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 31 of 177)
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presiding ; A. L. Gilbert, J. G. Thompson, W. R. Gray and W. F. Wheeler. 1910—
T. B. Stearns, president; A. L. Gilbert, E. G. Crawford, W. R. Grav and W. F.
Wheeler. 1914— W. F. Wheeler, president ; A. L. Gilbert, E. C, Crawford and W.
R. Gray, with A. W. Reeder, city attorney; Roy L. Acker, city clerk; A. T. Maxwell,
treasurer; George T. Morrison, marshal. 1916 — E. M. Endicott, president; E. C.
Crawford, H. G. Laughlin, E. N. Moulton and J. B. Stearns. 1918— E. P. Moulton,
president ; A. E. Lowden, E. M. Endicott, H. G. Lauehlin and I. Bi Thompson.
1920—1. B. Thompson, president; A. F. Lowden, E. F. Haslam, C. E. Wood and C.
C. Wood.

The election of 1920 was quite exciting, the firemen electing their candidates,
Clarence E. Wood and E. F. Haslam. Roy L. Acker again proved himself one of
the most popular men in the community, defeating his opponent for city clerk, 309 to
85. He has been city clerk for the past twenty odd years. The total registration of
the city, men and women over twenty-one years of age was 600, and the total vote for
trustees was as follows: Dr. C. C. Wood, a dentist, 299; Clarence- Wood, assistant
manager Bank of Italy, 276; Earl Haslam, garage owner, 274; H. G. Laughlin, 258.

The City Hall
Since the organization of the city of Oakdale in 1906, the city offices had been
located in rooms owned by private individuals, and the trustees made a wise move
when they concluded to purchase a building for the city use and thus save several
hundred dollars a year rent. Fortunately at this time, March, 1920, they found on
sale a very desirable property at the corner of West Railroad Avenue and G Street.
It was a one-story brick building, 50x60 feet, on a lot 50x100. The propertv belonged
to Mrs. A. S. Emery of Santa Rosa, a former old-time resident of Oakdale. The
property was on sale at $8000, but learning that the city was desirous of purchasing
the property for a city hall, she consented to cut the price to $4500. The trustees
had the cash on hand and promptly accepted her generous gift. The building was
remodeled and the city officers are now "at home."

The Heroic Volunteer Firemen

For nearly a third of a century a number of men of Oakdale have been organized
into a volunteer fire department, voluntarily and cheerily giving their time and their
money, and ofttimes their lives for the protection of property from fire.

The official head of the Oakdale Fire Department says, "Organized in 1885," but
it is of record that in the fire of March 7, 1884, "the Oakdale Hook and Ladder Com-
pany, the only fire organization in the village, turned out thirty men to fight the
flames. The only method of putting out the fire was the old one by passing buckets of
water from hand to hand and throwing it on the flames. There was a good water
supply taken from iron tanks connected by pipes with water troughs, but it failed


to stop the fire and they began tearing down buildings." Another account says, in
recording the same fire, "The fire bell was rung and a few firearms were discharged,
which awoke people from their slumbers. The firemen were out quickly and did
splendid work, under Chief Landsee and Foreman Woodside. The Chief was seconded
by Johnny Woodside, together with those heroes, Anderson Beachley Stearns, Martin
Green, Kehoe, Willet and Tuson." These statements are taken from a correspondent
to the Stockton Independent and Mail, and beyond any doubt the fire department was
fully organized in 1884.

At that time the only fire apparatus owned by the firemen was a hook and ladder
purchased from the city of Stockton. Some four years after this fire the citizens pur-
chased a second-hand side-brake Button engine; and in the fire of January 3, 1890,
which destroyed Moulton Hall, "the excellent work of the fire department with their
hand engine saved the adjoining building." The engine which was manned or pumped
by the firemen, drew water from cisterns or big wells dug in West Railroad Avenue
and there were three of them along the street, says Henry Sanders, an old pioneer
fireman. The engine, years later, was sold to the Waterford citizens. The flames
which destroyed the Central Hotel in 1884 occupied by the Lyons family, January 11,
1895, also destroyed the Commercial Hotel and the Good Templars' Hall. Dr. Hamil-
ton, the dentist, had a narrow escape from being caught by the flames and he lost
everything, including $200 worth of gold leaf.

