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 54 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 54 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

back to England, and there she received her education, and she returned to California
a young lady. Rev. and Mrs. Keast had an interesting and most enjoyable trip to
and through parts of Europe, visiting childhood scenes and the large centers of popu-
lation in England and on the Continent, where he made a special study of social
conditions ; and they returned to America and California with renewed vigor. He
was appointed to Watsonville, and served there for three years with renewed vigor;
then he spent five years at Lodi, where the congregation was wonderfully blessed, for
it grew from a few members to one of the largest churches in the conference. He was
next appointed to special work in Sacramento — that of uniting the two downtown
churches — and he succeeded in starting the movement which is now culminating
in one of the largest congregations in California — that of Grace Methodist Episcopal
Church. Completing his work after a year, the bishop ruled that the pastors of the
two churches should give way to a new one, and then amalgamation came.

In 1918, the Rev. Mr. Keast came to Turlock, as pastor of the First Methodist
Church, and here, too, his indefatigable work has borne fruit, for the church has
grown from less than 500 to more than 800, and can boast of the largest and best-
organized Sunday school in Northern California. The various societies of the church
also are all thriving as well. Additional lots have been bought, and a movement
culminating, it is to be expected, in the building of a new modern edifice comprising
an up-to-date Sunday school equipment, a magnificent auditorium, a community center,
with a gymnasium and club, extra and special rooms and all else necessary for the
social life of the young people of the church and community, has been begun. All
these good things will be placed at the disposal of everyone, regardless of creed, and
provision will be made in the assembly rooms for gatherings pertaining to community


welfare. Rev. Mr. Keast believes that the Church of Christ should serve the people ;
and at Lodi he put his convictions to the test, with the result that the church, com-
pleted,- is being operated there on that plan with wonderful success. In his arduous
church work, Mr. Keast is most ably assisted by his accomplished and genial wife, who
takes an active part in all religious and social life of the congregation.

Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Keast have been blessed with five children. Lysia is a
graduate nurse, and as such was in the Government service in the late World War,
in the hospital base at Fort Douglas, Utah ; since then she has married, and is now
Mrs. Oscar M. Holden of Oakland. Frederick Elon, a graduate of Stanford Univer-
sity, is now a city salesman for the H. S. Crocker Company in San Francisco. Alice
is a graduate of the San Jose State Normal, and is teaching. Edith, who was educated
at the College of the Pacific at San Jose, is now Mrs. Howard Potter of Berkeley.
And Helen is attending the Turlock high school. Rev. Mr. Keast was assistant secre-
tary of the California Conference for seventeen years, and resigned on account of
added work, which took too much of his time. He has always had an active interest
in temperance work, and the movement that finally made the Eighteenth Amendment
possible received his hearty support, as does the present enforcement of the law. He is
now president of the Turlock Ministers' Association.

WALTER F. BEARD. — An efficient executive whose experience and ability are
appreciated by all who commit their interests to his care, is Walter F. Beard, the
superintendent of the Modesto & Empire Traction Company, a five-mile steam railway
which is devoted wholly to the hauling of freight. The Beards built it, run it and
operate it, and as it puts the Santa Fe into Modesto, connecting Empire on the Santa
Fe with Modesto, which is located on the Southern Pacific, and thus gives the growers
a chance to ship over the two railway systems, it is a local venture of importance.

Mr. Beard is the son of T. K. Beard, one of the leading financiers and citizens
of Stanislaus County, and he was born in Stanislaus County on February 27, 1881,
the second of ten children. When twenty-one, he started to contract in partnership
with his father, and they have many large undertakings to their credit, including the
Modesto canal irrigation system, the San Joaquin Irrigation District, and the enlarge-
ment of the Turlock main canal, which involved the enlargement of tunnels through
the mountains at La Grange; also employed by the Government for a year in con-
structing the Truckee-Carson irrigation project; and built the Ocean Shore Railway
at Santa Cruz, in 1906, the Modesto Reservoir, the Oakdale-San Joaquin Irrigation
dam, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District main canal, of which he put up three
sections, the Turlock Irrigation District or Davis reservoir, being the Foothill reser-
voir in the eastern part of Stanislaus County, and the enlargement of the canals and
tunnels of the Turlock Irrigation District.

