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 149 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 149 of 177)
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had the pleasure of seeing his ever-optimistic prophecy for the future of the
Pacific coast region well fulfilled.

WILHELM ADOLPH WIRTH.— The good influence of German blood
in the upbuilding of our American institutions has long been recognized, for
the German-American, wherever his lot may be cast, stands for prosperity
and enlightenment. He is ready in war and in peace to defend the land he
loves and by his industry and prudence is a potent factor in the advancement
of all worthy interests as well as of the general prosperity of the community.
Wilhelm Adolph Wirth, of German parentage, was born at WeIdon,on the
south fork of the Kern river, in Kern county, December 19, 1878, the son of
Adam Christian Wirth, whose sketch also appears in this work. He at-
tended public school until he was seventeen years old and worked for his
father until he was twenty-one. Then he began on his own account, engag-
ing in farming and acquiring real estate. In 1902 he opened a liquor store
in Kernville, and has invested in property in Bakersfield.

On May 5, 1905, Mr. Wirth married Miss Millie Ross, a native of Kern-
ville, Kern county, and they have a daughter Louise. Mr. Wirth is Re-
publican in politics, and has been a member of the Republican County Central
Committee. For five years he was deouty sheriff under Henry Borgawardt
and J. W. Kelly, and he is now faithfully filling the ofifice of deputy constable.
For some j'ears he was school trustee at Kernville. Fraternally he afifiliates
with the Eagles.

GEORGE W. KING.— A resident of Isabella, Kern county, Cal., George
W. King was born in Bedford county, Tenn., April 23, 1853. He attended the
.public school near his home until he was nineteen years old, and then until
he was twenty-one assisted his father in the latter's business. Meanwhile
he learned telegraphy and during the ne.xt two years he was employed as a
telegraph operator at Normandv. He gave up that employment to become
a general merchant and as such he prospered eight years. After that until
1879 he was in the stock and lumber business.

In the vear last mentioned Mr. King came to California and located in
Hanford, Kings county, where for seven years he worked as a carpenter.
Later he was otherwise employed and in 1894 he settled in Kern county,
where for three y.ears he devoted himself to mining He was one of the
fathers of the thriving town of Isabella and was for eight years its post-
master, being the first incumbent of that office. Fie built the first house in
Isabella, also the first store buildings and put in the first stock of general
merchandise. He is now the proprietor of a prosperous general store, and
also owns a hundred and sixty-acre tract near Fairmont, in Los Angeles
county. He owns the New Century and Colwell mines, which he opened up
by tunnels and cross-cuts, thus opening a big ledge of twenty-three feet in the
New Century, where he built a five-stamp quartz mill. The Century mine is
big body low-grade ore, while the Colwell is high-grade free milling ore. Mr.
King has forty acres of land on South Fork under irrigation, and he has
acquired ten town lots and a residence.

On February 19, 1908. Mr. King married Miss Elizabeth Parker, who
was born in Illinois in 1867 and was brought to California by her parents
when she was six years old. One child, Elizabeth J., has been born to their
union. The first marriage of Mr. King, which took place in Tennessee, was
to Margaret J. Cully, who passed away there, leaving a child, Eustice L., now
superintendent of S. W. & B. Oil Company, at Coalinga. Mr. King has been
a leader in many things of public importance and his fellow townsmen have
come to depend on him as a man of public spirit who will not fail them in any

CHARLES HENRY FRY.— The energy with which Mr. Fry prosecuted
the teaming business when in partnership with his father until the death


uf the latter brought him the good wishes of those with whom he had busi-
ness dealings and when he decided to remove to the country and lake up
agricultural operations on his ranch which he bought, located eleven miles
south of Bakerslield, in the hope that his children might be benefited by his
hard work and self-denial he had only words of praise and encouragement
from all. It was necessary for himself and wife to give up many conveniences
to which they had become accustomed in Bakersiield. The work on the
farm was difficult and trying, but they are a persevering young couple
and are cultivating the land with energy and perseverance.