In 1912 the building of the water works by the city gave the firemen good water
facilities from the hydrants, but for further protection in September of the same year
the trustees, together with the firemen, purchased a La France combination chemical
and hose wagon. This later was discarded and in 1917 the city purchased an auto
combination hose and fire pump, capable of throwing four heavy streams of water. This
pump was given its first test at the fire of October 14, 1919, which destroyed the
Almond Growers' warehouse, with a total loss of warehouse and almonds of $45,000.
It was the most destructive fire in the history of the town and "only the strenuous
efforts of the firemen, backed by the new engine, prevented the spread of the flames to
more valuable property. Neither the city pumps or the old Betsy would have been ade-
quate to fight the flames."

The chief engineers of the Department so far as I have been able to obtain them
are the pioneers: Henry Sanders, A. Arnold, E. L. Barkis and M. J. Nightingale.
Since 1907 the chiefs were H. W. Hughes, 1907 ; A. B. Haslacher, 1908-9-10-16; A.
J.Jones, 1911-13-14-15; Dr. J.A.Young, 1912; D. E. Lee, 1912; O. Z. Bailey, since
1916. The present officers of the department are O. Z. Bailey, chief engineer ; Oswald
Ball, first assistant engineer; Ed. Schmiedlin, second assistant engineer; J. M. Watson,
Jr., secretary, and Frank Lee, treasurer.

The Oakdale Water Works

A fire department, no matter how well equipped, is worthless unless there be
plenty of water at- hand. San Francisco with its splendid fire department found out
that fact when on April 18, 1906, the city was destroyed by fire. Hand pumps, water
wells, and windmills were a common sight in Oakdale until 1884. In that year
Thomas Roberts, a former resident of Knights Ferry, established a private water-
works. It comprised a small pump, which, drawing the water from a deep well,
forced it into a large brick cistern on top of a low knoll, just south of town. Mr.
Roberts, a very worthy citizen, died in 1899; his remains lie buried in a brick vault
in the cemetery, and a beautiful mosaic window in the west wall of the Methodist
Church keeps ever in remembrance Oakdale's first enterprising citizen.

Previous to his death Mr. Roberts had leased the waterworks to a Mr. Rand.
That gentleman suddenly died, and his administrator, Dr. Case, carried on the water
works as manager. Small water pipes were run through the streets of the town and
four-inch mains were carried to the fire cisterns, to be turned on in case of fire. As
the town grew in population there was a great demand for more water, but Dr. Case
could not make any improvements, as he was restrained by the courts. A dispatch
of August, 1900, declared that "use of water for irrigation had caused a great drain


on the system and there is talk of piping water from the canal on the north side bf the
Stanislaus River for irrigation in Oakdale." About the same time it was reported
that a stock company was to be formed to supply the town with water "as it is believed
that water could be supplied cheaper than in the present case." Nothing came of it.
In 1903, however, Wallace Ferguson, who married Anna Roberts, took over the Rand
lease, and acted as manager of the waterworks until 1912. At that time, says Roy L.
Acker, the city took over the waterworks, paying the estate $5000.

The citizens then voted a bond issue of $50,000. A suitable piece of land was
purchased from F. A. Cottle near the Stanislaus River, about a mile from the city.
On this land there was a hill eighty-six feet above the level of the town. On this hill
a large concrete cistern was built, twentj'-five feet in height, the cistern having a capacity
of 500,000 gallons. When filled, the water height above the town is 121 feet. Near
the bed of the river there are two large pumps drawing water from deep wells and
run by electrical power forcing water into the cistern. The pumps are so arranged
that in case of fire they can pump directly into the main pipes which connect in the
city with the fire hydrants.

"Oakdale. May 12, 1913. — The city is now receiving water from the new water-
works. The pumps and wells started out in great shape. The tank will supply the
town with a water pressure of thirty-eight pounds and can be thrown directly into
the main in case of fire with a 100-pound pressure."

The Sierra and Jamestown Railroad

Probably the enterprise most injurious to Oakdale was the building of the Sierra
Railroad. Up to that time the town was growing rapidly in wealth and population.
It was the depot of passengers and freight for the mining camps, and two stage lines
daily left the town for camps, filled with passengers. But the railroad changed all
this and for a time the growth of the town was slow.

