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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 98 of 177)
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under the old name of the Carpenters, having originally been started by W. S. Car-
penter of Modesto.

From this famous laboratory come the following products of such importance
today to the American people, and enjoying such popularity both in the American and
foreign markets: Full cream California cheese, known as the "Queen"; sweet cream
for the Bay Cities, separated at this factory and shipped to San Francisco and other
points along the Coast; casein, which is used in the manufacture of billiard balls,
celluloid combs, piano keys, and the glazing of paper; glue, of a high grade for the



874 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

cementing of aeroplane propellers, and milk sugar, made from the whey of the cheese
and the casein, and used in such operations in the manufacture of medicines as the
coating of pills and tablets. Finally, an albumen, a very useful by-product, is made
and sold for chicken feed. Having made an exhaustive study of organic chemistry,
Superintendent Hirst is able to apply the last word of science to the problems before
him, and to devise new apparatus and methods for laboratory or factory wants.

Two children have added to the home life of Mr. and Mrs. Hirst. Penrose W.
Hirst is a junior in the University of California at Berkeley, where he has taken up
chemical engineering; he belongs to the Officers' Reserve Training Corps, and is a
lieutenant of the University Cadets. Anna C. Hirst is a graduate of the class of '20
of the Modesto high school. The family are members of the First Presbyterian
Church at Modesto, where Mr. Hirst is the choir leader. He is also a Mason, and
is a member of a Camden, N. J., lodge. He is also a member of the Independent
Order of Red Men, the Junior Order American Mechanics, and the Knights of Pyth-
ias, all in Camden, and in Modesto, of the Loyal Order of Moose and Rotary Club.

GEORGE F. NEECE. — A worthy representative of a very interesting pioneer
family tracing its history back to good old Pennsylvania and French Huguenot stock,
is George F. Neece, who was born at You Bet, Nevada County, Calif., on July 17,
1867, the son of Abraham Neece, who was born in the Keystone State. He crossed the
plains to California in 1851, and engaged in mining in Nevada County, at You Bet.
In 1872 he located at Santa Rosa, where he built a hotel, and there for two terms —
under both Presidents Grant and Hayes — he was postmaster. Then he returned to
mining in Yuba County, and died there. His wife, a charming woman of old-
fashioned traits, was Caroline Barrington Crevot before her marriage, and she was
born in Holland of old French Huguenot stock. She came to California in the late
fifties by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and she died at Oakland, the mother of four
children, two of whom are still living.

George, the youngest, attended the public schools at Santa Rosa and also the
Pacific Methodist College, and at seventeen started to learn the trade of a fresco
painter and decorator with the Boston Fresco Company. He traveled all over the
United States, doing the work and perfecting himself through some of the best con-
tracts carried out in America ; and while traveling he became a partner in the concern.
This work included the decoration of churches, theaters and public buildings, from
the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast, and from Canada to the Gulf, and was so satisfac-
tory that he continued the engagement and investment until the early nineties.

Then he started in business for himself, choosing Oakland for his headquarters
and locating at Fifteenth. Street and Broadway. In that city he decorated all the
theaters and many of the public buildings and the finest private houses, and he also
decorated some of the finest structures in Berkeley, Alameda, San Francisco and
San Jose. After the fire, he supervised 100 men, being busy on both sides of the bay.

In 1911 Mr. Neece came to Modesto and established himself as a contract
painter and decorator, and soon built up a large business. Six years later he formed
his present partnership with William Tranter under the firm name of the Modesto
Painting and Decorating Company. He did the principal structures in Modesto,
including the Modesto Hotel and both theaters, and he is still doing work in Oak-
land and also in Stockton. So acceptable has his work proven that he has been able
to do as much as $75,000 worth of business a year, and to employ from thirty to forty
hands. One man alone has been with him for the past twenty-five years, and his
establishment at 1015 H Street, in the Modesto Hotel Block, is one of the best
known in the city. He is naturally active in the Modesto Chamber of Commerce.

