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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

. (page 172 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 172 of 177)
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Mr. Fowle, as president of the Denair center, has served on the board of the
Farm Bureau and a member of the Tri-counties Farm Bureau Exchange, and he is



1468 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

now serving his fourth term as chairman of the National Farm Loan Association.
He was also recently elected a director of the Milk Producers of Central California,
Inc. He is a member of the Associated Dairymen of California, Inc.

When Mr. Fowle married, he chose for his wife Miss Sadie B. Winchell, who
was born in Nebraska, and reared in Southern California. Four children have blessed
their union. Eula Grace is a student; while the younger members of the family are
Stella D., Robert V., and Julia Alice Fowle. Stanislaus County may well be proud
to number among its inhabitants such broad-minded, progressive citizens as Mr. and
Mrs. Fowle, who in turn are happy that their lines have been cast in pleasant places.

WILLIAM H. HERR. — A substantial citizen who is ever ready to put his
shoulder to the plow and strive for the best and most lasting interests of the com-
munity, is William H. Herr, who was born near Dover, in Stewart County, Tenn.,
on December 29, 1876, the son of John and Mary (Shifferly) Herr, natives of Ohio
who had been living in Tennessee for eight years. After that they moved back into
Ohio, and in Allen County, William received his early education. He attended the
public school and after he had attained his majority he spent two winters at the Ohio
Normal University, working during the summers at the painting trade. He was
given a teacher's certificate in 1896.

In 1899 Mr. Herr moved to Central Kansas, and there for three years he
taught school. Then, in 1905, he came out to California and Stanislaus County; and
settling at Denair, he bought eighteen acres of the Gratton Tract north of the latter
place. He engaged in general farming, established a dairy and began to raise some
fruit. He joined the California Peach Growers Association, the Milk Producers
Association of Central California, and also the Farm Bureau.

Mr. Herr married, at Nickerson, Kans., Miss Matilda Witmer, the daughter of
Jacob Witmer, a pioneer of Kansas and California, and now living retired at Denair ;
and this fortunate union has been productive of two promising children, named Dwight
and Miriam. Mr. and Mrs. Herr have been alert to make their home life all that
was desirable; but they have left undone nothing which could be accomplished by
public-spirited citizens for the life and welfare of the community. During the World
War Mr. Herr served as a committeeman and did commendable work.

NELS P. NELSON. — A Swedish-American citizen who, as an enterprising,
far-seeing and successful rancher, has found what he wants in life not far from
Denair, in Stanislaus County, is Nels P. Nelson, who was born near Skane on Octo-
ber 4, 1863. He was reared in the same province until he was fifteen years of age,
and there sent to school and confirmed as the son of Per and Anna (Jornson) Nelson,
who also came from that locality.

Per Nelson was a farmer, and so it happened naturally enough that while still
a mere boy, Nels learned the hard work of the farm ; but he soon left home and went
to a neighboring town, and there started to learn the wagon-maker's trade, and what
he acquired by way of technical knowledge was very thorough and of such a nature
as to be helpful to him later in life under conditions more strenuous and trying.

At the age of twenty-four, Nels traveled westward to America, and soon after
arriving in the New World settled in Minneapolis, where he was employed as a
coachman. Eight years later he removed to San Francisco, continuing in that employ-
ment. Since then he has mined in Alaska, and he has also served as foreman of a
sugar plantation in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1909, Mr. Nelson located near Denair
on a tract of some twenty acres of raw land, which he has developed, by hard, intelli-
gent labor, into a typical irrigated California farm. He is a member of the Central
California Milk Producers Association.

On May 16, 1906, Mr. Nelson was married to Miss Anna Swanholm, who was
born in Sweden on October 10, 1875, the daughter of Per Swanholm, a professor
who married Miss Joana Person. She had come to America in 1891, and had reached
San Francisco in the fall of 1898. Both Mr. and Mrs. Nelson are now members of
the Swedish Lutheran Church of Turlock. Mr. Nelson was made a citizen of the
United States in 1901, at San Francisco, and since has been a Republican.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1469

ALVARO M. SOUZA. — An experienced, practical dairyman who has not only
established himself, but has helped to develop the dairying industry in California, is
Alvaro M. Souza, who was born on the Isle of St. George, in the Azores, on Novem-
ber 22, 1886, the son of Manuel M. and Mary M. Souza, both natives of the Isle
of St. Michael. He spent his boyhood in the balmy land by the sea, and when seven-
teen years of age came out to America to seek his fortune. He sought out a brother
already in San Francisco and located there with him, and having mastered a good
deal of English, he took up a business course. He next went into Monterey County
and was there identified with dairy enterprises. For three years he was in the grocery
trade at Los Banos, in Merced County, prior to going to the Imperial Valley in
1911 ; and on returning to Merced County, he successfully re-engaged in dairying.