In the old river district of Kern county Mr. Fry was born I'^ebruary
8, 1881, being a son of Joseph Benson Fry, a pioneer of Bakerslield, who
came to California from Illinois in 1877 and died May 26, 1911, aged fifty-six
years. His wife, who also was of Illinois l^irth, bore the maiden name of
Johanna Evelyn Banks. Two sons and three daughters survive, namely:
Arthur D., a bookkeeper in Bakersfield ; Mrs. W. W. Ramage and Mrs. F. A.
Nighbert, both of Bakersfield; Lola, who resides with her mother in this
city; and Charles Henry, who received his education in Kern county, engaged
in the team contracting business with his father and also for two years main-
tained a grocery store in Bakersfield, whence he removed to the farm. In
politics he votes with the Republican party, while fraternally he is con-
nected with the Foresters. In 1901 he married Miss Florence Hix, a native
of Missouri. They are the parents of three children, Lloyd O., Charles B.
and Eunice F.

S. C. BIRCHARD. — .\ record of the business activities of Mr. P.irchard
is to a large extent a recital of the history of Taft, with which he 1ias been
identified from its beginning and to which he has given freely of time and
energies and intelligent co-operation. He is now associated wiih ( fficial
afTairs, in the capacity of city recorder. Born in Cass county, Iowa. March
2, 1882, and reared in Davenport, that state, Mr. Birchard received a high-
school education and at the age of fourteen began to learn the butcher's
trade with Robinson Bros., of Davenport. From that time to the present
he has engaged in the meat business. When he decided to leave Davenport
he resigned his position with Robinson Bros., proceeded at once to Cali-
fornia and landed in Bakersfield during December of 1T03. In lh:s city
he married Miss Carrie L. Sullivan, of Davenport, Iowa, in March of 1904,
and for a time thereafter continued as an employe in the Opera market,
after which he embarked in business at Hanford. .-Xt the time o'' the oil
excitement of 1909 he drove across the country in a single l^uggy. landing
at the Midway field in February and taking up work under Mr Rogers.
During June of 1909 he bought out his employer. On the 1st of >"■ \em1)er
he began to build the Pioneer market, which he opened about Tlianks-
giving and Cf nducted until selling out to Musick & Burnham in May of
1910. From that time he .served as treasurer of the Taft Public 'Milities
Company until the stock of the concern was sold to the Consumer'; in Feb-
ruary of 1912. In the spring of 1911 he was appointed city recordnv Since
coming to this city he has affiliated with the Improved Order of K'cd Men.
Any movement for the local upbuilding receives his .stanch sup]) r'. ^^'ith
cordial enthusiasm he gives of time and means and influence t( iiromote
such enterprises as make for tlie i)rosperit}- uf tlie peiii)le and the idvance-
ment of the city.

JAMES F. BROWN. — Various lines of business activity have ( 'grossed
the attention of Mr. Brown since in early life he began the task ( i making
his own way in the world and at this writing fills an importam nosition
as drilling foreman on the M. J. & M. & M. Consolidated Oil Company's
lease. When he began with this concern, September 13. 1909, it was as a
roustabout, but was soon made lease foreman, from which he v ked up


to be drilling foreman and became a stockholder. Since he arrived in the
Sunset field and entered the service of the Monte Cristo he has nut lost a
day from work, but persistently carries forward the duties of his department.

Although the Browns are of an old American family, identified with
the colonial history of our country, Gustav, father of James F., is a native
of Germany, born during the temporary sojourn of his parents in that
country. When one year old he was brought to the United States, the
family settling in Maryland. For eight years prior to the Civil war he
was in the United States army service under Major Carlton of the United
States Dragoons. Much of the time he was stationed on the frontier and
thus saw much of the western and southern country, principally New Mex-
ico, Arizona, Texas and California. While stationed at Fort Tejon he was
wounded in an Indian skirmish. Becoming a permanent settler of Cali-
fornia he served as a deputy under Sheriff Adams in Santa Clara county and
later engaged in farming in Santa Cruz county, but eventually retired from
active work and is now making his home at Hollister. In Los Angeles he
married Miss Lydia Morse, a native of Nebraska, who also survives at the
present time. They became the parents of eight children, namely: James F.,
of Kern county; Mrs. Annie Yeager, wife of a hotel proprietor at Avalon,
Catalina island ; Charles E., deceased ; Matilda, who married George Wright,
a farmer of San Benito county; Alice, who married Albert Donovan, a
railroad man living at San Jose ; Cora, wife of Albert Bell, an insurance
adjuster in New York City; Robert A., an engineer whose home is in the
northern part of California; and Minnie, a trained nurse in San Francisco.

