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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seated 2000 and two evening performances and a matinee were given. The chorus
comprised some 250 voices, the best singers in the county, and an orchestra of forty
pieces, together with several imported singers. The local soloists were Mrs. Laura
De Yoe Brown and Miss Grace Cox, sopranos; John Bates, baritone, and Professor


Twicher, conductor. The imported singers were Mrs. Vela Ruggles Jenkins, soprano
of the First Presbyterian Church, Oakland ; Mrs. Jennie Le Nois Schultz, alto ; Jonas
H. Anderson, baritone; Charles Bullotti, tenor; Fred Zeb, solo flutist, and H. Holmes,
solo 'cellist. The first evening was called Oratorio Night, and selections were sung
from the Messiah, Stabat Mater and Jerusalem. The second night was Opera Night,
all of the selections being sung from operas by Verdi, Strauss, Gounod, Sullivan,
Donizetti and Offenbach.


The Southern Pacific Railroad passing along Front street erected a small freight
and passenger depot on the southeast corner of Front and I streets. The little red
depot was destroyed by fire in the early '80s. The company then erected the present
freight depot. As the city grew and prospered after the introduction of water to the
fertile lands, the citizens began building beautiful homes and business blocks, laying
fine streets and erecting handsome buildings. At this time, 1912, the business men
had erected a handsome arch across I Street near the depot and they requested the
Southern Pacific Company to remove the old dilapidated depot and erect one in
keeping with the beautiful city. "Oh, yes," said the company, "we will replace the
old shack with a handsome depot, provided you pass an ordinance closing I Street."
The citizens were up in arms immediately, and no wonder. I Street was the principal
business street of the city. It was well paved and the direct highway to Paradise
City. And now the Southern Pacific requested them to close the street, ruin all
business traffic and obstruct the beautiful view to the west. The company sent a
smooth-talking committee to Modesto to show the trustees that the closing of the street
would increase the value of property in that vicinity and improve business, but the
level-headed fathers failed to appreciate their arguments. A few years later the
Southern Pacific sprung another plan for a depot. They succeeded in having the
trustees call a vote of the people on the closing of J and Front streets for the purpose
of erecting a depot. The proposition carried and in 1915 the present handsome depot
was erected.


The leading citizens of the city, including the women, believed it would be an
excellent idea to erect ornamental structures along the leading streets of the city
beginning on I Street. The idea met with a hearty approval and in May, 1911, the
business men assembled in Schafer's hall and the committee reported a design shown
in water colors. It was not satisfactory, for in August they offered a price of fifty
dollars for the "best design or arch over I Street near the depot." A design was
selected and erected in 1912. The arch spans I Street 'at the intersection of Front
Street. It is constructed of structural steel and rests on two solid granite pillars
twelve feet in height. It is seventy-five feet in width and twenty-five feet center height.
The money was obtained by subscriptions, varying in amount from five dollars to
one hundred dollars, and cost something like $1 ,200. In the bow of the arch are these
words that may be read from either side, Water, Wealth, Contentment, Health. The
arch can be illuminated at night and in four words it tells the story of the condition
of Stanislaus County since the Sierras' waters began irrigating the land.


In the same year that the memorial arch was erected a merchants' association
was organized for the purpose of securing a better harmony of action, promoting trade,
securing protection from dead-beat customers, unworthy advertising schemes and innu-
merable donations from every conceivable thing under the sun. The movement was
started by John D. Turner, hardware merchant, and March 2, 1912, about thirty
merchants assembled in the city hall and formed the association. At a subsequent
meeting the organization was perfected and John D. Turner elected president and
Frank D. Hanscom, secretary. A number of directors also were chosen, they to have
full control and manage the affairs of the association. The membership embraced
all classes of citizens. This promiscuous membership for some reason was not satis-


factor}' and in June, 1913, a reorganization was effected. Under the new organization
none but merchants and professional men were eligible to membership.

In the previous year, February 2, the merchants of Modesto entertained for a
few hours an excursion train of San Francisco merchants out on a junketing trip to
"shake the glad hand," form new acquaintances and drum up trade. They arrived at
Modesto about 2:30. It was raining heavily, but nevertheless they were greeted by
hundreds of citizens and the Women's Improvement Club, each visitor receiving a
buttonhole bouquet. The party were shown the splendid progressiveness of Modesto
and their entertainment concluded that evening with a smoker in the Masonic hall.
W. H. Langdon was toastmaster of the evening and addresses were made by George
Stoddard, L. L. Dennett, Sol Elias and other local citizens.

