Copyright
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 76 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 76 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


son of William Arthur, a native of Renfrewshire, Scotland, who was born there in
1810 and came to America in 1842, settling at Ryegate. There in 1855 he married
Maria Gates, born at Ryegate about 1831. The genealogy of the Gates family is
very interesting, and is traced back to the year 1327, to Thomas Gates of High Aster,
Essex, England. Steohen Gates, the son of Thomas Gates of Norwich, England,
came to Hingham, Mass., in 1638 with his wife, Anne (Hill) Gates, -on the ship
Delight, dying at Cambridge. He was the tenth generation from Thomas Gates.

Grandfather James Arthur married Elizabeth Shaw, who died in Scotland and
he came to Ryegate, Vt., in the early days and was a farmer there until his death.
Their son, William Arthur, died in December, 1857, a month before our subject was
born, while the mother survived only fifteen months after his decease. Their farm
had become the property of James Arthur, an uncle of our subject, and here he was
reared and given a good education, finishing his schooling at Mclndoe Academy.
After the death of his uncle and aunt, William became the owner of the old farm,
and there he engaged in dairying on the 100-acre homestead. He had a herd of fine
Jersey cows and was very successful in his operations, but the severe winters of the
rugged Vermont climate finally wore on him and he resolved to seek the mild climate
of California. Accordingly he disposed of his holdings and in March, 1906, located



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 651

at Turlock, where he purchased a farm of forty acres in the "Rued Colony. He im-
proved it to alfalfa and again had a splendid dairy, but suffering a severe attack of
pneumonia, it seemed advisable for him to retire from this strenuous life, so he sold
out and moved into his present residence on Vermont Street, Turlock, where he has
an orchard place of two acres, and is also engaged in raising poultry.

Mr. Arthur was married at Turlock, July 11, 1907, to Miss Martha A. Guthrie,
born in Barnet, Yt. She was a daughter of James H. Guthrie, who was born in
Barnet, Vt., February 23, 1839. Grandfather William Guthrie was born in Scot-
land and was a draper, or dry goods merchant; he married Agnes Hastie and they
came to Ryegate, Vt., where they engaged in farming. James H. Guthrie enlisted for
service in the Civil War, and was first in Company F of Colonel Berdan's regi-
ment of sharpshooters ; later he was transferred to Company G, a Wisconsin com-
pany of the same regiment. He served in the Peninsular campaign at Prairie Grove
and was taken prisoner at the battle of the Wilderness, and spent ten months in dif-
ferent Southern prisons. When the war was over he was released and was mustered
out July 13, 1865. He married Ann Arthur, a daughter of James Arthur, born in
Renfrewshire, Scotland, and she resided for many years at the old Guthrie homestead
in Ryegate overlooking the Connecticut Valley. Mr. and Mrs. Guthrie came to
California in 1910, but returned East, and Mrs. Guthrie passed away in Illinois, on
the homeward journey; the father now resides at Peacham, Vt.

Mr. and Mrs. James Guthrie were the parents of six daughters, of whom Mrs.
Arthur is the eldest and the only one in California. She was educated in the Mclndoe
and Peacham academies, and then engaged in teaching in Vermont for about fourteen
years, from 1886 to 1900, in which she was very successful, accomplishing much good
for the pupils who came under her care. She is a teacher in the Sunday school of
the Methodist Episcopal Church of Turlock, where she and Mr. Arthur are both
members, and they are strong advocates of prohibition. Mrs. Arthur is also active
in the Ladies' Aid and in the Woman's Relief Corps, being secretary of the latter
organization. They have two promising sons, James Guthrie and William Lindsay.

DANIEL M. HACKETT.— As president of the Modesto Local, No. 59, Farm-
ers' Union, and one of the organizers of this progressive body of men, Daniel M.
Hackett wields a power for good in the county which is not to be underestimated.
He is acknowledged to be an excellent man for this responsible position, being well
informed on all farm topics, a judge of markets, an executive of great ability, and a
natural leader of men, commanding confidence and respect. Mr. Hackett has been
a resident of the count}- since 1904, at which time he was engaged in contracting for
the grading and checking of land for irrigation purposes, and the building of ditches
and canals, in all of which he is recognized to be an expert. He owned a number of
teams and a complete outfit for grading and ditching, and was very successful in this
line of work, accumulating considerable affluence therein. Soon after coming here
Mr. Hackett purchased sixty-two acres of fine land in the Prescott precinct, then
entirely unimproved. For a year he allowed it to lie idle, his contracting business
occupying his entire time, but since then he has improved it, erecting a modern resi-
dence, barns and other buildings, with orchards, vineyards, alfalfa fields, and other
crops. For some years he was dairying, and at one time milked as high as forty cows.

