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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 48 of 177)
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name. It was the first abstract office of the kind in the county, and had a full set
of the county records. In 1902 he incorporated the Stanislaus Land and Abstract
Company, and as principal owner, took the offices of president and manager ; and from
1879 until November, 1916, continued, when he sold the businses in which he had
been so interested for thirty-seven and a half years.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 351

During all these years when he did conveyancing, Mr. Perley was a notary pub-
lic, and attended to both insurance and real estate, so that he grew to be well posted
as to the values of property ; and he next engaged in the real estate business. He sub-
divided a number of tracts, including the Broughton Colony tract, and also the Del-
mas Tract, and in 1917 he entered into partnership with R. S. Marshall, the
firm being known as Perley and Marshall ; and they carried on a splendid business in
both real estate and insurance. However, January, 1921, they dissolved part-
nership and Mr. Perley continued as the oldest realtor in Modesto. He built the
Perley Building on 11th Street, 50x120 feet. He has always been interested in agri-
culture, and at present owns a farm of 200 acres eight miles west of La Grange, fifty
acres of which is a walnut orchard.

Mr. Perley was a member of the board of freeholders that framed the present
city charter, and in 1911 was elected a member of the first city council under the pres-
ent charter and served as commissioner of public works until he resigned, just before
the close of his term. He has always been a member of all civic organizations such
as the Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce, and the first board of trade
was organized in his office. He and John F. Tucker circulated the first petition
for the Board of Trade and so set the ball rolling. He was also always interested in
irrigation, and in 1877 he was the organizer of a private irrigation company, which
held several meetings; but when they found that they could not get enough private
capital to build the canal, they turned their attention to securing an act by the Legis-
lature, favoring the proposed irrigation districts. The result was that Mr. Wright
was elected to the Legislature, and the Wright law was passed. Mr. Perley spent
much valuable time lobbying for the bill, and the result is demonstrated by the success
of the various irrigation districts. There was at first much opposition by landowners
in the district, who did not wish to pay the assessments and so fought the bill, carry-
ing their appeal even to the Supreme Court of the United States, but they lost out and
the law stood as valid and reasonable.

At lone, Cal., Mr. Perley was married to Miss Caro P. Cookson, a native of the
state of Maine and a charming woman of Yankee culture, who is now deceased. Two
children were born of this marriage — one a son, George E., of Fresno, and the other a
daughter, Mabel, who is now Mrs. B. F. Stone and resides in this county. Mr.
Perley was made a Mason in Stanislaus Lodge No. 206, F. & A. M., of Modesto, and
exalted in Modesto chapter No. 49, R. A. M. He joined the Odd Fellows at Mo-
desto in the year 1872. He is both a past grand and a past district deputy grand-
master, and belongs to the Encampment, in which he is past chief patriarch and past
district deputy. He is a member of the Canton in Stockton and of the Rebekah Lodge.

WILLIAM M. SNEDIGAR.— A well-known pioneer family of Stanislaus
County is that of the Snedigars, now represented by William M. Snedigar, who has
been a resident here from the early days. Born at Martinsburg, Pike County, 111., on
January 8, 1863, he was the son of Robert R. and Harriet B. (Worth) Snediszar,
the father a native of Pike County, 111., and the mother of Knoxville, Tenn. When
he was but a year and two months old, his parents made the long trip to California
by way of the Isthmus of Panama, coming to Stanislaus County by way of Stockton.
The family settled about five miles from the present site of Oakdale and here the
father became extensively interested in ranching, growing large crops of grain, and
also owning many sheep. Mr. Snedigar's great uncle, Thomas Richardson, was one
of the largest sheep raisers of that vicinity, owning thousands of sheep and operating
20,000 acres of land. R. R. Snedigar was one of the big farmers of Stanislaus
County, having at one time 1,440 acres in barley and wheat.

Growing up thus in pioneer times and under pioneer influences, William Snedi-
gar is a Californian in all but birth. His boyhood was spent on the home farm,
where he early became familiar with all the duties of the ranch, and his education
was received in the neighborhood school, fortunate in having for his teacher Hon.
Vital E. Bangs, whose name is enrolled high among Stanislaus County's worthy citi-
zens. Nor was his association with that eminent teacher closed when his school-



352 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

days were over, as when he reached the age of twenty-eight he was united with Mr.
Bangs' daughter, Miss Susan Bangs, a woman of charming personality who has been
a true helpmate to him.

