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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 176 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 176 of 177)
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which are now universally used. He was thus able to make several investments in



1490 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Chicago which have proven fortunate, and the proceeds therefrom he has reinvested
in Stanislaus County, which he considers one of the best agricultural sections in the
world.

While in Chicago, Mr. Higgins was married to Miss Mary Ellen Crane, a native
of that city, and they have two children living: Eileen is an accomplished pianist and
pipe organist, serving as organist at the St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church ; and
Irvine is a fine cornetist. Mr. Higgins is also an accomplished musician. He was
second musician and assistant leader in the Seventh Regiment Band in Chicago, and
he was a member of the Seventh Regiment, Illinois National Guard, for three years.
He is leader of the Modesto American Legion Band, which has thirty pieces, and he
is also leader of the Modesto School Band of sixty pieces, accomplishing such good
work that in September, 1920, he was able to take first prize at the State Fair and in
1921 again took the first prize at the above-mentioned fair. He is a fine tenor singer,
and as leader directs the St. Stanislaus Church choir. He belongs to the Modern
Woodmen of America, and to the Loyal Order of Moose.

W. A. BARTER. — In each community are found men of business enterprise
whose activity and progressiveness place them in the front rank of the real builders
and promoters of the prosperity of the county, and W. A. Harter stands prominently
forth as a leading citizen and man of affairs in the thriving city of Modesto. One of
California's native sons, he was born at Sonora, Tuolumne County, October 8, 1860.
His father, James Harter, a native of Little Falls, N. Y., was a baker by trade and
plied his vocation in his native state until he came to San Francisco via the Isthmus
of Panama in 1850, settling in Sonora, where he engaged in mining as well as
operating a bakery business. For nineteen years he was engaged in the attractive
mining business, removing to San Francisco in 1869 he entered the employ of the
Kimball Manufacturing Company. Remaining in San Francisco but one year, in
1870 he removed to Modesto, when the town was in its infancy, and opened the first
baker's shop in the place, continuing the business until he retired. He passed away
at Modesto in 1909. He was united in marriage with Miss Charlotte Tibbetts, also
a native of Little Falls, N. Y., who passed away at the family home in Modesto in
1883. They were the parents of three children, two of whom are living, the subject
of this sketch being the youngest of the family.

W. A. Harter received his preliminary education in the public schools of San
Francisco, Stockton and Modesto, afterwards attending the Pacific Business College
at San Francisco, from which he graduated. He then entered the Modesto Post Office
under Postmaster James Swain. However, he remained in this connection but a
short time, then entered the store of Mr. Brusie, the grocer, where he remained six
years, becoming thoroughly conversant with every branch of the business. He then
established a grocery business of his own on Tenth and H streets, continuing for five
years. At the end of this time he sold his interest in the business and entered the store
of De Yoe and Riggs, furniture dealers. He was thus employed for several years,
and while there, in 1893, was elected city clerk of Modesto, retaining the office about
ten years. In 1903, when the Farmers and Merchants Bank was organized, he
entered the employ of the bank as bookkeeper, and the following year, in 1904, was
made assistant cashier, and later promoted to the position of cashier. He was also a
stockholder and director in the bank and at the first election after the death of Mr.
High, in January, 1914, was elected president of the bank, and continued as manager
of the institution. The bank at that time was located on H and Tenth streets, but
during August, 1917, they removed to more commodious quarters at the corner of
I and Tenth streets, the building undergoing a thorough remodeling and being fitted
with new and modern fixtures to accommodate the increasing clientele. The bank
began business with a capital of $75,000, and later was affiliated with the Security
Savings Bank of Stanislaus County and the capital was divided, the Farmers and
Merchants Bank being capitalized for $49,500, and the Security Savings Bank for
$25,500. Mr. Harter was retained as president of both banks and when the Bank
of Italy absorbed the two banks, on February 1, 1917, it became the Modesto branch
of the Bank of Italy. Mr. Harter was chairman of the Modesto advisory board and



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1491

manager of the bank, but the amount of work in the two positions was found to be too
much for one man, and a manager was elected separate from the chairmanship. In
May, 1920, Mr. Harter resigned his position to accept a position with the First
National Bank of Modesto as cashier and vice-president. When the First National
was sold he was made vice-president, a position he is now filling with the same care
and ability always displayed by him.

