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 175 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 175 of 177)
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In national politics Mr. McCafifrey has alwavs been Republican. .As a citi-
zen he is public-spiritedly helpful to all worthy local interests. He is a member
of the Catholic church. He married, in New York City. IV^iss Delia Owens, of
Irish birth, who has borne him five children: Margaret E., now Airs. Black;
Peter D., who died in June. 1911: John .\.: Minnie E.. Mrs. Roberts, and
^^■illiam H.. all residents of Bakersfield.

WILLIAM W. GUNN.— Born at Saint Kitts. \\'est Indies, .n Derem-
ber 26. 1848, W. W . Gunn was the third eldest of a family of se^en children
born to James Edward and Mathilda (Pencheonl Gunn, the father beinsr a
native of Scotland. He was the manager of a plantation on Sa'nt K't^s. where
he and his wife both passed away; Mrs. Gunn was a native of that island and



1542 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

of English parentage. William W. Gunn attended the public schools near
his birthplace until he was fourteen years old, then coming alone to Canada,
where he lived two years. Then crossing the line into the United States he
went south into Pithole City, Pa., where he made his home until in 1868. He
then came to California via Panama and located in Fresno county, where he
worked as a laborer until in 1874. Moving to Kern county and settling in the
ferry Slough he took up a homestead of eighty acres, being among the first
to locate in that vicinity, and here he engaged in farming and teaming. In
1879 he moved to Bakersfield, where he devoted himself entirely to teaming
and later he was thus employed in Fresno and San Diego counties. In 1890 he
bought sixty acres of land of the Kern County Land Company, which had
been devoted to the production of hops and cotton, but which he changed to
grain and alfalfa land. He has since bought twenty acres more and has a fine
homestead of eighty acres eight miles south of Bakersfield under the Farmers
canal.

Mr. Gunn once held the office of school trustee. In 1898 he was elected
justice of the peace for the Panama district and was re-elected to that office
in 1902 and 1906, serving twelve vears continuously.

JOSEPH ALBERT COCHRAN.— A native of Santa Clara county. Cal.,
born January 15, 1859, who first saw Kern county in 1865 and has lived within
its borders since 1885, J. A. Cochran attended public schools in his native county
until he was fifteen years old and afterwards worked on his father's ranches
until he was twenty-two. He spent twelve years in hunting game for the
market and was employed from time to time at farming and otherwise. Com-
ing to Kern county in 1885 he gave his attention to farming and each season
followed threshing on the coast. In 1887 he took up a homestead of one hun-
dred and sixty acres back of San Emidio, to which he added a timber claim and
on which he lived and farmed twelve years. From there he came to his pres-
ent home ranch of eighty acres, most of which is under cultivation to alfalfa.
He has gi\'en his attention to hog-raising and has one hundred stands of bees.
Fraternally he affiliates with the Woodmen of the World and the Women
of Woodcraft in Bakersfield. He was first married to Martha C. Powell, who
was born in Texas and died in Kern county, leaving four children, Arthur,
Hugh (now deceased), Esther and Kathleen. His second marriage was to Anna
M. Replogle, a native of Iowa, and they have two children living, Albert and
Leslie. As a citizen he has the best interests of the community at heart and
there is no movement which in his opinion promises to benefit any considerable
number of his fellow citizens to which he does not respond promptly.

THOMAS S. FULTZ.— Born in Claiborne county, Tenn., September 7,
1874, he lived there until he was six years old when his parents, John and
Martha (Taylor) Fultz, removed to Kentucky. Here he was a student in the
schools until 1885, when they again moved, this time to Illinois, where he was
sent to school until he reached the age of sixteen. In 1890 he came west and
arrived in California. First settling in Santa Ana, Orange county, he worked
as a clerk for a time and in April, 1893, came to Kern county. His ambition was
to work on his own account, but he worked for other people for about a year
before he started for himself. Leasing land on Stine road, a tract of ninety-
five acres in all, he engaged in general farming for six years and also followed
dairying on a small scale. In the fall of 1903 he came to the farm where he
now resides. Purchasing forty acres four miles southwest of Bakersfield, of
which ten acres were under cultivation, he labored diligently on this land,
and it is now all under cultivation to grain and alfalfa. He has also an orchard
of various fruits on the place, and aside from farming he is engaged as a stock-
raiser, owning a number of fine-bred horses and cattle.