Mr. Hackett was born near Cincinnati, Ohio, June 26, 1868, and came to
California with his parents two years later. The family came first to Stockton, where
they remained but a short time, going from there to Merced, thence to Hanford and
later to Porterville and Reedley, and again to Hanford. His parents were John S.
Hackett, a native of Illinois, and Lois (Leonard) Hackett, born in Ohio. Grand-
father Daniel Hackett came to California from Ohio in the fifties, making the journey
across the plains in an ox-team train, remaining in California until the war broke out,
when he returned home and did not get back here until the seventies. Mr. and Mrs.
John S. Hackett were the parents of twelve children, and lived to see all but one
grow to manhood and womanhood, marry and have homes of their own. Daniel
Hackett for many years provided a home for his parents on his ranch, building them
a comfortable residence and in every way proving himself to be a loving and dutiful



652 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

son, making their declining years a time of rest and peace. His mother passed away
at the age of seventy-four, while his father lived to be seventy-seven.

Much of the early education of Mr. Hackett was obtained in the old Cross
Creek district school at Hanford, and his boyhood was spent helping his father on the
farm and occasionally working out for the neighboring ranchers in vacation time. He
became an expert with horses, driving with ease ten and twelve horse teams, and
having handled as many as thirty-eight on the old Haines-Harris harvester at Reedley.

The marriage of Mr. Hackett occurred in Sacramento, December 23, 1906,
uniting him w ; ith Miss Lola May Welch, who was born in Woodland, the daughter of
James C. and Zera (Cormer) Welch. Mr. Welch crossed the plains to California in
1849, later returning East via Panama and brought his wife and two children to
California in 1852, engaging in farming near what is now Woodland. Later he
moved to Williams, where he was a large grain farmer. He was one of the founders
and a trustee of Hesperian College and he and his wife were prominent members of
the Christian Church, in which he was an officer. He died in 1876 and his wife in
1883. Mrs. Hackett was educated at Hesperian College, Woodland, and is a cultured
and talented woman. She is a past noble grand of Williams Rebekah Lodge and has
served as a representative to the Grand Lodge, being now a member of the Modesto
Rebekah Lodge. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hackett take an active interest in local matters
and are members of the Christian Church at Modesto. Mr. Hackett has been
especially successful on his ranch, and is regarded one of the most progressive men here.

LAMOTT E. THORNBURG.— An esteemed citizen of Stanislaus County who
is enjoying a well-deserved retirement is Lamott E. Thornburg, who was born in
Mitchell, Iowa, on April 23, 1858, the son of William H. Thornburg, a native of
Laporte, Ind., and a farmer, who took up Government land in Iowa and married
Miss Oresta Curtis, a native of Pennsylvania, who had come with her parents to
Iowa in her girlhood. In 1859 Wm. Thornburg, with comrades, started for Pike's
Peak, Colo., on account of the gold rush just starting in that region. As they
proceeded up the Platte River, they met many who were returning home from Pike's
Peak discouraged, so being well provisioned and with good ox-teams and wagons,
they determined to push on to California and in due time arrived in the Sacramento
Valley. After following mining in the Sierras a while, Mr. Thornburg returned to
his family who had been left on the Iowa farm and soon afterwards he moved from
Mitchell to Alamakee County, when Lamott was still a little lad; and there went
in for farming again and so it happened that Lamott attended the district school at
Waukon, Iowa. During the great struggle of the Civil War Wm. Thornburg served
three years with patriotic zeal in the Twenty-seventh Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

After the war he continued farming, but he was not satisfied in Iowa on account
of his liking for California, which eventually became so strong he sold his Iowa hold-
ings and when Lamott was about twelve years of age, his father brought the family
out to California, in May, 1870, on one of the early transcontinental trains, and
settled in Stanislaus County, west of the present location of Turlock ; and after a year
they removed to the Panoche Valley in Fresno County. There again his father bought
Government land, and he became a successful grain farmer and stockman. In 1879
they left the Panoche Valley and returned to Stanislaus County; and this time they
settled near Modesto. Mr. Thornburg purchased about 150 acres, upon which he
lived until 1885; and then he sold out and removed to the vicinity of Turlock, where
he purchased a half-section of land, which he planted to grain which as soon as the
irrigation system was completed he improved to alfalfa and orchards. He lived to
be about seventy-five years old, and then, amid the comfortable surroundings of his
own ranch, he passed away. His widow now lives retired in Turlock at the venerable
age of eighty-one, hale and hearty. They had four children ; two are living, Lamott
of this review and William, who resides near Los Angeles.

