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 166 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 166 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Baker and was invited to visit at his home whenever in this neighborhood, so
that eventually he became a close friend of the pioneer settler of this city.
The family of Mr. and Mrs. Bush comprises four sons. The eldest, Marion.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1487

married Josephine Emerson and li\es at Pattiway, a small postoffice south of
Maricopa, where he is engaged in the stock business; the second son, Howard,
married Miss Sarah Martin and makes his home in Maricopa. The two
youngest members of the family, Henry and Benjamin, still reside with
their parents on the farm eleven miles south of Bakersfield. Attesting the
popularity if Mr. Bush in Kern county are the election returns of 1912, when
he received the largest vote of any of the supervisors elected.

JAMES A. RANEY.— Much of the west has been made familiar to Mr.
Raney through travel and observation since he left the old Missouri home-
stead where had been lived the uneventful but busy years of boyhood. The
home farm was located in ^^■right county in the vicinity of Hartville, where
he was born November 18, 1875, and where he had made himself very useful
in such work as his strength rendered possible. Although a capable assist-
ant on the homestead and skilled in many departments of agriculture, the
occupation did not appeal to him as a means of livelihood and at the age of
twenty-one he started out to earn his own way through other callings.
Throughout the greater part of the time since he left the old home he has been
employed in various oil fields in California, including those at Coalinga in
Fresno county, Kern river and Midway in Kern county, also in Santa Clara
and Inyo counties. In the last-named county he had considerable experience
in wild-catting and as usual in such instances the results were not gratifying
from a financial standpoint.

Upon his arrival in the Kern river oil fields in 1900 Mr. Raney was
employed to move the rig for the first well on the Green and Whittier lease
and his first steady job was as driver of a two-horse team. Since those days
be has seen many changes in the district. Many of the early concerns have
dropped out. Other men have become leaders in development work at this
point. His own experiences have been as varied as the changes in the field
itself, for he has worked in almost every capacity and with a number of
different companies. Not only has he filled humble positions with conscien-
tious industry, but in addition he has had a number of positions of great
trust and responsibility. In every capacity he has proved an indefatigable
worker. It has been his policy to devote his entire time to his work without
mingling in politics except to cast a Democratic vote at general elections.
While at Coalinga oil fields he became a member of the Eagles in Coalinga.

During 1912 Mr. Raney filled the very responsible position of field fore-
man or manager for the Rambler and Expansion leases of the Traders Oil
Company. February 14, 1913, he was transferred to the Midway division
of the Traffic Oil Company, where he has since been engaged as driller. It
should be explained that the Traders Oil Company and Trafiic Oil Company
are closely allied, and that the two companies are under practically one man-
agement.

FELIX GEIGER.— Life has not meant ease and luxury U< Mr. Geiger,
but a stern battle that beginning at the age of twelve has continued through
years of difficult struggle and hardships, until eventually he has seen the
recompense of his privations and the reward of his self-sacrifices.

The parents of Mr. Geiger were natives of Switzerland and pioneers of
Black Wolf township, Winnebago county. Wis. Both are now deceased
Their family comprised six sons and three daughters, if whom Felix is the
only one living in California. Born in Oshkosh, Wis., December 19, 1872, he
spent his early childhood years upon a farm and at the age of twleve years
started out to make his own way in the world, his first work being in a cheese
factory. At sixteen he became a fireman in the plant of the Oshkosh Electric
Light and Power Company at Oshkosh, Wis., where later he was made oiler
of the machinery and eventually second engineer. Throughout all of this time



1488 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

he worked twelve hours each day in the plant and during this time took a
course in electrical and steam engineering in a correspondence school. Next
he secured a position as station baggage master for the Chicago & North-
western Railroad Company at Oshkosh and in a short time was transferred
to the machine shops of that road in Oshkosh, where he remained several
years. During 1901 in Oshkosh he married Miss Elizabeth Pieper, a native of
that city, and the wedding tour of the young couple brought them to Cali-
fornia, where they have since made their home.

