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 155 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 155 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


l>ecome prominent locally through his prowess as a runner and his skill as a
swimmer and in 1879 he swam entirely across the Mississippi river. At Mar-
shalltown he served as a member of the volunteer fire department about five
years, being first foreman and later chief of the department. Largely to his
work was due the winning of the prizes in the Council Blufifs races in 1889.
For seven years he wi rked in a machine shop at Marshalltown and mean-
while he acquired a thorough knowledge of the trade of machinist, which
later he followed for two years in the Iowa Central machine shops. Next
he secured a position as division foreman on the Chicago &. Northwestern
Railroad and ccntinued in that place for seven years, first at Carroll and
later at Boone, Iowa. When he resigned it was to come to the west. Upon
his arrival at Bakersfield in January, 1887, he secured work as a machinist
in the Southern Pacific shops. At the expiration of seven months he was
promoted to be roundhouse foreman and since then has devoted his entire
time to the filling of the position. The climate of Bakersfield has proved
healthful and congenial, the possibilities of the place awaken his enthusiastic
interest and he has shown his faith in the future of the city by buying lots and
building three houses in East Bakersfield, which he rents. For a number of
years he was a member of the volunteer fire department in Kern, from 1900
to 1904 he served as a trustee of the village and in both these positions he
did valuable work for the town in the protecting of the. property and the
rights of the citizens. Politically he is a Democrat. After coming west he
was made a Masc n in Bakersfield Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M., and he is also
connected with the Fraternal Brotherhood. His marriage was solemnized in
Marshalltown, Iowa, and united him with Miss Elsie Hastings, who was born
and reared in that city. They are the parents of five children, Harry, Floyd,
Fannie, Lillian and Birdie. The eldest son is a machinist and the younger
members of the family are students in the local schools.

DONALD H. FORSYTH.— With the exception of perhaps six years
spent in Nevada during the period of the mining excitement at Guldfield and
vicinity, Mr. Forsyth has been a lifelong resident of California and much of
the time he has made his home in Kern county, although he was born in San
Luis Obisno in 1874. Not only was his father a pioneer of that part of the
state, but in addition he was identified with the early upbuilding of Kern
county and in bcth olaces of residence he won and retained the confidence of
other pioneers. At the time of the removal of the family to Kern county the
son was a mere lad, hence his education was obtained principally in the pub-
lic schools here and after he left school he learned the laundry business. i\Iuch
of his time has been given to this work, and at this writing, as for some years
past, he is in the employ of the American laundry, a local industry of con-
siderable prominence.

In Los Angeles occurred the marriage of Donald H. Forsyth and Mrs.
Mary (Cant) Beatty, a native of Illinois. Her father, Sylvester Gant, who
died at her home some years ago, was born and reared in Chester, 111., and in
young manhood he came with friends to California. The trip was made in a
wagon drawn by oxen. The plains were crossed in safety and he then traveled



HISTORY OF KERX COUNTY 1421

throujTh California, working at any occupation that was offered. A brief stay
was followed by a return to Illinois, where he married and established a home.
Finally, however, he sold his interests there and brought his family to Cali-
fornia, where he became a pioneer of Kern ccunty and one of the very earliest
settlers on Caliente creek in the Weed Patch.

Shortly after the mines at Goldfield had begun to draw pe(>i)k' to that
section of Nevada, Mr. and Mrs. Forsyth removed to that camp and he
engaged in prospecting and mining, also conducted a laundry business. Six
years were spent in Nevada, whence they returned to California and settled at
Bakersfield. Later they purchased two lots on the corner of 1 and Twenty-first
streets, where they erected the St. Elmo hotel. The building burned to the
ground in August of 1910 and they then erected a substantial structure of two
stories, now known as the Florence hotel. Both Mr. and Mrs. Forsyth are
Republicans. Fraternally j\Ir. Forsyth is a Mason of the Royal Arch degree
and in religion he is in sympathy with the wl rk of the Methodist Episcopal
Church and his wife is an active member of that organization. ]\lrs. Forsyth
has one child by her first marriage, Charles W. Beatty, a merchant of Mari-
copa

