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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 36 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 36 of 177)
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again in Alendocino county. Lentil 1886 he taught school there. Meanwhile
in 1882 he had married Miss Margaret E. Muir. By the union there are
two children now living. Ethel M. and Charles I. After leaving Mendocino
county he went to Santa Barbara county and for twenty-two years made
that region his headquarters. Meanwhile for ten years he served as a mem-
ber of the county board of education and for six years of the period he was
honored with the presidency. For three years he acted as principal of the
Los Alamos schools and for fifteen years he taught in Santa Maria.

A newspaper experience as editor of the Santa Maria Graphic for two
years (1891-92) supplemented the" work of Mr. Hamilton as teacher, but
when he was elected principal at Santa Maria he abandoned journalistic
activities. For thirteen vears he served as princioal at Santa Maria. U^pon
resigning in 1906 he went to Kansas City to act as eastern representative
of various enterprises operating in the middle west and on the Pacific coast.
LTpon his return to California he came to Taft in November, 1911, and se-
cured employment as bookkeeper for Lierly & Son. During January of
1912, the teacher in the North .American school having resigned, he was pre-




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HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 281

vailed upon to complete the unexpired term, at the same time maintaining
charge of the books for the firm. In June of 1912 he was chosen supervising
principal for one year and in June of 1913 he was re-elected for four years.
As principal he has made a record for efficiency and progressiveness. Under
his supervision the schools are keeping pace with similar institutions
throughout the county and have become a source of gratification and pride
to all public-spirited citizens. In addition to his responsibilities as super-
vising principal he has found leisure for the composing of songs and the
writing of lectures. One of his compositions, a baseball song entitled "Base-
ball," has become very popular among the boys in Taft. As a popular lec-
turer he makes a specialty of literary subjects and while all of his addresses
have been received with enthusiasm, "An Hour with Tennyson" is perhaps
the favorite and has elicited the greatest applause from interested audiences.
LUCAS FRANKLIN BRITE.— As one of the most extensive cattle
growers in Kern count)- and as a member of the board of supervisors Mr. Brite
is well known throughout the entire length and breadth of the county where
he has made his home from his earliest recollections. In his life work he
follows the example set by his father, the late John Moore Brite, who for
years engaged extensively in agricultural pursuits and at the same time was
a prominent supervisor of Kern county. Born in Missouri, but from early
life a resident of Texas and employed as a teamster and farmer near the
capital city of Austin, the father crossed the plains with ox teams in 1854,
accompanied by his family, arriving at El Monte, Los Angeles county,
in September of that year. The same fall he located in the Tehachapi Valley,
where he began operations in the stock business. On his arrival he built a
log house a little below what afterwards became known as Greenwich, resid-
ing there until he made his location in the valley that now bears his name,
residing there continuously with the exception of one year, 1857-58, spent in
Walkers basin and nearly a year in El Monte. During the residence of the
family at El Monte a son, Lucas Franklin, was born August 13, 1859. In the
same year the father returned with his wife and children and settled in a
small but fertile valley in the Tehachapi mountains, where he entered land and
built an adobe house which is still standing, and continued in the stock busi-
ness. As he was the first and principal settler in the region and as the entire
district is now owned by some of his heirs, the name of Brite's valley appro-
priately was given to it. During the early days it was remote from any mar-
ket and the large crops of farm products as well as the large herds of stock had
to be taken long distances when sold, but eventually the Southern Pacific
lailroad built to within six miles of the farm house, and from that time the
family found conditions less irksome.