In addition to his responsible work of operating the railway of the Modesto &
Empire Traction Company, Mr. Beard owns a valuable ranch of some 100 acres in the
Laurel Lodge precinct on the Empire Road, about three miles east of Modesto, where
he lives with his wife and family. He married Miss Zella Hambleton, a daughter
of Mrs. Emily M. Hambleton, and they have three children, as follows: Kennan H.,
Walter Franklin Beard, Jr., and Emily E. Beard. Mrs. Hambleton is the widow
of Elbert Ansley Hambleton, of Davis County, Iowa, who died at Venice in 1910,
aged fifty-four years. She was born in Clark County. Ind., and has happily survived.

GEORGE A. KNOX. — A native Scotchman who enjoys the highest respect of
his associates and many friends is George A. Knox, who lives about seven miles south
of Modesto on the Crows Landing Road. He was born in the famous city of
Edinburgh. Scotland, on May 18, 1868, and when he was a year old, he was brought
out to America by his parents, Henry and Catherine (Amos) Knox, who also brought
along another of their children, his brother, J. A. Knox, now of Oakland. They sailed
around the Horn, reached California in safety, and then located at Oakland, after a
more or less eventful trip of six weeks. They had a daughter born after coming to
California, now Mrs. Belle Wallis, living near Modesto. In 1874, Mr. and Mrs.
Knox, who had been farmers in Scotland, came to Stanislaus County and bought 160


acres of land in the Westport precinct of the Jones district ; and to this they kept
adding until, in after years, they had 600 acres, all good grain land.

After finishing the eighth grade of the local schools, George A. Knox attended"
the Ramsey Business College at Stockton, and then he took up agriculture in the
Westport region, in which he has always farmed. Now he owns a ranch of eighty
acres, and grows alfalfa for hay. He also manages the estate of his mother, Mrs.
Catherine Vincent, who had remarried and died at Modesto on June 19, 1920, leav-
ing him executor of her property. Mr. Knox is a member of the Stanislaus County
Farmers' Union and ever ready to advance the interests of California agriculture, and
to bring the county of Stanislaus into the front rank of productive, profitable areas.

At Richmond, Contra Costa County, Mr. Knox was married to Miss Nellie
Parker, a daughter of H. E. Parker of the Dry Creek district, one of the earliest and
most esteemed of Stanislaus County pioneers. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Knox have
worked hard for the war drives in the Westport district, and Mr. Knox served on the
committee. He is a true lover of outdoor sports, and enjoys both hunting and fishing.
On the Vincent estate, where Mr. Knox now lives, is the old water hole where the
stock of the plains were watered. It is a natural depression and was hollowed out by
the stockmen to make it available for water.

HIRAM HUGHSON. — A California pioneer of extraordinary force of character
and intellect, whose busy life of work and care leading on to success for himself and
all associated with him well illustrates that characteristic in thousands of Americans,
the will to do, to continue to do despite all odds, and finally to triumph over seemingly
impassable obstacles, was Hiram Hughson, who closed his eyes to the scenes of this
world on January 15, 1911. He was born at Middleburg, Schoharie County, N. Y.,
on November 22, 1840, the grandson of George Hughson, a farmer who was an old-
time Whig distinguished for his fighting qualities in the Revolutionary War. While
leading a spirited attack on the British, he had an arm blown off and, what was doubly
unfortunate, the right arm at that; but he was able later to use his left arm in writing,
and so was welcomed by his fellow citizens as constable, collector and county treasurer.
When his end came, he was in New York state and had reached his seventy-fifth year.

Nicholas M. Hughson, the father of our subject, was a native of Long Island,
N. Y., and grew up to be a successful farmer in Schoharie County. He was prominent
as both a Republican and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He married
Miss Charlotte Duncan, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, who came to the United
States when she was ten years of age. Her father was Charles S. Duncan, a minister
of the Methodist Episcopal church, who supported himself and family as a farmer
and a blacksmith, and preached the Gospel freely, without money and without price.
He rounded out eighty-two years, and they were four-score and over devoted to the
welfare of his fellow men. Six sons and four daughters were born to Mr. and Mrs.
'Hughson, among whom Hiram was the fifth in the order of birth.