An experience of eight months with the Frazer Borate Mining Company
and of four months on the west side in the Kern county oil fields was followed
by two years spent in drilling on the prcperties of the Los Angeles Traction
Company located on Pine creek, Ventura county, after which Mr. Geiger
settled permanently in Kern county and for four years served as foreman of
the Monte Cristo Oil Company. During September of 1911 he became super-
intendent of the West Shore Oil Company, whose properties lie en section 32,
townshi;) 28, range 28, Kern river fields. This company has the same corps
of officers as the Monte Cristo and employs seventeen men. Of their twenty-
nine wells on the West Shore all but eight are producers and these eight are
now being re-drilled. The monthly production averages nineteen thousand
barrels. In the fall of 1912 Mr. Geiger was made assistant superintendent of
the Monte Cristo. The Monte Cristo properties in the Kern river field now
not only include the original Monte Cristo and the West Shore, but also the
Oakland Water Company, all cf which comes under Mr. Geiger's jurisdiction
as general foreman. Mr. and Mrs. Geiger are at present residing in the original
Monte Cristo. Fraternally Mr. Geiger holds membership in the Woodmen of
the World.

FRED S. HOLMES.— The proprietor of the Oil City livery stable on the
county road in the Kern river oil fields belongs to a pioneer family cf California
and is a native son of the state. From early years he has been interested in
stock and particularly in horses. On the old home ranch he gained a thor-
ough knowledge of equine flesh, studied the best methods of handling horses,
accusti med himself to treating their various diseases with skill and efficiency
and learned how to subdue the wild, unbroken colts that had roamed, un-
molested, over the vast ranges. Having thus a liking for animals and an
understanding of the horse, it was but natural that he should turn from the
oil industry to the management and ownership of a livery business. In his
work he has formed the acquaintance of practically every man in the oil
field and am^ng all he is ponilar, for he has given the best possible service to
every customer and has regarded their comfort rather than his own conven-
ience.

The identification of the Holmes family with California dates from 1852,
when Albert O. Holmes, a native of Mansfield, Ohio, and a young man of
twenty years, came via Panama to San Francisco and proceeded thence to
Placerville, Eldorado county. As a gold-miner he had little or no success, so
in 1853 he turned to the grocery business and conducted a store at Coon Hol-
low near Eldorado. For a time he met with success, but eventually the gold-
camp was abandoned, the miners left and this brought financial reverses to
him. He too was forced to seek a new business and another location. Before
leaving Ohio he had learned the trade of stationary engineer and this proved
helpful to him in an emergency, for in 1863 he found employment as an
engineer at the hoist of the Golden Curry near Virginia City, Nev. Being a
skilled mechanic and an expert machinist, he filled the position to the satis-
faction of all concerned. Meanwhile he had married and had lost his wife,
while the two sons of that union, Edward C. and Albert O., also are deceased.

After going to Nevada Mr. Holmes formed the acquaintance of Miss



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1489

Susan Louisa Smith, of Boston, Mass., and they were married in 1866, one
year after her arrival in Nevada. The family of which she was a member
comprised three children, but she was the only t ne to attain maturity. Her
parents, Edward and Louisa (Cooledge) Smith, were natives of Massachu-
setts and lifelong residents of the Old Bay state, where the mother died when
Mrs. Holmes was only four years of age. The father, a carpenter in early life
and later a dry-goods merchant, descended from a colonial family of Massa-
chusetts whose earliest representatives in the new world crossed the Atlantic
long before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war. Educated in the schools
of Boston, Mrs. Holmes came to San Francisco in 1865 when she was twenty
years of age. In the same year she was induced by a lady friend to go to
Nevada and visit relatives. There she met and married Mr. Holmes, with
whom in 1871 she removed to Los Angeles and thence to a tract of unim-
Ijroved land near San Bernardino. Out of the land they devel ped a fine fruit
farm. After sixteen years on the farm they removed to the San Gabriel forest
reserve on Big Rock creek, Los Angeles county, where he estabbshed a large
stock ranch and acquired a herd of nine hundred head of cattle and three
hundred head of horses. In addition a specialty was made of growing ap iles
in the San Gabriel mountains. After a long and successful career as farmer,
rancher and horticulturist. Mr. Holmes died in 1901. Later Mrs. Holmes
removed to Los Angeles, where now she makes her home at No. 419 South
Grand avenue.

