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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 171 of 177)
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home, assisting his father in the management of the farm, but in 1889 he determined
to strike out for himself in the new lands across the sea. Accordingly, he bade fare-
well to home ties and eventually found himself located at Enterprise, Kans., where for
the succeeding ten years he was employed in farm work, acquainting himself with the
language and methods of the American people. Here he met Miss Anna Larson, like
himself a native of Sweden, and they were married at Enterprise, April 26, 1899, and
spent their honeymoon in a trip to their native country. Mrs. Erickson is the daughter
of Lewis and Gritta Larson, her father a farmer in Sweden, owning property in the
same section as Mr. Erickson's father.

Following their return from the visit to Sweden, Mr. and Mrs. Erickson settled
again in Enterprise, where Mr. Erickson engaged in the livery business successfully for
the next nine years. Disposing of his interests at that time he engaged in sundry
occupations at Enterprise for the next eighteen months, and in July, 1911, came to
California and located almost at once at Patterson, where he bought his present home
place. In October his wife joined him, and they have since made this their home.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Erickson are members of the Swedish Mission in Patterson and
contribute largely to its support in a multitude of ways. Mr. Erickson is a Republican
in politics and takes a lively interest in all matters of government, standing squarely
for clean and efficient administration in all things. He is a member of the Stanislaus
County Farmers' Union, and of the Milk Producers' Association.

JOHN TOBIAS. — There is no other modern industry which has made such
rapid and tremendous strides in advancement in every way as has the motion-picture
business, and John Tobias, at present manager of the Patterson moving-picture
theater, has been in the exhibition end of the moving-picture business since an early
date in the industry, and has met with great success. He is a native of Poland, born
at Warsaw, July 7, 1888, the son of Bernard and Bertha (Gross) Tobias. The
father was a large merchant in Warsaw, and here our Mr. Tobias received his educa-
tion, graduating from the Warsaw high school at the age of nineteen years.

Conditions in Poland have been hard for the ambitious young men of all classes,
and so, as soon as he was of legal age, young John Tobias set sail for the land across
the sea, arriving in New York in 1900. Here he spent two years with a large under-
wear establishment, Birkenfeld-Strauss Company, as shipping clerk. At the close of



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1463

this period he took up the study of chemistry and while pursuing his studies he engaged
in the motion-picture business. He at first had a theater at Long Island City, where
he prospered, and later bought another location in New Rochelle, where he remained
for two years, meeting with much success. He then bought a photoplay house at Port
Chester, N. Y., where his success continued. After eight years spent in New York,
most of that time being given over to the motion-picture business, Mr. Tobias came
to California and settled in Oakland, where he continued in this field. His first play-
house in the new location was the Sequoia, at Twenty-fifth Street and Telegraph Ave-
nue, one of the first motion-picture houses in Oakland, which he retained for a year
and a half. He then bought the New Divisidero at Haight Street and Divisidero,
which he soon sold at a splendid profit.

In March, 1920, he came to Stanislaus County, and located in Patterson, pur-
chasing the local cinema theater. Up to that time the schedule had called for only
two shows a week, but Mr. Tobias immediately changed that, introducing city methods
in all details, including a nightly show, with frequent change of program. During
the summer he has had a delightful open-air performance, but the fall sees him in com-
fortable new quarters, modern and well equipped to show the best of films obtainable.

Mr. Tobias has made a careful study of the entertainment business and of the
needs of the public, and desires to give the best in entertainment at all times. He
purposes to establish a chain of photoplay houses throughout the northern end of the
county, including Patterson, Gustine and other centers, and to bring here the high-
class films that will meet the demand of the local public for high-class entertainment.

AXEL P. FOSBERG.— A native of Michigan who has found favorable condi-
tions in California for the exercise of his ability and who, in developing his own
interests, has forwarded materially those of others, is Axel P. Fosberg, a resident
of the Geer Road district north of Turlock. He was born in Ishpeming, Mich., on
January 11, 1879, the only son of Peter Fosberg, now deceased, who once made a
tour into Nebraska, where he purchased a farm of 160 acres. Soon after, he jour-
neyed on to Colorado, to work in the mines until spring; but during the winter he
was accidentally killed. His wife, who was Eva Johnson, became Mrs. Carl Norman
after Mr. Fosberg's death.

