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 48 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 48 of 177)
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in railroading and other engineering works. In partnership the two
brothers became interested in a mining enterprise in Eldorado county,
Cal., and later engaged in farming in the San Joaquin valley near what is
now Newman, Stanislaus county. In 1871 Mr. James began farming in
Kern county on what is still known as the James ranch, now a part of the



HISTORY OF KER\- COUNTY 397

Bellevue, and he has ever since been identified with the county. Some
years later, in 1874, he was employed by the firm known as Carr & Haggin,
predecessors of the present Kern County Land Co., entering upon his long
and successful association with that company, whose irrigation works bear
silent but eloquent testimony as to the splendid resources of his mind, the
wisdom of his judgment and the original nature of his ideas. The irrigation
system was installed and promoted by the Kern County Land Co. and its
predecessors at a large cost. The investment has proved to be profitable,
and its success has encouraged other companies seeking in a similar manner
tu conserve the use of fertile soil in dry countries. Water for irrigation in
Kern county is almost entirely taken from Kern river, which has its source
at Mount \\hitney, the highest peak in the United States and covered with
fcrpetual snow. With the Kern river as the channel and conveyer, the water
passes into canals and ditches and thence is brought to each tract at stated
intervals. The importance of the enterprise to the agricultural development
of Kern county cannot be overestimated, for the availability of water at a
reasonable price has been the basis of all improvement of lands and profitable
cultivation of farms.

Although Mr. James' time was given very closely to business affairs he
nevertheless served as county surveyor for one term, from 1873 to 1875.
l^'raternally he is identified with Bakersfield Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M.,
Kern \'alley Chapter No. 7i, R. A. M., was one of the early members of
Bakersfield Lodge No. 266, B. P. O. E., and is a member of Hurlburt Post
Nil. 127, G. A. R., of which he is a past commander.

CHARLES FREDERICK OFF.— Ancient and honorable Teutonic line-
age appears in the genealogy of the Of¥ family and it is worthy of note that
six successive generations have had male representatives bearing the name
of Charles Frederick. Three generations of the family have been associated
with Los Angeles : The late Rev. Charles Frederick Ofif, formerly a leading
minister in the German Evangelical Church of North America ; Charles Fred-
erick (more commonly known as Charles), who is superintendent of the
celebrated Lakeview Oil Company and in the discharge of official duties
spends much time in the Sunset-Midway field; and Charles Frederick, the
youngesL son of the oil superintendent and a bright boy now attending the
city schools.

From early life the German Evangelical minister showed fine mental
qualities. Born at Canstadt, Wurtemberg, Germany, and educated at Basel,
Switzerland, he engaged in educational and ministerial work throughout
much of his career. At St. Joseph, Mo., he married Miss Louise Meister,
who was born at Zurich, Switzerland, and crossed the ocean to the United
States in 1850 with her parents, settling in Missouri. Her death occurred
in 1903 at Stockholm, Sweden, and since that time the minister, having
retired frcmi professional labors, has made his home with his eldest son
in Los Angeles. For years he was a man of great influence in his chosen
denomination. Following a service of eight years as a professor of music
in Elmhurst College near Chicago, he was given charge of the missionary
work of the Iowa and Nebraska synod of the German Evangelical Church,
and while serving in that capacity and temporarily stationed in Hardin
county, Iowa, a son, Charles Frederick, was born May 13, 1866. There was
one child older than he, a daughter, Louisa A., who died at the age of
thirty-three years. The other members of the family are as follows : John
W. A., a retired capitalist residing in Los Angeles ; Julia Maude, a teacher
of music: Theofil R., who died in childhood; and Edward T.. of Pasadena.

Although he did not attend school after the age of thirteen, Charles
Frederick Off is a man of unusually broad information and is well educated
ni both German and English, besides having considerable knowledge ci



398 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

both piano and organ. When only thirteen he began to be self-supporting.
For three years he engaged as a clerk in a general mercantile store at
Plymouth, Sheboygan county. Wis. On resigning that position he removed
to Denver, Colo., where he was employed for three years in a music- store.
January 1, 1884, he came to Los Angeles with his mother and sister, who
were invalids. Since then he has made his home on the northeast corner
of First and Union avenue, where he owns a residence. Shortly after his
arrival in Los Angeles he purchased a stationery store at No. 148 North
Spring street and from the first he met with a fair degree of success in the
business. In 1895 he made the acquaintance of Miss Grace Maude Bemis,
formerly of Evansville, Wis. Their marriage was solemnized in 1897 at the
old homestead under an arch where three older sisters had previously stood
as they took the marriage vows. Four children bless the union. Lillian
Alerle, Howard J., Teddy R. and Charles Frederick.

