent discharge, with high honors, in 1903.

In September of that year, Mr. Twiggs went into Mendocino County and
worked for four years in a lumber camp and sawmill at Willits. Then he went to
San Francisco immediately after the earthquake, where he worked at the carpenter
trade for a year. During that time he was married, in 1907, to Miss Lola Decrow,
a daughter of Sylvanus W. Decrow, of San Bernardino County. One child, Eliza-
beth Lola, has been born to them. Mrs. Twiggs' maternal grandmother was a pioneer
of San Bernardino County, and her mother's people crossed the wide plains in early
and more hazardous days. In 1908, Mr. Twiggs went back to the East and ran his
grandfather's farm until November, 1910, when he returned to California and set-
tled for three years at Modesto. Then he came on to Oakdale and became a tenant
on the Griffin Ranch in 1919, after having been foreman of it for its owner, H. T.
Griffin, for a couple of years, from 1917. For 1921 he has 200 acres of barley in
prospect, 200 acres alfalfa, and 200 acres in summer fallow, the balance in pasturage.

TONY GAMBINI. — Among the Italian-Americans who have contributed
toward the rapid and permanent development of California, Tony Gambini, a young
man from the Province of Novara, is the owner of a stretch of 160 acres along the
Stanislaus River, out of which, since he came here about thirteen years ago, he has
evolved a handsome ranch worth perhaps $40,000. He was born on July 11, 1887,
the son of Louis and Mary Gambini, substantial farmer-folk in possession of a com-
fortable place, who are still living in Italy ; and in that sunny country he grew to
maturity. When twenty years of age, he came out to America, sailing from Havre,
after having worked for a couple of years in the timber-lands of France ; his brother,
Joe, accompanying him across the ocean. They landed in New York on June 15, 1907,
and almost immediately came to San Francisco. There he worked for six months in
a paint works ; and while he worked and saved his money, he visited Modesto and took
a good look at the country surrounding that flourishing town.

When he was able to do so, Mr. Gambini rented a dairy ranch at Modesto, and
later he came up to Oakdale and rented another ranch from Arthur L. Leitch ; and
for seven years he operated a dairy there. In 1919 he purchased his present ranch
from Mrs. Margaret E. Cottle — 160 acres on the River Road, originally a part of the
famous Cottle grain farm, one of the finest landmarks at Oakdale; and there he keeps
fifty milch cows, a graded Holstein bull, fifty heifers from one to two years old,
and eight very large, high-grade, Percheron-Norman horses. He also has two auto-
mobiles, and the usual other farm machinery, and sells his cream to the Oakdale Cream-
en'. In 1921 he built a new barn 58x120 for his milch cows and storage of hay.

Mr. Gambini is public spirited, a hard worker and an exemplary citizen. His
brother, Alisio Gambini, who served in the Italian Army for seven years, with his wife,
has recently come over from Italy to join Mr. Gambini.

FREDERICK SCHULLER.— A self-made man and successful rancher Fred-
erick Schuller, on account of his travels and associations, has become considerable of a
linguist, boasting a thorough knowledge of German, Roumanian and Hungarian, and
also of English, acquired since he came to America. He was born in Austria-Hun-
gary on September 11, 1866, sent to the best schools near at hand, and brought up
in the German Lutheran Church. He served an apprenticeship of five years learning
the trade of a hatter, and as a journeyman traveled through Roumania and Hungary.
His father was Frederick Schuller, and he had married Miss Mary Weinrich ; she died
when our subject, their only child, was three years old. His father married a second
time, and became the parent of two sons and one daughter.

In 1890, convinced that the New World would offer him greater opportunities
than might be found in his fatherland, Frederick Schuller set sail from Bremen on the
steamship "Eider," and landed at Castle Garden, New York City, on November 26.
From there he proceeded to Alliance, Ohio, where he worked in a machine shop and
made hammers; and in the capacity of an expert machinist, he remained there for seven
years. Then he put in a year in the foundry of the Morgan Shop at the same place.