Mr. Fultz was married January 17, 1900, to Ivy Amburn, who was born
September 23, 1879, in the state of Kansas, and they have one child, Leta



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1543

Shirley. He has fraternal cciniuctioiis with the Wdndnien of the World and
the Ancient Order of United Workmen and is a man whose interests are for the
public welfare.

FRANK H. CORSETT.— r.orn November 4, 1855, in Cattaraugus county,
N. Y.. he was there reared to manhood, his [larents giving him the benefit of
an excellent school training, as at the age of seventeen he completed his
public school course and was sent to Ten Brooks Academy, in Franklinville,
N. Y., studying there for two years. At the expiration of this period he re-
turned to his father's place and worked for the latter until he reached his
majority when he started out for himself. Upon coming to California, in
1877, he settled in Gilroy, Santa Clara county, where he secured employment,
but the spirit of travel was strong within him, and he left there to travel
from one state to another, working at whatever presented itself to him.
Finally, however, he returned to California, and in 1884 came to Kern county
and secured a position with the Kern County Uand Company, for whom he
worked for two 3'ears.

Experience and observation had by this time taught Mr. Corsett that
the most profitable business life was that of being one's own employer, and
he accordingly decided to gain something tangible by his own efforts. He
rented a place of a hundred and sixt}' acres, which was unimproved, and
started in the raising of stock and also some general farming. He was obliged
to rent this place for eight years, when he found himself able to buy his pres-
ent place of eighty acres at Old River, and thus reaped the fruits of his labor,
for which he had been striving. He has cleared this tract and has it under
cultivation of crops which are most profitable, ])rincipally alfalfa and grain.
He engaged in dairying for a short time, but gave it up to de\ote his time to
his other affairs. In 1893 he was appointed to fill the vacancy left by the
death of T. J. Bottoms who was supervisor and in 1904 was elected supervisor
of the Fourth district on the Republican ticket, his term extending over four
years, and he gave entire satisfaction in the execution of the duties of that
office. In fraternal connection he is a member of the Knights of Pythias.

The marriage of Frank H. Corsett and Josephine St. Mary occurred in
October, 1891. Her birth occurred in 1856 in Stanislaus ccunty, Cal., where
her early life was spent. She passed away in 1899. leaving three children. Con
F., Howard and Beryl, the latter attending the Kern County high school.
Always interested in the cause of education, Mr. Corsett has served for fifteen
years as clerk of the board of trustees of the Old River district.

S. G. TRYON. — In Crawford county. Pa., near the city of Titusville, Mr.
Tryon was born August 26, 1873, being the son of a farmer of that county. An
ordinary public-school education was given to him at the age of twenty years
and he secured eniployment as a roustabout in the Pennsylvania oil fields in
Butler county, where he remained for two years, meanwhile learning many
of the details connected with the industry. For a time he engaged with a
drilling gang. When twenty-two years old he went to the ( )hio oil fields in
Wood county and became a practical driller in the employ of a company at
Prairie Depot. The years of his work in Ohio gave him a thorough knowledge
of the business, so that he was qualified for future responsibilities. Coming
to California in 1899, he proceeded to the Kern river field and secured employ-
ment on the Monte Cristo lease, where he drilled a large number of wells.
Five years of steady work in that connection gave him a reputation for skill
and also proved financially profitable for himself. After two years at Coalinga
he was called back to the Monte Cristo holdings in the Kern river field.

The identification of Mr. Tryon with the Sunset field began in October
of 1908, when he was appointed superintendent of the Monte Cristo proper-
ties. He came to his present lease in 1910, since which time he has satisfac-



1544 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

torily served as superintendent of the Maricopa 36 and the M. and T. Oil Com-
panies. In the latter organization he is a stockholder and serves as a director,
while in addition he owns stock in the Maricopa 36. On coming to these fields
he was accompanied by his wife, whom he had married at Titusville, Pa., and
who was formerly Miss Ethel L. Benn. Their union has been blessed with
two daughters, Beatrice and Kathryn.

