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 42 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 42 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Traveling State Library Association, and this was replaced by a branch of the County
Free Library, established in 1910 in her home, and for years she has been librarian.

But Mrs. Ulch not only deserves recognition for her work in behalf of library
extension, assisting to build up the town; she merits the esteem of all for what she
has done to upbuild Ceres. She has always been active in church work, is a member
of the First Baptist Church, and for thirtj-three years has served as clerk of the
board. She has been local president for many years of the Woman's Christian Tem-
perance Union of Ceres, and has attended the state conventions of the Prohibition
party, and has actively helped along the great Prohibition movement. She is a writer
of no mean ability, and a speaker of note; in fact, a brilliant, remarkable woman, a
student and philosopher.

HON. VITAL E. BANGS. — A potent force in the educational development of
California, and a man of culture and scholarly attainments, Hon. Vital E. Bangs was
one of Stanislaus County's most esteemed pioneer citizens. At various times honored
by election to public office by his fellow citizens, he took an active and intelligent part
in all movements for the public good and gave the public the benefit of his high-
minded, well-considered judgment in the passing of legislation designed to advance the
best interests of the people.

Descended through the families of both of his parents from English ancestry,
his progenitors were among the early settlers of New England. His father, Samuel
Bangs, who was a native of Boston, Mass., married Susan Payne, who was born in
Virginia. Failing health caused Mr. Bangs to seek a change of climate, and going
to Mexico, he made that country his home until his death. Mrs. Bangs afterwards
married Henry Brees, a merchant at Matamoras, Mexico, and they subsequently
removed to Kalamazoo, Mich., where her death occurred on March 20, 1884.

Born in Victoria, Mexico, on August 26, 1834, Vital E. Bangs was reared
from the age of fourteen at Kalamazoo, Mich., there obtaining the foundation for his
future life work as an educator in the public schools. Continuing his studies at
Cedar Park Seminary, at Kalamazoo, before he had finished his course there he was
attracted to California with thousands of other gold seekers, and crossed the plains
in 1853. Locating in El Dorado County, he engaged for a few months in mining
and teaching a Spanish night school, returning to Kalamazoo, Mich., completing his
schooling there. Remaining in that state until 1858, Mr. Bangs then removed to
Missouri, teaching school in Vernon County for two years, later locating in Douglas
County, Kans., where his marriage took place in 1863. The following year, in 1864,
he and his bride crossed the plains to Stanislaus County, Cal., and for many years
thereafter he followed his profession as a teacher in this county as well as in Tulare,
Placer and Sacramento counties.

In 1873 Mr. Bangs located near Modesto, becoming vice-principal of the schools
there, and from that time he was prominently identified with the educational affairs
of that section. For twelve years he was a member of the county board of educa-

1/cU &.%

] /^72yOxf.


tion, and also served as a director of the Twenty-eighth Agricultural District, being
appointed by Governor Markham. When the Modesto Irrigation District was
formed, he was made its first assessor, and being elected as a candidate of the Demo-
cratic party to the state legislature, in the session of 1888-1889, he served his con-
stituency most acceptably. In 1892 he was again elected, this time without opposi-
tion, receiving the votes of both parties and polling the largest vote of any man in
the assembly. Deeply interested in the county's agricultural development, Mr. Bangs,
despite his busy life as an educator, found time to keep apace with the approved
modern methods of farming, and was the owner of a fine ranch of 480 acres north
of Modesto, where he made his home, raising grain and alfalfa and maintaining an
excellent herd of dairy cattle.

In 1863, while in Douglas County, Kans., Mr. Bangs was united in marriage
with Miss Mary G. Moore, who was born Sept. 5, 1845, and reared in Illinois.
Four children were born to them: Henry T., in Havana, Cuba; Susan, who mar-
ried William M. Snedigar, a sketch of their lives appearing elsewhere in this volume ;
Victoria L., wife of W. R. Wood, of Walnut Creek, and Vital E., who died April
20, 1890. Mrs. Bangs passed away November 4, 1918. During his long life as an
educator Mr. Bangs became well known throughout the country as a contributor
of constructive articles to the "California Teacher" and other educational journals,
and his services were given recognition and appreciation by the State of California
through its Department of Public Instruction, when he was presented with a teach-
er's life diploma. A man of great strength of character, Mr. Bangs won the respect
of all men with whom he had aught to do, and in his death, which occurred Novem-
ber 15, 1912, the community lost one of its most highly esteemed citizens.

