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 171 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 171 of 177)
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comfortable home on section 2'i, on the company's lease.

RICHARD A. JOHNSON.— In the Sunset and Midway fields there are
few operators more ponilar or nv re experienced than the pionetr driller,
"Dick" Johnson, superintendent of the Security Development Company, oper-
ating thirty-five acres on section 15, 31-22. Strangers are always imi)ressed by
the stature of Mr. Johnson, who measures six feet and three inches in height,
and whose massive frame and stalwart physique are supplemented by mental
attributes equalh' unusual. Other members of his family exhibit the same
splendid physique and almost gigantic stature. An older brother, Albert H.,
who is engaged in the cattle business and makes his home a Iron I'oint,
Nev., whose remarkable height of seven feet makes him a man of commanding
presence. The youngest brother, Charles L., who is now connected as driller
with the San Francisco Midway Oil Company in the Midway field, weighs
three hundred pounds and is six feet and six inches in height.

The parental family comprised six children. The eldest of these, Samuel
A. Johnsc n, is a well-known and wealthy oil onerator residing in Bakersfield.
The second, Albert H.. has been alluded to above. The third, Mary, is the wife
of C. P. Dorn, of Hollister. The fourth, Richard A., was born in Santa Cruz
county, Cal., November 4, 1871. grew to manhood in Monterey county, and was
the first of the family to embark in the oil business. The fifth. Ella, married
Dr. E. K. Peters, of Fresno, and the youngest, Charles L., is in the Midway
field, as previously mentioned. The father. Alden S. Johnson, a pioneer of
1849, crossed the plains with wagon and ox-teams, and settled eventually at
Grass Vallev, where he married Mrs. E. H. \\'hi:ing. whose maiden name
was Miss Clara Swain. She was a daughter of Dr. H. P. Swain, a prominent
pioneer dentist at that place. Her death occurred abc ut twenty-five years ago,
while that of Mr. Johnson occurred in 1906. Throughout the greater part of
their married life they had lived on a ranch. In addition to the members of
the family named there is a half-brother. F. H. Whiting, now engaged in
farming at Turlock. Stanislaus county.

Since 1893. when he entered the oil business at Coalinga. Mr. Johnson
has continued steadily in the same occuoation and has risen from roustabout to
superintendent. \\'hile with the Petroleum Center Oil Company he learned
to be a tool-dresser. After remaining with the company for six months he



1518 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

entered the employ of Hendrickson & Snyder, oil-well drilling contractors, with
whom he continued for two years, meanwhile learning to be a driller. From
Coalinga he drifted to Bakersfield and the Kern river field. About 1899 he
came to the Sunset field to work as a driller. At that time there were only
three strings of tools running in all this great oil district. A later experience
as a driller touk him to the oil fields at Evanston, \Yyo., where he was em-
ployed for one year. On his return to California he worked successively in
the Sunset and Coalinga fields.

With a desire to see something of Mexico Mr. Johnson entered into a con-
tract to drill in the state of Tabasco for the English firm of S. Pierson & Son,
and during the year in that connection he prospered financially but lost his
health on account of climatic and unsanitary conditions, so returned to Cali-
fornia, where he soon regained his customary strength. In the North
Midway field he became an employe of the Fox Oil Company,
which owned one hundred and sixty acres of oil land. Subsequently
forty acres of the quarter section were sold to the M. & M. Oil Company,
and eighty-five acres were leased to two other concerns in equal parts, so
that the triginal owners had but thirty-five acres left and this is now being
operated under the title of the Security Development Company, with Mr.
Johnson as superintendent. There are four wells on the lease and the aver-
age production runs from five thousand to six thousand barrels per month.
Fraternally Mr. Johnson holds membership with the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows and with Bakersfield Aerie oi Eagles No. 93. With his wife,
whom he married in 1910 and who was Miss Lynda Ward, of Missouri, he
makes his home on the company's property on section 15. Of recent years he
has acquired some interests in oil lands in the Lost Hills, while in addition he
owns citv real estate at Oakland.

VERNE L. ADAMS.— The Globe division of the General Petroleum is
operated under the efficient supervision of Mr. Adams, who while one of the
youngest is also regarded as one of the most dependable superintendents in
the Midway field. Eighty acres, located on section 15, township 31, range 22.
comprise the hi Idings of the said Globe Division whose twenty-four producing
wells average seventy-five thousand barrels per month.

