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 151 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 151 of 177)
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served in the Austro-Prussian war, and was in his time a popular business
man in the city of Leipsic, Germany, where his son, Gustav Emil, was born
in 1854. The latter also became a soldier in his native country, and served
three years in the One Hundred and Sixth Regiment of Infantry in that
army. He was married in Chemnitz, Saxony, in 1878 to Laura Helena
Clausnitzer, who was born there. Her father, August Clausnitzer, came to
Tulare county, Cal., in 1883, and there he died.

In 1881 Gustav Emil Silber brought his wife to America, settling in Ve-
rona, Pa., where they remained until 1889, at that time coming to Delano,
Kern county, Cal. Here he followed farming and died in 1903, his wife then
removing with her family to East Bakersfield, where she now resides. She
is a Methodist, and is an active member of the Fraternal Brotherhood. Her
children, who all make their residence in East Bakersfield, are as follows:
Elsie, Mrs. R. G. Libby : William G. ; Clara Johanna, Mrs. W. R. Lowe;
Minnie, Mrs. F. S. Sparks; Mattie, Mrs. George Towers; and Eddie R., a
machinist in the employ of the Standard Oil Company.

William G. Silber was but a lad when brought by his parents to Delano,
Cal., and he was here educated in the public schools. Upon reaching man-
hood he followed railroading for a while as locomotive fireman, then was
engaged in the furniture business in East Bakersfield for a time, but finding
it expedient to sell out he disposed of this business and started a barber
shop on Baker street, where he is doing a profitable business. Mr. Silber
married in 1909,Leola M. Weller, who was born in Howell, Mich., and they
have two children, Naoma and Kenneth. He is a member of the Fraternal
Brotherhood, also the P'.rotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Engineers.

OSCAR A. HOLTHE. — Since the initial period of development in the
Kern river oil fields the location and the industry have exercised a particular
attraction upon young men with clearness of intellectual vision and capacity for
work. It is not therefore an occasion for surprise that Mr. Holthe. with his su-
perior qualifications as a mechanic and his liking for industrial activities,
should have sought this place in preference to devoting himself to agriculture
near the comfortable home of his parents. As he had no previous exoerience in
the industry he began at the bottom. LTpon coming to the oil fields in 1909
it was his good fortune to find employment with the Associated Oil Com-
pany and he since has remained with the same concern, having worked during
the first years as a roustabout and well-puller and later was made well-foreman.
On the 22d of February, 1912, he was transferred to the Hecla lease and
here he and his family have established a comfortable home. His jurisdiction
as well-foreman extends through the entire Missouri division of the Associated
Oil Company, including the lease upon which he resides, and both in his own
company and among workers with other concerns in the field he has the popu-
larity and the respect merited by his business ability and genial temperament.

Born in Minneapolis, JNIinn., May 18, 1883, Mr. Holthe was brought by
his parents, Oscar and Ellen Holthe, to California at the age of nine months.
The family settled in Tehama county and there the father, at the age of fifty-
two years, stands among the prosjierous and influential men of his community.
Of the six living children in the family Oscar A., the eldest, was the only one
to seek a livelihood in the oil fields and he turned to this line of work as
offering an interesting avenue for progress in mechanics. Always interested
in mechanical work, he selected such occupative employment in preference to



HISTORY OF KKRX COUNTY' 1307

agriculture, although he was reared on a farm and possesses a substantial
knowledge of grain-farming and stock-raising. Prior to removing from
Tehama county he there married, in August of 1905. Miss Mabel Ham,
daughter of Matthew S. Ham, who then lived in Tehama, but is now a resident
of San Joaquin county. They reside in a cottage on the Hecla lease with their
three children, Helen Irene, Ira Ellsworth and Mildred Elaine. Mr. llolthe
is a member of the ^^'oodmen of the World at Bakersfield. In politics he is a
Republican.

