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 26 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 26 of 177)
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carried the law could not be enforced until February 15, 1915. It was a just amend-
ment, giving the liquor men time to close out their business, and the county voted for it,
5,822 yes and 3,649 no. The sec6nd little joker declared that after the election no
further legislation could be taken upon the liquor question until 1918. Upon this
amendment the county voted 7,528 no and 3,075 yes.

The liquor men felt sure of their interests winning on the Prohibition amend-
ments, just as the Modesto liquor men were sure on winning out on the high license
proposition. They had not awakened to the fact that the public conscience would no
longer stand for the liquor traffic and the vice which surrounded it. The citizens of
Modesto were called upon to vote on a proposition that the city trustees issue no
more saloon liquor licenses and that all saloons must close their doors within ten days
following the election, if the proposition carried. The liquor men came back with a
counter proposition signed by them and many "business" men that the saloons be regu-
lated and pay a high license. The election took place July 10, 1912, and the campaign
was the hottest ever waged in the state. Anti-saloon meetings were held in the court-
house plaza, and David Rose, a former mayor of Milwaukee, delivered speeches in the
Auditorium. Sunday night "he spoke to a large crowd that overflowed the Auditorium
and yelled lustily at the speaker's remarks." On the day of election the anti-saloon
forces of men staged a spectacular parade. It was made up of scores of women in
automobiles, women, men and children on foot and a division of babies in baby buggies.
Early in the morning the saloon men played the old political trick of circulating a
number of lies in order to win votes. Circulars were thrown about the streets stating
that the anti-saloonists' motto was "Down with the liquor traffic, down with the
Sunday baseball, down with the Sunday theater, down with the Modesto pool rooms,"
and its work caused the antis to lose many votes, although at noon they got out dodgers
denying the lies.

The work of the saloon men was nearly perfect and by four o'clock in the after-
noon every pro-saloon vote had been cast. But when the votes were counted they lost
by forty votes. The vote was as follows: For high license and regulation, yes 895, no
1,164; for no license, yes 1,087, no 1047. It is stated that W. J. Brown conducted
the fight against the saloons, while F. G. Johnstone, Albert Schmidt and George Pike
were the wet generals. The courthouse precinct gave the "wets" 163 majority, but
the three other precincts cut that majority to 72. Then in came the Wisecarver pre-
cinct with 1 12 majority for the "bone drys" and it sealed the fate of the saloon.

Before the expiration of the ten days, Brown and Irvin, proprietors of the Olympia
saloon, commenced suit against the supervisors, mayor, city council and treasurer because
of the council's refusal to issue to them a liquor license, they claiming that the council
could regulate a saloon, but could not refuse them a license. George Pike demanded
a recount of the ballots on the ground that some electors had voted for high license and
for no license. The cases were brought up in the superior court, Judge McSorley of
Calaveras County presiding. He declared that the council had not only the right to


regulate but, through the initiative, to prohibit the sale of liquor. In the Pike case
only a few discrepancies were found, not enough to affect the general result. Shortly-
after this, though, the case was appealed from another county, and the supreme court
declared the law unconstitutional.

JULY 4TH, 1911

This natal day of the nation was celebrated in a splendid manner. The previous
evening the band gave a concert in the courthouse park. Early in the morning an
immense crowd began assembling from the surrounding country and plenty of amuse-
ments had been provided for their entertainment. In the afternoon there was an aero-
plane flight, dancing, broncho busting, parade of "horribles" and a carnival dance
in the evening in Rodgers Hall. During the morning, following the parade, literary
exercises were held in the plaza. George Perley was president of the day, with Miss
Caroline Foley as reader of the Declaration of Independence, and Edward F. Taylor,
poet and reader of San Francisco, as orator. During the exercises the chorus sang
several patriotic selections, among them "Hail to the Flag," composed by the director
of the chorus, Professor Twicher.

The parade, one of the best for many years, was led by Walter Garrison, grand
marshal, a veteran of the Spanish War. The procession comprised four divisions. In
the lead of the first division was the Modesto Brass Band, a beautiful float represent-
ing our country, with Mrs. Marion Wisecarver as the Goddess of Liberty, and a Grand
Army float in two sections. The first section was a float of Uncle Sam, the second
section, Miss Columbia, and a number of children singing patriotic songs. Then fol-
lowed the Woodmen of the World and the Knights of Pythias. The second division
was preceded by the Hilmar Colony Band, a beautiful float, The Women of Wood-
craft, the Fraternal Brotherhood, delegation of Odd Fellows, the Women's Christian
Temperance Union float, the Sylvan Club, Laurel Lodge, Modesto Improvement Club
and the Native Sons. The Modesto Boys' Band led the third division, with the Busi-
ness Men's float, the Modesto Fire Department, with Miss Jennie Butts as fire queen,
sitting in an automobile completely covered with red roses, then the Carpenters' Union
hauling a float of a miniature house. The Oakdale Band led the fourth division,
composed entirely of decorated automobiles contesting for the prizes offered.