The Pacific Truck Company, started by Mr. Of? as a -ten-cent delivery,
developed into a large incorporated concern that made a specialty of heavy
trucking and hauled the stone for the City Hall, Court-House and Phillips
Block. As the business grew with startling rapidity and as the president,
Mr. Off, was obliged to devote his time very closely to the books and
office work of the company, his health began to be impaired by the con-
finement and in December, 1889, he sold his interest in the business. In
order that he might have outdoor occupation, he bought land near Whittier,
east of Los Angeles, and began to raise standard-bred horses and milch
cows. Unfortunately a serious drought soon came on, feed became scarce
and horses valueless, thus entailing a heavy loss in the venture.

As a contractor in the well-drilling business in the \^^hittier district,
Air. Off retrieved former loses. In adclition he engaged in leveling lands
and planting trees for others under contract. In 1895 he left the Whittier
district and put down his first oil well in the Los Angeles field, Thomas
O'Donnell and Max Whittier doing the work of drilling. After having put
down about six wells in the city he leased eighty acres of oil land at
Whittier. where he drilled wells under the incorporated title of the Whittier
Crude Oil Company. At this writing he still serves as manager of the
company, which owns twelve wells in operation. Having completed the
work of drilling these twelve wells, he went to the Santa Maria field as
organizer of the Rice Ranch Oil Company at Orcutt and there he had
charge of the drilling of seven wells. Desiring to extend the company's
interests in 1908 he came to Kern county on a tour of investigation. After
an inspection of the Sunset-Midway field he leased the property now
controlled b}' the Lakeview Oil Company. From the first he was convinced
of the value of the property, but when he submitted the details to the direc-
tors of the Rice Ranch Oil Company he found a majority of them decidedly
against investing in a new field. However, the president of the company,
R. D. \^'ade, of Los Angeles, joined him in forming the new company and
through the assistance of F. E. Dunlap of Los Angeles a twenty-year lease
was secured from the locators.

Lender the management of Mr. Ofif drilling was begun at wells Nos.
1, 2 and 3. Financial necessities forced the management to sell fifty-one
per cent of the stock to the Union Oil Company. ITnder the contract the
management remained with that company for three years, from June 1, 1909,
to June 1, 1912. At the latter date the management was again returned to
the minority and Mr. Ofif was chosen superintendent. Lender his supervision
two wells, Nos. 9 and 10 are prospective successful pumpers, and No. 11 is
now nearing completion and it is the expectation to begin drilling on No. 12.
Lakeview No. 1, popularly known as the Lakeview gusher, is probably the
most fanidus well in the entire country. During the period of the gushing,



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HISTORY OF KERX COUNTY 401

from Alarch 15, 1910. to September 12, 1911, it is conservatively estimated
to have produced ten million barrels. Such an enormous output naturally
jjained world-wide attention and the success of the well permanently placed
the Sunset-Midway field upon the map of the world's oil industry. .\t
great expense Lakeview Xo. 1 was re-drilled and was brought in as a forty-
barrel per day pumper, with a strong flow of gas sufificient to fire eleven
boilers and equal to one hundred and fifty barrels of crude oil per day,
besides furnishing natural gas to about twenty private families. The
association of Mr. Off with this famous property on section 25. township 12.
range 24, has been long and intimate.

