Copyright
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

. (page 109 of 177)
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 109 of 177)
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supply the town of Sumner, as it was called, with water and put down wells,
laid the mains and started the waterworks, managing it until he sold it to
the Sumner W'ater Company.

After this Mr. Nunez spent many years as roadmaster, building, looking
after and improving the public roads in his district. Then he l)uilt sheep-
shearing stations where during the season he employed about three hundred
hands to shear the multitude of sheep of the prosperous flock owners of
those days. He became the owner of very valuable property in East Rakers-
field, some of it located on Raker and Grove streets, which have become
valuable business holdings.

The death of ]\Ir. Nunez occurred January 8. 1905. He was a very liberal
and enterprising man and in his death the city lost one of its most generous
uphuilders. His wife, who survives him, was in maidenhood Rosa Lopez, a
native of Sinaloa, Mexico. She continues to reside in East Bakersfield,
looking after her real estate interests and building up her property.

E. E. BALLAGH. — It is conceded among residents of the west side that
no citizen of Maricopa was more intimately identified with its incorporation
and subsequent civic upbuildins; than E. E. Ballagh, who, while engaging in
insurance and real-estate activities, handling and selling oil lands, farm lands
and town property in Kern county as well as lands and city lots in and near
Porterville, has also been able to give the city most able and intelligent service
in the canacitv of clerk. Upon the incorporation of Maricopa as a city in
July of 1911 he was chosen the first city clerk and the following year was
re-elected, to serve until 1914. As a member of the board of trustees he is a
co-worker with C. W. Reatty (mavor). W. E. Thornton. Tames Wallace,
H. C. Doll and C. Z. Irvine, the other city officers being as follows: M. Y.
White of the First National Bank, city treasurer; T. W. Brown, city recorder;
L. R. Godward, city attorney; H. J. Babcock, citv marshal; Harry Parke,
fire chief; Dr. H. N. Tavlor, health officer; and L. L. Coleman, city engineer.
The Maricopa board of health, whose vigorous measures have urged forward
all enterprises for the promotion of healthful sanitary conditions, comprises
the following gentlemen under Dr. Taylor as chairman ; F. T. Torpey, R. R.
Lucas. L. L. Coleman and H. J. Babcock.

A native Californian and the son of an able and popular Presbyterian
minister, E. E. Ballagh was born at Red Rluff. Tehama county. Bv reason
of the various removals of the familv from one Presbyterian parish to an-
other, he attended public school in dififerent places. .After he had finished his
hieh-school studies he matriculated in the Leland Stanford. Jr.. L^niversity,
where he was graduated after a thorough course in the department of electri-
cal engineering. As an engineer he found his first employment at Glcnnville.
Cal. From 1904 to 1909 he was a salaried employe of the Consolidated Cop-
per Company, his field of labor being principally in the mines of Cananea,
state of Sonora. Mexico. Meanwhile in 1907 he married Miss Minnie L.
Campbell, daughter of Daniel Campbell, a California pioneer who passed
away on Christmas day of 1911. Mr. and Mrs. Ballagh have an only son,
Ernest M,



1094 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Together with his brother, Dr. H. A. Ballagh, during 1910 Mr. Ballagh
erected the Ballagh block at a cost of $6,000. This is a cement building,
50x40 feet in dimensions, and divided into four offices, one of these being
occupied by Dr. Ballagh for a dental office. Throughout the period of his
residence in Maricopa, his work as real-estate agent as well as the office of
city clerk have given to Mr. Ballagh an excellent opportunity to study condi-
tions on the west side. While selling real estate in town ^Ir. Ballagh also has
handled oil lands and has watched with unceasing interest the growth of the
oil industry as new wells and deeper sands are constantly being developed in
the field tributary to Maricopa. What the extent and wealth of the field will
be, he states, is only a matter of conjecture, but exaggeration would be diffi-
cult. The Coronation well on section 4, township 11 north, range 23 west,
producing about eight hundred barrels per day, has increased the extent of
the proved oil district by many thousands of acres on which there is still
practically little development. The Edmunds Midway and Knickerbocker
Oil Companies, operating northwest of Maricopa, have penetrated a lower
stratum of oil sand and these remarkable gushers, each producing from five
thousand to six thousand barrels daily, will in all probability be the cause
of the redrilling of all of the adjoining sections of land heretofore producing
from a shallower depth. El Camino Oil and Development Company, oper-
ating on the flat five miles east of Maricopa and passing through excellent
showings, is being watched in its work with exceptional interest, for a pro-
ducing well there will widen and lengthen the area of the field, also will sub-
stantiate the reports of geologists who maintain the continued trend of the
main 35 Hill anticline to that point. On the southeast of town. Anaconda
well No. 14 is in operation. To the northwest and southeast the develop-
ment is extending gradually, but with substantial success. On the northeast
the Maricopa Queen has brought in two fifteen hundred barrel-per-day
gushers within the past year.