At one time Mr. Neece was offered the appointment of city councilman of Oak-
land, to fill a vacancy caused by death, but he declined ; and at another time he was
mentioned prominently as candidate for mayor of that city, but he refused to consent
to the nomination. His membership in the Druids is of more interest because he is a
past officer; for some time he was allied with the Native Sons of the Golden West.
In Oakland he was for several years president of the Acme Athletic Club, one of the
best-known athletic organizations in the world, boasting of a membership of 1,000,




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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 877

and he was also president of the Oakland Cycling Corps Association, a military
organization. This interest in wheeling led to his being one of the first representa-
tives for good roads in California, acting for the League of American Wheelmen ;
and he was not only president of the California Associated Cycling Club, 'out he was
himself an amateur bicycle racer, and rode in the first relay bicycle race — of 100
miles around the Bay — promoted by the San Francisco Examiner, at which time
he broke the ten-mile record. He was thus active and prominent in all the wheel
and athletic meets, and was a member of the Oakland Revolver Club, at which he
scored ninety-eight out of a possible hundred hits.

DONALD E. CAMPBELL. — A well-educated and well-equipped young man of
affairs, fortunate for his varied interests not only in the power of close application to
routine duty, but in the possession of a magnetic and agreeable personality, is Donald
E. Campbell, the vice-president and general manager of The Woodtite Laboratories
at 712 L Street, Modesto. He was born at Oakland, Cal., on October 13, 1881, and
graduated with the class of '99 from St. Mary's College, Oakland, when the Bachelor
of Arts degree was conferred upon him. This liberal training in one of the best
of all western institutions of higher learning equipped him admirably for this work.

In 1905 Mr. Campbell married Mary H. Kehoe of Oakland." In 1917 he came
to Stanislaus County to accept the management of The Woodtite Laboratories. Mr.
Campbell has been active in civic affairs as well as developing his own business. He
is a member of the Rotary Club, a director of the Chamber of Commerce, and this
year is president of the Board of Trade. The Woodtite Laboratories are manufac-
turing chemists, producing and marketing a number of trade-marked items which
through national advertising have become important factors in the automotive and
hardware trades. Prominent among these products are Spoktite, Toptite, Gasketite,
Neatsfoot Oil Compound, and Textite.

SAMUEL P. KINNEAR.— A native son of California, Samuel P. Kinnear,
proprietor of a livery business and sales stables in Modesto, is well and favorably known
throughout Stanislaus County. He was born in San Mateo County on September
20, 1870, the son of James and Jacobina (Lawrence) Kinnear, natives of Scotland
and Nova Scotia, respectively, who were married at San Jose, Cal. James Kinnear was
a rancher and ran a threshing outfit for years; he settled his family in this county in
1879, and he bought considerable real estate in the city of Modesto, also erected a
business block on Tenth Street, and several residences in various parts of the city.
He and his good wife became parents of five children, Samuel P. being the only one
now living in Modesto. In January, 1916, the father passed away and in April of
the same year the mother answered the final call, both aged seventy-six.

After the death of the parents the children succeeded to the estate and it is now
known as the Kinnear Heirs. Samuel grew to manhood on a ranch and early learned
the methods of carrying on varied ranching pursuits; he also is a natural lover of
animals, especially of high-grade stock. One of his hobbies is dogs, and he has a
number of finely-bred coach dogs. Besides working on the ranch, he constructed and
operated the first portable steam barley crusher in the county, continually making
improvements on it and operated for seven years. At one time he ran seven teams
in his business as a teaming contractor in this city. He became a well-known figure
in business circles and popular with the city fathers and was appointed street com-
missioner in 1911, and for about ten years filled that position with commendable
ability. During his terms in office over half of the streets of Modesto were paved,
and in the conduct of his duties he kept the streets in a clean and orderly manner and
had a firm grasp on the needs of a growing city and was prompt and attentive to
his duties. After giving up his duties as commissioner he embarked in the livery
business on Tenth Street.

Mr. Kinnear was united in marriage on April 26, 1893, with Miss Belle Christ-
man, a native of Iowa, and they have two children: Samuel E. married Miss Lillian
Robinson of Stockton and is a machinist living at Oakland, Cal. ; Frank is an aviator
in the U. S. service, Ninety-first Aerial Squadron. Mr. Kinnear is a hale fellow
well met and has a host of friends in the city and countv.