STONEWALL A. WOODY.— The auditor of Kern county traces his
lineage to a colonial familv of Old Virginia. As the tide of migration
drifted toward the west one branch of the name became established in
Missouri and from there Sparrell W. Woody, M. D., crossed the plains to
California during the exciting period of '49, identifying himself with the
permanent growth of the then unknown coast countrv. Born in Virginia in
1826, he was taken to Missouri b\- liis parents in 1835, and' had endured the
vicissitudes of frontier existence while aiding in the clearing and improving
of a tract of raw land in Boone county. After he had received his degree
from the St. Louis Medical College he engaged in professional work in
Missouri for a year, but plans for a quiet continuance of his practice gave
way before the more alluring visions offered by the unknown west. During
the summer of 1849 he crossed the plains with wagon and ixen and upon
his arrival in California began to mine on the American river, later, however,
turning his attention to the management of an hotel and livery stable in
Auburn. .\t the expiration of se\'en years he sold the business and spent
a year in the Hawaiian Islands. Returning to San Francisco he came on
to Kern county in 1860 and settled on the present site of Bakersfield, where
he engaged in raising grain, corn and potatoes. The great flood of 1862
brought him losses that would have discouraged a less optimistic pioneer
and he was further handicanped by ill health. Mowever, his was not the
spirit to be depressed by adventitious circumstances. The flood taught him
the necessity to ranching on higher ground, so he removed near the present
site of Woody, and when later the village was started it was named in his
honor. Soon he regained his health and recuperated his losses. Eventually
he acquired a grain and stock ranch aggregating four thousand acres, the
ranch house standing three miles from the town of Woody, which still
affords a convenient market for many of the farm products.

While the demands of his large landed possessions were so great that
Dr. Woody had no leisure for professional practice and only responded to
calls when there was no other physician near and the suffering of the patient
was intense (in all of which cases he made no charge whatever), it must
not be inferred that he fell into a narrow groove of exhausting asfricultural
labors. On the contrary, no one was more interested than he in the growth
of the county and the development of its resources. Every progressive pro-
ject received the benefit of his calm judgment and sagacious counsel. Dis-
cerning the need of good educational facilities, he assisted in the building
of the first schools in Kern county, and often served as a school trustee in
order that he might promote such work. Religion also entered into his
character and implanted in his soul its own lofty ideals. From early life a
member of the Christian Church, he assisted in the building of a house
of worship at Woody and generously supported all missionary movements
of that congregation. Fraternally he was a Mason. When the first grand
jury was convened at Havilah (then the county-seat) he was chosen its
chairman and his impartial judgment aided the body in its deliberations.
Fond of the best books, he was himself a scholar and a man of unusual



402 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

mental attainments, an honor to the citizenship of Kern county, and in his
death, which occurred September 2, 1910, he was deeply mourned.

Where the city of Bakersfield now stands Dr. Woody was married in
1861, his bride being Miss Louisa Bohna, who was born in Arkansas and
died in Kern county in 1909. Her brother, Henry Bohna, is a resident of
Woody, and her father. Christian Bohna, who died here, crossed the plains
twice during early days, his first trip having been made shortly after the
discovery of gold, at which time he followed the southern route and settled
in Kern county. His second trip was made in 1858, when he brought his
family in a prairie schooner drawn by oxen, a journey of six months. His
daughter, Louisa, then thirteen years of age, was one of twelve children,
and" made her home with her father on Kern Island until her marriage.
She was a woman of lovable disposition, kindly traits, and a strong character,
always looking to the high moral uplift of the community, and
during all her life showed a true charitable and Christian spirit, ex-
emplified in the fact that she reared two orphaned families besides
her own, and during her whole life was a conscientious member of the
Christian Church. Later Christian Bohna became a pioneer of Oregon, but
after having made his home in that state from 1862 until 1870, he returned
to Kern county to spend his last days. In the Woody family there are three
daughters and two sons. The eldest daughter, Eugenie, married Alexander
Carver and lives near Delano, Kern county. The other daughters, Nettie,
Mrs. W. H. Howard, and Victoria, Mrs. Clark Green, reside at Dinuba,
Tulare county. The two sons, Stonewall A. and Elmer, own the old ^^^^ody
ranch of four thousand acres. To this they have added until they now have
about sixty-five hundred acres and engage extensively in raising grain and
stock, the younger brother residing at the old home ranch, while the older,
a citizen of Bakersfield since 1907, erected and now occupies a modern resi-
dence on the corner of E and Twenty-second streets. Born at the old
homestead near Woody June 6, 1869, Stonewall A. Woody attended the
country schools and in 1890 was graduated from Heald's Business College
in San Francisco. Upon his return to the ranch he assisted his father in
the cultivation of the land and the care of the stock. At the age of twenty-
one he took up a homestead not far from the parental home and in due time
proved up on the land, after which he bought adjacent property and railroad
land. Until the death of his father he continued to raise grain and stock
in partnership with him and used the brand TD.