JAMES A. SPENCER.— Prior to coming to California and taking up his
duties as telegraph operator for the Kern Trading and Oil Company at Kerto
station, in .April, 1912, Mr. Spencer filled responsible positions in telegraphy
in various parts of the United States and Canada. He is a native of New
York state and was born in Syracuse March 29, 1884, being a son of the late
N. H. and Frances (Fowler) Spencer. The father, who died in 1906, had
engaged for years in buying stock for the Chicago markets and particularly
for the Cudahy Company. The demands of the business toi, k him through
all of the Pacific northwest, although his operations were largely in Montana.
As a judge of stock he had few superiors. In his estimates of their values he
seldom erred. His wife, who was born in Missouri and now makes her home
in San Ji se, Cal., is a daughter of Welcome Fowler, a pioneer of California
during the gold-mining era and once the proprietor of the old Palmyra hotel
at Orange City. Having a firm faith in the future of the state, he speculated
in lands in various localities and thus acquired large tracts.

There were three sons and one daughter in the family of N. H. Spencer,
namely: Clinton Edgar, who built the Bakersfield street-car system and is
now chief engineer for the Stockton Street Railway Companv : Lulu, wife
of William Cole, a broker in New York City ; James A. ; and LeRoy, an auto-
mobile painter emnloyed in Buffalo. The second son lived in Syracuse until
he was thirteen and then went to New York City, where he was graduated
from the Bri nx high school with the class of 1901. From the high school he
came to the University of California at Berkeley and there took a course in
electrical engineering, but at the end of the second year he left the university
and entered the wholesale house of the Brown Hardware Company. After
si.x months in that place he went back to New York City and embarked in
the stock brokerage business, at the same time specializing in teleeraohy. For
srme years he engaged as operator on the Stock Exchange in differpnt cities,
this being a line of work calling for unusual expertness in teleeranhv. For
brief periods he was stationed at Atlanta, Ga., Jacksonville, Fla., Tampa, Fla.,
Miami. Fla., New Orleans, La., and Dallas, Tex. and thence was sent to
Havana, Cuba, where he was employed by Moss & Co., a firm later absorbed
by B. F. Sheffield, of New York. While engaged in the brokerage business
at Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, he was connected with
the firm cf L( gan and Bryan, and also he was with Fred Dorr of San Fran-
cisco for a time. Meanwhile he had been connected with the Associated Press
and the Canadian Press and in the latter service he had made brief sojourns in
Winnipeg. Canada, Toronto, Calgary, Regina, London, Montreal and Ouebec.

PETER CATTANI.— Upon coming to America Mr. Cattani did not
find the many obstructions toward making his fortune as hard as would some
who had not experienced his early toilsome life. Born in Piedmont, Italy,
on December 8, 1869, he spent the first nineteen j'ears of his life there, his
father being a sawyer and lumber hewer in that locality. At the tender age
of six and a half years he worked on a farm, at seven years being: a goat herder
in the Alps, and later he herded cows and worked in the woods. He would
work for an entire year for the small sum of $4 and his board, but as he grew
older his wages increased. Small wonder then that the lad looked forward
with fond anticipation to the time when he could come to the new country
and procure more promising results from his hard labors. Sailing from Havre
to New York he made San Francisco his point of destination, arriving there



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1545

in November, 1889, and from there he went to Pescadero, San Mateo county,
where he procured work on a large dairy farm. For seven years he worked
for wages, but at the time of his marriage ni 1896 he rented a dairy and em-
barked in the business for himself and for the next eleven years ran a dairy
ranch and cheese factory. He then removed to Merced county, where he
bought fifty acres of alfalfa land at Walter, which has been steadily increasing
in value until it is now wcrth mure than $300 an acre. On his dairy farm he
has over a hundred cows. In 1911 he united his interests with Mr. Rodoni,
and built and established the now justly celebrated Vineland creamery. Mr.
Cattani has cle\o.ed his entire time and attention to this extensive business,
which is still operated under the name of the Vineland Cheese Factory,
(although Mr. Cattani has recently bought out Mr. Rodoni.) In November,
1911, Messrs. Cattani and Rodoni purchased a hundred and sixty acres of land,
adding to it an adjoining two hundred acres, and here the cows which supply
the dairy are grazed and cared for. The barn is modern and equipped with all
conveniences, and under the able management of the proprietor the cheese
business has developed until it now is one of the most flourishing firms of its
kind in the county. Since relinquishing his interest in the creamery Mr.
Rodoni has made his home on a small ranch north of Bakersfield.