A. B. POLHEMUS. — Very early in the colonization of the new world
the Polhemus family became identified with the agricultural upbuilding of the
region lying along the Atlantic seaboard. Later generations turned from agri-
culture to the industrial trades, but in whatever occupation followed the fam-
ily was known for integrity of purpose and energy of will. It was Edward
Polhemus, a native of Trenton, N. J., who established the family in regions
further west. As early as 1832 he took up a tract of raw land in Washtenaw
county, Mich., where he engaged in farming. During 1860 he took up land in
Greene county. Mo., but with the outbreak ^ f the war he found the location
undesirable, for he was thoroughly Union in his sympathies, while the neigh-
borhood was intensely southern in sentiment. Lack of harmony led him to re-
move to Illinois in lb'62 and he settled on a farm in Champaign county, where
for seventeen years he had nn re or less success in agricultural enterprises.
During 1879 he established a home in Pittsburg, Kan., where he died at the
age of ninety-two years.

In the family of this western i)ioneer there was a son, Thomas S., whose
birth occurred at Port Byron, N. Y., and whose life occupation has been that
of a painter. Beginning the trade in the John Deere plow works at Moline,
111., he ci ntinued the business in Danville, 111., for more than forty years until
his final retirement from active labors. During young manhood he had mar-
ried Augusta M. Hankey, a native of Wurtemberg, Germany, and now seventy-
three years of age. At the age of eighty he is hale and robust and among the
people of Bakersfield, where he makes his home, he is regarded as a man of
excellent information and fine qualities of heart and mind. By his marriage
to Miss Hankey there was an only child, A. B., whose birth occurred at
Sadorus, Champaign county. 111., July 27, 1863, and whose education was
obtained in the Danville public schools. From boyhood he was familiar with
the trade of painter. From eighteen until twenty-one years of age he wi rked
in Western Michigan. Upon returning to Illinois he engaged in business with
his father at Danville. Ultimately their trade took them to other parts of
Illinois and even into Wisconsin. Many of their contracts were for public
buildings and represented a large outlay of uKmey as well as considerable
time for the work.

Coming to California in 1910 and settling in Bakersfield, Mr. Polhemus
has business headquarters on the corner of I and Eighteenth streets, while
for a residence he has purchased and now occupies property at Nos. 214-216
Eureka street. All of his time is devoted to the filling of painting c.-ntracts in
Bakersfield and Kern county and in this work he has the energetic assistance



1422 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

of liis three eldest sons, who have becnme his business associates. In addition
to these sons, Harry L., Thomas E. and Charles Richard, he has a younger son,
Jake H., now a student in the Kern county high schotl, also an only daughter,
Helen Augusta, a clerk in the county tax collector's office. Mrs. Polhemus
is a native of Hagerstown, Ind., and prior to her marriage in Danville, 111.,
bore the name of Alice Leona Fleming. With her husband she holds active
membership in the Court of Honor. Politically Mr. Polhemus has been stanchly
Republican in his sympathies ever since attaining his majority and casting his
first presidential ballot.

E. J. SCHNEIDER.— The name cf Schneider indicates a Teutonic an-
cestry. The first to seek a home in the new world was Rev. George Schneider,
a man of college education, splendid mental attainments and high moral prin-
ciples, an ordained minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church and a noble
exptnent by theory and by example of the lofty doctrines of his denomination.
A member of a family of high standing and considerable means, he was given
the best advantages ofifered by the educational institutions of his part of Ger-
many and at the age of twenty-seven became a citizen of Pennsylvania, where
he remained until his death in 1910 at the age of eighty years. Meanwhile
he had assisted in the growth and advancement of denominational enternrises
and had given liberally of time and means for the upbuilding of Christianity
in the Keystone state, preaching resjularly in many needy fields, but refusing
anv compensation for such work. From the time when Colonel Drake drilled
his first oil well near Titusville until the death of this pioneer preacher, he
earned his livelihood in the oil industry and this naturally necessitated the
rearing of his children at oil camps or in towns in the center of the oil fields.
His' son. E. J., was born in Oil City, Venango county, Pa., in 1862, and was
carefully trained by a wise father and a devoted mother, the latter having
been Catherine (Peters) Schneider, a native of Pennsylvania. As scon as he
had completed the studies of the grammar school he began to earn his own
livelihood in the oil industry, in which he passed throua:h the various depart-
ments from roustabout to positions of importance. When only sixteen he
thoroughly understood drilling. After some years he became a contractor and
later was promoted to be a superintendent in Pennsylvania fields.

