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 69 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 69 of 177)
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1908. He was about to enter Harvard College, for which he had well prepared,



when the death of his father changed his plans, necessitating his remaining at home to
look after his mother's interests and the Baker holdings. This he did manfully and
well; until his mother decided to divide the large possessions left her by her lamented
husband between her children.

Walker Baker immediately began to improve his share, and to turn it from a
stubblefield to alfalfa, and he soon engaged in intensive farming, in which he has been
very successful. He sold off all but 280 acres, which he leveled and checked, and he
put all in alfalfa except thirty-five acres, which were devoted to an orchard and a vine-
yard of Thompson Seedless and Malaga grapes, while he maintained a large dairy on the
ranch. He has greatly improved the place with an artistic bungalow, and it is the
consensus of opinion that it is now one of the finest country homes in Stanislaus County.
The grounds are well kept up, and the place is sightly and beautiful ; and the fact that
Mr. Baker is an experienced, progressive farmer speaks for itself as to the value, scien-
tifically, industrially and artistically of what is grown there.

At the Frost home in Fruitvale, on June 15, 1909, Mr. Baker was married to
Miss Gertrude E. Frost, and so continued a romance begun at the Fremont high
school, which has resulted in much happiness to both the high contracting parties.
The bride is a daughter of A. N. and Grace (Johnson) Frost, natives respectivelv of
Denmark and Nova Scotia, and both were early settlers on San Francisco Bay, their
marriage occurring at Oakland. Mr. Frost was a contractor and builder, and has
many splendid residences and public buildings to his credit, among them the Dewey
school. He came to Modesto and engaged in ranching; and then, in 1914, his beloved
wife died, and he now lives retired in Modesto. This worthy couple had five children,
among whom Gertrude was the eldest, and she was sent to the Dewey school, and then
to the Fremont high school, from which she was graduated in 1908, in the same class
with Mr. Baker. Two children were born to them, Randall, who died when he was
eight months old, and Eleanor Frances, the pride of her parents and all who come
within her sphere. The family are members of and attend the Methodist Church
South in Modesto. Mr. Baker is a member of Wildey Lodge No. 81, I. O. O. F., at
Modesto, and both he and Mrs. Baker belong to the Rebekahs. Mr. Baker is also a
past chancellor of the Knight of Pythias, and he is a member of the Gamma Eta Kappa.

JEFFERSON D. BENTLEY.— When writing of the self-made men of Stanis-
laus County, and one of the pioneers of California as well, mention must be made
of Jefferson D. Bentley, now living retired in Modesto, and while past ninety-four
years of age, is hale and hearty and recounts the experiences encountered during his
life with much interest. Mr. Bentley is a man who is known for his integrity of
character, one who has made and retained friends wherever he has been known
and who has been a supporter of all movements that have had for their object the
development of the resources of the Golden State.

A native of Kentucky, J. D. Bentley was born at Springfield, near Louisville,
ii* what was then Washington County, May 30, 1827. His father' was James C.
Bentley, born in the same place in Kentucky as his son, was a millwright by trade,
also a distiller. In the line of his trade he was employed in Illinois, where the fam-
ily lived for seven years after leaving Kentucky to better their financial condition, also
in various parts of Iowa, and while so occupied he saw considerable of the develop-
ment of the Middle West. From Illinois the Bentleys moved to Missouri and set-
tled in Boone County, and while living there the father enlisted for service in the
Mexican War, serving under Captain Nye, and being assigned to the supply train.
He married Jane Sweeney, born in Springfield, Ky., in 1801, a daughter of Daniel
Sweeney, a prominent pioneer of that part of the Blue Grass State and of Irish
descent. The Sweeney family went from Kentucky to Missouri, settling in Boone
County, where they engaged in farming and raising stock. The grandfather, James
Bentley, was one of four brothers who settled in Kentucky with Daniel Boone, at
an early day when that state was a wilderness and were real pioneers of civilization.
Mr. Bentley was also a distiller, kept many slaves and was a large land owner.