One of the leading problems in the United States today is the labor problem.
Happily, in Modesto there seems to be a full harmony between the unions and the
business life, since the formation of the unions in 1910. The work of organizing a
union was commenced in 1909. The first charter granted was to the carpenters. This
was quickly followed by charters to the painters, paper hangers, plasterers and other
mechanics, and at the close of 1910 there were ten flourishing local unions with a mem-
bership of over four hundred members. Soon after obtaining their charter, the
Modesto locals affiliated with the Stockton Building Trades Council, in which they
were allowed three delegates. The Stockton Council assisted very materially in
organizing the Modesto unions. The unions gave their strong approval for the com-
mission form of government and worked for the municipal charter. They approve all
public improvements and when the project of a municipal theater was under discussion,
the unions donated $8,000 in work towards the fund.

JULY 4TH, 1917
The patriotic celebration held at Modesto in 1917 was certainly an innovation
and a remarkable success, as it was carried out by the Women's Improvement Club
and that, too, without any donations or subscriptions from individual citizens or firms.
To obtain the money actually necessary they had booths along the street and in the
plaza with refreshments and articles on sale. The parade was the best ever held in
Modesto. At nine o'clock there was a flag-raising ceremony on the railroad reserva-
tion under the auspices of the Native Sons. The ladies gave prizes for the* best
floats and this, as an incentive, brought out a large number of beautiful floats. The'
Native Sons had the largest float and perhaps the most interesting was "America,"


with Miss Bessie Palmerlee representing the Goddess of Liberty. All of the societies
in Modesto were in line, the Druids having the largest number, representing a living
flag. The parade was given something of a military appearance by Grant Post,
G. A. R., and two detachments from Companies K and L, National Guard of Cali-
fornia. Plenty of parade music was furnished by the Modesto Band, the Oakdale
Band and the Eagle Drum Corps of Stockton. The exercises of the day were held in
the courthouse square. Lewis L. Dennett was president of the day. Patriotic songs
were sung by a male quartet comprising Dr. J. P. Snare, Ray Bradbury, W. T. Rice
and R. W. Brace. The president's war message was read by Alion Sively of Oakdale
and John P. Irish of Stockton delivered the oration. During the afternoon there was
dancing on Eleventh and I streets.


Defeated by the law and not by the voice of the people, the Prohibitionists again
renewed their fight for a bone-dry town. An ordinance was passed by the council
calling upon the citizens to vote upon the proposition to close every saloon in the city
at midnight October 21, 1917. It was in one sense of the word a war measure. Presi-
dent Wilson had declared war on German} - , the registration of all young, able-bodied
men in Stanislaus County had taken place, a nation-wide prohibition law was in the
air and yet the Modesto saloonkeepers believed they would have another easy victory.
On the day of election, August 21, 1917, the women again took a very active part
and those having automobiles carried many voters to the polls. Over fifty women who
were off on a vacation along the coast came home to vote. The saloon men, unable to
cast any illegal votes, tried a new game to win out. They paid out hundreds of dollars
in newspaper advertising. The morning paper in the four days previous to the election
published sixteen columns of saloon ads calling upon the people to defeat the ordinance
and keep Modesto a live, prosperous city. They could no longer play the old, political
tricks, for their every move was carefully watched, and several citizens, Messrs. John
W. Ross, W. J. Brown, the district attorney, J. W. Hurdson, Thomas K. Beard, C. J.
Lewis, C. R.'Gailfus, N. E. Bauman, J. D. Jewell, Ed H. Morris and Dr. B. F.
Surryhne, published in the paper a reward of $1,000 for any persons found casting
illegal votes. It was a light vote, notwithstanding it meant the death knell of the
saloons. The registration was 3,884, the vote in favor of the ordinance 1,156, against
it 944. It was said "the streets have been full of drunken men this past week, much to
the disgust of decent people who had occasion to use them." One of the biggest factors
in defeating the saloons was Police Commissioner Swan ; he worked hard against Pro-
hibition and people said that if prohibition were defeated Modesto would be a "wide-
open" town, as the police would do his bidding.


