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 163 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 163 of 177)
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and Lloyd, also at home.

Mr. David now ranks among the oldest residents of this part of the
county. He has always been interested in the cause of education, and has
served on the board of trustees in the Rio Bravo district, and assisted in
building the first school house.

W. O. THOMAS.— The general foreman of the Kern River Oilfields
of California, Limited, enjoys the distinctirn of being the oldest man in years
and also in point of continuous service with the organization whose interests
he now serves. Coming to this district to take the position of engineer, at the
recommendation of his personal friend, W. S. Boggs, then the superintendent
of the 33 and Imperial Oil Companies, he remained in the employ of the
successor of these concerns and eventually was promoted to be foreman, in
which post he has the responsibility for the proper working of the two hun-
dred and thirtv-five wells m section 33.

Born in Wales ]\Tav 12, 1860, Mr. Thomas has made his own wav in the
world ever since he was ten years of asfe. At that earlv ao-e he began to
learn the cement business under his father, an exoert in that line. When only
fifteen years of age he had nassed through the chemical denartment of the
Portland cement manufacturing business owned bv White Bros., and situated
on the Thames in the outskirts of London. His ability for successful work in



HISTORY OF KI'.RN COUNTY 1469

the industry seemed an inborn talent. Even at that youthful age his work was
recommended for its permanence and satisfactory conditio. n. When seventeen
years old he came with his father to New York. The White Bri^.s. rortland
Cement Compao}' had engaged them as inspectors and instructors in the con-
struction of the menagerie building in Central park. New York City. The
young man had been working for some years with the company and they
recognized his dependable character and efficiency in the cement l)usiness,
while the father had a wide reputation in the same line.

While working in Central park W. O. Thomas made the acquaintance and
wen the approval of ClifTord Richardson, chief inspector of asphalt and cement
at Washington, D. C. When the contract in the park had been completed Mr.
Richardson introduced him to some of the Santa Fe officials and gave such a
recommendation for his work that the railroad ci mpany hired him to assist
in their cement construction work. After a time he was made superintend-
ent of cement construction and had charge of the building of bridges and
abutments of concrete. During this period of work he put in the foundation for
the Union passenger depot in Kansas City, Kan. Later he secured a position
with the Western Cement Company at Salt Lake, Utah, where he a ntinued
for five years of successful work. While gaining expertness in the concrete
business he had not limited himself to that specialty but in addition he
had become an expert steam engineer and it was in the latter capacity that
he remained for two and one-half years with the Portland General Electric
Company at Portland. Ore., next going to the Mountain Copper Connany at
Shasta ci unty, Cal, where he soent six years. The failure of his health induced
him to give up a congenial business connection and thereupon he came to
Bakersfield in 1902. securing employment immediately after his arrival through
his friendship with W. S. Boggs. superintendent of the 33 and Imperial Oil
Companies. After coming to this county he married Miss Nora Monahan
and they have established a comfortable home in the oil district. When he
came here as an engineer there were cnly twenty-one wells on section 33 and
he has been identified with the rapid increase, also has had charge of the
work of re-drilling many of these wells and putting in air compressors.

FRANK H. NEWTON.— An appreciation of the possibilities offered by
Kern county induced Mr. Newton, upon arriving in California from Texas to
become a resident of this section of the state and here since 1900 he has made
his home. As a lad and young man in Texas he became familiar with ranch-
ing as conducted in the Lone Star state, but being entirely without means
and obliged to work for wages in the employ ( f others he had no opportunity
to forge ahead. Nor were his first years in California more encouraging than
those of earlier life, but a few years ago he was able to embark in independent
agriculture and since then he has made a specialty of the dair}^ industry.

Ellis county, the porti( n of Texas where Mr. Newton was born April 27,
1878, lies in the north central part of the state, not far from the important
communities rf Fort Worth and Dallas. He entered the employ of a rancher
when he left the public schools at the age of seventeen years. For some years
he continued in the same locality, but there seemed little opening there for
the future and he determined to try his luck in the far west. Accordingly he
came to California and settled in Kern county in 190O. The first nosition held
by him was at Oil City and later he worked for the Sterling Oil Company
during a perit d of five years. In 1909 he leased twenty acres in the Rosedale
district and embarked in the dairy business with a herd of twelve milch cows.
Since then he has added to bis drove and now owns thirty head of fine
cows, which he kee-js on a leasehold of sixty-six acres. The milk is delivered
in Oil City. Besides the dair)- business iie engages in raising alfalfa, for
which the land is well adapted. Fraternally he holds membership with the
Woodmen of the World. He was married in Ellis countv. Tex., to Elizabeth



1470 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Kizziar, a native of that county and the daughter of W. L. Kizziar, now of
Bakersfield, and thev have five children, Lorena, Let B., Frankie, Rav and
Allie.