During the residence of the family at Santa Cruz, this state, James F.
Brown was born in that city August 15, 1865. In boyhood he was a pupil
in the local schools. At the age of eighteen he removed from Santa Cruz
to Hollister and secured employment on a farm. At an early age he learned
the processes incident to well-drilling and soon after attaining his majority
he became the owner of a new well-drilling machine. For a number of
years he devoted his entire time to the drilling of wells in Santa Clara, San
Benito, Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. The principal objection to such
emplo3mient was the necessity for being away from home much of the time,
so after his marriage in 1899 he settled upon a farm in San Benito county.
Meantime while still living at Hollister he had learned the trade of engineer
and also has become familiar with bridge construction, following both occu-
pations at intervals of other work. From 1900 until 1908 he operated a dairy
near Hollister and kept a herd of forty milch cows, but the work proved too
heavy for his strength and he turned his attention to different lines of labor.
Going to San Francisco he engaged as shipping clerk for Bemis Brothers
Bag Company, but resigned his position and came to Kern county on the
4th of July, ir09. At first he engaged as a carpenter on the Monte Cristo
lease at Maricopa, but in little more than a year he began an association with
the company that still has his time and attention. He makes his home on
the company lease, his family consisting of a son, Richard F., born in 1900,
and his wife, Mrs. Itha (Shore) Brown, daughter of Richard Shore, of

R. M. DODGE. — After years of successful identification with other in-
terests during February of 1912 Mr. Dodge established his home on a
ranch of sixty acres which he had purchased ten years before and which
lies on Union avenue, section 18, nine miles south of Bakersfield. He expects
to make a specialty of barred Plymouth Rock poultry and Mammoth Bronze
turkeys and with this end in view he has secured a foundation stock that in
breeding, pedigree and markings has no superior in this entire valley. In
addition to this property he has also owned for a number of years two hun-
dred and forty acres of redwood and tanbark timber in Mendocino county.


About ten miles west of Hagerstown, .in Washington county, Md., stood
the country home of \\illiam and Sarah E. (Mason) Dodge, and there
occurred the birth of R. M. Dodge November 18, 1852. The father, a native
of Georgetown, D. C, was a son of Francis Dodge, for years a very influ-
ential business man of that city, while the mother was a daughter of Rich-
ard Mason, a prominent resident of Alexandria, Va. It was natural that
Mr. Dodge should develop ambitious longings for an education and had it
not been for the disastrous eft'ects of the Civil war he would have remained
in college until graduation ; as it was, he had fair advantages at St. John's
College in Annapolis and the Shenandoah Valley Academy at Winchester,
Va. \Vhen twenty-five years of age he came as far west as Colorado, where
he secured employment on a sheep ranch near Colorado Springs. After fuur
years in the same location he removed to Trego county, Kan., where he
was interested in the sheep business for three years. February 14, 1886,
he arrived at Auburn, Placer county, Cal., and from there proceeded to
Salinas, Monterey county, where for three years he acted as superintendent
of a ranch.

It is as a trainer of bird dogs that Mr. Dodge has acquired a wide repu-
tation throughout the west. His work in that line began while he had charge
of the Harper ranch near Suisun City, Solano county. After three years on
that ranch he resigned to superintend a kennel of his own at Kenwood.
For three years he conducted the Kenwood kennels and then went to Ala-
meda county, where for one year he had charge of the kennels owned by
Mrs. Hearst. Meanwhile he had formed the acquaintance of W. S. Tevis,
whose attention he had attracted through his manifest success in the train-
ing of dogs and when he left the Hearst estate it was for the purpose of
taking charge vi the Stockdale kennels on the Tevis ranch. Until 1912 he
continued in the same position and when he finally resigned it was with the
object of retiring from the business and engaging in general farming.
Since that time he has occupied and superintended his own country prop-
erty, where he and his family have established a comfortable home. Prior
to their marriage in 1892 Mrs. Dodge was Miss Elizabeth S. Stockton, her
father having been a leading pioneer physician, while her brother is super-
intendent of schools of Kern county. There are three children in the Dodge
family, namely: Marion E., a student in the Los Angeles Normal School;
Mar)'' M., at home; and R. AI., Jr., a bright boy of seven years, now attend-
ing the country schools. In politics Air. Dodge maintains an independent
position, voting for those whom he considers best qualified to represent the
people. As early as 1887 he became a member of La Salle Lodge, I. O. O. F.,
at Salinas.

