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 39 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 39 of 177)
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be to do an injustice to one of the pioneers of the town, one of the up-
builders of its permanent prosperity and one of the promoters of its school
system, a man of clear brain, strong character, iron will and strict integrity.
The importance of his identification with Taft may be inferred from the fact
that as senior member of the firm of Lierly & Son he owns and operates
two barns, known as the Midway stables, engages in house-moving and
team contracting, sells and hauls sand and gravel, owns and conducts a well
equipped blacksmith shop, also owns the Taft harness shop (an enterprise
of no small importance), and is president of the company, incorporated for
$25,000 and known as the Taft Ice Delivery, the purpose of which is to
handle and deliver ice to stores and private customers. In addition the firm
carries on an express and transfer business at Taft and owns nine small
houses which are rented to tenants. All of this has been accomplished and
developed since the arrival of Mr. Lierly at Taft March 10, 1909.

Twenty-seven miles east of Quincy in Adams county. 111., W. S. Lierly
was b(irn and reared. His father, Elijah W. Lierly, was taken by his parents
to Illinois at the age of only seven years and thereafter made his home in
Adams county, where he died at Kellerville in March of 1913. Surviving
him are two sons and the widow. Mrs. Sarah Margaret (Hargrave) Lierly,
the latter still living at the old Illinois homestead. There were ten children
in the family, but two of these died in early life and a sister, Nancy, died
at about twenty-four years; she left a husband, Albert Huffman, and one
child, Ansil Huffman, of Sacramento. William K., a well-to-do farmer, oc-
cupies the old homestead in Adams county. W. S., who came to California
at the age of seventeen, spent his first year in the west with his grandfather,



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 309

Wilson Lierly, on a ranch in Mendocino county. May 1, 1879, he arrived
in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara county, where he worked as a farm hand
for one year. Next with a partner he engaged in barley farming and culti-
vated about five hundred acres. On leaving the farm he embarked in the
livery business in Santa Maria, where for fifteen years he conducted the
Champion barns, bought and sold horses and established a market for his
stock in Los Angeles. In order to secure feed and pasturage for his stock
he became interested in agricultural undertakings and at one time leased
two thousand acres. After he had sold the livery and retired also from
ranching he became a special agent for the Equitable Life Insurance Com-
pany of New York, having charge of the work in Santa Barbara, San Luis
Obispo, Kern and Ventura counties, and remaining in the business from
1900 to 1906. Meanwhile in 1902 he was tendered a fine gold watch, neatly
engraved, this being the gift of the officials of the Equitable in recognition
of his having written the greatest amount of insurance of any agent of that
company in California. On two other occasions he won the second prizes
in similar contests.

From 1906 to 1908 Mr. Lierly acted as manager of the Pacific Valley
Lumber Company in Monterey county and he still owns a considerable
amount of stock in that concern. While still in Monterey county he handled
oil lands for the Standard Oil Company, making King City his headquarters,
and during that period he made a trip of inspection to Taft, with the ex-
pectation of speculating to a small extent in oil lands in this field. An open-
ing for a livery business seemed so favorable that he decided to establish
himself at this point and he has had no reason to regret the decision, for he
has prospered to an unusual degree. Practically his only oil interests now
lie in four sections of land at Elk Flill. The express business, teaming and
livery oblige him to keep about one hundred horses and mules, besides one
Packard auto truck. A blacksmith shop is maintained for the shoeing of
his own horses, although in addition considerable custom work is done for
outsiders. As before stated, Lierly & Son own the Taft harness shop, a
large bh ck of stock in the Taft Ice Delivery and an express business and
numerous cottages in town. One of their most important lines of business
is the moving of houses. Each member of the firm owns a residence in
Taft, while Mr. Lierly also owns a house at Santa Alaria and large interests
in redwood timber in Monterey county. While living in Santa Maria he
married Miss !\Iary A. Blcsser, daughter of L. W^. Blosser. of that place.
They are the parents of five children : Clarence E., a team contractor resid-
ing at Imperial, this state; Lorenzo \\'illiam, who operates the Packard
auto truck for the firm ; Ray Lucas, a partner with his father in the exten-
sive business interests of the firm ; Irene and Nellie Margaret, both at home.