The world of progress moves onward and Maricopa is no exception to
other districts in the development of its tributary territory. Mr. Ballagh
reports companies organizing for development in the mountains and plains
west of Maricopa, where indications are favorable for new fields. Progress
is seen not alone in the oil industry. The farmer and stock-raiser are begin-
ning to take up the adjacent fertile acres, the miner is prospecting in the
mountain beyond, and the market gardener and fruit-raiser are experimenting
with intensive cultivation of land. All of these workers are looking forward
with eager anticipation to the building of the highway from Maricopa to the
coast.

It has been the joy and pride of the pioneers of Maricopa to build a sub-
stantial modern school building, to maintain a hospital with modern equip-
ment, to put in street lights, erect a fire department house and also a city hall.
A sewage system is being installed to meet the needs of the town for many
decades to come. The water supply for the fire system is gravity pressure,
capable of throwing six streams of water to a height of seventy-five feet. A
new jail has been completed. Although many improvements have been made,
there still remain ample funds in the city treasury.

WILLIAM N. FORKER.— As the holder of the responsible position of
Water Commissioner in Kern county, Cal., W'illiam N. Porker fills a most
important place in the general working of that department, and as inspector
of the oil production there he assumes a vast amount of responsibility, for
there is drubtless no greater producer in any other state in the United States
than in Kern county. Mr. Forker received his appointment from the Board of
Supervisors, who showed excellent judgment in their choice of him as he has
well proved to them, and no man perhaos in the oil fields today has a more
practical idea of that industry and its branches than has he. Born in Clarion
county. Pa., he worked from boyhood in the oil fields in that vicinity, starting




^-J^^



HISTORY OF KKRX COl'NTY 1097

from the bottuni and working- gradually U|) tu an important place. In 1900,
when the discovery of oil in Kern county attracted many to this part of the
state, Air. I'orker decided to come here. He first engaged in the West Side
oil fields, since which time he lias helped to develop several of the producing
wells of today. His experience in these fields has enabled him to gain an
insight into climatic conditiLins and the general system of working these jiro-
ducers, and he is reputed to be an authority on the oil question.

Mr. Forker married Miss Soto, who with her talented daughters are active
workers in St. Francis Catholic Church of Bakersfield. The daughters are
highly gifted musicians, while the son, William M., a student at the University
of California, is a baseball pitcher of reputation. They make their home at
No. 2724 Nineteenth street, Bakersfield.

ERNEST KARNS. — No production foreman in the North Midway field
gives to his work more exclusive, more conscientious attention than char-
acterizes the capable activities of Ernest Karns, who in his identification
with one of the great organizations in the oil industry has proved markedly
efficient and tht^roughly reliable.

The next to the youngest among six children. Ernest Karns was born
near Clarendon, Warren county. Pa., and at an early age was taken to the
vicinity of Rising Sun, Ohio, by his parents, Pierce and Amanda (Kleinfelter)
Karns. likewise natives of Pennsylvania. For years the father has been an
expert driller and has devoted himself to the oil industry, which he now
follows in the Midway field in Kern county. When a mere lad Ernest Karns
entered the oil business as a roustabt ut. Step by step he advanced. In
each position he proved reliable and diligent. After a time as pumper he
was trained to be a tool-dresser and from that he rose to be production man,
which work he was following at the time of his removal from Ohio. Coming
to California in 19C8, he secured employment in the Midway field. His first
job was that of well-puller on the Oregon Midway, from which he came
to the service of the C. C. M. O. Co., commcnly known as the Santa Fe, one
of the greatest producing companies in the state, and since 1912 he has been
production foreman for this gigantic corporation. Aside from voting the
Republican ticket he takes no part whatever in politics, nor is he interested
in fraternities, but prefers to devote his time whollv to the duties connected
with the company's production.