In November, 1909, Mr. Souza was married to Miss Rose Silveira, who also
came from the Isle of St. George, and they now have three children. Mary is a stu-
dent and the younger ones are Alvaro M. and Jorge. In 1916 Mr. Souza became a
citizen of th* United States, in Merced ; and soon after Mr. Souza began to march
with the Republicans. Mr. Souza belongs to the I. D. E. S. and the U. P. E. C. ;
and Mrs. Souza is a member of the S. P. R. S. I.

FELIX RADAVERO. — Among the enterprising young men of Stanislaus
County is Felix Radavero, of the Modesto Tallow Works, in the Waterford pre-
cinct. He was born in the Alessandria-Cabella district of North Italy, July 4, 1892,
the son of Giovanni Radavero, who married Virginia Demergaso, and died from
influenza in Italy on January 6, 1919. Our subject grew up in Italy, and when
seventeen years of age he came to California and reached San Francisco on April 9,
1909. He had as his capital $150, and he lost no time in seeking and obtaining
work on a farm nine miles from San Francisco, where he worked out by the month.
After a year in the fields near the Bay City, he came to Eureka, in Humboldt County,
and there engaged to work for the Samoa Lumber Company, remaining there for
two years in various capacities. He met with a serious accident, however, when an
engine ran into the section men's car on a trestle, narrowly escaping death. Con-
valescing, he worked in San Francisco for the next five years.

Mr. Radavero worked steadily, saved his money, and four years ago came to
Modesto, and here started the rendering enterprise, forming with John Varni, Jim
Varni, C. Toccalino, and Andrew Izola, the Modesto Tallow Works. Finding a
chance to get a better location at Waterford, the partners used their surplus to pur-
chase the tract of seventy-six acres upon which they have built an up-to-date render-
ing works, near which Mr. Radavero resides with his family. The young men have
become expert in their line, and two trucks are kept going to every portion of the
county. The rendering plant is conveniently arranged and substantially constructed.
The hides are preserved in salt and sold to the highest bidding buyer. The fats
and tallow are sold to soap manufacturers, while the bones and dried meats are pur-
chased by manufacturers of fertilizers. Mr. Radavero was married at San Francisco
in 1920 to Mrs. Margaret Cramaglia, a native of San Francisco; and they have
one child, a baby girl named Virginia.

JAMES PEARSON. — A progressive rancher whose success has stimulated
others to renewed efforts, is James Pearson, of Empire. He operates eighteen acres
of well-improved land at East Empire; and Mrs. Pearson acts as principal of the
Empire Union Grammar School, where she has charge of the instruction in the sev-
enth and eighth grades.

Mr. Pearson was born at Oakville, Gray's Harbor County, Wash., the son of
Thomas Pearson, a Canadian by birth, who hailed from Ontario and had a hop yard in
Western Washington, where our subject grew up, and worked at farming. After a
while, he came down to California and Santa Rosa with his parents. Mr. Pearson
lived at Santa Rosa for three years, and while there laid out Pearson's Addition, one
of the attractive subdivisions of Santa Rosa's attractive environs. It was then that
they moved to Oakland, and from that city Mrs. Pearson, whose maiden name was
Jane McKinzie, a native of Barcelona, Spain, of Scotch parents, went North to visit



1470 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

her four sons; and while in Washington she died of apoplexy at the age of fifty-eight
years, leaving six children, of whom James is fifth in order of birth.

After a residence of eight years at Oakland, Mr. Pearson came down to Stanis-
laus County in 1912 and bought eighty-four acres north of Modesto on the Carver
Road, unimproved land which, with the assistance of our subject and another son,
he developed. In 1917, however, he was called upon to lay aside the cares of this
world, and he passed away at the age of sixty-seven years, mourned, as was his devoted
wife, by all who knew them.

