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 138 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 138 of 177)
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company's properties. The lease has been developed with such rapidity
that it contains fifty-five oil wells and from the fifty-three now active there
is an average monthly production of seventy thousand barrels.

Although his earliest memories are associated with Ohio, George C.
Kelley is a native of Kansas and was born in a sod-house in Lane county,
June 2, 1887. His parents, John A. and Emma (Severns) Kelley, arc now
living on a rented farm in Allen county, Ohio, but the father has worked
perhaps more in the oil fields than on a farm, and he is well posted in
every detail of the oil business. The family comprised five sons and two
daughters and the eldest of these, George C, attended the common schools
in Ohio. In early youth he worked on a farm during the summer months,
but later he gave all of his time to the oil business, which he learned in
every detail. His father being employed as a pumper on a lease at Spen-
cerville, Ohio, he was taken on the same lease and taught to he useful in
many ways- From a roustabout he worked up to be a well-puller. From
the age of fifteen until nineteen he continued in the Spencerville district,
thence going to Oklahoma, where he worked at Tulsa during much of the
next two years. Besides his experience in the Oklahoma oil fields he was
employed for a time in the Aluncie oil fields in Indiana and the Robinson



1318 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

oil fields in Illinois. For six months before coming to California he made
his headquarters in Ohio and at Spencerville he was united in marriage
with Miss Myrtle Ilogue, daughter of W. M. Hogue, formerly of Spencer-
ville, but now employed on section 16 of the North American. Mr. and Mrs.
Kelley have one son, Paul, born in 1910. By correspondence with Mr. Kurtz
of the North American, Mr. Kelley had secured a position as tool-dresser in
the Midway field, so he left his eastern home and came to Bakersfield, arriv-
mg at his destination November 1, 1909, ready to begin work without delay.
There was then only one well on the lease that was making oil, but since
then the development has been remarkable and the upbuilding of the
division has been constant, much of this progress being attributable to the
energy of Mr. Kelley in his capacity of production foreman. Since coming
to the west he has bought a ranch of thirty acres in Merced county.

FRANKLIN C. KELLEY.— At Mendon, Mercer county, Ohio, Franklin
C. Kelley was born November 15, 1875. The name in America was
established by his great-grandfather. After a voyage of six months on
a sailing-vessel this original immigrant, who came from Dublin, Ireland,
landed in New York during 1760 and eventually became a pioneer of Knox
county, Ohio. In young manhood he married Henrietta Shritchfield, who
lived to be ninety-eight years of age. Among their descendants was a
grandson, Caleb A. Kelley, who now at the age of seventy-seven years is
living, retired from agricultural labors, at his home in St. Marys, Auglaize
county, Ohio. All of his children were born of his first marriage, which
united him with Eunice Griffin, a native of the vicinity of Mendon, Ohio.
The children are as follows: Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Murlin, a farmer
near Mendon, Ohio; John, formerly an oil man, but now farming near
Spencerville, Ohio ; Francis, a farmer near St. Marys, Ohio ; Lenora, who
married Edgar Hawkins, a farmer near Celina, Ohio; Foster, who' is- engaged
in farming near Mendon, Ohio ; Joseph, formerly a farmer, but now engaged
in the oil industry in the Robinson fields of Illinois ; and Franklin C, the
youngest member of the family and the only one to settle in California.
The family, however, has another representative in the Midway field, for
George C, son of John Kelley and nephew of Franklin C, is now engaged
as production foreman on the section 22 division of the North American
Oil Consolidated.

When eighteen years of age Franklin C. Kelley began as a roustabout in
the St. Marys (Ohio) oil field. In that district the average depth of the
wells was from twelve hundred to fifteen hundred feet and, as old-fashioned
methods of well-pulling were still in vogue, he was assigned to the task
of driving a horse for such work. For seventeen years he continued with
the J. H. Van Wormer Oil Company at St. Marys and meantime he rose
from one position to another- When eventually he resigned it was for the
purpose of coming to California and joining the force of the North American,
in accordance with an agreement made with ]\Ir. Kurtz. November of 1909
found him at Moron, from which point he immediately went to section 22
division and began his duties as a roustabout. After seven weeks he was
transferred to the section 16 division. Since then he has come to the
front as a production man. The two leases, sections 16 and 22, produce an
average of one hundred and fifteen thousand barrels per month and this
places him among the foremost production superintendents of California.
On section 22 there are fifty-three and on section 16 twenty-six producing
weJIs with George C. Kelley as production foreman with the former lease
and Keith LeGar as production foreman with the latter division, the general
superintendent being William C. McDuffie, a resident on section 16 division.
President Titus resides in San Francisco, which city is also the place of
residence of the vice-president, Duncan McDufiSe, and the secretary-treasurer.



