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 65 of 177)
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Oakdale, while Mr. Turner died aged fifty-four years.

Mr. and Mrs. Turner migrated to Victoria, B. C, soon after their marriage,
and went to live on a large stock farm, and there they remained for nine years. They
preempted land, and when they sold out they moved back to Santa Clara County,
where Charles C. Turner, the eldest of their five children, grew up, from his ninth
year. His next youngest brother, William T. Turner, is a farmer living two miles
southeast of Oakdale ; while the third in the order of birth, Van Norman, was married
in Tacoma, but was drowned in a shipwreck while sailing from Port Townsend to
Seattle, Wash., when his wife also perished with him. Edith resides with her mother,
and Clifford, also a rancher, helps his brother, William T., on his ranch.

From a lad Charles C. became interested in horticulture and after leaving home
to begin for himself, he entered the employ of W. C. Anderson in San Jose, and for
about seven years he worked on his fruit ranch and in his manufacturing plant, where
horticultural supplies were made. In 1898 he purchased sixty-five acres of land at
Langworth, three miles west of Oakdale, on which he located the same year and began
to make the improvements that today make it one of the finest and best-producing fruit
ranches in the valley.

In Reno, Nev., November 15, 1899, occurred the marriage of Mr. Turner, when
he was united with Mrs. Margaret Graham Van Norman, a native of Windham,
Ontario, a daughter of Richard and Jane (Hinks) Graham. Her father was born
and reared in the States and then migrated to Canada, where he was married. Her
mother was born in Ontario, and there the father died when Mrs. Turner was seven
years old. Mrs. Graham spent her last days in Alpena, Mich. They had two chil-
dren, James R. of Alpena, and Margaret, who was first married to Hiram Van
Norman, a merchant of Tilsenburg, and they were the parents of one son, Clarence
O. Van Norman, now assisting Mr. Turner.

The home place at Langworth has been set out to prunes, peaches, walnuts,
cherries, almonds and olives. In addition, they also own twenty acres southeast of
Oakdale, five acres of which are given over to almonds, while the balance is devoted
to grain raising. Mr. Turner is president of the Oakdale Almond Growers Associa-
tion and was most active in its organization in 1912; in 1920 they built a warehouse
at Oakdale at a cost of $40,000. This is a branch of the California Almond Growers
Exchange. Mr. and Mrs. Turner were among the first to help organize the Cali-
fornia Peach Growers, Inc., and are stockholders, as well as in the California Co-
operative Creamery at Modesto, Mr. Turner being a director of the latter. They
are also members and stockholders in the California Prune and Apricot Growers
Association and the California Walnut Growers Association. He is a stockholder in
the Farmers & Merchants Bank at Oakdale, and is one of the board of trustees of the
American Federation of Farmers, and is on the advisory board of the California State
Irrigation Association, and is a member of the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce. In
addition, Mr. Turner is president of the Langworth Telephone Company, which he
organized in 1907, and he has filled that responsible post ever since it came into
existence as a local, cooperative company, handling its affairs so well that no assessment
was ever levied to keep it going. There are seventeen members, and they operate
through the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company's exchange at Oakdale.


Mr. and Mrs. Turner are members of the First Methodist Church at Oakdale,
and Mrs. Turner belongs to the Ladies' Aid Society, the Red Cross and other organiza-
tions, exerting a valuable influence and accomplishing much needed work for humanity.
Ever since the consolidation of the Langworth and Oakdale school districts, Mr.
Turner has been a trustee on- the school board, representing the Langworth district.
Mr. and Mrs. Turner are members of the Oakdale lodge of Woodcraft.

JAMES WILLIAM DAVISON.— A pioneer ever esteemed for sturdy American
citizenship, to whom was accorded the 'enviable privilege of being a real builder up of
Modesto and the surrounding country, was James William Davison, who passed to
his eternal reward on December 17, 1917, having almost reached his sixty-eighth year.
He was born in St. Louis, Mo., on September 29, 1849, the son of James Davison, a
native of Ireland of Scotch parentage. He came to the United States a fine ship car-
penter and cabinet maker, and in Missouri married Miss Jane Taylor, a native of that
state. He came to California and settled on Waterford Road, six miles from Modesto,
where he was a pioneer grain farmer. He had two children who grew to maturity.

