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 18 of 177)
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pletely vindicated and Hanscom, the vile traducer of his character, is branded as a
liar, a perjurer, a base libeler and a depraved wretch."

Soon after this Hanscom retired from the newspaper business and located in San
Francisco. The plant was purchased by T. C. Hocking, formerly of Grass Valley, and
December 23, 1893, he returned home on a visit. The foreman of the Herald for
twenty-five years was John J. Porter. His health failed in 1905, and leaving his posi-
tion November, 1911, he died at the I. O. O. F. home. Mr. Hocking, soon after his
purchase of the Herald bought a lot and erected a single-story brick building, the loca-
tion of the Herald at the present time.



Stanislaus enjoys an honor bestowed on no other county north of the San Joaquin
River save Sacramento, namely, a state treasurer, L. C. Richards, a resident of Gray-
son, and two state school superintendents The first state superintendent, John G. Mar-
vin, elected in 1850, resided at Empire and Paul G. Hubbs, elected in 1853, lived near
the present site of Oakdale on land purchased from Maj. James Burney of Burneyville.
Marvin in his first school report, 1851, said there were 150 children in Tuolumne
County, and not a public nor a private school. In 1855 Superintendent Hubbs reported
two schools in Stanislaus County, one in the Branch school district with R. B. Hewey
and W. D. McDaniels as teachers, and one in the Burney district, Robert McColloch
and J. D. Neil, teachers. In the Marvin district in 1856 a third public school was
opened, the teacher being Mrs. Mary Sharp. At that time only twenty-five children
attended school, although according, to the school census report there were 168 chil-
dren in the county. In the following year there were 197 children and yet only two
schools with three teachers. The report of 1860 is not very satisfactory, but there
were 125 children and they received $94.50 school money from the state school fund.


Mr. E. R. Crawford, one of the teachers of the late sixties, in giving his
reminiscences to the Oakdale Graphic in 1901, said: "My knowledge of the schools
goes no further back than 1866. At that time there were only nine school districts,
namely: Adamsville, Empire, La Grange, Knights Ferry (now called Emory),
McHenry, Salida, Farmer's Cottage, Jackson and Washington, now called Langworth.

"The schoolhouses with very few exceptions were nothing more than rough boards
nailed upright to scantling. Some were battened but without lining, others were
without batten and in the summer sun the cracks would widen an inch or more, thus
relieving the teacher of the ventilation problem and offering glimpses of the outside
world to those within.

"Knights Ferry had a good schoolhouse; it was burned a short time ago but re-
built. There was a brick building at Langworth built in 1862 or 1863 by subscrip-
tions and entertainments at Lone Star. W. H. Brown was the first teacher of the
school. The teachers (in the county) as I recall them were Vital E. Bangs, L, W.
Crawford, William Jamison, John C. Lillie, H. J. Turner, Mr. Chedister, Miss
Carrie Moore, Mrs. Allen and myself. T. T. Hamlin was county superintendent,
succeeded by Maj. James Burney. This dear old man was honored and loved by
teachers and pupils as he had a smile and good word for every one."


The first private school in the county was established in 1 853 by John W. Laird.
The teacher was an Irishman, James Sylvester by name. The children from two
families comprised one-half the school, namely, Elvira, Mary and John W. Laird, Jr.,
Joel, George, John and Nancy Smith together with John M. Whitman, Mary Kemp
and John Green. Young Green was a boarder from afar, for his home was in
Tuolumne County.

A second private school was taught in 1854 by Mrs. Mary Sharp. The school
was located about a mile above Empire City. She advertised in the paper that she
would teach all branches of the English language at twenty-six dollars per month,
including board. The lad}' purposed establishing a female seminary in the spring of
1855, if sufficient encouragement be given. "Few in our state are more competent
to conduct a school," wrote a correspondent. She had but few scholars because of the
scarcity of children and the sparsely settled family population, so in 1856 she began
teaching the district public school in Empire.