878 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

GEORGE A. THRELFALL.— A very efficient county officer having a wide
circle of admiring friends is George A. Threlfall, the county assessor, who was born
at Irvington, Alameda County, on November 6, 1871. His father, Richard Threlfall,
was a native of Illinois, of English descent, while his grandfather, William Threlfall,
a farmer in Illinois, served in the Black Hawk Indian War, after which he crossed the
plains to California in 1853 and farmed successfully in Alameda County. When
Richard Threlfall came to California by way of Panama in 1850, he took up mining
for a short time and then engaged in teaming from Sacramento to Virginia City, Nev.,
transporting freight over the Sierras. Locating near Irvington, he farmed there until
he removed to Livermore Valley, in which section he was the first man to sow grain.
Later he became an extensive farmer in Pajaro Valley. In 1868 he bought a large
ranch north of Oakdale, in Stanislaus County, and he operated that until he died.
He had married Miss Helen Rix, a native of New Hampshire, a pioneer who came to
California with her parents in early days. She is still living at Irvington, revered by
her four children and numerous friends.

The youngest in the family, George was brought up at Irvington, where he
attended the public schools. He continued his studies at Washington College, in the
same place, from which institution he was graduated with honors, and in 1889 he
came to the Oakdale ranch, where he was superintendent until 1902. In that year he
was appointed deputy county treasurer and tax collector under W. A. Downer, and in
that position he continued until 1910, when he became a candidate for the office of
county assessor. He was fortunate in being elected over the incumbent, and took the
oath of office in January, 1911. In 1914 he was reelected, and in 1918 he was again
elected, this time without opposition. He is still serving very acceptably as county
assessor, and bids fair long to be wanted for the public service.

At Oakdale Mr. Threlfall was married to Miss Mabel McLean, a native of
Sonora, Cal., and the daughter of a well-known and highly-honored pioneer in Cali-
fornia. The happy union has been blessed by the birth of one child, Donald, who
attends the Modesto high school. Mr. Threlfall is a member of Wildey Lodge No.
149, I. O. O. F., Modesto, in which he is a past grand, and is also a member of the
Encampment and the Rebekahs. He belongs, too, to the local parlor of the Native
Sons of the Golden West.

MRS. ESTELLA BYRUM WAFER.— A representative of one of California's
earliest families, Mrs. Estella Byrum Jones-Wafer, is equally well known in social
circles, and in the local business world, where she is looked upon as an exceptionally
successful rancher. She is a daughter of Mrs. Margaret E. Byrum, and was born
on the old Byrum place three-quarters of a mile east of Salida. She attended the
public schools and after that went to the Sacred Heart Convent at Oakland. On
leaving school she was married in Stockton, March 24, 1896, to James Wesley Jones,
the youngest son and child of John W. Jones, one of the large landowners and exten-
sive ranchers of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. James W. Jones was born at
Escalon, June 17, 1871, and was educated at Laurel Hall Military Academy, Oak-
land, and at Woodbridge College, Woodbridge, after which he engaged in farming
on his place, a part of his father's ranch, until his death, on March 20, 1906, esteemed
and beloved by all who knew him. Besides his widow he left two daughters. Wesley
Estelle is now the wife of Floyd L. Wisecarver, who is in the insurance business at
Modesto, and Katherine Lucile is now a student in the College of the Pacific at San
Jose. Mrs. Estella Jones continued to own the home place, once her husband's, at
Escalon, until 1914, when she sold it, at the end of a year's residence in San Francisco.

In September, 1914, in San Francisco, she was married a second time to H. E.
Wafer, by whom she has had one child, Cynthia Elizabeth. She and her children
belong to the Congregational Church at Salida; and she resides at a delightful home
place of fifteen choice acres, devoted to grapes, peaches and alfalfa, which she selected
and bought in 1917. In national political affairs a Democrat, but broad and non-
partisan in her attitude toward and support of worthy local measures, Mrs. Wafer,
by her culture and refinement, is able at all times to exert a beneficent influence.




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HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 879

NAT. P. MORRIS.-Residing on his ranch north of Modesto, Nat P. Morris
successfully combines the pursuit of agriculture with the grocery business. He and
his family reside on the ranch and his grocery store is located on McHenry Avenue,
near the concrete bridge, in the extreme north end of the city of Modesto. Mr.
Morris built the store building in 1919, stocked it with an excellent assortment of
staple and fancy groceries and farmers' and dairymen's supplies and is doing a thriv-
ing business. A native of Missouri, he was born September 17, 1874, and is the son
of P. Miller and Sally Cook (Fish) Morris. Both parents are deceased. The father,
who served as clerk of the circuit court of Audrain County, Mo., four years was
afterward proprietor of a drug store at Mexico, Mo., until 1873, when he engaged
in farming and stock raising.