Jefferson D. Bentley was reared to the age of seven in Kentucky, then was
taken by his parents to Illinois and as he grew up he worked with his father at his


trade, accompanying him to Iowa, where he helped to build the court house at Fort
Madison. While there he saw Black Hawk, the noted Indian chief, treating himself
to a regular spree. With some other lads of his age, young Bentley placed the chief
in a large barrel and then they formed a bucket brigade and filled the barrel with
water, nearly drowning the chief, but sobering him, at any rate. Accompanying tht
family to Missouri, where they settled in Boone County, J. D. Bentley worked with
his father at the building business and on the farm. In 1847 he enlisted for service
in the Mexican War, was assigned to the supply train under Captain Nye. The
train consisted of forty wagons and fifty men, was continually in danger on account
of the character of supplies. They left Fort Leavenworth with 500 head of cattle
for the soldiers. These stampeded and the vaqueros came near getting killed; one
saved his life by jumping from his horse to the back of a steer, and when the herd
was quieted he was found still on the steer's back. On the trip to Santa Fe, N. M.,
the train was in continual danger from the Indians and many graves were seen,
which showed trouble with the Red men. Mr. Bentley went on down the Rio
Grande, spent two months south of Chihuahua, then started back towards home. He
was mustered out of service at Independence, Mo., in November, 1848. He spent
the next eighteen months in Missouri, then decided he would carry out his plan made
while in Mexico — that of coming to California.

On March 12, 1850, with ten men, two wagons and twelve horses, this band
of Argonauts started for the land of Sunshine and Gold. Young Bentley was well
prepared for the dangerous journey because of his former experience while in the
war. The party finally arrived in California and mined at Michigan Bar, Volcano
and other camps, then came on down to Sacramento where they disposed of their
horses and bought miner's outfits and engaged in mining in dead earnest. Six years
were spent as headquarters, by Mr. Bentley, in Calaveras County, where he ran a
store for a time — until going broke. He came on down to Knights Ferry on a
prospecting trip, did not succeed as he had expected and went to Stockton and did
teaming into Tuolumne and Calaveras counties. In 1868 he began ranching on new
land, broke the ground with the primitive implements of that period and harvested
his crops with a scythe. He also raised stock and little by little saved money. Ten
years were spent in the vicinity of Knights Ferry, then he moved further down into
the valley. He was owner of 640 acres of grain land, although leased others and
usually had in about a thousand acres or more each season. He finally became inter-
ested in viticulture and horticulture, keep abreast of the times as the years rolled
along, until in 1895, when he took up his residence in Modesto to live retired.

On October 28, 1858, at Knights Ferry, Jefferson D. Bentley was united in
marriage with Elizabeth Bishop, a native of Pennsylvania and daughter of James
Bishop, a minister and boatbuilder in Zanesville, Ohio. He came to California at
the request of a brother, Stephen Bishop, who had left his own family there when he
came to this state. With him were his own family and that of his brother, Stephen,
and they came via the Isthmus, and took about three months to make the trip. This
was in 1856, and it was a day of excitement when the stage drove into Knights
Ferry with its load of young ladies, each family having three girls in their party.
James Bishop died in California. Mr. and Mrs. Bentley became parents of six
children, namely: Edward, who met his death at the hands of Sontag and Evans,
notorious outlaws; Mary, Mrs. Hatch, of Spokane, Wash.; Annie, Mrs. Guffy,
of Stanislaus County; George, at Oakdale; Maria Elizabeth, at home with her
father; James A., a Stanford graduate and a student at Cooper Medical College at
the time of his death. Mrs. Bentley was an able helpmate to her husband, always
cheering him when the days looked dark and sharing with him when success crowned
his efforts. They lived together to celebrate their golden wedding, in 1908, and she
died on August 2, 1914, from the effects of a fall four years before. She was a
refined and well educated woman and was loved by all who knew her, and at her
passing the county lost one of its best women. She devoted her time to rearing her
children and ministering to the comforts of her husband, who always gave her the
credit for their success in their efforts.