There were a few people living in the vicinity of Orestimba Creek who realized
the value of an education, and in 1854 by private subscription they raised money
sufficient to establish a school at Newsome's Bridge and employ a teacher. The build-
ing was a rough-built shanty, made of pine or redwood boards, and in use in summer
only. A friendly, neighboring tree had to make up for all of the deficiencies of Toof.
About the same time a district public school was established at Knights Ferry. The
pupils were children of the Dent, the Lane and the Magee families. For want of a
better location, the school was opened in one end of a stable. Horses occupied the
upper end. The "stable" school was only a temporary affair, however, as the citizens
soon collected enough money to build "the little school on the hill." Another school
overcrowded from the first day, was the school established in the Bel Passi district.
It was thought necessary to start a school in that district and they took possession of a
little shanty erected in 1869 by L. C. Branch. He erected it to "bunk" here once a
month, as the law required, and thus secure the title to a quarter section of land. Of
course it was a small room for a school. The teacher in describing it said : "I was
obliged to stand in the doorway while teaching, and look in." John Tulloch, the
veteran quartz miner, understanding the condition of affairs in Buena Vista, in 1869
erected a school building opposite the town, for the use of the children in that vicinity.
In that same year a brick school building was erected at Tuolumne City through the
efforts of the ladies of the town. The Neivs in writing of the ladies' work said, Sep-
tember 29, 1869, "One of the greatest requirements of our place is a first-class school-
house. Some considerable sum has been collected already for the building of a school-
house and the ladies will give a grand festival at the coming fair for that purpose."


We have already noticed the little district school at Modesto located at the south-
east corner of the block, corner H and Tenth streets, later (1876) the location of
Samuel M. Oaves' drug store. Charles Light, born at La Grange, and then a boy
of fifteen, said : "There was one small schoolhouse at Modesto on the hill. Not more
than thirty persons attended this school at one time. They ranged from youngsters to
grown-up people and were of all nationalities except Negroes, Chinese and Japs."

Before the town had been many months founded the more intelligent citizens
began discussing the proposition of a large and comfortable school building for their
children. As the town was not incorporated the trustees had no authority to collect
taxes or make any contracts for a large school building such as was desired. The Legis-
lature, however, could give them that power, and April 1, 1872, Thomas J. Keyes,
then senator from Stanislaus County, introduced a bill which passed, declaring that
"the Board of Trustees of the Modesto School district shall publish an advertisement
in the weekly paper calling for plans for a schoolhouse." After the plans and bids for
the building were accepted the trustees were authorized to levy an assessment on all
taxable property.

There was a blockade somewhere. Perhaps the assessment would not bring in
sufficient money to build a school and purchase a suitable piece of property and proba-
bly the supervisors refused to obey the law. In the matter of property, however, the
contract and finance committee of the Southern Pacific came to the trustees' assistance
and deeded the town the west quarter of block on Fourteenth Street between I and H
streets. A new law was passed June 9, 1874, by the Legislature, which was signed
by Gov. Newton Booth, declaring that "the board of trustees must as soon as expedi-
ent, advertise for school plans; said school shall be erected on a portion of Block

No , donated or to be donated by the contract and finance committee or purchased

by the trustees." The supervisors were authorized to issue bonds not to exceed
$20,000, said bonds to be put into a separate fund in the county treasurer's office
and known as the Modesto School District building fund. The people were authorized
to elect an assessor and a collector for assessing and collecting the bonds.



The Modesto school trustees having the lot presented by the Central Pacific Rail-
road Company and the money from the sale of bonds began immediately the construc-
tion of a school building on Fourteenth Street. The building was two stories in
height, constructed of brick, with a porch along the entire front of the building, and
with wide front steps for the entrance. In the center of the building was a belfry,
and in it the traditional school bell, which when rung could be heard throughout the
town. The building contained nine rooms with plenty of light in each room but
with none of the conveniences of the school rooms of the present day. Each room in
winter was heated by a large stove and a pump in the yard furnished the drinking
water. The cost probably was about $15,000 and it was completed in time for the
fall session of the schools. The first teachers in the building from 1872 until 1876
were Wm. H. Robinson, principal, with Mrs. Owens, H. F. Turner and Win. B.
Howard as assistants. It seems, however, from a late report, that Mr. Crane and Miss
Maddux were teachers during those years. They had enrolled 27S children. The
old "red brick" school building remained in use until 1906 when it was replaced by
the present beautiful structure. When the belfry of the old schoolhouse was torn out
the rafters were seen thickly covered with the knife-carved names of hundreds of the
pupils of the school.