Upon coming to California in 1901 Mr. Schneider engaged in drilling for
oil at Vacaville, but met with no success. As early as 1902 he came to Mc-
Kittrick with the Silver Bow Oil Company of Montana. The year 1906 found
him in the Salt Lake field of Southern California as an employe of the Amal-
gamated Oil Company, which soon promoted him to be a foreman. As pro-
duction superintendent in the west side field he was transferred to the Asso-
ciated Oil Company during November, 1910, making his headquarters in the
Midway. Since November of 1911 he has engaged as superintendent of the
Lost Hills division, where he has been very active in increasing production
and otherwise promoting the interests of the company. During the period of
his employment in the Salt Lake field he erected a substantial residence in
Hollywood, which he still owns. He was married at Warren, Pa., December
15, 1887, to Miss Myrtle White, a native of Warren county and a daughter of
Alfred and Marcia (Davis) White, the former a lumber manufacturer of that
eastern city. They are the parents of two daughters : Mrs. Leah H. Middle-
ton, of McKittrick; and Mrs. Nina K. Hamm, of Hollywood. The family
are earnest believers in the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal denomination
and have contributed to general church .benevolences. Fraternally Mr.
Schneider is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

JASPER MYERS. — A native of Indiana, Jasper Myers was born in
Anderson, Madison county, December 25, 1838. He was appointed a cadet to
West Point and entered the academy in 1858, continuing his studies until 1862
and was commissioned second lieutenant in the ordnance department of the



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1423

United States Navy, serving on the field and in different arsenals until the close
of the war. He continued in the army until January, 1870, when he resigned,
at which time he was holding a captain's commission. In the meantime he
had studied law and on leaving the army began the practice of his profession
in San Francisco, Cal.

In the fall of 1872, on the advice of a physician, Air. Myers abandoned
the law and came to Bakersfield and a short time afterward he located on his
present ranch and immediately engaged in husbandry, which he has contin-
ued ever since. His ranch is located nine miles southwest of Bakersfield and
is devoted to alfalfa and dairying.

Mr. Myers was married in 1883 to Miss Mattie Gather, also a native of
Anderson, Ind., who had spent several years in educational work. They are
the parents of three children: Edith, Mrs. Marek, of Bakersfield; Robert, of
Paraguay, South America; and Ralph, who is attending Leland Stanford, Jr.,
University. Mr. Myers is a member of Hurlburt Post, G. A. R., and politically
he is a Progressive Republican. Being interested in the history of Kern
county he is a member of the Pioneer Society.

S. G. CRIPPEN.— Many of those connected with the oil industry in
Galifornia are men whose bread knowledge of the business has been gained
in the east, but this is not the case with Mr. Grippen, who is a native son of
the west and by actual experience in Galifornia oil fields has acquired the
most complete information regarding rig-building and other lines of carpenter-
ing peculiar to this kind of work. As carpenter foreman fur the Kern Trading
and Oil Company, he has erected altogether ninety-seven buildings in the
Sunset-Midway fields and has had charge of the erection of practically all of the
buildings at Fellows, Oil City and McKittrick.

Mr. Grippen was born in Humboldt county. Gal., August 3, 1874, and is a
son of Stephen G. and Mary (Beckett) Grippen, the former a native of Penn-
sylvania, the latter bi rn in Missouri. The father, who came to Galifornia for
the first time during the summer of 1852 and made the tedious trip overland,
engaged for a time in mining, but later settled on a ranch and began to raise
stock. Although he returned to the east intending to settle there, he found
himself dissatisfied and so came back to Galifornia and resumed stock-raising.
He and his wife are still living at Lakeport, Lake county. Of their ten children
five passed away. Reared and educated in Humboldt county, S. G. Grippen
started out to make his own way at the age of seventeen. For two years he
worked at the barber's trade at Petrolia, Humboldt county. Next he hired
out on a ranch and later found employment in the lumber woods. His first
training as a carpenter was received under a rig-builder and contractor and
he soon became quite skilled in the construction of oil derricks. Upon starting
out in the occupation for himself he engaged in house building at Ferndale
and later became an independent rig-builder. For four years he fullowed the
trade in his native county, after which he went to San Francisco and secured
employment in building the woodwork for bridges with the Thompson Bridge
Company, No. 29 Mission street. For a time he worked at house building
in the city.

