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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 50 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 50 of 177)
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of her father.

W. R. LEAKE. — From his earliest memories Mr. Leake has been
familiar with the oil industry in all of its phases. Nor have his experiences
been limited to one field or to one state. On the other hand, he has been
employed in fields in various parts of the country, notably in Pennsylvania,
where his boyhood years were passed, and in California, where for more
than a decade he has been associated with the development of the business.
W'ith the early history of the industry in the Midway field he became con-
nected through his arrival in September, 1909, at Taft, then known as
Moron. The West Side Oil Company, a close corporation with five prin-
cipal sto.ckholders (all residing in Los Angeles), selected him to take
charge of their lease of eight acres, situated on section 25, township 32,
range 23, and for that purpose he came from Los Angeles to Kern county
at the time mentioned, since which he has had charge of three producing
wells that form the holdings of the small but prosperous corporation.
Near Bath, Steuben county, N. Y., W. R. Leake was born February
11, 1869, being the only son of William H. and Amanda (Beebe) Leake,
natives of New York state. The two daughters in the family are India
and Inez A., the former married to Charles Hanks, a prosperous oil operator
of Ohio and Pennsylvania. During the Civil war William H. Leake served
for four years and four months and received an honorable discharge at
the close of the struggle, after which he became interested in the oil busi-
ness. When his son, William R., was an infant the family removed to
Pennsylvania and settled in Butler county, later going to the Bradford
field in the same state. In fact, the father visited almost every eastern
oil field at some period and he became a very successful producer, besides
owning some wells in Ohio. Nor did his activities lessen with advancing
.years. At the time of his death, which occurred when he was seventy-four
years of age, he was at Beaumont, Tex., as superintendent for the Higgins
Oil Company at Spindletop.

Educated in the grammar schools of Butler county. Pa., followed by a
business course in the Tidioute high school in Warren county, that state,
Mr. Leake became a regular worker in the Pennsylvania oil fields when
he was eighteen years of age. His first work as a production man was
with the Clinton Oil Company. For ten busy years he was an operator
in the West Virginia fields and for two years he was associated with the
development of the oil field near Boulder, Colo., whence in 1902 he came
to California and sought the Coalinga field. After a long term of service as
superintendent first with the K. C. Oil Company and then with the New
Era Oil Company, he came down to Taft during September of 1909, since
which time he has engaged as superintendent of the West Side Oil Company.
A most capable assistant in his counsels and business enterprises is his
wife, whom he married in Elk county. Pa., May 5, 1891, and who was
Miss Martha M. Parker, daughter of W. H. Parker, a prominent oil operator
in Pennsylvania. Thousands of acres of oil lands were held by the family.
By the marriage of Mr. Parker to a Miss Hilliard, a native of Clarion
county. Pa., there were seven children, namely: Alice, whose husband,
Charles Brick, is superintendent of the National Gas Company at Youngs-
town, Ohio; W. O., a contracting driller at Dewey, Okla. ; Martha M.,
Mrs. Leake ; May, wife of Alfred Williams, of Youngstown, Ohio ; Stella,
who married F. B. Long, a driller now living at Waynesburg, Pa. ;
Charles S., a plumber engaged in business in West Virginia; and John, who
has charge of an oil company's lease at Junction City. Ohio. Mrs. May
Williams was first married to J. M. Leyman, a successful oil man, who for
twenty years engaged as superintendent of the Jennings Oil Company and



420 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

who held the confidence of operators in that industry throughout the east.
The only child of Mr. and Mrs. Leake, Irene Romain, is the wife of Wade
S. Fitch, of Los Angeles, and the mother of a daughter, Frances Irene Fitch

CHARLES EUGENE DAY.— To the people among whom Mr. Day has
lived since the year 1877, and who have learned to appreciate
his splendid traits of character as a man and his tact as an official, there
comes a feeling of pride in any recital of his achievements as a marksman,
for in tournaments and contests in this part of the state he carried the record
for years and made the best score ever achieved by crack shots. With one
shell he has killed seventy quail and inside of seventy-nine days he shot
eleven thousand. In one day with twenty-two shots he obtained four hun-
dred and forty-six quail, following the next day with four hundred and
fourteen, while on the third day he brought down three hundred and forty.
His hunting expeditions have not been limited to Kern, Tulare, San Luis
Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, but have extended as far south as the
line of Mexico, and in the early days he made a specialty of shipping deer
and quail to the San F"rancisco markets.

If skill in marksmanship may be denominated a matter of heredity then
it may be said of Mr. Day that he inherited his expertness as a shot from
his father, who was one of the noted hunters of his day and locality. A
member of an old family of New York and himself during early manhood
a farmer in A\'yandot county, Ohio, the father, John Day, served in an
Ohio regiment during the Civil war and became known among members
of his company for his skill with a rifle. At the expiration of his term of
service he received an honorable discharge, returned to his home in Ohio
and at once made preparations to cross the plains to California. During
the progress of the trip, which was made with wagons and ox-teams in
1864, he supplied the camp with an abundance of game and many a bear,
buffalo and antelope fell as a tribute to his unerring marksmanship.