In 1900 Mr. Harter purchased unimproved land in the Turlock district and set
out the first peach orchard in that district. While waiting for his peach trees to come
into bearing, he raised alfalfa, which proved a successful crop. He disposed of this
property in 1918 at a good profit.

The marriage of Mr. Harter occurred in Modesto and united him with Miss
Emma F. Fulkerth, also a native of California, born at Stockton, a daughter of A. S.
Fulkerth, ex-sheriff of Stanislaus County, whose wife passed away in 1912. One
child blessed this union, a daughter, Blanch C, a graduate of the Modesto high
school, who became Mrs. A. B. Wickman of Modesto. In his religious associations,
Mr. Harter is a member of the Christian Church. Fraternally, he is affiliated with
the Modern Woodmen of America, and is a member of the United Artisans. While
he has been busily engaged with important financial affairs, he has also taken an
active part in civic matters and has built up an enviable reputation as a highly respected,
reliable and honorable citizen.

FRANCIS MARION FELLOWS.— A successful "old settler" who is now
enjoying the fruits of his long and strenuous exertions is Francis Marion Fellows, who
was born near Little Rock, Ark., on February 8, 1863. His father, Marion, who was
also a native of that state, saw service in the Civil War, and was accidentally shot
in 1865. In 1871, Mrs. Fellows, who was Elender Williams before her marriage,
brought her family of three children to California, driving an ox team across the
plains. They settled at a point about two miles south of what is now Modesto, and
there she reared her family. When the railroad came and Ceres sprang up, she bought
a lot at that place and built a hotel, and while conducting it successfully, married
Elias P. Fletcher. After a while they removed to Auburn, Placer County, where
they made a homestead by clearing a mountain ranch, and where Mr. Fletcher died.
After his demise, Mrs. Fletcher returned to Modesto, in 1907, and here she resided
until she died in October, 1918, in her eighty-fourth year. By her first marriage
she had three children: Mary, Mrs. Carter of Modesto; William N., who died in
1872; and Francis, or Frank, as he is familiarly known, the subject of our review;
while by her second marriage, Mrs. Fletcher became the mother of two children, both
of whom are living: Dora, who is now Mrs. Wares of Oakland, and Miss Florence
Fletcher of Modesto.

When only eight years of age, Frank crossed the great plains to California,
stepping over for the winter in Texas, and he attended the public schools at Ceres and
in Placer County. He helped Mr. Fletcher clear up his farm, and in 1879 he re-
turned to Stanislaus County, where he was in the employ of grain farmers, driving
big teams in the grain fields.

On September 9, 1884, Mr. Fellows was married at Ceres to Miss Dora Whit-
ney, who was born in Santa Clara County, Cal., the daughter of Warren Whitney,
a native of Michigan. He had there married Rachael Pepper, and they came to
California by way of Panama, and settled at Hollister, where he was in the employ
of the Southern Pacific Railroad, during the period of its construction. He acted
as foreman for the company and superintended much important work. Eventually,
he settled near Ceres, where he now resides on a farm. Mrs. Whitney died at Hol-
lister, the mother of three children, two of whom are still living.

After his marriage, Mr. Fellows farmed at Ceres for a couple of years, raising
grain, and then he removed to Berenda, in Madera County, where for ten years he
ran a grain farm of four sections of land. On his return he bought a ranch of 442
acres at Salida, and there he farmed for grain until the canal came, when he checked
the land and put in thirty acres of alfalfa. In 1909 Mr. Fellows sold out and located
in Modesto, building his handsome residence at the corner of Eleventh and L streets;



1492 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

and here he has resided ever since, active as a Democrat in national politics. A gifted
daughter, Leila, is Mrs. S. H. Cappe of Ripon; while a son, Warren Melbourne, who
served in the great war, resides at Chico.

GREGORIO YRIGOYEN.— Gregorio Yrigoyen is a son of Spain, born in
Aincioa, in the Province of Navarre, and reared in the beautiful Basses-Pyrenees
Mountains, near the boundary line of France. He has been engaged in farming and
stock raising all his life, and now owns a valuable ranch of fifty-four acres on the
Waterford Road, four miles east of Modesto. Mr. Yrigoyen was born September 22,
1876, the son of Francisco and Tomaso A. Yrigoyen, both natives of the Basses-
Pyrenees. The father died when Gregorio was but five years of age and the mother
kept the little family, consisting of the son and a daughter, Magdalina, together until
the time of her death, when the son was fifteen years of age. The sister, Magdalina,
is now married and resides in Spain.

