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 170 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 170 of 177)
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machine shop in South Taft. During May of 1912 he bought out the interest
of his partner, since which time he has been the sole owner and with the
assistance of three skilled mechanics carries on his business in a shop well
equipped with modern machinery. In the oil fields he is known as a skilled
mechanic, accurate in workmanship, prompt in the filling of orders and de-
pendable for efficiency in every contract. Before leaving Pennsylvania he
was made a Mason in a blue lodge in Pittsburg and later he was raised to the
chapter and Knights Templar degrees in Arizona, where also he became identi-
fied with the Shriners of Phoenix. When he came to California he was accom-
panied bv Mrs. Davis, formerly Miss Angie Hutchinson, of Kane, Pa., and
they have established a comfortable home in Taft, where they have a large
circle of warm personal friends.

JOSEPH W. OVERALL.— Prior to the beginning of the Civil war his
sympathies had been aroused in behalf of the slaves, this feeling on his part
being an inherited opinion from his mother, Louisana (DuvalJ) Overall, a
descendant of French ancestry and of Revolutionary stock. On the other
hand the father, George Washington Overall, was a slaveholder and in sym-
pathy with the stand taken by the southern states, although he adhered to
the policy favored by Henry Clay that Kentucky should establish gradual
emancipation, that California should be admitted without stipulations con-
cerning slavery and that territorial governments should not be restricted by
any obligations in that regard. The Overall family came from England during
the colonial era and settled in \'irginia, where they migrated across the moun-
tains into Kentucky and became contemporaries of Daniel Boone in the
original upbuilding of the Blue Grass state.

There were six children in the family of George Washington and Louis-
ana (Duvall) Overall, namely: James B.. who served in the Union army imder
Colonel Pennybaker as a member of the Twenty-.seventh Kentucky Infantry;
Joseph W. ; Gabriel P.. now living in Phoenix, Ariz. ; Annie, who died at the
age of sixteen years ; Melinda E., who married Frank C. Parepoint, of Hardin
county. Ky. ; and Susan C, Mrs. Columbus Clark, who settled near Canton,
Mo. After the mother of these children had passed away, the father was
again married and by the second union he became the parent of three chil-


dren. Born near Bardstown, Nelsun county. Ky., March 20, 1844, Joseph W.
Overall passed the years of boyhood in his native locality and had very
meager educational opportunities. In February of 1863, when a little less
than nineteen years of age, he enlisted at Louisville, Ky., in Company I of the
Eleventh Kentucky Cavalry for three years or during the war. His command
was known at Wclford's cavalry and he served successively under Colonels
Reiley, Graham, Holman and Major Boyle. Following the siege of Knox-
ville, in which he served under Gen. A. E. Burnside, he was placed under
George H. Stoneman in the celebrated Stoneman's cavalry under General
Sherman and took part in the famous march through Georgia to Atlanta as a
member of the First Brigade, First Division, Twenty-third Army Corps, com-
manded by General Scofield. While the army was stationed near Kingston,
Ga., in 1864 Mr. Overall was commissioned sergeant-major and served as
such during the return from Atlanta to Louisville. From the latter city a
start was made for West Virginia, where an assault was begun upon the
Kings salt works, but the Union men, repulsed with severe loss, retreated to
Louisville via Lexingtcn. Later under Stoneman another attack was made
on the salt works and this raid proved successful, for the plant was captured
and destroyed by the Union forces. Following the later return to Louisville
the young soldier was confined to a hospital through illness and after he had
recovered and rejoined the regiment he aided in a raid thr>_ugh North Caro-
lina and Tennessee during April and May of 1865. His last service consisted
in the auditing of ot¥icers' accounts and in October, 1865, he received an hon-
orable discharge at Louisville.

The war ended, Sergeant-Major Overall took up any work that offered
an honest livelihood and for sume time he was employed at the trade of a
carpenter. From Kentucky he went to Kansas during the spring of 1868 and
settled in Leavenworth, where he worked as a carpenter. Afterward he took
up a government soldiers' homestead in Harvey county, Kans., and this he
proved up on during 1873, after which he continued to cultivate the land and
make it his home until the fall of 1889. Selling out at that time he went to
Seattle, Wash., and from there in February, 1890, came to California, arriving
in Bakersfield on the 30th of May. Since establishing a home in this section he
has made many friends. He has never married and at this writing is keeping
"bachelor's hall" on his farm of ten acres on Union avenue near Bakersfield,
where he raises alfalfa and poultry. Since casting his first vote for Abraham
Lincoln he has never failed to support the candidates of the Republican party
and is stanch in his allegiance to party principles. Fraternally a master Ma-
son, he belongs to the Veteran Masonic Association. For years he has been
identi ed with the Grand Army of the Republic and is now a member of Hurl-
burt Pest at Bakersfield.