That the Globe division is bringing such excellent returns may be attrib-
uted largely to the resourcefulness and energy of the superintendent, Verne
L. Adams, who is a member of an old and honored family of the United States.
While some of the colonial families have become extinct or have not kept up
the intellectual standard set by their ancestors, such is not the case with the
Adams family, which not only maintains the intellectuality of forebears, but
singularly preserves and presents the rotund, ruddy, high-browed, full-eyed,
vigorous and virile organisms which characterized John and John Quincy
Adams in the earlier chapters of American history. Unmistakably an Adams,
with all the physical and mental attributes of that family, Mr. Adams gives
little indication of Swiss ancestry, although his mother, who bore the maiden
name of Sophia Lughinbuhl, was born in Switzerland and comes of an old
family of that mountain republic. His father, Ira Adams, made his home in
Ohio for s; me time and Verne L. was born at West Salem, that state, October
9, 1886. Not long afterward the family removed to Oregon and settled in
Portland, where the father died about 1892, leaving Verne, a child of six
years, besides two older children, Blanche and Jay. The mother thereupon
took the children back to Lima, Ohio, where she went through the most
arduous struggle in an efifort to rear and educate them. The daughter mar-
ried at seventeen and died a year later. The older son came to California
and is now engaged in the furniture business in Sacramento, while the
mother, also coming to the west, is now living with her son, Verne L., in the
Midway field.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1519

Few have encountered greater hardships in their struggle to earn a live-
lihood than has Verne L. Adams, who became self-supporting at an age
when the majority of boys have ample leisure for play and recreation. At the
age of twelve he became a newsboy. It was his custom to arise at four every
morning and to carry papers throughout the town, stopping only when it was
time to go to school. This work he kept up until he was fifteen, at which
time he found employment in a grocery. His own efforts aided in the
support of his mother and enabled him to pay his expenses for six months in
the Lima (Ohio) Business College. At the age of seventeen he began to work
in the Lima oil field. For several months he was employed as a pumper for
Sam Ridenour, the well-known contractor at Lima, and from that work he was
promoted to be a tool-dresser. During 1905 he came to California with his
mother and settled at Sacramento, where he engaged in the Southern Pacific
Railroad shops and in that position became an experienced machinist. January
of 1909 found him in the Midway field, where he secured employment as a
pumper on the Sibyl, later was made gang-pusher, next became production
foreman and is now superintendent, his steady rise indicating efficiency,
trustworthiness and sagacious judgment. At dift'erent times he has purchased
real estate in Sacramento and Fresno, for with natural thrift and foresight
he believes in investing in California lands. Since coming to Taft he has iden-
tified himself with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. While his mother
is a Christian Scientist, he is in sympathy with all denominations and with
generous and broad-minded liberality he contributes to movements for the
uplifting of humanity.

CHARLES WHITAKER.— Not a few men who have won success in
California have benefited by valuable experience in the United States i\rmy,
where discipline and observation go hand in hand in the moulding of character
and in the broadening of the view. Charles Whitaker, a former cavalryman,
whose residence is on Baker street. East Bakersfield, is a native of Wise
county, Va., and was born May 20, 1863. When he was six or seven years old
he was taken by his parents to Pike county, Ky., where he was reared to a
knowledge of farm work and educated in public schools and in a special sub-
scription school. He remained there until after he was eighteen. In 1882
he crossed over to Cincinnati, Ohio, and was enlisted for service in the United
States Army. He was assigned to the Second United States cavalry, as a mem-
ber of Company M, and came out to Montana that same year. His service con-
tinued during five years, during which time he was stationed successively at
F^ort Custer, Fort Assiniboine, Fort Klamath and Fort Bidwell. He looks
back upon the experience of those years with much interest and a pardonable
pride. He won special distinction in being made a trumpeter and was hon-
orably discharged in 1887. After a visit to Kentucky and Virginia, he went
to Denver, Colo., where for about a year he was employed at farming and at
railroading. In November, 1888, he went to Washington and homesteaded
land on the Toutle river, which he began to improve and on which he lived
about three years and a half. After that he kept a hotel for a while at Castle
Rock, Wash., and from there he moved to the Klamath river country, Oregon,
and not long afterward he became a citizen of Portland. In 1893 he came to
California and located at Bakersfield. He had not prospered so well but that
he needed capital if he were to engage in business. In 1893-94 he worked for
wages and in 1894 he formed a partnership with Henry Wood in the livery
business at Kern. Within a year he bnuLjht his partner's interest and he has
since managed the enterprise with satisfactory success. His barn covers a
ground space of 90x130 feet, has a fine corral, and his stock and rigs are as
good as are sent out from any stable in the vicinity. His business is the
oldest of its class at East Bakersfield. Near Buttonwillow is a fine tract of