When he was two years old, Axel was taken by his mother and a sister to Min-
den, Kearney County, Nebr., and there he was reared in his step-father's home. He
had plenty to do, and while still very young learned to know hard work; and when
thirteen years of age, he started out into the world for himself. He worked out
by the month until he was twenty, when he took a job for a year in the railroad
shop at Newcastle, Wyo., prior to his going to Spokane, Wash. After that, he went
here and there in the Northwest for the next fifteen years. He then took up a
homestead area near Coeur dAlene, Idaho, and on proving up and selling out,
he decided to come to the Pacific Coast.

In 1916, he reached Turlock, and before long he was the owner of ten acres in
the Geer Colony No. 2, to the northeast of Turlock. In this venture, Mr. Fosberg
has become very successful, and it is not surprising that his experience has made him
a genuine "booster" of Stanislaus County, and one of the most welcome members in
the Farm Bureau, and the Farmers Union and United Growers Association. He is
also a stockholder in the T. M. & G. In many ways, Mr. Fosberg has shown his
public-spiritedness, and he and his family are esteemed by all who know them.

While at Spokane, on January 4, 1905, Mr. Fosberg was married to Miss
Helen R. Wirtner, who was born in Solon, Iowa, on February 6, 1880, but reared
and schooled in Nebraska, where her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wirtner, now
reside. A naturally accomplished lady, she attended the high school at Minden,
secured a certificate and later taught in Idaho and also in Montana. Six children
were born to them: Raymond is the eldest; then come Marion L., Harold A., and
Kenneth P., while the youngest are the twins, Maynard A. and Eva Ruth. Mr. and
Mrs. Fosberg belong to the First Baptist Church of Turlock, and in politics they
support the Prohibition party.



1464 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

JOHN E. GUSTAFSON.— A newcomer in Stanislaus County who is making
a success of his farming enterprise, is John E. Gustafson, owner of a fine ranch of
forty-one acres on Almond Avenue, southeast of Patterson, where he is engaged in
raising alfalfa and Egyptian corn. He is a native of Sweden, born in Christianstad,
March 6, 1875, the son of Nels and Carry (Pearson) Gustafson. His father was a
farmer, and the early days of our subject were spent on the farm, with what schooling
could be snatched in the brief terms offered in the local schools. In 1880 Nels Gustaf-
son left his family in Sweden and came himself to America to make a home for them.
He located in Polk County, Minn., where he homesteaded a quarter section of farm
land near Mcintosh and proved up on his title. It was nine years before he was able
to send for his family, but in 1889 they joined him on the home farm.

John E. Gustafson remained with his father on the farm until he was twenty-
two, and then homesteaded a quarter section for himself in Clearwater County. Minn.
It was all hardwood timber land, and he proved up on it, clearing a portion and rais-
ing corn and barley. After receiving his title he left the ranch to try to get ahead
financially. He took a position on construction work with the Grand Trunk Railroad
in Canada and for six years, from 1909 to 1915, he worked with this road and with
the Canadian Northern in the construction of their new lines, opening up and de-
veloping frontier lands.

It was in 1915 that Mr. Gustafson came to California, locating first in Shasta
County, where he was employed in highway construction work for the summer. In
the fall he came to Stanislaus County and helped to build the narrow-gauge railroad
from Patterson west to the mineral mines in the hills. Believing in the future of the
farming industry in this vicinity, he arranged to trade his quarter section in Minnesota
for his present property here. He has improved this land, making it especially attrac-
tive and profitable.

Mr. Gustafson is keenly interested in social and industrial questions and condi-
tions, and believes in fair dealing and cooperation in all human relations as the means
of adjustment of the present troubled relations between labor and capital. Politically
he is a conservative Socialist, and takes a keen interest in all public questions. He is
industrious and hard working, frugal and progressive, a type of citizen which the
state and county is glad to welcome, and is especially interested in early California
history and in the preservation of landmarks and historical points of interest.

HENRY FRANCIS CRABTREE.— A native son intensely interested in ranch-
ing and fruit culture, who has made a special study of Stanislaus County soil, is
Henry Francis Crabtree, who was born near Lodi, June 13, 1861, the son of I. J.
Crabtree, born in Kentucky, of an old Southern family. He was one of twenty-
three children, by a second marriage, the son of John Crabtree, who served in the
Revolutionary War. As a young man, he came to California in 1852, crossing the
plains by ox-teams, and after four years at Coloma, settled near Lodi.

