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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 89 of 177)
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He engaged in farming, and was employed by the Glenn estate to take charge of the
repair of buildings. He was also for two years trustee in the Ord school district. He
owned twenty acres in fruit and alfalfa, but at the end of three years accepted a posi-
tion as manager of the Truman Undertaking Company in Oakland, and opened for
them their new place at the corner of Thirtieth and Telegraph Avenue.

In 1915, Mr. Geckler came down to Modesto to join Messrs. Wood and Shannon
in undertaking; but after six months he bought out the G. S. Wright Undertaking
Company at Turlock, as well as the Claypool Undertaking Company, and established
himself in business under the firm name of the R. C. Geckler Undertaking Company,
locating at first at 201 North Broadway. In 1919 he planned and built his present
large funeral chapel at 247-253 North Broadway, a fire-proof structure of tiles and
terra cotta, 65x65 feet in size and two stories high, with an ornate chapel, a reception
room, a family room, show-rooms, offices, morgue and operating room. He drew the
plans for the edifice himself, and this accounts for its handsome features and its equally
attractive furnishings. As a graduate of the Pacific College of Embalming, conducted
by Prof. Albert Warsham, where he received his diploma on July 17, 1915, Mr.
Geckler has always been regarded as both scientifically expert and of artistic taste.
He is a member of the Turlock Board of Trade, and is chairman of the board of
Progressive Business Club directors; also a Yosemite Hotel stockholder.

At Fruitvale, Cal., in 1907, Mr. Geckler was married to Miss Anna Maude Guy,
a native of Concord, Cal., and with his wife is a member of the Rebekahs. Mrs.
Geckler also belongs to the O. E. S. Mr. Geckler was made a Mason in Oakland
Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and is a past grand of the Turlock Lodge of Odd Fellows here,
and also a member of the K. of P., the K. O. T. M., the Independent Order of
Foresters, and the D. O. K. K. He also belongs to the Turlock Club In national
politics a Republican, Mr. Geckler is a member of the Turlock Board of Trustees,
and was also police commissioner. In 1920 he was reelected a trustee, and then chosen
by the board as its chairman, or mayor. During his term of office a new pumping
plant costing $5,000, and sewerage disposal alterations at $34,000 are notable.

ALBERT EDWARD SOLLARS.— An enterprising manufacturer who has well
sustained in his ideals in the making and purveying of only first-class products, is Al-
bert Edward Sollars, the wide-awake proprietor of the Turlock Soda Works. A na-
tive son of California, he was born in lone, Amador County, the son of Pern' Sollars,
also a native of that county, whose parents had crossed the great plains in pioneer
days and had eventually died here, leaving Perry an orphan. Therefore, as a mere
boy he paddled his own canoe, becoming pretty early a miner. He was married to
Miss Minnie Button, who was also born in Amador County, a daughter of Orlando
Button, who crossed the plains with ox teams during the gold excitement, and then
followed mining and teaming in Amador County. Later, he located near Visalia,
and there he resided until his death. Perry Sollars after mining for a time located
at Visalia, and then farmed for a while in Stanislaus County, when he engaged also
in threshing, and went all over the San Joaquin Valley, threshing crops for the
ranchers. Mr. and Mrs. Perry Sollars at present reside in San Jose, the parents of
four children, among whom Albert Edward is the oldest.

He was reared in Amador, Tulare, Fresno and Stanislaus counties, and as a boy
worked in the Einstein grocery store at Fresno, and later in Stockton and Lodi, in
which town he accepted a position in the soda water works. In 1900 he went to San
Francisco to enter the service of the Del Monte Milling Company, as foreman, and
at the end of two years he was with the Consumers Ice Company, with whom he re-
mained until the earthquake and fire in April, 1906, when he went with the National
Ice Company. From 1911, for two years, he traveled through the state.