Seven children, all still living, comprise the family, namely : Annie L.,
who- married Jefferson Caruthers, a farmer at El Monte; John A., a gold-
miner, now engaged as superintendent of the Standard mine at Bodie. Mcno
county; Martha F., wife of A. Maritall, a driller of oil wells at Maricopa;
Laura A., the widow of Frank Patterson and a res'dent of Los Angeles;
Maude M., who is conducting the Davenport (Iowa) hotel ; William R.. em-
ployed as a driller cf oil wells and now located at Electra, Wichita county,
Tex.; and Fred S., who was born in San Bernardino county. Gal., December
16, 1885, and at the age of five years accompanied his narents to the ranch in
Los Angeles county. There he spent the years of h^ yhood in learning to handle
cattle and horses. The regular public-school advantages were given to him.
After he had graduated frc m the Los Angeles high school in 1902 he came
to the Kern river oil field and secured work as a roustabout on the Peerless.
From that he w( rked his way to gang-pusher, tool-dresser and well-driller
successively. Besides being with the Peerless he worked with the Potomnc,
Coloma and Emerald Oil Companies and in the San Joaquin division if the
Associated. For three years he engaged as a driller under James L. Bruce,
formerly superintendent of the Kern division of the Associated. Sent out to
the Lost Hills in 1910, he there drilled various wells, notable among which is
the Associated No. 4, a well of three hundred barrels. After having drilled
for a year in the Lost Hills as an employe of the Associated, he decided to
invest his savings in a livery business and accordingly in 1912 availed himself
of an opportunity to purchase his present stable on the county road, where
he since has engaged in business. For some years he has been a member of
the Wordmen of the World. A son, Gordon .Arthur, the only survivor of two
children, has been born of his union with Miss Ellinor Strong, daughter of
Richard B. and Frances E. (Martin) Strong, of Belding, Ionia county, Mich.,
where she was born, reared and educated and where, prior to her marriage in
1908, she had made her home.

ROLAND R. FISHELL. — In his important position as production fore-
man on section 26 division of the North American Oil Consolidated Company,
R. R. Fishell has brought to his place of trust not only energy, but also
efficiency in method, dispatch in results and tact in the handling df workmen.



1490 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

When he was appointed production foreman April 1, 1913, he succeeded to the
care of one hundred and sixty acres comprising section 26, township 32, range
23. An average output is secured of thirty-two thousand barrels per month
from thirty-two producing oil wells.

As evidence of the long identification of the family with the oil business,
it may be stated that Mr. Fishell's father, Francis Marion Fishell, now an
employe on the section 26 division, worked in the Pennsylvania oil fields in
the very infancy of the industry, when methods of work were primitive,
equipment scanty and wells drilled in the old-fashioned manner. In those
days tools had to be taken to the blacksmith's shop in near-by towns when-
ever they were to be sharpened or repaired. Although now only fifty-eight
years of age, he has witnessed practically the entire development of the oil
industry of the country and in his yuunger years he was considered one
of the best drillers in Clarion county, Pa., also in the Bradford field in McKean
county, where he took contracts for drilling. By his marriage to Samantha
Robinson, who was born in Pennsylvania about 1859, he has a daughter and
son, the former, Zelma, being now the wife of Jacob N. Ripple, superintendent
of the Mascot Oil Company.

Born in Clarion county, Pa., June 15, 1878, Roland R. Fishell passed
the years of boyhood in the Bradford oil field in McKean county,
that state, and from boyhood earned his own way in the world
by means of work at the wells. His own efforts enabled him to pay
his way through the commercial department of the large university at Val-
paraiso, Ind., where he completed a business course at the age of seventeen
years. Meanwhile the family had left Pennsylvania for Indiana in 1892 and
he had worked in the oil fields of Blackford county. When twenty years of
age he became a driller and about the same time he was united in marriage
with Miss Minnie K. Wampler, of Montpelier, Ind., the two keeping house
in Indiana until 1904 and then establishing a home in Illinois t il fields. From
that year until 1909 Mr. Fishell was employed as a driller at Westfield, Clark
county. Upon leaving Illinois he came to California and settled in the
Midway field in 1909, working for five months on the Mascot. Since then he
has been connected with section 26 division of the North American, engaging
first as a driller under Superintendent Kurtz and later receiving a merited
promotion to be production foreman. With his wife and three children,
Frances B., Beatrice E. and Clair N., he has a comfortable home in the com-
pany's residence on section 26. Across the road from the house is the Hill
school, which has been utilized by the people on 25 Hill not only for educa-
tional purpi ses, but also for religious services, musicals and as a social center
for the neighborhood. Realizing the value of the school as a community
headquarters, he has taken a warm and unceasing interest in its supervision
and has promoted every movement undertaken by those responsible for its
beneficial work. Politically he votes with the Republican party.

