Wallace Melvin Morgan.

History of Kern 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 present; online

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Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern 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 present; → online text (page 10 of 177)
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ized, with George Chester as president, John Howlett as vice president, J.
Leopold as secretary and Julius Chester as treasurer. In July, 1871, the
new livery stable of Livermore & Chester is described as one of the most
imposing structures in the city. It was of adobe, 275 feet long, and 35 feet
wide, and was used in connection with the long-distance teaming of those
days, in which Livermore & Chester were largely interested directly.

Cotton Growers' Association Formed

In August, 1871, the California Cotton Growers' Association was organ-
ized with Julius Chester as president and James Dale as secretary. Dale
wrote that "Our vast plantation will be divided into cotton parks of 50
to 100 acres each, surrounded by hedges of mulberry which will be clipped
regularly. At intervals in the hedge rows different varieties of fruit trees will
be planted to furnish fruit and shade."

A later and fuller prospectus states that the California Cotton Growers
and Manufacturers' Association was composed of Californians and English-
men ; that after examining all the San Joaquin valley the association had se-
lected the Kern River valley as the scene of its operations. It had purchased of
Livermore & Chester 10,000 acres at $5 per acre and planned to plant 1000
acres of cotton the following spring. The sale from Livermore & Chester
to the association also included, according to the statement, the townsite of
Bakersfield, sixteen houses, a large brick store and warehouse, the motive
power and privileges of the Kern Island Irrigation Company's canal, the
new flour mill, the merchandising and transportation business of Livermore
& Chester and an improved farm of 1000 acres with tools, teams, etc. The
men composing the association were J. H. Redington, A. P. Brayton, C. J.
Pillsbury, L. A. Bonestell, Horatio Stebbins, J. D. Johnson, H. C. Liver-
more and C. Maddux.

In Mav of 1872, the Livermore saw mill twentv-five miles east of


Bakersfield began operations. A little later Julius Chester was on a trip
over the mountains to promote a road to the Owens river. All this will
indicate briefly, the extent, variety and general character of the activities
which Julius Chester directed, and the place which Livermore & Chester
and their associates occupied in the enterprise and development of Kern
county during this period. During this time the association was spending
money freely in the advertising of the county's attractions, and conducting a
campaign of general promotion that would have been a credit and advantage
to a much older community. It is painful to record that Julius Chester's
plans did not materialize financially. It cost more to run the business than
the business brought in, and eventually Celsus grower and S. J. Lansing, who
had come to Bakersfield to look after the affairs of Livermore & Chester and
the Cotton Growers' Association, found the business in such a badly muddled
and unpromising condition that they sent for Livermore and the result
was a change of management and a transfer of the property involved to
J. H. Redington, a partner of Livermore, in the drug business, as trustee,
for adjustment. Celsus Brower remained in charge for some years, un-
tangling the accounts, selling land and town lots, leasing some of the ranches
and generally getting what returns he could from the large investments of
Livermore's money. Finally the Livermore and Redington interests were
sold to Haggin and Carr, and became a part of the principahty of which
the latter dreamed and for which the former paid.
Kern County News of 1871-3

Detached items of news from the papers printed in 1871-3 will serve as
well as a more extended description to give the reader an idea of the plans
and ambitions, sorrows and entertainments, dreams and accomplishments
of the people of the Kern delta during this interesting period.

February 25, 1871 — R. Van Orman's horse lost in a 440-yard race to a
nag belonging to Antonio Barreras, and $1000 changed hands on the result.
On the same day the Bakersfield sports paid over $500 that they had wagered
on Bob Withington's sorrel against Arujo's bay.

May 13, 1871 — Public spirited citizens here subscribed $3200 to build a
town hall with a lodge room upstairs for the Masons and Odd Fellows.

June 3d— Mr. Lucas is getting ready to again supply Bakersfield with
ice from Cross' mountain.

May 27th — The first section of the Kern Island ditch is finished and
ready to irrigate (so the paper says) 75,000 acres of land.

An effort is being made to raise money for a church building, and an
express office is soon to be opened.

Tiburcio Vasquez, Bartola Sepulveda, Procopio Murietta, Pancho Go-
linda and Juan Doe Bacinos have held up the stage near San Jose again.