HIST(^RY Ol' K1:R\ CorXTY 131"

C. L. Nance. While living in Ohio Mr. Kelley married Miss Josephine
Lewis, by whom he has two children, Lenore May and Guy A. Since com-
ing to the west he has invested in farm property and now owns a tract
of twenty acres in Merced county.

CHARLES E. ALLEN.— The Allen family has been identified with
horticultural activities in the Santa Clara valley from the very infancy of
the fruit industry in that locality. As early as 1862 L. S. Allen, a native
of New York state, settled among the pioneers of the valley and put out
one of the first prune orchards planted in this entire valley- In the ensuing
years he had his share of discouragements and successes, but no adverse
circumstance has lessened his deep aiifectiun for the valley and its people,
and he is still living on the old homestead, hale and hearty, notwithstanding
seventv'-three years of life with its struggle and hardships. His wife, now
deceased, was Miss Emma ]\leeks, a native of Iowa. A brother-in-law, E. L.
Bradley, had the distinction of planting the first prune orchard ever set out
in the Santa Clara valley and the entire connection of the family with that
part of the state has been long and honorable.

Out of eight children who attained maturity and who formed the family
of L. S. Allen, seven are still living, the fourth, Charles E., being the only
one to engage in the oil business. The others live in or near San Jose and
have devoted themselves to ranching. Near San Jose, where he was born
September 15, 1880. Charles E. Allen passed the years of boyhood upon
the home ranch. Fair educational advantages were given to liim and he
was graduated from the San Jose high school with the class of 1900. For
a time thereafter he assisted his father in horticultural work. The excite-
ment caused by the discovery of oil attracted him to the Kern river field
during May of 1902. at which time he secured employment with the Standard
Oil Company and was detailed to a pipe gang engaged in the construction
of the line frum this field to Richmond. In a short time his ability was
recognized by his promotion to the position of foreman and as such he had
the supervision of a gang numbering one hundred men. The company sent
him to Coalinga in 1904 to take charge of field work and to assist in the
constructiein of pipe lines. Returning to the Kern river field during 1906
he engaged for a year as ganger and then became general foreman for the
Standard, in charge of the construction of pipe lines and the building of
stations. In the next few years he worked at all the stations along the line
to Point Richmond and had charge of the building of the station at McKit-
trick, returning in 1909 to the Kern river field, where since he has been
retained as chief ganger for the company. During 1909 he married at
Oakdale, Stanislaus county. Miss Jessie Johnson, by whom he has one
daughter, Margaret Dorothy. Coming to the west from Nebraska, where
her father, Dr- W. H. Johnson, had been a well-known practitioner in the
city of Lincoln, Mrs. Allen had received in that place excellent educational
advantages and had been identified with the Christian Church, while since
coming to Bakersfield she has also been a member of that church.

FRANCIS M. POWELL.— The Missouri division of the Associated Oil
Company, under the field foremanship of Mr. Powell, has reached an
average monthly production of approximately eighteen thousand barrels ne't'
and thus ranks among the impurtant organizations doing business in the
Kern river fields. The holdings of the company lying on section 29. town-
ship 28. range 28, consist of the following: Alva, ten acres with four produc-
ing wells; Hecia, ten acres with three producing wells; Bolena, ten acres
with six producing wells ; Gillellen, ten acres, four wells ; Vernon, twenty
acres and six wells; Missouri, twenty acres, seven wells; and Richmond,
ten acres with three wells, making a total of thirty-three producing wells.
The field superintendent, who moved into the Kern river fields January 22,



1320 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

1909, became identified with the Associated three days after his arrival, at
first filling a position as well-puller and after six months being promoted
to the well foremanship. A year later he was made field superintendent,
which post he has since filled with recognized efficiency.