MARCUS B. THOMAS became a resident of California in 1890, when he
located at Traver, Tulare county. Unfortunately, on account of the condition
of the soil, the agricultural and dairy industries did not thrive and he removed
to Sanger, where for two years he was employed in a warehouse. Then for
fourteen years he was in the Sanger box factory, his wtrk being principally
around the engine, thus acquiring the knowledge of stationarj' engineering.
He then located in San Francisco, where he followed the trade in which he
had become proficient, and while thus engaged he also became interested in
and was proprietor of a hotel en Folsom street. At the time of the earth-
quake and fire he was burned out, which caused the loss of all he had. He
then entered ihe employ of the Santa Fe railroad as engineer of the pumping
plant at San Pablo, afterwards holding the same position at Richmond,
Angiola and Ellensworth. In 1906 he came to Wasco for the company and
since then has had charge of this pumping plant.

Mr. Thomas was born in Fostoria, Ohio, November 5, 1850, and when two


years of age removed with his parents to Hudson, La Port county, Ind., where
he was reared on the farm and received his education in the local schools.
After he reached his majority he engaged in farming his father's place until
1890, when he came to California, which has since been the field of his
endeavors. He was married in Indiana to Miss Ella Barnes, whose death
occurred in Sanger. Of their union were born two children : Nellie, Mrs. Dyer,
of Soledad and Berna O.. foreman of Madera's box factory in l'"resno. Fra-
ternally Mr. Thomas affiliates with the Knights of Pythias, while in national
politics he is a Republican.

LEROY ALFRED DENNEN.— Born in Pottawatomie county, Kans.,
January 14, 1883, a son of C. L. and Mary (Davis) Dennen, when he was quite
young Leroy Alfred Dennen of Bakersficid was brought to Kern c> unty by
his parents. He was educated in the public schools of Bakersfield, graduating
from the Kern county high school in 1904, and worked for his father until
he was twenty-three years old. On March 4, 1903, he married Arta May Web-
ster, who was born August 19, 1888, in Henry county, Mo., and who has
biTne him a son, Kenneth. He is the owner of seventy acres of alfalfa and
grain land and is giving successful attention to general farming.

In Oxford county, Me., C. L. Dennen was born March 7, 1857. In that
same year his parents settled in Brown county, Kans., and when he was four-
teen years old. in 1871, they moved to P ttawatomie county, that state. In
1876 he married Miss Mary Davis, of the same county, a daughter of pioneers
who came from L wa. George B. Davis, her father, died about thirty years
ago and her mother, who was Miss Catherine Taylor, lives at Santa Ana,
Cal. After his marriage Mr. Dennen rented a farm three years and then
became the owner of one which he oyierated until 1886. when he came to Cali-
fornia with his wife and five children, with a capital of only $400, arriving in
Bakersfield in December. He homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of
land and with B. F. Stoner as a partner engaged in the livery business at
Bakersfield for s. me time. In due time he proved up on his land and he owns
one-half of it at this time. He rented land and afterwards bought acreage from
the Kern County Land Company. His first purchase was twenty acres at ,?1200
on which he was able to make a payment of only $10. He now owns two
hundred and sixty acres in one tract and eighty in another and a fine residence
at No. 1227 G street, Bakersfield, where he is now living retired from active life,
his ranch being in the hands of his son-in-law, F. W. Silver.

