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 127 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 127 of 177)
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father, Hiram Hughes, a pioneer of brain and brawn, with the sturdy
physique of the frontiersman, had left his native Tennessee for Alissouri at
the age of seventeen years and settled near Jefferson City with his parents,
who were farmers and stockraisers. Some years after going to Missouri he
married Lucinda Johnson, a native of Kentucky. On their Alissouri farm
two children came to bless the home, the younger being Napoleon, who be-
came a cattleraiser and died in Linn's valley many years after coming to
California.

The elder of the two children. Louisa J., was a young girl im the
threshold of womanhood at the time the family crossed the plains. March
9, 1850, they started on the long journey as members of an expedition that
numl)ered seventy-two men and thirty-one wagons. Ox-teams were used
to draw the wagons and m addition Mr. Hughes started with sixty head of
loose cattle, but unfortunately he lost the greater number of these on the
load. The rejjort of trouble at Salt Lake City led them to deflect their
course from that point, so they tra\-eled via Sublet's Cut-oft" and on the 31st
of August arrived at Hangtown (now Placerville). In common with the
majority of the early settlers Air. Hughes at first earned a livelihood in- the
mines. After some years he embarked in the stock business in Tuolumne
county. From there he removed to Stanislaus county. Eventually he came
to Linn's valley and bought a raw tract of land. The development of the
ranch engaged the remaining years of his activity and he resided there until
his death at eighty-one years of age. His wife lived to be eightj'-three.

During the long journey across the plains the young girl had acci-
dentally met on one occasion a youthful Argonaut, Joel Carver, who was
crossing the plains with a large expedition from Alissouri, but not connected
in any way with the Hughes ]iarty. By chance the young couple met a
second time in Sonora in 1851 and were again introduced. Their acquaint-
ance ripened into affecticm and they were married in Calaveras county Feb-
ruary 27, 1853, after which they settled on a stock ranch in Stanislaus
countv fifteen miles from the present site of Oakdale. Mr. Carver was born



1252 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

in Springfield, 111., January 17 , 1832, the original Carver homestead having
stood within two miles of the state capitoi. During boyhood he accompanied
his parents to Missouri and settled near Neosho, but in 1850 he again sought
a location further west, this time traversing mountains and deserts to en-
gage in mining and ranching in California.

The year 1869 brought Mr. and Mrs. Carver to Linn's valley as pioneer
stockraisers. Arriving here, he continued to use the brand adopted by him
in Stanislaus count}-, but finding a similar brand in use in the valley he was
compelled to change. Thereupon he adopted the brand H with a bar over it,
which Mrs. Carver has continued to use up to the present time. In all of
his work she proved a most efficient hel')er and they worked together hap-
pily and successfully until his death in 1885. The care of the house and of
the children did not represent the limit of her wonderful energies. Hour
after hour she would ride on the range helping in the care of the stock and
the rounding up cf the cattle. No difficulty daunted her ardent spirit. No
hardship depressed her optimistic soul. To such as she success cannot fail
to come. That it came to her is the legitimate result of her splendid execu-
tive ability, keen foresight and unwearied perseverance.

The old Dunlap place of four hundred acres formed the first purchase
of the Carver family in Linn's valley. Realizing that the range would soon
be taken up so that cattle could not roam at large, Mrs. Carver understood
that the only successful way to conduct a cattle industry was through the
ownership of vast areas. Acting upon that conviction, she began to fortify
her business by purchasing large tracts. From the railroad she bought the
Coyote ranch, a tract of forty-fi-.ur hundred and eighty acres, lying just
northwest of Woody, Kern county. This great ranch lies in one body and is
fenced, besides being well watered by large springs and afifording early feed
for fattening cattle in the spring. Across the county line in Tulare county
Mrs. Carver later purchased the Coho ranch (jf thirty-two hundred acres in
one body, fenced, and amply watered by a branch of White river. The large
property is utilized for a breeding ranch: At Bull Run meadows she also
owns nineteen hundred and twenty acres in a body, located in the Forest
reserve, so that she is able to avail herself of the government privilege of
renting thcusands of acres from that vast range. The home farm on Upper
Poso creek in the upper portion of Linn's valley has been increased and
now comprises five sections or thirty-two hundred acres. About four hun-
dred acres are rich meadow lands and, being irrigated from Poso creek,
yield an abundance of hay and feed. The property is well improved with a
commodious and comfortable residence as well as the buildings necessary
to the proper management of a great ranch. On all of the ranches a spe-
cialty is made of raising Shorthorn Durham cattle.