In 1859, I. J. Crabtree married Miss Sarah Haller, a native of Montgomery
County, 111., and the daughter of Henry Haller, who came to California in 1856
by way of Cape Horn, and settled as a farmer near Lodi. I. J. Crabtree followed
stock raising and farming, bought a farm of 1,900 acres which he made famous as
the Crabtree Ranch, and duly stocked it, and after selling it, nine years ago, he
located at San Francisco, where he died in 1913, aged eighty-five years. Mrs. Crab-
tree still resides there, the mother of five children, four living.

The eldest of the family, Henry Francis was brought up on a farm, and edu-
cated at the public schools. He attended Heald's Business College at Sacramento,
from which he was graduated in 1879, when he returned for a while to assist his
father on the ranch. Then he engaged in general merchandising at Clements, in
San Joaquin County, and when he opened a store at Wallace, he was also postmaster.
Next he was a merchant at Comanche, in Calaveras County, and soon after he had
a good store at Amador City. For nine years he was in the hotel business at San
Francisco; and although, having had no insurance, he lost all that he had through
the earthquake and fire, he rebuilt the Hotel Dale, and continued prosperously.






HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1465

In 1915, Mr. Crabtree came to Modesto, leased the Hotel Tynan, and has
been its proprietor ever since. He remodeled and refurnished the building, and
made of it a first-class inn. In January, 1919, he turned the hotel over to his two
sons, who now conduct it, desiring to devote his time to land deals. He has owned
and improved several ranches, and sold each one at an advantage. He still owns 150
acres four miles east of Modesto, devoted to an orchard and a vineyard, where he
makes a specialty of Tuscan cling peaches and Thompson seedless grapes.

While at Gait, Sacramento County, in 1884, Mr. Crabtree was married to
Miss Lou Harvey, a native of that town and the daughter of Charles W. Harvey,
a pioneer who crossed the plains with an ox-team. Three children blessed their
union: Edith, who is Mrs. Treidler of San Francisco; Irving Jackson, who served
in the U. S. Army in the late war; and Harvey H., who was in the U. S. Naval
Reserve force serving overseas. The two sons are now proprietors of the Hotel
Tynan. For twenty years Mr. Crabtree was an Odd Fellow, and now he is a mem-
ber of the Modesto Lodge of the B. P. O. Elks. For many years, also, he was a
member of the Native Sons of the Golden West. He is a live wire in the Modesto
Chamber of Commerce, and he belongs to the Hotel Men's Association.

HENRY PELUCCA. — The village of Sonogno, in Canton Ticino, southern
Switzerland, was the birthplace of Henry Pelucca, proprietor of the popular Europa
Hotel at Modesto, Stanislaus County, Cal. He was born October 8, 1875, in that
picturesque agricultural and pastoral region. Switzerland is a trilingual country,
French, German and Italian being spoken, some of its inhabitants using all three
languages, but Ticino, the southernmost canton, is the only one which is completely
Italian in nature and speech. Tourists who visit Lugano, the largest town in Canton
Ticino, situated on the picturesque Lake Lugano, account it as enjoying one of the
most charming situations in Europe, lying in the foothills of the Alps with its beauti-
ful orchards and vine-covered slope, amid which nestle picturesque white villas.

Henry Pelucca's father, Pasquale Pelucca, now deceased, was a farmer in
Ticino. The mother, Angiolina (Martella) Pelucca, who is living, resides on the
old homestead. Henry was brought up on the farm and educated in the public
schools of his native country. In 1892, at the age of seventeen, he came to Salinas,
Monterey County, Cal., and was employed in dairy work at Salinas and Castroville
for thirteen years, then, on account of ill health, returned to his native country, where
he soon regained his health. He remained with his mother on the farm four years,
then returned to California in 1909 and came to Modesto in November of that year.
Soon after this, in partnership with his uncle, Stephen Martella, he purchased the lot
at the corner of Ninth and F streets, erected a building and engaged in the hotel
business. This is the present site of the Europa Hotel. In 1913 the old building
was moved and they erected a new two-story brick, 80x60 feet, on the same site. After
the death of his uncle, Henry Pelucca continued the business.