When only twenty-one years of age Mr. Woody became a member
of the county central committee. LTnder his father's supervision he had been
trained in the Jacksonian Democratic policies and in early youth he was
able to give a concise, clear and positive reason for his political views, while
now he is regarded as one of the best-posted Democrats in the entire county.
In recognition of his able services in behalf of the party, in 1906 the Demo-
crats nominated him for county auditor and he was duly elected, taking the
oath of office in January, 1907. During 1910 he was re-elected, to serve until
January of 1915. As a county official he has proved prompt and painstak-
ing, enterprising and efficient, and his popularity has not been limited to
members of his own party, but extends to all those who appreciate con-
scientious, honorable devotion to the business affairs of the county. In
fraternal relations he holds membership with the Woodmen of the World
and the Native Sons of the Golden West. During 1900 at San Jose he
married Miss Odile Enderlin, a native of Idaho, and the daughter of Frank
and Hannah (Gay) Enderlin, natives of France and Philadelphia, Pa., re-
spectively. Her father served in the Civil war in an Eastern regiment, sub-
sequently coming to California. Here he met and married Miss Gay, who
had come to California by way of Panama. Her parents died in San Jose.
Mrs. Woody is a erraduate of the Santa Rosa Normal School. Her excel-



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 403

lent education was utilized for some years as a teacher, and she proved well
qualified for educational work. Since her marriage she has joined with
Mr. Woody in social ail'airs and in the support of movements for the benefit
of their home city and county, believing with him that this part of Cali-
fornia is unrivalled in resources and alluring in possibilities.

GEORGE B. EDWARDS.— Inrtuential among oil men is George
B. Edwards, superintendent of and a heavy stockholder in the Midway
Northern and the Maricopa Northern Oil Companies, whose properties lie
on section 32. township 12, range 23, the former consisting of eighty acres
lying due west of a tract of equal size operated by the Maricopa Northern.
An investigation of the properties convinced Mr. Edwards of their value
and with characteristic quickness of decision he purchased an interest in
the concern, since which time he has devoted himself to the work of superin-
tendent. The Midway Northern has three producing wells, one well drilling;
the last well came in as a gusher June 27, 1913, and is now making over
fifteen hundred barrels per da}'. 24.7 gravity oil. Well No. 1 was
brought in as a gusher with a record of fifteen thousand barrels per day,
but naturally this high average could not be maintained, the production of
the two wells being now in tlie neighborhood of fifty thuusand barrels per
month.

Since coming to Kern county in 1909 Mr. Edwards has been associated
with the Sunset field, and on the 13th of January, 1912, he became super-
inteadent for the two companies previously named. The company's resi-
dence on the Midway Northern lease furnishes a comfortable home for
himself and wife, the latter, whom he married at Los Angeles December
8, 1912, having been Miss Rose Gonzales, member of a pioneer familj' of
that city. He himself is of eastern birth and education and was born on
Christmas day of 1865 in the city of Buflfalo, N. Y.. where his father,
Alfred B. Edwards, at one time was a leading merchant. The family con-
sisted of three children, George B., Mary L. and Dollie. The mother, who
bore the maiden name of Jane .\nn Falloon, was born in Ireland, but at
an early age accompanied her parents to Canada and settled in Toronto,
where she was reared and educated. Her death occurred in 187^), twenty
years before the demise of her husband.