Reared on his father's Missouri farm, young Nat experienced the usual life that
falls to the lot of a farmer's son, and acquired habits of industry while assisting
his father with the arduous farm work. His marriage with Miss Elizabeth Selb, also
a Missourian by birth, occurred in their native state, and they became the parents of
four children. Mary is a junior at the University of California. Miller, a senior
in the Modesto high school, assists his father in the store. Nat Pierce, Jr., a school
boy, also assists in the store. The youngest child, a daughter, is named Elizabeth.
After his marriage Mr. Morris leased land in Missouri and in 1905 came to Modesto,
Cal., and operated a ranch in Stanislaus County for his brothers. He afterward re-
turned to Missouri, and for five years farmed in that state, but the memory of Cali-
fornia's blue skies and sunshine lured him to return to his old haunts, where he first
purchased eleven acres, which he planted to alfalfa, and it is one of the most fertile
pieces of land in Stanislaus County. He sold one acre of this and bought ten acres
on Waterford Road, improved to fruit. A man of genial personality with, a large ac-
quaintance in the rich country north of Modesto, Mr. Morris has demonstrated in
unmistakable terms his reliability and good fellowship, and is justly popular.

MRS. MARGARET E. KERR.— The owner and operator of a splendid twenty-
acre ranch on the Dale Road, two miles east of Salida, Mrs. Margaret E. Kerr
resides there with her younger sister, Miss Ella M. Elmore, both women of ability
and accomplishment, and an active influence for the upbuilding and well-being of the
community. Mrs. Kerr is the widow of the late Edward Kerr, and the daughter of
the late A. P. Elmore, known to everybody as "Uncle Andy" and universally loved
and respected. He was a native of North Carolina, born on May 22, 1822, and moved
with his parents to Pike County, Mo., where they settled on a farm, in 1830. Here,
near the little town of Ashley, A. P. Elmore grew to young manhood, and in 1842 was
married to Miss Sarah Jane Kerr, a native of Virginia and reared in Missouri, where
she was married. They became the parents of fifteen children, thirteen born in Mis-
souri and two in California, whither the family came in 1869, reaching Stockton on
the first train that came through, their two eldest sons having already located in
Stanislaus County. They settled on the old Elmore place of 120 acres, the old
Cumberland Presbyterian Church near Salida, still standing, having been built on this
land, the church site having been donated by "Uncle Andy" and Benjamin Parks,
now of Madera. The father farmed his land, and the ranch house became the meet-
ing place for newcomers from Missouri and other settlers who were looking for good
fellowship and kindheartedness, and after the church services on Sundays the Elmore
home would be crowded to the doors, a generous hospitality being extended to all.

Of the brothers and sisters of Mrs. Kerr, we mention the following: James
Gordon, whose sketch appears in this volume; Benjamin Thomas, now residing in
Modesto; Frank Belleville, who died in Missouri; Man,' Edna, who died in Cali-
fornia, April 18, 1875; Elizabeth Ann, now the wife of Benjamin Parks, residing in
Madera; William Henry, who died in Missouri; John McGruder, retired and resid-
ing in Fresno; Simeon P., Martha Francis and Sarah Hettie, all of whom died in Mis-
souri; Margaret E., the subject of this sketch, and Ella M., who makes her home
with Mrs. Kerr, these latter two being both native Californians. Their father was
twice married, but had no children by the second wife. The first wife died at the
age of fifty-eight, when Mrs. Kerr was fifteen years of age. Her father passed away



