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 133 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 133 of 177)
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of mining afifairs.

No wharf had been built for the accommodation of passengers or the
unloading of cargoes. The passengers crowded the small boats that conveyed
them to the beach from the ship, anchored in the bay. Mr. Williams waited
until the second day, when the crowd having diminished he was able to take
his tools with him. Immediately after landing he secured a job, which was to
fit up a small postoffice for Charles L. Ross, who had been appointed the first
postmaster by the postal agent, Hon. William Van Voorhies, an ap[)ointee of
President Polk and a fellow passenger of Mr. Williams on the steamship from
Panama. As he fitted up the first postoffice for San Francisco, Mr. Williams
might justly be called one of the founders of the town. That honor he claimed
for himself throughout all of his later years. .As soon as he had saved enough
money he built a carpenter shop, the first in the city, and over it he hoisted
his sign in large letters, this being the first sign nf any kind in the town. The
shop was located on the east side of Montgomery street between Washington
and Jackson streets. Sometimes it was necessary to elevate the little shop on
stilts, for the waters of the bay would come up to it and cover it to a depth of
several feet. The location proved convenient for the landing of lumber and
other materials when brought in lighters from the ships lying at anchor in
the bay. There Ijeing no wharf at which the vessels could discharge their
cargoes, it was necessary to float them ashore at high tide in small barges,
of which there was great need for more. That fact being apparent to the
voung carpenter, he decided to supply the deficiency and cast about for a
partner with money. He was fortunate to win the consideration of Hon.
Henry T. Robinson, who had been a fellow passenger on the ship and had
brought money with him. Later he was elected a state senator from Sacra-
mento to the first legislature and also became jirominent as a member of the
constitutional convention. He agreed to advance $500 for materials to con-
struct a barge, which Mr. Williams would build, and the latter constructed the
boat on the beach near what is now the intersection of Montgomery and


Jackson streets, and from that spot floated it into the bay at high tide. The
venture proved successful. The laarge was rented at $50 per day until it had
paid for itself. Then it was sold to a sea captain, Mott, for $2,000 and the new
owner handled it with large profit. The cost of landing freight from ships at
that time was almost as great as the freight charges are now from Boston to
San Francisco.

The next venture of Mr. Williams proved even more successful than the
first. Wishing to build another barge and having the means to do so alone, he
found that it was impossible to secure lumber of the desired quality. Then
he conceived the idea of going to the nearest body of timber land and manu-
facturing by hand the necessary timber. Capt. W. A. Richardson owned or
controlled a timber tract near Sausalito and he consented to the establishing
of a logging camp on his land, also agreed to haul on his schooner any sup-
plies needed. A competent ship carpenter was made foreman at $16 per day
and he hired his assistants at $10 per day, with an additional man as cook
and man of all work around the camp. Camp supplies and implements were
ordered from the store of C. L. Ross & Co., and the expedition boarded Rich-
ardson's schooner at Clark's Point for Sausalito. Mr. Williams trusted every-
thing to his foreman and did not go near the camp. In less than three weeks
Captain Richardson brought the party back in his schooner with the barge in
tow, filled with the waste and surplus material around the camp, all of which
was of such value in his construction work that the venture proved highly
profitable. The barge was given in charge of Captain Johnston, with an option
to buy one-fourth interest for $1,000, and he managed it so well that it paid
$150 per day until it had nearly paid its full cost. Then it was sold outright
lor $4,000. The same day it sold at that sum a full rigged barque lying at
anchor in the bay, which had been deserted by the crew, sold for only $3,000,
all of which was due to the fact that there were no buyers for barques at the
time, but barges were in great demand, for as yet the first wharf (known as
Long wharf) "had not been built. All things considered, Mr. Williams always
believed this to be the most successful venture of his life, and yet he was then
scarcely twenty-one years of age. His first full day in San Francisco, March 2,
1849, had been the twenty-first anniversary of his birth. Many more years
of usefulness were given him in the city he loved so well and when he passed
away March 16, 1911, it was shortly after he had celebrated his eighty-third an-