September 9, 1871 — The surveyors for the Southern Pacific railroad are
in Bakersfield and the citizens are awakening to the fact that the road is
going to miss the main portion of the town.

The third Sunday in October there was a camp meeting on Kern Island.

Stage fare from San Francisco to Bakersfield is $30, and from Los
Angeles to Bakersfield, $15. The latter stage is weekly and irregular.

Laborers get $40 to $60 per month, but save no money.

October, 1871 — Bishop Amat and Father Dade call the Catholics to-
gether to discuss the subject of building a church and school. Julius Chester,
Pablo Galtes and Alexis Godey are appointed a committee to raise the funds.


Alfalfa is proving a great success on the island.

Solomon Jewett is awarded a prize of $100 by the state agricultural
society for the best paper on cotton growing based on actual experiment.

October, 1871 — Havilah residents are beginning to come to Bakersfield,
bringing their houses with them.

And the Santa Barbara Press was boosting for a railroad to Bakers-
field just as cheerily as it is now (in 1911) — and with the same result.

The railroad is finished about to the Merced river, and farmers are still
driving their turkeys from valley points to San Francisco for holiday market.

December 16, 1871 — J. S. Brittain lands here to found a Democratic
paper — the Southern Californian.

A petition is in circulation to move the county seat from Havilah to

B. Brundage and E. H. Dumble move here from Havilah.

December, 1871 — Surveyor Yates of the San Joaquin Valley Canal Com-
pany decides to wait until the weather is settled before continuing his plans
for a great canal to start at Antioch, run south along the Coast range mesa
to the head of the San Joaquin valley, circle the base of the San Emidio hills,
turn north at Tejon, follow the Sierra Nevada mesa to the head of the Sacra-
mento valley, and return on the west side of that valley to a point opposite
Antioch. The purpose of the canal is to gather all the waters of all the
streams of the interior into one great irrigation system that will water every
foot of land in the two great valleys. (It is too bad the plan was nevei'
carried out!)

January, 1872 — Freight by teams from Los Angeles to Bakersfield costs
4 cents per pound.

April, 1872 — The legislature defeats a bill to repeal the fence law, and
a meeting is called in the town hall to discuss means of protection from wild
cattle. The fight over the fence law is between the farmers and the stock-
men. The latter want a law which will practically compel the farmers to
fence their lands or sufifer damage from stock that may trespass upon them,
while the farmers want the burden of herding the cattle or paying damages
placed on the stockmen.

The same month — Surveyors are laying out the town of Fresno on the
line of the new railroad.

May 22. 1872 — The Hotel Association is selling stock, and plans to build
a first class hotel.

June, 1872 — Mechanics are leaving their work in town and flocking to
the placer gravels along Kern river about nine miles above Bakersfield.

August, 1872 — Drs. Baker of Visalia and Howard of San Francisco are
here to look at new coal mines and petroleum deposits at the base of the
Coast range west of Bakersfield. The San Francisco Gas Company is plan-
ning to make gas of crude oil.

The great register of the county for 1872 contains 785 names, divided
among the several precincts as follows: Bakersfield, 245; Linn's valley, 140;
Tehachapi, 90; Havilah, 85; Kernville, 60; South Fork, 40; Sageland, 35;
Bear Valley, 30; Tejon, 25; Walker's Basin, 15; Long Tom, 10.

November, 1872 — A. Cross arrives with three teams from Owen river
with 335 bars of lead bullion, or 30,000 pounds. The bullion was hauled to
the foot of the lake by steamers from the furnaces on the other side. It
took ten days to make the trip by team from the lake to Bakersfield.


November, 1872 — Colonel Baker makes the first successful attempt to
burn a kiln of brick.

Sunday, November 24, 1872 — At 1 p. m. Colonel Baker dies of typhoid
pneumonia. His funeral is held from the town hall the following Tuesday,
and the entire population of the town attends. The Masons conduct the
service, and A. R. Jackson delivers the oration. The body was buried in
Union cemetery, the ground for which was selected by Colonel Baker about
a year before.


