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

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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 24 of 177)
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held in Bakersfield.

May 14 — Mr. and Mrs. Placido Giglo are experimenting with silk culture
in Bakersfield.

Mav 15 — Kernites saw the big fleet of war shijjs at San Francisco.

June 4 — Kern City stores close during funeral of James L. Depauli.

June 5 — Anti-saloon league presents petition with 624 signatures asking
the county supervisors to pass an ordinance giving each precinct local option.
The ordinance was never passed.

June 11 — Bakersfield buys the west half of section 3, 30-28 from the
Southern Pacific for a sewer farm. Price $2.30 an acre.

June 27— Bakersfield will spend $2200 celebrating the Fourth.

June 27 — An organization of citizens is making a crusade against illegal
gambling. Constable D. B. Newell and citizen deputies raid crap and rou-
lette games at 1215 Twent3'-first street and M. H. Sisson swears to complaint
against the gamblers.


July 3 — Undersheriff T. A. Baker, Constable Newell and thirty citizens
raid the Palace, Standard and Owl dance halls and arrest the keepers.

July 16 — The jury disagrees in the first gambling trial.

July 19 — The county assessment roll shows an increase of $2,371,641 over
1907. Present total, $26,712,953.

July 21 — The Sisters of Mercy buy the L. P. St. Clair residence at H. and
Fourteenth streets for a hospital.

July 27 — Kern County Anti-saloon League organized.

August 4 — State Federation of Colored Woman's Clubs meets in Bakers-
field. Colored Odd Fellows open district lodge.

August 6 — Charles P. Fox launches the California Oil World, a weekly
devoted to the state oil industry.

September 6 — The St. Clair Hospital, afterward Mercy Hospital, is opened.

September 7 — Kern County High School opens with two new depart-
ments, manual training and domestic science. Delano installs first street light.

September 7 — Bakersfield city schools show attendance of 792; High
School 211 ; Kern city schools 440.

September 9 — A. F. Stoner is appointed city trustee to fill vacancy left
by George A. Tilton's resignation.

September 10 — New hall of records is accepted. Cost, $50,000.

September 11 — Gamblers arrested in citizens' crusade plead guilty. Crap
and roulette tables will be shipped to Nevada.

September 22 — State convention of county assessors meets in Bakersfield.

September 25 — Woodmen of the World adopt plans for building at I and
Eighteenth streets.

October 7 — Dance hall cases go on trial before Justice of the Peace Black
and Slim Moore is acquitted.

October 10 — John McWilliams buys 5000 acres of Lerdo Land from Kern
County Land Company.

November 13 — Building boom strikes Bakersfield.

November 18 — First probation committee appointed.

December 3 — Mrs. F. A. Tracy gives two acres of land to Children's
Shelter in memory of her husband, F. A. Tracy.

December 5 — First Children's Shelter tag day is held and $6,000 is raised.

December 17 — Union Oil Company has leased 6000 acres of land from
the Sunset Road Oil Company.

December 22 — Bakersfield new sewer system is finished.

January 15, 1909 — High water in Kern river threatens levees. The river
is carrying about 15,000 cubic feet of water per second.

January 21 — H. L. Packard dies in San Francisco.

February 3 — O. D. Fish dies in Los Angeles.

February 5 — Supervisors create Aqueduct and Standard School districts.

February 7 — W. T. Jameson dies at his ranch.

February 25 — The Edison Land & Water Company is organized.

February 27 — Mrs. W. M. Beekman and four children are burned to death
in their beds when their home is consumed by fire. The origin of the fire
still remains a mystery.

March 13 — The edict goes forth that illegal gambling in the AVest Side
oil towns must cease.

April 15 — The Independent Oil Producers' Agency asks producers to
curtail the production of oil for six months on account of the increasing


April 20 — Henry J. Martens lands here with fifty Mennonites to found
the Lerdo colony. The colony failed because Martens could not give title to
the land, and the colonists scattered to other parts of the county and the state.
The first children's playground in Bakersfield is opened under the supervision
of Aliss Evelyn Pluss.

April 21 — Admiral Robley D. Evans lectures in Bakersfield.

April 25 — A Kern county steer weighing 2500 pounds live weight and
standing twenty hands high, is slaughtered in San Francisco by Miller & Lux,
who claim that it is the record for size.