The Public School Cornerstone
In the northeast corner of the present Fourteenth Street school, there is laid a
small granite stone and inscribed upon it the figures 1872-1906. I cannot understand
the meaning of the date 1872 unless it stands for the date of the foundation of the
first Modesto public school, for the cornerstone was not laid in the little "red
brick" until St. John the Baptist's Day, June 24, 1874. However, on that day the
Grand Lodge of "Masons, who had been requested by the Modesto school trustees to
lay the cornerstone of the new school building, assembled early in the afternoon in the
Masonic Temple, the James Building, corner of H and Eleventh streets. Isaac S.
Titus, the most worshipful grand master, called the lodge to order and appointed
the following grand officers, pro tern, to assist him in laying the cornerstone: Wm.
Grollman, deputy grand master; J. J. Chapman, senior grand warden; A. Hewel,
junior grand warden; Elihu B. Beard, grand treasurer; L. B. Walthall, grand secre-
tary; George Belknap, grand chaplain; J. D. Spencer, errand orator; Georee Buck,
grand marshal ; John W. Laird, grand Bible bearer ; W. J. Houston, grand senior
deacon; John H. Hays, grand junior deacon; H. M. Ross and John Visher, grand
stewards, and H. G. James, grand tyler. A procession was formed comprising
Stanislaus Lodge of Masons, the Grand Lodge and the public school children accom-
panied by their teachers, Miss Maddux and Mr. Crane, and to the soul-stirring music
of the Modesto band they marched to the new building site. On arrival the ceremony
was opened by prayer bv the grand chaplain. Maj. James Burney, county superin-
tendent of schools, stated the object of the gathering and invited the Grand Lodge to
officiate in the laying of the cornerstone. The grand master in a short address informed
the senior grand warden that "it is my will and pleasure that the Grand Lodge do now
assist me in the performance of this pleasing duty. This you will communicate to the
iunior grand warden and he to the craft." When informed that a cornerstone had
been prepared, the grand master requested the erand secretary to read the contents of
the casket to be deposited in the cornerstone. The articles were as follows: A list of
the officers of the state Grand Lodge of Masons, Stanislaus Lodge No. 206, Modesto
district school trustees, a copy of the Stanislaus News, San Joaquin Valley Mirror.
Pacific Methodist South Church Discipline, by-laws and list of officers of the Farmers.
Savings Bank of Stanislaus, a trade dollar of 1874, a half-dollar of 1873, a dime of
1873, and a twenty-dollar gold piece. The casket was then placed in the cavity and
sealed up with the beautiful ceremony of Masonry. When this was completed an ora-
tion was delivered by the grand orator, J. D. Spencer, and the Masons then returned
to their hall.


Schools Overcrowded

The number of children in Modesto according to the school census on May 31,
1889, was 862. Of this number 666 were of school age namely, between five and
seventeen years. The number attending the public schools was 528, and twenty-six
were attending private schools. In that year school room was at a premium and in
September the Neics asserted : "The schools are overcrowded and the trustees are com-
pelled to rent the Congregational church with Ida Dennett, the daughter of the Rev.
Westley Dennett, as teacher. They are compelled to charge for scholars outside of the
city limits as follows: grammar grades, three dollars per month, third grade, two
dollars and fifty cents per month and all below that grade two dollars per month." At
that time the Sixth Street school had been established. It was in an old house that
had been removed from Tuolumne City. It was located where now stands the present
fine structure and was used as a school building for many years. The teachers on the
West Side at that time, 1889, were W. E. Lindsey and Mary Aull. Miss Aull had
then been teaching for ten years, as she was a teacher in the brick school in 1880-81,
together with Clara Pendergast, Louise Crow, Berry H. Howard and Principal D.
S. Braddock. There were in the building 289 scholars, 149 being boys. Two of the
pupils in the principal's class were Laura Garlinghouse and C. C. Young, now
lieutenant-governor of California.

The High School Organized

In the red brick schoolhouse the grammar grade course of study only was taught
until 1883 when the principal at that time, R. S. Hohvay, established a high school
course of study. It was a three years' course and included all of the studies usually
taught in the high schools of the state at that time. Forty pupils entered the class,
but they kept dropping out until only three boys and seven girls completed the work.
The course was completed in May, 1886, under Prof. J. F. Wayman, R. S. Hohvay
in the meantime having accepted a position in the State University at Berkeley. The
ten who graduated were Leah Elias (now Mrs. Louis Harris), Ella Wood (Mrs.
Ella Hancock), Laura Garlinghouse (Mrs. George Springsteen), Stella Finley (Mrs.
W. H. Frazine, now deceased), Belle McMullin (Mrs. George Wood of Ceres),
Tille and Aggie Lewis, who with their classmates became teachers in the public
schools, John B. Zimdars, now practicing law in San Francisco, James G. Thompson,
now practicing medicine in Oakland, and Sol P. Elias, Stanford graduate of law and
now manager of the D. & G. D. Plato establishment, and local historic enthusiast of
Stanislaus County.