, Jefferson D. Bentley served one term as public administrator of Stanislaus
County, elected on the Democratic ticket. He was made a Mason in Volcano
Lodge No. 56, F. & A. M., in 1853, became affiliated with Summit Lodge No. 112
at Knights Ferry in April, 1857, and later with Stanislaus Lodge No. 206 in
Modesto. At the age of eight5-eight he was exalted in Modesto Chapter No. 49,
Royal Arch Mason, in Modesto. He is a member of the Association of Veterans
of Foreign Wars. The record of the life of Mr. Bentley is one that proved that
intelligent application of well-directed energy and ambition will bring large returns.
He has enjoyed the pleasure of having lived to the age of ninety-four years and has
seen the advancement of civilization across the continent and barren wastes become
fruitful farms and beautiful towns and cities, especially is this true of his life in
California. He has so lived that in the twilight of his life he can look back upon
a work well done and to the future without fear for he has done what he could to
make the pathways of many easier to trod than they were when he passed over them
himself in pioneer days.

JAMES A. HAMMOND. — The development of Stanislaus County owes much
to the pioneer labors of James A. Hammond and the ease and comfort that he is now
enjoying, in the afternoon of life, have been justly earned by arduous effort and close
application to his business affairs. He comes from the great Hammond family of
America and is related to John Hays Hammond, the noted civil engineer. Of Eng-
lish origin, the progenitors of the family were two brothers who came to the Massa-
chusetts Bay Colony in the early days; one went to New Hampshire, the other going
to the Carolinas, our subject coming from the branch of the family that went South.
Great-grandfather Robert Hammond settled near Newmarket, in eastern Tennessee,
about 1790 and held a Government deed that was dated as far back as 1807. Grand-
father William Hammond was born in Newmarket, Tenn., also the place of birth of
his son, Robert G. Hammond, the father of James A. Hammond, the subject of our
sketch. They crossed the plains together in an ox train in 1853, in company with the
Howells, well-known in Merced County, being the ex-county surveyor; the Colliers,
who are also well-known in that community, and the Gilke5's, of Tuolumne County.
Robert G. Hammond was the scout of the party and limits man, acting as a sort of
generalissimo. Being a dead shot, he enjoyed hunting with his trusty old Kentucky
rifle and provided meat for the whole company during the long journey. They arrived
in Tuolumne County, near Tuttletown, in the well-known Jackass Gulch, at Jackass
Hill, later immortalized in Joaquin Miller's stories.

Robert G. Hammond's marriage united him with Man,' A. Manley. Five chil-
dren had been born to them back in the East and came across in the ox train with the
parents, and after moving to California, five more were granted the couple : William
B., born in Tennessee, deceased ; John W., born in Iowa, and now resides at Atlas,
Napa County, Cal. ; James A., born October 8, 1850; Henry Otis is an orchardist,
residing in Santa Cruz ; Robert died at Hollister ; T. J. is one of the prosperous men
of Fresno ; George M. is an orchardist of Santa Cruz ; Martha was the wife of Norton
G. Bates of Springfield, 111., both dead, and their daughter, Jennie, married James R.
Broughton, the banker, of Modesto, the parents of Miss Esto Broughton of the State
Assembly ; Catherine died when but a baby.

The grandfather went back to Iowa, but the father remained here and mined
and teamed, going from Stockton via French Camp to Don Pedro, his camp being
located near where the Stockton courthouse now stands. In 1861 he moved to Coul-
terville and took up a squatter's right, where he teamed and farmed ami also mined at
Don Pedro. Our subject at this time, being nothing more than a mere boy, attended
the school at Don Pedro and Coulterville, having to walk two and a half miles to
school, but all in all obtaining only a limited amount of schooling. In 1868 his
parents moved to the San Joaquin River bottoms in Merced County. His father was
a miner and made $700 at Pine Blanco, and taking this to San Francisco he exchanged
it for currency, it being worth then only sixty cents on the dollar. With this he bought
land, three miles on the San Joaquin River front below where Dickerson bridge now
is, and went into the cattle business. Here our subject spent three years in the saddle.


In the eighties his father sold all his holdings to Miller & Lux and moved to Santa
Cruz and lived there retired, his death occurring at the age of seventy-five, the
mother dying at the age of eighty. Grandfather Manley lived to be nearly ninety years.