CHRISTIAN ADAM WIRTH.— From every life may be gleaned lessons
of great value and the life of the late Christian Adam Wirth especially illus-
trates what it is within the power of a man to accomnlish, notwithstanding
the handicap of poverty, lack of education and ignorance ci ncerning the cus-
toms of the country. For thirty-five years he enjoyed the co-operation and
companionship of a devoted wife, whose presence was his greatest encour-
agement in every enterprise and her counsel his chief guide in business trans-
actions, and when finally in 1910 death separated them it formed the deepest
sorrow of his long life.

Born in Wittenberg, Germany, September 15, 1847, Christian A. Wirth
sailed for America at the age of twenty-three years and landed at Castle
Garden in May of 1871. From New York City he traveled west as far as



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1491

Zanesville, Ohio, and thence to Cincinnati, where he remained for four years,
meanwhile holding a position as shipping clerk for the wholesale commission
house of S. S. Cooper. Although unfamiliar with the English language and
American methods of work, he learned easily and soon commanded fair wages.
It was during this period of his life that he met Miss Elizabeth Klein, of Cin-
cinnati, whom he married in 1875 and who accompanied him in that year
to California. From San Francisco he came to Kernville, Kern county.
Shortly after his arrival in this county he bought two hundred and forty
acres of raw land and began to raise stock and general farm products. To
the original purchase he soon added an adjoining tract of two hundred and
forty acres. Later he bought a ranch of one hundred and si.xty acres.
Eventually he sold the property at a large advance over the original cost.
Meanwhile he had invested in other parts of the county, both city and coun-
try property, and until his death he lived retired in Bakersfield, where he
owned the corners of Eighteenth and L, Eighteenth and M, Fourteenth
and G, and much other unimproved property. The increase in land valuation
made him wealthy and removed from him all necessity for further work,
aside from such as was involved in the care of his tracts and the oversight
of his interests.

The family of Mr. W'irih comprised one daughter and three sons, all of
whom are well established in life. The daughter, Louise, married J. C. House,
M.D., and resides at Port Townsend, Jeflferson county. Wash. The eldest
son, Henry A., is one of the leading citizens of Onyx, this county, where
he is postmaster and merchant, and in addition he owns large farming inter-
ests in that locality. W^illiam A., who is represented elsewhere in this
volume, is a business man at Kernville and Christ is a tool-dresser well
known in the S.unset field. During his residence here Mr. Wirth witnessed
many changes, not only in his own personal affairs, but also in the aspect
of the country. Then there were few farmers and the land was almost wholly
unimproved. The raising of stock helped him in getting a start and at times
he had as man}' as fifty head of horses on his ranch. A skilled blacksmith,
he had a shop on his ranch and did his own repair work on machinery, besides
taking personal charge of the shoeing of his horses. Before he left the
ranch he had seen much of the development of the country, whose tillable
acres were drawing an increasing number of desirable settlers and whose
fertile soil made an excellent return to those bestowing care and cultivation
thereon. The death of Mr. Wirth occurred October 25, 1912.

L. T. BROWN. — The proprietor of an upholstering business and in the
manufacture of awnings and tents, Mr. Brown's goods and services are much
in demand.

Born in Little Rock. Ark., on February 11, 1885. Mr. Brown was the
eldest of his parents' three children. His father and mother, who were respec-
tively R. A. Brown and Cordelia (Pollock) Brown, came to Bakersfield in
May, 1891, and were very well known here. In the public schools of Bakers-
field, Mr. Brown received his educational training, and here his youth and
early manhood were spent. Upon leaving school he entered the employ
of Roy White, for whom he worked for seven years. He then worked
for the Hayden Fur Company for a short time, later being in the employ of
P. Niederaur in his present line of business. Subsequently he entered the
business of his predecessor in his present business, \\' . H. Reeve, of Bakers-
field, from whom he learned all the details of the business and its conduct
and later bought out the establishment from him. This he is at present
conducting on his own account with marked success, it being located at
No. 2001 I street.

