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 45 of 177)
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Modesto, and married Frances Silva, by whom he has had one child, Dorothy.
Mamie is the wife of Frank Monese, a stockman of Modesto, and they have two
children, Elvera and Nadine. Anna has become Mrs. William E. Osborne, a rancher,
and they dwell on the old Gomes home place. Clara is Mrs. Henry I. Ducoty, the
wife of the carpenter and builder. Their home is also in Modesto and they have one
child, Maxine. The youngest is Frank P., cashier of the First National Bank at
Newman, the husband of Inez Van Sickle, by whom he had one child, Gwendolyn.
Mr. Gomes belongs to the I. O. O. F. lodge in Modesto, and also the Encampment,
and he is an active member in the I. D. E. S. and the U. P. E. C. Mr. Gomes served
on the school board in Garner district for sixteen years and helped to maintain the
best of schools, and he served on the election board many years and he has always given
his encouragement and support to all movements for the betterment of conditions in
Stanislaus County, and has been a loyal supporter of all American institutions that
have made his adopted country the best in the world.

THOMAS F. SNEDIGAR.— Whenever the history of Stanislaus County is
written anew, cognizance will be taken of such active and fruitful lives as that of
the lately-deceased pioneer, Thomas Fielding Snedigar, who died in 1919, lamented
by many who did not know him personally, but who felt that he had helped to
make better this corner of the world and to pave the way for others. He was born
on December 25, 1840, in Pike County, 111., the son of Jeptha and Mary Jane (Wag-
ner) Snedigar, who lived there with their family upon a farm. These worthy parents
died when he was very small, and he was brought up by his uncle and aunt, Thomas
and Lucinda Richardson, who left Illinois with him in March, 1852, to cross the
great plains, a journey that took six months. Half way across the continent, part of
the company decided to separate and go north to Oregon instead of to California;
and it chanced that Thomas Snedigar and his foster parents were among those who
elected to cast their fortunes with the Golden State.


After coming to Stanislaus County, Mr. Snedigar engaged in farming and stock
raising. He acquired 950 acres, all in one tract, and soon proved that it was well
adapted to the raising of wheat, his yield being almost fifteen bushels per acre. He
had fourteen head of horses and mules for work, and some fine horses, cattle and
hogs besides. He also had a splendid equipment of implements, and thus fitted out,
lie demonstrated his practical ideas as a farmer.

On March 24, 1864, Mr. Snedigar was married to Miss Emeline C. Dotson,
a native of Missouri, by whom he had twelve children. In July, 1898, Mr. Snedigar
was married to Miss Clara H. Millark, a native of Germany who was brought to
America by her parents, Julius and Matilda (Walters) Millark, and taken to Illinois.
They became substantial farmer-folk and landowners, and when they died, the daugh-
ter, Clara, and a brother and sister came out to California in June, 1896. The second
Mrs. Snedigar, whose sketch appears elsewhere in this volume, became indeed a de-
voted mother to the children, three of whom survive, as follows: Ole is now proba-
tion officer and resides at Berkeley, in which city he graduated from the University
of California. He married Miss Essie Bernstein of Berkeley, and they have one
child, John; Mary is the wife of Ralph Betty, who is employed on a steam dredge at
Sacramento. Their one child is named Wayne. Thomas R. is in Napa, the presi-
dent of an ignition company. One of the (now deceased) children by Mr. Snedigar's
first union left an heir; his name was Willis, and he will be remembered pleasantly as
Dr. Willis Snedigar, late of Stockton, who married Miss Maimie Sollinger of Lodi.
She is also among the great silent majority, but her daughter, Beatrice, survived and
is the wife of Clark Welch, a rancher at Lodi.

Mr. Snedigar died on February 4, 1919, and was buried in the Oakdale ceme-
tery, in the community in which he had been once a leading man. He helped to
organize the First National Bank at Oakdale, and served as one of its trustees until
he died. He also helped to organize the First National Bank at Riverbank, and be-
came a trustee of that. He and his first wife took an active part in the affairs of the
United Brethren Church at Oakdale, and he contributed largely to the erection of
the edifice, and served on its board of trustees until his death, since which time Mrs.
Snedigar has been his successor on the board. Mrs. Clara H. Snedigar is one of
the trustees of the Mission Home for Children of Modesto.