The following are the eight children of C. L. and Mary (Davis) Dennen :
Josephine is the wife of James Hosking, living in Union avenue, Bakersfield;
Charles Richard, a bookkeeper for A. F. Stoner, Bakersfield, married Libhie
Hansen, frcm Placer county; George Berry married Etta Webster of Bakers-
field: I eroy .Alfred is mentioned above: Millie L. is the wife of V. W. Silver;
Lewis W. was graduated from the Kern County High School in 1910 and is
bookkeeper for the Union Oil Company — he married Lucile Sanders; Mary
Myrtle is a graduate of the Kern County High School class of 1912; Vernon V.
is at home. L. W. Dennen. father . f C. L. Dennen, enlisted in the First Regi-
ment, Kansas Infantry, and served three years and a half in the Union army.
Clara B. Andrews, who became his wife, was born in Oxford county. Me., a
daughter of ("ant. lohn .\ndrews.

PHARES HARRY SHANNON.— The history of tlie Shannon family in
America goes back to early Canadian culimization. Pharcs H. Shamii n, Sr.,
a Canadian bv birth and parentage, became a pioneer of Michi'jan and worked
as a pattern-maker in Detroit up to the time of the Civil war. Throughout the
entire period of that struggle he served as a member of a Michigan regiment
of engineers and after receiving an honorable discharge he moved fr( m Detroit
to Grand Rapids, where he followed his trade. Later he and his wife, who
was Frances Godfrev. a native of Flint, Mich., established a home at Ovid,


Clinton county, Mich., and there a son, Phares Harry, was born September 26,
1879. The opening up of vast timber tracts further north in Michigan
attracted the attention of the father, who decided to take up a homestead.
With that purpose in view he went to Kalkaska county and secured a timber
claim, which he cleared of trees and stumps and placed under cultivation.
There his death occurred in 1910, when he was seventy-five years of age and
there his widow is still making her home. The farm is now owned by their
two youngest sons, William and Lewis. The eldest son, Charles, is living at
Lynchburg, Va., and the second son, Fred, died at the age of twenty years.

The rigorous climate and the hardships of pioneering in Michigan did not
appeal to Phares H. Shannon and after spending two years at Rexton, in the
northern peninsula (from 1902), where he was in the employ of a large con-
tracting firm, he came to California. Arriving in Visalia, in May of 1904, in
the fall of the same year he came to Bakersfield, where since July of 1907 he
has been an employe of the Kern County Land Company on Kern island. The
following year he was promoted to be foreman of the ranch, a position he has
since filled. Politically he votes the Democratic ticket, and fraternally he holds
membership with Kern Lodge No. 202, I. O. O. F., and is also a member of the
encampment and the local lodge of Rebekahs.

W. S. SEYMOUR, contractor and builder, with main ofifice at Taft,
is well known throughout Kern county. Althi ugh engaged in business here
for only a bjief period, Mr. Seymour has established a reputation for trust-
worthy work; to his credit also there is along record for successful work in
many parts of the country, where he had practical experience in the erection
of large schoolhouses, substantial government buildings, court-houses and
other structures.

An early thorough experience in carpentering came to Mr. Seymour un-
der the wise training of his father, whose skill is in evidence in a large num-
ber of houses and bridges at Great Barrington, Mass. That city was the native
place and early home of W. S. Seymour, whose birth occurred May 25, 1861,
and whose education was gained largely in the great school of experience and
hard work. As soon as old enough to use tools he was taught the prin-
ciples of carpentering. After he had worked in many buildings in his native
commonwealth, in 1887 he left home to follow his trade in other states. From
that time until he came to Bakersfield in January, 1909, he visited many states,
worked in almost every part of the country, and became a thorough master of
his trade through holding important positions in the construction of large
public buildings. For three years after his arrival in Bakersfield he engaged
as construction foreman with C. B. Brown. During 1910-11 he had charge of
the construction of the substantial Conley grammar-school building at Taft,
a structure erected at a cost of $50,000 and containing every equipment known
to the educational world of the present day. The school building at Fellows
was also erected under his personal supervision. The Brundage school has
been erected by him and in addition he had the contract for the erection of a
grammar-school building in Taft, a brick structure, completed at a cost of
$25,000 and opened for the fall term of school in 1913. Among the other build-
ings to the credit of Mr. Seymour may be mentioned the Murphy apart-
ments on Nineteenth street, Bakersfield. Others might be listed, but these are
sufficient to indicate the importance of his contracts and his ability as a
builder. Outside of building circles, as Avithin, he has a host of warm personal
friends, for he is genial in temperament, energetic in action and kindly in
disposition. Fraternally he belongs to the Loyal Order of Moose.