Mr. Brown's marriage occurred March 6. 1907, to Miss Lola Coughran.
of Merced county, Cal., daughter of J. L. Coughran. One child has been



1492 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

born to them, Wyvverne. Fraternally he affiliates with the Loyal Order
of the Moose, and held office in Bakersfield Lodge No. 460, and he is also
a member of the Woodmen of the World.

ADLORE SAVOIE. — As vice-president of a wholesale house oper-
ated under the title cf the Fred Gunther Company, Mr. Savoie holds an
official connection with a well-known Bakersfield enterprise and in addi-
tion he maintains an important business relation with the concern through
being the manager of the soda water department. It is said that he is an
expert in this line of work, understanding fully all the intricate processes
for the making of the highest grades and in his own shop manufacturing
nineteen different flavors. The soda water factc-ry of the company stands
in the northern part of Bakersfield, in the old Buft'alo brewing building,
on the Southern Pacific tracks, near the plant of the Union Ice Company.
Every mi dern equipment has been introduced to make the shop perfect of
its kind and without doubt, from the standpoint of sanitation, it is unex-
celled by any similar establishment in the entire state, which result may
be attributed to the capable oversight of the manager.

The Savoie family is of French Canadian ancestry and possesses the
thrift of the one race with the resolute soirit characteristic of the other
nationality. Ezra and ]\Iinnie (Mercier) Savoie, natives of Canada, born
in the vicinity of Quebec, crossed into the States and settled at St. Anne,
Kankakee county, 111., where they became influential residents. Among
their six children the next to the youngest and the only one to settle in
California was Adlore, whose birth occurred at St. Anne, 111., June IS,
1873, and whose somewhat meager education was obtained in local schools.
During 1887 he left home to make his own way in the world. Three years
later he secured a clerkship in the grocery establishment of H. F. Westfall,
on Archer avenue, Chicago, where he remained for six years. The wages,
however, were small and he ping to better himself by a change he went
into a wholesale paper house in the same city. After a year he resigned
that position and came to California in 1879, settling in Bakersfield. For
six years he was an employe of the C. O. D. soda works, first with Mr.
Mercier and later with Mr. Condit, and during this period he acquired a
thorough knowledge of the soda business. Next he became a member of
the firm of Gunther & Savoie, bottlers and manufacturers of soda water,
the same being now merged into the Fred Gunther Company, incorporated
at $15,000, with B. H. Sill as president, Fred Gunther as secretary, treas-
urer and manager, and Mr. Savoie as vice-president, also as superintendent
of the soda plant with its large output and its regular corps of workmen.
When coming to Bakersfield Mr. Savoie was unmarried and in this city in
1899 he was united with Miss Maud Hawley, of Chicago. Mr. and Mrs.
Savoie and their son, Floyd, reside at No. 2111 Nineteenth street. Fratern-
ally Mr. Savoie holds membership with the Elks, Eagles and Indenendent
Order of Odd Fellows and served as delegate to the national grand lodge.

E. S. WILLIAMS. — The multiplicity of the business interests repre-
sented in Taft appears little less than remarkable when the brief life of
the place is taken into consideration. Not the least conspicuous of these
business enterprises may be mentioned the Midway bottling works of South
Taft, an organization formed for the purpose of handling the Valley brew
of El Dorado Brewing Company at Stockton. The concern, organized under
the laws of the state of California, has been incorporated by its president,
F. Bontadelli, of Tranquility, Fresno county, and its secretary-treasurer,
E. S. Rose, manager for the Jameson tract in South Taft. Under the super-
vision of E. S. Williams as manager a wholesale and retail business has
been developed that extends through these oil fields and that gives every
evidence of steady increase in q.uantity and importance.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1493

A resident of California since December, 1909, Mr. Williams is well
posted concerning the west and has the firmest faith in its future progress.
The family of which he is a member has been identified with Missouri for
several generations and he himself is a native of Cross Timbers in Hickory
count}', that state, where he was reared and educated. Upon leaving school
he learned the business of an undertaker. At the same time he accjuired a



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 166 of 177)