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 57 of 177)
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devoted to fruit : but this lie had only one year when he returned to Stanislaus
County and purchased a half-section, part of which today is a part of the site of
Riverbank. After holding this ranch for a number of years, he sold it to C. W.
Minnear. In 1908 fie moved into Modesto, and there, on April 9, 1910, he died.
Mrs. Turpen, the beloved center of a circle of admiring friends, is today hale and


hearty at the age of sixty-six. There were ten children in the family, eight boys and
two girls — Addison E., Walter M., Lourena May, Mrs. G. M. Lock, Eugene S.,
James M., Arthur C, of Oakland ; W. Bartlett, of Fresno; Aaron G., Mary Frances,
Mrs. A. A. Dorfmeier of Fresno, and Oliver S.

Addison Turpen had his schooling in the district school of Merced County, with
a course in the business college at Santa Cruz, and at seventeen years of age he took
the lead of work on the home place, lived at home till he was twenty-one and for seven-
teen successive summers he ran a threshing outfit., He went into farming with his
father, and for five years they ran the 3,000-acre ranch in Merced County. For the
last twenty-three years, Mr. Turpen has been in the building business at Modesto, and
he has been very successful. He has specialized in first-class bungalows, and has built
many of the Modesto homes. He can well remember when the country hereabouts
was nothing but sand-heaps, and when a three-days' sand storm buried from sight the
fence-posts standing where the main streets of Turlock now run.

At Modesto, on March 11, 1900, Mr. Turpen was married to Elizabeth Pittorf,
a daughter of Valentine and Katherine Pittorf. Her father was a pioneer baker of
Modesto, and came here at an early day without much of this world's substance, and
started a bakery. He delivered his first goods with a hand-basket, then pur-
chased a two-wheel push-cart, and finally a horse and a wagon, and from then on
prospered in his baking business. Mrs. Turpen's mother is living, and enjoys the
esteem and affection of all who know her. Mrs. Turpen, who was an invalid for
many years, passed away on January 7, 1907. Three children, all students of the
local high school, were born to Mr. and Mrs. Turpen. Elbert Vernon and Warren
Edgar have become ranchers, Lourena and Wilhelmine are still busy with their books.

K. KNUTSEN. — A far-sighted man of excellent judgment and optimistic tem-
perament, whose successful enterprise has enabled him also to be one of the most
public-spirited business men, is K. Knutsen, who was born at Rangever, near Bergen,
Norway, in 1877, the son of a merchant, J. Knutsen, located at Rangever Harbor,
some thirty-five miles north of Bergen and making a specialty of the produce and
commission trade. He also owned a profitable line of fishing boats. He was for-
tunate in the stimulating companionship of a good wife, Petrina, who passed away
in 1909; and he died in 1915. They had nine children, seven of whom are still liv-
ing; and our subject was the fifth eldest of these.

He spent his youth in profiting by the best of public school advantages while
he also assisted his father, and he thus early laid the foundation of a success business
career requiring a knowledge of both the theoretical and the practical. At the dawn of
this century, he crossed the Atlantic to the United States and settled at Council Bluffs,
Iowa, and worked for the Illinois Central, later going to Omaha.

In 1902 he came to California and Turlock and purchased forty acres in Hilmar
at twenty-five dollars an acre. His capital then was only $150; hence, to meet his
expenses, he was compelled while improving the land to work at other occupations.
He found employment with the Turlock branch of the Modesto Lumber Company
as yardman in their Turlock yard for two years ; and he also spent a season in the
orchards and vineyards in Fresno County.

During this laborious period, he improved his ranch property, and in 1904
located on it. He leveled and checked it, and he sowed alfalfa, and he also set out
peaches and grapes, continuing there actively for four years, experiencing the dis-
couragements of pioneering and hardships incident to having his crops destroyed by
grasshoppers, sand storms and the lack of water. Then he started in the nursery
business, and for six years sold nursery stock from his headquarters in Turlock. The
first year he bought peach trees in Missouri, purchasing as many as 75,000 trees, and
during these years he still owned his farm ; he also bought more land until he owned
a ranch of seventy acres.