EDWARD STEWART BROWN.— Through a long line of worthy
American ancestry the genealogy of the Brown family is traced back to Ire-
land and from that country to Scotland, where all authentic records are lost
in a maze i f traditional lore. \\^orthy of especial note is the long and honor-
able record of Robert S. Brown as a locomotive engineer, first vv'ith the Ill-
inois Central Railroad and later with the New York Central in charge of the
North Shore Limited, the fastest train between Syracuse and Buffalo. Dur-
ing the period of his service on the Illinois Central he witnessed the destruction
of Chicago by the great fire cf 1871. On resigning from that road he removed
back to New York state and settled at Rochester, later going on the old home-
stead ten miles northwest of that city. By his marriage to Jane E. Bascom he
had three sons, Edward S., Herman Bascom and Archibald R. After a splendid
record as an engineer he met his death in 1891 in an accident at Rochester
and nine months later his wife passed away. Their son, Edward S., was born
in Chicago July 17, 1871, and received his education in the Albion high school
and the Brockport Normal. The occupations which had interested his fore-
bears did not attract him. Railroading, in which his father had achieved note-
worthy distinction, did not fascinate him with its possibilities, and the occupa-
tion of cabinet-making, which his grandfather, Dennis Patrick Brown, had
followed through a busy life, in these later years has been taken by the great
factories out of the hands of the skilled artisans. The modern industry of



1098 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

oil production gave him an opening of interest for the present and of promise
for the future.

Arriving in California May 16, 1897, Mr. Brown at once found em-
ployment in the Fullerton field. Starting in at the bottom, he continued for
five and one-half years on the lease of the Puente Oil Company. Meanwhile
he became an expert driller and when he left the Puente it was to work as
driller for the Olinda Land Company. From Fullerton he went to Santa Maria,
where he was associated with the Union Oil Company for nearly three years.
Afterward he drilled on various leases. For perhaps a year he engaged as
drilling foreman with the General Oil Company at Santa Maria. Since De-
cember of 1909 he has been connected with the Pinal Dome Oil Company,
owners of two tracts of eighty and one hundred and sixty acres respectively,
all located on section 23, 31-22. As foreman he has charge of the lease and is
engaged in drilling a new well. Already there are ten active wells, with a
monthly production of about twenty thousand barrels.

In addition to managing the interests of the company on the lease Mr.
Brown maintains a warm interest in national problems and is a reader of
papers and periodicals, although naturally he finds the publication of oil news
more interesting than the news of other enterprises or of political questions.
While in New York state he was made a Mason and later he was raised to the
Royal Arch Chapter at Santa Maria, where also he and his wife were con-
nected with the Eastern Star, and he further was connected with the Elks at
San Luis Obispo- At Greigsville, Livingston county, N. Y., he married Miss
Sarah E. Clement, a capable woman, whose co-operation in her husband's
work is shown by her willingness to board and care for the men on the lease.
The two sons also co-operate as much as possible, the elder, Robert S., being
"now a driller on the Pinal Dome lease. The younger, Edward Archibald, who
is now a student in the California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo, gives
his entire vacation season to the task of pumping on the Pinal Dome, it being
his present plan to embark in the industry upon the completion of his college
course.

JOHN P. SAMUELSON. — Few men have traveled more widely or seen
more of the world than has John P. Samuelson, now the transportation fore-
man fcr the General Petroleum Company at Taft. As a boy he became familiar
with the interesting old city of Stockholm, Sweden, where he was born May 12,
1878, and where his father, David Oscar Samuelson, still conducts one of the
largest bakeries of the capital. As far back as the records can be traced his
ancestors were people of worth and intelligence. Caring little for travel, but
devoted to their own country, they were not tempted to leave Sweden and
it is thought that all of the living representatives of the name, with the excep-
tion of John P., continue to make that land their home. By the marriage of
David Oscar Samuelson to Anna Louisa Samuelson, now deceased, there were
three sons, one of whom, named for his father, now owns a meat market and
other properties in Sweden, while the youngest, Nels A., also a resident of
Stockholm, is engaged in the automobile livery business. The second son,
John P., left home at the age of seventeen to become a sailor on the high seas.
As an employe on Swedish and American sail buats and steamships he visited
the principal ports of the world.