Coming to McKittrick, Kern cuunty, in 1902, Mr. Grippen became a house
builder in the employ of the Associated, but at the end of nine months he
went to the Santa Maria field and engaged as a tool-dresser on the Casmalia
for three months. Returning to Kern county and securing employment at
Oil City with the Kern Trading and Oil Company, he entered upon an asso-
ciation that has continued to the present time and that has been mutually sat-
isfactory. Besides erecting the houses of the superintendents and many other
buildings at Kerto he has'had charge of a large amount of building at 'McKit-
trick and Fellows. Having entire charge of the construction of rigs, he has
built perhaps one hundred derricks in the Alidway and Sunset fields and has



1424 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

worked from Pentland to McKittrick. Steadily since 1904 he has remained
with the same company and for six years worked wholly in the Kern river
field, although his first two rigs for the corporation were built at Coalinga.

The marriage of Mr. Crippen took place at Elko, Nev., and united him
with Miss Berta M. Doe, of Humboldt county. They are the parents of three
children, Frederick, Evelyn and Gilbert. While living in Humboldt county
Mr. Crippen became connected with the Knights of Pythias at Petrolia. Since
coming to Kern county he has put in membership with the Woodmen of the
World at Bakersfield and also has been initiated into Masonry in Taft Lodge
No. 426, F. & A. M. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Kerto
Club, the quarters for which are provided by the Kern Trading and Oil Com-
pany.

GEORGE E. TAYLOR. — It is interesting to write of a native son who
has, through all circumstances, conducted himself with credit and honorably
accomplished success in his business and the securing of the confidence of
his customers, meanwhile establishing warm personal friendships, receiving
frcm every one the utmost faith in his integrity and honesty of purpose. Such
a man is George E. Taylor, who was born in Ukiah, Mendocino county, Cal.,
February 1, 1876. His father, William, was born in Missouri, while his grand-
father, Alexander Taylor, was a native of Kentucky, of an old southern family.
He removed to Missouri and in 18-19 joined the tide of migration to the far
west, bringing his family across the plains with ox-teams and locating first in
Humboldt. Later they made their home in Mendocino county and afterward
in Monterey, always following the occupation of stock business. He died in
Monterey county.

Like his father William Taylor was a stockman ; at Ukiah for some years
he followed that trade and then moved to Fresno county. When oil was
discovered in the Coalinga district he began locating oil lands and followed the
oil business for a time. While on a visit to Bakersfield he passed away in
May, 1912. His wife, Annie (Thompson) Taylor, was born in Iowa, the
daughter of Theodore Thompson, who was a native of Maryland. The latter
brought his family across the plains in the early '50s, and became a pioneer
farmer. He nuw makes his home in Bakersfield aged eighty-two years. Mrs.
Taylor passed away in Huron, Fresno county, in 1887.

Of the five children born to his parents George E. Taylor is the eldest.
His childhood was passed mostly in Monterey county, where he assisted his
uncles who were cattlemen. From a young boy he rode the range. His educa-
tional training was obtained in the local schools and as he grew he imbibed
a spirit of progressiveness and a courage to accomplish successful ends. On
February 1, 1896, he came to Kern county, his first employment being with
Wellington Canfield, receiving $20 per month. He worked steadily for some
years and having saved some of his hard-earned money he purchased sixty
acres of land in the Old River district, which he improved, raising alfalfa.
In additii n he engaged in the dairy business and continued with marked suC'
cess until he sold the place to R. L. McCutchen, and in February, 1904, began a
mercantile business in Bakersfield. Starting in a small storeroom on Chester
avenue, he conducted the business under the firm name of G. E. Taylor & Co.
This business he sold in 1907 and soon afterward started the present store
known as Taylor's grocery, at No. 1423 Nineteenth street, of which he is
now sole proprietor and he enjoys a large trade among the citizens of Bakers-
field and the surrounding country.