880 HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY

at Santa Rosa, June 1, 1910, at the age of eighty-eight. Mr. and Mrs. Kerr were
always generous and kind and ready to assist those less fortunate. Their kindness
toward Earl R. Peterson, who has lived with them since he was fifteen, has been well
rewarded, for in his appreciation he still makes his home with her and since her hus-
band's death has charge of her ranch and looks after her interests, thus shielding her
from all unnecessary worry and care. He served in the World War in the U. S.
Marines, serving overseas until after the armistice. He returned home in August,
1919, when he was honorably discharged and has received the good conduct medal.
Mrs. Kerr was born on the old Elmore ranch at Salida and grew up on the old
family place, attending school at the Salida district school. She was married August
22, 1888, to Edward Kerr, a native of Ashley, Mo., born January 16, 1845. He
came to California when a young man. His parents were Gordon and Hettie (Cul-
well) Kerr, of Missouri, where they were reared and married, and where they died,
being well-known farmers at Ashley. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Kerr
resided in Fresno, La Grange and Santa Rosa, where Mr. Kerr passed away, Novem-
ber 28, 1911. Mr. Kerr was a farmer and met with great success in his various enter-
prises, and was esteemed as a man of integrity and ability. Mrs. Kerr bought her
present home seven years ago, in 1913, and has greatly improved it, erecting a hand-
some bungalow. She is a member of the Methodist Church, South, of Modesto, and
is an active church worker, being a member of the Missionary Society of the church.
Miss Ella Elmore is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Modesto and
is president of the Missionary Society and active in the Ladies' Aid of that church.

WILLIAM E. KEWIN. — A resident of this county intimately associated with
its development and growth is William E. Kewin, who for many years was engaged
in the livery and feed business in Modesto, conducting in addition a very extensive
business in the buying and selling of horses and mules. But the automobile, the truck
and the tractor have stolen away the glory of "old Dobbin," and Mr. Kewin, fore-
seeing this day long before its arrival, gradually turned his attention to real estate
and for some time has been engaged in the buying and selling of farm lands in vari-
ous parts of the county. He resides on a splendidly improved twenty-seven-acre ranch
a mile north of Modesto, on the McHenry Road, where he and his wife extend a
generous hospitality to many of the most prominent people in this section.

One of Mr. Kewin's first recollections of California is of a never-to-be-forgotten
Fourth of July celebration at Modesto, in 1874, when he was a lad of nine years.
His parents had come to California from Illinois in the preceding April, but they did
not like the pioneer conditions which prevailed at that time, and in October returned
to their former home. But young William carried with him the recollection of that
glorious day, and ten years later, with fifty hard-earned dollars in his pocket as his
capital in hand, he returned to California to carve out his fortune. Mr. Kewin re-
members distinctly the appearance of Modesto on that July 4, 1874, there being but
two brick buildings in the city, one being the corner building where Listner's cigar
store stands and the other the brick building at the corner of H and Ninth streets.

A native of Illinois, Mr. Kewin was born at Gardner, Grundy County, Decem-
ber 24, 1865. He is the son of William M. Kewin, a native of the Isle of Man, and
Miss Elizabeth James, born in Dodgeville, Wis., where she was reared and where she
married Mr. Kewin. The father was a coal miner in his early life but later took up
farming and became the owner of a fine 160-acre farm and was recognized as one of
the substantial farmers of Grundy County, 111., where he resided for many years,
with the brief exception of the six or seven months spent in California in 1874. When
our subject was a lad of twelve years he began to work with horses on the farm,
becoming an expert in all matters of judging and handling horse flesh. His early
educational advantages were limited, there being only the winter terms of school
which he could attend, but he was ambitious and determined to learn, and after he
had been in California three years he took a Sacramento business college course.

It was in 1884, when he was nineteen, that Mr. Kewin returned to California,
reaching Salida in the fall of that year. He worked at various jobs until in the win-
ter of 1887 he had saved money enough to give him a course in business college at



HISTORY OF STANISLAUS COUNTY 883

Sacramento, following which he returned to this county, rented land and farmed for
himself for a year or two, then in June, 1891, entered into the liven- business in
Modesto, where he prospered exceedingly, and his business grew to be the largest of
its kind in this part of the state, and Mr. Kewin himself was known as one of the
best judges of horses and mules in the county. He became owner of valuable property
in Modesto, including a half block between Tenth and Eleventh streets on F Street,
which he has highly improved. He is a man of rare business judgment, and observing
the trend of the times, he disposed of his livery business and turned his attention to
real estate, buying, improving and selling farm lands, and some of the most valuable
properties of the county have passed through his hands in the last decade, including
sixty acres at Salida, a fine farm on Tully Road containing forty acres, another forty
on Sylvan Avenue, and a five-acre tract on Waterford Road.



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 98 of 177)