James Pearson attended the public schools at Oakville, Wash., and also, for a
while, the school at Santa Rosa. At Modesto, on September 3, 1914, he was mar-
ried to Miss Lillian Lewis, born near Seattle, Wash. Four years later, on March 1,
he bought his present place, and he has just finished his dwelling, and also his garage
and tank-house. They have one son to share their home with them, James Vernon.
Lillian Dorothy, their first-born, died when she was two years old. Mrs. Pearson is
a member of the State and County Teachers Associations.

Empire is proud of its new grammar school house, erected at the considerable
cost of $76,000, and it is also proud of Mrs. Pearson, the well-trained educator,
under whose principalship the school is fast taking rank with the best in the country.
She graduated from the Santa Rosa high school, and from the San Francisco Nor-
mal ; she taught for a while in Sacramento and Yolo counties before coming to Stanis-
laus County; and she added to her experience of the most practical kind by teaching
in the Oakdale Union grammar school, leaving only because of Empire's urgent call.

JESSE MENDONZA. — About three miles southwest of Modesto, in one of
the choicest sections of Stanislaus County, the thirty-acre dairy farm of Jesse
Mendonza is located. Mr. Mendonza was born thirty-one years ago at Santa Cruz, in
the Azores Islands, where his father owned a small place. He is the son of Manuel
and Mary Mendonza, and his parents are still living in the old home. One of a
family of eight children, his two brothers and four sisters still reside in the Azores.

Mr. Mendonza was twenty years of age when he came to America, landing at
New York, May 15, 1909. Acquiring a knowledge of the English language after his
arrival in the country, he soon began to make a financial success in his new home.
He worked as a handler of freight, loading and unloading ships, and also, at the
occupation of farming. He then came to Fresno, Cal., where he worked on dairy
ranches in Fresno County about four years, and in 1917 came to Modesto and in
October of that year purchased twenty acres of land and engaged in dairy farming.
In 1918 he added another ten acres to his holdings and now has thirty acres of choice
land. He has seventeen cows and one registered Holstein bull, and in 1919 built a
silo with a capacity of seventy-five tons of silage.

His marriage occurred in 1913, and united him with Miss Anna Vincent, of
Fowler, and they are the parents of two children, named Pauline and John. America
is ever ready to welcome to her shores such men as Mr. Mendonza, who become help-
ful citizens, whose industry and frugality add to the wealth of their adopted country,
and whose determination and force of character cause them to realize their expecta-
tions in the land of opportunity.

STEVE BRAVO.— A hardy son of the little Republic of Switzerland who has
made good in the larger Republic to which he brought his inherited principles of
liberty and truth early in life, is Steve Bravo, of Salida precinct, where he owns a
dairy ranch of eighty acres on Beckwith Road.

Mr. Bravo was born in Canton Ticino, Switzerland, April 12, 1871. His par-
ents were Ciprano and Teressa Bravo, the father being a farmer. There were in the
family four sons, three of whom are now living in California, and two daughters, one
died in Switzerland, and the other, Mrs. Ravelli, is in Stanislaus County. Mr. Bravo
received his education in the public schools of his native canton, and at the age of
fourteen he was apprenticed to learn the blacksmith's trade, serving for three years.
When he was seventeen he answered the call of the land across the seas, and reached
California in 1888, coming first to Marin County, and for Sixteen years residing in



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1471

Marin and Sonoma counties, most of which time he was employed in the dairy busi-
ness. It was in 1905 that he came into Stanislaus County and rented a ranch near
Crows Landing. A few years later, in 1911, he bought his present property in Salida
precinct, where he has since made his home, having developed a splendid dairy ranch
of his eighty acres, which he now leases to M. Ravelli, his sister's husband.

Mr. Bravo has taken an active interest in matters which concern the welfare of
the community, and is one of the stockholders of the First National Bank of Salida.
He is a communicant of the Catholic Church.

MANUEL M. SOUZA. — Of the many sons of Portugal who have come to
Stanislaus County in recent years, none is more worthy of note than Manuel M.
Souza. He bade good-bye to his mother, whose mainstay he had been since the death
of his father when he was a lad of nine years, and set his face toward the Western
World when he was twenty-two years of age, landing at Boston, Mass., February 19,
1915, reaching Modesto on February 26, of that same month. He secured employ-
ment and soon had earned an enviable reputation for being a good worker and a
dependable employee, and his services were sought by the best farmers in the com-
munity. For two years he worked for Mrs. Ella Maze on her large farm near
Modesto, and now has a partnership arrangement with Joseph Galeazzi, whereby he
operates a dairy in Hart precinct, having acquired an undivided one-half interest
in eighty cows, besides young stock and a registered Holstein bull, numbering some
100 head in all, with ten head of work horses, and all necessary farm tools and equip-
ment with which to operate the two farms belonging to Mr. Galeazzi.