794 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

In 1913, Mr. Sollars located at Turloclc and purchased the Turloclc Soda
Works from John Lundeen. It was then in an alley in a barn, but in 1914 he
bought his present site, and put up the building there, and equipped it with modern
machinery to be run by electrical power. As a plant for the manufacture of soda
and carbonated beverages, it is new and fine, and the establishment also jobs in
cereal beverages and cordials, and all kinds of mineral waters. The factory made
syrups for both wholesale and retail trade and Mr. Sollars served an area of twenty
miles, deliveries, being made by truck. In August, 1920, he began the manufacture of
Ward's Orange and Lemon Crush, with a franchise for Stanislaus County. In Janu-
ary, 1921, he took on the franchise for Merced County and added Ward's Lime Crush
to the business, and he covers the territory with auto trucks. In the manufacture
and distribution of his products, Mr. Sollars employs four men. He is a member of
the Turlock Board of Trade and takes a lively part in its deliberations.

At San Jose, Mr. Sollars was married to Miss Louise Miller, a native of
Canada, who came to San Jose when a girl and in California received a sound edu-
cation, and for nine years taught school in the Santa Clara and San Joaquin valleys.
Two children blessed this union — Albert Edward, Jr., and Cecile Marie. The fam-
ily dwell in a handsome residence, and Mr. Sollars enjoys the esteem of all who know
him, but especially of those who are associated with him as a member of the Stanislaus
County Council of the Knights of Columbus at Modesto.

FRANK EUGENE SMITH.— Notable among the far-sighted and aggressive men
of affairs in Stanislaus County who have done all that they could and have contributed
much for the development of the great California commonwealth, must be mentioned
Frank Eugene Smith, who was born in Maryville, Nodaway County, Mo., on January
12, 1882, the son of Fayette Smith, who was born in New York, came west to Wiscon-
sin with his parents in the fifties and when sixteen enlisted in a Wisconsin regiment
and served in the Civil War. He was married in Wisconsin to Miss Emma E. Hess,
a native of Illinois, and like himself so identified with old American lineage that the
sisters of our subject are members of the Daughters of the American Revolution and
our subject is eligible to be a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Fayette
Smith moved to northwest Missouri in 1870 and was a farmer and grain merchant.
He died, leaving eight children, when Eugene, the only son, was four years old.

Frank Eugene Smith attended both the grammar and the high school of Maryville,
and later studied for a year at the Maryville Seminary; and having successfully com-
pleted the classical course at the Northwestern University at Evanston, 111., he was
graduated in 1904 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. At Northwestern he was a
member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and also a member of the honor senior society,
Deru. He had spent his early days on the home farm with his parents, and so was
better equipped to strike out for himself after graduating from college. He managed
his mother's farm for four years, and in 1908 came out to California, locating in
Modesto. His mother and sisters afterward joined him in Modesto.

Here he went into the real estate business and with a partner formed the firm of
Smith & Sweet, Inc., and in that field he continued for five years, completing several
large subdivisions. His company handled, for example, the Smith & Sweet Tract on
the Maze Road and also developed successfully the tract known as the Idaho Colony,
four miles east of Modesto on the Dry Creek Road, and was instrumental in bringing
into Stanislaus County many satisfied Eastern and Idaho people. About the same time
they had four other large tracts under development in the Turlock and Oakdale Irriga-
tion districts.

In 1910, Mr. Smith obtained the Ford agency, and later he took in as his partner
C. C. Parks, the two men forming the firm known so well as Smith & Parks. In the
spring of 1916, however, he sold out his interest to Mr. Parks and then took the Over-
land agency, with that of the Willys-Knight, adding after a while the agencies for
the Nash and the Franklin cars. He purchased the corner lot, 100x140 feet, at Ninth
and J streets, opposite the Southern Pacific depot, on which he erected a building
which he leases; he also leases the corner for a service station, while adjoining his
property he maintains a firstclass garage and a finely-equipped machine shop, with every



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 797

facility for the most difficult repairs. He is a member of the Progressive Business Club
of Modesto, and is a director of the club. He is also an active member of the Stanis-
laus County Auto Trades Association. When in the real estate field, he was actively
participating in the work of developing Stanislaus County under the direction of the
County Board of Trade and the Modesto Chamber of Commerce, and he has never
failed to maintain the livest interest in all matters likely to affect the ultimate or the
immediate welfare of the county or city.

At Modesto, on November 22, 1916, Mr. Smith was married to Miss Genevieve
Flanders, a native of Minnesota and a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George H. Flanders,
who moved from the North Star State to California in 1904. Mr. Smith is a member
of the Methodist Church, and marches under the banner of the Republican party.