The management of a mercantile business did not limit the business
activities of Alfred B. Edwards, who as he found himself financially pros-
pering began to be interested in the oil industry. However, his first experi-
ences were far from profitable. Indeed, he was practicallv ruined by invest-
ments in fields that proved worthless. Instead of becoming discouraged
by the failure he gave himself to the acquisition of a practical knowledge
of the industry and through this means he retrieved some of his losses.
About 1869 he moved to \^enango county, Pa., and became associated with
the Shamburg oil fields, but later he was also interested in other fields,
continuing in the east until his death. Meanwhile the family had experi-
enced hardships subsequent to his financial failure and the only son, who
otherwise would have been reared in luxurious ease, now found it necessary
to earn his own livelihood. Self-reliance was thereby developed. His
success in the first instance has been due to industry- and determination.
^^'ith courage and sagacity he has invested the proceeds of his endeavor
back into the same industry. Exceptional insight aided him in achieving
success in the occupation. Long experience in the various rjil fields of the
LTnited States has given him a thorough knowledge of the business in all
of its departments. Meager educational advantages have not lessened his
usefulness in the world. During early boyhood he secured work in the oil
fields at Tidioute. \\'arren county. Pa., and later he was successively em-
ployed in McKean. \^enangri, Butler. Clariun, Washington and .\llegheny



404 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

counties, that state, after which he worked in the oil fields of West Virginia,
Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

A first trip to California, where he arrived in September of 1902, gave
Mr. Edwards an opportunity to investigate the oil fields of the state. For
a short time he engaged as a driller in the Los Angeles fields with the
Union Consolidated Oil and Refining Company of New York. Leaving
California for Oklahoma, he became a pioneer driller at Cleveland and
brought in seven excellent wells, the first one of which (the second well
drilled in the Cleveland field) proved to be a gusher, and the seven wells
had a record of thirty-five hundred barrels per day. From 1903 until
1909 he remained in the oil fields of Oklahoma. He owns undeveloped oil
lands in two dififerent fields, viz. : at Newhall, Cal., and the Spring Valley
field, Wyoming. Returning to California in 1909, he engaged as a driller
with the Standard Oil Company at Newhall and thus enlarged his scope
of information in regard to conditions for discovery and drilling of wells
in the west. This broadened knowledge he utilized through an investment
in the stock of the companies for which he now acts as superintendent and
whose properties under his intelligent oversight have been put on a paying
basis. While making his headquarters in Cleveland, Okla., he identified
himself with the Knights of Pythias at that place. In politics he asserts
that he is a Lincoln Republican and a Bryan Democrat, which today in a
time of progressive politics has a definite meaning and puts him in touch
with the forward movement in our national history. He was elected mayor
of the city of Cleveland, Okla., in April, 1909, defeating Dr. George W.
Sutton, president of the First National Bank of that city.

WILLIAM H. WEAVER.— Since coming to California in October of
1907. Mr. Weaver has engaged in C()ntracting and building in the Maricopa
di.strict, at first as a member of the firm (if Weaver & Schultz and later alone.
.Scores of oil derricks have been built under his capable supervision. A num-
ber of frame buildings have been erected by him, among them the residences
of Dr. Page, Postmaster E. E. Brown, F. A'l. Train and Guy Ball, a block
of four buildings since destroyed by fire, all the carpenter work on the
Coons & Price large brick store building, besides the Gates City Pharmacy
and many other public buildings.

Born in the vicinity of Memphis, Tenn., William H. Weaver was an
infant when his father returned to Pennsylvania with the family and he
was less than four years of age when that parent died. The mother, who
bore the maiden nam-fe of Sarah Kaanan and was born in Tennessee, after-
ward married again, becoming the mother of eight children by the second
union. Of her first marriage there were three children, those besides
William H. being Lizzie and George W., the latter following the oil business
in Venango county, Pa. The daughter married C. D. Mattison, a pumper
employed on 25-Hill in the Midway field, in Kern county. Beginning to
support himself at a very early age, William H. Weaver was only fifteen
when he was made superintendent for Manning Bros., oil drillers at Oil
City. In that capacity he had charge of the production of sixty-three wells.

Going to Pittsburg at the age of eighteen Mr. Weaver secured work
as locomotive fireman with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company.
For six years he continued as a fireman and meanwhile crossed the Alle-
ganies almost daily. .\t first he made the run from Pittsburg to Cumber-
land, Md., on the Pittsburg division and then he was transferred to the
Cleveland division. In recognition of his fidelity and efficiency he was
promoted to be a locomotive engineer and as such continued for three years,
eventually leaving the railroad service in order to remove to the west.
Immediately after his arrival in Kern county he engaged at the trade of



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 48 of 177)