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 165 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 165 of 177)
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(Draper) Edmonds, and a sister of Reuben A. Edmonds, a sketch of wh-m
is found elsewhere in this history. Mrs. Maio was educated in the public
schools of Sonoma county, and since the death of her husband makes her
home in Bakersfield. She has two children : Charles F., of San Francisco; and
Fannie L., Mrs. Hirshfield, of Bakersfield. In her many acts of kindness,
her unostentatious charities and her loving thoughtfulness Mrs. Maio is per-
petuating the custom of her beloved husband, whose philanthropic character
many have reason to mourn.

RICHARD D. MONTGOMERY.— As superintendent of the South Mid-
way Oil Company, in which he is a stockholder, and as superintendent^ of
the Extension Oil Company, R. D. Montgomery has an intimate association



HISTORY OF KKRN COUNTY 1481

with two of the important concerns in the Sunset field and has made good in
the comparatively brief period of his identification with the work at this
point.

A native son of California, Mr. Montgomery was born in Los .Angeles
December 31, 1888, and is a member lI a wealthy pioneer family of Southern
California. The immediate family comprises himself and an older brother,
Chester A., also a younger brother, Monroe D., these two being in partner-
.ship under the firm title of Montgomery Bros., jewelers, Los Angeles. After
years of successful association with mercantile enterprises in that city the
father, Gecrge A. Montgomery, retired from business pursuits and is now
living retired on West Twenty-first street. At one time he owned large
gold-mining interests in Arizona and in that venture he met with more than
ordinary success. The second son in the family, Richard D., was educated
primarily in the public schools of Los Angeles and later matriculated in the
University of California at Berkeley, where he took the complete c urse in
mining engineering. Upon graduation with the class of 1911 he received
the degree of B.S. from the university. Meanwhile he had familiarized him-
self with the oil industry during the vacation months. When about sixteen
years of age he had commenced to work as a helper in oil fields, being for
a time static ned at Coalinga, later in the Los Angeles district and eventually
in the Sunset field. With characteristic determination he has learned every
detail of the business and is now skilled in the operation of both rotary and
standard drills, as well as in the other work essential to the devehipment of
leases. Since leaving the university he has been identified with the Sunset
field and has acquired stock in the South Midway Oil Company, of which he
also acts as superintendent. The company's pro lerty consists of forty acres
with two wells that average a monthly production of six thousand barrels.
The Extension, of which he is also superintendent, operates eighty acres,
on which there is now only one well started. With intelligent supervision
he looks after the affairs of bcth companies and is managing the business
in a way indicative of future prosperity both for himself and for the concerns
which he represents.

JAMES M. WHITE.— Not rapidly but by slow degrees Mr. White has
worked his way from a very humble position in the oil industry to one of
responsibility and influence. F( r a number of years he held subordinate posi-
tions. Progress was slow and the road to success seemed a tedious and
almost insurmountable highway. In the midst of discouraging conditions
he allowed nothing to come between him and duty. Every responsibility
was cheerfully assumed and carefully discharged. In time he became a
drilling foreman, from which he worked his way to the superintendency of
the M. J. & M. & M. Consolidated Oil Company, with four hundred and
forty acres lying on section 36, township 12. range 24. Since he entered upon
the duties of his position, March 1, 1913, he has devoted his time earnestly
and intelligently to the supervision of the company's holdings and has main-
tained an oversight of the twenty-nine employes. At the present time the
company has thirty-two wells on their large tract. Of these thirty are produc-
ers and three are flowing wells. The average monthly production is about
fifty-seven thousand and five hundred barrels.

The White family is of eastern ancestry. "M. L. and Lizzie (Chapman)
White, who for years lived upon a farm, finally moved into the city of
Washington, Pa., where the former, now sixty-i ne years of age. is still
conducting a grocery business. The latter also is living and is now fifty-nine.
Of their two children the daughter, Mattie, married Harry Piatt, a contractor
and builder at Washington. The son, James M., was born at Washington,
Pa., September 21, 1878. and at the age of thirteen began to work out as a
farm hand, receiving $3.50 per week and board. Ever since then he has



1482 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

been self-supporting. When about sixteen years old he entered the night
school of the Washington Y. M. C. A., where he continued to study for two
years, meanwhile earning his livelihood by day work at different occupa-
tions. By attendance at the night school he was able to make up for lack
of earlier advantages. His first experience in oil fields was secured when
he was sixteen. It became possible for him to enter the employ of the
Elwood Oil Company at the outskirts of Washington. Beginning as a
roustabout with that company, he soon acquired a general knowledge of
the work. Later he engaged as a roustabout with the William Paul & Son
Oil Company and the S. K. Werick Oil Company.