MARTIN HEDMAN. — A prominent business man who has taken an active
part in the building up of Turlock and vicinity since he first located here in the early
nineties, is Martin Hedman, who was born in Vermland, Sweden, in 1869, and there
reared on a farm at the same time that he received a good education in the public
schools, for which Sweden has long been famous. Then he learned the carpenter's
trade, and when nineteen years of age migrated to the land of the Stars and Stripes,
locating in St. Paul, Minn. There, for eight years, he followed his trade, and then
he made his way to Duluth and was among the pioneers on the Mesaba range, which
has since become so well known for its production of iron ore. He camped on the
present site of Virginia City, Minn., when he had to cut and clear the brush in order
to erect his tent; both snow and slush abounded, and conditions were very unpleasant,
so that he endured great hardships where there is now a city of 40,000 or more. For
$1,500 he could have bought a claim site now worth millions, but at that time things,
did not look good there. It was simply a wild country, with bears roaming.

After serving the Hamilton Ore Company for two and a half years as foreman
in charge of lumbering and carpenter work, and when he had badly exposed himself
in the swamps, he was taken with typhoid fever and returned to St. Paul to recuperate ;
and when he had recovered, he went back to the Mesaba range in the employ of the
same company. But he was again taken ill, and then he left the region for good. Soon
after his return to St. Paul, he was married to Miss Marie Anderson, who was born
in Linkoping, Sweden, and he and his wife then removed to Warren, Minn., and
located thirty-three miles north of Crookston in the Red River Valley of the North,
where he followed contracting and building with success.

Wishing, however, to settle on the Pacific Coast, Mr. Hedman came out to Cali-
fornia and Turlock in 1902, when there were about 100 people here, and he purchased
a ranch of forty acres in Hilmar, which he improved by sowing alfalfa and setting out
an orchard. At that time the country was infested with jack rabbits, and to such an
extent that both crops and trees were destroyed by them, and some relief came only
when the settlers formed drives to kill them off. Grasshoppers, also, came in swarms,
reminding one of the old Egyptian days. After a little more than a year he rented out
his ranch and returned to Turlock, and here he began contracting and building.

About 1905 Mr. Hedman formed a partnership with Theodore Olson and they
started a lumber yard on the East Side. They were incorporated as the Turlock
Lumber Company, and with a large yard and a planing mill they built up an extensive
business. Mr. Hedman had charge of the building department, while Mr. Olson
looked after the yard. In 1909, they sold the plant to Andrew Johnson, and then
Mr. Hedman. with Theodore Olson, James Quigley and Roger Young, incorporated
the Turlock Hardware Company, and opened an attractive establishment on West
Main Street, to which he gave his time for three years.

Then he sold his interest and bought sixty acres in Tegner, where he engaged in
raising alfalfa and running a dairy; but at the end of fifteen months, he rented this
out in order again to engage in business in Turlock. Then he started his present
concern for the handling of hardware and implements, and incorporated it as the
Hedman-Johnson Hardware Company ; and at the same time he built a private resi-
dence, choosing a choice location on West Main Street, at that time considered "away
out." As the city grew, however, this site became valuable business property, where-



798 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

upon he erected the Hedman building, where his former residence stood, and now there
is a beautiful brick structure, 100x200 feet in size, and two stories high, which is
used as a store and for the warehousing of agricultural implements. When Mr.
Johnson died his interest was sold to Mr. Lundell. Hedman and Johnson had started
a branch store in Hilmar and erected a brick edifice, 50x100 feet in size, where they
engaged in the sale of hardware, implements and groceries ; this branch was later under
Mr. Lundell's charge. Under the personal management of Mr. Hedman, their busi-
ness has grown in volume to be the largest of its kind in Turlock. Mr. Hedman also
helped to organize the People's State Bank, and in that he continued until he sold out
his interest. He belongs to the Board of Trade, and stands for any movement or
measure that will build up the town.

Six children are still living to bless Mr. and Mrs. Hedman. Myrtle is with
her father in business, and there are Ruth, Agnes, Esther, Roy and Harold. In Hil-
mar, Mr. Hedman was clerk of the school board, and he was also an organizer of the
Swedish Mission Church there, and was secretary of its first board of trustees. After
locating in Turlock, he helped to build up the Swedish Mission Church and has been
very prominent and active in otherwise building, and also upbuilding the town.