The Sierra Railroad was built by Prince Poniatowski, Samuel D. Freshman and
Thomas S. Bullock. The last named was the leading man in the enterprise. The
three men, it is stated, met at Oakdale, January 1, 1897, and there planned to con-
struct a railroad from Oakdale to Jamestown and Sonora with a branch road to
.Angels Camp. Surveyors were sent out to locate the line of road and Anthony Arnold
of Oakdale was employed to obtain the rights of way. Ground was broken with
appropriate ceremony March 24, 1897, and seven months later, October 26, the
"golden spike" was driven at Jamestown, the town celebrating the event with great
rejoicing. In the first construction of the road the company used forty-pound rails
taken from a dismantled railroad in Arizona. Later, much heavier rails were laid and
the old rails used for sidings only. Thomas S. Bullock, who died in San Francisco in
May, 1919, was a very enterprising man. He was engaged in many projects and
built the beautiful Turnback Inn at Tuolumne, and the Nevills hotel at Jamestown.
It was the railroad headquarters and was later destroyed by fire.

Banks and Banking

Oakdale has two fine banks, each bank carrying on business in its own handsome
two-story brick building. The first bank in Oakdale, incorporated in 1884, was a
complete failure. The Oakdale Bank was incorporated in January, 1888, with
Thomas B. Dorsey, president; Louis Kahn, cashier, and H. Kahn, assistant cashier.
The bank became involved in the failure of Kahn and the irrigation enterprise and
was compelled to close its doors. The court appointed A. L. Gilbert receiver and in
the compromise suit, the Oakdale Irrigation Company paid him $8000.

The second Oakdale Bank, the Stanislaus Savings, was incorporated January 23,
1905, with Edward Rodden, president; L. F. Brichetto, vice-president; William Rod-
den, cashier and treasurer; E. D. Wilkinson and C. E. Rodden, assistant cashiers,
and Edward and W. L. Rodden, L. F. Brichetto, J. Mansell, T. F. Laughlin, T. E.
Snedigar and A. L. Leitch, directors. The bank is now incorporated as the First
National Bank.

The Oakdale Commercial State Bank was incorporated August 29, 1912, with
M. J. Nightingale, president and treasurer; Frank Guernsey, vice-president; W. A.


Sayler, secretary and cashier, and C. F. Wood, assistant cashier. The directors were
W. F. Ferguson, W. A. Savler, M. J. Nightengale, Tohn Sambuceto, Frank Guernsey
and L. C. Walther.

The Mexican Bull Fight

The stranger who walks the streets of Oakdale today and notices the busy hustle
of its merchants, the absence of whisky saloons, and the quiet, orderly character of its
citizens would little believe that in the late 70s and '80s it was a wild, disorderly
town of gamblers, shooting affairs and barbarous amusements.

There were at that time hundreds of Mexicans in that vicinity and one of their
amusements was the celebration of the Mexican national day of independence. On
this occasion, September 16, 1881, they concluded to have a bull fight. They adver-
tised the sport extensively, engaged matadors from Mexico to torment the bulls and
made great preparations for the event. The people came in from the surrounding
country and cheerfully paid their dollar. At the appointed time two fierce looking
bulls were driven into the ring. They showed no inclination to fight, however, for
the weather was warm and the animals sleepy. The matadors goaded and dared them
with the red flags, but there was no fight in them. Finally Charles Ingalls, vaquero,
agreed to ride one of the bulls, if he were given five dollars. The purse was made
up and Charley mounted the brute. Did the bull jump around and snort? No, he
laid down. This ended the greatly advertised bull fight in Oakdale.

The July 4th Celebration, 1884
Oakdale has always been patriotic and the better class celebrated the Fourth of
July in various ways. And on this occasion "the Fourth opened most gloriously to the
credit of the Oakdale folks." At sunrise they fired a national salute of twenty-one
guns. At ten o'clock they formed in procession "on the square in front of Kron-
emyer's hotel." The procession was formed in the following order: Turlock brass
band. Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias, drum corps, Uniform Degree Camp, Odd
Fellows, civic societies, Oakdale Bank, hook and ladder company, officers of the day in
carriages, floral car and young ladies on horseback representing the different states.
After parading the principal streets, they marched to the pavilion and listened to the
reading of the Declaration of Independence by Miss Thiza McGreen and an oration
by E. L. Bremer of Sacramento. In the afternoon there was dancing in the pavilion
with music by Professor Ponclett's orchestra. At sundown another salute of twenty-
one guns was fired, then there was dancing until midnight. At four o'clock there was
a parade of the "San Joaquin Regulators," a body of young fellows in masks and
dressed in all manner of ridiculous costumes. "Their mission," they said, "was to
regulate society," and it was intended as a burlesque on the "regulators" of Modesto
who endeavored to clean up that town.