Before her marriage Mrs. Taylor was Miss Dollie Rowlee, a native of
Marion, Iowa, who came to California when a child with her parents. Her
father, Charles E. Rowlee, is represented elsewhere in this publication. Mrs.
Taylor is a graduate of the San Diego State Normal class of 1902, and has
achieved much success as an educator. She is at present acceptably serving



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1425

as principal of the Standard schools. By a former marriage Mr. Taylor is
the father of two daughters, Alma and I*"ranccs. A woman of intellect and
accomplishments, with refined and artistic tastes, Mrs. Taylor is much beloved
by her many friends and with her husband is freely hospitable and respected
lor their generous impulses.

J. C. KNOKE. — No other occupation aside in m the oil industry has
ever engaged the attention of Mr. Knoke and therefore his rise from a most
humble capacity to an influential position has been steadfast. At this writing
he fills a very important place as j)roduction foreman for the Kern Trading
and Oil Company in the Midway-Sunset fields. The duties if the position entail
upon him the management of the company's wells (about eighty-five now
producing) situated between Pentland and the North Midway.

Throughout practically all of his life Mr. Knoke has lived in oil regions.
Born at Wheeling, \V. Va., November 1, 1877, he is a son of the late Clem
Knoke, at < ne time a shoemaker in Wheeling, but later the owner and occu-
pant of a farm at Sistersville, in the same state. When oil was struck at Sis-
tersville about 1890 Mr. Knoke was a lad of thirteen years and was a pu^iil in
the local schools of the village. There were twelve children in the family and
ten of these are still living, so that the small estate left by the parents at
death could aid the sons and daughters but little. After he had graduated from
the grammar school Mr. Knoke began to make his own way in the world
and as early as 1894 he worked as a roustabout in the Sistersville field. Later
he was employed in other fields of the same state. From 1902 to 1904 he
engaged in the oil industry in Colorado, where he worked up from toi.l-dresser
to driller.

For nine months he engaged with the Burlington & Missouri Railway
Company and drilled three discovery wells for that company near Shaddron,
Neb., but found no til. Various parts of New Mexico also were insiected
with a view to finding favorable oil prospects and at Raton he drilled a dis-
covery well for the R:aton Oil Company, but the results were unsatisfactory.
During the year 1904 he came to California for the first time. Securing work
with the Union Oil Company as tO( 1-dresser, he was soon made head well-
puller and before the fir.st year of his connection with the company had ex-
pired he was filling the position of superintendent of production. For six
and one-half years he remained in the employ of the Union Oil C( mpany at
Santa Maria and then resigned to make a tour of inspection through Cuba.
In the five months spent there he engaged in digging discovery wells for an
English syndicate, but no oil was found. Returning to California for the pur-
pose of securing more supplies and sending them to Cuba, he discharged these
duties and then, instead of going back as he had anticipated, he acceited a
position as manager for the May's Consolidated Oil Company, owning leases
on sections 28 and 30, township 31. range 23. After nine months with that cor-
poration he entered upon the duties of his present p( sition in May, 1912, and
since has devoted his energies to this work, meanwhile making his home at
Maricopa in one of the superintendents' houses on the Kern Trading and
Oil Companv's lease. One daughter, Helen B., has been born of his union
with Miss Alamie McKay, daughter of E. S. AlcKay, of L( mpnc, Cal., but a
resident of Santa Barbara at the time of their marriage. While making his
home at Santa Maria he affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and during a
temporary sojourn at San Luis Obispo he became a member of the Benevolent
Protective Order of Elks. He is one of the trustees of the Kerto Club, which
meets in a building provided by the Kern Trading & Oil Company.

C. L. DICKEY.— The lease foreman on the Kern Trading and Oil Com-
pany's properties has been familiar with the (^il industry from his
earliest recollections, for he is a native of one of the eastern oil regions
and has given all his mature life to the development of the in-



1426 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

dustry. Born at Sistersville, W. Va., September 6, 1887, he is a son
of the late Thomas and Sarah (Phillips) Dickey, the former con-
nected with production activities in the oil fields of his home town.
There were nine children in the family and of these C. L. was sixth in
order of birth. When only fifteen years of age he was obliged, on account of
the death of his father, to stop school and take up the serious business of
earning a livelihood. Not only was he self-supporting, but in addition he
helped to care for his mother and other members of the family, so that he
assumed the responsibilities of manhood while yet a youth. When he began
in the oil fields it was as a roustabout.

Continuing with the same eastern oil company for some years, Mr.
Dickey resigned his place in the spring of 1907 and then sought an occupative



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 155 of 177)