JOHN WILTON.' — The steadfast, reliable temperament that forms one
of the principal characteristics of John Wilton has been evidenced in his long
identification with the Kern County Land Company, of which he has been a
trusted employe for many years and in whose interests he has labored with


the same conscientious devotion and unwearied fidelity lie would have given
to his own afifairs. His Anglo-Saxon ancestry is apparent in his dignity of
manner, breadth of character and the care with which he discharges all
duties connected with the position of time-keeper of the Kern Island Irrigation
Canal Company. Since coming to Kern county he has bought property and
built a residence at No. 2024 Twentieth street, where with his family he has
a comfortable home convenient in appointments and modern in equipment.

The \\'ilt( n family comes from the south of England. John C. and Ann
fHoskin) Wilton were natives respectively of the shires of Cornwall and
Devon and for many years have made their home upon a farm at Buck-
fastleigh, where the former, although seventy years of age, is still active in
the management of his interests. There were six children in the family and
the eldest, John, the only one of the six to come to America, was born near
Plymouth, Devonshire, England, January 17, 1864. After he had completed his
schooling he worked as a farmer and became a foreman in agriculture, con-
tinuing as such until he came to America. Meanwhile he had married in
Cornwall, his wife being Miss Mary Iloskings, a native of St. Unv, Lelant,
Cornwall. One of her brothers, James Hoskings, had come to California and
was living in Kern county, and this fact induced the young couple to try their
fortune in the new world. March 13, 1890, they sailed from Liverpool on the
Atruria, which cast anchor in New York at the end of a pleasant voyage.

Crossing the continent they proceeded to Bakersfield and settled perma-
nently in Kern county, where for seven years Mr. Wilton worked on the farm
owned by his brother-in-law on Union avenue. At the expiration of the seven
years he became a zanjero on the system of the Kern County Land Company,
continuing as such for twelve years, when he was promoted, in March of 1908.
to be time-keeper of the Kern island canal. The details of irrigation are
familiar to him and he thoroughly understands all of the work connected with
his department. W'hile giving his time and attention closely to the duties of
the position, he does not neglect his duty as a citizen, but aims to kee-i pi sted
concerning all movements for the welfare of city and county. In politics he
votes with the Democratic party. His membership was formerly in the
Church of England and after coming to the United States he and his wife
identified themselves with the Eniscopal Church. Their family consisted of
three children, two now living, John Henry and Frederick George. The only
daughter, Blanche H., died when five months old. Mr. Wilton holds member-
ship with Bakersfield Ledge No. 202, I. O. O. F., and the Independent Order of

GERARD C. La MARSNA.— The name of La Marsna indicates French
extraction and we find that the family for generations lived in France and
became established in Canada during the period of immigration from their
country to the new provinces of America. James Jeffrey La Marsna. who was
of Canadian birth, grew to manhood in ]\Iichigan and at the opening nf the
Civil war oflfered his services to the LTnion, was accepted and sent to the front,
where he served as aide-de-camp to his general. During a fierce fight in the
Cumberland mountains he was wounded by a shot from the enemy and lost his
left leg, which greatly incapacitated him in his subsequent efTorts to earn a
livelihood. Finally the government appointed him as a deposition agent in the
pension department. About 1888 he came to California and settled on a
ranch in Tulare county, where he engaged in the raising of grain and stock
with more or less success. His death occurred on the ranch in 1907. Surviving
him is his widow, who was Maria Clough, a native of Massachusetts and now
a resident of Tulare.

The ])arental family comprised eleven children, but only four of these
attained maturity and these four still survive. The youngest son in the family,
Gerard Chastleline La Marsna. was born at Onaga, Pottawatomie countv.


Kan., October 14, 1880, and was two years of age at the time of the removal
of the family to Washington, D. C. In 1885 another removal was made, the
family going to Irunton, Lawrence county, Ohio, whence they came to Cali-
fornia three years later. On the 31st of January, 1888, they arrived at Tulare
and shortly afterward settled on a ranch near Woodville in the same county.
The eight-year old boy saw much to interest him in the west and soon became
familiar with conditions as they then existed in Tulare county, where he
received a public-school education. He can scarcely recall when he first began
to heli) his father. From an early age he was taught to be self-reliant and
helpful. Much of his work was the driving of a mule-team, but he aided in other
ways on the home ranch and on other farms.