While in the main the career of Mr. Williams was very prosperous and he
accumulated large holdings, yet he was not without his reverses, the most
serious of which was connected with the contract for the building of the Second
street cut. Through a technicality he lost $250,000 and was left a bankrupt.
However, to a man of his indomitable determination and great faith in San
Francisco, continued disappointment was impossible and in time he retrieved
those losses. As agent for the Pacific Improvement Company he came to
Kern county and laid out the town site of Sumner, which later was known as
Kern and eventually was made a part of Bakersfield. With headquarters in
San Francisco, he had the exclusive agency for property owned by that con-
cern throughout the state. Through his efforts and as a result of the donation
of part of his commission, he induced the Southern Pacific Railroad to build
a depot at Sumner. Acquiring property at Kern, he aided in building up the
town, although he continued to reside in San Francisco, where in the early
days he was associated in enterprises with Huntington, Crocker and other
pioneer magnates. For many years he served as secretary of the state Demo-
cratic central committee and for a considerable period he was a school director
in San Francisco. After coming west he was made a Mason, being the first
to enter the order in the state, where later he rose to the Knight Templar
degree. On the organization of the Society of California Pioneers he became


one of its first members and ever afterward retained a warm interest in its
reimions. While his holdings sulTercd temporarily from tlie great fire in San
Francisco, that disaster did not diminish his faith in his beloved city and he
always cherished the optimistic belief that after the completion of the Panama
canal his own city would rank in population and importance close to London
and New York.

During the pioneer period of California's history Catherine E. Duval, a
native of Florida, came to the west via Panama and settled in San Francisco,
where she still makes her home. In young womanhood she became the wife
of Mr. Williams. Five sons and five daughters blessed their union, of whom the
sixth in order of birth, John Richard, was born in San Francisco October 13,
1873. After graduating from lleald's Business College he became an assistant
in his father's office. In order to manage the family holdings in Kern county
he came here February 22. 1899. and embarked in the real-estate business,
also bought lands and improved farms for alfalfa. With his father and C. J.
Lindgren he built a private sewer system, which has been extended until now
there are about six miles of sewer in Kern. The system is now owned by
Williams Brothers, the interests of Mr. Lindgren having I)een bought, and
about 1909 the firm of Williams Brothers was established by John Richard,
Thomas C, Fairfax and Duval. Besides engaging in business as contractors
and builders, they carry on a general real-estate business, also build up tlieir
own holdings, and own one hundred and sixty acres adjacent to Kern or East
Bakersfield, suitable for addition purposes. At least nine residences have been
built by them in this part of town. They maintain an office at No. 410 Hum-
boldt street and control interests of great value and importance. In the fall
of 1911 they with others organized the Bakersfield Water Company, which
purchased and rebuilt the old Sumner Water Company's system. The com-
pany sunk three new wells and installed a new pumping plant. This is now a
modern and up-to-date water system with ample capacity to care for the
needs of the communit}-. Mr. ^Villiams is president of the company.

Besides his other activities John Richard Williams still devotes consid-
erable time to his large farm, which is now under irrigation and in part is
devoted to alfalfa, although he also makes a specialty of horses and cattle.
In national politics he favors Democratic principles. Chosen a trustee of the
Kern library, he had served as its secretary for four years when the consoli-
dation with Bakersfield merged the insitution into that owned by the larger
city. For one year he served as city marshal, during which time he succeeded
in straightening out vexatious matters relating to the collection of licenses.
Upon the consolidation of Bakersfield and Kern in July, 1910, he became a
member of the board of trustees and at the regular election held in April of
1911 he w^as re-elected for a term of four years, since which time he has acted
as chairman of the public safety and light committee and has promoted manv
measures for the permanent upbuilding of the cit}-. The i'.;ikersfield Club
numbers him among its interested adherents.