Selling out his nursery business in 1911, Mr. Knutsen, with his wife and two
children, made a trip back to his old home in Norway, remaining there from November
until the following May, visiting his father, who was still living; and returning to


Turlock with his brothers, he bought out the warehouse business of the Merced
Milling Company at Turlock, then located on the present site of the Southern Pacific
depot, and continued under the firm name of Knutsen Bros, for three years. Dis-
solving partnership, he purchased his present site on the State Highway two blocks
south of the center of Turlock, and built the large warehouse, 60x90 feet, with a floor
capacity of 8,000 square feet, and another warehouse with a capacity of 2,000 square
feet. He also leases a still larger warehouse with concrete floors three blocks west of
the first, which has a floor capacity of 12,000 square feet. His warehouses are equipped
with the latest improvements, including electric power, a bean cleaner, a barley crusher
and other strictly modern appliances. He brings in his flour from Northern Wash-
ington, and sells at both wholesale and retail, dealing as well extensively in beans and
grain, potatoes, sugar, hay and poultry supplies. In 1917 he sold his ranches, and now
confines himself to his warehouse affairs.

At Hilmar, March 31, 1907, Mr. Knutsen was married to Miss Alethe Knut-
sen, who was also born near Bergeri, Norway. This union has proven very happy
and followed a romance that had its inception in the land of the midnight sun.
Mrs. Knutsen is endowed with much business acumen, and has been a splendid help-
mate to her husband. Their union has been blessed with three children, Norval,
Caroline and Oscar. The family reside in a pleasant home on North Broadway, in
Turlock; and they worship at the Pentecostal Mission. Mr. Knutsen is a member
of the Turlock Board of Trade, and a live wire in that wide-awake organization. He
is now one of the oldest remaining settlers in New Turlock.

McHENRY BROS., INC.— Whenever the historian of California shall turn
again the pages of her absorbing annals for the ever-interesting story of those pioneers
who lived, toiled, sacrificed and accomplished, the record, now a part of the most
treasured traditions of the patriots, of Robert McHenry, the original proprietor of
the famous Bald Eagle Ranch, and of his equally far-seeing son, Oramil, who gave
Modesto the McHenry Library, will be studied anew and with increasing attention
and reverence. He came to California at a very early date, having been born in Ver-
mont on July 23, 1827, and. he died at Modesto on June 24, 1890. Oramil, a native
son, was born on November 14, 1861, and died on February 21, 1906. Matilda
(Hewitt) McHenry. Robert's devoted wife and Oramil McHenry's mother, was a
native of Ohio, where she was born on October 15, 1838; and she died at Modesto on
February 28, 1896, remembered for many good acts, including her donation of the lot
at the corner of Fourteenth and I streets, to the First Presbyterian Church at Modesto,
as the site for the present building.

Albert H. and Robert A. McHenry are the president and vice-president respec-
tively, as well as the principal stockholders, of McHenry Bros., Inc., the owners and
operators of the celebrated Bald Eagle Ranch, and the sons of Oramil McHenry, who
built up, as well as started, the industry of tree-planting in this place. Robert A.
was born in the city of Modesto at the imposing white residence at Fifteenth and I
streets, who first saw the light on October 18, 1886; Albert H., who was born on
December 23, 1887; Ora Louise, who died at the age of eight; and Russell, who
passed away in infancy. Ora's death was due to an accident at the Hotel Hollenbeck
in Los Angeles, then owned by her uncle, A. C. Bilicke, who was lost on the Lusitania ;
she upset an alcohol lamp near a curtain, and was so dreadfully burned that she died
from the injuries within two days. Mrs. McHenry, Mr. Bilicke's sister, separated
from her husband, Oramil McHenry, whose first wife she was, and married James
H. Babcock, the proprietor of the Hotel Bartholdi in New York and of the Cecil
Hotel at San Diego, an able man who was eventually lost at sea.

The McHenry boys passed their early life in Modesto, and there attended the
public schools. After finishing their eighth grade, the)' went to Santa Clara College,
and were there during the earthquake at San Francisco. Their father died on Feb-
ruary 21 of that year, and having come under the direction of their uncle, who was
appointed guardian, they were sent away to school: Albert to the Belmont Military
Academy near San Francisco, and Robert to the Foster preparaton school at Litch-
field, Conn. He remained a student there during the year 1907-08, but in June of