Upon the organization of Kern county John Moore Brite was chosen a
member of the first board of supervisors, which created the first county gov-
ernment and directed public affairs from the county seat, then known as
Clear Creek, but later called Ilavilah. For the greater part of the next six-
teen years he was a supervisor and during part of the time was honored with
the chairmanship of the board, being an integral factor in the difficult task
connected with the removal of the county seat to Bakersfield. With all of his
work donated to the early upbuilding of the county, he did not neglect the
management of his land or the care of his stock. His herds increased in size
and his brand, a half-moon capital J, was known all over the county, while
his possessions in land increased until at the time of his death, during April
of 1893, he had about two thousand acres. He is still survived by his widow,
who was Miss Amanda Emeline Duty, a native of Austin, Tex. Their family
consisted of thirteen children. Of these Martha died in Texas at two years
of age, Mattie died in Brite's valley when two, and Mary passed away when
seventeen. The eldest sons, Joseph 11. and James Moore, are extensive ranch-



282 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

ers in Brite's valley. Lucas Franklin, of Bakersfield, was sixth in order of
birth. Eliza Lee married W. T. Wiggins, of Brite's valley ; William is living
in the Imperial valley ; John B. and Charles Richard live in Brite's valley, the
last-named being with his mother at the old homestead ; Chloe is the wife of
E. A. Stowell, of Cummings valley ; Clara married Henry O'Neal and lives at
Stockton ; and Cora is the wife of W. H. Adams, of Stockton. The mother,
together with her sons, Joseph, James, Charles, Richard and John, also a
daughter, with her husband (Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Wiggins) own all of
Brite's valley.

The earliest recollections of Lucas Franklin Brite cluster around the val-
ley which bears the family name. Early in childhood he was a pupil in a log
schoolhouse two and one-half miles from the old homestead, next he attended
school in a frame building at Oldtown, four and one-half miles from home, and
finally he completed his study of the three R's in the Cummings valley school,
four and one-half miles from home. From school he drifted into ranching
and when he started out for himself he located on railroad land. When this
came into the market he bought six hundred and forty acres at $2.50 and
$3 per acre. The land was level and fertile, comprising some of the best
acreage in Cummings valley. At this writing he owns five thousand acres in
this valley and of the total amount eighteen hundred acres are level. The vast
tract represents his own industrious application and self-denying perseverance.
With the aid of his sons he manages his large holdings, devoting about four-
teen hundred acres to grain and the balance to stock range. Alfalfa also is
raised without the aid of irrigation, although he installed a pumping plant
on his home farm, ten miles west of Tehachapi.

The raising of grain formed the largest agricultural interest of Mr. Brite
for many years. During early days he utilized a header and stationary
thresher. Later he operated five headers which elevated the grain to the wag-
ons, nets being placed in the bed of the wagons. The wagons were then
hauled to the thresher and the nets dumped on the table of the threshing ma-
chine. In the work as thus conducted thirty head of mules or horses were
used on the headers, forty head were used on the ten wagons (four to a
wagon), two head were used for the lifting of the derrick and eight head were
carried as extras, for special needs. About twelve thousand acres of grain
were harvested and threshed in two months. When the combined harvester
came into use, Mr. Brite was quick to see its advantages and avail himself of
its improvements over the old-fashioned methods. At one time his brother
John arranged a plow with ten gangs hinged in the middle so that it was
possible to turn the soil even in rough places or in hog wallows. Ten horses
or rriules were used on each plow and as many as five of the implements
were kept in steady use during the season. The greater part of his land is
located in the Tehachapi and Cummings valleys and is well adapted for grain
and stock. Some very fine horses of the Percheron and French coach breeds
have been raised on his lands, while his shorthorn Durham cattle, with their
well-known brand of GB, have no superiors in quality throughout the entire
county.

The marriage of Mr. Brite took place in Brite's valley, December 5, 1885,
and united him with Miss Laura Smith, who was born in Cummings valley,
Kern county, being fourth youngest among the eleven children of John and
Amanda E. (Stark) Smith, natives of Texas. At an early period in the settle-
ment of the coast country the Smith family crossed the plains with wagon
and oxen and settled in Bakersfield after a brief sojourn in Los Angeles. Mr.
Smith died in Cummings valley, while his wife passed away in Brite's valley.
In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Brite there are five children, of whom the two
eldest, John Perry and Lucas Vance, are farmers and stock-raisers at the old
homestead, Tiie third child. Bertha, is a student in the University of Call-