The subject of our review was reared in Benton County, Mo., until he was
eleven, and in 1860 he crossed the great plains and settled near Empire City, on the
Tuolumne River, where he attended the public school and later became a farmer. On
September 28, 1874, he was married near Roberts Ferry to Miss Ada Ann Fine, a
native daughter who was born near Stockton, Cal., and was the daughter of David
Fine of Missouri. He married Miss Rhoda C. Ferrill, who was born in Arkansas of
a family well-known for its connections with the history of both Kentucky and Vir-
ginia. She crossed the plains with her parents in the fifties, and went first to San
Joaquin County, and afterward became an early settler at Knights Ferry, where her
folks farmed to grain and raised stock. Then her parents moved to Santa Cruz, and
after her mother had died there, her father came to Modesto, and here passed away.
There were eight children in the family, but only two are living. Mrs. Davison was
married at her father's house, and then she and her husband began farming for

They leased a farm, but soon bought the same place — a fine tract of 640 acres,
which they devoted to grain farming. Mr. Davison had one of the first combined
harvesters in the county, a fine machine pulled by thirty-two horses and mules. He
came to have 960 acres, and also leased land in Madera County, where he had thou-
sands of acres sown to grain. Some of the years, the crops proved failures ; but he
continued patiently and gradually succeeded until he was able to put the land under
irrigation, and level and check it, and plant to alfalfa. After a while, he sold 480
acres, in lots of twenty and forty acres, to settlers, and now all that section is built up.
The balance of the property, 480 he sold after he located in Modesto. When he became
convinced that irrigation would prove the greatest good to the greatest number, he
worked for it heart and soul. When he became a director in the Modesto Irrigation
District, he was active from the first in making the venture a success.

In 1908 Mr. Davison moved to Modesto and bought a site for a residence. He
made many improvements and established a comfortable home. From there he attended
to his various interests, such as subdividing, but he also gave liberally of his time and
means for the public good. In 1916 he purchased a summer home at Cazadero, on
Austin Creek, a branch of the Russian River, Sonoma County, where, with Mrs.
Davison, he looked forward to enjoying the heated season. He was school trustee in
the Rhinehart district all the time that he resided there, and he was clerk of the board
of trustees. He was county supervisor from his district for two terms or eight years,
and greatly interested in good roads and permanent road building, and he was also
school trustee in Modesto for many years. He long belonged to the Modesto Lodge
of Odd Fellows, and was a member of the Encampment, and he was a member of the
B. P. O. E., with the distinction of having been one to originate the order here, as
well as a member of the Young Men's Club. Always a Democrat, Mr. Davison was
active and prominent in the councils of his party. In 1912 he was selected an alter-
nate delegate to the National Democratic Convention at Baltimore, and with Mrs.




Davison traveled to that city on the special train of California delegates and attended
that interesting convention that eventually nominated Wood row Wilson. Afterwards
Mr. and Mrs. Davison visited Washington and other important cities of the East as
well as Canada, taking in the various interesting sights, among them Niagara Falls.
In 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Davison made a trip by way of New Orleans to Panama,
during the construction of the canal, and this was one of the few occasions marking
a departure from his busy life. Since his lamented death, Mrs. Davison has continued
to reside here, to look after the interests bequeathed her by her husband. Four chil-
dren still survive to call her blessed: Denver C. Davison is a Modesto jeweler;
James William farms near that city; Robert H. is a rancher on the Grandfather
Davison farm ; and Ruby Irene, a graduate of the Modesto high school, has become
Mrs. Geo. A. Good, and resides in Tracy. Mrs. Davison, like her husband, is very
liberal, enterprising and progressive, being intensely interested in the growth and
development of her town and county and ever ready to give of her time and means as
far as she is able towards the worthy objects that have for their aim the building up
of the county and enhancing the comfort and happiness of the people. She is active in
civic and social organizations and is a member of the Ladies' Aid Society of the Metho-
dist Church, and she also belongs to the Rebekahs, the Woman's Improvement Club
and the Woman's Relief Corps. Each summer she spends a part of the season at her
Cazadero home, enjoying the cool of the Pacific Oocean and the beauties and grandeur
of the redwoods. During the spring of 1921 she made an extended trip to the
Hawaiian Islands, spending two months there.