WILLIAM EDWARD HEASLEY.— Mr. Heasley ranks as a pioneer
in tlie oil industry for he l^as been identified with the oil business almost
one-half century and has witnessed the transformation of the work from
crude and primitive methods to the most up-to-date equipments. Manv of the
oil fields of tie eastern and central states he thoroughly understands in all
their difficulties and possibilities. Actual experience has taught him that
oil development forms one of the most promising industries in the entire
country and he regards California as in the forefront from the standpoint of
its great fields and many producing wells.

Not only has Mr. Heaslev been an oil operator throughout his active life,
but in addition his father, Elias, followed the same occupation, while the
third generation in the same business is represented by his son. The father
and mother, Elizabeth, were lifelong residents of Pennsylvania, and he was
born in that state, at Irwin, Westmoreland county, December 12. 1854. When
thirteen years of age he found employment in the oil fields. Learning to be a
tool-dresser he followed such work at St. Petersburg, Clarion county. Later
he engaged in drilling at Richburg, Allegany county, N. Y. Another oil
field in which he worked for years was that of Montpelier. Ind., where
he took drilling contracts and operated two strings. Similar work kept him
in the Robinson field in Illinois for some time, after which he engaged in the
same work at Cuba, Mo. Upon returning to the east he engaged in drilling
in the gas fields at Buffalo, N. Y., for two years. When he came to Cali-
fornia he entered upon relations with the Kalisnel Midway Company at
Fellows, where he engaged as a driller in 1911 and August 1, 1912, received
merited promotion to be foreman of the lease. While living in Pennsyl-
vania he was a member of the Knights of Pythias lodge at Foster Brook,
McKean county, but since coming to this state he has had little leisure for
fraternal interests.

The marriage of Mr. Heasley and Miss Lizzie Gary, a native of Leon,
Cattaraugus county, N. Y., was solemnized at Bradford, Pa., and has been
blessed with five children. The eldest son, Morris W., is an employe of
the Kalispel Midway Oil Company at Fellows. The second son, Harold
remained in Indiana, where he is now a reporter on the Montpelier Herald.
The daughters are Mrs. Ray Dawson, of Montpelier, Ind.; Mrs. Ina Hickey, of
Dayton, Tex.; and Mrs. Anna Risk, of Montpelier, Ind. The family stands
high for those qualities that give influence in a community and Mr. Heasley
himself is regarded as an oil man whose long experience has given him a most
accurate comprehension of the industry.

FRANKLIN LEE VAN EPPS.— The earliest recollections of Mr. Van
Epps are associated with the oil fields of McKean county, Pa., where he
was born at Bell's Camp May 15, 1881, being the only son of Lee Lloyd
and Lizzie (Mixer) Van Epps, likewise natives of the Keystone state. The
former, after having engaged in the oil business in Pennsylvania, went to
New Mexico and started a trading post at Socorro, but in 1881 he was
killed during an Apache uprising. Orphaned in infancy, Franklin Lee Van
Epps was taken into the home of his maternal grandfather in McKean
county. When twelve years of age he accompanied the Mixer family to the
vicinity of Pittsburg, where he attended high school until graduation. For
two years he lived in Chicago with his maternal grandfather and in 1898 he
came to California, where he soon found work in the oil industry. As a
tool-dresser he engaged with the contracting firm of Dunn & Erwin. In
1899 he learned drilling while working for the San Buena Ventura Oil Com-
pany in \^entura county. Much of his later work was done in the same



HISTORY OF KER\ COITNTY 1471

counly and eventually he was jironioled to he superintendent in that fiehl.