He attended the public schools of his birthplace, and then finished his studies
with three years at the Norwich Academy, when he clerked in the general merchandise
store of Covell & Co., at Elmira, N. Y., where he worked for four years. He then
joined his brother, O. M. Hughson, as partner in the same line of business at Norwich,
N. Y., sticking to that venture until the much greater one, of migration to the "Golden
West," appealed too strongly to be resisted. In 1857 he came out to California, via
Panama and the steamer so well known in those days, the Star of the West ; and he
arrived at San Francisco on Christmas night.

After a week in the bay metropolis, Mr. Hughson pushed on to Marysville and
there engaged to clerk for Kirby & Burns, with whom he remained for a year and a
half. By 1858 he had plunged into the mines at Monte Christo, but after six months
he went to the Fraser River mines in British Columbia, where for seven months he
struggled to make good what he had steadily lost. In the end, he was glad to work
his passage to San Francisco and to borrow twenty dollars from George Walton, a
friend in Marysville, for whom he worked for six months on his ranch, and then he
engaged with John Campbell to take beef cattle to the mines. He succeeded so well in


this, that he went into the cattle business for himself, and by so doing cleared up over
three thousand dollars. About that time, perhaps somewhat earlier, he returned to
Norwich, N. Y., and took charge of the dry goods store of his brother, who had been
elected county treasurer.

On coming back to California, Mr. Hughson teamed over the mountains to
Virginia City and Gold Hill, Nev., charging $100 per ton for carrying freight from
Sacramento, and in two and a half years he made $7,000, abandoning the venture only
when the railways made it unprofitable to continue. Then he removed to San Joaquin
County, and rented 500 acres near Stockton, which he farmed to grain for three years,
and in 1872 he bought 500 acres in the vicinity, at $25 an acre, which he farmed
for fourteen years and then sold for $50 an acre. The result might well have been
accounted success, had it not been for a distressing accident which deprived Mr. Hugh-
son of his left arm. The spring of his mowing machine broke and he was thrown out
against the scythe. His friends advised him to secure a small store somewhere and
start again in a new field ; but they did not know Hiram Hughson, who persisted. in the
field he had already half-mastered. In 1882 he removed to Stockton with his family,
and somewhat later bought 1 ,000 acres eight miles east of Modesto, near what is now
known as Hughson; he made improvements, and acquired more and more land; nor
did he ever mortgage one property in order to purchase another. In 1901, he rented
out his land and located at Modesto, where he lived retired until he died. It is said
of him that, handicapped as he was by the loss of his arm, he made his fortune in rais-
ing grain, taking over section after section of land from men who had utterly failed.
Having accumulated a large sum of money, Mr. Hughson invested it in land mortgages
and securities, and became one of the wealthiest men in the San Joaquin Valley.

While at Stockton Mr. Hughson was united in marriage with Miss Luella R.
Avery, a native of Keokuk, Lee County, la., and the daughter of Demas and Mary
(Reid) Avery, natives of New York City, who moved West to Iowa, and from that
state came by way of Panama to California. For a while Mr. Avery tried his luck as
a miner, then he took up farming, and as an agriculturist continued in the San Joaquin
Valley until his death. Ten children blessed the union of Mr. and Airs. Hughson,
nine of whom are still living. These are Belle C, Mrs. Fred Suppiker of Riverside ;
Mary, Mrs. Joseph Diel of Stockton; Edna, Mrs. Charles Craig, of Salida; Minnie
L., Mrs. H. H. Sturgill, also of Salida; Olive V., Mrs. Frank Hatch, resides near
Modesto; Ora Hughson of Stockton; George Hughson of Woodland, and Hiram and
Lester of Modesto.

After Mr. Hughson's death, his widow continued to reside at Modesto, and here
she has come to take her place among the leading women of the city, not only because
of her social accomplishments and her interest in affairs generally, but because of her
business sagacity and the successful management of her estate. She still owns the old
home at the corner of Twelfth and J streets, as well as considerable other property of
value, and she selected and bought the corner at Tenth and J streets, whereon she
erected the Hughson Hotel, six stories and a basement in height, the largest hostelry in
Modesto, and one of the finest in the San Joaquin Valley, as well as the largest building
in town. Besides these properties, she owns and operates several ranches, upon which
she installed pumping plants and all the other necessary modern improvements.
Altogether, she may well be accounted a remarkable woman, and one who has done
her share in the development of Modesto on broad and substantial lines.