FRED BARTCH.— The passing on May 1, 1921, of Fred Bartch marks a
milestone in the closing of the pioneer era, as few of those who were here in the early
seventies, when he settled here, now survive him. With these days of rapid develop-
ment, it is difficult to realize that in the space of one man's career there has been such
a transformation from unplowed soil to the scenes of productiveness that may today
be viewed from the Bartch home.

For generations Mr. Bartch 's ancestors were known as agriculturists and trades-
people in Baden, Southern Germany, where he was born November 26, 1844. In
1852, when he was eight years old, his parents, George John and Catherine S.
(Faulholver) Bartch, brought their family to the United States, locating in New
York State, where for many years they were prosperous agriculturists. Both passed
away in California, where they spent their later years. The third of a family of
eleven children, Fred Bartch set out early in life to work on surrounding farms,
finding himself in Erie County when the Civil War broke out. Espousing the cause
of the Union, he enlisted in Company E, One Hundred Sixteenth New York Volun-
teer Infantry, in August, 1861, serving three months as a drummer boy, and then
carrying a soldier's musket. He was with Butler and Banks at the battle of Port
Hudson and received his discharge at New Orleans in December, 1864. For two
years he worked in the great lumber camps in Ionia County, Mich., and in 1867
returned to Erie County, N. Y., later locating in Herkimer County, where he
assisted in making the cheese for which that county is famous. After another year
in Erie County, he came to California, and for a time was employed on a farm in
Ventura County. In 1873 he came to the Patterson ranch in Stanislaus County, and
his ability soon elevated him to the position of manager, which he held two years.

Though without capital, Mr. Bartch soon established a high reputation for
integrity and ability, and J. D. Patterson, the original owner of what is now Patter-
son Colony, suggested that he lease land from him on shares. Starting with 1 ,000
acres of virgin soil, which he broke for the first time, Mr. Bartch extended opera-
tions until he was handling 3,000 acres. Through the ups and down of grain farm-
ing he persisted, and finally Fortune smiled on him most bountifully, and he acquired
extensive land holdings of his own, having several thousand acres in various parts of
this section at the time of his death, as well as other extensive interests. He was
looked upon as one of the leading citizens of the West Side, and was a director of the
Bank of Newman and of the Modesto branch of the Bank of Italy.


Throughout the nearly half century of his residence here, Mr. Bartch and his
wife, who was Miss Katie Nickert, made their home at the present site of the Bartch
place, the beautiful mansion now there being the third home on that site. With
the opening of the colony and the coming of irrigation, Mr. Bartch purchased a
twenty-acre tract surrounding his home site and the building of the present home fol-
lowed soon thereafter. In 1913, accompanied by his wife, who passed away about
three years ago, Mr. Bartch made a visit to his native land and relatives, many of
whom he had never seen before. Upon his return, he stated that while he had
enjoyed the trip, it only made him appreciate California the more.

Mr. Bartch was held in high esteem by all who knew him, being generous, not
only to those near to him, but to the community at large, and during the critical
war days was intensely loyal to the country of his adoption, aiding without stint
in all patriotic movements, both with money and support. He belonged to the
Modesto post of the G. A. R., and was an ardent Mason, being one of the founders
of the Patterson lodge, under whose auspices his funeral services were held.

JAMES LEE CURTIS. — A member of one of the pioneer families who unflinch-
ingly took up the burden of life in the early days of California, James Lee Curtis
occupies a distinguished place in the annals of Stanislaus County, and particularly in
the Salida district, for the history of the Curtis family is practically the history of
the town of Salida.

James Lee Curtis may well take pride in his ancestry, extending back, as it does,
to the Revolutionary period. The progenitor of the family in America, his great-
grandfather, James Curtis, was a French Huguenot, and he served under LaFayette
in the Revolutionary War, when France came to the aid of our struggling country.
Grandfather David Curtis served in the War of 1812, being commissioned a captain.
He was a surveyor and was engaged by the Holland Purchase Company to survey the
township of Columbus, in Warren County, Pa. After he had completed his work,
he traded his property in Chenango County, N. Y., for this township of wild, unsettled
land, bringing twenty-one families from Chenango County. David Curtis was a
prominent leader in all the affairs of this colony and laid out the townsite of Columbus,
Pa. For many years these twenty-one families and their descendants continued to
live in this township, the first to break the circle being James Curtis, father of our
Mr. Curtis. He was born in Chenango County, N. Y., May 26, 1813, and had mar-
ried Miss Alzina Hills, also of that county.