JOHN FLETCHER MORRIS.— Living on Bakersfield rural free de-
livery route No. 2, Kern county, Mr. Morris has a past of which he may
well be proud and a future brilliant with promise of personal honor and
substantial achievement. Born in Montgomery county, Mo., April 15, 1857,
he had limited educational advantages, his parents' death making it neces-
sary for him at an early age to assume the management of the home farm.
He devoted himself to general farming in his native state till 1883. then
emigrated to New Mexico, where he found employment as a fireman on the
Santa Fe railroad. From New Mexico he came to California, following that
occupation on the Southern Pacific lines between Los Angeles and liakersfield.

In 1887 Mr. Morris pre-empted a homestead of one hundred and sixty
acres, a part of the property now known as Tejon ranch, which he improved
and did dry farming for twenty-one years. The time he could spare from
his land he devoted to teaming, hauling borax from the mines. He saved
his money and from time to time purchased additional acreage, including
one section of railroad land, owning eventually seventeen hundred acres


which he sold to the proprietors oi the Tejon ranch in order to locate on
what is his present home ranch of eighty acres. \A'hen he came to the
place in 1908. only about half of it was under cultivation. He has put in
a one-acre orchard and made other improvements and is now raising grain
and alfalfa while devoting considerable area to pasturage.

As a citizen Mr. Morris is public-spirited and supports every measure
which in his judgment promises to benefit any considerable number of his fel-
low citizens. He is an Odd Fellow and member of Woodmen of the World.
He served as deputy assessor during the administration of Assessor J. M.

R. C. HUGHES.— The best gushers in Kern county for the year 1913
were struck in the Maricopa flats in the Sunset field, with the sole exception
of those un the celebrated AIcNee lease (section 36) in the ]\Iidway field
operated by the Standard Oil Company. Of all the west side territory in
the year named few claims attracted the attention bestowed upon the Alari-
copa Northern and Midway Northern Oil Companies, whose two leases each
of eighty acres form a very valuable property and adjoin the famous Mari-
copa Queen on the north. On these two holdings one rotary and two
standard rigs are employed. As manager of a standard rig Mr. Hughes is
proving a competent driller and exceptionally capable man for a position of

From his earliest memories Mr. Hughes has been familiar with the oil
industry. His father, Samuel Hughes, a blacksmith at Franklin, Venango
county, Pa., owned oil land five miles from that city and at his death in
1910 left an estate of considerable value. Born at the family homestead in
Franklin September 28, 1871, R. C. Hughes was one of fourteen children
that attained mature years, his mother having been Anna (Campbell) Hughes,
who died three months after the demise of her husband. Of the large fam-
ily he was the youngest and it was thought advisable to train him to his
father's trade. Hence he spent the years from fifteen to eighteen as an ap-
prentice in the blacksmith shop, but as soon as his time had expired he struck
out fur the oil fields. For three years he worked for the Fisher Oil Com-
pany in Venango county. When twenty-one he went to Freeport, Ohio,
and secured employment as a tool-dresser. At the expiration of two years
he left Ohio for Indiana and at Greenfield had his first experience in drill-
ing, being employed by Al Cole, a local oil man. From that time to the
present he has engaged steadily in the drilling department of the oil indus-
try and was successively employed at Greenfield, Ind., Gibsonburg, Ohio,
Bay City, Mich, (where a wild-cat proposition engaged his time), and Cluryon
Cross, Ontario, Canada.

Following a period of employment as a driller at Peru, Kan., in 1906
Mr. Hughes came to California and for a year engaged in drilling at McKit-
trick. During 1907 he went to Alaska to drill for the Alaska Coal Oil and
Development Company at Ketella, where he struck oil. Returning to the
United States in 1908 he became a driller for the American Oilfields, Con-
solidated, at Fellows, where he and his family have since made their home,
altheugh since May of 1913 he has been employed as a driller with the
Maricopa Alidway and Northern JXIidvvay Oil Companies in the Sunset field.
While living at Greenfield, Ind., he met and married Miss Susie Banks.
They are the parents of three children. The son, Albert, is employed as
a tool-dresser and assistant to his father. Wilda is the wife of William
Wellman, of Fellows, and Ida is a student in the Fellows schools.