A Dry Town

The prohibition wave that overwhelmed the country in 1917 proved as disastrous
to the saloonkeepers in Oakdale as in any other part of the state. Under the initiative
and referendum law an election was held June 15 "for saloons or no saloons." Both
the saloonists and prohibitionists worked hard for their cause, and Louise Gilbert,
Henrietta Holoway and Bernice Ferguson were among the most prominent workers.
They remained at the polls throughout the day, checking off voters and providing
automobiles for those who had not voted. Quite a heavy vote was polled, just 100
less than the entire registration, 746. The drys won out by just three votes, quite
a number of their votes being thrown out because marked with a pencil. Late in the
afternoon it was predicted that the drys would have a majority of fifty votes. It was
whispered around for the effect that if the saloons won the fight the trustees intended
to raise their license to $600 a year. This $5,400 a year in high license revenue was
quite a trick and many voted for the saloons who otherwise would have voted dry. As
a result of the election the nine saloons must go out of business within the next ten
days. In the evening some of the drys had a jollification. They paraded the town
in automobiles, rang bells and blew horns. They made it a special point to parade


along D Street. "Now, this street," said the reporter, "was in sentiment and in fact
the wettest part of the town, and parading there was like rubbing salt into old sores."

The Hero Dead
When the bugle notes of war broke over these United States, here in California
it did not seem to startle us in the least. We had had fifty years of peace; children
had grown to manhood, married, raised children and died, and perhaps we could not
realize the meaning of war. But when we saw the boys line up to march to camp,
then came the thought of war's meaning, and that many of them perhaps would never
return. Then, when we read of the terrible fighting and saw some of the badly crippled
soldiers and the first ones were brought home to their parents, dead, we realized for
the first time the horrors of war.

When the conscripted boys were called, it hit Knights Ferry pretty hard, and
out of a registration of twenty-one voters, nine were drafted. It was said that "the
draftsman must have thought it was the days of '49, when 10,000 persons were in
that district." Among those conscripted were two of the sons of the postmaster,
E. S. Collins, and two sons of A. Morrison, a cattleman.

One of the first from this district to give his life in the Allied War was a native
«on of Oakdale Parlor, Stanley Lewis Collins. He was on the transport Tuscania when
that vessel was torpedoed in the Irish Sea, February 5, 1918. A year later, on Febru-
ary 24, 1919, Oakdale Parlor held a memorial service in honor of their head hero. The
services were held in the Methodist Episcopal Church with Frank Lee, grand inside
guardian of the Grand Parlor, acting as president of the meeting. Short addresses
were made by Governor William D. Stephens, John V. Snyder, grand president; John
B. Curtis, Lewis L. Dennett, Hugh R. McNoble, past president, and Rev. H. K.
Pitman of Modesto and Rev. Frank Farr of Oakdale.

Governor Stephens, in his closing address, said :

"To have died in defense of our country's flag is to live forever in the affection
and esteem of all our people. No greater tribute can be paid to a man than to have
it said 'He died a patriot.' Stanley Collins gave his life for the land he loved — for
home and mother. 'He died a patriot.' On the behalf of all our people, may I convey
to you, his mother, the love we feel, the honor we all render and the gratitude that is
deep in our hearts."


Stanislaus Lodge No. 170, I. O. O. F., was instituted at Knights Ferry, April
18. 1870, by Grand Master John B. Harmon, who in 1878 was elected grand sire
of the Sovereign Grand Lodge. He was assisted by Charles Cutting, H. K. Covert,
William Floto and George Hanley. The first officers were Samuel Haslacher, noble
grand ; J. R. Horsley, vice-grand ; L. B. Walthall, recording secretary, and R. C. May.
treasurer. The lodge had six charter members and at the grand lodge session reported
eleven members. Here we record a rather peculiar event in Rebekahship. In Sep-
tember, 1919, by invitation of Acorn Lodge No. 261 of Oakdale, a degree staff from
Lebanon No. 97 of Stockton, accompanied by Laura Lawrie, past president, and Fanny
Clancy, grand marshal, initiated nineteen candidates into Acorn Lodge. The follow-
ing candidates were inducted into the order: Belle M. Bartlett, Anna G. Baugh,
Emma Coop, Madge M. Crabtree, Arleen Cowin, Grace E. Gray, Hattie B. Morrison,
Annie Scriven, Mildred Taylor, Viola Watson, Samuel C. Baugh, John F. Brevort,
E. J. Coop, Charles Emart, Ernest Gray, Richard Scriven, W. W. Stover, J. G.
Taylor and Isaac Watson.