ANDREW JOHNSTON.— Among the successful members of the California
Bar who have become distinguished beyond even the territory in which they are most
active may be mentioned Andrew Johnston of Turlock, who was born at Kelso, Rox-
buryshire, Scotland, on August 9, 1869, the grandson of Andrew Johnston, a native
of that section, who was born in the family residence where our subject first saw the
light of day and which was built by the great-grandfather. Andrew Johnston, Sr.,
was a newspaper man, and edited the Kelso Chronicle. His son Archibald, our
Andrew's father, was also born in the same family mansion, and later became a
merchant, residing at Coldstream, on the Tweed, then at Paisley, and still later at
Glasgow, until he took the important step of migrating to the United States with his
family. In 1883 he settled at Chicago and connected himself with a real estate and
building company, removing later to Montrose, Colo. There he now lives, a horti-
culturist, with his good wife, who was Miss Amelia Wilson, a native of Ayrshire.
They had five children, three now living, and among these Andrew is the oldest.

He enjoyed a good beginning in education in the schools of Scotland, and on com-
ing to Chicago, continued his schooling until, in 1886, he entered the office of the
Santa Fe Railroad Company as a clerk. He was quick to learn, and was soon pro-
moted to be private secretary for the vice-president, and then the president, and later
for the agent of the receiver of the company.

Ambitious to become a lawyer, Mr. Johnston began the study of law by attend-
ing the evening classes at Kent College of Law, now the Chicago Kent College of
Law, from which he was graduated in 1895 and on June 6, 1895, was licensed to
practice, by the Supreme Court of Illinois. He had continued in railroad work, and
that, with the confinement and close study of the law brought about a breakdown of
his constitution. In October, 1895, therefore, the railroad company transferred him
to New Mexico, and he became private secretary to Mr. Wells at Albuquerque; and
the same year he made his first trip to California.

He was so well pleased with what he saw in the new Golden States that in 1897
he again had himself transferred, this time to Los Angeles. After a few months,
however, his health again broke, and he went out on the desert, and was with the
railroad company between Mojave and Gallup. For about eighteen months he roughed
it and found it very beneficial ; and he then quit the service of the company for over a
year, and spent that time in recuperating on a cattle ranch in Texas. Then he took
a trip back to Chicago and went on to Minneapolis, where he was with the Chicago,
Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad in the office of the assistant general superintendent,
W. J. Underwood, at Minneapolis.

Having returned to Chicago, Mr. Johnston came out to California in 1900;
and at Fresno he was for a while in the employ of the Santa Fe Railroad Company, as
chief clerk in the superintendent's office. Later, for a few months, he was agent at
Bakersfield, and then he was made chief clerk in the superintendent's office at Needles.



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 801

On going there, he handed in his resignation; but it was four months before he was
relieved, the company refusing to accept it. He came away, however, with the
highest record and credentials, and in 1907 located at Turlock. For a short time
he handled real estate here; and when the Turlock Board of Trade was reorganized,
he was elected secretary, and did abundant, effective work to make that useful organi-
zation a success. On June 26, 1911, he resigned to engage in the practice of law in
Turlock and opened his present offices.

Since the first day of his entrance into this new field, Mr. Johnston, who so
worthily represents the important and always interesting contribution of the Scot to
American progress, has been favored with an ever-growing clientele, until now he is
attorney for the People's State Bank and for the American Surety Company, as well
as for R. G. Dun & Company. He is a Democrat in matters of national politics, but
he finds pleasure in putting aside partisanship whenever nonpartisan support of men
or measures guarantees success and broad, permanent development for the community.

At Los Angeles, Mr. Johnston was married to Miss Maude Martin, a native of
Woodland, Cal., and the daughter of the Rev. J. M. Martin, who was reared in
Illinois. He came out to California in 1852 and was president of Hesperian College,
and later still president of Christian College at Santa Rosa. After that, he entered
the real estate field, and engaged in mining, and was a successful man until his death
in 1914. Mrs. Johnston is a graduate of the Oakland high school, and is a lady of
accomplishment and attractive personality. Mr. Johnston is vice-president of the
Stanislaus Bar Association.

