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 146 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 146 of 177)
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boarded a steamer for Seattle and then entered a hospital for recuperation from
the fever. As soon as able to travel he came to Tulare county, where he soon
regained his health. In the fall of 1899, at the opening of the Kern river field,
he engaged as a driller for the Peerless Oil Company. Two months later, in
December of 1899 he came to McKittrick, where he secured employment as a


driller for the Grant Oil Company. Later tasks in drilling gave him a thorough
acquaintance with the Midway, Sunset, Fellows and North Midway fields.
Together with Mr. Iribarne in 1910 he bought the old Headquarters hotel
and livery barn, but in 1911 he sold out to his partner. Later he bought a
blacksmith shop, the largest in McKittrick, in which business he has Mr.
Holcomb as a partner. After coming to Kern county he was married at
Bakersfield to Miss Jennie Allen, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich. In fraternal
lelations he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the
Improved Order of Red Men.

ROBERT J. MULL.— It has been necessary for Mr. Mull to earn his own
support from boyhood. Although still a young man (born in 1885) already
he has established and developed an important business. After some time
devoted to work around oil wells, in 1909 he embarked in the livery business
at McKittrick, where he built a barn and corral, purchased driving horses
and buggies, and opened a stable that he still conducts with fair profit. In
addition he makes a specialty of auto livery and also owns and operates a
blacksmith and horse-shoeing shop, so that in the varied lines of activity he
keeps busily and profitably employed.

When only one year old Robert J. Mull was left an orphan. During 1887
he was brought from his birthplace, Newport, Ark., to California, where he
was taken into the home of an uncle at Merced. Later he lived successively
at Santa Barbara and Bakersfield and attended the schools of those cities. A
course in Heald's Business College completed his education. Upon leaving
school he secured work in the Coalinga oil field, where he was employed as a
tool-dresser. Coming to the McKittrick field in 1906, he continued here as a
tool-dresser until l909, when he embarked in the business that since has
engaged his time and attention. Since coming to McKittrick he has become
a member of the Yoko Tribe No. 252, I. O. R. M. Politically he supports
Democratic principles. His family consists of wife and daughter, Evelyn.
Mrs. Mull, prior to their marriage in Tulare, was Miss Hattie Stevenson,
and is a woman of culture and education, a native of Licking, Mo.

FRED L. SMITH. — The tide of emigration that bore great multitudes of
sturdy pioneers away from the shores of the Atlantic into the unknown
regions of the interior found the Smith family transplanted from the east to the
then undeveloped regions of Michigan, where William H. was born at Ply-
mouth and where in youth he learned the trade of stonemason under his
father. However, the young man was more fond of adventure and started
cut to see something of the world. While in Louisiana he was induced to join
the regular army and received an assignment to the Twenty-fourth Lhiited
States Infantry, which was dispatched to Fort Missoula, Mont. Through the
request of his mother he was honorably discharged, on account of being under
age. He secured employment in Montana and after a brief period became
manager of the grocery department of the Missoula Mercantile Company,
continuing in the same position for fifteen years. Meanwhile he was elected
county clerk and recorder of Missoula county and he won the election two
terms, but during the last year of the second term he resigned in order to
accept a position as chief of police of Missoula. Ten months later he gave up
that post and embarked in the real-estate business, but soon afterward was
appointed city clerk, which office he now holds.

Mr. Smith married in Montana Miss Alice V. Amiraux, a native of
Maine, who had accompanied her family across the plains in a "prairie
schooner" drawn by oxen. Upon reaching Montana her father, Henry A.
Amiraux, located near Missoula and embarked in stock-raising and ranching.
Later he was chosen to serve in the territorial legislature of Montana. There
were three children in the family of William H. and Alice V. Smith and two
of these survive. Youngest of the three, Fred L., was born at Missoula, Alont.,
November 3, 1882, and received his elementary education in his native town.


Alter he had graduateil from tlie Missdula lii.uh schcx.l in IS'/) he entered
All Hallow's College in Salt Lake L'ity antl continued in that institution for
three years, receiving in 1902 a diploma from the commercial department.
Upon his return to the old home town he entered the emi)loy of the Missoula
Mercantile Comjiany as a bookkee])er. When his father was elected ctuinty
clerk and recorder he was appointed chief deputy in the office and upon the
resignation of the incumbent toward the close of the second term he was
appointed to fill the vacancy. When a new incumbent had been elected he con-
tinued as chief deputy for one year, after which for a similar period he man-
aged a hotel in .MissLiula. Next he engaged in the cigar business in Wallace,
Idaho. December 1, 1911, he came to Bakersfield, where he soon formed a
partnership with E. J. Thompson in the running of the Oil Center stage
between Bakersfield and Oil Center, a distance of seven miles.