Contracts that took him to other points gave to Mr. Van Epps a wide
experience in the oil industry as conducted throughout the west. For a
time he remained in Arizona, where he had contracted to drill a well near
Winslovv. Similar work took him into Death Valley and into the Devil's
Den country, while he also had a number of contracts in Ventura county.
During the last five years of his identification with the county he engaged
as superintendent for the Dixie National Oil Company near Fillmore. Feb-
ruary 2, 1912, he came to the Midway, where at first he gave his attention
wholly to the development of the Maricopa Union. During September of
1912 he was made superintendent of the Midway Five Oil Company, whose
holdings he has put in shape for profitable work. Still more recently he was
chosen superintendent of the West Virginia Oil Company at Maricopa, so
that he now has charge of three important companies in the Midway field.
While he votes the Democratic ticket he gives little attention to politics, the
demands of his positions as superintendent of three companies being so
engrossing as to preclude any outside interests. His family comprises two
children, Isabelle and Lloyd, and their mother, whom he married in Santa
Barbara and who was Miss Isabelle Rich, a native of Massachusetts.

WILLIAM FRANCIS CLEGG.— Since establishing a home in Kern
county in l''ll Mr. Cleeg has been identified with the Bakersfield Iron works,
being first a machinist in the I'akersfield plant, and from there he was trans-
ferred, June 14, 1913, to the foremanshio of the Fellows shop. The eldest
amongf five children and the only one of the famil)- to establish a home in
the United States, William Francis Clegg was born at Liverpool, England,
June 9, 1879, and is a son of Thomas and Ann (Mulligan) Clegg, the former of
whom is still living. At the age of three years he entered school and when he
left St. John's at the age of eleven he had entirely completed the course t)f
study. As an ofifice boy in an insurance office he earned his livelihood until
he was fifteen, when he became an apprentice in the machine shop of the
Liverpool Engineering & Condenser Company and for five years he worke'd
to master every detail of the machinist's trade. When scarcely twenty
years of age he went to sea as marine engineer with the British merchant
marine, having obtained a license as chief engineer. During the eight years
of his service as marine engineer he visited almost every country in the
world. Altogether he made about twenty-six voyages to the Mediterranean
sea. Six times he rounded Cape of Good Hope, twice he sailed through
the Suez canal and twice passed the Straits of Magellan below South America.
In April, 1906, Mr. Clegg gave up marine engineering and established a home
on the Pacific coast, following his trade at Portland, Ore., for three months
and then securing em])loyment in San Francisco with the Peters Gas Engine
Company. After a time he became a machinist with W. A. Boole & Co.,
ship-builders (now Moore & Scott), of whose shops he was made foreman,
holding the position until he resigned to engage as first assistant engineer
on a steamship engaged in the ocean trade. In the course of eight months
with this ship he visited Mexico and the Orient. Upon resigning the position
he came to Bakersfield in 1911 and since then has been associated with the
Bakersfield iron works. His family consists of his wife, formerly Miss Alice
Edith Williams, of Liverpool, England, and their three children, Alice Edith,
Dorothy Margaret and William George.

L. R. COOK. — A native of Galesburg, Knox county. 111., born April 4,
1876, L. R. Cook was the son of James P. Cook, who lived and died in Gales-
burg, having been the proprietor of a wall-paper store there for a number of
years. His widow survived him and removed to Chicago, where she is now
living. The son, L. R. Cook, remained in his native town until he was nine-
teen, having obtained his educational training there in the public schools. His



1472 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

first business venture was operating a dairy there, and he next engaged in the
livery business at Ethley, 111., a coal mining town, where he built up a brisk
trade. Upon the closing down of the mines he went to Knoxville, 111., where
he resumed the livery business, but soon sold out and went to Chicago, where
he followed the race course for about four years. At this time he accepted
an attractive offer from M. R. Hoxie, the millionaire cattleman and rancher,
whose ranch was situated at Taylor, Williamson county, Tex., whither Mr.
Cook went to serve as one of several foremen and to have full charge of the
Hereford cattle department. On leaving that position and spending a short
time in Oklahoma, he returned to Chicago and in 1902 came to Kern county,
Cal. For four years he was cashier and steward at the Turf restaurant in
Bakersfield and in September, 1906, he established Cook's Cafe, which is now
catering to a wide patronage, and is considered one of the most up-to-date
short-order houses in the city.