SYLVAIN S. LATZ. — A prominent citizen and leading business man of Stan-
islaus County is to be found in the person of Sylvain S. Latz, manager of the oldest
and the largest store devoted exclusively to the sale of dry goods in the county and
located in Modesto. Mr. Latz has been able to contribute much towards the upbuild-
ing of Modesto and on every occasion he has demonstrated his progressive ideas and
made his influence felt in promoting the greatest good to the greatest number.

A native son, he was born in the city of Modesto on February 2, 1886, the
eldest of the two sons of Phillip Latz, who is mentioned on another page of this
history. He was reared in Modesto and educated in the Modesto schools and grad-
uated from Heald's Business College of San Francisco and since 1915 has been the
manager of Latz's Dry Goods Store, and at the same time has been a live wire in
both the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants Association, serving as a director
of each for several years. At the present writing (1921) he is a director and the
treasurer of the Modesto Progressive Business Club and interested in every good
thing possible for both Modesto and Stanislaus County and ready to use his connec-
tions and influence to further worthy ends.

Desiring to help win the war and support the nation by giving actual aid to the
farmers and producers during the World War, Mr. Latz entered heartily into the
plan proposed by C. O. Lee of Modesto of forming among firms, professional and
business men of the locality an organization to be known as the Loyal Legion of
Farm Workers, of which he was made the chairman. Through this medium employers
would agree to place themselves and those of their employees who would be willing,
both male and female, subject to conscription as farm laborers, and also to furnish
automobiles for free transportation, and to pay their employees their full salaries
while the latter were thus employed in farm work. This movement resulted in much
aid being given Uncle Sam to help fight the battles of the Allies which might other-
wise never have been afforded. Mr. Latz was a member of the County Executive
Committee of the Allied War Work Campaign and also active in all the Allied drives
for funds to help those at the front and put the county over the top in every case.

Besides his local associations, Mr. Latz is interested in the manufacture of the
Keystone tractor, an invention that was started under the name of the Paulsen Plat-
form Tractor Company, of which he is secretary and treasurer. In this age of progress
it is the machine that is fast supplanting the horse and tractors are now almost univer-
sal in use by both large and small ranchers. This particular tractor company was



802 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

organized by people of Stanislaus County in 1919, and duly incorporated under the
laws of the State of California. It was capitalized at $500,000, and the following
officers were chosen: President, H. T. Johnson, a structural engineer and ranch
owner; vice-president, T. R. Paulsen, mechanical engineer; secretary and treasurer,
S. S. Latz. The tractor is being manufactured in Los Angeles at a plant on Santa Fe
Avenue and advertised and sold under the name of the Keystone Tractor. Patents
on exclusive features have been obtained in all countries and there is every reason to
believe that the Keystone Tractor will be a great commercial and industrial success,
to the entire satisfaction of the purchaser and user, as well as to the promoters.

Among the features superior to that of any other tractor are the following: It
can turn within a radius of its own length, or nine feet; it overcomes the irregulari-
ties of land surface without sudden lifting, jarring or falling of the entire machine,
for it virtually bends with the ground. This is overcome by using the center drive
and idle wheels at either end of the track, which wheels raise or lower when meeting
any elevation or depression, thus having a saving of tractile power over any other
caterpillar type. It will work on sandy or any other ground because the track is
not lubricated. The possibilities to stockholders and promoters are unlimited.

In 1914, in San Francisco, S. S. Latz was united in marriage with Miss Carolyn
Marks of that city and their union has been blessed with the birth of a daughter,
Cecile Marjorie. The family reside in their home at 128 Elmwood Avenue, Modesto.
Mr. Latz is also interested in the growing of rice and owns a tract of 180 acres
three miles from Escalon, San Joaquin County, and he is a director of the Pacific Rice
Growers Association, having been appointed in July, 1920. He is a Mason, holding
membership in Stanislaus Lodge No. 206, F. & A. M., of which he is past master ;
belongs to Modesto Chapter No. 49, R. A. M. ; the Scottish Rite Bodies No. 1, of
San Francisco; and to Islam Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of that city; also to Modesto
Pyramid No. 15, A. E. O. S. He is also a member of Modesto Parlor, N. S. G. W.,
president of the Modesto Tennis Club and chairman of the National Sports Com-



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 89 of 177)