The Merchants' Association held its first banquet July 19, 1913, in the Modesto
Grill on Tenth Street. It was a very enthusiastic gathering and much of interest was
brought before the association by those who responded to the toasts. Frank A. Cressey,
the manager of the Modesto Gas & Electric Light Company, was the toastmaster.
Responses to the toasts were made by the president of the association, John Furner;
the secretary, Frank Hanscom ; A. L. Cowell, the editor of the Evening News; C. M.
Clary, Sylvain Latz, C. F. Gailfus, Sol P. Elias and W. H. Killian, editor of the
Morning Herald. The president and the secretary reviewed the work of the organ-
ization and the future plans for carrying out their business to the best advantage.

The cemetery lies about a mile to the north of Modesto on an extension of H
Street, and it was laid out soon after the founding of the town. To the east of the
city cemetery those of the Catholic faith are buried, while to the west the I. O. O. F.
and the Masonic orders have laid to rest their dead. The Grand Army plot lies in the
city cemetery and is noticeable because of two immense cannon, grim sentinels of war,
that stand at either end. Sacred be the memory of the dead, it has ever been the
custom of the wives and daughters to visit the sacred spot and there lay loving gifts
of remembrance. For many years, however, it was very difficult to reach the silent
city because of the deep sand of summer and the rains of winter, and we read that in
1890 a grateful public were thankful to City Councilman Wallace because he suc-
ceeded in having the council lay a board sidewalk to the cemetery. Last year (1920) a
splendid extension of H Street was made to that point.

Oramil McHenry was the son of Robert McHenry and born in Stanislaus County
in 1861. His father owned, among other lands, the Bald Eagle Ranch of 2,600 acres
and later extended to 4,000 acres. When the Modesto bank was organized in 1878
Mr. McHenry became its cashier, and upon the incorporation of the First National
Bank, 1884, he became its president. His son, Oramil, was appointed bookkeeper and
upon his father's death in 1890 he succeeded his father as president of the bank.

A Mr. Rodgers, as we remember, had a free reading room and library on I Street,
near Eleventh, as early as 1890. Later there was said to be a free library in the Cali-
fornia House on H Street. There was also a book-renting library, the location now
unknown. This library in 1907 was taken over by the city trustees and supported by
taxation, the annual income being $750. It was opened as a free library September 4,
1907, with Miss Blanche Bates as the librarian. In the California State Library
reports we, learn that the Modesto Billiard Club, disbanding in December, 1907, gave
one-half of the money realized from the sale of their fixtures to the free library. It
appears also that the Friday Afternoon Club disbanded December 10, 1907, and they
gave to the library 239 books, mostly fiction. In giving the history of the Women's
Improvement Club. Mrs. Alice S. Dozier says that the club started the city library
under state law and the trustees for the first three years were Mrs. May Griffin, Mrs.
Louise Carson, Mrs. Alice Stone Dozier, Mrs. Mamie Surryhne and Mrs. Susan Hart ;
that the first "Tag Day" in California was given by the club for the free library. It
was held in October, 1907, and $176 was realized for the purchase of library books. In


July, 1908, the librarian reported that $32.50 per month was received from the rent of
rooms and a further income of $1,500 per year from taxation.