April 28— The Associated Oil Company votes $25,000,000 bonds to build
pipe lines from Coalinga to Port Costa and from its west side holdings to
Gaviota and for other improvements.

April 29— A $55,000 school bond election called fur May 22 to build an
addition to the Lowell school and buy sites for two more buildings.

May 6 — There are over 200 motor cars in Kern county.

May 6 — The Elks are excavating for their building on South Chester.

The Bakersfield band is ])laying at Nineteenth and Chester every Saturday
night during the summer.

May 9 — The Kern County High School captures the pennant in the
valley inter-scholastic track meet. Lloyd Stroud, Cecil Baker, Gordon Baker.
John Stroud, Antone Wegis and Drury Wieman are the stars.

May 12 — William Harrison Lowell, Civil war veteran and Kern county
pioneer, dies.

May 21 — Plans are drawn for the Producers' Transportation Company's
pipe line to the coast. Capt. John Barker, pioneer, dies at his home in Bakers-

June 2 — The school census shows 5039 school children in the county.

June '^ — The supervisors decide to call an election to vote $400,000 in
bonds fo\ a new court house.

June 11 — The Producers' Transportation Company files incorporation

June II — Bakersfield merchants organize the Kern County Credit Asso-
ciation to protect its members from bad debts.

June 15 — Caliente is wiped out by fire. Loss, $46,800.

June 17 — The subject of better levee protection is discussed in Bakersfield.

July 5 — The Eagles celebrate with a big picnic and barbecue.

July 9 — The Druids are finishing their hall in East Bakersfield.

July 16 — ^The county supervisors decide to add an agricultural department
to the High School. A small plot of rentf^d ground was used for experimental
purposes for a time and later the Hudnut Park tract of twenty-six acres was
bought by the county from the Kern County Fair Association.

July 20— The county assessment roll totals $31,787,898.

August 21 — The county's hay and grain crop is estimated at $1,271,000.

August 25 — A Santa Fe freight train with forty-seven loaded cars runs
away down the Tehachapi grade and collides with a switch engine in the
yards at Mojave. Five men killed; property loss, $200,000.

August 30 — Dr. A. F. Schafer is experimenting with the manufacture of
serums for the cure of acute diseases.

September 12 — City schools open with 965 pupils and twent} - four teach-
ers ; High School, 205 pupils.

September 14 — Kern county votes $400,000 to build a new court house.

September 22 — Miller & Lux are extending the old Kern Valley Water


Company's canal north along the west side of the swamp and plan eventu-
ally to continue it to Tulare lake.

September 25 — A new movement is launched to consolidate Bakersfield
and Kern.

September 27 — The historic oil land withdrawal order is made, and
many thousands of acres of oil land claims in the West Side fields are clouded.

October 1 — The Bakersfield Baseball Association is organized and a
valley league is planned.

October 2 — The Kern County Land Company sells five sections for the
Mountain View colonization project.

Much general interest is taken in oil lands on the North McKittrick front.

October 10 — President Taft speaks to many thousands from a platform
near the Southern Pacific depot in East Bakersfield.

October 13 — The Edison Land & Water Company is subdividing its land
at- $200 per acre with an interest in pumping plants and cement irrigation

October 22 — The town of Moron is wiped out by fire. Loss $35,000.

October 28 — Two auto loads of gun fighters go out to do battle over the
J. C. Yancey oil claims on the North McKittrick front. No blood shed.

Business men are looking for stores to rent in Bakersfield, but none are
to be found.

November 2 — Bakersfield city trustees pass a 12 :30 saloon-closing

Transient visitors to Bakersfield have to telegraph several days ahead
to secure rooms, the town is so full of people. The 1910 oil boom is getting
under way.

November 12 — The Children's Shelter is dedicated.

November 25 — Flaming arc street lights are being placed along Nine-
teenth street by property owners.

December 10 — Plans are made for organizing a building trades council.

The Producers' Transportation Company's pipe line will be finished
January 15th.

December 21 — Bakersfield and Kern vote to consolidate. Bakersfield,
518, for; 186. against. Kern, 265. for; 154, against.

December 29 — Barney Oldfield makes a mile in 1 :10^ with an auto-
mobile at Hudnut park, lowering the former record of 1 :12 for a mile on a
half-mile dirt track.