Bakersfield Becomes the County Metropolis

In the process of gathering the data for this history the author asked
one of the men who have been intimately associated with its larger afifairs
during the last forty years to name over the chief events in the history of
Bakersfield. He answered :

"The history of Bakersfield is a story of hope deferred, of promises
unfulfilled. First we prayed for a railroad. We got it, but it did not unlock
the door of our possibilities as we expected it would. Then we prayed for
colonization. Everything was made ready to answer that prayer, when
the contest over the water rights interfered and nothing could be done
toward cutting up the land until that was settled. It took years to settle
it. When it was out of the way and the colonization scheme was undertaken,
just at the start, when everybody's hope was stimulated, the town burned
up. We rebuilt on hope, and the colonization scheme went forward. Most
of the colonists who came were not farmers, or if they knew how to farm
in the east or in England they did not know how to farm here. The
water was managed badly ; some of the ground was waterlogged, the ditches
broke, things dried out on the high ground and flooded out on the low ground.
Just as the orchards and vineyards came into bearing the panic of 1893-4
broke. There was no local market, and fruit shipped east would hardly pay
the freight; sometimes it did not pay the freight and they sent back a bill
to the shipper. The seasons about that time were dry, but we could have
managed that. The greatest handicap was transportation charges. Then
we prayed for a competing railroad. The Valley road (the Santa Fe) was
built, but it did not compete. There never was a thing happened in this
county that really gave it any chance, that offered any opportunity to
go ahead and do things until they began to develop the oil fields."

Understand that this is the speech of an optimist, not a pessimist.
Through nearly all this period (this era of hopes deferred and promises
unfulfilled) Bakersfield was counted by travellers and travelling salesmen as
one of the "best towns" in the state. It was always full of life and interest,
always there was something doing. Only to the men of intimate knowledge
of the county's possibilities and of abounding faith in the county's future
has the history of the past forty years been one of hopes deferred and promises

Nevertheless, throughout these forty years the attitude of this optimist
who speaks like a pessimist has been a typical one. Literally hundreds of
people, looking about at the immense body of fertile land that fills the
heart of the county, the great river that flows down from the mountains at


exactly the most convenient spot for irrigating it, the warm, even climate
and the tremendous treasures of oil and other mineral wealth that the hills
and mountains contain, have been amazed, irritated and angered because
circumstances have prevented Bakersfield from becoming the largest city
in the interior of the state, as it justly deserves to be.

Understand, also, that it is only in the retrospect that the Bakersfield
optimist has seen that the history of the town was a story of promises unful-
filled. For only brief periods during all these forty years has the town been
lingering elsewhere than on the threshold of a great new boom. It was on
the threshold of one of its booms when its founder, Colonel Baker, died.
The fertility of the Kern delta was fully established, capitalists in the person
of Livermore & Chester were promising great things, plans for getting the
remaining portions of the public domain into private hands with the least
possible efifort and the speediest dispatch were going forward without a
hitch worth mentioning, the example of Colonel Baker inspired the belief
that so soon as these public lands were patented they would be ofTered for
sale at modest prices, and the Southern Pacific railroad was headed down
the valley with the long desired transportation facilities. Bakersfield was
convinced of her future greatness, and was preparing to take her first steps
forward by incorporating as a city and by wresting the county seat from

Bakersfield Gets the County Seat

The contest for the removal of the county seat from Havilah to Bakers-
field, preliminary skirmishes of which had been taking place occasionally for
years before, assumed final, serious form in January, 1873, when, in response
to a petition signed by upward of one-third of the registered voters of the
county, the supervisors called an election for February ISth to determine
the question.

F. W. Craig, who was one of the supervisors at the time and who
fought hard for the retention of the county seat at Havilah, says that the
Havilah partisans did not hope to keep the county seat permanently, but
they objected to its going to Bakersfield because they considered the place
unsuited on account of its low and swampy character. They believed that
with the building of the railroad a new and more permanent town would
be founded somewhere on higher ground than Bakersfield. and their fight
was to keep the county offices at Havilah until the expected new town
could develop and assert its claim to the seat of government.