Fraternally Mr. Lierly holds membership with San Luis Obispo Lodge
Mo. 322, B. P. O. E. Politically he is a staunch Democrat. Public education
interests him deeply. No citizen of Taft has done more for its schools than
he. Practically ever since his arrival in the town he has served as a mem-
ber of the school board and he now fills the position of clerk.

HERBERT V. PROUTY, M. D,— In 1852 the Prouty family was estab-
lished in California. In the summer of that year Christopher C, born in
Ohio in 1839. crossed the plains with other members of the family, the long
journey being made with wagons and ox-teams. Although only thirteen
years of age, he supported himself from the time of his arrival in the west
and contributed also to the family maintenance. Mining was his first source
of livelihood, and later he took up farm pursuits. Eventually he became a
large stock-raiser in the vicinity of lone. Although now to a large extent
retired from agricultural duties, he still lives at the old homestead. Some
years after coming west he married Australia Bennett, who was born in



310 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Missouri and during the '50s came to California with her parents. Fourteen
children were born of their marriage. Eleven of these are still living, the
seventh in order of birth having been Herbert V., who was born near lone,
Amador county, February 20, 1878, and passed the years of boyhood on the
home farm, meanwhile attending the country schools in the winter months.
Later he was a student in the California School of Mechanical Arts in San
Francisco. After his graduation in 1900 he matriculated in the California
Medical College and in that institution carried on the regular studies of the
course. In 1904 he received the degree of M. D., and became an interne in
the City and County hospital of San Francisco, where he remained for two
years in that capacity and as resident physician.

Professional interests of growing importance, first in San Francisco and
then at Richmond, where he established and superintended a hospital, gave
to Dr. Prouty a number of busy years prior to the failure of his health and his
removal to another climate, and since June, 1912, he has engaged in
practice with headquarters at McKittrick. Ever since leaving college he has
kept in touch with professional advance and developments in therapeutics.
Membership in the California State and National Eclectic Medical Associa-
tions keeps him in sympathy with the general progress of the profession. In
an especial degree he finds surgery interesting and it is his ambition to keep
abreast with the latest developments in that important art. Since coming
to his present location he has engaged as surgeon at McKittrick for the
Southern Pacific Railroad. In politics he votes with the Republican party
and fraternally he is connected with the Modern Woodmen of America. His
marriage was solemnized in San Jose and united him with Miss Dora Hughes,
who was born in Kansas and by whom he has a daughter, Dorothy.

JAMES CHATHAM ROBERTS.— From the time of his arrival in
Bakersfield during December of 1882 up to the present time, a period of
about thirty years, Mr. Roberts has been a resident of Kern county and a
contributor to the development of its agricultural and material interests.
Prior to his removal to the coast he had called three states his home at
different times, namely: Missouri, where he was born near Springfield
December 7, 1855, and where he grew to manhood upon a farm ; Illinois,
where he engaged in general farming near Decatur from 1875 until 1879;
and Texas, where he carried on a ranch near Pilot Point from 1879 until
his removal to California. The family of which he is a member belongs to old
Virginia and North Carolina stock, and his parents, H. B. and Frances
(Duke) Roberts, were natives respectively of North Carolina and Tennes-
see, the former dying in 1861 while serving in the Confederate army under
General Price. A son of his first marriage. Col. E. M. Roberts, came to
California in 1874 and settled in Kern county May 1, 1876, since which
time he has risen to prominence and influence. The family genealogy ap-
pears in his sketch upon another page of this volume.

Soon after settling in this county James C. Roberts bought eighty
acres under the Johnson canal fifteen miles west of Bakersfield and there
he engaged in raising alfalfa and stock. At the expiration of six years he
sold the property. Meanwhile he had served as road overseer for four
years. A trip back to Texas iiccurred in 1893, when he bought a section of
land in Floyd county with the expectation of ranching, but his plans were
changed and he sold the tract after three months, then came back to
California and bought eighty acres under the Beardsley canal nine miles
northwest of Bakersfield. For ten years he devoted his attention to alfalfa
and stock-raising. Disposing of that place he bought ten acres three miles
north of Bakersfield on the road to the oil fields and for seven years he
made his home on his new purchase, after which he disposed of all of his
ranch property by sale and retired to Bakersfield. In this city and in
East Bakersfield he has erected eight houses and one of these. No. 307