About 1914, Mr. Snedigar sold his fine ranch and the old home so familiar to
many for several decades, and built his new residence upon the premises one and a
half mile north of Modesto, where he was comfortably domiciled when he was
called upon to bid adieu to the scenes of this world. His life was just the kind that
was needed in the new commonwealth of California; and it is inspiring to know that
much of the good work started by him will be faithfully continued by his devoted wife.

MRS. CLARA H. SNEDIGAR.— A noble Christian woman, worthy of every-
body's confidence and respect, is Mrs. Clara H. Snedigar, the widow of the late
Thomas Fielding Snedigar, who continues to reside on the old home place about one
and a half miles north of Modesto. She was born in Germany, the daughter of
Julius and Matilda (Walters) Millark, and her parents brought her and the other
six children, in 1882, to Henry County, 111., she being then just three years old.
They were farmers and came to own one large farm in Henry County, and a home
at Colona, where the mother died in May, 1920, aged seventy-five years, outliving her
husband, who had also died in Illinois, at the age of seventy-two. There were thir-
teen children in the family, and six are now living.

In June, 1896, Mrs. Snedigar came out to California with a brother and sister;
and in July, 1898, she was married to Thomas F. Snedigar, whose life story is given
elsewhere in this volume. He was born in Pike County, 111., in 1840, lost his parents
when very young, and in 1852, with his foster parents came across the great plains
to California. Fate brought him first to Stockton and then to Stanislaus County; and
here he engaged in farming and stock raising, and came to have nearly 1,000 acres.

In 1864 Mr. Snedigar was married to Miss Emeline C. Dotson, a native of
Missouri, who became the mother of twelve children,, three of whom are still living.


These three the present Mrs. Snedigar brought up with loving care, and she became
the mother of six children of her own. Charlie, the eldest, married Miss Alma Sea-
blom, and is a rancher residing at Turlock ; Louis is now eighteen years old ; Leonard
L. was drowned when three years old; Robert R. and Iva Mae come next; and Irvin
V. is four years old. Mrs. Snedigar is the administratrix of the estate, and manages
everything with commendable fidelity and admirable judgment. She has retained
eight acres of the ranch for a home place, and resides in the handsome residence built
by her husband and herself. She is a prominent member of the United Brethren
Church at Oakdale, in which congregation, its life and its varied and far-reaching good
works, she and her lamented husband long took an active and much appreciated part.

JAMES JOHNSON. — A pioneer enjoying the enviable distinction of being now
the oldest settler in Modesto, and thus able to look back through the years when he
saw the whole town develop and much of the county grow, is James Johnson, who
came here when there was no depot and a box car served for a railway station. He
was born at Bornholm, Denmark, on June 27, 1848, the son of Hans Kofoed John-
son, a farmer who died in 1878. He had taken for his wife Miss Martha Bertelsen,
and she passed away in 1867, the mother of seven children, among whom James is
the youngest. He was educated at the public schools, and when fourteen was appren-
ticed to a shoemaker, with whom he remained for four and a half years. Then he
served in that vicinity as a journeyman for six months, at the end of which time he
decided to come to the United States.

The year 1868, therefore, found him at work at his trade in Peru, 111., where
he remained until February, 1870, when he resolved to continue his migration west-
ward, and never to stop until he reached the Golden State. Arrived in Paradise
City, Stanislaus County, he opened a shoe-shop, which he continued to manage until
the latter part of October of that year, when he moved into the new town of
Modesto. Here he ran a shoe-shop and soon started the first shoe-store in Modesto.
He was located for a while on H Street, between Ninth and Tenth streets, and soon
afterwards he bought a lot, built a store and occupied it until 1884, when he sold
the stock and leased the building. His sales had gradually increased, until they were
over $3,000 a month, so that it is evident that he was a success in his original trade.

In 1884 Mr. Johnson branched off into the field of real estate and insurance,
becoming a notary public and doing auctioneering. He was the first man hereabouts
to cut up or subdivide large farms or tracts, and sell to the public. He bought the
McDonald tract of 440 acres at $22.50 per acre, cut it into ten and twenty-acre
tracts, and sold the first sixty acres for twenty-five dollars per acre, and the balance
a little more, the highest price asked being only thirty-five dollars. The same land
is now selling for from $500 to $800 an acre. This was the beginning of sub-
dividing at Modesto, which has done so much for the building up of the county. As
an auctioneer, Mr. Johnson was also a success, being ever in demand. He erected a
building for business on I Street, known as the Johnson Block, and built business
property at Fifth and H streets. Among tracts laid out by him were two sections
for the Richard Whitmore estate south of Ceres, and he laid out the Johnson 5:
Jones Addition to Modesto. He was both interested in and active himself in the
organization of both the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, and improved
lands for general agriculture and the growing of alfalfa, and he owns a ranch on the
Tuolumne River.