1520 • HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

three hundred and twenty acres in which Mr. Whitaker is interested and on
which a modern pumping plant is being installed for ranch service and irriga-
tion of alfalfa land. His attractive residence on Baker street. East Bakersfield.
was designed by him and erected under his supervision, and he also owns the
Yorke, an apartment house on Baker street, thus giving him a frontage of
two hundred and fifty-four feet.

Politically Mr. Whitaker is a Democrat. Socially he affiliates with the
Fraternal Brotherhood and with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks.
He filled for one term the ofifice of trustee for the town of Kern and was a
member of the board when Kern was consolidated with Bakersfield. The lady
who became the wife of Mr. Whitaker was Miss Druzella Gier, a native of
Bonham county, S. Dak. They have five children, Charles Elizabeth, Ellen,
Mildred Mav and Beatrice Thelma.

RAYMOND I. WALTERS.— An identification with the industrial activ-
ities of Bakersfield begun in 1908 and ci ntinued up to the present time, has
given to Mr. Walters an intimate acquaintance with the business men of the
city as well as broad information concerning resources and commercial pos-
sibilities. As a plumber he is considered unusually skilled and capable and
since establishing himself in the business he has been awarded many contracts
of importance. In a building erected under his personal smervision and
situated at No. 1900 Nineteenth street he started a plumbing shop, but
afterward he sold the property and remt ved to his present location at No. 1039
H street, where with J. T. Smith as a partner and under the firm name of
Walters & Smith, he does a general business in plumbing lines. Not only
has he had contracts for putting in of water pipes and other departments of a
plumber's work, but in addition he has taken contracts for heating and is con-
sidered an expert authority both in heating and in plumbing.

The \\'alters family descends from old eastern ancestry. E. W. Walters,
a native ( f Ohio, removed to Illinois in company with his parents and settled
in Hancock county, where he engaged in farming. During the Civil war he
served for more than three years as a volunteer in the One Hundred and
Fifty-seventh Illinois Infantry and in one of the engagements he received a
severe wound. Some years after the close of the war he married IMiss Mary
E. Scott, a native of Wheeling, W. Va., and from early life a resident of
Illinois. Five children, all still living, were born of their union, the youngest
being Raymond I., whose birth occurred July 30, 1884, on the home farm
near the small village of Burnside in Hancock county. In 1886 the family
removed to Creston, Iowa, and two years later they came to California,
where the father entered a homestead in the San Emidio district. The develop-
ment of the raw land into a productive farm occupied his closest attention
for a considerable period, but eventually he sold the tract, removed to Bakers-
field, purchased property in this city and is now living retired.

After he had finished the grammar grade and had entered the Kern
county hieh school, Raymond I. Walters beean to devote his entire vacation
time to the plumber's trade. As early as 1898 he first became a workman in
the trade and it was not long before he was competent for independent work.
Upon graduating from the high school in 1903 he gave his entire time to the
business, working in the emnloy of others. In 1904 he went to Santa Cruz
and found employment at the trade. Later he worked as a journeyman in the
Bay cities, but returned to Bakersfield in 1908, since which time he has engaged
in business for himself. As a member of the Builders' Exchange and the
Master Plumbers' Association, of which latter he acts as treasurer, he is
identified with two of the leading trade organizations in the city, while in
addition he has fraternal relations with Bakersfield Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M.,
in which he was made a Mason. The residence which he erected at No. 1920
Seventh street, Bakersfield. and which is a neat and attractive dwelling, is



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1521

presided over with kindly hospitality by his wife, whom he married in San
Jose and who was formerly ]\Iiss Grace M. Smith, their union having been
blessed by a si n, James W. To Mrs. Walters belongs the distinction of being a
native daughter of the state, for she claims Watsonville as her native city,
and her parents were pioneers of that part of the state.