Mr. Cattani married in 1896 Miss Henrietta Guerra, who was born at
Half Moon iiay, San Mateo ccunty, and they are the parents of five children,
James, Kathenne, William, Arnold and Madeline. Mrs. Cattani has proved a
helpmeet to her husband and a devoted and loving mother. They are popular
and well known in their community, and Mr. Cattani holds a high place in
the esteem of his fellow citizens.

FRANCIS GUY COLTON.— The late F. H. Colton, an honored pioneer
of Kern county and the father of Francis Guy Colton, was bL rn in Ashtabula
county, Ohio, received an education both in the classics and the law, and for
a time had charge of the public schools (_f St. Paul Minn. After he had been
admitted to the bar he practiced law for a time in Kentucky and won consid-
erable prominence in his profession, but with the growing interest attached
to the colonization of Kansas he was induced to take up land in that state.
While living near Minneapolis, Ottawa county, there was born, March 1,
1871, a son, Francis Guy, to his union with Lydia Ann Tucker. .About
four years later, in July of 1875, he came to California, the change being
made with the hope of physically aiding him as he was sufTering with
asthma. The day after his arrival in Bakersfield he secured employment
with the Livermcre Company and he continued with the organization
through its subsequent ownership by Messrs. Carr and Haggin, also when
finally it was absorbed by the Kern County Land Company, and at the time
of his death, which occurred in Bakersfield June 9, 1892, he was filling the
position of superintendent of canals for that concern. Meanwhile many
responsibilities had been turned over to him. P'aithfully and intelligently
he had superintended construction work in Kern county that had involved
the expenditure of millions of dollars. Nor was his activity limited to
his association with the land company, but in addition he had maintained a
constant interest in educational matters. His own early identification with
the profession of teaching gave him a critical insight into the needs of the
educational system of our country. Through a service for years as a school
trustee and a member of the county board he endeavored to promote the wel-
fare of the schools of the ccuniy and to introduce improvements in the
matter and manner of instruction. The passing of a man so advanced in
thought and so patriotic in citizenship was a distinct loss to the city. Mr.
Colton was twice married, his first marriage, which occurred in 1866 in
Kansas, uniting him with Miss Lydia Ann Tucker, by whom he had seven



1546 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

children. Six of these grew to maturity : Evelyn G. is now Mrs. Joseph
Morley ; her husband is a farmer and dairyman on the Kern Island road,
Kern county. Francis Guy is second in order of birth. Charles Maxwell
is in the educational department of the government at Manila, P. I.; he
married Mrs. Lena Skillern of San Francisco. Ward Tucker grew up and
married in Bakersfield Miss Hattie Ripley of Caliente, and by her had one
child, John H.; he was killed by being smothered in the San Fernando
tunnel. Lydia Ann is now the wife of Alfred Clark, an accountant in
the First National Bank, situated at the corner of C and Sunset street,
Bakersfield. Albert Sanborn, twin of Lydia Ann, is a graduate of the
University of California, and is principal of a high school in Siskiyou county.
The mother of these died in 1878 at the birth of the twins, at Bakersfield,
Mr. Colton was married (second) to Mrs. Miriam L. Shottenkirk, widow
of Daniel Shottenkirk and the daughter of Caleb and Elizabeth (Newton)
Isbister, both natives of Scotland. Ten children were born to the mar-
riage of Mr. and Mrs. Isbister, Mrs. Colton being the youngest child, born
at Alleghany City, Pa. She bore her first husband five children, two
of whom survive, Florence and Jessie. Florence is the wife of Walter
Abbey, of Wasco, while Jessie is the wife of Dr. D. V. Bower, a dentist
in Chicago.

From the age of four years Francis Guy Colton has lived in Bakers-
field. Attending the public schools until he had completed the regular
course of study, he then took up the task of earning a livelihood and after
a time became the proprietor of a feed and fuel business, which seemed
about to bring him permanent prosperity when the catastrophe of a de-
structive conflagration forced him to begin again absolutely without means.
However, since beginning in the transfer business he has again established
himself upon a stable foundation and there is every prospect for increasing
success in the future. August 26, 1896, he married Miss Elizabeth Isbister,
a native of Nevada county, Cal., and by this union there are three children,
Francis John, Phoebe Louise and Richard Guy. The family hold mem-
bership with the First Congregational Church of Bakersfield, in which Mr.
Colton officiates as a deacon and member of the board of trustees. Fratern-
ally he is connected with the .'Xncient Order of United Workmen and the
Woodmen of the World.