Mrs. Hughson is a cultured woman, endowed by nature with much business
acumen. She has abundantly demonstrated her optimism and faith in the progress of
her town and county, and her exampe and success have spurred others on to do likewise.
So it is to men and women of the type of Mrs. Hughson and her lamented husband that
Stanislaus County owes much of its present greatness and development, for without
their pioneering sacrifice, hard work, coupled with foresight and energy, properly ex-
pended in order to help bring about this wonderful transformation, the generation of
today would not now be enjoying the present day comforts and conveniences, which
are continually being augmented and enhanced.

( U^^^^^^^



THOMAS R. GADDIS.— A well-read, farseeing citizen of Turlock who has
been prominent in Turlock every since the early days of the town, and who, therefore,
has been privileged to assist in the work of laying the foundations of the community,
is Thomas R. Gaddis, a native of Uniontown, Fayette County, Pa., where he was
born on August 17, 1862. His father, Perry Gaddis, also came from the same
vicinity, and besides being a bricklayer and a contractor, was a merchant and a
farmer. He met death accidentally through an explosion, and passed away in his sixty-
fourth year. He had married Miss Eliza J. Shaw, who was born in Fayette County,
Pa., and was a cousin of H. C. Frick. She died in Pennsylvania in 1914, the mother
of six boys and two girls, all of whom, save one of the sons, are still living.

The fourth in the order of birth, and the only one of the family in California,
Thomas Gaddis, was brought up in Fayette County, where he attended the schools
until he was twelve years old, when he entered upon his mercantile career. He began
as a clerk in a general store in Dunbar, and received $100 for his first year's service,
while he boarded at home, and he worked from six o'clock in the morning until nine
o'clock at night. The next year he entered the employ of the Blythe Coke Company,
Mr. Blythe agreeing to pay him fifty dollars a month ; but instead he tendered him
seventy-five, and he continued with him for twelve years, having charge of the com-
pany's store at the coke furnaces, and when he quit he was receiving $100 a month
and his expenses.

In 1886, he came to San Francisco; and after looking over the state, he selected
Turlock as his first "camping place," and here became a clerk for J. E. Fuller, general
merchant and lumber, coal and ice dealer, who gave him fifty dollars a month to take
charge of the store. This was a grain country and devoted to wheat, barley and rye,
and the general activity was during the harvest season. After a while he became a
partner in the firm of Gaddis & Reiley, merchants on Front Street at the corner of
East Main, and they continued together handling general merchandise three years.
The} 7 then sold out to H. A. Osborn and dissolved the partnership.

Mr. Gaddis, however, continued in Mr. Osborn's employ and for about four
years managed the store for him; and then he resigned and started in business for
himself. He purchased the corner of West Main Street and Broadway, and in time
built up an extensive trade in general merchandise, erecting the corner block there.
In 1908, he sold out to Messrs. Osborn & Son, and having leased out the building,
which he later sold, went in for ranching.

Many years before he had been engaged in grain raising, having 2,200 acres in
grain leased from the J. W. Mitchell estate and he also farmed 640 acres of Mr.
Bonnett's place to grain. He bought twenty acres north of Turlock devoted to alfalfa.
Later, he bought forty acres east of Turlock, which he devoted to alfalfa, but after a
while he sold the forty acres at a handsome profit. Then he bought eighty-two and a
half acres on the Geer road, which he leveled and checked, and sixty acres of which
he put into alfalfa, setting out the other twenty acres to vines; and this he also sold.
He has also owned, bought and sold other valuable property here. He became a stock-
holder and one of the organizers of the First National. Bank of Turlock at the time
of its organization. He laid out his twenty acres north of town, known as Boulevard
Park Addition to Turlock, which he sold out in lots and now nearly all built up.

Near Turlock, on September 15, 1894, Mr. Gaddis was married to Miss Etta M.
Bonnett, a native of Turlock and the daughter of David Dade and Elizabeth (Ronk)
Bonnett, natives of West Virginia and Indiana respectively. In 1864 they crossed
the plains to California and settled in Stanislaus Count}', where they were farmers near
what is now Turlock. Mr. Bonnett was a grain raiser and owned 640 acres three
miles out in the country; and there he died in February, 1915, ten years after his
devoted wife had preceded him to the Great Beyond. They had four children, among
whom Mrs. Gaddis is the youngest, and one of three now living. One child, Gladys
Leona, has blessed this happy union of Mr. and Mrs. Gaddis. While handling his
ranches, Mr. Gaddis purchased the corner of Broadway and Florence street, and
built the large, beautiful residence now known as his hospitable home. The family


attend the Brethren Church. Since coming to this state in 1886, Mr. Gaddis has
crossed the continent six times.