After having followed the sea from 1895 to 1899, Mr. Samuelson gave
up the life of a sailor and became a miner in Alaska. There he had many
adventures. Nome was a very small place when he first arrived in the town
and he saw much of its development during the following years. Fairbanks
also was frequently visited by him. His prospecting tours took him to every
part of the country. Aside from mining he gave attention to no work except
ditching. From 1899 until 1909 he remained continuously in Alaska with the
exception of three return trips to the United States for the winter months.



I



HISTORY OF Kl'.RX" CorXTV 1101

In Xoveniber of l''Oy he arrivetl in Taft, which tlien presented an uninviting
aspect owing to the recent tire. 1 laving^ a financial interest in the Bed Rock
lease, he began to work there as a production man. From Alay of 1910 until
May of 1911 he had charge of the Nome Oil Company in the Elk Hills, from
which lease he came to the Esperanza Consolidated (^il Company (the nu-
cleus of the General Petroleum). Transportation rather than production has
appealed to him. Throughout his connection with the General Petroleum he
has acted as transportation foreman. To him is given the oversight of all
freight. He handles the materials used for drilling and the machinery used in
connection with production. Under his supervision is all freight for the
leases and properties of the General Petroleum Oil Company in the Central
^lidway. Belle Ridge, Lost Hills, Shale, Maricopa, McKittrick and Fellows
fields, and on the (Hobe. Buena Vista. Silsyl. Continental, Nevada, Brunswick,
Section 22, Oakburn and Carnegie divisions.

From the first Mr. .Saniuelson has Ijelieved in the future prnsperity of
Taft. .Acting on that belief, he acquired three houses and lots in the town.
In one of these bungalows, erected by himself and occupying a desirable loca-
tion on the corner of Kern and I-'ifth streets, he and his wife have a com-
fortable home, the hospitality of which is known to every friend. After com-
ing to Kern county Mr. Samuelson was married at Bakersfield, his wife being
]\Iiss Ethel Fawcett, of Chico, a native daughter of California, her father being
John Fawcett, a prosperous orchardist living in the vicinity of Chico. While
"living in Alaska Mr. Samuelson became connected with the Eagles in Nome
and since coming to Kern county he has become a member of the Loyal Order
of A Torse at Taft.

ALBERT JAMES McCOMBS.— The success of the well-known citi-
zen of Kern county whose name is above is the legitimate fruitage of in-
dustry, enterprise and integrity. These are the foundation stones on which
he has most ably buikled. Albert James iNIcCombs was born in Cedar
county, Iowa, March 3, 1875, and when he was about a year old was taken
by his parents to Kansas and a little later to near Sidney, Cheyenne county,
Nebr., where he lived until after his twentieth birthday and where he at-
tended public school until he was about seventeen. He began life for himself
as a farm hand and early acquired a knowledge of ranching and stockraising.
In 1895 he came to California and settled at Hanford. Kings county, where
he worked for a time for wages. Three years later he came to Kern county
and entered the employ of H. L. Weems, apiarist, with whom he remained
two years and during the ensuing three years he was foreman of the Palms
fruit ranch at The Palms, three miles south of Wasco. While there he also
engaged in the bee business, and at the end of four years he disposed of his
thirteen hundred stands to good advantage. In 1904 he bought one hundred
and twenty acres of land two miles east of Wasco, most of which is under
alfalfa, and in 1908 he acquired eighty acres known as the Golden Gate fruit
orchard, upon which he grows peaches, grapes and prunes. In Wasco he
installed a cold storage plant and built a shop with a capacity of two tons.
Here he engaged in the wholesale and retail butcher business, his slaughter-
house being located two miles east of town on his alfalfa ranch. He now
has two hundred acres of land under cultivation, and is engaged successfully
in the breeding of hogs and cattle.

In politics and in measures for the general good Mr. McCombs has long
been active and casts his ballot for Republican candidates. He is a Blue
Lodge Mason, belonging to the lodge at Delano, and affiliates with the
Woodmen of the World. December 17, 1903. he married Miss May E.
Bacome, who was born in Cedar county, Iowa, in June, 1885, and they have
a daughter and son, Edna May and Albert J., Jr.