CHRISTIAN P. LARSEN.— Recollections of his boyhood home take Mr.
Larsen back in memory to the fertile farm occupied by his parents in Laaland,
Denmark. The father, Hans, who was a well-to-do farmer, died when his son,
C. P., was six years old, and the mother, Martha, passed away when he was
eighteen. Four children were born of their marriage and C. P. was born July 9.
1861. After the death of his father he was taken into the home of an uncle,
who sent him to school and taught him to be useful and self-reliant. The little
island of Laaland, where he was born, is one of the most productive of Den-
mark's holdings; as land was held at a high figure and wages were small Mr.
Larsen gave up the hope of 1:)ecoming a landowner there and came to the
United States. During 1879 he made the voyage and found employment in
Cleveland, where he learned brick-making and followed the occupation for a


considerable period. As early as 1888 he came to California and became a
worker in one of the brickyards of Los Angeles, but from there in 1891 he
came to Bakersfield, his present home.

After a brief experience in the brickyard owned by H. A. Jastro Mr.
Larsen was promoted to the position of foreman. When the yard was closed
down two years later he was given the foremanship of Curran's brickyard,
where he continued for nine years, finally resigning in order to take up con-
tract work for himself. For a time he worked alone as a cement contractor,
but more recently he has been a member of the firm of Weitzel & Larsen,
manufacturers of woodstone for floors, builders of cement walks and curbs, and
contractors for foundations and basements of buildings of all kinds. The
firm conducts a large business.

Upon the organization of the Builders' Exchange Mr. Larsen became one
of its members and still maintains a warm interest in the organization. Fra-
ternally he has been a member for years of the Ancient Order of United Work-
men. When he came to Bakersfield he was a single man, but on September 22,
1892, he was married to Miss Emma Agnes Tibbet, a native of this city and a
daughter of Edward and Rebecca (Callahan) Tibbet, the former born in
Ohio and the latter in Indiana. Many years ago Mr. Tibbet became a pioneer of
Kern county, where he took up land, developed a ranch and engaged in
general farming. Since his death Mrs. Tibbet has continued to reside at the
old homestead situated on the Kern Island road. There are three daughters in
the family of Mr. and Mrs. Larsen, namely: Clara Belle, Julia May and Frances
Arline. of whom the eldest, a graduate of the Kern county high school, class of
1913, is now a student at the Fresno Normal.

ISAAC DENTON STOCKTON, M.D.— The association of the Stockton
family with America dates back to the colonial period of our history. During
the war of 1812 a young Kentucky physician and planter, Robert Stockton,
served as an aide-de-camp to General Jackson and participated in the memor-
able battle of New Orleans. Although a southerner by birth and education,
he became an abolitionist and his desire to remove from an environment where
slavery was practiced caused him to settle in Illinois shortly after his return
from the war. Southern Illinois had very few settlers when he established a
frontier home in one of its counties. The slaves he had inherited were freed
by his voluntary act. So kind had he been to them always that they had no
desire to leave him, so they built cabins near him and ministered to his needs
as he did also to theirs, forming an harmonious little settlement of frontier
farmers. In the struggle to establish a comfortable home he had the wise and
constant co-operation of his wife, who was Phoebe Whiteside, a native of
Kentucky and a niece of Gen. Samuel Whiteside, the pioneer Indian fighter
in whose honor a well-known valley of Kentucky received its name.

Born in Southern Illinois in 1815 shortly after his father had removed
thither, Isaac Denton Stockton grew to manhood on the frontier. During the
Black Hawk war he served under Captain Gates and although but a lad he had
the unique distinction of bringing in the last prisoner of that struggle, an
Indian who had sought his life. Being a splendid shot, he was sent out on
reconnoitering expeditions and many a narrow escape he experienced during
those perilous times. Participation in frontier warfare did not lesson his am-
bition to secure an education. After he had graduated from ShurtlefT College
at Upper Alton, 111., with the degree of A.B., he entered the Jefferson Medical
College of Philadelphia, where he took the complete course of lectures and
received the degree of M.D. Later he received the same degree from a New
York city institution. His first professional experiences were difficult and try-
ing, for they kept him in the south during long epidemics of yellow fever and
smallpox. In recognition of his services the government tendered him a
certificate that entitled him to practice medicine in every part of the United

HISTC^n- ()|- Kl-.RX C-Ol'\TY 1291

States. Scillin.t; in William.sciii (.niiniy. 111., ami

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 133 of 177)