^.^^-^^^^^



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 313

Grove street, is his residence. Near Decatur, 111., January 4, 1877, he mar-
ried Miss Elizabeth J. Allmon, a native of Webster county, Mo., and a
daughter of William and Jane T. (Cowan) Allmon, who were born in
Tennessee, but settled in Missouri at an early day. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts
are the parents of two children. The son, Ernest, is engaged in farming and
lives five miles northwest of Bakersfield. The daughter, Maude, is the wife
of A. P. Offutt and resides at Glendale, this state. .'Mthough not a jiartisan,
Mr. Roberts is a stanch Democrat.

FRANCIS ALLAN HAMLIN, M. D.— Not alone through his paternal
forbears, but also by the ancestors of his mother, Dr. Hamlin traces his lineage
to some of the earliest settlers of New England, whose names are linked with
the material development of that region and whose heroism in the period
of privation and wars entitles them to an honorable place in the annals of
their several communities. Eor several generations the family has been
represented in Maine, where Charles and Etta (Sylvester) Hamlin are now
living at Topsham, Sagadahoc county, in the enjoyment of a material
competency secured through years of arduous application to farming pursuits.
The chief ambition of this couple was not the acquisition of wealth, but the
education of their sons, Francis A., Truman L. and James A., and they con-
sidered no hardship too great that would promote the object of their desire.
With manly enthusiasm their sons seconded their efifcjrts. Working unitedly
and harmoniously, each striving to help himself yet lending good cheer and
sympathy to the others of the home circle, they rose to positions of recog-
nized worth. The second son is now professor of mathematics in the Uni-
versity of Maine and the youngest son acts as principal of the high school
at Oldtown, that state.

The eldest son in the family was born in Oxford county. Me., June 16,
1873, and attended the public schools of Maine between the years of six and
fourteen, after which he attended the high school at Lancaster, Mass. The
failure of his health forced him to give up his studies and in 1890 he came
to California with the hope that the balmy air of the west would restore his
strength. Joining an uncle, Francis Hamlin, in Sutter county, he began to
work in the open air and persistently sought those occupations that would
prove of physical benefit. For two years he remained in Sutter county or at
Geyserville in Sonoma county, and then with renewed strength he returned
to the old Maine homestead. After he had spent two years in the scientific
course at Bridgton Academy situated in the lake region of Cumberland
county he entered the high school at Brunswick, Me., where he graduated from
the classical course. Matriculating in Bowdoin College he there continued
until 1898, when he was graduated with the degree of A. B. During the next
two years he held the principalship of Bridge Academy at Dresden Mills,
Lincoln county. Me., and then for four years served as principal of the high
school at Wilmington, Mass. Meanwhile he had married at Portland, Me.,
in 1900, Miss Gertrude E. Wilkie, a native of Michigan, who was reared in
California and received excellent educational advantages in Napa College and
the University of the Pacific.

Returning to California during the summer of 1904, accompanied by his
family, Mr. Hamlin established a home in San Francisco and there entered
Cooper Medical College, now the medical department of the Leland Stanford,
Jr., University, from which he was graduated in 1908 with the degree of M.
D. From 1908 until 1910 he took special studies under Prof. Adolphus
Barkan, M. D., a specialist in diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. Dur-
ing this same period he served on the stafif of Lane hospital in San Francisco
and also acted as instructor at Cooper Medical College in the department of
the eye, ear, nose and throat. Since coming to Bakersfield in 1910 he has
.specialized in these diseases, acquiring a wide reputation and large practice.

With his wife and two sons, Francis Kenneth and Wilkie Sylvester, Dr.