Lamott Thornburg, when he was twenty-one years old, started to work on various
ranches in Stanislaus County, and in that way he labored for about four years. Then,
on February 5, 1882, he was married to Miss Hannah Crispin, the ceremony taking
place on the ranch of her sister northwest of Modesto. She was a native of Mahaska



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 657

County, Iowa. Her father, Frank Crispin, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, September
10, 1827, and in 1848 became an early settler of Oskaloosa, Iowa, and then he married
Miss Adeline Bonsell in 1850, who was a native of Virginia. He followed farming
in Iowa for thirty-five years. Four of the children had moved to Stanislaus County, so
the parents joined them here in 1883, and here they made their home, celebrating their
golden wedding in 1900, when all of their children but one were present. He passed
away, aged eighty-one, being survived by his widow until she, too, passed on, aged
eighty-three. Their six children were as follows: Laura, Mrs. J. K. Carson of
Modesto; Mary, Mrs. Mattox, passed away in Iowa; Janet is Mrs. I. W. Updike of
Modesto; Hannah is Mrs. Thornburg; T. J. is a well-known rancher near Modesto,
and Susie is Mrs. Clark of Fresno. Hannah Crispin attended the public schools of
Oskaloosa and also Penn College in that city. She came to Modesto in 1880 with a
sister, and here she met Lamott Thornburg.

After their marriage Mr. Thornburg leased a farm of 640 acres near Turlock,
devoted to grain, and having removed there, they farmed it for three years. In 1884
Mr. Thornburg purchased from John Mitchell some 335 acres one and a half miles
northwest of Turlock, which he farmed to grain. In 1888 he bought 100 acres more
and also leased other lands, having as much as 1,000 acres in grain at a time. When
ihe district came under irrigation he immediately improved his land for intensive
farming, leveling and checking the land. He had about 300 acres in alfalfa, and was
quite extensively engaged in dairying and stock raising, making a specialty of Holsteins,
his dairy comprising about seventy-five cows. He was also engaged in raising draft
horses and mules. From time to time he sold some of his ranch, retaining 135 acres,
which he now rents, it being devoted to double cropping. The ranch is under the
Turlock Irrigation District and at one time Mr. Thornburg grew only alfalfa. Later,
however, he plowed that out and double-cropping was started. In 1913 he built a
comfortable residence in Modesto, where he and his estimable wife have since resided.

Five children have come to bless the Thornburg family life, although that family
is at present scattered. Ivy A. is Mrs. Wade Howell, and she resides near Modesto;
Delwin C. is farming at Turlock, and so is Ray H. ; Ada R. is the present Mrs. Ralph
Crow, of Crows Landing; and Glen E. is farming not far from Turlock.

EDWARD C. REEDER. — Interesting as a representative business man, Edward
C. Reeder has family associations such as anyone might envy. He is the well-known
drayman of Oakdale, and resides with his wife at the residence on Second Avenue,
between E and F streets, Oakdale, built by them. He has been fourteen years in local
draying, and succeeded to the pioneer dray business at Oakdale. He himself is the
son of a '49er. Mrs. Reeder, whose maiden name was Lucinda Sisson, pomilarly
known as Lou Sisson, is the oldest daughter of the late Benjamin Hate Sisson, a
pioneer and the person who established and built up the first dray business in Oakdale.
Benjamin Hate Sisson died at Oakdale on December 4, 1913, having lived retired
at Oakdale for the last sixteen years of his life. He had been engaged in the dray busi-
ness for forty years before he retired, and started the draying at Oakdale. When
seventy years of age, he gave up business activity, and was succeeded bv his two sons,
Ben and Walter, who conducted the business for about three years and then sold out
to their brother-in-law, Mr. Reeder, who now manages the enterprise.