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 283

lurnia. The two youngest, Bonnie and Ruby, are students in the Bakersfield
high school. It was for the purpose of giving his youngest children the ad-
vantages of the Bakersfield schools that in 1910 Mr. Brite came to this city
and erected a residence at No. 1819 Orange street, where the family since
have spent the school year, returning to the ranch for the summer. In his
home city Mr. Brite has a large circle of friends, while throughout the country
he is well known and universally respected. From early life he has been
a supporter of Democratic principles and it was upon the regular party
ticket that in 1902 he was elected from the second district to the board of
county supervisors. At the expiration of his first term in 1906 he was re-
•elected, and again in 1910 he was chosen his own successor. As supervisor he
has favored all movements for the permanent advancement uf the county, has
given his support to needed improvements and been identified with the build-
ing of bridges and county buildings, including the addition to the county
hospital, the new high school, manual arts building. Hall of Records and the
imposing new court house, yet at the same time he has maintained a conserva-
tive policy and has guarded the interests of taxpayers with conscientious fidel-
■\ty and keen discrimination.

THOMAS A. BROOKS. — The manager of the Pacific Telephone and
Telegraph Company for Kern county has followed this line of business since
the age of sixteen years and meanwhile has gained a varied experience of
the utmost value to his present and future activities. Sent for the first time
to Bakersfield during the early part of 1911 and for the second time in the
spring of 1912, he has been closely in touch with the development of the
business at this point and has forwarded with customary energy the interests
of the company, which now reaches every important point in the county.
The task has been and still continues to be one of no slight importance. The
greatest tact and the highest intelligence are required in order to superin-
tend the local interests with success. It speaks well for the manager that
he has been able to satisfy patrons, enlarge the field of operation and at the
same time advance the financial status of the company shareholders. The
satisfactory growth of the business in the past betokens similar development
in the future.

The elder of two children, Thomas A. Brooks was born in San Fran-
cisco June 20, 1886, and is a son of Thomas J. and Mary (Anderson) Brooks,
natives respectively of Boston, Mass., and Bristol, England, who came to
California, were married in Oakland, and shortly afterwards established a
permanent home in San Francisco. In that city the mother died in 1911
and there the father still remains. Educated in the public schools until he
had gained a thorough knowledge of the common branches, in October of
1902 Thomas A. Brooks began the task of earning his own livelihood. At
that time he entered the employ of the telephone company as a solicitor in
San Francisco. .\ year later he was given a clerkship in the city office.
Later he was promoted to the division office in San Francisco as division
commercial engineer. The splendid manner in which he discharged the
duties of the position led to his promotion to the rank of commercial en-
gineer in the general office. All of these promotions had occurred within a
decade after his original identification with the business.

The interests of the business caused Mr. Brooks to be detailed for im-
portant duties at San Diego, Cal, and Portland, Ore., after which he was
sent to Bakersfield in January of 1911. The result of his investigations in
this city is apparent in the large new telephone building on Twentieth be-
tween I and Chester. During the process of construction of this building
he filled a similar mission in the city of Los Angeles, from which place he
returned to Bakersfield in March, 1912, to act as manager of Kern county
for the company, which is profiting now, as it has profited in the past, by



284 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

his far-seeing discrimination and keen insight into matters along the line of
his specialty. Since coming to this city he has identified himself with the
Bakersfield Club and with other organizations connected with the social and
commercial life of the city.