E. S. RHEA. — An honorable experience in the railway service in the
northwest preceded the identification of Mr. Rhea with the oil industry in
the Kern river fields, where for some years he has been retained in charge
of the pumping station of the Kern Trading and Oil Company, being the
older (in point of service) of the two pumpers regularly employed at the plant.
In seeking the west as the locality of future labors, he came from Indiana,
where he had passed the greater part of his early years and where he was
born in Allen county near the city of Fort Wayne, October 8, 1884. While
much of his school life was passed in or near Fort Wayne, he also attended
for a time the schools of Corydon, Ky., and in the spring of 1901 was grad-
uated from the high scht-ol of Auburn, Ind. During the summer following
graduation he left Indiana for Washington and after arriving in Seattle
secured employment with the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, being
sent into the districts where construction work had been inaugurated. For
three years he engaged as an assistant in the building of steel bridges for the
company. The work was extremely hazardous and difificult, but he jHoved
careful, capable and courageous, and his services were so satisfactory to the
company that, at the conclusion of the constructitm work he was made a
locomotive fireman. His first run was from Tacoma to Portland. Later he
was put on the line from Tacoma to Ellensburg and finally was transferred to
the main system between Tact ma and Seattle.

Owing to the fact that railroading lacked the desiral)ility of work in a
fixed position. Air. Rhea resigned his position, although he was in line for
promotion and was popular with those in charge of the road. After leaving
Washington he spent four months in the Risdon iron works at San Francisco
and in January of 1909 came from there to the Kern river fields, where in
March following he was selected for the position he still fills. Before leaving
Washington he married Miss Mary Pinneo, of Tacoma, in July of 1907, and
since coming to the hcldings of the Kern Trading and Oil Company lie and his
wife have made their home in a cozy cottage in Bakersfield.

DAVID SHEEDY.— Descended from an honored old Irish family, Mr.
Sheedy was born in Gilboa township, Benton county, Ind., and grew to
manhood upon a farm. As a boy he alternated his time between work in the
fields during the summer days and attendance at school in the winter months,
and while it was not possible for him to attend school throughout the full
terms, yet he acquired a broad fund of information and could converse with
ease and intelligence upon all subjects of importance. \\'hen he left the farm
and started out to make his own way in the world he took up mercantile pur-
suits. After a time he acquired the ownership of a general store at Lochiel,
Benton county, and this he conducted until failing health forced him to give
up a sedentar}' occupation and remove from the rigorous Indiana climate. He
arrived in East Bakersfield (then known as Kern) in ]\Iarch, 1902, and on the
4th of October, of the same year, his death occurred. There remains to family
and friends the memory of his upright character and purposeful ambitions and
the uplifting influence of his kindly deeds.

At Lochiel, Ind.. in December of 1891, occurred the marriage of David
•Sheedy and Afiss Nellie Kaar. One child blessed the union, Helen, a mem-
ber of the Bakersfield high school class of 1913. Mrs. Sheedy 's father. John



1398 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Kaar, came to Kern county at an early date and became a leading business man
of Kern, erecting a building on Baker street and starting the Citizen's Laun-
dry. The business is still owned by the family and is managed by one of his
sons, George S. (represented elsewhere in this volume). To this concern
Mrs. Sheedy has devoted all of her time in the capacity of bookkeeper and from
the first she was one of its stockholders. Keen business ability is one of her
chief endowments and her services have been most helpful in the satisfactory
prosecution of the business. Since coming to Bakersfield she has formed
many friends among the best people and is particularly well known in East
Bakersfield, where she makes her home and where she is a member of the
Congregational Church. While her leisure hours are few she has found time
to aid in church work, contribute to missionary enterprises and assist in
charitable projects, and also has been able to interest herself in a number of
fraternal organizations. For some years she has been connected with Bakers-
field Chapter No. 125, Order of the Eastern Star, also the Pythian Sisters and
Fraternal Brotherhood and is further identified with the Knights and Ladies
of Security as a charter member and as vice-president of the order at Bakers-
field.

E. CARROLL EMMONS.— The fact that he holds a position of great
responsibility and trust, although one of the youngest men in the employ of
the Honolulu Consolidated Oil Company, indicates that Mr. Emmuns has the
confidence of the officials of the concern and that he has made a record for
efficiency in his own special line of work. To act as purchasing agent for so
large a corporation is no slight task ; that he discharges every duty with
fidelity is evident to all familiar with his work as storekeeper on the lease
situated on section 10, township 32, range 24, in the Midway field, where he
superintends with dispatch and system the buying of all oil-well supplies
as well as the maintenance of the commissary department. Practically all of
his life has been passed in Kern county and the family has been well known
here for many years.