HENRY J. BRANDT.— Several successive generations of the Brandt
family were intimately identified with important enterprises in Denmark,
one of the must influential of these representatives having been Christian J.
Brandt, the owner of large tracts of land and also a ship-owner. The grain


raised on his own lands as well as that purchased from otlier farmers he
shipped on his own vessel to Germany and thus l)uilt up a larsje trade between
the two countries. Fine mental endowments admirably qualified him for
commercial affairs of magnitude. Such enterprises he ci inducted with signal
success. Had he lived in a different country at a more modern era of the
world's history he would have been denominated a captain of industry and
a progressive promoter of great interests. As it was, his name did not
penetrate into any localities remote from his immediate environment and
the harbors where his ships cast anchor. Among his children was a son,
Christian Jensen Brandt, who in youth shipped as seaman to Africa, left
the vessel at one of the ports in that country and for seven years remained
there, engaged in \'arious occupations fur the earning of a livelihood. L'pon
his return he assisted his father in business and managed a farm that he
owned, later acquiring land for himself. Both he and his wife, who bore
the maiden name of Anna ]\I. Peterson, are still living in their native Denmark.

The family of Christian Jensen Brandt comprises seven children now liv-
ing and of these the third, Henry J., was born at Aeroeskjobing, Aero, off the
coast of the main land of Denmark, November 22, 1879. From that rock-bound
coast the young man came to the new world in 1896, prepared for earn-
ing a livelihood through an expert knowledge of horse-shoeing and the
blacksmith's trade, to which he had been apprenticed at the age of fourteen
years. Crossing the continent to San Francisco he proceeded to ^lendocino
county and entered the employ of the Gualala Lumber Company. At the
expiration of two years, feeling the need of a better knowledge of the F,ng-
lish language, he returned to San Francisco and began to study in the city
schools. A year later he went to Dinuba, Tulare county, to work at his
trade and next he purchased a blacksmith's shop at Malaga, Fresno county.
During 1901 he came to Kern county, where for two years he engaged in
the oil industry .and also owned an interest in the Kern County iron works
at Maricopa.

The business headquarters of Air. Brandt have been at Bakersfield since
1903, at which time he opened a horse-shoeing shop at No. 1414 Eighteenth
street. At the expiration of eighteen months he bought an interest in the
Panama livery stable and for a year managed that as well as his shop, but
then sold the stable in order to devote his entire time to his trade. About 1906
he began to rent out his teams. Finding a steady demand for teams, he
bought other horses and mules from time to time until finally, instead of
having only one team, he now owns one hundred and eighty head of work
animals. At his shop, No. 210 Chester avenue, he does the horse-.shoeing for
his own teams as well as for the public. It is said that he never violated
a contract nor broke his word when once given, and such a record justly gives
him a high place in the citizen.ship of Bakersfield. \\hile he has for several
years engaged in general contracting, he has lately enlarged his Inisiness
and entered into it on a broader scale. He has completed a sub-contract
under Mahoney Bros, for the pipe-line and station work between Connor
Station and Lobeck for the General Petroleum Company,. which line trans-
ports oil from the Westside oil fields to San Pedro. This line covers three
miles and has five stations from the valley to the summit. His experience
in the past and his large equipment for the purpose render it possilile for Mr.
Brandt to execute the" heaviest work with efficiency and dispatch, and he is
continually branching out on new projects.

The marriage of Mr. Brandt took place in this city in T'O.? and united
him with Miss Pearl C. Maynard, who was born at York, 111., and by whom
he has three children. Louis James. Cordelia Grace and Bernice. Besides his
business holdings and his stock in the Security Trust Company of Bakers-
field (of which he was one of the organizers) he is the owner of two ranches.


Three and one-half miles to the southwest of the city lies his well-improved
farm of eighty-five acres, where he makes his home. This is well-adapted for
vegetables and contains soil as rich as may be found in the entire state. The
family are adherents of the Lutheran Church. Politically Mr. Brandt votes
with the Republican party, while fraternally he was made a Mason in Bakers-
field Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M., and he also holds membership with the
Woodmen of the World and the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

MRS. ALICE A. GRAIN. — The possession of a high degree of business
ability on the part of Mrs. Crain is indicated by the sagacious judgment which

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 149 of 177)