The Commencement Exercises

The graduating exercises of the class took place May 27, 1886, in Rodgers
Hall. It was a very important event and the room was more than crowded
with the friends and relatives of the graduates. The newspaper said the following
day: "The ladies kept coming until the gentlemen were crowded out of their seats
and back and back until they were crowded out of the hall, not even having standing
room." None in that hall were happier nor prouder than the graduates and over the
front of the stage the audience read their motto, Finis Coronat Opus, "The end
crowns the work." The diplomas were presented to the class by Attorney C. C.
Wright, a former school teacher at La Grange. The program which was quite
lengthy, comprised a piano solo, by O. E. Zimdars ; essay, "The Tendency of Our Gov-
ernment," Sol P. Elias; essay, "Something of Nature's Law," Tillie Lewis; reading,
"The Execution of Montrose," Laura Garlinghouse; quartette, "Come Rise with the
Lark"; a study, "The Princess," Stella Finley; recitation, "The Knight and the Lady,"
вАҐLeah Elias; zither solo, Laura Horn; "Class Chronicles," Aggie Lewis; essay, "Fin-
ished," Belle McMullin ; soprano solo, "Rose of the Alps," Ella Snowden ; oration,
"The Power of Wealth," James G. Thompson; essay, "Aim of Life," Ella Wood;
essay, "The Growth of Society," John B. Zimdars; solo, "Fly with Me," from the
opera "Ernani," Mrs. Ella Hoag; address, "Books and Reading" by C. C. Stratton of
the Pacific University; presentation of diplomas by C. C. Wright.


The First High School Building

The citizens of Modesto although indifferent and neglectful regarding the civic
and moral affairs of the town were very progressive and wide-awake regarding school
matters and in December, 1899, a petition was circulated for a "special election for
the purpose of submitting the question of establishing a district high school." A suffi-
cient number of signatures for calling the election were easily obtained. The News
in commenting upon the petition said : "Although the high school studies are taught in
the Modesto public schools and a special tax is voted each year to employ teachers,
in addition to the lower grades, and while the high school is on the accredited list of
the State University, the advantage of having a separate school cannot be under-
estimated." The tax was voted by the people and without losing any time the
trustees purchased a block of land where now stands the departmental school. It was
at that time the baseball ground and owned in part by the German Bank of San
Francisco. Plans were drawn for a large two-story brick building with a high con-
creted basement. The work was commenced in November and the building completed
on March 30 of the following year. The building and block cost $21,000, the
block alone costing $1,500. It was first occupied in September, 1900, by the high
school and eighth grade pupils, eighty-one scholars in the two grades, Thomas Downey
then being principal of the high school. For seventeen years this building was known
as the high school building. In the meantime the children had increased to thousands
and for their school accommodations three more handsome grammar school buildings
had been erected, the Sixth Str^t and the Washington Street schools on the "west
side" and the Seventh Street building on the "east side." The high school building
had become an out-of-date, obsolete affair. Another bond election was carried and
the school trustees in 1919 erected another beautiful and up-to-date high school, on
the banks of the Tuolumne River at the end of I Street. More school room is
required and an extension will soon be constructed.

Graduating Class of 1890
The teachers in the brick school in 1890 were Thomas Downey, principal; J. C.
Levengood, vice-principal; Mary McLean, Ida Dennett, E. A. Weaver, Laura Garling-
house, Elma Hanscom and Mrs. E. McClure. The graduating or commencement
exercises of the high school class of that year were again held in Rodgers hall and the
room was "filled to suffocation." The stage was handsomely decorated and at its apex,
lettered in gold, was the class motto: "Do That You Do." Upon a maroon back-
ground in white flowers were the words, "Class of '90." The program commenced
with a piano duet by the Misses Johns and Parsons; chorus, by the Class; oration,
"Education," H. M. Hardin; essay, "Self Reliance," Anna M. Vesey; vocal solo,
Zelda Turner; essay, "William Pitt," George E. Perley ; essay, Belle Christman;
cornet solo, D. C. Smith; essay, "Our Inventions," H. M. Cavill ; piano duet, Prof. H.
Hintze and Allie Cressey ; essay, "Struggles of Life," B. F. Lewis; vocal solo, Nettie
Beaty; address, "Farewell," Ida Ross.