Mr. Johnson was a member of the first board of trustees of Modesto when it
was incorporated in 1883, and he served a second term. As early as 1872 he took an
active part in the county seat fight that resulted in a choice of Modesto, and after
serving as trustee he was city treasurer for six terms, or for twelve vears. For more
than twenty years, however, he was active in the direction of city affairs, and he was
a member of the first charter commission.

On November 23, 1873, Mr. Johnson was married to Miss Emma Bacon, who
was born near Columbia in Tuolumne County, the daughter of Walter Bacon, one
of the first miners there and later an early settler of Modesto. She was reared in
Tuolumne and San Joaquin counties, and belongs, with her husband, to the Rebekahs,


where she is past noble grand. She and her husband are also members of the Christian
Church, in which Mr. Johnson is a trustee, and joined him in war work and the
response to the bond drives. Mr. Johnson is the oldest Odd Fellow initiated in
Modesto lodge, having joined in 1871, and is a past grand, and a past chief patriarch
of the encampment of Odd Fellows, where he was district deputy. A Democrat in
national politics, he was active in former years on the county committee of that party.
A live business man, he has very naturally done his part in the work of the Board of
Trade and the Chamber of Commerce. Since 1873 he has resided in a comfortable
home on Seventh Street, although he has recently built himself a new residence there.
Mr. Johnson returned for the first time to Denmark in 1877, when his wife
accompanied him, and in 1899 they made a second trip. In 1905 he retired from
business and made his third and last visit to his native land, acting on the advice of
physicians; and having stayed there a couple of years, he happily had his health
restored. On his return to California, he decided to quit active real estate business,
and now only looks after his buildings and property. His figure is familiar to thou-
sands, as his genial face is welcome to many, and by all who know him and his devoted
wife, they are highly esteemed.

GEORGE P. SCHAFER. — Prominent among the substantial and active, as
well as wonderfully organized agencies for not only ministering to the comforts of
ordinary social life in Modesto, but most important in the processes of guiding com-
mercial affairs and giving stability to the finances of the city, so that Modesto may
well claim to be both one of the most aggressive and progressive of cities of its size
in the Golden State, must be mentioned the extensive establishment of The G. P.
Schafer Company, the largest mercantile house, with its six departments, in the San
Joaquin Valley north of Fresno. Its president and manager, George P. Schafer, was
born at Stockton on July 29, 1869, and when a year old was brought by his parents
to Stanislaus County, where they settled on a 640-acre ranch south of Ceres. His
boyhood was passed on the ranch, and in that district he attended the common schools.
Later, when his parents removed to Modesto in 1881, he attended the Modesto high
school, from which he was graduated in 1888. While attending school, beginning
when he was fourteen, Mr. Schafer drove a delivery wagon for and clerked in W. A.
Harter's grocery in Modesto, a pioneer store doing a pioneer work. In 1888 he
entered the University of California and became a member of the class of '92; but at
the end of three years he accepted a position as clerk, bookkeeper and teller in the
First National Bank of Modesto, of which Mr. Oramil McHenry was then president
and J. E. Ward was cashier, while G. R. Stoddard was Mr. Ward's assistant.

For ten years Mr. Schafer remained in the First National Bank; and then, since
he and Mr. McHenry married sisters, he joined Mr. McHenry in partnership and
bought out the department store of I. E. Gilbert & Son of Modesto, an interesting
firm, for Mr. Gilbert had started here the first general store at the time of the build-
ing of the Southern Pacific to Modesto in 1870. The firm, which became The G. P.
Schafer Company, was started as a co-partnership on May 17, 1900, and was later
incorporated. The store has six departments, one being devoted to dry goods and
shoes ; another to gents' clothing and furnishings ; a third to groceries ; a fourth to a
groceteria ; a fifth to household goods, such as kitchen hardware, and a sixth to a
bakery. Its mottoes are: "Everything for Even-body," "Quality Good, Prices Fair,"
and the good housewife has come to look forward to the newspaper announcements of
"Schafer's" as to the most logical solution in her vexatious problems of housekeeping.