Mr. Souza was born on the Island of San Miguel, of the Azores, June 28, 1893.
His father, Frank M. Maderios Souza, a dairy farmer, died in 1902, at the age of
fortv-eight. The mother, Marie G. Souza, is still living on the home place at the age
of fifty-one years. There were three children in the Souza family, Manuel M., the
subject of this sketch; Marie G., wife of Manuel Almeda Caoto, and Frank M.,
both in their native land. After his father's death, M. M. Souza helped his mother
to run the little place and early became familiar with dairy methods and was trained
in the value of responsibility and dependability. He had six years in the public schools,
and served two years in the Portuguese artillery. Since coming to Stanislaus County
he has become known as a young man of integrity, well-informed and hard-working.

INNOCENTE RAMAZZINA.— A citizen of Patterson whose diligent work has
enabled him to acquire a fine alfalfa ranch, demonstrating what one may do under
the favoring environment of California life, is Innocente Ramazzina, who was born in
Canton Ticino, Switzerland, on December 27, 1861, the son of Joseph Ramazzina, a
blacksmith, and his good wife Madaline. He attended the grammar school of his
home district until he was fourteen, the fourth of a family of nine children, and then
he learned the stonecutter's trade, serving an apprenticeship for three years. When
twenty years of age, he crossed the ocean to America and came direct to California,
and settling in San Luis Obispo County, he worked for two years on a dairy ranch at
twenty-five dollars a month. He then went to Paso de Robles, where he worked on
a grain ranch for Mr. Benson, spending six months with him and receiving thirty dol-
lars per month. He gained something else there, however, for there he learned to
speak English. Next he went to Guadalupe, in Santa Barbara County, and for fif-
teen years worked on a dairy farm.

Mr. Ramazzina's first venture for himself was made when he rented 1,000 acres
and had a dairy of 140 cows. He also farmed grain and hay for six years, but had
to quit on account of the two dry seasons, in 1894 and 1897. He then worked again
for wages, this time as a section hand on the Southern Pacific Railroad at Guadalupe,
but at the first turning of the road, he rented a near-by farm of 200 acres and con-
tinued to manage it for a couple of years, although he received only forty cents a
hundredweight for his barley. Removing to Santa Maria, he spent the succeeding
seven and a half years with the Union Sugar Company in their factory and after that
took up dairying again, supplying Santa Maria for five years with milk. He leased
eighty acres of alfalfa at ten dollars an acre, and had thirty head of cows, and he ran



1472 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

the dairy until 1911, when the Santa Maria River washed out the Santa Maria water
pumping station, and threatened the raising of alfalfa with drought.

Mr. Ramazzina then sold out his dairy and came to Patterson, where he bought
eighty acres on Orange Avenue and built a dwelling and barn. At the end of four
years, he traded with the Patterson Ranch Company and secured sixty acres at the
corner of Elm and Lemon avenues, and this place he has since greatly improved, de-
voting the land to alfalfa.

At Santa Maria, on November 30, 1893, Mr. Ramazzina was married to Miss
Mary Crespini, a native of the same district in Switzerland in which her husband was
born, and the daughter of Batista Crespini and his wife, Carmelia. Seven children
have blessed their union: Emma, a graduate of the Patterson high school, who was
also graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, is an instructor in
Spanish and stenography in a commercial school in San Francisco. Edith is training
for the work of a nurse in the French Hospital at San Francisco. Elvio, Leah and
Tilden are at home. Cesira is a student at the Patterson high school, and Walter is
a grammar school pupil.

VALENTINE CAPAUL. — A rancher who has so well improved his opportuni-
ties that he has become a successful dairyman is Valentine Capaul, who was born in
Southern Switzerland, in the Canton Graubunden, on October 5, 1885, the son of
George and Mary Capaul. He attended school for only a short period, and when
eighteen years of age came across the ocean to the United States, made his way to
California, and settled in Humboldt County, working on a farm at Ferndale for
wages, for a year and a half. Then he went to Colusa County, putting in from six
to seven years as a farm laborer, and from there he removed to Placer County and for
a couple of years worked on a dairy farm near Colfax. Then he went into the lum-
ber camps in the Placer hills, and for three years worked to get out logs.