THOMAS EDWIN OWENS.— The memorable era of gold discovery
in California had not only its tales of triumph and success but also its hun-
dreds of unwritten tragedies and one of the latter occurred in the Owens
family, for the father, David Owens, a Welshman by birth, a blacksmith
by trade and during young manhood a farmer near Hillsboro, Jefferson county,
Mo., was one of the courageous men who bade farewell to wife and friends
and started across the plains during 1849. With ox-teams and wagons
the expedition wended its way along the tedious route. Finally the placer
mines were reached and the young Argonaut at once began to mine for
gold. His letters to his wife were full of hope and cheer. Finally he wrote
that he had struck two rich claims and now his only desire was to return to
those he loved, bringing with him his little store of wealth. Never again
was he heard from and no word ever came as to his fate, but unquestion-
ably he was murdered for his gold, a tragedy by no means uncommon in
that lawless period of history.

Back in the Missouri home there remained the widow who was form-
erly Mrs. Louisa (Williams) Chandler, and the only child of the marriage.
Thomas Edwin Owens, whose birth occurred at Hillsboro, Mo., June 17,
1849. The latter attended subscription schools in boyhood and when not
in schools he worked on farms for fifty cents per day. During the winter
months he helped farmers to feed their stock. From his earliest recollec-



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 1547

tions lie was interested in California. Often he would read his father's last let-
ter and always it would arouse his desire to go west, so after he had worked
for a few years in the Sandy load mines and also had saved a little money
through buying and selling horses, in 1873 he had saved an amount suffi-
cient to pay his expenses to the coast. One of his earliest labors in the state
was to attempt to find some trace of his father's fate, hut the search was
unavailing and finally was relinquished as hopeless. After he had traveled
via the Southern Pacific road to Rakersfield and by stage to Caliente. Kern
county, he found employment in the latter place as a freight handler. Later
he engaged in mining and teaming at Havilah, where he married Miss Laura
Reid, a native of \'isalia, this state. For some years he and his wife have
owned and c ccupied a substantial residence on the corner of L and Twenty-,
fourth streets, Bakersfield. Of their six children four sons are now living,
namely: Charles, an electrician; F"rederick. deputy sheriff of Kern county;
Dean, a machinist, and Arthur, a printer. Mrs. Owens is a daughter of Col.
John C. Reid, a native of Virginia, who crossed the plains to California and
became a pioneer merchant and stockman, who was known as (ne of the
cattle kings of what is now Tulare, Kern, Kings and Inyo counties, the other
men sharing with him in this title being Messrs. Dunlap and Stanford. He
was county treasurer and tax collector of Tulare county before Kern county
was organized. He served in the Mexican war as colonel and died in Rak-
ersfield at the age of eighty. His wife, who was Mary Glenn, a native of
Tennessee, died in Tulare county.

Upon coming to the vicinity of Bakersfield in 1876 Mr. Owens pur-
chased a ranch adjoining Stockdale and later bought property in the city
which he still owns. For thirty-three years he has engaged in the liquor
business. One of the early fires burned him out and he had to build again.
Ever since coming to the west he has been interested in farming and in
mining, now owns interests in the Amelia district and was among the first
to strike oil in the Devil's Den country, where he aided in the organization
of the Pluto Oil Company, the pioneer developer of oil in that region. The
Democratic partv has received his stanch support ever since he cast his first
presidential ballot, and at one time he was nominated for sheriff on the Demo-
cratic ticket, but was defeated by only forty-three votes. Fraternally he
has held membershi-i and was a charter member of the Eagles. The devel-
opment of Bakersfield finds in him a champion. His interests are one with
those of the community. When his services are needed in the aid of any
project they have been offered prt mptly and it was in such manner that he
consented to serve as deputy sheriff under "Bill" Bowers, a position that he
filled efficiently for six years at a time when it was felt that he could thus
aid the enforcement of the law in his county.

SAMUEL S'WEITZER. — The proprietor of the Sweitzer hotel in Fast
Bakersfield belongs to a family that has been represented in America since
a peril d antedating the war of the Revolution. Both the i)aternal and the
maternal ancestors came to this country from Switzerland and the paternal
grandfather, a Pennsylvanian by birth, lived to be ninety-nine years of age,
finally passing away in the midst of the scenes in Clarion county that had
been familiar to his earliest recollections. Agriculture was the occupation



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 175 of 177)