CHARLES N. SEARS.— The identification of the Scotch family of
Sears with the new world began during the colonial period of American
history, the first immigrant of the name having established himself on a
plantation in Virginia, and from the Old Dominion Enoch Sears removed
to Ohio during the early portion of the nineteenth century. Several
generations have made their home in Guernsey county, Ohio, where
James and Alary Sears passed the early years of their lives. When the call
came for volunteers in the service of the Union during the Civil war he
bade farewell to his young wife and set forth to fight for his country, going
to the front with an Ohio regiment of which he was a member. When the
disastrous battle of Chickamauga was being fought he and three of his
brothers were killed in action. The little community in Guernsey county
where they had been born and reared mourned their tragic taking away, but
revered their memories as heroes of the struggle. Surviving this one of the
brothers was a son, Charles N., who was born at North Salem, Guernsey
county, Ohio, January 13, 1861 ; he was also survived by his wife, who later
became Mrs. Wyatt and is now living in Nebraska in the city of Minden.
The only child in the family was taken from Ohio to Illinois at the age of
thirteen years and afterward attended school at Roseville, Warren county,
where he prepared for college. It was his ambition to acquire a thorough
education and with that object in view he matriculated in Abingdon (111.)
College, from which in 1879 he was graduated with the degree of A. B. and
with a high standing for excellence of scholarship.

A desire to see more of the country and also to acquire cheap land led
Mr. Sears with two companions to start for Nebraska. Buying a team and
wagon and securing the necessary outfit, they drove overland to Phelps
county and entered land near Holdrege. Later he took up a homestead of
one hundred and sixty acres, to which in time he secured the title. To one
of his energetic temperament the idle waiting for the expiration of his home-
stead period was impossible and he passed the time profitably and pleasantly
in acquiring a knowledge of the law. For a time he read with a prominent
attorney and jurist at Kearney, Buffalo county, and so well was his time
passed that in 1887 he was admitted to the bar of Nebraska, after which he
began to practice at Holdrege with W. P. Hall as a partner. In order to
enlarge his professional knowledge, he took a course in the law department
of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, from which he was graduated
in 1892 with the degree of LL. B. Immediately after his graduation he en-
gaged in the practice of law at Benton Harbor, Mich., from which point he
came to California during the fall of 1900 and in February of the following
year established himself in practice at Bakersfield, where he is well known
as a man of scholarly attainments, an attorney of ripened experience, a coun-
selor of sagacious judgment, and a citizen of the most unquestioned pa-
triotism. Besides his professional activities he also is interested in oil opera-
tions, while his deep devotion to and prominence in the Republican party
gives him added influence in his home city. Paternally he holds member-
ship with the Knights of Pythias. In Benton Harbor, Mich., occurred his
marriage to Miss Alberta Putnam,, who was born in Niles, that state, re-
ceived excellent educational advantages and is a woman of culture and an
earnest member of the Congregational Church of Bakersfield. The only
child of their union is a son, Herbert Putnam Sears, a student in the
city high school. The lineage of Mrs. Sears is historic, one of her ancestors
having been a Revolutionary soldier, John Putnam, of Green Mountain fame.



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HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 287

and a brother of that illustrious ])atriot, Gen. Israel Putnam, who, when
news came concerning the opening battle at Lexington, left his plough in
the field at Pomfret, Conn., mounted his horse, and the next morning was
in Concord, later led some untrained patriots in a successful assault north-
east of Boston, and from that led from one victory to another until he was
recognized as one of the greatest men of his da3^

ROBERT L. STOCKTON. — An epitome of the history of educational
ad\'ancenient in Kern County presents in brief a recapitulation of the life
work of Robert L. Stockton, county superintendent of schools since January
of 1903, also vice president of the Central California Teachers' Association
and ex-officio secretary of the county board of education. In reviewing his
identification with the educational advancement and present standard of
scholarship in the county he might well exclaim, "All of which I saw and
part of which I was." From the age of eighteen years he has given his
attention with whole-hearted devotion to the tasks confronting an educator
and no problem has been too vexatious for his patient consideration, no
progress too great for his aspiring vision and no change too radical ])rovided
only that the welfare of students and the interests of the schools thereby
are promoted. Since he entered upon the duties of county superintendent
the school work has quadrupled entailing upon him duties far more weighty
than th( se incident to the first months of his official incurhbency. In addition
to the county high school there are now eighty-eight districts, while about
two hundred teachers are given employment in the grammar and thirty
in the high schools, there being expended annually in the interests of county
educational work an amount approximating a half million dollars, which
includes not Only salaries of teachers, but also expenditures in new buildings,
reiairs of old buildings, janitor service and the manifold lesser expenses
connected with a work of such magnitude. The duties of the county super-
intendent have expanded to such proportions that two assistants now
are given steady employment and the superintendent's office is a scene of
busv activity during practically every season of the year.