The marriage of Mr. Smith took place at Spokane, \Vash., December 31,
1904, and united him with Miss Julia Butler, who was born in Rush City,
Minn., and was the youngest in a family that includes two daughters and two
sons now living. Her parents, A. \V. and Marie (Kelley) Butler, were natives
respectively of Maine and Lake Forest, 111., and the former, after many years
as a builder in Minnesota, removed to Spokane, \\'ash., and took up the same
line of business. The eldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Billie, died at the
age of three years. The others are Frederick, Jule and William H., to whom
(he parents hope to give the best educational advantages this city afTords.
In politics Mr. Smith votes with the Democratic party. While lix'ing in
Idaho he became identified with the Knights of Columbus at Wallace, also
with the Improved Order of Red Men, while at ]\Iissoula he was a member
of the Eagles and Elks, and in addition he has maintained an active association
with the Yeomen.

N. M. GATES. — To engage in drilling for the La lielle Oil Company in
March of 1910 Mr. Gates came to the Midway field. When he had comj)leted
the drilling of the first well he was chosen superintendent of the lease.
Scarcely had well Xo. 1 been started when the concern sold out to the Cali-
fornia Counties Oil Company, which has retained him in the pi sition of super-
intendent. The first two wells have been continuous producers and well No. 3,
which yields enough gas to run the entire lease, also came in as a gusher. At
this writing well No. 4 is in process of drilling.

Born at Pittsfield, Pike county. 111., September 11, 1859, he was ten years
of age when his father, Joseph Gates, removed to Missouri and settled on a
farm in Lafayette county. During 1876 he removed to Texas and settled on a
farm in Callahan county, where the father died. Returning to the old home
in Missouri in 1880, he began to earn his livelihood as a farmer, but the
following years he temporarily abandoned such work and the year of 1882
found him mining near (jeorgetijwn, Colo. Three different times he made the
round trip between Missouri and Colorado, farming in the former slate and
mining in the latter. During 1886 he went to Idaho and found employment in
mining, but at the expiration of fifteen months he left to make a tour of the
Pacific coast country. Returning thence to a Missouri farm, in 1888 he again
left home to try his luck with the pioneers of Oklahoma. However, when the
famous run was made in April of 1889 he felt the chances to be so small that he
withdrew from the race, afterward renting a farm at Lenapah, I. T., for four

On coming to California in 1893 Mr. Gates engaged in farming in Tulare
county for a year, 1)ut in 1894 he returned to the Indian Territory and
resumed farm pursuits in that country. At Wagoner, I. T., occurred his mar-
riage to Mrs. Jennie (Merchant) Young, a daughter of John ^lerchant, mem-
ber of the firm of Merchant Bros., large cattle buyers in Texas. By her first
marriage there were two sons, both later adopted l)y Mr. Gates, and there are


also two sons of her second marriage, the four being as follows : Howard,
now employed as a driller at Brea, this state ; John, who is engaged with the
California Counties Oil Company; Joseph and Lee. The family are of the
Presbyterian faith. During 1897 Mr. Gates removed from the Indian Terri-
tory to Colorado and soon afterward he secured employment as a helper at
Florence in the oil fields, where later he was promoted to be a driller. Coming
to the California oil fields in 1905, he engaged as a driller with the Radium
Oil Company at Santa Maria. In 1906 he became superintendent of the prop-
erty. When he resigned that position early in 1910 he came to the Midway
and has since been connected with the lease now operated by the California
Counties Oil Company. Fraternally he holds membership with the Modern
Woodmen of America and the Woodmen of the World.

WILLIAM E. ARMSTRONG.— Upon attaining his majority in 1897
he entered a claim to one hundred and sixty acres in Kern county, which he
proved up on and then sold. Another early venture in Kern county took
him into partnership with a brother, C. W. Armstrong, the two undertaking
general agricultural pursuits in the Weed Patch, where two favorable years
brought them excellent returns, but the third year, being dry, lost them all the
profits of the preceding seasons. At another time he bought and subdivided a
block in East Bakersfield, afterward selling a number of the lots for building
purposes, the balance remaining in his possession.