For years Mr. Schafer was also active ■ in the Modesto Creamery, which was
organized in 1903, and served for a number of years as its vice-president; and he was
vice-president of the First National Bank for four years, during the settlement of the
O. McHenry estate. He owns over 200 acres of highly improved, double-crop ranch
land four miles northeast of Modesto. He served as a councilman in the first board
of trustees of Modesto under its present charter of the commission form of govern-
ment, and stands high in the councils of the Democratic party, and for twenty years
served as a member of the Democratic Central Committee of Stanislaus County. He
was an alternate to the Democratic National Convention at St. Louis in 1916. He


was a member of the committee at Modesto on all the loan drives, and active in all
the war work in the county.

At Modesto, on October 14, 1893, Mr. Schafer was married to Miss Matilda
Conneau, a native of this city and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Conneau, by
whom he has had two children : Lena is now Mrs. Charles George Maze, the wife
of the rancher and insurance man of Modesto; and she was an honor student and a
speaker at the commencement of her class in 1916 at the University of California,
where she took the literary course. They have one child, George S. Maze. Ward C.
Schafer graduated in May, 1921, from the University of California.

Mr. Schafer is a member of the session of the First Presbyterian Church at
Modesto, and was on the building committee when the new Presbyterian Church,
costing $45,000, was built in 1911, the finest church edifice in Modesto. Socially,
both Mr. Schafer and his family stand high and enjoy enviable positions, while serving
their fellows in society. He is a member of all the branches in Odd Fellowship, is a
past grand of Wildey Lodge No. 149, I. O. O. F., of Modesto; and is treasurer of
both the lodge and encampment. Mrs. Schafer is a member of the Golden State
Rebekah Lodge of Modesto. Mr. Schafer belongs to the Modesto Parlor of the
Native Sons of the Golden West, of which he is a past president ; he is also a member of
Modesto Lodge No. 1282, B. P. O. Elks. He was elected first president of the
Modesto Rotary Club.

GEORGE J. WREN. — A leader in business and political circles, and the head
of a highly respected family carrying on the distinguished name of a long line of
famous British ancestry, is George J. Wren, the ex-mayor and ex-councilman, and
the junior member of the firm of Maze & Wren, the prime operators in realty in this
section. He was born at Quincy, 111., on August 15, 1858, and as a child of four was
brought to California by his parents, who crossed the great plains with a train of
horse and ox teams from Missouri. His father was John Wren, while his mother was
Elizabeth Martin before her marriage, a member of the well-known Scotch-Irish
family. The maternal grandfather, General Martin, served in the Mohawk' War
against the Indians, and both Mr. Wren's grandfather and father were very active
in the early history of Missouri. The Wren family ranched in Solano County and
also in Napa County. From there they moved to the San Joaquin Valley in 1869,
and settled in Merced County.

George Wren attended the public schools of Napa and Merced counties, and
later the State Normal School at San Jose. All his life, however, he has been identi-
fied with farming, and has owned several ranches in Stanislaus County. He now owns
two vineyards near Ceres, Stanislaus County, one of which contains forty, and the
other twenty acres. Mr. Wren has also been extensively interested in the real estate
business since 1888, when he first went into a real estate office under the firm name
of Maze & Wren. First they operated at Madera, and then Mr. Wren moved to
Modesto. In January, 1911, the firm was incorporated. While Mr. Maze con-
tinued the office at Madera, Mr. Wren came to Modesto in 1902 and opened up
their office; and when they sold out their Madera interests in 1913, both partners
put their shoulders to the Modesto wheel, and they have been pushing at it ever since.

While living at Madera, Mr. Wren was assessor of Madera County for four
years, and on coming to Modesto he served for four years in the city council from
1903 to 1907. He championed the commission form of city government and in 1911
was elected the first mayor of Modesto- under the new charter, at the same time that
George P. Schafer, Geo. Perley, C. D. Swan and L. T. Moss were chosen with him
for the city council, and in both cases he sought to give the people a clean administra-
tion. He also sought the most progressive aggressiveness likely to make for the per-
manent development of the section. Realizing, for example, that irrigation must ever
be the making of Stanislaus County, he has always stood firmly by the Wright law,
and consistently allied himself on the side of the worthiest irrigation projects. During
his mayoralty, the municipal waterworks system was organized and instituted. Now
the city is outgrowing its plant, which was designed to have a capacity for 10.000 peo-

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pie. and another unit, sufficient for an additional 12,000 inhabitants, was added, and a
third project is now under way.