The marriage of Mr. Cook to Mrs. Maggie Foster, of San Francisco, took
place November 23, 1906, and she proved a helpmeet of no mean ability, aiding
her husband in the conduct of his business and lending that delicate touch
which tnly a woman can add for the completion of an excellent table. The
place of business was moved from No. 2021 K street to No. 2105 Chester
avenue (formerly the Russ cafe) May 23, 1913, and only one week later, on the
1st of June, Mr. Cook was bereaved by the death of his wife, who had been
cashier at the cafe and the most trusted business associate of her husband,
as well as a devoted wife and whole-Stuled friend. Kindliness of heart and a
cheerful disposition endeared her to every acquaintance and her passing was
deeply mourned. The body was taken to San Francisco and interred in the
Cypress Lawn cemetery. Fraternally Mr. Cook is still connected with the
Eagle Aerie No. 226 at lola, Kans., frcm which he has never obtained his demit.
In politics he is a Democrat and while never seeking or holding public office
he has united with other public-spirited citizens to promote beneficial move-
ments in Bakersfield.

C. Le ROY WHITE. — Exceptional qualifications for the peculiar duties
incident to auctioneering led Mr. White to enter this line of salesmanship and
he since has risen to the very front rank among the auctioneers cf the San
Joaquin valley. In addition to such work he carries on a store in Bakersfield,
where the name cf Roy White is synonymous with energy, fairness and an
optimistic personality that sees the cheerful side of life. Through long and
honcrable identification with the business growth of the community he has
won the confidence of its residents, who regard him as a buyer of unerring
sagacity along the line of his specialties. With customary carefulness he has
eliminated from his store everything not thoroughly reliable, so that he is
enabled to make sure that promises are kept and the details of every transac-
tion are carried to the limit of fulfillment.

Although still a young man, Mr. White has been associated with the
business history of Bakersfield since 1889. Born at Marshalltown, Iowa,
October 18, 1869, he is a son of Abraham White, who lived to be eighty-four
years of age. Longevity is noticeable throughout preceding generations of the
family, whose history is traced back to the very earliest attempts at coloniza-
tion in Kentucky. They have been typical Americans, devoted to their
country and genuinely helpful in pioneer development. During the year 1885
the family removed from Iowa to California and settled in Los Angeles county,
where for three years Roy White worked in a furniture and carpet establish-
ment. Meanwhile an older brother, Richard J. White, had come to Bakers-
field, where he is now president of the Bakersfield Hardware Company. An-
other brother, Ansil J., also a resident of Kern county, is employed as engineer
for the Santa Fe Railroad. Their mother is still living, hale and mentally
active, at the age of seventy-nine years.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1473

Arriving in Bakersfield August 23, 1889, Roy White at once began to
work for his brother, Richard J., and later acquired a business of his own,
which he still conducts, in addition to answering many calls fur his services as
auctioneer at sales throughout various parts of the valley. While at no time a
partisan in political connections, he stanchly favors Republican principles and
always votes that ticket in general elections. In fraternal relations he has been
for years a popular worker and leading member of the Ancient Order of
United W'orkmen and Woodmen of the \\'orld at Bakersfield. By his mar-
riage to Miss Dora C. Coughran, a native of JMaricopa county, this state, he
is the father of three children, Irwin, Thelma and Harold.

WALKER RANKIN.— It is interesting to chronicle the life history of
the pioneer, the man who in his prime entered the wilderness and claimed
the virgin soil as his heritage and becoming inured to privations and hardships
accomplished the transformation of the country to its present wonderful
state of development. Among those early settlers now remaining who aided in
this accomplishment is Walker Rankin, who was born in Pittsburg, Pa., June
2, 1842, the son of William and Ursula (Keene) Rankin, born in Ireland and
Pennsylvania respectively. On coming to the United States from his native
Ireland the father became foreman in an iron works in Pennsylvania and after-
wards a farmer in Westmoreland county, where he and his wife spent their
last days. Of their family of eight children two came to California, namely:
Walker and Aquilla. The latter crossed the plains in 1853 to Los Angeles and
was afterwards a resident of Alameda county for many years, but spent the
last year of his life with his brother Walker.