Of Virginian ancestry and lowan birth, Mr. Armstrong is a son of
Thomas E. and Margaret (Walker) Armstrong, natives respectively of West
Virginia and Illinois, the former a pioneer first of Illinois and then of Ringgold
county, Iowa, where he died. The family consisted of six children, all of
whom are living except C. W., late of Kern county. The third in order of
birth, William E., was born in Ringgold county, Iowa, May 29, 1876, and
received public-school education and farm training. At the age of about
twenty he came to Bakersfield, arriving in March of 1896, after which he
tried his luck as a farmer in the Weed Patch and next turned his attention to
teaming between Bakersfield and the Kern river oil field. Becoming interested
in the oil industry, he learned tool-dressing and general work aiound the wells.
During 1907 he went to San Joaquin county and purchased property which
is to be put in alfalfa. Returning to Kern county in 1910 after having rented
the farm he resumed work in the Kern river oil field. In May, 1913, he became
a member of the firm of Armstrong & Reynolds, proprietors of a general mer-
cantile store at Reward, but August 20, 1913, he bought out his partner's
interest, being now the sole owner. Recently he opened another store in Mc-
Kittrick, which is conducted under the firm name of Armstrong & Co.

Ever since casting his first ballot Mr. Armstrong has been a Republican.
Fraternally he holds membership with the Woodmen of the World in Bakers-
field. His first marriage united him with Miss Anna Shackelford, who was
born in Iowa and died at Bakersfield, Cal., leaving two daughters. Pearl and
Ethel. Some years after the death of his first wife he married Miss Sadie
Jenkins, of Bakersfield, a native of Nodaway county. Mo., and a woman
whose capabilities are shown in her co-operation with Mr. Armstrong in
movements for their own personal advancement as well as the general welfare.
Some years ago she located a desert claim of three hundred and twenty acres
at Rio Bravo, where an abundance of water was found at a depth of eighty
feet. In order that the water might be utilized as needed, Mrs. Armstrong
put in a pumping plant of one hundred and fifty inches capacity.

JOSEPH PETER DOOLEY.— The junior member of the firm of James
& Docley, dealers in clothing and men's furnishing goods, is a pioneer
merchant of Taft. He arrived in Taft September 1, 1909, and that same month
became a member of the firm of James & Dcoley, establishing the first clothing
store in Taft on Siding No. 2. This was burned out October 22, 1909.


ANDREW NIXON.— One of the self-made, self-reliant men of Rands-
bursj, Kern county, is Andrew Nixon, wlio since the age of thirteen years has
been earning his own way and providing for himself, without the aid and
comfort of a parent's guidance in the struggle. He is now the successful owner
of several placer mines and one quartz mine in the county.

Mr. Nixon came to Randsburg in 1895, after having numerous experiences
elsewhere in the country between there and Nova Scotia, where his birth oc-
curred January 22, 1865, in Anapolis county. He was sent to the public schools
until he was thirteen, when, left an orphan, he found it incumbent upon him to
look after his own interests and find a way to procure his livelihood. In 1884
he came west to Butte City, Mont., where he started in the mining business,
taking up his residence in that city, where he remained up to the time he came
west to California. In 1902 he bought out a liquor business in Randsburg,
which he is conducting at the present time. He was one-third owner of the
Stanford Gold Coin Mill, afterward called the Stanford Mining and Milling
Company. He was the locator of the Blackhawk mine which he afterwards
sold to a mining company. Mr. Nixon is a member of the i'"ratcrnal Order of

CHARLES EMERSON. — In the .southwest corner of Kern county, run-
ning uji til within erne mile of Ventura county and about three miles from the
San Luis Obispo county line, lies the Paleto ranch of five thousand acres
operated by Emerson Bros. The identification of the family with the ranch
dates back to the ^-ear 1886, when Edward Simpson Emerson removed to
Kern ccunty and pre-empted and homesteaded land twelve miles south of the
present site of Maricopa. For years before coming to this locality he had lived
in California and had engaged in ranching. By birth a Missourian, he had
engaged in the government service in 1848 and as a teamster had hauled
freight to the various government posts. During 1852 he sailed from Mexico
to San Francisco, thence proceeded to Sonoma county and took up land.
There he married Miss Julia Dunbar and in that county their five eldest chil-
dren were bi rn. Removing to San Luis Obispo county in 1868, he continued
to engage in ranching and stock-raising. When he brought his family to
Kern county in 1886 he and his seven sons engaged in rancliing in the Paleto
country. When his demise occurred in 1904 and that of his wife in 1908, both
had attained to the age of seventy-one years.