At Newhall, Los Angeles county, Cal., Mr. Powell was born April 10,
r883, being the son of John T. and Dora (Lake) Powell. The mother died
April 29, 1901, at the age of forty-seven. The father, a Bostonian by birth,
came to the Pacific coast in 1873 and settled at Los Angeles. Although now
seventy-three years of age, he is active physically and mentally, maintains
a warm interest in the development of Los Angeles county and in his home
town of Newhall serves as a justice of the peace as well as mining recorder.
Since the death of his wife his comfortable home at Newhall has been
presided over by his daughter, Florence Marie, besides whom he has two
other children, Francis Matthias and Alfred Clyburn. The elder son com-
pleted the studies of the Newhall grammar school when about fourteen
and then began to earn his own way in the world. March 17, 1897, he
became a roustabout for the Pacific Coast Oil Company in the Newhall field,
and he continued at that work until November 1 of the same year. An
uncle, Alexander Mentry, being superintendent of the Pacific Coast Oil
Company, gave him a position in a minor capacity at the water station
pumping plant. In a short time he was given charge of the engines, pumps
and general water system-

On New Year's of 1901 the Pacific Coast Company sold out to the
Standard and on the 15th of April of that year, Mr. Powell was transferred
to the production department. For one year he remained in the general
]iroduction department of the Standard, which transferred him April IS, 1902,
to the Kern river fields in order that he might assist in putting in the eight-
inch pipe laid by that organization from the Kern river fields to Point Rich-
mond on the bay. December 13, 1902, the Standard transferred him to
Newhall, where he was assigned to work in the production department and
there he remained until August 31, 1906. Meanwhile he had felt the need
of better educational advantages and when he resigned his position he
entered the Southern California Business College as a student in the com-
mercial department, graduating August 2, 1907. In addition to this course
of instruction he had taken an English course in the International Corre-
spondence Schools at Scranton.

While working in the Newhall field Mr. Powell formed the acquaint-
ance of Miss Reath Prall and they were married August 14, 1904, in Santa
Paula, Ventura county, her home town. They are the parents of one child,
Florence Helen. During her residence in Santa Paula Mrs. Powell was
an active worker in the J\Iethodist Episcopal Church. After his marriage
Mr. Powell was employed as field foreman with the Union Oil Company
Ml the Santa Paula fields, but that position he resigned December 31, 1908,
and a few weeks afterward came to the Kern river fields, where he has since
been connected with the Associated and where he and his family occupy the
foreman's house on the Alva lease, on section 29, township 28, range 28.

E. D. HIGLEY. — Continuous application has marked the activities of
Mr. Higley from early life. When yet a mere lad he became self-supporting
and at the age of eighteen he had gained a skill in carpentering such as is
not always possessed by those having years of experience in the occupation.
Starting out with scanty education and no money, assuming domestic oIdH-
gations at an early age, he was handicapped in his first eflforts- A native
of Nebraska, born in Lincoln county March 7, 1880, he was familiar from
his earliest recollections with the isolated frontier, the broad ranges lying
be5'ond the then confines of civilization. Nor did removal to North Dakota
broaden his outlook upon the world, for the homestead there stood aloof



HISTORY (")!• Kl'.RX COITNTY 1321

."♦ '- e T ^ •.

from the great markets of the country and iiad little to offer in comfort
or opportunity. At the age of eighteen he married Miss Ella Ree McKay, a
young lady living in Wells county, which adjoined his home county of
Kidder. The little home started upon the plains of North Dakota was
barren of comforts, j-et within its walls there was much of joy and con-
tented work. As the land was brought under cultivation and ere it had
become a source of income, ihe young homesteader earned his livelihood as
a carpenter.

Belie\'ing he could better his ctuidition in California Mr. Iliglcy brought
his family to the coast in 1906 and has since been empluj'ed in the oil
fields. It is his intention to soon establish the family home at Waits, Kern
county, so that his work may not take him far distant from his wife and
four children, Eunice, Gurdon H., Lois Amy and Elberta. After coming
to this locality he worked with different companies, including the Southern
Pacific (six months), Canfield (five months) and Merrill Crude (two
months), after which he was em])loyed by Captain Black for eighteen
months in the building of oil derricks. For two months he worked in the
Sunset and Midway fields, but with that exception he has limited his labors
largely to the Kern river fields. For a time he conducted a livery business,
located upon the lease of the Hald Eagle Oil Company in the Kern river
fields, but recently he sold out his interest to his partner, W. B. Austin,
who continues the business at the same location, while Mr. Higley gives his
entire time and attention to contracting and building. His specialty is the
building of derricks, in which he has become so expert that his services are
in constant requisition. In fraternal relations he hold membership with
the W^oodmen of the World and the Modern \\'oodmen of America.