Upon reaching young manhood Mr. Snedigar began ranching on his own account
and he is still actively engaged in grain farming. He is the owner of a fine farm
of eighty-five acres north of Modesto on the McHenry Road, which was a part of
the Vital E. Bangs farm, and here he has erected a large, attractive stucco residence,
modern and up-to-date. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Snedigar:
Harriet Victoria, Mrs. Joseph D. Cozad, Jr., resides in Modesto with her husband
and son, Philip D. ; Merwin H., a graduate in mechanics through a correspondence
course, enlisted as a chauffeur in the U. S. Army on May 19, 1917, assigned to M. T.
Corps, served on the Mexican border until discharged on March 19, 1920. He is
now at home. Lloyd M. is the third child of the family. The youngest, Gerald M.,
a bright, handsome lad of fifteen, a great favorite in all the neighborhood, passed away
in March, 1920, a sad blow to the family circle. Although his busy life as a rancher
occupies Mr. Snedigar's time, he takes a live interest in all public affairs and in 1907
he served his county as deputy assessor.

THOMAS C. HOCKING. — Prominent among the most progressive journalists
of California who have done much to hasten the development of the great common-
wealth into a veritable Golden State, Thomas C. Hocking, who recently retired as
owner of the Modesto Morning Herald, may well be proud of his unusually interest-
ing career as a newspaper man. A native son favored from the hour when he first saw
the light, he was born in Grass Valley on August 10, 1864, and so passed his boyhood
in Nevada County, replete with its many historic and literary associations.

He began his newspaper experience as "devil" at the age of seventeen in the em-
ploy of the Grass Valley Tidings, and soon rose to the position of reporter, of business
manager, and later to editor of the same paper. His active participation in local civic
affairs led to his being chosen by his fellow-citizens as a councilman of Grass Valley
and then as a member of the state legislature ; but he declined renomination in order
to join a number of prominent Stanislaus County Republicans in the purchase and
conduct of the Modesto Weekly Herald. He was made manager and editor, and
under his sensible, far-seeing direction, the newspaper took on new life, increased
rapidly in circulation, and became one of the acknowledged agencies for optimistic
views and helpful influence ; and in time he bought out the other stockholders.

Mr. Hocking was first attracted to Modesto by the promise of irrigation develop-
ment, and through the Modesto Herald he contributed materially to make that dream
come true. During all the ten years of litigation in the district, when the anti-irriga-
rion element was in control, the Herald was an earnest champion of the enterprise as
originally designed, in season and out of season. With the completion of the Turlock
district, Mr. Hocking revived the interest of a score or more influential Modestoans,
;md a Board of Trade was formed that was really a pro-irrigation organization. Mr.
Hocking was president of the board, and it is needless to say that he left no stone
unturned to forward the vastly important work it had planned and, despite various
forms of opposition, had courageously undertaken.

This body, through propaganda in the Herald, and lawsuits, finally succeeded in
ousting the "anti" directors, and in 1904 the Modesto district became a reality with
the irrigation jubilee of which Mr. Hocking was manager, as the culminating feature.
The Board of Trade then became a real factor in colonizing and developing the
county; and under Mr. Hocking's leadership, much literature written by him was
issued and advantageously distributed far and wide.

In 1903 Mr. Hocking founded the Modesto Morning Herald, thereby making
a daily newspaper out of the old weekly, and from that time he and his wide-awake
journal were active in both the building up and the upbuilding of Modesto, the
Herald backing every forward movement. Among the activities which Mr. Hocking
favored was the promotion of the first Modesto creamery, the parent of our great dairy
industry; and he was also instrumental in inaugurating the first cannery and the paved
street svstem.




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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 355

The Herald, under Mr. Hocking, was always an active supporter of the Repub-
lican party, and was a big factor in changing this region from a Democratic to a
Republican county. He was a member of the Republican State Convention until the
old plan was abolished, and for many years belonged to the State Executive Com-
mittee. He is one of three survivors of the group which originated the Lincoln-
Roosevelt League, later the Progressive party, at Los Angeles, and attended the
national convention of the Republican party, and was one of the bolters at the famous
1912 Republican convention, which resulted in the formation of the Progressive party.