A devout believer in the home mission of women, i\Irs. Carver always
made her home, her husband and her children the paramount issue in her
active years, although such was the versatility of her talents that she could
also engage in outside activities without neglect to more intimate duties.
Four of her seven children are now living. The only son, JefT Carver, is a
stockman in Linn's valley. The daughters are Mrs. Lou Conner, also of the
valley ; Mrs. Annie Huey, of Tulare county ; and Mrs. Rose Danner, of
Willows, this state. Heme and ranch have not engrossed the entire thought
of this remarkable pioneer. It has been her pleasure to keep in touch with
the development of the state and to contrast its present height of develop-
ment with the primeval conditions prevailing when first she saw the Pacific
coast country. Nor does she live wholly in the past, interesting as its mem-
ories are and eventful as was its record. Modern questions of suffrage and
various movements to improve industrial and civic conditions receive her
sympathetic, and in some cases active, interest. While always a Democrat



HIS'foRV OF KHRX CorXTV 1253

politically, she has been cinitent to play a i)assive role on all public (pies-
tions and her devotion to the development of cminty and coniniunwealth has
been free from partisan spirit.

FREDERICK J. ECKHOFF.— A native of P.altimore, Md., Mr. Eckhoff
is the son of John EckhofT, who was born in Hanover, Prussia, and who
became an early resident of I'.altimore, Md. Thoroucjhly n^roiinded in the
knowledge of stock-raising he became a dealer in that line, filling con-
tracts for the provision of stock, and he built up a good business. In 1846
he removed to St. Louis, Mo., locating just south of the city, where he con-
ducted a small stock yards, there dealing in live stock. He had married
Annie Berger, also a native of Hanover, and her death occurred in St. Louis.
They became the parents of five children, four of whom now survive, Fred-
erick J. being the second eldest.

It was on March 15, 1841, in Raltimore, Md., that I'Vederick J. Eckhoff
first saw the light of day, and he was but five when taken to St. Louis by his
parents. He had the advantage of attending the public schools in a large city
and made rapid progress there, in the meantime helping his father in his stock
business. In 1865 he started across the plains to California, which had been the
destination he had long had in mind. With horse and mules he came, taking
the route via Salt Lake to Northern California, and after four months of hard
travel arrived in Plumas county. The Indians were then t n the warpath and
the train had several serious combats with them and during the trip six of
them were killed. Upon arriving in California for some months Mr. EckhofT
was engaged in mining near Quincy. From there he went on horseback via
Carson City and Owens river into Arizona and then back into California again,
arriving in Kern county December 25, 1869. He worked at mining for various
parties in difTerenfplaces for some time making his headquarters at Havilah,
Kern county, but finally entered into the project for himself. With others he
was interested in the remodeling of the 5 Stamp mill at Clairville in the Piute
Mountains, but this did not prove a profitable undertaking and he decided to
give up mining as it was too unsatisfactorj' at that time.

In 1876 Mr. Eckhoff started in the liquor business in Kernville. and con-
tinued successfully engaged in that work until 1888, when he located in
Bakersfield and engaged in the same business in partnership with Thomas
E. Owens, but later sold out to his partner. Mr. Eckhoff has done a little real
estate business in connection with these interests. Mr. Eckhoff was married
in Bakersfield, in 1907, to Miss Louisa Raaz, who was born in Oakland, Cal.

ROLLIN LAIRD.— The present city attorney of Bakersfield belongs to
an honored pioneer family of California and traces his genealogy to Scotland,
whence cne of the name crossed the ocean to America shortly after the close
of the Revolutionary war. When the great unknown west first attracted
worldwide attention through the discovery of gold Peter Laird determined to
cast in his lot with the enthusiastic army of Argonauts bound for the mines
of the coast. Accompanied by his family, in 1851 he came across the ])lains
with a prairie-schooner and a drove of stock. In the care of the stock he was
aided by his boy of seven years, John W. P., whose extreme youth did not
prevent him from attempting to do a man's work in the long and fatiguing
journey. The difficult tasks devolving upon father and son were rendered
less arduous through the constant encouragement and cheerful aid of the
beloved wife and mother, a woman of deep religious spirit and gentle char-
acter. She bore the maiden name of Julia A. Pierce. While still a young
woman, needed in her home and unspeakably dear to her family, she was
taken from them by an unfortunate accident. The family had settled in
Eldorado county and the father had engaged in mining at Mokelumne mines,
where he established his wife and children in camp. One day in 1854,
while Mrs. Laird was lying in a hammock, a mine blast occurred and she