A. S. MORTON.— The senior member of the undertaking firm of Morton
& Connelly is a Californian bv birth and unswervinglv loval to tin- materia!



1102 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

upbuilding of Bakersfield, with whose business interests he has been asso-
ciated in an influential degree. Suisun City, Solano county, is his native place
and October 18, 1859, the date of his birth, his parents having been Thomas H.
and Sophia (Barnes) Morton, the latter a California pioneer of 1849. The father,
a New Yorker by birth, made two trips to California in the pioneer days.
After their marriage in New York City the parents came west and conducted
the first hotel established at Suisun City, engaging actively in business until
his death in 1877. The youngest among five children who attained mature
years and the only son in the family, A. S. Morton was given such advan-
tages as the common schools afforded. From an early age he was self-support-
ing. While yet a young man he carried cm a hardware and furniture business
in his native town. Forming the acquaintance of his present partner, W. B.
Connelly, he became interested in undertaking and began to study the art of
embalming, in which he soon acquired unusual skill. No expense has been
spared to gain proficiency in his difificult occupation. Besides having grad-
uated from the Renaurd school in New York he is a graduate of the Chicago
College of Embalming. It is said that he and his wife have a technical knowl-
edge of embalming that is equalled by few members of their craft. Equally
skilled in the occupation is the partner, Mr. Connelly, manager of the Suisun
City branch of the business, and a graduate of the New York School of Em-
balming, also the Carl L. Barnes school in Chicago.

Many years ago Jacob Niederaur established an undertaking establish-
ment in Bakersfield, the first business of its kind in the community. Upon his
death the estate offered the business for sale and it was purchased March 1,
1901, by Morton & Connelly, who since have added every modern facility for
the proper care of the dead. At the time Mr. Morton came to Bakersfield to as-
sume the management of the business it was supposed that the climate of this
section was tt o warm to permit a body to be kept for any length of time after
death. Through his skill in embalming he proved the fallacy of this belief.
Soon after he began in business a Chinaman died and the body was brought
to the undertaking establishment for embalming. This work accomplished,
the body was kept in perfect condition for seventy-three days befc re shipping
to Hong Kong. Later a letter was received by Mr. Morton stating that the
body was received at Hong Kong in first-class condition, notwithstanding the
long period that had elapsed since death. In the possession of Mr. iMorton
there are also many other letters from relatives of deceased persons, testifying
as to the satisfactory manner in which the remains of the dead were pre-
pared for distant burial.

During 1903 the firm of Morton & Connelly purchased and brought to
Bakersfield the first ambulance ever used in the city. This ccnveyance, which
cost about $1400, is equipped with every modern device. The office and parlors
of the undertaking establishment possess every modern convenience. The
chapel, with a seating capacity of two hundred and fifty, is offered free to
patrons. The display room contains caskets and burglar-proof vaults, while
the store room is in the basement. An embalming room and private laying-out
rooms are so arranged as to insure entire privacy even though a number of
cases should happen to be in charge at one time. Five hearses are utilized,
suitable for all ages and occasions.

Outside of the interests of his business Mr. Morton is known as a genial
gentleman of cultured tastes and progressive spirit. While living at Suisun
City he became identified with the blue lodge of Masonry and later he asso-
ciated himself with the Eagles, IMoose and Woodmen, in all of which organ-
izations he has been interested and liberal. His marriage united him with Miss
Eleanor E. Dunn, by whom he has two children. The son. Raymond A.,
formerly secretary to the Hotaling estate, is now bookkeeper with a San Fran-
cisco firm and is regarded as a rising young man. The daughter, Mrs. Hazel A.



HISTORY OF KF.RX COUNTY 1105

Stephens, resides at Xo. 511 Chester avenue, Bakersfield. In order that they
may devote their entire attention to the business Air. and Mrs. Morton occupy
apartments in the same building with their undertaking establishment, at No.
1712 Chester avenue, from which headquarters they respond promptly to all
calls. Mrs. Morton has proved of the greatest assistance to her husband in
the business.

GEORGE J. PETZ.— In Newark, N. J., Mr. Petz was born June 22, 1860,
son of Charles and Mary (Burghof) Petz. The father was born in Germany,
and settled in Newark, where he followed landscape gardening, and there he
died. Mrs. Mary Petz was also a native of Germany, and her death in 1892
was the result of an accident on the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western



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 109 of 177)