The estate was settled when Gregorio Yrigoyen was eighteen and he then began
his career as a farmer. He worked for wages in the Basses-Pyrenees country, in both
France and Spain, but fired by tales of American lands, he set sail from Havre, France,
in 1901, and landed at New York City in due course of time. He came almost
directly to California, going first to San Francisco, where he worked for wages for
thirteen years, learning the manners and ways of the new country and mastering its
language. During this time, in 1907, he was married to Miss Segrinda Goni, also
born in Spain, in the Basses-Pyrenees, and came to California after she was grown.

Following his marriage, Mr. Yrigoyen began to look for an opening for an inde-
pendent venture of his own, and eventually went to Crows Landing, where he rented
land and engaged in dairy farming for three years. In 1917 he came to Modesto and
bought his present property, which he has greatly improved, and where he is engaged
in dairying and general farming. He is rated as one of the successful men of the
countv, standing high in his community.

Mr. and Mrs. Yrigoyen are the parents of eight sons and daughters: Josephine,
Jose, Madeline, Martin, Basilia, Horneto, Hendrika and Francisco. Of these, they
have had the misfortune to lose one, Basilia, who was drowned three years ago, at the
age of sixteen months. Both Mr. and Mrs. Yrigoyen are devout members of the
Catholic Church, into which faith their children have been baptized.

ABRAHAM JOHNSON. — A young man who by energy and close application
has made a success is Abraham Johnson, who was born in Tonsberg on the east coast
of Norway, April 16, 1885. He is the son of John and Anna (Hansen) Johnson, natives
of the same place, descended from an old family, who for generations had engaged
in husbandry. His father was a well-to-do farmer, residing on his place until his
death in 1917, being survived by his widow. To this worthy couple were born two
children ; the eldest a daughter, Ingeborg, now Mrs. Courtright, who resides in
Norway, and Abraham, the subject of this review. He was brought up on the home
farm and educated in the local schools. From his fourteenth to his seventeenth year
he devoted all of his time assisting his father, then decided to immigrate to the United
States.

Mr. Johnson arrived in California in 1902, found employment on a grain ranch
near Oakland and tackled the job of driving a ten-horse team, until he came to
Stanislaus County and remained in the same line of work for four years. Next he
went to San Francisco, where he did teaming for a year, then for three years he was
likewise engaged at Menlo Park. Next he was in the employ of the Hammond
Lumber Company at Eureka, in Humboldt County, until 1910. Mr. Johnson made
a trip back to his old home, going via Boston and New York, visiting his parents,
friends and kindred. The call of the West beckoned to him, so after spending nearly
a year at his old home he returned to California in 1911, first to Merced County,
He drove a team on the Bledsoe ranch for a year, then worked for Mr. Bromley in
Hickman Township.

Mr. Johnson chose a life partner in Stockton in 1915. His bride, Miss Anna
Johnson, was also from Norway's east coast, having come to California in 1898. He
leased land and fanned at Ryer in Merced County until 1919, when he purchased



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1493

his present place of 320 acres in Hickman Township, where he is engaged in rais-
ing grain. He is liberal and kindhearted, ready to do what he can to help improve
and build up the country of his adoption and in this he is assisted and encouraged by
his estimable wife, and they are giving their three children, Arthur, Ruth and Stanley,
the best educational advantages the community affords. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were
reared and are active in the Lutheran Church.

EDWARD WILLEFORD.— The agent for the Union Oil Co. at Turlock is
Edward Willeford, who was born in Verona, Boone County, Ky., February 22, 1875.
Grandfather John Willeford was born in Kentucky, February 14, 1802. He married
Elizabeth Fullenlove and they removed to Indiana, but later returned to Boone County,
Kentucky, where he was a farmer and stockman. He was a Whig and Republican.
His father, James Willeford, was born in Indiana. He married Nancy I. Hughes, a
native of Kentucky, of Scotch descent, but of an old Virginia family. Win. Willeford,
like his father, was a Mason and strong Union man. Edward, the youngest of their
four children, received his education in the public schools. He assisted his father on
the home farm until, in his twenty-second year, he married Miss Stella Rust, who was
born in Gallatin County, Ky., a daughter of Wm. Rust, a farmer in Kentucky. They
purchased a farm near the old house, and did general farming, but being in the famous
tobacco belt, specialized in tobacco.