Benjamin H. Sisson was of Quaker parentage, and he built his residence on the
site where the Roddens have recently built the new Post Office Building. He was
born at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., of an old New York family of Friends, who belonged to
pre-Revolutionary days, and came around the Horn, and in January, 1869, sailing
through the Golden Gate. He was really making a honeymoon trip, having married
at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., to Miss Ida Simmons, a native of that place. They first
settled at Langworth and there became very well acquainted with such pioneers as
Robt. McHenry, Harry Langworthy, Thomas Richardson and Thomas Snedigar, all
now deceased. Mr. Sisson became a partner of the late Thomas Richardson. They
farmed thousands of acres, and were the most extensive wheat farmers in what is now
the Oakdale district. Upon the dissolution of the partnership, Mr. Sisson went down
to Kern County, and kept a herd of thousands of sheep close to Delano, near where



658 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

Lou Sisson, later Mrs. Reeder, grew up to her eighth year. He continued in Kern
County until about 1875, when he sold his sheep and started draying in Oakdale.

Mr. and Mrs. Sisson became the parents of eight children. The eldest, Lucinda
or Lou, married Edward C. Reeder of this sketch at Oakdale, on May 5, 1890, and
they have one child, Velma, who is the wife of Ben Yeager, the engineer for the
Pacific Pea Packing Company, and resides in Oakdale. Lizzie is the widow of M. A.
Lewis, late supervisor of the first supervisorial district at Oakdale, and resides with
her only daughter in San Francisco. Mary married Frank Karasek, a resident of San
Francisco, who is employed by the Standard Oil Company. Benjamin Sisson, the
rancher, married Ella Bach. Irving died at Oakdale when he was fourteen years old.
Walter, a locomotive engineer on the Southern Pacific, married Beatrice Richards of
Sacramento. Ida May is the wife of E. L. Young, a bookkeeper in San Francisco.
George died in his twenty-eighth year at San Francisco, leaving a widow and a baby,
Velma. Mrs. Reeder's mother, now seventy-two years old, makes her home with her
daughter, Mrs. George Lewis, at 317 Third Avenue, San Francisco.

Mr. Reeder was born in Sonora, Tuolumne County, on June 27, 1866, the son
of Henry Clay Reeder, a native of Little Rock, Ark., who crossed the plains in 1849
and engaged in gold mining at Sonora, where he was married, in 1855, to Cleofa
Carbrera. They had fourteen children, among whom Edward C. Reeder was the
seventh in the order of birth. He was reared and educated at Sonora, after which he
began teaming between Sonora and Oakdale. Since 1889 he has made Oakdale his
home. He is a member of the Woodmen of the World and the Fraternal Brother-
hood. Mrs. Reeder is president of Oakdale Parlor, N. D. G. W., and she attends
the Presbyterian Church at Oakdale. Both Mr. and Mrs. Reeder are Republicans,
and as citizens of civic pride, are a power in the community in which they reside.

SAMUEL E. FOSTER. — A very enterprising, progressive and popular pioneer
who early began to paddle his own canoe and who has devoted much of his time,
energies and means to helping to improve and build up the county, is Samuel E.
Foster, who came to California in the spring of 1873. He was born near Palmyra,
Marion County, Mo., on July 31, 1854, the son of Henry Franklin Foster, a native
of Old Virginia and an American of Scotch descent. Grandfather Foster moved
out to Missouri and located there, when it was a new, raw country, and there he
spent the rest of his life with his family. Henry Franklin Foster was a farmer near
Palmyra, and died in Quincy, 111., in 1874. His wife was Susan Parrish before her
marriage; she was a native of Kentucky, and also died in Quincy. She was the
mother of eight children, five girls and three boys, five of whom are living.

Samuel was educated at the public schools, while he was reared on a farm, and
when fourteen he started out for himself. He moved to Monroe County, Mo., and
immediately went to work driving a team on the roadbed of the Hannibal & Moberly
Railroad, while it was being constructed, and in the fall of the year he went to
Ralls County, and there worked on a farm for Dr. Ned Frazer, with whom he con-
tinued for two years, finding in him a kind man and a great friend.

After a brief visit to Palmyra, while he was seventeen, Mr. Foster started for
California on St. Patrick's Day, 1873, and arrived at Sacramento eleven days later.
From there he took the train to Stockton, and on the train met Dr. Stockton, who
discovered that the young man wanted employment at farm work. He requested him
to come to his office next morning, and having done so, Mr. Foster met there the
mayor of the city, to whom he was introduced. The mayor in turn introduced him
to Isaac and Jim Crow, of Crows Landing, who were in town ; and Isaac took him
along on the boat for Crows Landing, starting Saturday. On Sunday, William Crow
came out to visit Isaac, who asked if he had anything for this boy to do. When asked what
he expected, Foster said about five or ten dollars a month or anything, though ; where-
upon W. H. Crow hired him for ten dollars a month. Mr. Foster did not care at
what wages he started, but was looking ahead to see where he would get off. Crow's
farm was in San Joaquin County, and Foster went to work, and was paid twenty dol-
lars a month instead of ten. He continued there during the whole of the year, and
then he concluded that be would go to school. He stayed with Mr. Crow, doing