The Morning Herald was founded originally by Mr. Hocking as a seven-column,
four-page newspaper, gotten out by a staff of two journalists; since then the Herald
has grown with the city and county to the paper of today, with a staff of twenty or
more well-trained workers, turning out eight or twelve pages, with extra Sunday
edition of carefully-edited news daily, with leased wire Associated Press service.

The Herald under Mr. Hocking gave Modesto its first telegraphic wire service
and Associated Press franchise; and it installed the first typesetting machine seen
here, the first linotype, and the first perfecting newspaper press. All in all, Mr.
Hocking may look back upon his strenuous years in the journalistic field in Stanislaus
County with a good deal of complacence, and forward with extreme optimism.

Mr. Hocking was united in marriage in San Francisco with Miss Nellie Gilbert
and they have two daughters: Florence, who married John H.Mead of Hollywood,
Cal., in October, 1920, and Constance, who is attending Stanford University.

SAMUEL M. UPDIKE. — A practical, self-made man, whose industry and ex-
perience — often freely placed at the disposal of others — have enabled him to attain to
a position of independence and influence, is Samuel M. Updike, the dairy farmer on
the Beckwith Road about six miles to the southwest of Salida. He was born in Franklin
County, Ind., near the Ohio line, the son of Virgil McCracken Updike, who moved to
Decatur County, in that same state, where he became a farmer with his own eighty
acres, and passed away when our subject was only seven years old. He was only
thirty-five years of age when he died, and he left a widow and eight children. He,
too, was a native' of Franklin County, and his father, who died in the Civil War,
came of good old Pennsylvania Dutch stock. Virgil Updike married Ruth Ann
Cythens, a motherly woman of English descent, and she lived to be fifty-five years old.

The eighty acres thus left to the widow and her numerous children were not
enough to furnish support for all, and Samuel Updike had to go away from home, at
an early age, to work out for others. In doing this, he followed in the footsteps of
his mother, who had been left an orphan and was bound out; but such was her
experience that she struggled valiantly, and with success, to keep her family together,
and in time she was helped by each of them. Emily M. is now the wife of Jasper
Pattison, a prosperous farmer in North Dakota. Margaret Ann became the wife of
William Patrick and lived on a farm in Iowa, where she died, the mother of two
girls and a boy. Monroe resides in Oregon. I. W. Updike is a resident of Modesto.
Samuel M. is the subject of our review. John M. resides in Visalia. Claracy Eliza-
beth, of Modesto, is the widow of the late Charles Butler, a rancher of Stanislaus
County; while Aaron is deceased.

Samuel Updike first saw the light on February 17, 1851. and at the expense of
a thorough schooling he contracted to work for his uncle for his board and forty dollars
a year. He stayed in Decatur County until he was seventeen, and then he, his mother
and the rest of the family moved to Monona County, Iowa, where he rented land near
Onawa. From there, in 1874, he and his brother, I. W. Updike, struck out for Cali-
fornia, reaching Stockton in January, 1875. Samuel went to work at thirty dollars
a month driving eight or ten mules; and he also plowed on grain ranches. The first
work, however, that he. did was to pick grapes for the making of wine. Then he
engaged to work for Johnny Jones, the extensive rancher at Atlanta, twenty miles
southeast of Stockton ; and being apt, he soon learned the ways of California industry.
This included the running of the machinery used in those times, and the various
methods of farming found best to suit California conditions.



356 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Mr. Updike then went to Franklin, Nev., and worked in the lumber camps and
sawmills; he surveyed for water ditches and built flumes, and whatever he undertook
he applied himself to in the most intelligent and painstaking manner, and with the
determination to succeed. He saved his money and came back to Stockton, but soon
went north to Walla Walla, Wash., where he again entered the lumber camps, and
also worked in the sawmills in the Blue Mountains.

After nine years of successful activity in Washington, Mr. Updike returned to
California and Modesto, and there, in 1888, he and his brother, I. W. Updike, began
ranching and ten years later were among the stockholders that started the Farmers &
Merchants Bank, which was later sold to the Bank of Italy. Since then he has owned
several ranches, and his present home-holding is the fourth he has acquired. It consists
of 525 acres, which he devotes to dairy purposes, in which he is ably assisted by his son.
Like his brother, Isaac Wesley Updike, he is a good judge of land. I. W. Updike, by
the way, has been for years the land appraiser of the Bank of Italy in Modesto.