James A. Hammond, the subject of this sketch, left home in 1870 and began
work in the lumber yards of the company that ran the Union Box Factory at San
Francisco, running the saws, planer, etc., for two seasons in the saw and planing
mills, part of the time taking a place making boxes, and during this time he worked
for his brother-in-law, Robert Howe, ex-assemblyman from Tuolumne County until
1872, when he came to La Grange and began clerking for T. W. Ferry, who had a
general merchandise store. Four years later, in partnership with his brother, he pur-
chased his employer's store and continued the business. In 1878 he built the present
store. Later he purchased his partner's interest and ran it alone until January 1, 1890,
when he took in his nephew, George W. Bates, as a partner, and they have worked
successfully and harmoniously together since that time, carrying on business under the
firm name of Hammond and Bates. It is probably the oldest establishment, continu-
ously in business, in Stanislaus County, and Mr. Hammond is now probably the oldest
business man in the county.

George W. Bates, the junior partner in the firm of Hammond and Bates, married
Miss Augusta A. Brander, a daughter of J. S. Brander of San Francisco. They are
the parents of one child, George A., a graduate of the Modesto high school, and
recently wrote a thesis dealing with the history and development of the dam and
irrigation and hydraulic power projects at La Grange. This dam furnished water for
irrigation for the Modesto, Turlock and the Waterford irrigation districts.

Mr. Hammond was appointed notary public April 10, 1876, and he has held this
post ever since. He was appointed postmaster at La Grange January 24, 1877, his
commission being signed by Jas. N. Tyner, postmaster-general, and he continued to
serve as postmaster for thirty-eight years, until he resigned in 1915. When he took the
office it paid only about $4.25 a quarter, or about $17 a year, and he worked it up
and the office grew until it finally paid quite well. He was also agent for the Wells
Fargo Express Company for about eighteen years.

Always interested in the cause of education, he has served as trustee and clerk of
the school board at various times, being greatly interested and active in the improve-
ment of the school buildings and grounds. For one term he served as justice of the
peace, but he refused to be a candidate for re-election.

Mr. Hammond has also been interested in mining, having an interest in the Gold
King. For a time he was also engaged in stock raising, owning range land seven miles
northeast of La Grange, now a part of the Don Pedro Dam, and was the first land
owner to sell for the purpose of a dam site, and selling at a reasonable figure, it
established a precedent, so that other lands could be purchased for the same purpose.

Mr. Hammond is greatly interested in the history of California, and he is ever an
interesting conversationalist, having lived in La Grange, the historic portion of
Stanislaus County. Perhaps no portion of California has a more interesting history,
as in the early days of the placer camps, every man was a law unto himself and justice
was summarily meted out. Here was the scene of some of the exploits of that notorious
bandit crew headed by Joaquin Murietta, and his henchman, Manuel Garcia, better
known as Three Fingered Jack, whose daring raids have formed the back ground for
many a picturesque tale of California's Argonaut days. La Grange has also been
immortalized by Joaquin Miller in his verses and Bret Harte, has laid the scenes
depicted in many of his stories in this region. In the latter fifties and early sixties, it
was one of the important towns of this part of California, for then it was the county
seat of Stanislaus County and the center of a very profitable placer gold mining district.
In the early days it was called French Bar before its name was changed to La Grange.

Mr. Hammond is always ready to help with all projects that have as their object
the advancement of the best interests of the community, and is an enthusiastic supporter
of every movement for the broadening of the educational facilities of the district.
Fraternally, he joined the Odd Fellows at La Grange Lodge No. 65, I. O. O. F.. at
La Grange, of which he was teasurer for years, and in politics is a Republican.


AMOS ADDISON WOOD, D.D.S.— A pioneer dentist of Modesto, where he
followed his profession for a period of twenty-five years, Dr. A. A. Wood is one of
the best-known and highly-respected men in Stanislaus County. Past four-score years
of age, he is still active, with upright carriage, eyes bright, hair black and plentiful,
and step light and springy, all of which he attributes to his love of God and humanity.
The life story of Dr. Wood is full of romance and interest and gives a splendid word
picture of a man of character and purpose who could not be downed by adversity. A
native of Indiana, he was born in Parke County, September 7, 1839, the son of Amos
and Mary (Sarasada) Wood, the former dying when the child was but six months old,
and after keeping up the unequal struggle for six years, the mother also passed away,
leaving the little brood to face life alone. At an early age Amos A. began working
at divers occupations, among them being a driver of the freight boats on the canal
between Terre Haute, Toledo and Cincinnati ; he drove the first boat into Point
Commerce. Although the youngest of the drivers, he was remarkably successful in
getting his boat through on time and extricating himself from many a tangle that
happened on the canals in those days. He acquired much knowledge about life and
men and things from this experience, so that when he went into Black Hawk County,
Iowa, at the age of fifteen, he was able to grapple with many perplexing problems
after he became a foreman in the work of clearing the land of timber, hewing out
timbers for use in all kinds of buildings erected on the farm owned by his brother-in-law.