ARTHUR R. WARREN.— The foreman of the Sumner wareh.use of the
Kern County Land Company at East Bakersficld is a member of an English
family whose first representative in America, David Warren, came from the
vicinity of Dover and settletl in Wisconsin during young manhood. The
state remained largely in the primeval condition of nature at the time of his
arrival and the most strenuous exertit n was necessary to clear and cultivate
the land. Searching for a suitable location he traveled northwest from Madison
and chose Juneau county as the place of his future activities. For many years
and indeed until his death he devoted himself to agricultural pursuits in that
section of the state and there he married Luella Wiseman, who like himself
had been born in the vicinity of Dover, England, and she tt o spent her last
days in Wisconsin. Nine children were born of their union. Five of these are
still living and the third in order of birth, Arthur R., was born at the old
homestead near Mauston, Juneau county. Wis., May 4, 1868, also was edu-
cated in the schools of Juneau county, where he continued tn live imtil he
started out to make his own way in the world. Meanwhile his older brothers
had gone to Minnesota and had settled near Granite Falls, Yellow Medicine
county, where he joined them in 1885, securing work on farms in that section.
After a time he returned to Wisci nsin and began to work as a carpenter in
the bridge and building department of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad.
The varying locations and demands of his occupative duties took him to the
northern and northwestern states from Iowa to the Pacific coast.

A first trip to the extreme west of our country took Mr. Warren to
Seattle in 1898 and convinced him of the greatness of this vast western empire.
During 1900 he made his first trio to San Francisco. Business took him back
to Nevada, where he was employed for two years, and then, in July of 1902,
he came to Bakersfield, where ever since he has been connected with the Kern
Coimty Land Company. Two months were spent in the Bakersfield ware-
house as a day laborer. In September of 1902 he was promoted to be foreman
of that department, continuing as such until May of 1906 and then being
transferred to his present position as foreman of the Sumner warehouse at
East Bakersfield. The interests of the company have been promoted by his
faithful and intelligent service and he stands high in the estimation of the
officials, who have found him to be energetic, tactful, efficient and reliable.
IMean while he has become deeply interested in the pn gress of Bakersfield and
is loyal in every way to the local welfare. His political affiliations are with
the Republican party.

JOSEPH P. COONEY.— The development of the oil fields not only de-
mands the presence of onerators and skilled workmen, but in addition invites
the establishment of agencies for supplies absolutely essential to such work.
Representative of the latter line of enterprise is the Taft branch of Woods
& Huddart of San Francisco. Pacific coast agents for the South Chester casing
and tubing and line pipe manufactured by the South Chester Tube Company,
of Chester, Pa. As manager of the local branch, maintaining an office with
the Western Pipe and Steel Company of this city. Mr. Cooney has developed
a growing business among the oil superintendents of the various leases in the
Sunset, Midway, Fellows and McKittrick fields.

From early recollections Mr. Cooney has been familiar with the oil
industry. His father. W. P. Cooney, now living retired at Sistersville, V. Va.,
for years was well known in eastern oil fields, took a leading part as operator



1522 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

and contractor during the period of the Bradford boom, and for a number of
years engaged as a lease foreman in the Woodsfield district of Monroe county.
Ohio. By his marriage to Isabel Flannigan (who is still living, but now an
invalid) he had a family of five children: Joseph P., of Taft ; Ralph P., of
Santa Maria, now the district manager for the California National Supply
Company; Helena and Marcella, both living with their parents at Sistersville,
where the latter is employed as a teacher in :he schools ; and Cletus. a graduate
of St. Vincent's College at Beatty, Westmoreland county, Pa. The oldest
son, Joseph P., was born at Eldred, McKean county, Pa., January 9, 1885, and
was ten years of age when the family left the Pennsylvania farm and removed
to oil fields in Ohio, where the next five years were passed. At the age of
fifteen he accompanied the family to West Virginia and settled at Alvy, Tyler
county. At the age of twenty-three years, having saved up the sum neces-
sary for such a step, he matriculated in Mountain State Business College at
Parkersburg, W. Va., where he completed the commercial and telegraphic
courses.