In the meantime things went on quietly until the death of Oramil McHenry.
Then the public were pleased to learn that he had left a bequest of $20,000, mostly
in bonds, for the erection of a free public library, together with four lots on Tenth
Street, where now stands the Cressey Building. In the bequest Mr. McHenry named
the following persons as the first board of trustees: John W. Ross, a leader in Chris-
tian Endeavor work; L. H. Fulkerth, now a Judge of the Superior Court; J. J.
McMahon, L. L. Dennett, the attorney, and Mrs. Myrtie McHenry, now the wife
of Judge William H. Langdon, she to serve during her lifetime, if she so desired. As
the support of the library would come from city taxation it was necessary for the
library board of trustees and the city board to act in conjunction in the erection of the
building and its maintenance. This conjunction was effected February 15, 1911. The
question came up as to the location of the library. Mr. McHenry probably intended
that it should be on Tenth Street in a central location, but the trustees believed that
an outside location would be far preferable and a deal was made with David Callendar
for a lot 90x97 feet on the corner of I and Fourteenth streets. The lots on Tenth
Street were sold for $10,000 and one-half of the amount was paid to Mr. Callendar
as a last payment on the lot. The plans of Architect Weeks of San Francisco were
accepted and the work of building was commenced in October, 1911, and the library
completed in April of the following year at a cost of $22,000, the furnishings costing
$5,000 extra. The old library was now closed and the librarian. Miss Cornelia
Provines, began the work of removing the books to the new library building. The
new library was opened to the public for the loaning of books May 1, 1912. Soon
afterward Miss Provines was appointed to a position in the state library and she was
succeeded by Miss Bessie Silverthorn of Yreka.

An interesting event in 1889 was the celebration of Admission Day, September
9, by the pioneers, who enjoyed a banquet in the Union Hotel. It was the first brick
hotel in Modesto and was opened in June, 1889, by Thomas F. Woodside. The Native
Sons Parlor attended the banquet by invitation, and the following pioneers were
present: Henry G. James, R. R. Warner, John Carmon, H. A. Anderson, A. Herring-
ton, Smith Turpin, Miner Walden, D. S. Husband, George B. Douglas, John H.
Carpenter, B. E. Nathan, John H. Bond, P. C. Greer, C. P. Garner, W. P. Catron,
L. B. Walthall, E. Meinecke, A. J. Ford, Ernest Probst, William Dallas, G. N. Scott,
R. B. Hall, A. M. Hill, E. B. Wool, C. H. Finlev, C. W. Eastin, C. H. Vogelman,
William Floto, P. H. Griffin, R. T. Young, T. O. Owen, E. E. Howell, W. B.
Gambler, Thomas D. Harp, Charles Hill, I. S. Loventhal, John Reedy, J. H. Maddrill
and H. G. Vogelman.

The W. C. T. U. hold in cherished remembrance the name of that woman of
national fame, Miss Frances Willard, and well they may for she it was who organized
the first society in the county. Visiting Modesto in April, 1883, she published a call
in the daily papers for all women interested in the temperance Christian movement to
meet her on April 14, in the Methodist Episcopal Church. About thirty women
assembled. The meeting was opened with prayer and Miss Willard then delivered
an address upon the work of Women's Christian Temperance Union. A city union
was then organized to be known as Modesto W. C. T. U. Mrs. W. S. Urmy was
elected president; Mrs. Garrison Turner, secretary; Mrs. Mary A. Wood, treasurer,
and Mrs. A. F. Gilbert, librarian. The charter members of the organization were
Mesdames Theodore Turner, M. A. Wood, A. J. Hart, A. Burdick, W. S. Urmy, A.
Teft, George Turner, T. E. B. Rice, W. E. Turner, B. R. Jones, N. R. Stone,
A. L. Gilbert, A. M. Prescott and the Misses M. P. Penny, Kate Rice and Jennie
Cookson. In the following year a local union was formed at Ceres, where the founder


of the town, Darnel Whitmore, placed a "no liquor" clause in the deed to every lot
sold by him. In Oakdale a local union was organized in 1887. The first county
union was organized April 17, 1887. Mrs. Fanny Wood was elected president; Mrs.
A. E. Ullrich, secretary, with Mrs. Dorcas Spencer assisting in the organization.
Among the earliest presidents was Mrs. J. P. Purvis, wife of the sheriff. She was a
school teacher, the first woman in the county to be placed upon a political party ticket
rmd the woman who caused to be introduced into the legislature the first anti-cigarette
hill. She was followed by Mrs. Reichenbach of Oakdale, who caused the arrest of
several of the demimonde of that town in 1911. She served as president five years.
Then followed Mrs. T. F. Woodside of Oakdale and, in yearly succession, Mrs.
Hackett of Prescott, Mrs. Pelton of Riverbank, Mrs. Lessick of Salida, Mrs. C. Case
of Ceres, Mrs. Tarr from Turlock and Mrs. Sollick of Wood Colony. The silver
anniversary celebration of the county union was held in the First Presbyterian Church,
May 9, 1911, and Mrs. Garrison Turner then gave the history of the organization. A
former pastor of the church, M. J. Williams, delivered an address.