Leaving the group of settlers, James Curtis took his family to Mitchell County,
Iowa, making the journey in two covered wagons. There were nine children in his
family, as follows : Arlina became the wife of Damon Ayres and died at Ripon, Wis.,
leaving a daughter, Mrs. Edna L. Given of Elgin, 111. ; Delilah is Mrs. Cutler and
lives in Glendale, Cal. ; Oresta is the widow of W. H. Thornburg and resides at
Turlock, Cal. ; David T., who laid out the town of Salida and is now deceased ;
Julius Eldor resides at Vancouver, Wash. ; Charles Seymour passed away at Santa
Ana, Cal.; Allette died in 1855 in Iowa; James Lee of Salida; and Rossey, who died
in Modesto in 1875.

The father, James Curtis, crossed the plains from Iowa to California with his
son, David T., and his son-in-law, W. H. Thornburg, arriving at Hangtown, now
Placerville, in September, 1859. They started West with three yoke of oxen and one
cow and when they pulled into Hangtown they had one ox and the cow yoked together.
The party mined, both placer and hydraulic, until 1861, when the father returned to
Iowa and there he resumed farming until the fall of 1868, when he again crossed the
plains to California. He had only about 250 miles to make by stage, as the railroad
was completed to within that distance. He had arranged to have his family join him
in the Golden State as soon as possible and he came direct to Stanislaus County and
for many years he was closely identified with the development of this section of Cali-
fornia until about 1882, retiring to a home at Watsonville, where he passed the even-
ing of his days, dying when in his ninetieth year on April 24, 1903. His good wife is
also laid to rest in that city, having passed away on April 9, 1 892.


David T. Curtis remained in California after his father had gone back East. He
went to Stockton, where he remained until coming to Stanislaus County in 1864, when
he took up a homestead three miles west of what is now the town of Salida. For
many years this ranch was known as the Curtis Ranch, and here he passed through
the many hardships of the pioneers of those early days. His first crops suffered from
both the droughts and the depredations of wild cattle. Later he raised bumper crops
and sold them in the mining camps for good prices and thereby laid the foundation for
the comfortable fortune he amassed. It had been arranged that as soon as the father
should reach California that David would go East to claim his bride; this he did in
1869, and that same year, on October 19, he married Luella Holloway. That same
afternoon, accompanied by his wife, his mother, his brother, James Lee, and a sister,
Rossey, they started on the long journey to California, traveling on one of the
first transcontinental trains to cross the continent, and reached Stockton in due time,
and there a double wedding occurred, when Eldor and Charles Curtis were united with
their promised brides, who had come to California by the Isthmus of Panama. The
entire party then started for the Curtis homestead.

David Curtis made a success of his ranching here and in 1883 he colonized some
land at Reedley, in Fresno County, that he had secured very cheap, disposed of it
advantageously and later purchasing land upon which Salida now stands. He platted
the town, erected the hotel and the store building now occupied by C. E. Capps &
Company, installed the water works and was the prime mover in all the town's enter-
prises. He donated sites for the public school, the Woman's Improvement Club build-
ing, the Congregational Church, and gave to the Southern Pacific Railroad a strip of
thirty feet through the town lying immediately west of the tracks, and two lots for
depot purposes.

He was a strong prohibitionist and had inserted a dry clause in every deed
which provided for a reversion of title in case liquor was ever sold on the premises.
He became extensively interested in raising fine horses for the San Francisco market,
and it was while so engaged that his life of accomplishment came to a tragic close; the
injury received when kicked in the head by a horse proving fatal, his death occurring
in November, 1912. Generous to a fault, his many benefactions to Salida will keep
his name in lasting remembrance. His widow, Mrs. Luella Curtis, makes her home
in Oakland.

James Lee Curtis was next to the youngest in the family of nine and was born
at Columbus, Pa., February 6, 1853, and was a babe in arms when the family migrated
to Mitchell County, Iowa. There he spent his boyhood until he was sixteen. His
educational advantages were limited to about three months of actual schooling, but
this handicap he overcame by night study and general reading and actual experience
in business life. This struggle gave him a realization of the importance of education
and he has given his children every advantage in this line.