December 30 — The year's building record in Bakersfield is estimated at
$221,300, and fifty-three buildings are under construction. Building trades-
men employed are: Carpenters. 180; plumbers, 25; painters, 50; brick
masons, 30; plasterers, 15 ; cement workers, 25 : inside wirers, 10; laborers, 100.

December 30 — Fifteen Bakersfield architects banquet at the Southern
hotel. Building activity is near the top notch in Bakersfield's history.

December 31 — Many auto loads of armed men leave Bakersfield for the
West Side to post oil land locations with the stroke of midnight, and usher
in with the new year the last great contest to take and hold — by force if need
be — the rich government oil land of the Midway valley and the Elk and
Buena Vista hills.


Brief Histories of Kern County Towns

Ever since Bakersfield wrested the county seat from Havilah in 1874
she has been the center of trade, growth and development in the county,
and as such her story is closely interwoven with the story of the county,
told in the preceding pages. It is not the purpose to repeat this story in detail
in this chapter, but only to pick out some of the more important dates and
events in the town's history for convenience in reference and for the purpose
of furnishing a little clearer picture of Bakersfield's progress than the general
history of the county affords.

The location of Bakersfield was fore-ordained from the time the
geography of the southern end of the San Joaquin valley was determined.
It is located at the point where Kern river leaves the deep furrow which it
has ploughed for itself through the higher mesa land and reaches the flat,
alluvial plain. It is the point where the water of the river could be most
easily and profitably diverted for irrigation, and the soil of the townsite was
such as to tempt the first settlers in the valley to locate there.
Bakersfield in 1859

The first of these settlers who established permanent homes on what
is now the site of Bakersfield came in 1859 or just before that date. At that
time Bakersfield was not a swamp, but Kern river divided just below Pano-
rama heights and flowed through the present townsite in two main and one
or two lesser channels. The largest of the channels was later known as
Panama slough and crossed the townsite diagonally to the southwest, passing
the present corner of B and Nineteenth street. The second largest channel
was the old south fork, the remains of which are still in evidence just west of
the Mill ditch.

In 1859 the Overland stage road or immigrant trail which came through
Tejon pass ran through the Lowell addition and crossed the river somewhere
west of Panorama heights. Immigrants entering the valley over this road
formed the first transient settlement of what is now Bakersfield, and in the
winter of 1861-62, at the time of the first flood that history records, this
settlement numbered something more than half a dozen families besides na-
tive Indians.

The flood came the day after Christmas and cut a new channel for the
river — the one it now follows — as is described in more detail in chapter five
of this book. Some of the settlers and a good part of the Indian population
moved away when the roads got dry enough, but at least four families re-
mained, the Shirleys, the Gilberts, Harvey S. Skiles and Lewis Reeder.
Coming of Colonel Baker

In 1862 came Colonel Thomas Baker and Edward Tibbet. Colonel Baker
had a contract with the state to reclaim all the swamp land that was over-
flowed by Kern river and immediateh' began the construction of a dam across
the south fork below Panorama heights. The other settlers farmed the future

In 1863 a private school was estabHshed in the settlement, and
the first public school was opened in 1877. During the Civil war the


mail service over the southern route was discontinued, and the settlers here
got their mail from Los Angeles or Visalia by the courtesy of neighbors or
travelers. The first post office was established at Bakersfield about 1868.

In the winter of 1867-8 came the second flood, larger than the first,
cutting the new channel deeper and strewing the townsite with logs from
the mountains.

Kern County Created

Kern county was created by an act of the legislature on April 2, 1866,
by which the county seat was fixed at Havilah. One of the first acts of the
county supervisors, however, was to organize reclamation districts covering
the land all around Bakersfield, and the settlement soon took on an activity
that foreshadowed its eclipse of the mountain town the legislature had hon-

Bakersfield Formally Laid Out

On December 11, 1869, A. D. Jones, publisher of the Havilah Courier,
moved his plant to Bakersfield, which Colonel Baker had formally laid out
the September preceding. In January, 1870, Bakersfield had two stores, Liv-
ermore & Chester's and Caswell & Ellis', a telegraph office, printing shop,
carriage shop, harness shop, fifty school children, two boarding houses, one
doctor, one lawyer and a saloon.