It was in that year, 1911, that the W. C. T. U. resolved to clean up the county,
if possible, of the "red light" district. Unexpectedly but effectively they fired the first
nun of the campaign by arresting, February 10, 1911, all of the inmates of the house in
Oakdale ; Sheriff Dingley made the arrests on warrants sworn out by Mrs. Reichenbach.
The women were taken to Modesto and placed in jail. It was then stated that the
next move would be made in the tenderloin districts of Modesto, as there women were
violating the law by selling liquor and acting most disgracefully by appearing at their
windows in a nude condition while the passengers passing through the town were at
the depot. A petition was presented to the council January 6, 1912, to close up those
houses, but the trustees refused to take any action and there was quite a heated dis-
cussion over the matter by W. J. Brown and Mayor Wren. As a result writs of
injunction were issued January 30 and served by the deputy sheriff upon the property
owners, Teddy Martin, whose house stood between the alley and Seventh Street, the
house of Mamie Burns next door, all of the houses on G Street, between the alley and
Seventh Street, and the leading house of the town, "The White House," kept by
Clara Le Rev.


Visions of Modesto's future greatness flitted through the minds of many of her
citizens, and in a speech L. W. Fulkerth prophesied that at a certain year Modesto
would have 10,000 inhabitants. When that year arrived the city- had 15,000 inhab-
itants. Believing a street car line a necessity, L. W. Fulkerth and other citizens as
early as 1888 organized a corporation and obtained a franchise to run a street car line
through the streets of Modesto. In June, 1893, John Dunlap and J. W. Woods made
application to the board of supervisors to run an electric railroad from the San Joaquin
River through Modesto and Oakdale to Sonora, a distance of sixty miles. They pro-
posed to take their water power from the Stanislaus River near Knights Ferry, and
open up the large quarries of slate and marble in Tuolumne County. This, like the
-treet railroad, did not materialize.

There were no more railroad projects until 1910, at which time two electric rail-
roads were headed from Stockton to Modesto. The promoter of the one electric rail-
road was Morris L. Brackett and it was proposed to run this road from Stockton
through French Camp, Ripon, Salida and Woods to Modesto. The company actually
graded twenty-four miles of road and this ended the San Joaquin Valley' Electric
Railroad. Its successor was the Tidewater Southern, running from Stockton through
Escalon, Standiford to Modesto. Railroads are usually constructed from tidewater to
the interior, but this road was constructed, part of it at least, from interior Modesto
to tidewater Stockton; and July 7, 1912, an excursion train, filled with Modesto's
citizens, ran from that town to the Stanislaus River, eight miles distant. The bridge
across the Stanislaus River was completed about the 20th of August and the first
through train left Stockton Saturday, October 5, 1912. It comprised a steam loco-
motive, a flat car and two coaches with the road officials and about 200 Stocktonians.


On arrival at Modesto they found about forty automobiles awaiting them, and the
guests were taken on a trip over Modesto's finely paved streets, they admired the many
beautiful homes and visited the Stanislaus Agricultural and Livestock Exposition.
They could remain only a short time and left Modesto at four o'clock. The Tide-
water began running regular trains October 8, using steam locomotive power until the
completion of their electric line.

In 1900 a company of Stanislaus citizens proposed to run a railroad from Oak-
dale through Modesto to Crows Landing or Newman, then on to tidewater at Antioch,
a distance of 100 miles. They incorporated May 21, 1900, under the name of the
Modesto & Yosemite Valley Railroad Company. Their capital stock was $100,000, all
of which was subscribed by the directors, Jacob Haslacher, Louis Kahn, Charles T.
Tulloch, John J. Tucker, Frank A. Cressey, Charles A. Tillson and George Perley.

The first July 4th celebration in Stanislaus County took place at Wallis, in 1852.
It was a rather quiet affair but the correspondent declared : "We had a great sovereign
gathering of the people of Tuolumne and San Joaquin counties at Wallis on the
Stanislaus River to celebrate our glorious natal day." Colonel Wallis was president
of the day and made a short speech. The Declaration of Independence was read at
twelve o'clock by Dr. Lear, which was followed by an oration by Senator Paul Hubbs.
The band then played "Hail, Columbia," which was greeted with deafening cheers,
drowning out the music. The entire company then sat down to a banquet and the
toastmaster presented the regular toast "completed by big links of racy wit and humor
tvhich entertained the company until the waning moon led them homeward bound."