When only fourteen months old Mr. Emmons was brought to Kern
county by his parents, who settled in Bakersfield. He was born at Sisson,
Siskiyou county, August 7, 1891, and in boyhood he attended the Bakers-
field grammar school, graduating from the regular course of study. At the
age of eighteen he became interested in the oil industry, to which he since
has given his time and attention. Upon first coming with the Honolulu Oil
Company in December, 1910, he was under the then superintendent, J. A.
Pollard, as a warehouse man and by successive promotions has risen to be
storekeeper and purchasing agent for the great corporation.

E. W. BAILEY. — Although the greater part of his busy and useful life
has been passed within the limits of California, Mr. Bailey is an Ohioan by
birth and was born at Wilmington, Clinton county, August 26, 1882. In
early life he came west with his parents, J. W. and Catherine (Hiney) Bailey,
who settled at Whittier and sent him to the public schools at that town.
When seventeen he secured employment in the Whittier oil field and within
a year he had gained considerable experience in drilling, in which department
of the oil business he has since gained more than a local reputation. After
four years with the Murphy Oil Company he went to the Coalinga field and
for a year engaged as a driller with the Union Oil Company. Next he took
the contract to drill a well for George Roberts in the Coalinga field.

Coming down to the Midway field during 1909 Mr. Bailey took charge of
the development work for the May Oil Company, with which he engaged as su-
perintendent for one year. In the meantime May's No. 1 was brought in as a
twenty thousand barrel gusher. Not long before this the Santa Fe had brought
in a gusher on section 6 and about six days afterward the famous Lakeview
was the third gusher in the field. The presence of three gushers soon became



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1399

known and caused a great excitement throughout oil circles in the entire
country. The year after coming to the Midway field and while still engaged
with the May's lease, Mr. Bailey married Miss Amy Logan, of Santa Maria;
they have since lived in the Midway field and now have one son, Earl Logan.
From May's Mr. Bailey went to the Rock Oil Company as superintendent.
Ten months later he accepted an advantageous offer from the Midway Five
and in another ten months he became associated as superintendent with St.
Helen's Petroleum Company, Limited, whose stockholders are English cap-
italists, forming practically the same coterie of financiers who own also the
Kern River Oilfields of California, Limited. The holdings of the corporation
comprise one hundred and eighty acres on section 16, township 32, range 24,
and fi rty acres on section 32, township 21, range 24. While but a short time
has ela;ised since the concern began operations in its present location already
two strings of tools are in operation and a third is being started, with the
most favorable prospects for successful enterprises under the systematic
management of Mr. Bailey as superintendent. The only fraternal organization
with which he has connected himself is the Benevtlent Protective Order of
Elks, his membership being with Camp No. 439 at Fresno.

J. A. BENNETT.— The superintendent of Section 25 Oil Company, who
has the distinction of being the pioneer driller on 25 Hill and whose experi-
ences as a driller have made him familiar with oil fields in different parts of
the world, was born at Petrolia, Canada, December 16, 1874, and from earliest
recollections has been familiar with the til industry. The family to which he
belongs boasts a lineage extending back to the early history of colonial
America, and his father, John H. Bennett, a pioneer in the Canadian oil fields
at Petrolia, now makes his home in Vancouver, British Columbia, and not-
withstanding seventy-seven useful and active years he still retains his robust
constitution and mental faculties. He married Miss Mary Jane Barnum,
whose father was a cousin of the noted P. T. Barnum and whose mother's
mother, Malissa Clay, was an own cousin of the famous statesman, Henry Clay.