County Superintendent Stockton is proud of the fact that he can claim
California as his native commonwealth and that his father. Dr. I. D. Stockton,
was one of the honored pioneers of Kern County. Born at Santa Rosa
October 25. 1863, he accompanied his parents to Kern County in 1872 and
afterward attended the schools here. Diligent in study, intelligent in appli-
cation and keen in mental comprehension, he acquired a wide fund of infor-
mation notwithstanding the handicap occasioned by poorly equipped schools.
After he had taken a course in the Los Angeles Business College he returned
to his home county and took up educational work, for which he possessed
inherent ability and in which he has achieved signal success. From his
first identification with the schools as an instructor he aimed to advance the
standard of scholarship. He rejected as obsolete the inadequate theories
of earlier days and injected into pedagogy the spirit of twentieth century
progress. As a result of his efforts the schools soon gave evidence of more
thorough work and the advancement thus begun has continued to the present
with auspicious results. For many years he served as a member of the county
board of education and even yet he retains a connection with that useful
organization. As the Democratic nominee in 1902 he was elected county
superintendent of schools after an exciting contest with the then incumbent,
whom he defeated by a large majority. In 1906 he was re-elected and
again in 1910, the latter time without opposition, but with the endorse-
ment of all parties. There are now about eight thousand pupils in the public
elementary schools of the county, besides about five hundred in the high
schools.

In the management of educational work so large and important he



288 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

has the hearty co-operation and helpful assistance of the board of super-
visors and the county board of education, all of whose members have the
welfare of the schools as their slogan.

It should be stated that the Kern County High school has more than quad-
rupled in attendance in the last ten years and its departments multiplied until
the state superintendent of public instruction pronounced it the most com-
plete course and best high school in the state. They have added courses
in surveying, assaying, wireless telegraphy, manual training, domestic
science and art and agriculture, and claim the unique place of having the
largest agricultural farm of any high school in the state.

The marriage of Professor Stockton united him with Miss Frances Engle,
a native of Kern County and a daughter of David Engle, a pioneer stockman
near Granite. They are the parents of eight children, namely : Ralph, Denton,
Warren and Marion, all of whom are graduates of the Kern County High
school, and the two last-named are now students in the Hastings Law school
in San Francisco ; Irving and Jesse, who are attending the Kern County High
school ; Clara and Frank, pupils in the public schools. The oldest son is a
mining man in Nevada and the second son is engaged in the stock industry
in Kern County, where Professor Stockton owns a stock ranch near Granite,
also an alfalfa ranch near Button Willow. On the former place a specialty
is made of horses, mules and cattle, while on the latter tract alfalfa is raised
both for hay and for seed. Besides being a member of the Bakersfield Board
of Trade he is interested in other movements for the civic well-being of the
community. Fraternally he holds membership with the Benevolent Protective
Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen of the World, but the
duties incident to educational work are so engrossing that he has had little
leisure to participate in the activities of any of these fraternities, although in
the heartiest accord with their philanthropies and social amenities.

PAUL LORENTZEN.— The genealogy of the Lorentzen family is
traced back through a long line of worthy ancestors identified with the po-
litical and religious history of Schleswig-Holstein and transplanted to Amer-
ican soil as a direct result of the revolution of 1848 in Germany. An unusual
coincidence is found in the fact that the heads of three successive genera-
tions bore the name of Paul Lorentzen and each served as a minister of the
Lutheran Church in Schleswig-Holstein. It was the third of these three
Pauls who bore an active part in the great revolution and as a consequence
was forced to leave the country. America appealed to him as a land of free-
dom of thought. Crossing the ocean to the new world, he had among his



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 36 of 177)