In March, 1870, the town was resurveyed, and in the fall of that year
a bill was introduced in the legislature to make it the county seat, but it did
not become a law. At that time the whole population of "the island" was
placed at 600.

In September, 1871, the surveyors were running preliminary lines through
Bakersfield for the Southern Pacific railroad, and a month later it is recorded
that Havilah residents were moving to Bakersfield and bringing their houses
with them. Colonel Baker died November 24, 1872.

Bakersfield Wins the County Seat

Efforts of Bakersfield to secure the county seat resulted in an election on
February 15. 1873, in which Bakersfield was declared the winner by twelve
votes. Havilah secured an injunction, however, and litigation followed which
resulted in a new count of the ballots on January 26, 1874. in which the
figures stood. Bakersfield, 354; Havilah, 332.

For the growth which made this victory possible Bakersfield was indebted
to the rich delta lands, which were being hungrily gathered up under the
generous swamp reclamation laws. By this time Livermore & Chester had
become the dominant factors in the community and were carrying on large
operations in land reclamation, teaming, trading and other lines. The town
was a center for sheep and cattle men, and was a stopping place for teamsters
hauling ore and other products from the south and east to the end of the
Southern Pacific railroad, which was then building down the valley.

Bakersfield Is Incorporated

In May, 1873, the county supervisors, acting on a petition of residents,
declared Bakersfield an incorporated town, and on May 24th the first city
officers were elected as follows: Trustees, W. S. Adams, L. S. Rogers. M.
Jacoby, J. B. Tungate. and R. W. Withingtnn.

Early in 1874 W. B. Carr. the fore-runner of J. B. Haggin and the Kern
County Land Company, arrived in Bakersfield. That spring the first ]\Ieth-


odist Episcopal church was built. In August the Southern Pacific reached
the north side of the river; in September it was getting ready to lay out the
town of Sumner, afterward Kern, now East Bakersfield. On September 1,
1874, George B. Chester deeded to the county the old court house block,
and on October 5th a contract was let for the erection of a court house at a
cost of $29,999.

Bakersfield Disincorporates

A perusal of the fuller accounts in chapters seven and eight will show
that this was an era of great expectation for Bakersfield. But the railroad did
less for the town than had been expected, and a series of dry years and the
beginning of a contest between Livermore & Chester and Haggin & Carr
for control of the irrigation waters caused a period of waiting and uncer-
tainty that checked the town's growth. In 1876 Bakersfield got tired of paying
a town marshal $7b per month for doing nothing, and disincorporated. It
was incorporated a second time January 11, 1898.

B}- 1880 Billy Carr had out-generaled Julius Chester, and Haggin & Carr
succeeded Livermore & Chester as the dominant factors in the growth of
Bakersfield and Kern county. Then came the contest between Haggin & Carr
and Miller & Lux told at length in preceding chapters, and the final com-
promise by which the waters of Kern river were divided between' the two
corporations. This compromise was embodied in an agreement signed on
July 28, 1888.

Another Era of Progress

A little later rumor of plans for the colonization of the Haggin lands
began to take on apparent substance, and the years 1888 and 1889 seem to
have been notable for community progress in Bakersfield. On December 25,
1887, the Silsby fire engine — revered in the memory of the pioneers — arrived
in town. In the summer of 1888 work was started on the Southern hotel. That
fall L. P. St. Clair got a franchise for gas and electric works, and the next
year H. A. Blodget, H. H. Fish and Jefif Packard got a franchise for the first
street railway. In the spring of 1889 Haggin did put a small amount of land
on the market, and the county voted $250,000 bonds to build a jail, a county
hospital, an addition to the court house and to improve the county roads.

July 7, 1889, fire swept the business section of the hopeful young city and
left little more than 'some acres of ashes with a fringe of dwelling houses
around them.

Colonization of Rosedale

In September, 1890, the Kern County Land Company was incorporated,
S. W. Fergusson was made manager, and the colonization of the Rosedale
lands was begun. Extensive advertising of the Rosedale lands, the arrival
of colonists and the expectation of the people of Bakersfield gave the town
its next boom. Building, mostly of a light character, went forward with
feverish activity.