ALFRED JACKSON ROBERTS.— For more than forty years A. J. Roberts
has been a resident of Ceres, Stanislaus County, and today he is the friend of every
man, woman and child in the community and has probably done more to foster a true
sense of that neighborliness which is today called "community spirit" than any other
man in the precinct. He is public spirited, wide awake to the best interests of every
department of society, educational, economic, civic, and social, and is the one who is
most apt to take quietly hold of any new and worthy project and put it through to a
successful conclusion. For instance, when the Baptist Church was destroyed by fire a
few years ago, it was Mr. Roberts who circulated the petition for funds which so
soon rebuilt the sacred edifice. He is an active member of the Grant Post No. 9,
G. A. R., Modesto, and takes a prominent part in its affairs. For many years he was
prominently identified with the farming interests of the county, but for the past few
years has been practically retired from active business.

Mr. Roberts is a native of Tennessee, born near Taylorsville, Johnson County,
December 25, 1848, although much of his boyhood was spent in Carter County,
where his father was a prosperous farmer. His father was Allen Roberts, also a
native of Johnson County, Tenn., and was descended from a line of sturdy old Welsh
ancestry, and his mother was Miss Mary Machler, of Irish descent. When but a lad
of twelve years, he has the distinction of being the youngest voter, for he cast his vote
against secession, and was declared a traitor to the South. Two years later, when but
fourteen years old, the call for men to support the flag of the Union during the Civil
War stirred his blood, and young Alfred answered by enlisting in November, 1862.
and served for three years in Company H, Fifth Kentucky Cavalry. When attempt-
ing to clean out the rebels with a bunch of Tennesseeans, who were loyal and who
were scattered by a force with artillery, young Roberts went with the rest and
eventually reached North Carolina, where a sister resided ; here he remained for three
months, and when he returned home he found the rebels were after him, and he then
started for Abingdon, Va., where a brother lived. He finally succeeded in reaching
Abingdon, but he passed through many thrilling experiences, many narrow escapes
from death by meeting rebel soldiers, but finally reached the Union lines, and enjoyed
a stay of a month with his brother. He joined the First Ohio, but was with them
for only two months; then joined the Fifth Kentucky Cavalry. The law which pave
the soldiers the right of franchise, regardless of whether they had reached their


majority or not, enabled him to cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln for President
of the United States. He was attached to Major Estee's command as an orderly,
serving under General Kilpatrick. He received his honorable discharge at Lexington,
N. C, after the close of the war, when he went home.

Following the war, Mr. Roberts went to Louisville, Ky., and from there to
Hilliard, Wyo., then far on the western frontier. Here he remained for a number of
years, being employed in the charcoal works as a stoker, but the lure of the Pacific
Coast was in the air, and in 1876 he came to California, locating first at Bakersfield,
Kern County, where he remained for three years.

It was in 1880 that Mr. Roberts came to Stanislaus County and located at Ceres,
where he engaged in general farming on the C. N. Whitmore ranch for the succeed-
ing twenty years, meeting with deserved success. He also bought a hay baling outfit,
and has done baling for the farmers by contract for many years, often covering the
entire county during the haying season. This gave him a splendid knowledge of the
county, its lands and its possibilities, and also brought him into personal contact with
the farmers themselves. Accordingly, there are none of the early settlers who do not
know and admire this venerable pioneer, and give to him their confidence and esteem.

The marriage of Mr. Roberts occurred in Bakersfield in 1876, and united him
with Miss Lottie Rice. She was the daughter of John and Jane Rice, pioneers of
Oregon and California, descended from good old American stock. She has borne her
husband eight children, all of whom were reared and educated in Stanislaus County,
where they are well known and highly esteemed. Of these, Lulu, the first born, is now
the wife of John Gleason of Oakland ; Myrtle is the wife of M. R. Dunn of Rich-
mond ; Frank is a farmer in this county ; George is married and lives at Winters, Yolo
County; Bertha is the wife of Walter Elliott, bookkeeper for the Service Garage at
Ceres; Edward and Ruth are at home; Hugh died in infancy.

In 1911 Mr. Roberts met with a serious accident in a runaway, which disabled
him for many months, and has greatly interfered with his many public-spirited
services to the community. Politically he is a Republican of the staunchest party
loyalty, and has never failed to cast his ballot for the Republican presidential nominee
since 1864. Locally he gives his support to progressive, constructive legislation, re-
gardless of party lines, supporting the best man for public office. Mr. Roberts is of
the old school of Southern gentlemen, and his gentle courtesy and unfailing kindness
has endeared him to his neighbors for these forty years. Withal he is a man of busi-
ness ability and integrity, and holds the confidence of the leading men of the county.