In San Francisco Mr. Pelucca was married to Miss Annie Ferrini, a native of
Ticino, and they are the parents of three children, Emil, Lois and Henry, Jr. Mr.
Pelucca is among Modesto's worthy and enterprising citizens and has built up an
excellent hotel which he runs satisfactorily and successfully. In his fraternal rela-
tions he is a member of the Druids and of the Swiss Mutual Benevolent Association.

ALFRED P. ANKER. — A successful and progressive business man of Modesto
is Alfred P. Anker, a native of the kingdom of Denmark, where he was born at
Ronne, in Bornholm, in 1887. His father was H. P. Anker, a farmer who became a
business man and engaged in conducting a livery and handling feed. He died in 1917.
His widow, Auguste Anker, still resides in Denmark. They had three children, two
of whom — the subject of our review and his sister — are still living. Alfred was
brought up in Ronne and attended the public schools, including the gymnasium or
high school, and when fourteen he was apprenticed to a butcher, continuing at that
trade for four years. In 1905 he came to Modesto and was employed on a grain
ranch, learning to raise grain in California fashion. For eighteen months he drove
big teams in the grain fields, and measured up with his associates in the hard work.



1466 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Mr. Anker was then employed for eighteen months in the butcher shop of Case
& Hards, in Modesto, known as the Independent Market, and when he quit, he went
to work for W. R. Van Vlear in the City Market, where he continued until, with
T. J. Gotte, in February, 1917, he bought out Van Vlear. Under the management
of the new firm, Anker & Gotte, the City Market entered on a still more prosper-
ous career. It is equipped with a cold storage plant of five and a half tons, and is
furnished with modern appliances, including electric power.

In 1919 Mr. Anker purchased twenty acres a mile west of Modesto, across the
Tuolumne River, and there he has just completed new slaughtering houses with a
cold-storage plant having a ten-ton ice machine. It has a capacity for seventy-five
head of beeves, together with a large number of sheep and hogs, and as electricity is
also used here, and there is an automatic water system, it is very sanitary. There are
well-arranged stockyards with ten large corrals and sheep pens, the whole equipped in
the most up-to-date fashion. Mr. Anker has also started a meat market on I Street,
between Fifth and Sixth Streets, known as the I Street Market, which is enjoying
good patronage. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and also of the Mer-
chants Association.

In 1915, at Modesto, Mr. Anker was married to Miss Hazel Coffee, a native
of that city and a daughter of John Coffee, an early settler well-known as a rancher
and a horseman. They have two children, Marjorie and Alvanice. In 1914, Mr.
Anker returned to Denmark for a visit, arriving there on July 31, and after three
months spent there, he came back to the country of his adoption and his beloved Cali-
fornia. He is a popular member of the Bornholm branch No. 114 of Dania, of which
society he has been both secretary, for two years, and president.

WILLIAM J. SILVA. — As a native son of California, and the son and grand-
son of early pioneer families of prominence, "Billy" Silva, as he is popularly known
among his friends, falls heir to those sterling traits of character for which the pioneer
settlers of this state are noted. As manager and one of the owners of the Silva Garage
of Modesto, he is the moving spirit of the finest auto sales room and machine shop
in the San Joaquin Valley. When the call of the nation came for men to defend
her honor in the great World War, Billy Silva was among the first to respond,
enlisting in the Motor Transport Sendee in September, 1917, and seeing service at
San Francisco, Camp Fremont, and at Jacksonville, Fla. His ability and service
won for him an appointment to an officers' training camp, and he had but sixteen
days more training before receiving his commission as second lieutenant when the
armistice was signed. He is a live member of the local post of the American Legion.

Mr. Silva is not only a native son, but a Stanislaus County boy, as well, having
been born at La Grange, February 21, 1892, the son of Joe and Sarah (Fanning)
Silva, his father being one of the big stockmen of that section of the county and an
early California pioneer, having come to California and settling at La Grange at
an early date. The mother is herself a native daughter, her father having crossed
the plains with an ox team in 1848, coming from New York City and locating in
this part of the state, where he was joined in 1852 by his wife, who made the long
and perilous journey around the Horn, to San Francisco.