At Tuolumne City in 1854, July 4th was celebrated in a becoming and patriotic
spirit. A most excellent entertainment was provided under the superintendence' of
Mr. and Mrs. Gruel, who on this propitious occasion catered most liberally to the
public. About 150 persons sat down to a sumotuous dinner in Mr. Miner's store.
The table was supplied with "elk roasted entire" and other appropriate viands. The
district attorney read the Declaration of Independence which "was listened to with the
deepest attention," after which Mr. Swanzy delivered "a most eloquent oration."
An excellent band played suitable tunes after each toast and at a late hour the com-
pany separated.


One of the most loyal and patriotic towns in Central California during the Civil
War was Knights Fern'. And the anniversary of American Independence, July 4,
1861, was celebrated, in a splendid manner, with a parade of the Invincibles, led by the
Knights Ferry band. The musicians during the afternoon "discoursed sweet music on
the Plaza" opposite Gardner's Hotel. The day ended with a grand ball at the hotel.

In the '80s, said a resident, Modesto had a population of about 2,000 persons and
it had not undergone those changes which come with a large population, different in
thought, customs and habits. It had not reached that clannishness of sex and race
common to all large cities, and it still possessed the democracy of its earlier years. The
original settlers were still here and, whether artisan or banker, the children erew up
together in the burg, went to the same red brick schoolhouse and mingled in all of the
functions of the church, the lodge, society or the school. They came together in the
village debating society and in the Band of Hope. Everybodv in town was well
acquainted with his neighbor and everybody knew everybody in Modesto. It was like
a big happy family and all of the families were on visiting terms with each other.
There were no sets nor cliques ; the social events were gala affairs, parties and picnics
were frequent, and well attended by the young lads and belles from all parts of the
county. When the yearly function, the town ball, occurred, which was given bv the
Young Men's Club, as the opening event of the season, the entire population


The town in its earlier history was isolated from the great world, especially
during the winter months during which there was but few business transactions and
scarcely any travel either by the Southern Pacific or by buggies and carriages. To
while away the long, dreary winter hours the young men organized the Modesto
Amateur Dramatic Club and appointed George Perley as the business manager. The
club proposed not only to enjoy the winter months in a series of plays, but they also had
in view a worthy object, that of making some money for the schoolhouse building fund.
Unfortunately they were much disappointed in the financial results, clearing only
$39.60 from the entire series of performances. The play selected for their opening
performance was "Ten Nights in a Bar-Room," a play then quite popular among the
barn-storming theatrical companies then traveling over the state. It was intended as a
moral lesson against the use of liquor as it represented a young man, a moderate
drinker, frequenting bar-rooms, his marriage and his gradual downfall into a confirmed
drunkard. It well may have been prefaced by the song later composed, "Where Is My
Wandering Boy Tonight." There was, however, in the plav a remarkably sad scene.
The scene is a bar-room, with parties drinking at the bar and others lounging around
the room. The door slowly opens and a little girl, clothed in rags, timidly enters.
She sees her father, and going up to him she takes him by the hand and plaintively

"Father, dear father, come home with me now,

The clock in the steeple strikes ten ;

You promised dear mother that you would come home

As soon as your day's work was done.

Come home, please, father, dear father, come home."

And unable to withstand the pleadings of the child, the father staggers from the room.
As there was no place of entertainment at that time the management engaged the
hay loft of the Ross barn on I Street, between Ninth and Tenth streets. In the rear
of the barn a stage was erected, tallow candles were placed at the front of the stage for
footlights and coal oil lamps arranged around the side of the stable "lit up the gloom."
The orchestra was quite pretentious, as the leader, U. G. Munger, a violinist, had
formerly played in the San Francisco theaters. The evening of the play was February
27, 1872, and as it had been well advertised in the Evening News, a large crowd was
present from the town and surrounding county. Two hundred and fifty persons, it is
stated, were present, so many were compelled to stand during the entire performance.
A number of small, makeshift dressing rooms had been built near the stage and an

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 24 of 177)