CALVIN J. CRESSEY. — An outstanding type of the early pioneer spirit of the
West was the late Calvin J. Cressey, who was born in New Hampshire, April 6, 1830.
He married Miss Lydia Ann Cram, also of New Hampshire, who had been prom-
inently connected with educational work. In order to satisfy the larger vision which
was ever characteristic of him, he felt the urge of the call to the far West and came
to California, where he acquired a large fortune; this consisted principally of extensive
holdings of land and of controlling interest in two banks, of each of which he was
the founder. He was president of the Modesto Bank until he organized and assumed
management of the Grangers Bank of San Francisco ; this was established for the pur-
pose of loaning capital to farmers, that they might handle their wheat, stock and fruit
more advantageously.

Mr. Cressey was prominently connected with the Grange organization, and by
his brilliant and convincing speeches he awakened an interest in such legislation as
the farmers needed. It was at first a little difficult for the people to understand how,
being formerly a banker, he had any interest in the Grange. But when they realized
how deeply interested he himself was in farming industries, how closely identified he
had been in rescuing the wheat industry from the depression into which it had settled,
;ind how much he had done toward finding a market for wheat abroad, they readilv
understood why he was an enthusiastic member of the organization ; it was through
such workers that the reduction of the tariff on jute and jute bagging had been largely
brought about. In like manner was effected the sale of grain bags at San Quentin at
largely cost price, thus rendering the growers free from the grain-bag trusts that would

■ * V .

- " " ;

0. , i




otherwise have made prices very high. Mr. Cressey, with his commanding presence
and brilliant conversational and oratorical powers, was a staunch type of the early
California pioneer who made history for the state. At his passing in March, 1891, he
left three children: Frank A. Cressey, of Modesto, now deceased; Cora Cressey Crow,
also of Modesto, and William C. Cressey, of San Francisco.

ADMER NELSON STANDIFORD.— Among the most distinguished pioneer
residents of Stanislaus County, Mr. and Mrs. Admer Nelson Standiford can not fail
to receive from their contemporaries all the homage that is due, and from posterity
heartfelt gratitude. They are still living on the old home place occupied by the family
since 1876, and where they dispense that delightful hospitality for which California
families in particular have long been famous.

Mr. Standiford was born near Vincennes, Crawford County, Ind., on December
16, 1835, the son of John and Jane (Osborne) Standiford, his father being a native
of Kentucky and his mother of Indiana. While he was a small child, the family
moved to Cass County, Mo., and later they moved to Schuyler County, where Admer
grew to manhood. In 1863, most of the Standiford family crossed the plains to Cali-
fornia, moving across the Missouri River at Omaha, and then following the old emi-
grant road along the north shore of the Platte, after which they traversed the Carson
route, and when they had looked over San Joaquin County, they settled not far from
where Mr. Standiford now lives in Stanislaus County.

In 1864 our subject returned East as far as Denver, Colo., with a team of horses,
and at Boulder, Colo., on March 2, 1865, he was married to Miss Virginia M. Bu-
ford, a daughter of William and Mary (Jones) Buford — the former a native of Vir-
ginia and of English and Colonial forefathers, and the latter likewise a native of the
Old Dominion who accompanied her parents to Schuyler County, Mo., where she
was reared in a period when the Indians were still numerous there. Grandfather
Jones was farming on a large scale at Tippecanoe, Mo., and William Buford had a
store there and later at Lancaster, in that state. Mr. Buford came across the plains
with ox teams to California in 1849 to mine for gold and was very successful, and
after two years returned via the Isthmus to Missouri, where he had left his wife and
children. Then he removed to Denver, Colo., where he was for many years promi-
nent in the mercantile trade. He was in Denver, then a village, during the Civil
War, and suffered a heavy loss by the emancipation of the slaves ; he had really come
to Colorado and Pike's Peak on account of the rush for gold, having left his family
in Missouri; but in 1863 they joined him in Denver. After the War, he went back
to Missouri to take charge of his large farms in Schuyler County, one of which con-
tained as many as one thousand acres. He made a trip to California in 1897 with
his wife, and after her death he made another in 1907, to visit his daughter. He died
in 1914 in his ninety-third year.