The outbreak of the war with Spain found Mr. White eager to enlist
in the volunteer service. At the age of nineteen, May 9, 1898, he was enrolled
as a private in Company D, Eighteenth Pennsylvania Infantry. He was mus-
tered in at Camp Hastings, Pa., for two years or until the close of the war.
While stationed at the camp he was drilled in military tactics and was
honorably discharged October 8, 1898, by reason of the close of the war.
Returning to his htme county he worked in a glass factory for a short time.
In January of 1899 he went to the oil fields on the Baltimore & Ohio Rail-
road at Sutersville, Pa., about eight miles east of Pittsburg. While working
there in the interests of the Carnegie Gas Company he learned to be a rig-
builder. As a rig-builder for the South Pennsylvania (Standard) Oil Com-
pany he remained for a short time at Mannington, W. Va., but soon shifted
from such work to drilling and tool-dressing, in which he acquired speed and
proficiency. At the age of twenty-three he had married Miss Nettie Herschell,
of Washington, Pa., and in December, 1904, when their eldest child was
only nine months old, they came to California. Since their removal to the
west two other children. Hazel and Clarence, have been born. The eldest
child, Harry R., is now attending the Kern county schools.

January 4, 1905, Mr. White entered the employ of the Union Oil Company
as a tool-dresser at Rosemary in the Salt Lake field. In September of the
same year he began to work as a tool-dresser for the Associated Oil Com-
pany in the same field. Returning to Pennsylvania in May of 1906, he spent
the summer in the east and during September came back to California, where
he entered the employ of A. F. Gilmore. For three years and seven months
he continued on the same lease, engaging first as cleaner and then as driller.
When C. W. Stone, who had been Gilmore's superintendent, left to identify
himself with the activities of the Sunset field at Maricopa, Mr. White came
with him. When Mr. Stone was chosen superintendent for the Monte Cristo,
Mr. White was made drilling foreman on the same lease. In that capacity
he drilled seven new wells and re-drilled two wells. April 1, 1911, he was
appointed drilling foreman for the Ethel D. Oil Company. June 1, of the
same year, he was promoted to be superintendent. July 1, 1912, having
resigned the position, he returned to Pennsylvania to visit his mother and
sister, both of whom were ill. Returning to Maricopa in August, September
1, 1912, he was made superintendent of the Fulton Fuel & Road Oil Company,
but resigned the position in February, in order that he might enter upon
the duties of his present position March 1, following. Many responsibilities
crowd in upon him as superintendent. The task ahead of him is no sinecure.
In order to meet emergencies of the future he devotes much time to study
of subjects bearing upon the oil industry. In fact, much of his leisure time
of evenings is given to occupative study, but in addition he finds leisure to
keep posted on religious movements and is an earnest believer in the doc-
trines of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Since coming to Maricopa his
wife has been one of the leading workers in the Congregational Church and
has done effective work as a teacher in the Sunday-school.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1483

ARTHUR MARION KEENE.— The first daily paper in Taft, West
Side News, was started by Mr. Keene, February 1, 1912. It was a four-
page, seven-column daily, printed in the press-rooms of the Bakersfield
Californian. The publication appeared regularly until December 9, 1912,
when it was taken over by the Alidvvay Driller and printed in press-rooms at
Taft. The Daily and Weekly Midway Driller are the only papers now pub-
lished in Taft. The latter was established in 1909 and on the 19th of Janu-
ary, 1910. absorbed by consolidation the old Midway Oil Courier, a weekly
that had been in existence for almost tne year. The Midway Driller Pub-
lishing Company, a corporation of which L. W. Sharp is the president and
principal stockholder, owns and operates the weekly and daily editions, and
the latter still appears in the form of a four-page sheet, with seven columns
to the page.