S. H. MARTIN. — The foreman of the Sterling division of the Asso-
ciated Oil Company, who likewise holds a position as superintendent of the
Sovereign Oil Company on section 31, township 28, range 28, has been
familiar with the oil industry from his very earliest memories- The incum-
bent of his present resnonsible positions since 1907, he meanwhile has pro-
moted the financial welfare of both organizations and has guided every detail
with a careful eye and keen discriminatinn. The Sterling owns one hun-
dred and sixty acres, but leases forty acres to the Vesta Oil Company and
twenty acres to the Sovereign, the balance of their tract containing forty-
one producing wells. The Sovereign shows ten producing wells. Both
companies are equipped with every modern convenience for the prosecution
of the work and conduct all affairs in a model and business-like manner.

Born in Venango county. Pa., July 14, 1880, Mr. Martin is a son of
David E. Martin, now of Kern county, the present superintendent of the
Oakland Midway Oil Company on the west side. Business changes took
the family from one point to another and the son, primarily educated in
Pennsylvania, later had excellent advantages in the Los Angeles high school
and in a commercial college of the same city. After he had graduated from
the business college he devoted himself wholly to the oil business, of
which he previously had gained an expert knowledge. His father, who had
come from Pennsylvania to take charge of the department of drilling for
the Union Oil Company at Santa Paula, Cal., went to Missouri, where he
became superintendent of the W'hitney AN'ater Supply Company at St.
Louis. During 1896 he came again to California and settled in Los Angeles,
where his son, who previously had assisted him in his work with the St.
Louis organization, became yet more helpful to him in the work of dressing
tools for drilling.

When only nineteen years of age S. H. Martin engaged as a driller
with the Central Oil Company of Whittier, Cal., and for four years he con-
tinued in the same place. From there he went to the lower part of Old



1322 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Mexico near the Pacific ocean and engaged in drilling for oil at Pochutla,
state of Oaxaca, where he was employed for eight months. Meantime he
acted as geologist for the Pacific Coast Oil Company of Mexico. From
Mexico he transferred his labors to Lower California, where he drilled a well
for a company capitalized at Birmingham, Ala. Returning to the United
States he engaged in drilling with the California Oilfields, Limited, at
Coalinga, and later had similiar work at McKittrick, Kern county, where
he drilled on the Reward lease. After having held a position as driller with
the Union Oil Company in Ventura county, he went to Los Angeles county
and started work on the Oilman property at Sherman. Having engaged in
the oil industry in so many different places and with so many varied com-
panies, he was well prepared for successful effort when finally he came to
Kern river fields in 1905. After two years as a driller in 1907 he became
superintendent of the Sterling and Sovereign, which he since has managed
with success. Since coming to Kern county he was married at Bakersfield
to Miss Ethel Fall, of Globe, Ariz., by whom he has two sons, David and
Joe. In fraternal relations he holds membership with the Elks at Bakersfield.

HENRY ERICKSON.— The superintendent of the Junction Oil Com-
pany in the Kern river fields is of Pennsylvanian birth and Scandinavian
descent. Born at Oil City, Venango county. Pa., June 19, 1880, he was sixth
in order of birth among the nine children comprising the family of John and
Caroline Erickson, both of whom were born in Sweden, but at early ages
became residents of Pennsylvania. The family lived upon a farm near
Venango and the son began to assist in the tilling of the soil as soon as
old enough to handle machinery and horses. Scanty educational privileges
came his way, for from boyhood his was a struggle for self-support. In spite
of the handicap of lack of schooling he has become a man of broad general
information. When twenty-one years of age he left the farm for the oil
fields near his home and ever since then he has been connected with the
oil industry. After a brief experience as a pumper he was promoted to be
a tool-dresser, in which he soon became quite skilled. After a year at Oil
City he went to Indiana and soon became field foreman for the Ohio Oil
Company at Marion, where he continued for three years.