In 1912 they sold the farm and removed to Los Angeles, and in 1913 came to
Merced, where they bought a farm. Two years later, however, Mr. Willeford be-
gan working for the Union Oil Company and has continued this connection. When
the new distributing station was built at Turlock, he was sent here by the Union Oil
Company and placed in charge, as agent. The business has grown from 200 gallons
to 2,000 gallons a day, requiring three large trucks for distributing.

Mr. and Mrs. Willeford have five children: Cecil, Mrs. Gleason, of Merced;
Grace, Mrs. Looney, of Merced ; Stella, with the Whitman Dry Goods Store ; Stanley
and Dorothy. He is a staunch Republican, and Mrs. Willeford is a member of the
Christian Church.

WALTER E. STEVENS.— Born in Lisbon, N. H., April 30, 1865, Walter E.
Stevens comes of an old and prominent New England family. His grandfather,
Solomon Stevens, was a native of Barnet, Vt., born in 1787. He married Sallie
Cushman, of the seventh generation in descent from Robt. Cushman, who came from
England in the ship Dumbarton in the Mayflower group to Plymouth Rock in 1620.
The family afterwards drifted to Vermont. The Stevens family also traces back to
England, coming from Devonshire, and were among Massachusetts' early settlers.

Walter's father was also named Solomon, and was born in Barnet, Vt. He was
interested in livery and stage lines, as well as in the hotel business in Lisbon, N. H.,
in the days when they were called taverns. His business was in northern Vermont
and New Hampshire and later in Boston. However, he spent his last days in Barnet,
where he died at the home of our subject, when he was aged seventy-five. Walter's
mother was Anne Elizabeth Evans, born in Lyndon, Vt., a daughter of Horace
Evans, also born in Vermont, who was a hotel man and was high sheriff of Cale-
donia County, Vt., and in charge of the jail at Danville, in which city he was born.
He married Ann Walker, of that state. Mrs. Ann Elizabeth Stevens also spent her
last days with her son Walter at Barnet. She was the mother of five children. Walter
was brought up and attended school in the various places his parents lived in, Vermont,
New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He finished his education in Somerville, near
Boston, after which he was a clerk in various commercial lines in Boston and then in
northern Vermont and New Hampshire, finally locating in Barnet. About 1895 he
began as an electrical worker, helping to build the first electrical plant there.

In St. Johnsbury, Vt., June 15, 1898, Mr. Stevens married Miss Isabelle Jean
Guthrie, who was born in West Barnet, the daughter of Robt. and Janette Lidde
Guthrie, natives of Ryegate, Vt., 1837, and Glasgow, Scotland, 1830, respectively.
The latter came with her parents when a child to Ryegate. Grandfather Wm.
Guthrie was married in Scotland to Agnes Hastie and on coming to Vermont, followed



1494 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

farming. They came to California and lived with Mr. and Mrs. Stevens until their
death. The father died November 5, 1911 ; the mother, March 10, 1916. Of their
six children, Mrs. Stevens was next to the youngest and was educated in Barnet public
schools and at McAdoe's academy.

It was in 1907 that the Stevens family came to California, arriving in Turlock
on December 23. There was no electrical equipment in town, so he followed other
work. In 1909 he built his present residence. In that year, too, he entered the employ
of the Yosemite Power Company, as an electrician, continuing nearly six years. In
July, 1914, with his family he made a trip back East, returning in December of that
year, since which time he has engaged as an electrical contractor, having done the
electrical work on Turlock's principal buildings.

The union of Mr. and Mrs. Stevens has been blessed with one child, Herbert
Guthrie, who is also an electrician and assists his father in business. Mr. Stevens was
made a Mason in Passumpsic Lodge No. 27, A. F. & A. M., St. Johnsbury, Vt., and
is now a member of Turlock Lodge No. 395, F. & A. M. He was a member of
Caledonia Chapter, Royal Arch, but is now with Modesto Chapter. Mr. Stevens
and his family are active Methodists, he being trustee at the time of the building
of the Turlock Church. Politically he is a strong Republican and is a member of the
Sierra Electrical Contractors Association and the Turlock Progressive Club.

CLARENCE JOHNSON. — A contracting painter and paperhanger who is
making a success is Clarence Johnson. He was born in Westergotland, Sweden, at-
tended school until he was twelve when he came with his parents to Minneapolis. At
fifteen he was apprenticed to the tailors' trade, but later became a contracting
painter in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Braham, until 1902.