^j^f*, d?, ^y^^i/^^L^



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 661

chores for his board, and attended the district school for a year, after which he again
worked for Mr. Crow. In 1876 he attended Christian College at Santa Rosa for a
year, and worked at harvesting in Sonoma County. In the fall of 1877 he removed to
Butte County and there worked on a ranch north of Chico; then he returned to San
Joaquin County and resumed grain farming.

On September 12, 1880, Mr. Foster was married at the home of the bride near
Ripon, joining in wedlock Miss Nancy Jane Hughes, a native of Tuolumne County,
where she was born near Sonora on June 15, 1856. She was a niece of William
Crow and the daughter of William H. Hughes, who was born in Pennsylvania and
crossed the plains in the latter forties, and mined in Tuolumne County. Then he
settled on a farm near Ripon, and owned the land on which Ripon now stands. He
had a large ranch of 1,300 acres adjoining, and both he and his good wife died there.

The same year, 1880, Mr. Foster started grain farming near Hickman, Stanislaus
County, leasing a farm from L. M. Hickman, meeting with exceptional success.

In 1883 he bought his present holdings of 880 acres near Keyes, going into debt
for the same $26,000. He moved onto the property, made improvements and went in
for grain farming, and in a few years had paid for it from the crops raised on the
land. When the Turlock Irrigation district ditch came to be a reality, he prepared
a part of the land for alfalfa and rented it out. In 1906 he located in Modesto and
later built his commodious residence at 115 Hackberry Street. His land has demon-
strated its value for tomatoes, and in 1919 630 acres of it were in tomatoes, probably
the largest individual tomato patch in the world. It is subirrigated and the enterprise
was a success, for he raised between twenty to twenty-five tons to the acre. On his
place the first tomatoes for commercial purposes were grown in this vicinity, and it
was not long before the successful experiment was followed by others. It is now
again devoted to grain raising. Mr. Foster has improved the ranch in many respects,
building comfortable quarters for the tenants.

Mr. Foster was one of the original organizers of the California National Bank
of Modesto, in which he is a director and vice-president. He is a stockholder and an
organizer of the Bank of Newman, and was one of the organizers and promoters of
the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Modesto, and was a director in the same for some
years, until he sold his interest in the bank. A Democrat of the old school, Mr.
Foster was long prominent in the party and was a delegate to the county and state
conventions, until the operation of the primary law. He was a charter member of
the Turlock lodge of the Knights of Pythias, organized in 1885, and is now a member
of Modesto No. 8, Knights of Pythias, in which he is past-officer. He has been a
representative to the grand lodge of California several times.

Twenty-five years after he came to California Mr. Foster made his first trip, in
1898, back to the old home and visited his mother, who then resided in Quincy, 111.;
but on his return home he appreciated California more than ever before. His faith-
ful wife and helpmate passed away on October 13, 1915, and was the first laid to
rest in the new mausoleum. Two children survive: Lydia May is Mrs. Joseph Hall,
and she and her husband are ranchers on the Maze Road ; and Laura Alma has
become Mrs. Bion V. Harman, wife of a business man of Modesto.

WILLIAM J. BROWN.— A distinguished representative of the California Bar
whose reputation for learning and professional ability is augmented by his tactfulness
and attractive personality, is William J. Brown, the present popular district attorney
of Stanislaus County, who was born near Somerset in Pulaski County, Ky., in 1872.
His father, William Brown, was also a Kentuckian ; he was a farmer and married
Miss Jane Lawrence, a daughter of the Blue Grass State. She came of old Virginia
and South Carolina stock, of parents who spent the balance of their lives in Kentucky.
The subject of this suggestive review was the youngest of ten children, and is the only
one now in California.

After completing his public school studies, William attended the Mt. Vernon
Academy, and an academy at Level Green, Kv., and then followed newspaper work
for a time, becoming editor of the Somerset Reporter, a position that he held for a
year. Having always had a predilection for law, however, which dreams had been only



662 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

partially realized in his random study of law books, he resigned his post as editor to
study under Judge Denton in Somerset, being admitted to the bar in 1898.



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 76 of 177)