314 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Hamlin resides at No. 2120 B street. Since coming to this city he and his
wife have identified themselves with the First Congregational Church. While
living at Dresden Mills, Me., he was made a Mason in Dresden Lodge and
now affiliates with Bakersfield Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M., and King Solomon
Lodge of Perfection No. 3. Los Angeles. Both he and his wife were leading
officers in Acacia Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, at Wilmington, Mass.,
and since removing to the west have placed their membership with the chapter
at Bakersfield. While living in San Francisco he became a member of the
Foresters of America. Although not active in politics, he is a stanch Re-
publican and keeps well posted in national affairs. However, it is his profes-
sion that interests him most deeply. LTpon it are concentrated the hopes and
ambitions of a lifetime of resolute purpose. That he has been successful in
large degree his growing practice proves, as well as his high reputation as
a member of the Ophthalmological Society of the Pacific Coast and the
interest evinced in his contributions to various medical journals. In pro-
fessional acquaintances he is not limited to the line of his specialties, but
has a host of friends among the members of the Kern County Medical
Society (of which he acts as secretary) and is likewise identified with the
California State and American Medical Associations.

M. K. McKENZIE, M. D.— Through a long line of fathers and sons the
clan of McKenzie led in the warfare that darkened the early history of Scot-
land and in times of peace tilled the soil according to the primeval methods
common to those days. The founder of the name in America was one
Douglas McKenzie, a true Scot in birth and breeding, but loyal to the welfare
of his adopted country. The early American home of the family was on a
farm in York state and Duncan, son of Douglas, was born near Lockport, N.
Y., at the parental homestead, where he lived until his removal to Canada
during young manhood. By his marriage to Elizabeth Burt, a native of Scot-
land, he became the father of fourteen children and it is a noteworthy fact
that every one of the large family lived to years of maturity. The thirteenth
in order of birth, M. K., was born in the province of Ontario, Canada, in 1855,
and at the age of one year was taken to Michigan by his parents, who settled
at Stockbridge. Ingham county. The father later returned to the old McKenzie
homestead in Ontario. Canada, where he died at the age of seventy-eight, and
the mother when sixty-eight years of age.

When a mere child M. K. McKenzie did a man's work at the plow and
in the harvest field, where the old-fashioned method of cradling and binding
grain by hand was still followed. Timber was plentiful in that country and
he early became an expert woodman, swinging an axe with a skill and speed
surpassed by few. With all of his hard work in woods and field and meadow
he kept his mind as busy as his body and was constantly endeavoring to en-
large his store of knowledge. He seem.ed to have a natural talent for the
medical profession and was c|uite young when he commenced to read with
Dr. Simpson at St. George, Canada, later reading with Dr. Manwaring of
the same town. There was, however, no well-defined purpose on his part
to become a physician and his readings were pursued from the mere love
of the healing art. When he left home at the age of seventeen years he began
to make his own way in the world and devoted his leisure hours to the study
of law under an older brother, continuing indeed until he was able to pass
an examination for the bar, but his preference for medical work caused him
to decide in favor of that calling. During September of 1878 he entered
the medical department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and
studied there until his belief in the larger clinical advantages offered by the
Detroit Medical College led him to pursue a course of study in the latter in-
stitution. There he became well acquainted with Messrs. Stanton and Brice
and also -vyith the yvife of ex-Governor Bagley, trustees pf the Woman's hos-



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 315

pital and Foundling's Home, and by them he was accorded special privileges
in connection with these institutions. In that way he laid the foundation
of his splendid success in obstetrical cases and treatment of the diseases of
women. After he graduated with the class of 1881 he opened an office at
Plainfield, Livingston county, Mich., and there he engaged in practice for
five years. From Plainfield he removed to Laingsburg, Shiawassee county,
same state, where he continued until the fall of 1890, when the complete
failure of his health forced him to seek another climate. About the time of
his graduation he had married, March 31, 1881, Miss Millison Tyler, of Shia-
wassee county. Of their three children two survive, Misses Lois Janet and
Florence H., both at home.