On February 10, 1893. Kern river broke its levees and the water flowed
over the northern part of the town and stood a foot deep at Nineteenth and
I street, but in a few days it disappeared with little damage. The abundance
of water which the flood indicated helped the Rosedale colonists— nearly all
unaccustomed to irrigation — to nvcr-irrigate their lands. Succeeding dry
years and a shortage in the river largely remedied the error, so far as tlie lands


were concerned, but the colonists meantime became doublj' discouraged by
the failure of their crops and the general hard times of 1893 and 1894.

When the Kern County Land Company fully decided that the Rosedale
colonization venture was a failure it withdrew its agents, stopped selling land,
and H. A. Jastro succeeded to the management of the concern and its great
properties in the county.

Public Utilities in 1889-90

The first gas plant was built in Bakersfield about the first part of 1889,
and the first electric lighting plant, run by steam, in 1890. The Power, Tran-
sit & Light Company finished the electric generating plant at the mouth of
Kern river caiion in 1897 and took over the street car system, which pre-
viously had been run by horse power. In 1897, also, the Electric Water Com-
pany took over the old Scribner Water Works and began supplying the city
generally with water. Chapter 13 gives important events and dates of this
period in detail.

Kern River Oil Boom

In May, 1899, Jonathan El wood and his son James discovered oil in the
Kern river field, gave a great incentive to the oil boom that was beginning
to materialize through work in the West Side fields, and started the greatest
boom that Bakersfield had experienced up to that time in her history. In
Bakersfield the result of this boom showed mainly in the rapid building
of business and residence buildings to meet the swiftly expanding demand
and the laying of miles of cement sidewalk in all parts of the city. Before
the movement for public improvement reached the point of paving more than
a few blocks in the business center the price of oil dropped under the weight of

Bakersfield did not drop back from the eft'ects of this boom, nor did it
ever drop back from the effects of any boom in its history ; it has always
held all it has gained, and been ready to take advantage of the next incentive
to growth that good fortune afforded it.

Present Prospects

In Chapter 15 the more recent events in the history of Bakersfield are
related and it is unnecessary to repeat the story here. At the present time
the city is looking forward chiefly to prospective colonization enterprises, to
the settlement of the mesa lands through pump irrigation, and to the hope of
electric railways joining this city and Los Angeles via the Weed Patch and
other lines from this city to the West Side oil towns. Bonds have been voted
for the construction of a system of paved roads connecting Bakersfield with
all parts of the county, and by these and other means the city is hoping to
maintain her supremacy as the trade center of the county, a destiny of no
modest proportions when the vast resources of the county are developed.

Towns of the West Side Oil Fields — Maricopa

The first railroad station established in the Sunset oil field when the
Sunset railroad was built in 1.902 was called Hazelton, but the wells around
the first terminal were small producers, and the development gradually drifted
to the north. The railroad followed with an extension of its tracks past the
present site of Maricopa to a point known to the railroad company as Monarch,
but which never attained much significance in the mind of the public. Most


oi the people who bought tickets to Monarch found it more convenient to
get off at a point a mile or so to the south where many shallow wells producing
a heavy road oil were brought in about 1902 and 1903 and thereafter, and

gradually — because the slump in oil prices discouraged haste in those days

the present town of Maricopa took root and established itself as the per-
manent trade center of the Sunset field.

The first store was opened in 1906 by F. F. Torpey, and the first hotel
was built by William Carter. C. W. Beatty opened a store in Maricopa in
1C08, and also served as postmaster for a number of years.

During these years Maricopa was the only town in the West Side oil
fields, and she therefore claims the title of Mother City of the West Side
fields as well as the title of The Gusher City. But it was not until the gushers
began coming in and the boom of 1909 and 1910 struck the West Side fields
that Maricopa made any great progress toward prosperity or permanence.

But when the Lakeview gusher baptized the town with oil and the flood
of land locators, prospectors and genuine oil producers began to arrive,
Maricopa arose to the occasion. In 1910 the railroad company gave up the
fiction that Monarch was the chief point on its Sunset line and built a
substantial and commodious depot at Maricopa. A $12,000 grammar school
building was built, two new hotels, the Lakeview and the Lenox, were opened
to the public, the first garage and the first steam laundry were built; the
VVagy Water Company completed laying water pipes from springs in the
mountains, affording the city a good supply of water for domestic purposes
and tire protection ; 7,000 feet of private sewer main were laid, and gas and

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 24 of 177)