In 1897 Mr. Updike was married to Miss Christena C. Patrone, a native of Stan-
islaus County, on June 16, 1873, to whose intelligence, hard work and loyalty to
husband, family and country, he gladly gives credit for much of their prosperity. Her
father was Joseph Patrone, and her mother was Rosena Breckley, both early settlers
of this county. Two children have blessed the union: Joseph Wesley, who is a part-
ner with his father in the operation of the ranch, and Alice Elizabeth Updike.

Mr. Updike is a member of Wildey Lodge of Odd Fellows and the Encampment
of Modesto, and in the same lodges his son has risen to prominence and influence, being
also a member of the Canton and Rebekahs. He is a Republican in his preference for
national parties, but by no means partisan when it comes to supporting the best men
and the best measures for the community in which he lives and thrives.

JOHN E. THOMPSON.— Not many pioneers of California at John E. Thomp-
son's advanced age of eighty-three years can make a better showing for able-bodied-
ness and dailv, vigorous activity, and it is not surprising that he is looked upon as
one of the representative men of Stanislaus County and exerts an enviable influence
beyond Crows Landing and vicinity. In Bowling Green, Ky., which has given so
many sterling settlers to the West, he was born on April 26, 1838, and he received
his schooling in a log house near Huntsville, Mo., to which section in Randolph
County his father had removed, purchasing there some 1,280 acres of land. As a
planter, he raised tobacco and hemp, and was known as a man of progressive ideas.

When eighteen years of age, Mr. Thompson left home and went to Benton,
Lafayette County, Wis., where he worked in the lead mines for five years. At that
place, too, in the fall of 1860 he was married to Miss Mary Oldham, who was born
and educated in Pike County, Mo. This marriage was a fortunate affair, and five
children, four of whom reached maturity, have blessed the union. Julia is Mrs.
W. N. Winter of Hughson, and there, also, lives Amanda, who has become Mrs. W.
T. Carson. Nona, Mrs. Frank Poole, and May, who is Mrs. Frank Matlock,
reside in Los Angeles. Walter died when he was two years old. Mrs. Thompson
died in 1895, at the age of fifty-five years.

From Benton Mr. Thompson returned to Missouri, and there, for two years, he
lived with his folks on the plantation, or until he came out to California in 1873.
Then he settled near Stockton, and worked at the blacksmith trade for Messrs.
Mattison & Williams. In 1876, he came to Stanislaus County and purchased the
blacksmith shop on Crows Landing-Modesto Road ; and not being over busy, he
worked part of the time on the San Joaquin River boats running down the stream
from Los Banos. Then, with the aid of John Brad Crow, he purchased the grocery
business from Mr. Armstrong and located on the lot adjoining his blacksmith shop.
and after that he acquired the twenty-acre tract, on a part of which the store now
stands. Since then he has been in business on the same spot, and he has his twenty
acres in alfalfa. He knows almost everybody for miles around, and lie has what
many a business man of large affairs would covet — a host of friends. Usually march-
ing under the banners of the Democratic party, Mr. Thompson prefers to vote inde-
pendently if he is persuaded that another party has a better candidate.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 359

CHARLES EDWIN SPERRY.— Prominent among the good old California
names destined long to be remembered and honored by an appreciative posterity, is that
of the late Charles Edwin Sperry, who died on New Year's Day, 1906. He was
born on October 28, 1847, in a picturesque village on the coast of Maine, and when
only eleven years of age accompanied his parents to the Pacific Slope, traveling in
sailing vessels to the Isthmus of Panama, then across the narrow neck of land, and
finally up to San Francisco and inland to Stockton, on the San Joaquin River. His
father, Eli N. Sperry, was a cousin of Austin and Willard Sperry, founders of the
famous flour mills, now an international institution ; and under his lead, Charles
Edwin early took up agriculture on the home farm eight miles north of Stockton in
the San Joaquin Valley. As a young man, he also worked in the Sperry Mills at
Stockton for a number of years, and then, when he decided to make a start for himself,
he pushed into Stanislaus County.