In March, 1915, Mr. Capaul came to Patterson Colony and rented a farm of
thirty acres on the county road between Sycamore and Elm streets, where he soon de-
voted twenty acres to alfalfa, and for three years maintained fifteen cows. He then
rented forty acres on Poplar Avenue, north of Walnut, and set aside twenty-five
acres for alfalfa, and gave the rest up to dry farming. He continues to manage this
farm, and now has a dairy of twenty-two head of stock.

At Reno, Nev., on August 26, 1910, Mr. Capaul was married to Miss Christine
Smith, a native of Switzerland, where she was born about twenty miles from Mr.
Capaul's own home, and the daughter of Stephen and Christine Smith. Four chil-
dren have added joy to the lives of this worthy couple — John, George, Joseph and
Fred ; and they are all attending the grammar school at Patterson. The family attend
the Roman Catholic Church, and Mr. Capaul seeks to improve the standards of good
citizenship by standing pat upon the platforms of the Republican party.

WALFRID KNUTSON. — An enterprising, experienced builder and contractor
who has been at Patterson since the time when it was founded, is Walfrid Knutson,
the well-known Republican leader and prominent member of the Lutheran Church.
He was born at Raugenda, Sweden, on July 10, 1879, the son of Knut Erickson and
his good wife Volberg. His father was a farmer, but a very progressive man, and he
favored giving the lad the best grammar school education possible. At eighteen, he
commenced to farm for himself, taking 300 acres near Raugenda, and for ten years
devoting himself to general agricultural pursuits. On October 10, 1900, he was
married at Raugenda to Miss Christine Selander, a native of his home district who
had had practically the same schooling and could therefore best understand him and
his work and ambitions. Her father, John Selander, was also a farmer, so that she
was familiar with the duties and pleasures of farm life.

In 1906, having sold out his interests in Sweden, after the death of his wife
in 1903, Mr. Knutson came to America and settled at Seattle, Wash., where he again
took up farming. He rented a ranch of ten acres and for three years raised cabbage-
seed for the Lilly Seed Company of Seattle. He then took up the carpenter trade and
worked at that for two years, making a success in the new field from his first engage-



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1473

merit. In 1911, Mr. Knutson removed from Washington to California and at Pat-
terson hung out his shingle as a contractor, and he has lived here ever since. A year
after he came, he bought five acres of raisin grapes on Ward Avenue, west of Pat-
terson, and in 1919 purchased fourteen acres of alfalfa on the same avenue.

On April 1, 1913, Mr. Knutson married for the second time, at Patterson,
choosing for his bride Miss Julia Hansell, a native of Crookston, Polk County, Minn.,
and the daughter of C. C. Hansell, the well-known pioneer. He had already had two
children by his first wife — Anna, a graduate nurse in the French Hospital at San
Francisco, and Alex, who is in the employ of the Standard Oil Company at Newman ;
and has since been blessed with three more, Thelma, Marian and Robert Kenneth.

ROCCO RAVELLI. — A worthy representative of the foreign-born residents of
Stanislaus County, and one who has seen service in the late European conflict, is Rocco
Ravelli, the son of Raymondo and Mary Ravelli, farmers of North Italy, in the province
of Sondrio, where he was born on August 3, 1887, educated in the common schools of
that district and where he lived on his father's farm until he was seventeen years of age.
In 1904, Mr. Ravelli migrated to this country to better his condition, coming directly
to California, where he worked for the first twelve years on dairy farms in the vicinity
of Crows Landing, being for a time employed by Attilio F. Gervasoni. Wishing to
get into business for himself, he at first leased 200 acres, a portion of the George Stewart
ranch, three miles east of Crows Landing, almost all of which is devoted to alfalfa
and at the present time he has about 100 head of cows on the ranch, selling his output to
the Carnation factory at Gustine.

On September 20, 1917, he entered the U. S. service, was sent to Camp Lewis for
training, and on July 6, 1918, sailed with the Three Hundred and Sixty-third Infantry,
Ninety-first Division, from Hoboken, N. J., landed in Glasgow and went across from
Southampton, England, to Havre, France. He served during the entire war with this
outfit and after the armistice was signed was stationed in Belgium until he returned to
the United States on April 1, 1919, being honorably discharged at the Presidio in San
Francisco, Cal., on April 26, 1919. Mr. Ravelli is a member of the American Legion.

MANUEL GARCIA. — An experienced rancher who daily demonstrates the



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 172 of 177)