As repLirter for the Midway Driller Mr. Keene keeps in close touch with
the life of the locality. In addition he has engaged to act as editor of the
new paper published by the Petroleum Club, of which organization he is
a charter member. Another recent journalistic venture was the starting,
with Charles B. Hartwick, of the Fellows Courier, a weekly paper with
four pages of seven columns each, having a present circulation of about one
thousand. Besides reporting for the local Taft paper and editing the other
papers mentioned, he reports the west side oil news for the Bakersfield Cali-
fornian. the Fresno Republican, the California Oil World and other well-
known publications of the state, his services as reporter not being limited to
Taft, but including also the oil development at Maricopa, McKittrick, Fellows
and other points in this field.

Peoria, 111., is the native city of Mr. Keene, and August 28, 1883, the
date of his birth. He is the elder of two sons, the younger of whom, Tom H.
Keene, is now editor of the Elkhart (Ind.) Truth. The parents, Thomas J.
and Minnie B. (Richmond) Keene, removed to Indiana about 1884 and settled
at Elkhart, where since 1886 Mr. Keene has held the position of city agent
for the Standard Oil Ct^mpany. At the age of seven years Arthur M. Keene
became a newsboy and paper carrier. At first he delivered Elkhart papers
only, but soon he began to deliver also some of the Chicago dailies and by
the time he was seventeen he represented all of the Chicago papers and was
delivering an average of four thousand papers daily to customers in their
homes and to buyers on the streets. For two years he acted as representa-
tive of all of the Hearst publications in Indiana and Ohio. During December
of 1909 Ire came to the Pacific coast. At first he engaged as reporter on the
Bakersfield Morning Echo. Later he was connected with the Union Labor
Journal of Bakersfield, and the Bakersfield Californian. Upon resigning those
positions he came to Taft, where he is recognized as a live wire in journalism
and a progressive participant in local afifairs. He is a member of the Knights
of Pythias. His family comprises two children, Walter and Elizabeth, and
his wife, whom he married in Chicago in 1903 and who was Miss Corinne
Adams, of that city.

JEFFERSON M. GREER.— Acting upon the advice of a brother who
had preceded him to the west, Mr. Greer came to California and arrived in
Bakersfield on the 21st of November, 1900. Through much of the sulise-
quent period of oil development he has been identified with the industry
and since he returned to the county in 1906 after a brief experience with
agriculture in Oklahoma he has engaged continuously in the service of the
Monte Cristo Oil Company in the Kern river and Sunset fields. So steadfast
has been his devotion to the work that he has not been absent from the
county excepting four days spent in the oil field at Coalinga. Every stage
of growth and development in the local industry is familiar to him. Working



1484 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

in different capacities, he has gained a knowledge of details invaluable to him
in his present service as foreman of the Maricopa division of the Monte Cristo.

It is but natural that Mr. Greer should have been interested in the oil
industry from early years, for he is a native of a well-known oil region in
Ohio and has been familiar with the work from early childhood memories.
Findlay, Hancock county, is the native place in Ohio and August 10, 1874,
the date of his birth. His parents, Samuel Ford and Catherine (Corbin)
Greer, are now living retired at Goodwell, Okla., and the former owns large
prcjperty interests in Texas county. There are seven children in the family,
all still living, as follows: William D., who is engaged in the automobile
service at Maricopa; Jefferson M., of Kern county; Elmer, who owns and
conducts a garage at Taft ; Virgie, wife of VV. R. Treece, an oil man residing
in Bakersfield ; Birdie, wife of Edward Corbin, who is engaged in the grocery
business at Findlay, Ohio; John, empl. yed as production foreman for the
Kern Trading and Oil Company at Coalinga; and Nathan, a rancher and
stockman operating a farm in Te.xas county, Okla.

Until nineteen years of age Jefferson M. Greer lived upon the home farm
in Ohio and even after he had embarked in the oil business he frequently
returned to farm work, thus filling in the dull seasons when work was scarce
at the oil camps. He learned the business in every detail. Every depart-
ment of activity became familiar to him through actual experience. In the
employ of tne of the Findlay contractors he learned to dress tools as well
as other lines of work connected with the business. Between farm work
and tool-dressing in oil fields he was busy throughout the entire year and
thus learned the habits of industry, persistence and varied activities insep-
arable from progress. Meanwhile his brother, Elmer, had become one of the
pioneer drillers in the Kern river field and had written to him ursjing that
he come to California, which counsel induced him to give up his job in
Ohio and seek empl yment in the west. Immediately after he arrived in
Bakersfield he was engaged as a tool-dresser on the Monte Cristo in the
Kern river field, under the then superintendent, Frank Feathers. For four
years he continued on the same lease, meantime being promoted to be a
driller. His father having removed to Oklahoma he was induced to take up
farming activities in that state and in 1904 bought a quarter section in
Texas county, where he engaged in farming. However, he soon became dis-
satisfied with agricultural pursuits and in 1906 returned to California,' since
which time he has rented the Oklahoma farm to tenants. Since his return
to Kern county he has remained in the Monte Cristo service and since Sep-
tember 22, 191.?,. has served as foreman of the Maricopa division, having
charge of the lease of one hundred and sixty acres situated on section 1,
township 11, range 24.