He then came to Turlock when the town and surrounding country was just
beginning to rise from a desert waste. He purchased lots and built a residence and
here he has been a contracting painter ever since. As he has erected eight houses
here and sold all but two, Mr. Johnson has earned civic laurels. He has painted
some of the best buildings in Turlock, among them the first high school, first bank, and
some of the finest residences. He is the oldest painter and had the first paint shop in
Turlock. Mr. Johnson has also handled considerable realty and properties.

The marriage of Mr. Johnson occurred in Santa Cruz, when he was united
with Miss Esther Nordell, a native of Minnesota, a cultivated and refined woman.
Mr. Johnson has made two trips to Minnesota to visit his kindred and friends. His
father has passed on but his mother is living at the advanced age of eighty-nine. Mr.
Johnson was made a Mason in Turlock Lodge No. 395, F. & A. M., having held the
office of tyler. He is a Democrat and with his wife attends the Swedish Mission
Church. Both are highly esteemed for their generous impulses.

JAMES GODLEY. — One who has established an enviable record and possessed
of splendid qualities in the handling of men, and carrying out plans for development,
improvement and construction is James Godley, foreman of the Noxen ranch, north
of Newman, for the Simon Newman Company. He came to California in June,
1892, from his native Ireland. He was born in County Kerry, in 1873, a son of
Thomas and Johanna (Leen) Godley, farmer folks in the Emerald Isle, until their
demise. Besides our subject, two of his brothers, Thomas and David, are also in
California, and reside in Siskiyou County. James spent his bojhood on the farm
and received a good education in the local schools.

When in his later teens he became interested in the Pacific Coast region, his
desire to come here was realized when he was nineteen. He sailed from Queenstown,
May 26, 1892, on the steamer Teutonic, and from New York City came directly to
Stockton. There he was in the employ of the Southern Pacific for nine months, after
which he proceeded to Siskiyou County for another nine months. He was made fore-
man at Dunsmuir on the Shasta division for the Southern Pacific. Here he demon-
strated his ability to keep his section in excellent shape, the evenness of the roadbed
and the smooth riding of the trains over his territory attracting notice. After twelve
years he resigned to come to Newman in 1906, and entered the employ of the Howard



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 1495

Cattle Company, where he gave valuable and well directed service for six years. Then
he joined the Simon Newman Company organization. After three years on the Lenora
Stock Farm, south of Gustine, he was transferred to the Noxen ranch, where he has
since given the company his undivided time. Since 1920 he was foreman of the ranch.
Noxen ranch embraces a large acreage, all under irrigation. Several hundred
acres are under the canal and the balance irrigated from three huge ekctric pumping
plants with a combined capacity of about 6,800 gallons a minute, splendidly equipped.
The whole ranch is devoted to raising alfalfa and cattle growing. There is a large
dairy of several hundred cows and herds of pure bred Herefords and Holsteins as well
as high grades of the same breed. Mr. Godley is never idle in seeing that the stock
is cared for properly and irrigation accomplished, so his natural traits of industry,
energy and stick-to-it-iveness are a valuable asset. He is a Democrat in national
politics.

J. M. ROLLO.— Born in Romano, Italy, on December 29, 1883, J. M. Rollo
was the son of John Rollo, one the proprietors of a cafe at Orviato. He died in 1887,
being survived by his widow, who passed away in 1917. This worthy couple had
six children, all living in the United States, but only our subject and his brother,
Antonio, are in California. He received a good education in the local schools. When
seventeen he entered the Italian army, serving three years in the Fourth Company,
Sixty-seventh Infantry, when he was honorably discharged as sergeant, June, 1904.

In 1905 he came to New York City, gradually drifting westward. He engaged
as traveling salesman in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Tennessee, and throughout the
Middle West, until 1917, he located in Sacramento, from which city as headquarters
he traveled, selling Italian products throughout California. In the fall of 1920 he
located in Modesto, employed with Peterson & Company, in the sale of Hudson and
Essex automobiles, until February 1, 1920. In partnership with his brother, Antonio,
he started a grocery on the corner of H and Fifth streets, under the firm name of
Rollo Bros., American-Italian Grocery, making a specialty of imported goods.

His partner and brother, Antonio, was born in 1887 and served three years in the
Sixty-fourth Italian Regiment. In 1915 he came to Sacramento, where he remained



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 176 of 177)