At Stockton, on November 7, 1874, Mr. Sperry was married to Miss Clara
Sabin, who was born on a farm near the border of the Catskill Mountains, in New
York State, not far from the upper Hudson, the daughter of Egbert and Elizabeth
(Lord) Sabin, natives of Manchester, England. When they first came to America,
they lived for a while in New York State ; and then they migrated to Ohio, and after
that to Wisconsin, where Mr. Sabin followed his trade as a carpenter or wagon-
builder for a number of years. He also had a small farm. Reared in the localities in
which her parents had dwelt and having taught school in Lesueur County, Minn., a
number of terms, Miss Sabin came to Stockton in 1872.

In the spring of 1875, therefore, Mr. Sperry came with his bride to the Whit-
more ranch in Stanislaus County, and while they were there two of their four children,
Charles and Louis, were born. Charles A. is now a rancher at Denair, and Louis N.
is farming near him. Florence E. was superintendent of the Lane Hospital at San
Francisco, and now the wife of Frank B. Scholz, and as a nurse in the Stanford No. 2
unit of the American Red Cross, she served overseas in the U. S. Army for fourteen
months, braving much exposure. Willard E., the youngest of the children, is both a
rancher and a business man at Ceres. Mr. Sperry, as a man of strictest integrity and
commendable public spirit, supported every movement making for progress in the
county; and since his death, Mrs. Sperry has been continuing the good work begun by
him, while caring for her mother, an interesting pioneer now ninety-three years of age.

Mrs. Sperry recalls the difficulties which greeted a young woman when she came
here in the early '70s. Then there were only three dwellings between the Sperry
ranch house and the village of Turlock, whereas now there are hundreds of valuable,
prosperous farms in this district. The Lateral Canal No. 2 borders the Sperry Ranch
on the north, on which account the ranch is abundantly supplied with water. The
home place now consists of forty acres on which stands the old ranch house, built about
sixty years ago by John Fox on the old Dr. Ashe ranch.

LEMUEL EARL DRAKE. — A representative rancher of Stanislaus County
is Lemuel E. Drake, whose ability and enterprise are evidenced in his well-kept eighty-
acre dairy, grain and fruit ranch. Of English origin, the Drake family is numbered
among the old" and respected American families of early Colonial days. Lemuel E.
Drake was born at Louisville, Clay County, 111., March 18, 1860, and is the second
child and oldest son in a family of eight children. His father, Jacob Drake, a native
of Ohio, was a California pioneer who made his first trip to California across the plains
in an ox team train in the early fifties. He was a cabinet-maker, wheelwright and
millwright, and a master mechanic in his line. He built a grist mill near Sutter, in
Yuba County, and also erected the first water grist mill on the Sacramento River,
near the site of the city of Sacramento. He was single when he made his first trip
to California, and after a few years he returned to Clay County, 111., where he mar-
ried Miss Mary J. Coffee, who is a Tennesseean by birth, and a sister of the late
S. W. Coffee, well-known Stanislaus County pioneer. After his marriage, Jacob
Drake made his home at Louisville, 111., where he ran a cabinet maker's shop and
where his three oldest children were born. Leaving his Illinois farm in 1863, he



360 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

preceded his family to Virginia City, Nev., where he spent the winter and worked
until the following spring. The spring of 1864 his wife outfitted a wagon of her
own with ox teams, hired a man to drive it and crossed the plains in company with
her two brothers, S. W. and A. J. Coffee and her two children, one child having died
in Clay County, 111. There were about sixty wagons in the train. Her husband met
her at Salt Lake City, and they spent their first winter at Virginia City, Nev., later
going to sunny California, locating temporarily at the town of Linden, where Jacob
Drake took a contract to manufacture washing machines. In the fall of 1865, he
came to Paradise Valley, Stanislaus County, in what is now Bel Passi School Dis-
trict, where his brother-in-law, S. W. Coffee, was located on a homestead. Jacob
Drake also homesteaded 160 acres, the west half of which his son, Lemuel, now
owns, and which has never been out of the family. Jacob Drake and William Brown
built the first Bel Passi schoolhouse with their own tools and hands, about the year
1871, and the district was named by its first teacher, the late Hon. Vital E. Bangs.

Lemuel E. Drake was reared on 'the old homestead and in 1875, when fifteen
years old, his father died. The mother never remarried, and the first year following
her husband's death, rented out the land. The next year young Lemuel assumed
charge of his mother's large grain ranch, a responsible task for his young shoulders.
The mother kept the family together and nobly and successfully coped with the
difficulties that fell to her lot. She attained the age of seventy-nine, lacking about



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 48 of 177)