The marriage of Mr. Greer united him with Miss Carrie Eatherton of
Findlay. Ohio, and has been blessed with two children, Roy and Dessie. For
a number of years Mrs. Greer served as organist of the Methodist Episcopal
Church of Findlay and was influential in musical circles in that city, where
her skill as a musician was recognized and apTreciated. In religion she is of
the Methodist faith. Mr. Greer stanchly upholds Democratic principles.

TROY MARTIN OWENS.— The superintendent of the Hale McLeod
Oil Company began the development of their lease near Fellows during Sep-
tember of 1909 and has been identified with the concern, first as dril'er and
then as superintendent, from that time up to the present, when eleven
producing wells attest to the energy of his services and the exceptional value
of the property. When he was promoted to be superintendent in March,
1911, he entered upon a successful identification with the upbuilding of the
company, in which he is a stockholder. It is generally conceded that the pres-



HISTORY OF KF.RN COUNTY 1485

ent fine condition of the lease is due largely to his ability, perseverance and
excellent knowledge of the oil industry.

Throughout his entire life, back to his earliest recollections, Mr. Owens
has been familiar with the oil business, for he was born and reared near
Sistersville, Tj'Ier county, VV. Va., in the heart of a well-known oil field. Born
August 17, 1881, he was the eldest of twelve children (all still living), forming
the family of Hamilton D. and Madeline (Musgrove) Owens, who for years
have made their home on a farm in the vicinity of Sistersville. After he had
completed the studies of the grammar school he was sent to the McKim high
school in Tyler ci unty. At the age of seventeen he began to earn his live-
lihood as a roustabout with the Carter Oil Company. A year later lie left
the oil field to ta vC up school-teaching, but at the end of the year he returned
to the employ of the Carter Oil Company, with which he engaged as a tool-
dresser and later as a driller. For twu years he was a member of the firm
of Jones & Owens, contract drillers, working in West Virginia. February
21, 1S09, he arrived at the present site of Taft, Cal., where he was employed
by the Standard Oil Company as a driller, but resigned that position in order
to identify himself with the Hale McLeod Oil Company. While living in
West Virginia he was a prominent worker in the Meadville Lodge, I. O. O. F.,
and also became a member of the encampment at Sistersville. In Uakersfield
occurred his union with Miss Catherine O'Brien, a native of Pennsylvania
and a graduate of St. Joseph's Hospital at Philadelohia. Later she took a
post-graduate course at the Pennsylvania Orthopedic Institute at Philadel-
phia, completing the course September 1, 1901. One child, Mary Virginia,
blesses their union. To Mrs. Owens belongs the honor of having su )erin-
tended the first hospital on the west side (the American Hospital at Taft),
where she was the first trained nurse and where she became well known for
her eilicicncy, skill and success in her chosen work.

JONATHAN M. BUSH.— The genealogy of the Bush family is traced to
the cavaliers of England and to the Virginian aristocracy of America, where
the name was established at a period antedating the Revolutionary struggle.
Following the westward trend of migration, the family crossed the mountains
from \'irginia to Kentuck}' and assisted in the early development of the r>lue
Grass state, where they maintained a warm friendship with Daniel Boone
and other noted pioneers. John Madison Bush, son of Mercer Bush, was born
in Kentucky, but during childhood, years before the Civil war, he accom-
panied other members of the family to Missouri, establishing a h me at
Liberty, Clay county, then a town of considerable importance. At Independ-
ence, Mo., was born and reared Sarah Ann Watson, daughter of Henry
Watson, a Virginian, descended from Dutch and English progenitors, and
himself a pioneer of 1849 in Califtirnia, having landed in Placer county with
his family after a tedious trip with oxen and wagons across the plains and
mountains. April 12. 1850, on the day that he was twenty-one years of
age, John M. Bush left Clay county. Mo., in company with an expedition
bound for Placer county. Cal., under the captaincy of Hon. James G. Blaine,
later senator from Maine. In the autumn of 1850 the party arrived at their
destination and the youthful emigrant from Missouri met Miss Watson, whom
he married at Hangtown, Placer countj', in 1852. The young couple set-
tled on a ranch and Mr. Bush, from his original employment as a drover,
began gradually to acquire a flock of sheep for himself. It was not long before
he became widely known as one of the largest sheepmen of San Benito county.
A large circle of pioneer acquaintances testified to his intelligence and thor-
ough knowledge of his chosen occupation.