At the age i f about nineteen years Mr. La Marsna began at the bottom in
the employ of the Mount Whitney Power Company, his first work being in the
construction department. For almost ten years he continued with the same
company and at the time of his resignation he was serving as district superin-
tendent of the Exeter division. During July of 1900 he came to Bakersfield as an
electrician, tu enter the employ of the Power Transit and Light Company, now
absorbed by the San Joaquin Light and Power Corporation, and with these two
concerns he has continued up to the present time, having since February 10,
1910, filled the position of city foreman of construction and has given his time
closely to his duties. He holds membership with the Woodmen of the World.
At Porterville, this state, January 8, 1905, he was united in marriage with Miss
Nellie A. Gibson, by whom he has two children, Fred Gibson and Anna Pauline.
Mrs. La Marsna was born in Lamar, Barton county. Mo., and is a daughter of
Benjamin Workman and Sarah (Billings) Gibson, fur many years farmers of
Missouri, but eventually residents of California where Mr. Gibson died at
Porterville and where his widow continues to make her home.

A. B. ECHOLS. — Following the trend of migration toward the west,
A. P. Echols, a native of Georgia, established himself in Texas and earned a
liveliheod as a carpenter, but before he had been able to lay aside any consid-
erable sum for the support of his family he was taken from their midst by
death, leaving the little children without means for their education and up-
bringing. Of the three children the second, A. B., was born in Corsicana, Tex.,
March 7, 1887, and was only five years of age at the passing of his father in
1892. The mother, who bore the maiden name of Caroline Pettigrew and who
was a native of Missouri, took the family to Oklahoma in 1904 and is now
making her home with one of her daughters at Tulsa.

Between the years of seventeen and twenty-one A. B. Echols served an
apprenticeship to the machinist's trade with the American Well and Pros-
pecting Company in Oklahoma. At the beginning he was paid $1 per day. The
wages were gradually increased until finally he received $3.75 per day. After
leaving the employ of the Oklahoma concern he came to California in 1*^08 and
settled at Coalinga, where he engaged with the Bunting iron works. There,
as in his former position, he soon proved the value of his work. Leaving
Coalinga for Taft in 1912, he has since been connected with the General
Petroleum Company and now fills the responsible position of foreman of the
machine shon. His comfortable home in Taft is presided over by Mrs. Echols,
who prior to their marrias:e at Fort Smith, Ark., was Miss Hilda Barry.
During the period of his residence at Coalinga he was made a Mason in the
blue lodge at that point and in addition he identified himself with the Scottish
Rite Consistory at Fresno.

GEORGE DAVIS.— Many of California's most skilled drillers and most
successful superintendents come from Pennsylvania and that is likewise the
native commonwealth of the young and energetic foreman of the Reward Oil
Company, operating a lease on section 26, 31-22. Bradford is his old home
town and July 26, 1882, the date of his birth. As a boy he became familiar with


the enormous development of the Bradford oil fields. He witnessed the excite-
ment incident to the striking of new wells and felt a personal pride in the con-
stant increase in production which was the record made by that district in
the period of its nascent growth. Sharing the general interest concerning the
business, he also shared its toil, privations and hardshi]3S, and learned every
phase of its occupative duties. When he came from Pennsylvania to Cali-
fornia in 1904 he sought the Kern river field, then one of the greatest fields in
the entire country. For five years he worked on various leases and in various
capacities. With the early development of the Midway he came to Moron, now
known as Taft. For six months he worked as a driller on the Mascot lease
and then went into the service of the Operators Oil Company at McKittrick.

To take up the work of driller Mr. Davis came to the North Midway in
1910 and the following year he was made foreman of the Reward, formerly
the Result Oil Company, which now has connection with the Reward at Mc-
Kittrick. Drilling was first started on the lease in April, 1910, so that he has
been connected with the work from the very t utset, and it is a source of
pride to him that there has been a constant and profitable development and
that there are now two productive wells, flowing one hundred and seventy
barrels every twenty-four hours and producing oil of 19.4 gravity. As foreman
Mr. Davis is expeditious, energetic and justly popular. Fraternally he is iden-
tified with the Aerie of Fagles at Bakersfield. His marriage in Los Angeles
united him with Miss Emma Lufkon, of Los Angeles, and they now have 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 170 of 177)