The sincerity of the men who made the fight against Bakersfield on the
ground of healthfulness is shown by subsequent action on the part of some
of them, although a very few years sufficed to prove that their fears were
ungrounded. Dr. L. Brown, the county physician in the days of Havilah's
supremacy, declined to follow the court house to Bakersfield but gave up
his practice and moved to a farm in Walker's basin where he would at least
have the advantage of the mountain air. By the irony of fate the good doctor
died a short time thereafter, while his widow, who some years later became
the wife of General Freeman, came to Bakersfield, where she still lives in
the best of health and possessed of an energy and activity that would do
credit to a woman of half her years. Mr. Craig, who afterward was county
clerk, came down to the valley perforce, but he took up his residence in
Sumner (now East Bakersfield). and still maintains that there is more ozone
in the air east of Union avenue than west of it.


Bakersfield people contented themselves with pointing to the mortality
tables and making fun of the contention of Havilah that Bakersfield was
not a "fit place for a gentleman to live," but to the complaint that it would
cost the county a large sum of money to erect the necessary new buildings
which a change in the county seat would entail, they presented a more

. material answer. Morris Jacoby gave a bond, with F. A. Tracy and Solomon
Jewett as sureties, that he would build a brick jail and lease it to the county

. for five years free of cost if the election resulted in moving the county seat.
Julius Chester signed a lease to the county at $1 per year for a one-story
brick building to be used to house the county offices. On the same terms
John Hewlett and Julius Chester, as trustees, leased to the county the town
hall for a court room. The lease was for five years.

Contest Over Election

First unofficial returns of the election gave a majority of twelve for
Bakersfield, but when the vote was canvassed on February 24th, Super-
visors Craig and John M. Brite, father of the present supervisor, voted to
reject the returns of Hudson, Bear valley and Walker's basin precincts on
account of irregularities on the part of the election officials. Solomon Jewett,
the third supervisor, recently elected, voted to count the returns from the
three precincts but was outweighed, and Havilah was declared to be the
choice of the voters for the county seat by a vote of 328 to 318.

An application for a writ of mandamus compelling the supervisors to
count the returns of the rejected precincts was thrown out of court by
Judge Colby on a demurrer filed by Supervisors Craig and Brite. An appeal
was then taken to the district court.

Meantime there was another county election, and John Narboe suc-
ceeded Brite as supervisor from the third district, and Andrew H. Denker
was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Supervisor Craig, who had been
elected county clerk. This changed the attitude of the majority of the board
on the county seat removal, Supervisors Jewett and Narboe favoring Bakers-
field while Denker, who was a merchant and hotel owner of Havilah, stood
for his own town. Jewett was chairman of the board.

The case was entitled People of the State of California on the relation of
A. R. Jackson, plaintiffs, against the Board of Supervisors of Kern County,
defendants, and was heard before Judge Alec Deeming at Tulare. B. Brun-
dage appeared as counsel for the plaintiff, and A. J. Atwell represented the
board of supervisors as the defendant. An answer filed by Attorney A. C.
Lawrence and verified by Supervisor Denker, was stricken out by the court
on affidavit of Supervisors Jewett and Narboe that he did not represent the
board. The case being submitted on the pleadings. Judge Deeming issued a
peremptory writ of mandate requiring the supervisors to canvass the vote of
the Hudson-Rosemyer and Bear Valley precincts. The returns as finally
canvassed on January 26, 1874, gave Bakersfield a majority of twenty-two
votes, and stood, according to precincts, as follows:

Havilah — Havilah, 97; Bakersfield, nothing.

South Fork — Havilah, 33; Bakersfield, 1.

FIudson-Rosemyer — Havilah, nothing; Bakersfield, 14.

Kern Island— Havilah, 5 ; Bakersfield, 265.

Long Tom — Havilah, nothing; Bakersfield, 10.

Tehachapi— Havilah, 40; Bakersfield, 18.

Bear Valley— Havilah, 4; Bakersfield, 22.


Sageland — Havilah, 22; Bakersfield, 1.

Linn's Valley— Havilah, 38; Bakersfield, 23.

Kernville — Havilah, 71; Bakersfield, nothing.

Claraville — Haviland, 21 ; Bakersfield, nothing.

Totals— Havilah, 332; Bakersfield, 354.

No election was held in Alpine precinct, and for some reason the vote
of Walker's Basin was never included in the ofiicial count.