The public schools of Westmoreland county afforded Walker Rankin his
educational advantages until a youth of fourteen, when he determined to come
to California. Making the journey by way of Panama he landed in San Fran-
cisco early in January, 1856. He followed mining in the Sierra Nevadas for
two years and from Butte county returned to San Francisco bay where he
engaged with his brother in the dairy business on Alameda creek in Alameda
county fi r five years. Dissolving the partnership and dividing the stock, he
then brought his flock to Mill creek, Tulare county, and in 1867 he brought his
stock to Walker's Basin and purchased a farm from Dan Walser. At once he
began to improve the ranch and raise hay and cattle, thus laying the founda-
tion of his present large holdings in lands and cattle. His brand is the
quarter circle over the capital U. Later he bought the Wicks ranch and
afterwards the Williams ranch of eight hundred acres, besides many sectii ns
of range land. The ranch is well watered from \\'alker's Basin branch and
from the same source he obtains water for irrigating and raising about one
hundred and fifty acres of alfalfa. He also owns a valuable ranch on South
Fork, which he operated until lately when he gave its supervisii n to his sons.

Mr. Rankin did not assume di mestic ties until 1872. when he married
Miss Lavenia Lightner, a sister of Abia Taylor Lightntr, in whose sketch on
another page appears the family history.

Mr. and Mrs. Rankin have six children living, named as follows: Charles
W., a stockman near Havilah ; W^arren, a stockman at the head of the South
Fork Valley; Edward, who is farming his mother's (the old Lig-htner) i)lace
in Walkers Basin; Le Roy, a stockman near Weldon ; Jesse, who resides in
San Francisco, but is interested in the stock business in Kern county ; and
Walker, Jr., also a stockman on the South Fork. Mrs. Rankin is a member of
the Baptist Church. Always interested in the cause of education, Mr. Rankin
served some years and was a member of the first board of education of the
Walkers Basin school district. Politically he is a Demc crat.

EDWIN P. LIEB.— Born in Buffalo, N. Y., March 15. 1867. E. P. Lieb is
of German extraction, his father, Adam Lieb, having been a native of \\'tirtem-
berg, Germany, and migrating from that place to New York state. In the fall



1474 HISTORY OF KERX COUNTY

of 1867 he brought his wife and little son by way of Panama
to San Francisco and immediately went to Sierra City, where he
followed mining. Afterwards he located on a farm in Sutter county
where he died. The first nine years cf Edwin Lieb's life was
spent in Sierra City and then he lived on the farm in Sutter county,
where he attended the schools of the locality. After his father's death he went
to Santa Barbara, where he followed farming and asphalt mining. In 1897 he
came to Kern county and engaged in mining near Bodfish, being successful in
locating and opening several small mines and dispi sing of them. He then
engaged in raising alfalfa near Bakersfield until 1909, when he entered the
employ of A. Brown & Co.. as foreman of their farms and mill on the .South
Fork. Since then he has devoted all of his time and best efforts towards
advancing the company's farm holdings. Well and favorably known and an
influential man in his community, he takes an active interest in the success
of the Democratic party and is serving as a member of the county central
committee.

HARRY G. MASSA.— Born in Cadiz, Spain, November 28, 1863, since
that time the career of H. G. Massa has been in the course of development
in many parts of the world, his parehts having removed from there when he
was about three and a half years old, going to Kornstadt, Germany. Here he
was reared and attended school until he became old enough to learn the
cabinet-maker's trade, which he thoroughly mastered.

With his brother Gustav H., Mr. Massa decided to come to the new world
while he was still a young lad, and embarking for America they reached New
York February 2, 1879, anxious to obtain work and acquire a fortune as so
many cf their friends had done before them. From this time his life work
varied from one line of business to another, he proving himself an efficient,
observing employee. Learning the barber trade in New York City he worked
there until 1881. For two years following he worked in Elizabeth, N. J., and
then returned to New York. In 1883 he enhsted in Company D, Second
Infantry, his term expiring in 1888, and he procured his honorable discharge
at Omaha, Neb., on January 30 of that year.

In May, 1888, Mr. Massa settled at Sioux Falls, S. D., where he was em-
ployed in the Cataract barber shop until 1900, then coming to Bakersfield,
where he has made his permanent residence, having valuable property holdings
here as well as his barber interests. He has been thrifty and economical, and
has saved his earnings, so that he has been enabled to invest them most
judiciously. In 1891 he married Ollie Johnscn, and she has been the means
of aiding her husband in the wise management of his affairs.

Mr. Massa's military training has served him well in many instances,



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 163 of 177)