W. J. Silva grew to young manhood on his father's stock ranch at La Grange.
He was ever energetic and independent in thought and action, and at the age of four-
teen years he began to work on the ranch for his father, preferring this to attending
the district school. When he was eighteen he worked on the construction of the
Turlock Irrigation District and made and saved enough money to give himself a
complete course in the Heald's Business College at Stockton. He then returned home
and worked for his father until he reached his majority, and in 1912 came to Modesto
where he has since been engaged in the automobile business. For a time he worked
for Mires & Zacharias as floor man, being later promoted to salesman. But his
executive ability was alive and his business sense keen, and in 1916 he organized a
company to go into a garage machine shop, and to take over the selling agency for
Studebaker cars. This business he managed until he enlisted in September, 1917.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1467

The Studebaker Company sent Mr. Silva to their technical school at Detroit,
Mich., and during his service in the army he was in almost every state in the Union.
After returning from military service he reorganized the Silva Garage Company,
the business being owned by Mr. Silva and W. C. Shackleford, and the building by
Mr. Silva, W. C. Shackleford and C. M. Maze, with Mr. Silva in the active man-
agement. The building contains 20,000 square feet of floor space, giving ample
room for offices, sales and supply rooms, show rooms, etc., with a garage capable of
accommodating a hundred cars. The machine shop is one of the best equipped in the
state, and is in the hands of especially skilled mechanics. The garage handles a full
line of Studebaker cars.

Always keenly awake to the opportunities of the future, Mr. Silva has been one
of the first to see the commercial value of the airplane, and to foster its development
along commercial lines. Modesto was the first city to have a municipally owned
aviation field, and Mr. Silva is enthusiastic over the possibilities offered through the
utilization of this means of transportation for business purposes, and feels certain
that the agency for which he holds a sales contract, the first of its kind in the county,
will mean a big thing to his own business and to the community at large.

Mr. Silva is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Modesto, and had
charge of the Armistice Day Parade for the American Legion, on November 11,
1920, on which date a gala celebration was held here. He is also an Elk and a mem-
ber of the Knights of Columbus, and is regarded as one of the progressive citizens.

OTTO E. SWANSON.— Successful to a degree beyond that of the average
rancher, Otto E. Swanson enjoys an enviable status among the Swedish-American
residents of Stanislaus County, most of whom have found their lines falling in pleasant
places, and all of whom have striven to add something toward the development and
the prosperity of the state. He was born in Sweden on March 9, 1874, the son of
K. P. Swanson, a farmer, who migrated to America with his family in 1880 and as a
sturdy pioneer settled in Hamilton County, in the northwestern part of Nebraska.

Otto was reared on his father's farm, where he had to work very hard for a
boy, although he also attended the public school. He remained at home until he
was twenty-three, and then, striking out for himself, he removed to Haxtum, Colo.
There he was married to Miss Emily Steam, who was born in Iowa, the daughter
of Mr. and Mrs. John Stearn of Turlock, now living retired. Three children were
granted Mr. and Mrs. Swanson — Raymond, Viola and Sylvia.

In 1908 Mr. Swanson came to Turlock, where he has continued to reside as a
prosperous farmer. He owns fifty-three acres near Hughson, and the Santa Fe Rail-
road bounds the northern line of his farm. He belongs to the Stanislaus Farm Bureau
and the Tri-Counties Farm Bureau Exchange, and is always ready to participate in
any movement tending to advance the interests of California agriculture. Mr. and
Mrs. Swanson are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Hughson, and
find pleasure in all good work for the upbuilding of their community.

WILLIAM H. FOWLE.— A self-made, public-spirited man who has the satis-
faction, after years of hard work, of owning a trim little ranch of twenty choice,
productive acres in the colony of the old Sperry grain farm, is William H. Fowle, a
native of East Ontario, Canada, where he was born in Fort Witby on April 23, 1865.
He was the son of B. F. U. Fowle, a native of England and a member of a family
of the English nobility, who was an officer in the Canadian Guards, in Ontario. He
married Miss Lucy J. Smithers, also a native of England.

When he was five years of age, his parents brought him to the United States,
and from the age of fourteen he has supported himself. He attended the public schools
and then entered the office of the Western Union, where he served his apprenticeship
in learning the profession of an operator. After that, he took up railroading and
commercial telegraphy, and some years later he came to Los Angeles from Western
Kansas and entered the Santa Fe service; and in 1909 came to Denair.



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 171 of 177)