the latter year he came home and took charge of the home ranch, after rendering
services as special agent of the district attorney in San Francisco during the trial of
Calhoun and the United Railways, when Abe Ruef, Schmitz and the other members
of the rioters and grafters were on the carpet. He worked under the direction of the
district attorney, William H. Langdon, now judge in the Appellate Court at San
Francisco, Francis J. Heney, Hiram Johnson and the detective, William J. Burns.
That trial lasted more than a year, and led to the conviction of the gang. At the end
of the trial Mr. McHenry came back to Modesto, and with his brother, Albert H., he
has been managing the McHenry farm ever since. Their firm was incorporated in
January, 1910. Mrs. Louise (McHenry) Babcock, already referred to as the mother
of these young men, was born at Boise City, Idaho, where her parents, Gustave and
Caroline (Ziegmund) Bilicke, were among the early and enterprising business folk of
that place. Her father ran both a mercantile establishment and a hotel at Boise City,
and when the family removed to California, he became the proprietor of the Ross
House in Modesto. Mrs. Babcock now resides in San Francisco, but she loves to visit
her sons at the palatial home residence on the Bald Eagle Ranch, which she helped to
plan and build, and to retain her live interest in local Presbyterian Church work.

On March 3, 1910, Robert A. McHenry — who bears the full name, usually not
inscribed, of the grandfather — was married to Miss Mary J. Rogers of San Jose.
Her father, James Drummond Rogers, was one of the seamen in the sea-fight between
the Monitor and Merrimac in Hampton Roads during the Civil War, and as a sailor
in the Union Navy, he was serving on the Chesapeake. He is now deceased. Her
mother, who was Mary J. Drummond before her marriage, is still living at Santa Ana.
Mr. and Mrs. McHenry have two children, both girls. Oralouise Marie is the name
of the elder, and Bobbe Jean of the younger.

Albert H. McHenry volunteered for the United States Naval Reserve, and
served his country one year and three months. He was stationed at San Pedro, and
helped to guard the confiscated German ships at that port ; and they had to take charge
of and protect the boats from foreign parts, as well. Later, he was stationed at San
Francisco, and while there he was transferred into the Naval Aviation service; and
he was waiting for transportation orders when the armistice was signed. He is a
seaman of the second class, discharged, but subject to call.

The McHenry Bros., Inc., have the finest fig orchard in the state, set out by their
father in 1896, a magnificent orchard of the White Adriatic variety, forty acres in
full bearing. There are 640 acres, all told, in the Bald Eagle Ranch, as it is called,
and in the forty acres referred to the figs are twenty-six years old, while there are
ninety acres of five-year-old figs. Thirty acres are in apricots, twenty-six years old,
and forty acres in four-year-old apricots.

Besides the above-mentioned acres of valuable fruit trees, the Bald Eagle is notable
for 120 acres of peaches, forty of Elbertas and eighty of the Muirs ; and there are
also eighty acres of almonds. These are only four-year-olds, but they are of the excel-
lent Nonpareil, I. X. L. and Ne Plus Ultra brands. Then there are twelve acres of
the four-year-old Elberta and Muir peaches, in separate orchards. Olives and walnuts,
planted alternately, skirt the roadsides or driveway of the main entrance to the ranch-
house, and add to the attractiveness which appeals so powerfully to the eye.

The McHenrys have installed a large pumping plant costing $10,000, a Layne &
Bowler pump, driven by a seventy-five horsepower Fairbanks-Morse electric motor.
Water is drawn from a 24-inch well 125 feet deep, and also from an auxiliary well,
whose waters connect, and in this way 210 of the 640 acres are irrigated. -This is an
auxiliary supply above the water from the Modesto Irrigation District. The company
employ four or five men steadily the year around, and during the busier season as
many as fifty men, and on account of the personal attention given to the comfort and
health of their employees, they never have any difficulty in getting all the picked labor
they require. Every man has his separate bedroom, there is a large dining-room, lava-
tories and a bath. They favor married men, and afford them good, comfortable homes
upon the ranch. They employ white help, and even an American white woman to cook.


For many years Robert A. McHenry has specialized in the breeding of White
Leghorn chickens — a line of activity undertaken by him in 1909 — and he is known far
and wide as a foremost breeder and exhibitor of that favorite kind of fowl. He won
the third prize at the World's Fair at San Francisco, has exhibited at the State Fair
in Sacramento every year except 1920, and has exhibited at county and other local
fairs. He also makes a specialty of shipping eggs for hatching, and has sent large
consignments not only to most states in the Union, but to the Hawaiian Islands. The
McHenrys have also evolved a sanitary method of putting up their figs ; they wash the
fruit in salt water and slaked lime, making them clean and attractive in appearance,
and preserving the white or light color, and these are sent to market under the two
brands, now so famous: the Ora-Louise and the Bald Eagle white figs.