He first took up farming in Stark County, Ohio, after his marriage, and for nine years
rented land on which to operate. In 1907, lured by the still greater prospects in agri-
culture along the Pacific, Mr. Schuller came out to California, and on November 6 of
that year bought some fifty acres of land at Valley Home, Stanislaus County, which he
commenced at once to improve. After a while he deeded one acre to the county for
road purposes, and now he has forty-nine of such land as thousands would be glad to
hold title to. In 1896, he cast his first vote, and gave it to William McKinley ; and he
has usually voted the straight Republican ticket ever since.

In Alliance, September 12, 1896, he was married to Miss Rosa Schmidt, a native
of Canton Berne, Switzerland, the daughter of Peter and Anna Marie (Stoller)
Schmidt, with whom she came to America when she was only two years old. Two
years later, that devoted mother died, at Alliance, Ohio, and there she was brought
up by her father. He is still living, at the fine old age of seventy-three, making his
home with Mr. and Mrs. Schuller, the father of four daughters and a son.

Eight children blessed this union of Mr. and Mrs. Schuller. Tillie married John
Wagner, they reside at Oakdale and have one child, William Wagner. Mary is the
wife of John Marconi, the dairyman at Oakdale. Frieda married Benjamin Kiesow,
an employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad, and they reside at Tracy. Minnie was
the fourth in the order of birth. Arthur goes to the high school at Oakdale, and the
younger members of the family are Louisa, Elsie and Dora.

WILLIAM GABEL. — An experienced cattleman, widely known as a discrimi-
nating buyer and a conscientious shipper, William Gabel, by giving his business his
personal attention, has been making an enviable success. He buys every fall, sells
every spring, and ships in large quantities to the Sacramento and the San Francisco
markets. A native son — always proud of the fact — William Gabel was born in
Calaveras County, about three miles above Knights Ferry, on November 24, 1874,
and there he grew up so close to the county line that he went to school at the last-
named place. His father, also William Gabel, came direct from Germany to Cali-
fornia in 1854, and soon settled at Two Mile Bar, and at Knights Ferry he married
Miss Marie Stemm, also a native of Germany. He then became the owner of 730
acres in Calaveras County, which he made his home place, and also 160 acres in
Stanislaus County, in the Knights Ferry precinct. William Gabel, Sr., was not only
an early cattleman, but a pioneer fruit grower. He planted a six-acre family orchard
of all kinds of fruits, including luscious grapes and black and white figs, now proba-
bly the largest fig trees at the Ferry; and he called his place Two Mile Bar. He
lived to be sixty years old, and died in 1888 on his home place. Mrs. Gabel passed
away in 1893, aged about fifty-eight.

Nine children were born to this excellent couple. Mary became the wife of John
Schneider, the upholsterer, and resides at Sonora. Philip lives on the old home place.
Minnie married Frank Laughlin, a nephew of J. C. Laughlin of Oakdale. Phil-
lipini is now the widow of George McKeag of Knights Ferry. John is on the old
home place. Lizzie is the wife of Alonzo Watson, a cattleman at Baker City, Ore.
Annie married Sam Baugh, the blacksmith at Knights Ferry. And Jacob, unmar-
ried, lives at the same place.

William Gabel grew up on his father's farm, and very naturally took to farm-
ing in general ; and when twenty-one he commenced to farm grain. He rented Jim
Williams' 480 acres and the 160 acres in Knights Ferry precinct, and for from twelve
to fifteen years raised grain. He became the owner of a combined harvester and ran
it with the aid of from twenty-six to thirty-two horses.

He bought the 160 acres after his parents' death, and later still purchased the
Jim Williams' 480 acres, making his total area 640 acres. This he has turned into a
stock farm. He buys cattle in Mariposa, Calaveras and San Joaquin counties, and
Nevada, and he runs about 150 head, which feed on the native grasses. He bought a
ranch of twenty-three acres in Booth precinct, and when he was married, built upon
and improved it, sowing it to alfalfa; but at the end of three years he sold it. He
then built his present bungalow home on F Street, in Oakdale, in 1919. He is an
influential member of the California Cattlemen's Association.