1254 HISTORY OF KERK COUNTY

was killed by a flying rocket when one of the powder charges exploded.
Her passing was mourned not alone by the immediate family, but also by
the miners, to all of whom she had been a friend, benefactor and nurse.

After the Laird family had lived for some time at the old mining camps
of Diamond Springs and Shingle Springs, about 1858 they moved to Sacra-
mento county and became interested in the stock business. During the
latter part of the '60s they removed to Inyo county. Peter Laird
died at the home of his son, Judge J. W. P. Laird, at Bakersfield
in January, 1910, at the age of eighty-nine years. John W. P. Laird
was born at Mount Carroll, Carroll county, 111., May 28, 1844, and in
1851 came across the plains from Missouri with his parents. Later he
worked in the mines and on ranches. While engaged in the cattle industry
he procured some law books from an old-time attorney in Sacramento and
after the day's work was done he read law by the camp fire. Thus by dint
of hard work, both manual and mental, he fitted himself for the career
of an attorney. When he resolved upon a legal career he was considerably
past thirty and in 1879, soon after he was admitted to practice before the
California supreme court, he was elected district attorney of Inyo county,
serving as such until 1886. During the first administration of President
Cleveland he served as register of the Independence land office. His first ap-
pearance as an attorney in Kern county occurred in 1890, when he came to
Bakersfield as special prosecutor in the trial of W. T. C. Elliott for murder,
the case resulting in mistrial, and Elliott was never acquitted or found
guilty. Being well pleased with Bakersfield, Mr. Laird determined to estab-
lish an office in this city and in May, 1891, he arrived here, being followed
by his family in July. In the practice of law he formed a partnership with
Jackson W. Mahon, then a young attorney just rising to prominence, now a
superior judge of Kern county. The pleasant and profitable association was
terminated after a few years by the election of Mr. Mahon to the bench.
Later Mr. Laird formed a partnership with H. L. Packard and this con-
nection existed until 1903, when he was appointed district attorney to suc-
ceed the late J. W. Ahern, an able lawyer and a loyal friend. Such was the
ability with which the vacancy was filled that in 1906 Mr. Laird was regu-
larly elected to the office and in that capacity he was regarded as an able
prosecutor and a fearless champion of the people's cause.

A recognized leader of the Kern county Democracy, Mr. Laird exercised
a wide influence in the party councils and in 1900 was elected assemblyman
on the regular party ticket. While a member of the house he served on the
Pardee investigating committee during the Chinatown scandal in San Fran-
cisco, taking a prominent part in the investigation. In the fall of 1910 the
Democrats nominated him without opposition to represent the thirty-second
district in the state senate. At the election Kings and Tulare counties gave
large Republican majorities, which defeated him, although he carried his
own county by a flattering vote. Upon the death of Judge Ben L. Brundage,
less than a year before his own demise, he was a member of the committee
on resolutions and in that capacity gave a deserved tribute to that honored
California pioneer, whose career in the law was long and brilliant.

\¥hile living in Inyo county in 1872 Mr. Laird married Henrietta Mc-
Laughlin, who had come to California ten years before and whose death
occurred at Bakersfield during 1900. They were the parents of three sons,
Ernest, Lester and Rollin. all residing in Bakersfield, where the eldest son
is employed as court reporter and the youngest serves as city attorney.
After the death of his first wife Mr. Laird married again and is survived by
his widow, also by four step-daughters, namely : Afrs. A. K. Miller, of
Berkeley; Mrs. Ralph Knight, of Stockton; Mrs. Oscar Reynolds, of Helena.
Mont. ; and Mrs. Ralph Toland, of Bakersfield. During the latter part of