The McHenrys incorporated in Januar.v, 1910, under the laws of the state of
California, and started with a capital stock of $250,000 ; and the officers are: President,
Albert H. McHenry ; vice-president, Robert A. McHenry ; secretary, J. M. Walthall,
Modesto; treasurer. G. R. Stoddard, Modesto. The McHenry brothers also own 160
acres in the Imperial Valley five miles from the Colorado River. The enterprising
ranchers are Republicans, and they are also members of the Elks at Modesto.

J. L. RANDOLPH. — A lineal descendant of an honored ancestry that reaches
back to the earliest days of the founding of our American colonies, and beyond that to
worthy English forbears, J. L. Randolph, the owner and proprietor of the Turlock
Home Telephone and Telegraph Company, has inherited many of the sterling traits
of his forefathers — industry, honesty and integrity, that form the foundation for every
successful career. Mr. Randolph was born near Tarentum, Pa., on the Allegheny
River, twenty-eight miles above Pittsburgh, on March 22, 1866, the son of W. W.
Randolph. Grandfather John Liggett Randolph, who was a captain in the War of
1812, was also born at Tarentum, where he was a prominent farmer, and he built the
house in which both our subject and his father were born. Here Grandfather Ran-
dolph lived until his death at the ripe old age of ninety-three years.

The original name of the family in England was Fitz Randolph, and Edward
Fitz Randolph, who was born in Nottinghamshire, England, came with his parents
in 1630, settling at what is now the quaint old town of Barnstable, on Cape Cod,
Mass. He married a Miss Blossom, who came to Massachusetts with her family as
early as 1620, and in 1668 they took up their home at Piscataway, N. J. They were
the parents of a large family and they all lived to be very old, some of them over
ninety years, while they averaged more than eighty years — a record difficult to find
in this generation. One of his sons was Benjamin Fitz Randolph, born in 1663, whose
son, Nathaniel, born at Princeton, N. J., in 1703, was one of the principals in the
founding of Princeton University ; he gave a deed of four and a half acres for its site
on January 25, 1753, and also gave the first subscription toward its founding. John
Randolph, a brother of Nathaniel, was a member of Washington's cabinet.

Washington W. Randolph, the father of our subject, was born June 17, 1837.
Early in life he became interested in newspaper work and was the owner of several
papers, among them the Avalon Aurora, in Livingston County, Mo., the Qui Vive, at
Malta Bend, Mo., and later was the owner of a printing establishment in Kansas
City, Mo. ; he made several trips to California, but returned to Missouri, where he
died at the age of seventy-eight. He was a veteran of the Civil War, having served
as a commissary sergeant stationed at Fort Delaware in charge of Confederate pris-
oners. Among other noted members of the Randolph family mav be mentioned Theo-
dore F. Randolph, governor of New Jersey and later a member of Congress, and
Peyton Randolph, who was president of the first Continental Congress. Washington
W. Randolph married Miss Mary Jane Miller, who was born near Freeport. Arm-
strong County, Pa. Her father was John Miller, born in the same vicinity, whose
parents came from the north of Ireland to Pennsylvania, and were among the early
settlers in their localitv. Mrs. Randolph had two brothers who served in the Civil
War, Thomas and William, the former being killed in battle. Mrs. Randolph passed
away at Avalon, Mo., in 1893. Of her seven children, J. L. and his brother, Harry


T., are the only ones in California. Harry was associated with his brother in starting
the Turlock Journal, and he now resides in Stockton, where he has a printery.

The third eldest of the family, J. L. Randolph, was reared at Freeport, Pa.,
from two years of age until he went to Karns City, in that state, where he attended
the public schools. In 1883 he came to Avalon, Mo., with his parents, and there he
attended Avalon College for a year. He then took up newspaper work on the Avalon
Aurora and later was on the Hedrick, Iowa, Journal for a number of years. He then
engaged in other lines of business until 1904, when he located in Turlock, Cal., where
he and his brother started the Turlock Journal, a weekly paper, and he edited it until
1910, when he sold a part of his interest and his brother continued to manage it. Mr.
Randolph then started in the telephone business in Turlock ; later he bought out the
others who had an interest in the company. When he became the owner there were
only ninety-eight subscribers, but through his efficient management the number has
gradually increased until they now have 1,600 phones installed. In the meantime,
he incorporated the Turlock Home Telephone and Telegraph Company ; he is presi-
dent and general manager and the stockholders are the various members of his family.
Mr. Randolph has installed the latest equipment and inventions in this line and keeps
the system up to a high standard by doing reconstruction work all the time and it is
now in splendid shape. Their offices and central station are on Front street and they
have connection with the other lines.