Besides being extensively interested in lands here since 1888, Mr. Wren, with his
partner, has dealt in fire insurance ; and since 1903 he has bought, sold off and colonized
land in eight tracts or colonies, aggregating some 12,000 acres. These tracts are the
Maze-Wren Colony, the Maze Colony, the Spencer Colony, the Hall Tract, the
Central Colony, the Seminary Tract, the Christ Colony, and the Wren-Maze Tract.

Mr. Wren is the father of four children : Eva, Mrs. J. N. Nightingale ; Mabel,
Mrs. C. S. Northcut; Marie, and Lawrence J., all of Modesto. Mrs. Wren was
formerly Miss Ida M. Musick, daughter of James J. Musick, pioneer of Fresno
County. Modesto congratulates itself on the acquisition of such citizen-power of
the first order represented by Mr. Wren and his busy circle.

GEO. H. WHITWORTH.— After many years of faithful public service in
Merced County, Geo. H. Whitworth has been reelected time and again to the respon-
sible office of supervisor, while his associates have honored him with a term as chair-
man. So long has been his identification with this county, and so intimate his associa-
tion with local development that, viewing the remarkable transformation wrought
within his memory, he may well exclaim, "All of which I saw, and part of which I
was." Great, however, as has been his activity in general, it is as supervisor that the
people of his home county most appreciate Geo. Whitworth, who has served them in
that office for more than twenty years, being chosen by a good majority each election.
His mind and heart have been engrossed in the well-being of the county and such has
been his success in the solution of many difficult problems that his fellow-citizens
more and more have reposed their confidence in him.

Geo. H. Whitworth was born at Dutch Bar, on Woods Creek, Tuolumne
County, March 10, 1856, the son of Henry and Ann (Hall) Whitworth, natives of
Lincolnshire, England. His father left Liverpool for America on September 12, 1848,
and pushed his way west to Chicago. On learning of the discovery of gold in Cali-
fornia, he with others planned to reach the new Eldorado. They outfitted at St.
Louis, Mo., and with a train of wagons drawn by mules, there being fifty men in
the party, he crossed the plains, coming by the southern route. During the trip each
night the train was guarded with military precision and particularly was this necessary
while passing through the Apache Indian country. On reaching California they made
their way up the coast to San Jose Mission and from there they traveled south to
cross the Coast Range at Pacheco Pass, and after crossing the San Joaquin River at
Hill's Ferry, they went into the Mariposa mines.

Later, Henry Whitworth came to Tuolumne County, where he hauled provisions
with an eight-mule team from Stockton to the stores and miners at Chinese Camp and
vicinity, and later he kept a provision store for Walkerly Bros, at Dutch Bar, where
our subject first saw the light. Later he was engaged in mining at Chinese Camp,
and then, still later, near Crimea House, Keystone Flat, where our subject first went
to school, Henry Whitworth acquired an interest in the old Eagle Quartz Mining
Company at Blue Gulch, on Woods Creek, where they had a mill. Henry Whitworth
had so won the confidence of his associates that it was his task to divide their gold,
and George well remembers how his father divided the gold and weighed each one's
share as it was handed to the different parties interested in the mine. Henry Whit-
worth and Miss Anna Hall had become engaged to be married back in England and
she made the trip to California, coming via the Isthmus of Panama, and on her arrival
in San Francisco, early in 1855, she was met by Mr. Whitworth, and their marriage
was immediately consummated and he then took his bride back to the mines, where
he continued until 1863, when the family moved by teams and wagons to Contra Costa
County, taking three days for the journey. There he farmed until 1869. In 1868 he
had homesteaded and preempted land on Quinto Creek, in Merced County, about
twelve miles south of Newman, and in 1869 located on the place and engaged in farm-
ing and stock raising, in which he was very successful. He was bereaved of his faith-
ful wife in 1877, while he survived her for twenty years, passing away in 1897.

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 45 of 177)