Some years prior to the removal of John Day to the west he had mar-
ried Miss Harriet Bristol, a native of AA'yandot county, Ohio, and a daughter
of William Bristol, for years employed there as railroad and express agent.
They became the parents of four children, the three daughters being Mrs.
Delia Griffin, of Oakland ; Mrs. Alice Simpson, who lives near Bakersfield,
and Mrs. Clara Knight, of Rosedale. The only son, Charles E., was born ■
in Ohio March 18, 1862, and was three years of age when he was brought
by his mother to California via Panama, joining his father on a farm near
Lakeville. Sonoma county. During 1868 the family removed to a large
farm on Marsh creek near Brentwood. Contra Costa county, where the father
undertook grain farming on a large scale. At first he met with unusual
success, but two years of continuous drought caused him a loss of all the
accumulations of years. Removing to Calistoga, Napa county, in 1874, he
engaged in hunting in the mountains and shipped deer and bear to the San
Francisco markets. During the fall of 1876, with the assistance of his i nly
son, he began to hunt quail for the city markets, and on this expedition he
traveled through Ventura and Los Angeles counties, then came up to Kern
county, where he found surroundings so greatly to his liking that he located
at Bakersfield April 25. 1877. Soon afterward he bought forty acres five
miles south of town under the Kern Island canal and there he began to raise
fruit and alfalfa, afterward enlarging the tract by the purchase of another
forty. In addition to farming he still engaged in hunting for game in the
hills. I-'ebruary 28, 1882. when about fifty years of age. the team which
he was driving ran away, threw him into the canal and he was drowned.
Some years later his widow was married to J. ^V. Fitzgerald and at this
writing she lives in East Bakersfield.

After the death of his father Charles E. Day took charge of the home
farm in the interests of his mother and sisters and for twenty-one years



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 423

lie operated one place, ijesides engaging in farming antl stock-raising he
hunted deer and quail to ship to the San I-'rancisco markets. From young
manhood he has been a stanch Democrat. During 1894 his party nominated
liim for countv tax collector. Dulv elected, he took the oath of office in
January of 1895. In 1898, 1902, 1906 and 1910 he was re-elected, the last
time without any opposition whatever. His present term will expire in
January of 1915. While giving due attention to the responsibilities of the
office he also continued farming until 1910, when he disposed of his interests
in the county. The residence which he erected and occupies in East
l^akersfield is presided over hospitably by Mrs. Day, formerly Miss Susie
Dragoo, who was born, reared and married at Martinez, Contra Costa county,
being the daughter of a pioneer physician of that village. The only child
of the union, Leona, is married to Palo Autrand and lives in East Rakersfield.
The fraternal associations of Air. Day are numerous and important and
include membership in the Knights c f Pythias, in which he has been a leading
officer, besides being with his wife connected with the kindred organization
of Pythian Sisters. In addition he belongs to the Woodmen of the World,
Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. Eagles, Independent Order of Fores-
ters, Fraternal Brotherhood and .\ncient Order of United Workmen.

GORDON WALLACE WATSON.— The lineage of the Watson family
in America is traced back to the Gordon clan, inseparably associated with
the early historv of the highlands and illustrious in many of the ancient
wars of Scotland. In leaving his native city of x\berdeen to cast in his
fortunes with the new world, Gordon Wallace, Sr., gave up associations
endeared to him from earliest memories and from the family traditions
concerning bygone centuries. Shortly after his marriage to Miss Annie
White in London, England, he had migrated with his young wife to Canada
and later came to the States. For years he engaged in contracting and
building at jersey City, N. J., where both he and his wife passed their last
years. The eldest of their five children, born at Jersey City, N. J., Decem-
ber 8, 1868, was given the name of his father, thus carrying into another
generation the old Scotch patronymics of ancestral associations. During
infancy he was taken to Toronto, Canada, but at the age of six years accom-
panied his parents in a permanent removal to Jersey City, where he attended
the public schools and also learned the trade of carpenter.

During a trip to Europe in 1901 Mr. Watson formed the acquaintance
of Aliss Janetta Haley in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, and they were mar-
ried in Alarch df the following year. Mrs. Watson was born in Yorkshire,
lieing a daughter of Henry and Eliza Margaret (Eastwood) Haley, resi-
dents of Bramley, Leeds, where Mr. Haley engaged in business as a woolen
manufacturer. The Haley family traces its lineage to Celtic ancestry. As
early as 1675 some of the name removed from Ireland to England, where
later generations engaged in business pursuits and were among the first
manufacturers of woolen goods at Leeds, beginning with the old hand
looms and gradually growing into an extensive business with the largest
and most modern machinery for the manufacture of woolen goods. The
family accumulated great wealth and a high social position.