At the time of his arrival in Bakersfield in 1890 Dr. McKenzie weighed
only one hundred and twenty-two pounds, but the climate uf Kern county
proved beneficial and he gradually renewed his strength. Even now, not-
withstanding a long and arduous professional career, he is in almost perfect
health. He has given efficient service as county physician and for fourteen
months was superintendent of the county hospital. As guardian of the public
health, he has fully merited his enviable reputation, while as a family physician
he is known and loved by many whom he has guided safely through a critical
physical ordeal or a lingering and dangerous illness. With true professional
devotion he has given his life to his chosen calling and it has not been possible
for him to engage in civic enterprises or public affairs. However, he has kept
well posted concerning national issues and has given stanch allegiance to the
Republican party. In fraternal relations he holds membership with the Ma-
sonic blue lodge and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

JOHN BRITTON DENIO.— Coincident with the early colonization of
America began the identification of the French family of Denio with the pio-
neers of New York, where several successive generations lived and labored.
The first to follow the tide of migration toward the west was William W.
Denio. a native of Akron, Genesee county, N. Y., and a pioneer of Ingham
county, Mich., where he cleared a farm in the oak openings and gave years
of the most arduous effort to the improvement of the homestead. Event-
ually he sought a home in the milder climate of Missouri, where his last days
were passed in retirement from agricultural cares. During young manhood
he had married Miss Lucia Atkins, who was born at Elba, Genesee county,
N. Y., and died in Kern county, Cal., at eighty-two years of age.

On the old homestead near Lansing, Ingham county, Mich., James G.,
son of William W. Denio, was born and reared. For about ten years he
worked in the lumber woods in the Grand Traverse country of ^Michigan, and
he also spent a number of seasons on the lakes in the lumber trade. During
1880 he removed from Michigan to Kansas and settled on a farm in Ottawa
county, whence in 1887, he went to Cameron Junction, Clinton county. Mo.,
to take up farming pursuits in the more southerly location. The fall of 1891
found him in California, where he since has engaged in farming and poultry-
raising in Kern county. At this writing he and his wife (who was Mary E.
Bacon, a native of Sycamore, Ind.) own and have charge of a place of twenty
acres located on the Rosedale road six and one-half miles west nf Rakers-
field. Their family numbers seven children, namely: John Britton, who
was born at the old liomestead near Lansing, Mich., September 30, 1878;
Mrs. Daisy Stewart, of Rosedale: Truman and Hugh, of Rio Bravo; Charles,
Esther and William.

The first years in the life of John Britton Denio were passed in Michigan,
Kansas and Missouri, but since the age of thirteen he has lived in California,
where he completed a grammar-school education in the Rosedale district,
Kern county. From early life he has been interested in farming. From
1906 to 1909 he was employed by the Kern County Land Company on the
Rosedale ranch, where he rose to be foreman, but resigned the position in



316 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

order to engage in farming for himself. Having purchased forty acres of
raw land under the Beardsley canal six miles northwest of Bakersfield, he
at once entered upon the difficult task of converting the tract into remuner-
ative property. Checking and leveling the land, he sowed it to alfalfa and
now devotes his attention almost wholly to the raising of hay. In addition
to managing his own place he leases hay and grain land from the Kern
County Land Company. Politically Mr. Denio is a Republican.

Mr. Denio's marriage was solemnized in the Rosedale district November
7, 1903, and united him with Miss Bingie Kuhs, who was born in Worms,
Germany, a daughter of Carl and Mary (Kraud) Kuhs, the father deceased,
and the mother still living. A sister, Mrs. Nelson, and a brother, John
Kuhs, having preceded Miss Kuhs in migrating to California, she joined them
in Kern county, where she met and married Mr. Denio. They are the parents
of two children, Mamie and Bessie.

FRANCIS GEORGE MUNZER.— When the Munzer family first be-
came identified with the industrial development of America they established
themselves in Connecticut and in that commonwealth, at Southington, Hart-
ford county, the birth of Francis George Munzer occurred February 2, 1859,
his parents having been the late John Bernard and Elizabeth (Balzer) Mun-
zer. Both families are of German descent, the Munzer records being traced
back to the fifth century in Germany, where Johan Bernard Munzer took an
active part in one of the religious wars. Throughout the earlier years of
his mature activities the father conducted mercantile enterprises at South-
ington, but eventually he became a resident of Ohio and carried on busi-
ness at Edgerton, Williams county, near the Indiana line and not far dis-
tant from the border of Michigan. After the death of his wife, which oc-
curred at Edgerton, he removed to Toledo and there he passed away in
September of 1911. Of their thirteen children seven are still living. The
eldest of these. Francis George, attended public schools in Southington and
then spent two years in a private school in New York City, after which he



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 39 of 177)