About the middle of June, 1865, Mr. and Mrs. Standiford set out for California
as a part of a large train, and there was every reason to believe that no mishap could
befall the 111 wagons; yet within a week the first danger was encountered as the
travelers approached Medicine Bow. Although the settlers had never relaxed their
guard, even when camping, the savages suddenly appeared at the rear end of the train,
threw themselves upon the guard there, and killed one of the company, William
Sharon, from Audrain County, Mo. The rest of the train prenared for a fight, but
the Indians slunk off, and the emigrants were able to reach Medicine Bow and to
pitch their camp, under a heavy guard, for the night. One of this guard, upon whom
so much of the responsibility fell, was Admer N. Standiford, and so well did they
keep watch that the pioneers were able to move off unmolested the next morning, and
to reach Fort Halleck, where the funeral of their unfortunate comrade, Mr. Sharon,
took place. During the rest of the trip, owing to the alertness of Mr. Standiford and
his fellow guards, the Indians were kept at a safe distance, and eventually the party
reached California and Mr. and Mrs. Standiford established their home where, except
for one or two departures, they have since resided. In 1867, owing to the poor health
of Mrs. Standiford, they returned to Missouri; but six years later they came back
to Stanislaus County, where they have remained save for a year spent in Washington.


As fortune smiled upon Mr. Standiford, he added to his holdings, and finally
possessed some 640 acres of as fine ranch land as could anywhere be found. He farmed
wheat extensively, and both he and his devoted wife worked hard for all that they
acquired. In 1888, when such modern conveniences as the electric light were not gen-
erally introduced into houses, they built their own substantial residence, and since
then they have added all the desirable improvements, and now even cook by electricity.
Mr. Standiford's first purchase of land was 160 acres, which he bought from William
Brown, who had purchased it from Frank Wyruck, a homesteader, who built a house
and resided there for years to hold his claim ; this house still stands, and is popularly
called the Pioneer Landmark House, and was for several years the home of Mr. and
Mrs. Standiford and family. As the years passed and this family grew, the consid-
erate parents gave away most of their holdings, retaining ninety-five acres.

On March 2, 1915, Mr. and Mrs. Standiford celebrated their golden wedding
anniversary, first with a dinner party given at the home of their granddaughter, Mrs.
A. P. Meily of Modesto. Golden acacias added to the lavish decorations of the cosy
residence, and good-fellowship and keen appetites made each guest appreciative of the
elaborate feast prepared by the hostess, assisted by her mother, Mrs. J. H. Boren, and
her aunt, Miss Maggie Standiford. Those who were bidden to sit down were, besides
Mr. and Mrs. A. N. Standiford, Mr. and Mrs. Torence White of Denver, Mrs.
O. A. Wise and Mrs. J. R. Forsyth of Longmont, Colo., Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Ladd,
Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Young, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Boren and son, Standiford, Miss
Margaret Standiford, Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Meily, Mrs. and Miss Ruth Reed of
San Jose, and Leland Stokes of Oakdale. A surprise feature of the anniversary was
the wedding party given at the Sylvan Club soon after the dinner. The stage was
decorated with golden flowers and streamers, forming a canopy for the bridal couple ;
there was a musical and literary program, Mrs. S. W. Hull played Mendelssohn's
wedding march, Rev. E. R. Linn led the way, followed by Mr. and Mrs. S. W.
Coffee — who had known the Standifords in Colorado before they were married — as
groomsman and matron of honor, and little Florence and Thomas Giovanetti as ring-
bearer and page, while Mr. and Mrs. Standiford completed the procession. "There,
under the canopy," said the local newspaper of the day, "the solemn vows to love 'until
death do us part' were taken again in the words of the real ceremony — a ceremony that
was indeed impressive to the friends who witnessed it, for every vow had been faith-
fully kept for fifty years, and all who listened knew that this was merely a renewing
of them, just as they must have been renewed many times in the steadfast years that
have flown quickly."

Mr. and Mrs. Standiford have two children — Mary Etta, the wife of J. H.
Boren, and she has two children, Mrs. Mildred Buford Meily and A. N. Standi-
ford Boren ; and Margaret, popular among her large circle of friends as Maggie.
Both Mrs. Standiford and. her daughter Maggie are members of the Sylvan Club.
It will be seen, therefore, how far-reaching for good has been and still is the influence
in the development of a larger, better, and greater California of this pioneer couple
to whom have been granted, so many years, and with the years' health, affluence, cul-
ture, ideals and friends.

FRANK ERNEST CONNEAU.— A man of quiet temperament, whose modesty
might easily have led him to hide his light under a bushel, but who was really one of
the truest friends of Modesto, always interested in the healthy growth and permanent

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 42 of 177)