Upon coming to California in 1869, he went to work for his brother and he also
helped put in a crop of wheat where the town of Modesto now stands. Money was
scarce then and the country, suffering from a long and severe drought, so that, with
his brother, he took work of grading for the railroad and irrigating canals. They
worked for Miller & Lux, the Stockton & Oakdale Railroad and on the levee on the
Sacramento River from Colusa to Knights Landing. When the dry spell was finally
broken, in December, 1871, when the river raised twenty-one feet and six inches from
December 19 to Christmas eve, Mr. Curtis and his brother hurried back to Stockton
and from there to the ranch to get in his crop and was rewarded by a bumper yield
in 1872.

On account of failing health, Mr. Curtis gave up ranch work and removed to
Mendocino Countv in 1876, where he entered the employ of a large mercantile and
stock raising firm in Round Valley, having charge of their shipping department. It
was in 1886, soon after his marriage, he removed to Watsonville, invested in a busi-
ness block, and a ranch six miles east of that city, making his home in town four years,
then moved to the ranch, where he remained for fifteen years. In the meantime he


improved two ranches, one of eighty and the other of fifty-six acres, thirty-two acres
being set out to apples, and he made a splendid success there. Coming back to Stanis-
laus County in 1907, he located on a fifty-acre ranch near Turlock and engaged in
dairying and ranching. In July, 1920, he sold this property and moved to Salida the
following month. Here he owns and runs the local water works, having bought it
in 1913. The plant is supplied with a well of inexhaustible supply, 200 feet deep,
with a pump operated by electricity.

At Covelo, Mendocino County, October 24, 1886, James L. Curtis was united in
marriage with Miss Bertha Eveland, daughter of Judge Joel and Jemima (Hyler)
Eveland. Judge Eveland came from his home at Marietta, Ohio, to California by
way of Panama in 1850, and engaged in mining in Sierra County. In 1870 he removed
to Mendocino County and ranched for a number of years. He was elected justice of
the peace in Sierra County and upon his removal to Mendocino County, was again
honored by election to that office, serving in all some forty years. He had many
exciting cases tried before him.

Mr. and Mrs. Curtis have had seven children: Frances A., a graduate nurse,
is engaged in child welfare work at Petaluma ; Carroll Lee enlisted in the U. S.
service in 1917, but on account of a serious attack of pneumonia was honorably dis-
charged and now he is interested with his father in a ranch in Lassen County; Glenn
Webber married Ruth Ackerman and is trainmaster on the Western Pacific, having
the division from Salt Lake City to Elko, Nev. ; he was formerly private secretary to
the president of the road ; Dorothy Alice died in June, 1920; Amy Lucile is a graduate
of the Turlock high school and now in the training school for nurses at the Lane
Hospital in San Francisco ; David Leland is attending the University of California at
Berkeley ; and Lois Elvene is a student in the Modesto high school.

Public spirited and deeply interested in the progress of the county, Mr. Curtis can
always- be depended upon to lend a helping hand to every worthy enterprise. He is a
Democrat in political preferment, as was his father and grandfather, but he is too
broad-minded to be swayed by partizanship in local affairs, where men and measures
are the consideration. While in Watsonville he served two terms in the city council,
helping to raise the city to the fifth class. He is past noble grand of the Odd Fellows,
holding membership in the lodge at Watsonville, and represented that lodge at the
Grand Lodge. He and Mrs. Curtis are members of the Presbyterian Church at
Turlock, and active in its good works.

JUDGE WM. HORACE RICE.— The good old days of the pioneer are recalled
in the life of one of Modesto's early and prominent citizens, Judge Wm. Horace
Rice, who has been a resident there since 1876. He was born at Augusta, Hancock
County, 111., December 11, 1864, the son of T. E. B. Rice and his wife, who was
Mary Leach before her marriage, a member of an old Kentucky family. Grand-
father Thomas Rice, who was born in South Carolina, came out to Missouri in the
early days, and there T. E. B. Rice was born at Cape Girardeau. In 1833, the fam-
ily moved to west central Illinois, and there Thomas Rice passed away.

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 65 of 177)