War was declared between the United States and Germany April 6, 1917, and
June 5 the Herald said : "Today is registration day, one of the most solemn days in
the history of the nation." The Council of Defense had appointed Judge N. A.
Hawkins of Merced, A. A. Caldwell of Turlock and John F. Stewart of Crows Land-
ing as the exemption board and every able-bodied young man between eighteen and
forty-five years was compelled to pass an examination as to his fitness for the army
and navy. Every business house and saloon was closed during the day. At 2 :30 those
who had registered assembled on Tenth Street and led by the band and under the escort
of the city and county officials, the fraternal societies and the public school children,
they marced to the courthouse block, where patriotic exercises were held. Old Glory
was flung to the breeze, assisted in the ceremony by other societies. The band then
played a selection, Mrs. Laura De Yoe Brown then thrilling all of those present by
her singing of the "Star Spangled Banner." The high school glee club then sang an
appropriate selection and the exercises closed by an address by John J. Neylan of San


For several weeks Deputy Sheriff J. H. Townson had been making a careful
selection of loyal, cool-headed, brave men, and July 3 the Home Guard was organized


to assist the Council of Defense in their work of conscription. They assembled in
Judge William H. Langdon's court room with forty-three names on the muster roll.
The officers elected were: J. H. Townson, captain; W. H. Kirk, first lieutenant;
J. W. Guyer, second lieutenant. Ceres had organized a Home Guard early in June.


The conscription of men began in Washington, July 20, 1917. As fast as the
names were drawn they were published in the press of each city. In Modesto they were
published July 21-22. Then began the physical examination of the men and early in
September the work was completed and the men were ordered into the training camps.
September 9 was the date set for the departure of the first twenty-five men, a few from
Stanislaus County never to return. In honor of their departure a reception was ten-
dered them on the previous evening. The men assembled on the corner of Tenth and I
streets and were escorted to the park. First came the Modesto band, then Chief of
Police Dallas; the Ceres, Modesto and Oakdale Home Guard under arms; Grant Post,
G. A. R., then Sheriff George T. Davis and behind him the first twenty conscriptors,
then the public school children carrying flags. On arrival at the courthouse park,
E. B. Winning introduced the exercises by calling upon the audience to sing "The Star
Spangled Banner," followed by prayer by Rev. Hermann C. Porter; solo, "In the
Valley of the San Joaquin," Mrs. R. C. Bruce; address, Judge William H. Langdon ;
solo, "Send Me Away with a Smile," Dr. J. P. Morgan; solo, "My Own United
States," Mrs. Carrie Brown Dexter; "America," audience; benediction. Rev. H. S.
Saxby. Judge Langdon, in closing his address, said: "Our contribution to the nation in
its hour of peril is 401 of the most fit men of serviceable age in the County of Stanis-
laus, together with more than 100 now in the service in the army and navy. Oh, the
glorious opportunity that is yours, my young friends, to fight in such company and such
a cause. And now, as chairman of the Stanislaus Council of Defense and in behalf of
all of your fellow-citizens, I extend to you the good wishes, the gratitude and the love
of our people. May God be with you, watch over you and bring you home speedily,
safely and sound."


The German army had surrendered. The boys, nearly all of them, had returned
home safe and sound and October 16, 1919, the citizens tendered them a home welcome
and banquet. Modesto was crowded with people from the surrounding country, 15,000
at least. The returned men, probably a thousand of them from the army and navy,
full of health, strength, vitality and pep, assembled on Twelfth Street and were escorted
to Graceada Park. As they marched along column after column with a firm, steady
step, they were cheered by the crowd again and again. It was a thrilling sight never
seen before and probably will never again be seen in Modesto. On arrival at the park
there was singing by a chorus of about fifty voices, and an address by Samuel Short-
ridge of San Francisco. Before his address was concluded orders were given to the
boys to "fall in." The bugler sounded the dinner call and single file they marched into
the tennis grounds, where ten long tables were loaded with the appetizing delicacies for
which Stanislaus County is famous.




"The first time I ever saw a circus," said Charles Light, "was at Turlock in

1876. At that time it had one hotel, one saloon, one Chinese wash house and several

large warehouses where the farmers stored their grain." John W. Mitchell, a wealthy

land speculator was the founder of Turlock. He owned practically all of the land

in that vicinity and the most of Stanislaus County at that time was an open field. He

previously had made money by purchasing land at Paradise City at the Government



price of one dollar and fifty cents per acre and selling it at double and treble what he
paid for it. Having bought 100,000 acres of land where Turlock is located, soon
after the Civil War, he planted in 1867 a large acreage of grain. The yield was
quite heavy and the following year he planted a much larger acreage and got a heavy
crop. It was a year of plenty of rain. Mitchell then went to Stockton and purchasing
lumber hauled it by team to Turlock and erected houses on sections of his land in
preparation for the farmers who bought and tilled the soil. The land proprietor held
out big inducements to settlers and succeeded in selling large quantities of land.
But the farmers passed through many hardships because of the unfruitful }

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 26 of 177)