The family of Edward Simpson Emerson comprised nine children, all
still living, as follows : Perry, on a ranch near Bakersfield ; Zaza, who is on the
Paleto ranch ; Henry, who makes his home on a ranch eight miles south of
Bakcsfield ; Charles, who w^as born in Sonoma county July 6, 1865, and is
still unmarried: Elbert T., a resident of Fillmore, Ventura county; Mollie L.,
who married Clarence S. Green, of Maricopa (represented elsewhere in this
v( lume) ; Edward E., on the Paleto ranch ; Robert, who makes his home at
Fillmore. Ventura county; and Josephine, Mrs. M. T. Bush, who resides on
the Paleto ranch. Since attaining his majority Charles Emerson has lived in
Kern county and has engaged in ranching. With his brothers as partners
he usually maintains a herd of about three hundred head of cattle, but at the
present time they have reduced the bunch to one hundred head, these being
mostly Durham and Hereford cattle of the finest beef grades.

On account ( f a spring of water on the land taken up by Charles Emerson
Messrs. Carr and Haggin entered suit against him and attempted to eject
him from the holdings. He was enjoined from using the waters of the spring.
Litigation followed. Defying the injunction of the superior court of Kern
county, he spent thirty days in jail for conteniDt of c(,urt and in that way
became well known in this section of the state. Through the purchase by hirn
of three hundred and twenty acres and by his father of a similar amount from
the Kern County Land Company, the successors of the original contestants,


the matter was eventually settled and peace was restored. Since then he has
continued his ranching enterprises and with his brothers operates five thou-
sand acres forming what is known as the Paleto ranch, situated twelve miles
south of Maricopa.

JOHN CROSS. — A pioneer in Kern county, John Cross was born in Santa
Clara county, June 16, 1864, and was brought by his parents to a home within
the present borders of Kern in 1866. He attended public schools in a school-
house which stood near Weldon, on the South Fork of the Kern river, until
he was seventeen years old, then devoted himself to farm work until he was
twenty. His first venture for himself was in homesteading one hundred and
sixty acres of government land on the North Fork about three miles above
Kernville, which he began to improve and on which he prospered as a stock-
raise - and general farmer until 1897. Then he sold his land and became a mer-
chant at Bodfish, where he built and started the first store and sold goods
until 1906, when he took up his residence at Mojave. There he is the owner
of a liquor store, at the same time owning a business place at Isabella, which
he leases. For many years he gave his attention to farming and cattle raising
on the South Fork of the Kern river, but has lately sold out his stock-raising

In nearly all his business ventures Mr. Cross has been successful. Be-
sides the interests already mentioned he is the owner also of property in Los
Angeles. Fraternally he affiliates with the Loyal Order of Moose. He mar-
ried Miss Clio B. Tilley, June 14, 1897. Mrs. Cross is a native daughter of
Kern county, born in Kernville, and is the mother of five children, Louis,
Raymond, Marion, John, J., and Clio Helen.

L. A. McCALL. — What is known in the oil world to be the largest
gusher in the L^nited States, and indeed in the entire world, is situated on
section 36, 31-23, in Kern county and owned by the Standard Oil Company.
This lease is the most important owned by the company and contains more
gushers than any other lease in the Midway field, or in fact in any other
lease in the world, and it was here that the celebrated oil gusher known as
McNee No. 10 was brought in in the latter part of July, 1913; and the McNee
No. 6 during the first part of September. No. 10 came in as a powerful gusher,
breaking loose and destroying connections, and flowed uncontrolled for two
weeks, it being estimated that twenty thousand barrels of oil were taken
from it per day. The skill with which this well was controlled and the
difficult and expert work of management are due entirely to the ability of
L. A. McCall, the present foreman, who with the aid of thirty-five expe-
rienced oil men worked night and day for five days, removing the broken
casing and making a new connection with such success that the well was
brought under perfect control and is making twelve thousand barrels per
day, a record, so far as is known (1914), greater than any other gusher in the
world. This section contains besides the No. 10 the following wells, which
are all large gushers: Nos. 1, 4, 6, 12, 15 and 17. All the wells in the sec-
tion with the exception of No. 1 and No. 4, which were already drilled before
his appointment, have been brought in and drilled under the direction of
Mr. McCall, who has been in the employ of the Standard Oil Company for
four years, a year and a half as foreman of section 36.