In 1914 Air. Gabel was married to Mrs. Elsie Watson, nee Addis, the daughter
of Jacob and Amanda Jane (Beale) Addis. Jacob Addis was born in San Francisco
of parents who came from England to New York, and then, on account of the gold
excitement, moved West to California and were '49ers. There were six children in
the family of Jacob and Amanda Joddis. Elsie, or Mrs. Gabel, was the oldest.
Leslie Jacob is a gas engineer and resides in Los Angeles. Maude is now the wife
of Rodney Gilbert,- a naval attache of the U. S. Legation at Pekin. Edna is a tele-
phone operator at Ogden, Utah. John Edward is an engineer in Mexico. And
Lincoln is a surveyor and resides in Oakland. Fraternally Mr. Gabel is a Mason,
affiliated with Summit Lodge No. 112, F. & A. M., at Knights Ferry, and is also
a member of the Woodmen of the World at Oakdale.

LEVI FRENCH. — A successful poultrvman who operates his extensive ranch
and hatchery strictly according to up-to-date methods, is Levi French, proprietor of
the Oak Grove Poultry Farm in Langworth precinct, just outside of the corporate
limits of Oakdale. He was born at Thomson, in Carroll County, 111., on Decem-
ber 18, 1874, the son of Norman Sumner French, who was born in Vermont, and
who married Miss Mary Helms of Carroll County, 111. When eight years old, Levi
accompanied his parents to La Moure County, N. D., and there he had the general
experience of a pioneer homesteader in the wilds of a Dakota prairie. While in North
Dakota, he was married to Miss Lula Barnes, a native of Madison, Wis., who was
reared from the age of three years at Fort Dodge, Iowa. When twelve years of
age, she came with her parents to North Dakota. Her father was Amos Barnes, a
native of England.

For ten years, Mr. French taught school in North Dakota. While teaching he
homesteaded 160 acres of land. He improved this and as he prospered he bought
adjoining land, and when he quit teaching he owned about 1,000 acres of land, in
La Moure County, farming there until 1909, when he came to California, leaving
behind, as choice property which he still owns, 1,000 acres of good farm land. Locat-
ing in Oakdale, he began the poultry business. Now he owns and occupies for his
poultry enterprises some ten acres, seven of which are devoted to the needs of his
poultry, and the balance to alfalfa. His incubator capacity is 5,000 eggs and the
chicks find a ready sale, mostly locally. He imports each year a number of White
Leghorn cockerels, and is thus able to secure the very best strain. He has a complete
set of buildings and can house 4,000 baby chicks, and keeps about 3,000 laying hens,
the largest poultry ranch here.

Five children blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. French. George, born in
North Dakota, Myra Lucile, Lee Norman, Lloyd Arthur, and Ethel May. Mr.
French belongs to the Oakdale Odd Fellows, and his excellent standing is attested
by the fact that he is a past grand of the order. Both Mr. and Mrs. French have
many friends, who rejoice at their growing prosperity.

FRED RIEGER. — A self-made, straightforward man, whose years of hard,
successful work have enabled him to retire to a very comfortable affluence, is Fred
Rieger, who was born at Wuertemberg, Germany, on June 16, 1857, the son of
Jacob and Christiana (Beck) Rieger. They had three children, among whom Fred-
erick, the subject of our review was the eldest. Then came Johanna, who resides
in Germany, the wife of Gottlob Aldinger, a teamster there; while the youngest
was Christiana, who married a Herr Hess, a stonemason, also of Wuertemberg. The
good father died in Germany in his fiftieth year; and his devoted wife passed away
when she was sixty. When he was twenty-five, Mr. Rieger sailed from Bremen for
New York, where he landed on April 3, 1883, and after a short stay in the Ameri-
can metropolis, he pushed on to Ackley, Iowa, where he had relatives. After work-

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 163 of 177)