When the Civil War came on and claimed the time and strength of the best
young men of the nation, young Wood, then twenty-two years of age, enlisted in Com-
nany H, Nineteenth Iowa Infantry, serving as a noncommissioned officer, and he
lacked just nineteen days of serving three years. He received his commission as second
lieutenant after his discharge and his return home to his family. After the war
Mr. Wood went into Kansas, where he engaged in farming until he came to California
in 1896. His education had been limited on account of his having to begin work at
an age when most boys are in school, and then the war coming on destroyed his plans,
but undeterred by these handicaps, he found time and opportunity to take up the study
of dentistry in the office of Dr. White at Elk Falls, Kans. In time he passed the
required examinations and began practicing, which he was to continue for over thirty-
five useful years. He was in Kansas at a time when the different counties of the state
were being formed and the section about Elk Falls underwent the usual difficulties.
The county seat was put on wagons and hauled about to locations selected by those who
could put up the biggest defense of their rights until the location of a permanent site
was definitely settled.

Dr. Wood had a brother in California, Z. D. Wood, who had located in Stanis-
laus County, and when the doctor decided he would come West he most naturally
sought out his brother. Thus it came that he located in Modesto, and for twenty-
five years carried on his profession in the Husband Drug Store building and won for
himself an enviable reputation and built up a large and lucrative practice. He did
much work in the mining districts of Tuolumne County, being sent for on many occa-
sions to treat the miners and their families. Business enterprises have also interested
Dr. Wood and he has from time to time invested in ranch land, operating a place of
forty acres at one time ; again he was engaged in the buying and selling of livestock.
In 1910 he retired from all active work and is now living in the enjoyment of a well-
earned rest. He cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln at New Orleans while he was
in the army; has been a member of the Odd Fellows for over thirty years; and an
active member of the local post of the G. A. R., and has served as delegate to the
National Encampment on various occasions. He has been liberal and public spirited
in all movements for the building up of Modesto and Stanislaus County and has given
assistance to those less fortunate than himself.

The first marriage of Dr. Wood occurred in 1860, when he was united with Miss
Sarah Byers, a native of Ohio, and of this union eight children were born, five of them
still living: Minnie is the wife of G. A. Perkins, a realty dealer in Modesto; George
F. is a merchant at Ceres; Jessie is the wife of S. L. Hanscom of San Francisco;
Charles is a dentist at Oakdale; ami Ed. F. is a jeweler in Modesto. When Mr.


Wood went into the service he left behind him a wife and daughter to await his
return. The son, Charles Wood, has followed in the footsteps of his father and has
been encouraged by him in every way and had the best of advantages and a graduate
of one of the best dental colleges.

The second marriage of Dr. Wood came as a delightful surprise to his many
friends and was celebrated on March 9, 1920, when he was united with Mrs. Rena
Huls, well known throughout California as a strong temperance worker. She is a
woman of much ability and strong character, a native of Ripley County, Ind., born
February 8, 1855. Her paternal ancestors were descended from the Burr family, of
which Aaron Burr was also descended. Her mother was Rutilla Sage, in maidenhood,
also a native of Indiana, and Mrs. Wood is the youngest of eight children. Her
mother died when she was a girl of six years, and she, too, felt the loneliness and hard-
ship of the life of an orphan, and she was buffeted about and had finished her school-
ing when she was twelve. She had made her home with a distant relative for a number
of years and when she was nineteen she became the wife of Henry Huls, being married
at the home of this relative. Mr. Huls was an Indiana farmer and for several years
was a semi-invalid. Seeking a climate where he might be benefited, they came to
California and for two years lived in Madera County. Mr. Huls partlv regained his
health, due to the constant care of his faithful wife, and later they moved to Hollister,

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 69 of 177)