Knights Ferry Lodge No. 361, of the Rebekahs, was instituted at Knights Ferry
on September 20, 1919, by Mary E. Donoho, specially commissioned. The follow-
ing are the first officers: Anna G. Baugh, noble grand ; Grace Gray, vice grand ; Belle
Bartlett, chaplain ; John Brevort, recording secretary ; Emma Coop, treasurer ; Samuel
Baugh, financial secretary; Ernest Gray, inside guardian; Charles Emart, outside
guardian ; Isaac Watson, right support, noble gram? ; Viola Watson, left support, noble
grand ; Arleen Cowin, right support, vice grand ; Mildred Taylor, left support, vice


grand. Over a hundred Odd Fellows and Rebekahs were present from Tamestown,
Sonora, Tuolumne, Modesto and Stockton. The same degree staff as at Oakdale!
with Louise Beckman, noble grand, put on the degree work after installation of officers.'


In this chapter on irrigation I shall make no attempt to go into any detailed
account, as it would take several months of research and when finished it would be of
little interest to the general reader. The history of irrigation in the main, is the his-
tory of a few enterprising men of foresight and good business judgment who were
willing to work and even make sacrifices that they might benefit their fellowmen,
by bringing "water, wealth, contentment, health" to the people of Stanislaus County'.
Did they succeed? There is an abundance of proof throughout the county of that fact.
Yet on every hand they were blocked in their splendid project by mossbacks, grafters,
law suits and men jealous of the enterprise. For thirteen long years they fought a
victorious fight and the battle is not yet ended. For it seems that only a few months
ago the Modesto District stockholders were compelled to recall their directors because
they refused to carry out the wishes of the majority in regard to the Don Pedro dam.

It is said that C. C. Wright, to whose honor a monument should be erected, was
hounded from Modesto because of the successful passage of his irrigation law. And
yet when the bill was introduced into the legislature it was heartily commended by
the legislators in both houses and Granger of Butte County said in open session that
it was one of the most superior productions he had ever seen on a question that had
vexed so many minds. It covered the ground completely and gave no offense to any
section of the state. Truly as Shakespeare wrote :

"Man's inhumanity to man,
Makes countless thousands mourn."


The general expression today is, and has been for the past fifty years, "Down with
the corporations," and yet much of the prosperity of the state is due to corporations.
The corporation, Miller & Lux, were pioneers of irrigation in Stanislaus County : and
the building of the San Joaquin and King's River canal, by which at first they lost
thousands of dollars, was proof sufficient to the farmers of Stanislaus what could be
done with water flowing over the sandy soil. In referring to this fact, a traveling press
correspondent said in August, 1877: "It is refreshing to turn from the parched and
barren district of the 'west side' of the San Joaquin River and contemplate green
meadows, golden harvest fields and prosperous homes under the San Joaquin and
King's River canal."

Secretary A. L. Cowell who has made a study of irrigation in Central Cali-
fornia wrote in an article in 1920: "The San Joaquin Valley is a rich alluvial plain
250 miles long, and averaging about fifty miles wide, lying between the Sierra Nevada
Mountains and the Coast Range. It is divided into two parts by a slight ridge in
Fresno County, giving it two distinct natural water systems. The southern portion
of the valley has no outlet to the sea. Several of its streams flow at flood time into
Tulare Lake and during the greater part of each season their waters arc consumed
in irrigation or lose themselves in the sandy beds. The lower part of the valley is
drained by the San Joaquin River and its tributaries having a direct outlet into Suisun
Bay. The ridge referred to has been built up by alluvial deposits from King's River,
which in times of high water discharges a part of its flow into Tulare Lake and part
through a channel known as Fresno slough, into the San Joaquin River."



One of the oldest systems in the valley, says Cowell, is that of the San Joaquin
and King's River Canal & Irrigation Company, a public utility, which diverts waters
from the San Joaquin near Firebaugh, elevation 156 feet, and carries it in a main
canal seventy-five miles to a point north of Crows Landing, distributing it along
through this territory.

J. J. Rhea in the "Stanislaus County Prospectus," 1912, says in writing of the
Miller & Lux System: "Four miles south from the town of Patterson is the end of
the main canal of the Miller & Lux system which has for more than twenty years fur-
nished water to more than 10,000 acres of Stanislaus land." This system irrigates
all lands lying between the Southern Pacific Railroad and the San Joaquin River from
the county land on the south to Crows Landing. The water is taken from the San

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 31 of 177)