The son of a veteran oil man of Pennsylvania, Samuel McCall, he was
born at Beaver City, Clarion county, Pa., April 2, 1878, and his father is
now working with him on section 36. It was in McKane county, Pa., that
L. A. McCall started as a tool dresser to learn the oil industry under his
father. He was then sixteen, and three years later he went to West Vir-
ginia to work in the oil fields, remaining three years. Next for a like period
he worked in Ohio oil fields and then moved to Indiana, where he was
employed by a contract driller, and did drilling for the first time. His next
location was in Tilberrv, Ontario, Canada, where he drilled for a year and


then came to California in l''()() and cn-a,L;ecI with tlic C'alifurnia Limited Oil
Comiiany, at Coalins^a. for one year, six months of whidi he worked as a
driller, and then retnrnod east and drilled in Lawrenceville, Lawrence county,
111., for a year. The west attain attracted him, and in I'W he came to Taft
and found employment as driller for the Standard Oil Com])any. He is a
cable as well as a rotary tool driller and his understanding; of the work, his
accuracy and good judgment earned him the promotion to lease foreman, in
March, V)\2. Since then he has continued to give his employers the utmost
satisfaction in his work. Mr. McCall has the advantage of unusually fine
physical and mental strength, which have materially aided him in his upward
striving-. With his wife, who before her marriage in Lawrenceville, 111.,
was Miss So])hronia Stanley, he resides on section 36, in the Standard house.

C. A. BOSTAPH.— Dating his identification with the Kerto lease from
March 17, 1911, he has since been connected with the concern as driller and
as foreman, in which latter ca])acity he now has charge of nine strings of tools,
one of these being rotary and eight cable. Not only does he have a wide per-
sonal acquaintance among oil operators in Kern county, but in addition he is
actively connected with the Petroleum Club at Taft and is a trustee in the
Kerto Club, which was founded in September of 1912 and is' now under the
care of H. H. Madern, president; F. B. Tough, vice-president; and J. D.
Calder, secretary, together with the board of trustees including three gentle-
men besides himself.

A native of Clarion, Clarion county, Pa.. C. A. Bostaph is a sun of An-
drew J. and Mary A. (Black) Bostaph, who still reside on the old Pennsylvania
homestead. I'esides being engaged in farming, the father has oil interests
and the old farm contains six oil wells of considerable value. The family
has been connected with the oil industry for years. lie and his wife are the
parents of five sons and three daughters. Three of the sons are working for
the Standard Oil Company in the jiipe-iine department between West Vir-
ginia and Philadelphia. The fourth son is also engaged in the oil industry
in \Vest \'irginia. while C. A., the second in order of birth, is following
the same business in California. Two of the daughters are wives of oil men
working respectively in Pennsylvania and West \'irginia. The third daughter,
who is unmarried, lives in Oklahoma and is a trained nurse.

Born April 25, 1876, C. A. Bostaph was sixteen years of age when he
began to work as a tool-dresser, going from the Clarion fields to those of
Findlay, Ohio, and four years later removing from Ohio to West Virginia,
where he drilled and had charge of tools. From 1896 until December, 1901,
he continued in West Virginia, whence he came to California. Arriving at
Whittier early in 1902, he continued in that field until June of the same year
and then removed to V'entura county, to enter the employ of the Union Oil
Company. L'ntil 1908 he continued with the Union Oil Company. Meanwhile
he engaged in drilling in the FuUerton and Lompoc fields and later put down
some wells at Taft. Returning to Ventura county, he remained there for two
months. Ne.xt he drilled on the Ethel D. lease, from which point he went to
25 Hill and engaged in drilling for ten months. A short period of labor in
Ventura county was followed by his arrival at Kerto and his association with
the Kern Trading and Oil Company. Lifelong familiarity with the oil industry
has made him acquainted with every phase f)f the work. When only a small
boy he was put to work at ])umping every day as soon as he reached home

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 146 of 177)