Mr. Randolph was married at Hedrick, Iowa, to Miss Etta Harper, a native of
that place, and they are the parents of six children: Mildred is Mrs. Crowder of Tur-
lock; Mary is at home; Tipton is bookkeeper for the telephone company; Zura is a
graduate of the Turlock high school ; Merl and Etta Frances. The family make
their home in a beautiful, commodious residence at 1101 East Main Street, which Mr.
Randolph erected in 1920. Prominent in the ranks of the Knights of Pythias, Mr.
Randolph is a past chancellor of that order, having been the first chancellor of Turlock
Lodge No. 98; he has been special deputy for the past four years. He is an active
member of the Chamber of Commerce and of the National Independent Telephone
Association. Despite his busy life he takes a deep interest in his civic duties, serving
as constable for four years and also as deputy sheriff, an appointment he still holds.

EPHRIAM RICHARDSON.— A worthy representative of an early settler of
note, Ephriam Richardson is the only living child of the late Thomas Richardson, the
well-known and highly-honored pioneer of Oakdale, who as an extensive farmer and
stockman, being at one time the largest sheep owner in the county, was one of the most
energetic, progressive and prosperous residents in the Oakdale sector. He was born in
Kentucky and married in Pike County, 111., to Miss Lucinda Wagoner, a native of
Tennessee; and in 1850 he left his family back in Pike County, 111., and crossed the
plains to the Pacific. Two years later, he returned to Illinois, in order to bring out a
drove of 100 cows; and these be brought to Langworth, in Stanislaus County, where
he had a large farm. But bad luck overtook him, after all his plucky enterprise: the
cows were grazing on the tall grass among the willows in the bottom-lands of the
Stanislaus River when a flood, the result of sudden and heavy rains, swept down upon
them, inundating the bottoms for from twenty-five to thirty feet, and all the cows
save one were drowned. Mr. Richardson, not altogether discouraged, continued in
stock raising, and only in 1878 devoted himself exclusively to grain farming. Mrs.
Richardson died on January 9, 1897, aged seventy-two years, and Thomas Richardson
passed away in November, 1908, being then ninety years old. They had six children —
three boys and three girls — among whom Ephriam was the fifth, and is now the only
one of the family living, and one of the oldest white men born in Stanislaus County.

He was born at Langworth, on February 18, 1854, and attended the Langworth
public school and the business college at San Jose, and in 1878 he was married to Miss
Sarah Latus, a native of Utica, N. Y., and the daughter of George Latus, who was
a blacksmith. She grew up to be a teacher in the Empire State, and came out to Cali-
fornia in 1877. Four children blessed their union: Ursula is the wife of J. Alden
Rydberg, a ranchman and cattle raiser of Oakdale. Alta married Will Threlfall, of
Stockton. Bessie is Mrs. Benj. Rushing of La Grange. George Thomas resides at

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Stockton and works for the Holt Manufacturing Company. Mrs. Richardson died
at Oakdale on November 12, 1920, in the seventy-fifth year of her age; an excellent
woman whose sterling virtues were attested in the large funeral in her honor.

Mr, Richardson has been a hard worker in his day, first on his father's farm and
then on his own land. After that, for twelve years he was employed by Hughes
Bros., the general merchants in Oakdale; but he overworked and so broke down in
health that he became seriously ill, and had to quit all strenuous undertaking. In mat-
ters of national political import, Mr. Richardson follows the lead of the Republicans.

GEORGE T. McCABE. — If any man knows anything about Stanislaus County
worth the knowing and the telling, he may bank his reputation that George T. Mc-
Cabe, the secretary of the Stanislaus County Board of Trade, will go him one better,
for Mr. McCabe has devoted years of his best time and 'effort to comprehending
what he ventures to wager is the most favored garden spot on the entire earth, and
as the years have gone by, too, his special study has led many others to locate here
and enjoy its bounties.

Mr. McCabe was born at Cook's Run, in Clinton County, Pa., on the Susque-
hanna River, on February 6, 1858, the son of Asa McCabe, who was born and reared
in Nova Scotia. His father was Alexander McCabe, a native of Scotland, who there

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 57 of 177)