In a family of nine children J. A. Bennett was third and he spent the
first twenty years of life in his native town of Petrolia, where he learned the
oil business in all of its departments. During 1894 he secured a positit.n as
driller for an Amsterdam syndicate that owned large concessions on the
island of Sumatra in the Malayan Archipelago. For two and one-half years
he engaged in drilling on Sumatra, where he had charge of one hundred and
fifty thousand acres for the com])any. The eleven wells which he drilled
averaged from five hundred to fifteen hundred feet. The oil was of fifty-two
degrees gravity. Production varied from three hundred to five hundred bar-
rels. The excessively hot and humid climate of Sumatra brought on fever
and forced him to resign his position. Next he engaged in drilling for the
Shell Transport and Trading Company on the island of Borneo, where he
remained abiut three years and meanwhile made three discovery wells run-
ning from eighteen hundred to two thousand feet in depth, with an asphalt
base. The oil was of eighteen degrees gravity. After three years on Borneo
he returned to America via the Pacific ocean to San Francisco. During
December of 1899 he arrived at Bakersfield at the time of the boom incident
to the discovery of oil in the Kern river field. About the middle of the sum-
mer of 1900, while working un the Sunset coast No. 1 well, on 25 Hill, he struck
oil at a depth of fifteen hundred and twenty-five feet, and this was the first oil
well brought in on the now famous section 25. The oil was of fifteen degrees
gravity and production averaged about one hundred barrels. While engaged
in drilling for oil on section 22, 32-23, he struck water at a depth of one thou-
sand feet. As the price of water was high and the quality of this well excellent
for boiler purposes, the company paid off the driller, deciding that water was
more valuable to them than oil.



1400 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

The marriage of Mr. Bennett and Dr. Jean Worthington took place at
Bakersfield in 1902 and afterward they went to British Burmah, where for
three years lie had charge of oil production and development for a large cor-
poration. Their first child James Gordon Bennett, was be rn in Upper Bur-
mah. The younger children, Nota B. and Jean, were born after the return
of the family to America. Mrs. Bennett is a graduate of the dental depart-
ment. University of California, with the class of 1898, and has practiced the
dental profession with success in her home city of Bakersfield. After a
second trip around the world Mr. Bennett settled in Cobalt, Canada, with the
hope that the change of climate would rid his system of the malaria con-
tracted in the tropics. Coming to Bakersfield in l'>06, he entered the employ
of the Associated Oil Company on the San Joaquin division and upon the
promction of Superintendent Bruce he was chosen to fill the position of
drilling superintendent and later, on the promotion of L. J. King to the Mc-
Kittrick division, he was made superintendent of production. After four
years with the Associated he engaged in drilling for the Standard and in 1911
began to drill for the Tejon Oil Company in the Kern river field, later drilling
for the Sunset Security a well four tlu usand feet deep. Since taking charge of
the Section 25 Oil Company in February, 1913, he has maintained an average
production of fifty thousand barrels per month and has superintended the
crew of forty workmen employed by this large corporation.

JAMES O. McCaffrey. — in the capacity of chief mechanical engineer
Mr. McCaffrey has charge of the boiler-house and statii nary engines on sec-
tion 16 division of the North American Oil Consolidated, and his experience as
a skilled machinist enables him to fill with success a most responsible and trust-
worthy position. Belfast, Ireland, is his native heme and July 8, 1873, the
date of his birth. He is a son of Patrick and Catherine (Bouges) McCaffrey,
who were born, reared and married in Ireland, and during middle age came to
America, settling in South Dakota, where now they own and live upon a large
cattle ranch in Clark county. Their family comprises six living children, be-
sides which they had two who died in early life. The eldest, James O., is the
only member cf the family in California. Mary married P. J. Murphy, who
is now a storekeeper in Melbourne, Australia. Hugh and Thomas are part-
ners in the cattle-raising business in Clark county, S. Dak. Francis is em-
ployed as a steamship inspector by Harlem & Woolf, the great ship-building
concern that produced the Titantic and other marvels of ocean speed. The
youngest member of the family. Miss Annie McCaffrey, is living with her
parents in South Dakota.

Upon leaving the national schools in Belfast it was the plan of James O.
McCaft'rey to become an apprentice with Harlem & Woolf, but, wishing to
see something of the world, he decided to come to America instead. During
May of 1890 he arrived in Pittsburg, Pa., where lived an uncle, Patrick Cos-
grove, the superintendent of the steel furnace of the Carnegie works at Brad-
dock, Allegheny county. During his brief visit he was cenvinced of the advis-
ability of learning a trade, and for this purpose returned to Ireland and
became an apprentice at the trade of machinist and engineer. That deter-
mination was carried out and he spent three years in the great plant of Har-
lem & Woolf, where he completed his time and acquired a reputation for
skilled work. Again coming to America, he this time found ready work as an
engineer under his uncle and for four years he continued in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile he had married Miss Bridget D. Lalley, a native of county Gal-
way, Ireland, and the young couple in 1903 sailed for Honolulu. Upon his
arrival there he was given charge of the engine room on the Ewea sugar
plantation. During the three years passed on the Hawaiian Islands two
children were born to them, but both died in infancy. Leaving the islands
they came to San Francisco, where Mr. McCaffrey secured employment as