The next district that attracted the young man was the oil fields of
Illinois, where for thirteen months he engaged as foreman and pumper with
the Campbell Oil Company at Casey- From Illinois he came to California
and settled in the Kern river oil fields, where he secured work as a foreman
with the West Shore Oil Company. A year later he was made foreman for
the Section 5 Oil Company, remaining with them for eight months and then
resigning in order to return to Pennsylvania, where he worked at Oil City
for six months. Upon his return to the western oil regions he secured employ-
ment in the Santa Maria fields in Ventura county, where he had charge of the
installation of gas engines for the Union Oil Company. Eight months later
he returned to the Kern river fields, where for a short time he served as
foreman of the Capital City Oil Company. September 15, 1910, he was chosen
superintendent of the Junction Oil Company, a corporation composed prin-
cipally of San Francisco capitalists. Eighty acres of land are owned by the
company and the work of development has only begun. Of the eight pro-
ducing wells six have been redrilled and the average net production is between
five thousand and six thousand barrels per month. Having given his atten-
tion to the details of the oil industry and to his own particular responsibilities,
Mr. Erickson has not had leisure for participating in public affairs or local
enterprises, but he aims to keep posted concerning all enterprises of worth to
community or county. While living in Santa Maria he became identified with
the Knights of Pythias at that place and since coming to Kern county he
has joined the Loyal Order of Moose at Bakersfield. By his marriage to



HIS'I■()R^• (»l- KI'.RX t"()l'\TY 1333

Miss llnilic liwiii of ( )il (in-. I'a. he has two children, Lawrence and
Mary.

J. A. C. MILES.— Althuui^h a resident of California during the greater
part of his life and since December of 1910 identified with the Kern river oil
fields, Mr. Miles was horn November 16, 1887, on a lar!.;e sugar plantation of
Hawaii. 'The death of his father, G. W". Miles, who had been a traveling sales-
man, caused a breaking up (f famil}- tics and resulted in the fatherless boy
being taken into the home of an uncle, William E. Miles, in San Francisco,
where he was reared and educated. There were two younger children in the
family and both of these still reside in Honolulu, Fannie Isabel being the
wife of Paul Burns, of that city, while William E. conducts a dairy and
stock ranch and a banana ]ilantation in the same district. The mother, who
bore the maiden name of Jennie K. Harvey and who at the age of furty-seven
(1914), is still a resident of Hawaii, is a sister of the late senator, lion. Frank
Harvey, from the territory of Hawaii.

A thorough education secured in the San Francisco high school was
supplemented by specialized work through correspondence courses in elec-
tricity and electrical engineering, and in that way Rlr. Miles laid the founda-
tion of a broad expert knowledge inestimable in its value to subsequent
endeavors. During early youth he became an apprentice with the Pacific
Telephone and Telegraph Company uf San Francisco and Oakland. From a
very humble position he worked his way rapidly to a post of importance, and
before he was twenty-three years of age he had been appointed chief installer.
Through the influence of his uncle, William E. Miles, who is a man of prom-
inence in the oil fields and now serving as secretary of the Apollo, 4-Oil and
Amaurot Oil Companies, he secured a position as bookkeeper for these organi-
zations in December of 1910, since which time he has been identified with
the Kern river district, and here, at Oil Center, he was united in marriage
with Miss Hazel Long, daughter of John Long, of Missouri.

M. J. PEARL — Since the acquisition of its great holdings by the Kern
River Oilfields of California, Limited, in 1910, as well as prior to that date
with the old Imperial and 33 organizations, Mr. Pearl has been one of the
trusted employes. Not content to be merely a good workman, he has always
tried to do whatever came to his department better than he ever had wrought
before. Not only is he active, alert and industrious, but in addition he has a
genial temperament and his kindly spirit radiates cheer and carries encour-
agement to other workers around him. He was the son of ])Oor parents and
was born at W'illiamsport, Pa., May 5, 1864, removing with the family to
Kansas at the age of seven years and receiving a limited education in Topeka
schools. Later throu.gh his own efforts he paid his way through $'• Mary's
College in Kansas. In the town of St. Mary's he married Miss Blanche San-
nier and six years later moved to Flagstaff, .\riz., where he found employment



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 138 of 177)