Accompanied by his son Jonathan M., and others, during 1869 John
Madison Bush drove a bunch of fifteen thousand head of sheep from Mon-



1486 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

terey county to Los Angeles and en route passed through what is now Kern
county. Aside from signs of activity at the Rancho San Emidio, then known
as the Gody ranch, and the presence of Colonel Baker at Bakersfield, no
permanent settlements had been effected in this part of the country. The
drovers with their sheep passed through Fort Tejon and there saw the ruins of
the old barracks. A tedious but uneventful trip was ended at Santa Ana,
where the father established a home, having sold out his holdings in the San
Joaquin valley on account of the prevalence of malaria, fever and ague.
During 1869 he planted the first walnut grove along the Santa Ana river
and later he laid out the town site of Orange. Sturdy and robust up to the
very last, he died at the old homestead on the Santa Ana river, February 8,
1913, aged almost eighty-four years. His wife, who survives him, is now
seventy-eight years of age. Of their sixteen children ten are now living,
namely: Paulina J., Elizabeth, Jonathan M.. Phoebe, Jacob Taylor, Eliza,
Sarah A., Charles T., Lillie and John M. The first-named daughter is the
wife of R. L. Ralls and lives at Button Willow, Kern county- The second
daughter is the widow of W. H. Borden and lives at San Bernardino, this
state. Phoebe, the widow of C. N. Burbank, makes her he me in Orange
county. Jacob Taylor, who is foreman of the Perkins rose ranch at McFar-
land, moved from Orange county to Kern during the fall of 1911. Sarah A.,
Mrs. Edward Howard, is living at Long Beach. Charles T. is a successful oil
operator at Marict pa. Lillie, widow of E. L. Martin, resides in the Union
avenue settlement, Kern county, and John M., the youngest of the family.
continues on the old home place near Santa Ana.

Born in San Benito county April 8. 1861, Jonathan M. Bush had very
meager advantages during boyhood. The large fund of information he now
possesses is the result of observation and self-culture. At the age of eight
years he accompanied his father to Orange county and helped him in securing
a foothold in that new country. From there in 1889 he came to Kern county
and settled southwest of the San Emidio ranch, where he embarked in the
stock industry. This he followed successfully for nineteen years. When
finally he sold his stock he came to Union avenue and bought eighty acres on
section 17, eleven miles scuth of Bakersfield. In 1900 he embarked in the
meat business in the oil fields and later erected at Maricopa the West Side
market, equipped with a cold-storage plant and with other modern conven-
iences. Through his own energy he built up a large business and this he
conducted for twelve years, after which he leased the plant to George Fiester.

Ever since coming to Kern county Mr. Bush has been more or less inti-
mately identified with public affairs. Not the least of his responsibilities was
a service of sixteen years as justice of the peace. During 1908 he was elected
a member of the board .of supervisors, in which capacity he has remained
up to the present time, having been elected as the Democratic nominee
but retained by the insistent demand of a host of friends of all parties. For
years he has been a member of the blue lodge of Masons and a firm champion
of the philanthropic principles for which the crder stands. While living in
Orange county he met and married Miss Sarah A. Thomas, daughter of
Benjamin and Mary Elizabeth (Miller) Thomas, and a granddaughter of one
of the noted itinerant ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.
When California was still sparsely settled the Rev. Mr. Miller traveled from
])lace to place, establishing congregations, ministering to churches, offfciating
at weddings and funerals and occupying a high place in the affection of the
people of his broad parish. During his visits at Bakersfield he met Colonel



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 165 of 177)