HISTORY OF KF.RX CorX'TY 1255

1910 ill health began to assail the Jiiilgc (for by that title lie was commonly
known) and early in 1911 he spent three months in the mountains near
W'eldon, but the change of climate proved of no avail. A few days after
his return from the mountains he dro])ped dead from heart failure on the
sidewalk a short . distance from the residence of his step-daughter, Mrs.
Miller, in Berkeley, whither he had gone to put himself under the care of
physicians. The body was brought to Bakersfield and interment was made
under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity, of which he was an honored
member. Universal regret was felt on account of his sudden demise. None
knew him but to admire him fur his splendid qualities of mind and heart.
It was profoundly felt that in the upbuilding of the community he, as a
member of the bar. ranked with the most brilliant who ever practiced law
in the broad San Joaquin valley. His youngest son. Rollin, whose career
has somewhat resembled his own up to the present date and who is be-
lieved to possess many of his sterling characteristics, was born in Inyo
county, this state, September 8, 1880, is a graduate of the Valparaiso find.)
Law School in 1909. was admitted to the bar in Indiana and during the
same year in Los Angeles, from which place he returned to Bakersfield to
engage in practice. Elected city attorney in I'lll. he is filling the office
with such efficiency that his friends predict fur him greater honors and a
bright future in the political world.

FRITZ CHARLES NOEL.— Authentic history reveals the identification
of the Noel family with the Huguenots in France as far back as the year
1416 and indicates their sufferings during the religious persecutions that
culminated in the famous massacre of St. Bartholomew. Exiled from their
home land, the Noels sought refuge in Germany and thence migrated to
Sweden, where they lived and flourished for many generations. After having
engaged for years in the lunil)er business at Stockholm. F. A. Noel removed
with his family to England and secured a position with the Maxim-Norden-
felt machine gun works in London, where he spent his remaining years in
successful business activities. By his marriage to Hilda Rampe. who is like-
wise deceased, he had a family of six children, of whom four are now living,
namely : Frederick .Adolph, a lumljer merchant in London ; Fritz Charles,
the only one of the family to settle in America : Ernest Rudolph and Gerda,
both residing in Paris. France, where the former is a proficient and prominent
civil engineer.

Stockholm, Sweden, is the native city of F. C. Noel and May 11, 1867,
the date of his birth. He was educated in a high school in Sweden and in
the City of London College. At the age of fifteen he accompanied his par-
ents from Stockholm to London and at the age of twenty-one he crossed the
ocean to America, settling first at Montreal, Canada, where he secured em-
ployment on the Montreal Herald. During 1892 he came to the United
States and established himself in Chicago, where he engaged with the
Chicago Tribune until 1808. While living in Chicago he met and married
Miss Martha Klove. of Lelaiid, 111., and for some years he carried on the
Leland Times, an eight-page weekly which he had founded. This he still
owns, although since he came to California in 1911 he has leased it to
others. During 1901 he visited his relatives in London and Paris and trav-
eled through other parts of Europe, finding in the tour much to interest
and impress him. but returning to the United States more than ever con-
vinced of its superiority to the old world.

Upon his removal to the west Mr. Noel bought ten acres of orange land
one and one-half miles south of Edison, in the Porter Land colony, and this
he has commenced to improve. In addition he owns his residence at No.
1745 Orange street. Bakersfield. and recently purchased forty acres at the
lower end of the W'eed Patch near the Tejon ranch, as well as one hiniflred



1256 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

acres at Lerdo, the new fibre center. Together with Mr. Soper, who owns
one hundred and forty adjacent to his forty, he has undertaken the devel-
opment of water on the land, with the intention of planting the tract to
orange trees as soon as adequate irrigation is assured.

The real-estate firm of G. W. Shearer & Co., formed in May of 1912, and
constituting a continuation of the old company of Sears & Shearer, is com-
posed of two energetic young men, G. W. Shearer and F. C. Noel. Mr. Noel's
family consists of his wife and three children, Gladys J., Frederick A. and
Myra H. They are popular in social circles and are regular attendants at the
services of the First Ci ngregational Church of Bakersfield.