Immediately after graduation from college Mr. Cooney came to Cali-
fornia, arriving in the Santa Maria field March 9, 1908. The first work he
secured was as a roustabout under Superintendent J. C. Knoke, of the Union
Oil Company. A merited promotion transferred him to the supply department
of the same company, under Stone Hastain. For a time he was employed as a
clerk in the store-room of the Union Oil Company, after which he was trans-
ferred to the pipe-line department under Superintendent H. G. Burrows, of the
Union Oil Company, at Santa Maria. As an assistant to Mr. Burrows he aided
in the building of the line from Cat Cafion to Orcutt. Upon resigning the
position with the large corporation at Santa Maria he came over to Taft in
1911, to act as bookkeeper for Stone Hastain, the then manager of the Taft
branch of Woods & Huddart. Upon the resignation of the manager, November
1, 1912, for the purpose of removing to Los Angeles and engagmg in business
for himself, Mr. Cooney was promoted from bookkeeper to manager, since
which time he has efficiently engaged as local representative and agent for the
South Chester tubing and casing. Since becoming a resident of this city he
has identified himself with the Petroleum Club. While making Santa Maria
his headquarters he became a member of San Luis Obispo Camo No. 322. B. P.
O. E., and the Knights of Columbus No. 1375, at Arroyo Grande.

CHARLES TOMAIER.— Not lacking occupative training in his native
land of Bohemia, Charles Tomaier learned to be a practical and experienced
butcher under his father, who taught him every detail of that business. Nor
had he lacked an education in his native tongue, for he had been graduated
from a gymnasium in 1886 and had been reared in habits of frugality and self-
reliant industry. His father, Joseph, died in 1911 in Bohemia, where the
mother, Barbara, still makes her home. All of the five children are still living,
Charles being next to the ycungest among the five, and he was born May 6,
1864, at the old family homestead in Klenec, Bohemia, where he passed the
uneventful years of childhood and youth. Often as he assisted his father in
the meat market he heard people tell stories about the new world and its
opportunities and early in life he determined to cross the ocean as soon as
he could start out for himself in the world. It was during 1886 that the hoped-
for opportunity came to him and he was enabled to take passage on an ocean
steamer which brought him to New York. Thence he went west as far as
Chicago and secured work in a large packing house.

The years spent in Chicago were filled with the most arduous labor and
constant hardships associated with the struggle to earn a livelihood, but it
was not until 1900 that he gave up work with the large beef companies. At
that time he came to California and settled in Mojave, where he has since



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1523

remained, meanwhile erecting two cottages and the ^Fojave lodging house.
During the first year in this place he engaged in mining. Next he was em-
ployed in the freight and round-house of the Southern Pacific Company.
Upcn resigning that position he secured the agency for the RIaier Brewing
Company of Los Angeles, which he still holds, besides which, since November
1, 1912, he has been agent for the W'ieland I'.rewing Company. In addition he
has established and now conducts the Alojave soda wi.rks, where he is
engaged in the manufacture of soda and mineral waters for sale in the town
and surrounding country. Since coming to Mojave he has been a local
worker for the Democratic party and has identified himself fraternally with
the Bakersfield Lodge of Moose. While living in Chicago he was united in
marriage with Miss Mary Stradel, a native of Bohemia. Four children comprise
their family, namely: Louis, Mary, Charles and Blanche.

WILLIAM W. FRAZIER.— Born October 7, 1844, near Abbeville, S. C,
one of the nn st historic places in the south, Mr. Frazier comes of old Maryland
families, of Scottish ancestry. A thorough training in the public schools was
supplemented by one year's study in the Columbia Military Academy, and
then for two years he was at the Citadel Military Academy at Charleston,
remaining there until the arrival of Sherman's army caused the academy to be
discontinued. Then he was called out to assist in the war, and after seeing
active service in Major White's battalion of cadets, he was paroled in Barnes-
ville, Ga., at the close of the war. In 1866 he went to Louisville, Ky., and here
he began his long career as a teacher, remaining one year in the Louisville
reform schools as instructor, and in 1867 removed to Omaha, Neb., where
he was employed in a lumber yard until 1868. He was later employed with



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 171 of 177)