For a short time the seat of government was transferred to the town
hall in Bakersfield, located on the present site of the Beale Memorial library.
But preparations at once were made for more permanent quarters. An act
of the legislature was secured authorizing the board of supervisors to bond
the county for $25,000 for a court house and jail. In lieu of the offers of
free rent for the county offices, George B. Chester tendered and the board
accepted on September 1, 1874, a deed to the block of land just south of
Truxtun avenue and west of Chester avenue. In those days the intersection
of these avenues was considered the civic center of Bakersfield, and all
streets were numbered with reference to that point. Seventeenth street was
known as First street North, Eighteenth street was Second street North,
and Nineteenth street was Third street North. I street was First street
West, etc.

New Public Buildings

On October 5th, a contract was let to A. W. Burrell of the California
Bridge and Building Company for the new court house at a price of $29,999,
the work to be completed within a year. T. W. Goodale, who had suc-
ceeded Denker as supervisor, voted against the awarding of the contract for
the reason that the price was in excess of the bond issue. The new court
house which comprised the south wing of the building now in use, was ac-
cepted April 3, 1876, on the favorable report of a committee of inspectors
composed of J. A. Riley, N. R. Wilkinson, E. H. Dumble and P. A. Stine.
The court house was furnished for $3802. In the fall a contract was let
to William McFarland to build a county hospital for $1400. For a time a
branch hospital was maintained at Havilah, and later a branch was estab-
lished at Hot Springs. In November, 1874, a branch jail was built at Kern-
ville for $200, and in 1875 the old county jail at Havilah was presented to
Caliente and moved to that place.

Bakersfield's First Incorporation

Meantime Bakersfield had launched on its first experiment as an in-
corporated town. Pursuant to a petition of the citizens, the county super-
visors at their May meeting, 1873, declared the town incorporated and called
an election of officers for May 24th. J. B. Tungate, E. H. Dumble and
A. R. Jackson were appointed election officers. The town limits included all
of section 30, 29-28; the east half of the southwest quarter and the east half of
the northeast quarter of section 25, 29-27. The following were chosen for
the first officers of the new municipality:

Trustees— W. S. Adams, president; L. S. Rogers, M. Jacoby, J. B. Tun-
gate and R. W. Withington.
Recorder — A. R. Jackson.
Treasurer — J. Weill.
Assessor — William McFarland.
Marshal — Joseph Short.


Adams was a liveryman, Jacoby and Weill were merchants, Rogers was
a physician, and Withington and Tungate were saloon keepers.

The new board fixed a license of $20 per year on saloons and general
merchandise establishments; $10 per year on breweries, and lesser sums
on other businesses. They made it a petit larceny oiifense to use water from
an irrigating ditch without permission ; required that all canals must be
bridged to the full width of the streets; forbade bathing in the ditches, and
fixed a limit of three cubic feet on the amount of litter that might be piled
in either of the two chief business streets of the city.

The First Hope Deferred

Meantime, also, the long cherished hope of a railroad into Kern county
had been realized at last. On July 21, 1873, the track had been completed to
a point four miles south of the north county line, and there work was
stopped, as the people of Bakersfield complained, "out in an open plain,
thirty miles from wood or water, thirty miles from the nearest farm house,
thirty miles from the nearest point where the transportation company could
hope to get a single passenger or a single pound of freight." There was a
wail of protest from residents of Bakersfield and Kern Island, who could
not understand why the road had not been completed at least to the north
bank of the river. Whether the railroad builders had run out of funds or
were actuated by motives of purposeless, inscrutable malice were questions
of common debate during the eight months or more that the grading and
track-laying gangs were idle. The latter hypothesis, however, seems to have
been the more popular. About this time the Courier refers editorially to
the alleged fact that from its very beginning the railroad was the object of
popular distrust. This aversion or hostility went even so far, the paper
declared, that settlers were buying little railroad land, although it was offered
at attractive prices and was generally of good quality and desirably located.

Delano Is Founded

But while the railroad halted and the people of Bakersfield fumed, the
new town of Delano was founded and became a flourishing business center
on a small but active scale. Merchandise that formerly was delivered to
the Kern delta and all the mountain districts via Visalia. Walker's pass or
Tejon caiion now came to Delano and was hauled thence by freight teams.
All outgoing freight was delivered there, even to the great loads of bullion

Online LibraryWallace Melvin MorganHistory of Kern 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 present; → online text (page 10 of 177)