GEORGE W. SHEARER.— The senior partner in the real estate firm of
G. W. Shearer & Co. is a member of an old eastern family and was bi rn in
Franklin county, Pa., on Christmas day of 1879, being fourth in order of
birth among the five living children that comprise the family of Jacob F.
and Margaret (McCartney) Shearer. The eldest of the five, Annie, married
S. R. Fortna, a farmer living in Franklin county, Pa. The second, Mac VV.,
is engaged in general farming in that county, where also lives the second son,
Frank S., a capable farmer. The youngest member of the family circle,
May, is the wife of Calvin Leidig, proprietor of a meat market at Orrstown,
Franklin county. The only one of the five to leave his native county was
George W.. who has been a resident of California since 1907. The father,
now sixty-five years of age and a man of considerable means, has devoted
his entire active life to agricultural pursuits and is still a large landed pro-
prietor and stock-dealer at Upper Strasburg, Franklin county, where for
years he and his wife have made their home.

By working on the home farm and by teaching school in Franklin
county for four years, George W. Shearer earned the money necessary for
the completion of his education. In a business college at Lancaster, Pa., he
studied bookkeeping and shorthand and thus became qualified for the posi-
tion which he secured with the Chambersburg Electric Light & Power Com-
pany. Upon giving up that place he taught one term of school and then
became an instructor in stenograph}' and typing. After two years as a
professor in a commercial institution he resigned in 1907 in order to come to
California, and here he immediately secured a place with the Associated Oil
Company at Oil Center, Kern county. At the expiration of two years with
the oil company he embarked in the real estate business, opening an office
in the Oil Exchange building, Bakersfield, in May of 1909, and at this location
he has since continued. During May of 1911 the firm of Sears & Shearer
was organized with W. L. Sears as senior member. Tune 1, 1912, the com-
pany was re-organized and is now composed of G. W. Shearer and F. C. Noel,
both voung men of integrity, ability and energy. Since coming to this county
Mr. Shearer has acquired property in East Bakersfield and \\'asco, also a tract
in the Lost Hills district and citrus lands at the lower end of the Weed Patch
near the Tejon Pass.

Arrangements have recently been made whereby the firm of G. W.
Shearer & Co. are the exclusive agents for the new seven thousand acre
colony at Lerdo, Kern county, which is owned by the San Joaquin Light and
Power Corporation. It is here that the ramie plant is being successfully culti-
vated and grown, and it is here also where the inventor, G. W. Schlichten.
has located one of his justly famous decorticating machines. The ramie plant
has heretofore been grown principally in the Orient, in India, China and
Japan, where labor is cheap. Mr. Schlichten's great invention, however, will
now make it possible to produce the ramie fibre at a cost cheaper than it can
be produced by hand work in India, China or any other country. This venture
at Lerdo is attracting attention from far and near, so much so that the agricul-
tural department sent to Lerdo the expert. Professor Dewey, to investigate



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1257

and report on this industry. Ex-Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson lias
said that Schlichten"s invention is the most important and valuable to the fibre
industry of any machine since the cotton gin. It does the work of three thou-
sand men and revolutionizes the former expensive and wasteful hand method.
Since the ramie fibre can be used in making twines, ropes, threads, fishing
nets and lines, as well as cloths of the finest and most durable texture, it
requires no great stretch of the imagination to see that Lerdo and its new
industry will soun hold an important place in the industrial development of
California. Ramie cloth has the fine, beautiful gossamer-like tissue of China
or Japan linen. It is the identical cloth from which was made fur the ancient
queens of India bed sheets so fine and thin that they could be drawn through
finger rings; while the Bible reveals the fact that ramie cloth was linen that
was used in wrapping the bodies of the mummies, and the quality of the
cloth is elsewhere fitly expressed in the words "raiment of fine linen."

NEWELL JONATHAN BROWN, M. D.— The principle of heredity
appears in the selection of a profession by Dr. Brown and in his gratifying
success as a surgeon and medical practitioner, for the genealogical records
show that on one side of the house seven successive generatii iis rose to local
prominence as physicians and it has been a source of gratification to him
that two of his sons have entered the |)rofession, for which they exiiibit a
decided talent. Although of Canadian birth, he is a member of an l Id family of
New England, whom chance or destiny caused to cross the border line into
the province of Quebec. During the colonial period of our national history
the family came to this country from England and his grandfather, Capt.
John Brown, a native of New Hampshire, served as an officer in the war of
1812. Later he crossed into Quebec and engaged in farming. On that trip
he was accompanied by his family, which included a son, Ozias Gilbert, a



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 127 of 177)