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1401

foreman in the steel department of the Merle Ornamental and Bronze Com-
pany. Three years were spent in the city and in the meantime he and his wife
endured all the horrors incident to the famous earthquake and fire. While
there he was a popular worker in Division 7, Ancient Order of the Hibernians,
also took a leading part in the Irish National Foresters. About 1909 he left
San Francisco and came to Taft, where on the second day he secured a
position as engineer on the section 16 division of the North American Oil
Consolidated and ever since then he has devoted himself closely to the duties
incident to his post of trust and res )onsibility. From early life both he and
his wife have been earnest members of the Roman Catholic Church. They oc-
cupy a company house and their modest but cosy home abounds with good
cheer and comfort.

KEITH B. LE GAR. — Rapid rise to prominence in the oil industry has
characterized the occupative activities of Keith B. LeGar, who as foreman on
the section 16 division of the Ni rth American Oil Consolidated feels a just
pride in a responsible identification with one of the leading corporations oper-
ating in the Alidway field. But few years have passed since he began to be
familiar with the oil industry, and such lias been his mental alertness and
the quickness of his intelligence that he has grasped all the details connected
with the business in a comparatively brief period. On the 1st of January, 1913,
he was promoted to his present position as production foreman, in which
capacity he has the full confidence of his employers and of the twenty-four
men under him. The average monthly production on the division is about forty
thousand barrels

Mr. LeGar was born at Buchanan, Mich., April 2, 1889, and is the elder
of two brothers, the younger being Kenneth LeGar, who has charge of
the tools on the Kerto division of the Kern Trading & Oil Company near
Maricopa. The father, Edwin LeGar, who was a farmer in Berrien county,
Mich., died about 1895, and later the mother, who bore the maiden name of
Estella Baker, became the wife i f James Snodgrass. At this writing she still
makes her home at Buchanan, Berrien county. The boyhood years of Keith
LeGar were made unhappy by the inconsiderate treatment accorded him by
his step-father and when he was sixteen he left the home farm in Berrien
county, determined to make his own way in the world. Prior to their mar-
riage, which was solemnized May 14, 1913, Mrs. LeGar was Miss Blanche
Carter.

For three and one-half years Mr. LeGar was employed in Arizona and
much of that time was spent in driving stage between Prescott and Hooper.
From Arizona he came to California in 1909 and secured employment in San
Luis Obispo county, where he ga'ned his first ex'jerience in the oil industry.
For a time he engaged as tool-dresser with the San Luis Bay Oil Company.
Ccming over to the Midway field in 1910, he worked on various leases until
December of the same year, when he was given a roustabout's position on
section 16 division of the North American. In a short time he was made gang-
pusher, after which he was promoted to be foreman, and in each post of duty
he has proved to be trustworthy, energetic and eminently capable.

FRANK J. MORA. — When the Castilian ancestors of the Mora family
first crossed the ocean from Snain to America during the latter part of the
eighteenth century and settled in Mexico they were led by a gallant Spaniard,
the head of the ancient house, Raphael de la Mora, whose last days were spent
amid the somewhat crude conditions then existing in the new world. A
grands, n of the Castilian forefather. Pedro, passed all of his active years in
carrying on a stock ranch in the Rio del Ora mountains of Mexico. For
convenience the farhily name was shortened to the present form. J'rank J.,
son of Pedro, was born at the ranch home near Zamora, Michoacan, Mexico,
in 1877. At the age of eleven years in 1888 he came to California to make his



1402 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

home with an older sister, Mrs. Nettie Smith in Tulare, and to have the ad
vantages of the public schools of that place. For eight years he made his
headquarters at the residence of Mrs. Smith, who afterward removed to Por-
terville and is now living in the latter town. Besides attending the public
schools he also for a time was sent to a private institution of learning.

The skill which the lad displayed in the handling of horses led J. F.



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 151 of 177)