A Democrat in his preferences as to national political policies, Mr. Gaddis has
always refused public office. He has been active and helpful, however, in such excel-
lent organizations as the Business Men's Association and the Board of Trade in Tur-
lock, and all movements for keeping Stanislaus County before the eyes of the people,
and did his duty during the recent war in ably working for and supporting the various
bond and Red Cross drives.

WILLIS BLEDSOE. — Through a close identification with the San Joaquin
Valley from the early days of 1862, the name of Willis Bledsoe is prominently enrolled
among those pioneers who foresaw and steadfastly worked to attain the present prosper-
ity of Stanislaus County, and whose personality and worth while endeavor have been
impressed upon its development. Coming from a family whose lineage goes back to
France, Willis Bledsoe was born in Gallatin County, Ky., on March 22, 1841. His
father, who bore the same name, was born in Virginia, and after residing for some years
in Gallatin County, Ky., moved to Missouri in 1846, and settled near. Paris, in
Monroe County, where he made his home until his death in 1888. The mother, before
marriage, Jane Donnely, was born in Kentucky, and passed away in Missouri in 1870.

Of the five children of these worthy parents only two are now living, and Willis
Bledsoe, the third eldest, is the only one in California. Going to Missouri with his
parents when he was five years old, his boyhood days were spent on the farm there,
while the schools of the neighborhood furnished his educational opportunities. In 1862
lie joined what was known as Dr. Glenn's train of ox teams and wagons, and they
also brought 146 head of mules with them. They left Missouri on April 1, 1862, a
party of forty-six men, all well armed, and they made the journey in the record time
of sixty-one days from Omaha. The way across the plains was comparatively without
the harrowing experiences of so many parties, as the Indians happened to be in a quiet
frame of mind, and were neither hunting for scalps nor cattle. A month after his
arrival Mr. Bledsoe went to the mines at Shaw's Flat in Tuolumne County, but as the
life of a miner did not appeal to him he remained there only three days and then started
to walk back in the direction of Stockton. Stopping at the John W. Jones place about
twenty miles out of Stockton in San Joaquin County, Mr. Bledsoe secured employment
there, continuing there for the next five years. Investing his savings in sheep in partner-
ship with Mr. Jones, he engaged in sheep raising, ranging his flocks in Stanislaus
and Merced counties, and making his headquarters on a ranch he had purchased at

In 1871 Mr. Jones and Mr. Bledsoe dissolved partnership and the latter con-
tinued farming and stock raising. He had purchased 4,480 acres of land lying on the
county line of Stanislaus County; thus he was the owner of seven sections of land.
He carried on his ranching operations on a large scale, running six big teams and a
combined harvester. In raising grain he began with winter plowing and sowing, but
five years later he began to summer fallow and found such an increase in the yield, that
he continued to use that method. Although he has had some hard years and low
prices, as in 1893, for instance, when wheat sold for seventy-five cents a cental and
barley for only fifty cents, but in the long run he has met with exceptional success. In
1885, Mr. Bledsoe built his large residence on J Street, Modesto, but while he made it
his home, he continued actively in the operation of his large ranch interests until seven
years ago, since which time he has rented his land.

In 1870 Mr. Bledsoe was married to Miss Edna M. Jones, the daughter of his
former partner, John W. Jones. Mr. Jones was born in North Carolina and later
settled in Missouri, where Mrs. Bledsoe was born. In 1852 Mr. Jones started with
his family across the plains to California, but the trip was saddened by the death of
the wife and mother while on the journey. Edna M. was a baby in arms. Bringing
his children on to California, Mr. Jones engaged in farming in San Joaquin County,
and was also the owner of a large tract of land on the Tuolumne River in Stanislaus
County. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Bledsoe: Effie was educated at
Mills College and at the University of California and is now Mrs. Leek of Modesto;

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 54 of 177)