The High School Alumni
The alumni was organized in 1886, the ten graduates of that year being the
charter members. They held their meeting annually in the brick schoolhouse. Their
first president seems to have been George P. Schafer, and as he was absent at their
regular meeting, June 22, 1887, Tillie Lewis presided as president. The officers
elected for 1889-90 were John B. Zimdars, president; Sol P. Elias, vice-president,
and Belle McMuIlin, secretary. The alumni then numbered thirty members, the
number being increased to thirty-five by the election to membership of George E.
Perley, H. M. Hardin, Anna M. Vesey, Wm. H. Cavill and B. F. Lewis, graduates
of 1890. It seems to have been the custom of the alumni, during the first few years
for the alumni to hold their yearly receptions in the home of some one of the graduates.
It was a pretty custom and in 1893 the graduates met in the beautiful home of the
Misses Turner on Sixteenth street. A short program had been prepared, comprising
a piano solo by Millie Parsons and Lucy Kittrelle, and vocal solos by Zelda Turner and


Laura De Yoe, later one of the most accomplished vocalists of the valley. The
program closed with a selection by the quartette, Laura De Yoe, Ida Ross, J. M.
Walthall and Herman Rice. Among the guests of the alumni was Blanche Hewel,
Helen Ogden, Myrtie Conneau, Lois Garlinghouse, Nellie Gridley, Belle Hewel,
Lulu Ingle, Mary James, Mora Stevenson, Bertha Toombs, Edith Turner, Sadie
Millman, Eddie Walthall, George Ingle, Walter Chadwick, Charles Hilton, George
Jamison, Hugh Walthall, Earl Tulloch and Jacob Weil. Quite a number of those
present were graduates of the high school of 1893, pupils of Thomas Downey.

In time the alumni association became so large in numbers with yearly additions
from the graduating classes that it became cumbersome and uninteresting and it was
discontinued. It was reorganized on June 18, 1921, with 115 charter members. Sol. P.
Elias was elected president, Charles Wherry, vice-president and Florella Finney, secre-
tary and treasurer. Seated around the banquet table toasts were offered and speeches
made by Thomas Downey, the veteran in school work; Charles Morris, vice-principal
of the high school ; W. E. Faught, city school superintendent, and E. R. Utter, teacher
in the high school. The following teachers were made honorary members of the
association: Professors R. S. Holway and Thomas Downey, W. E. Faught, E. R.
Utter, C. S. Morris, Miss Alice Lyon, Mrs. Carrie Dexter Utterback and A. G.
Elmore, county school superintendent. The following are the charter members of the
reorganized alumni association: 1886, Sol P. Elias, Mrs. Louis Harris (Leah Elias) ;
1889, H. B. Rice; 1890, Isabel Christman Kinnear; 1891, Charles W. Barnett; 1892,
Mabel Perley Stone; 1895, Lourein Fuquay Elmore; 1896, Louis Le Hane; 1898,
A. G. Elmore, Olive M. Turner Dennett; 1901, Irene N. Kiernan, Ethel Beard
Hoover; 1902, Mrs. Edgar Annear, Mrs. Francis J. Bangs, Clara E. Finnev, Blanche
Wickman, Mrs. W. E. Faught; 1905, Elveda Turner Morris; 1907, J. I. Hammett;
1908, Neil M. Cecil, R. I. Guy; 1909, Florella K. Finnev; 1912, Laura Watson,
Isabel Laughlin; 1913, May Philbrick, Grace Gray, Clara M. Keeley, Mr. and Mrs.
Loren S. Hadlev (Rubv Hart), Mr. and Mrs. H. D. Grundy, Marion Downev,
J. S. Marriott; 1914, Marie Wren, L. E. and Alice Jones; 1915, Melville D. Harris,
Isle Downey, Evelvn Sorem, C. S. Morris, a teacher 1921 ; 1916, Anna Alway, Doris
Dozier, Harrell Watson, E. R. Utter, De Witt R. Lee, Hugh H. Griswold; 1917,
Simon W. Holtham, R. B. Austin, Isabel Crow, Millie McLaughlin, Lillis Watson,
Wood J. Guyler, Walter Andrews, Leland D. Simpson, M. C. Fulkerth, I. C.
Downer, Howard Campbell; 1918, Esther Chapman, Maryon R. Bell, Charles H.
Bell, Marjorie and Charles Wherrv, May McLaughlin, E. Roe Fisher, Almeda Gant,
Velma Griffin, Mrs. Charles S. Morris, Mrs. E. R. Utter; 1919, J. Paul Moore, Sam
H. Winklebleck, Esther C. Tully, Jessie Stinson, Hugh Brinkerhoff, Carvell N. Clark,
Carl J. Vogt, Sara Thompson, Alberta B. Peterson, Rose Ginatti ; 1920, Lenora Jane

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 18 of 177)