The month after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Watson arrived in Jersey
City and established a home at that place, where he engaged in carpentering.
Injuring 1905 they came to California for the first time and found the west
attractive and alluring. Establishing a home in Bakersfield, Cal., in Novem-
ber of 1907. Mr. \A'atson followed the trade of carpenter, also was identified
with different branches of the building trades and assisted in the organiza-
tion of the Building Trades Council, of which he served as business agent
for two years. For some time he has been engaged in the building busi-
ness in Bakersfield. where he has a reputation f.)r reliability as a con-



424 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

tractor, progressive spirit as a citizen and dispatch as a worker. Although
an active worker for the benefit of the Democratic party, he has never
sought office nor has he been willing to accept political positions. In relig-
ious faith he and his wife are Episcopalians. Devoted to the welfare of
their adopted cit3% they have the utmost faith in its material growth and
promising future. Since coming to this city they have purchased a number
of residence lots and have erected and still own five bungalows of a modern
and attractive type of architecture. Their family consists of three children,
Margaret Rutherford, Gordon Bruce and Donald Keith.

J. THOMAS JOHNSON, M. D.— Professional connection with the
United States navy in the capacity of surgeon with the rank of lieutenant-
commander gave Dr. Johnson a wide e.xperience in the practice of materia
medica and brought to him an important responsibility in the management
of naval hospitals in the east. The selection of his life work was happily
made. Natural qualifications adapted him for skill in therapeutics. From
the beginning of his practice he has exhibited skill in the diagnosis of
disease and efficiency in the selection of remedial agencies. Since he came
to Kern county and opened a hospital at Fellows, he has risen to a high
rank professionally in this new town, the "gem of the foothills." Much of
his early life was passed in Chicago, where he was born May 18, 1882, and
where his father, Thomas Johnson, was a member of the livestock com-
mission firm of Johnson & Wilson, -at the Union Stock Yards. He spent
considerable time in Iowa while a young man and when the Spanish-
American war broke out he was living at Des Moines, from which city he
enlisted in Company B, Fifty-second Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He went
into camp at Chickamauga Park. Ga., and later was transferred to Com-
pany D, Forty-ninth Iowa Volunteer Infantry. With this regiment he went
to Cuba and remained until the close of hostilities.

From early youth he had felt a drawing to the medical profession and
after he had received his honorable discharge from the army he determined
to take up the study of pharmacy. He entered the Highland Park College
of Pharmacy at Des Moines, Iowa, and graduated from there in June, 1901.
After he had received actual experience in drug stores, at various places
for a while, he opened up a drug store at Story City, Iowa, which he ran
successfully and sold out to advantage in time to matriculate at the
medical department of Drake University at Des Moines, Iowa, in the fall of
1903, and thus carry out his cherished plans to become an M. D. He con-
tinued two years at Drake University and finished up by taking the last
two years of a four-year medical course at Jefferson Medical College, Phila-
delphia, from which he graduated with the degree of M. D., class of 1907.

To one of his ambitious and aspiring mind, the completion of a
medical course did not signalize a cessation of study. On the other hand,
he became very solicitous in enlarging his medical knowledge so that he
might be better qualified to practice with success. For a time he served
as an interne in the Philadelphia hospital and for two years he had the
advantage of experience in Bellevue hospital in New York City. About
1909 he was commissioned surgeon in the United States navy, and assigned
to duty at the naval hospital in Philadelphia. Soon he was transferred to
Washington, D. C, and during his leisure hours in that city he took a
post-graduate course in a medical school. Next he had a brief experience
in the New York City naval hospital and from there was transferred to
the battleship Mississippi, after which he was assigned to recruiting duty
in Chicago. From there he was ordered to San Francisco and there in
May, 1911, resigned his commission.

Immediately after he resigned as surgeon in the navy Dr. Johnson
came to Fellows and opened an office for practice, also acquired the




^y €64n./de.'/bACtP^



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 427

[iliarmacy establisliniein known as The Fellows Drug Company's store.
Since he arrived here in June, 1911, he has won the confidence of the
people, who recognize in him a surgeon of unusual skill and an experienced
physician. While his practice is general and includes the treatment of
disease in every form, he has specialized in the treatment of diseases of
the eye, ear, nose and throat, and surgery. The need of a local hospital
led him to interest himself in that work shortly after he had located here
and he organized a hospital association of eight hundred members, of which
he is now the president. The concern was incorporated in January, 1912,
and the hospital was opened on the 10th of February, affording to the people
of the vicinity a moder'.i institution equipped with every convenience for
the care of the sick. Before coming to the west Dr. Johnson 'joined the
Knights of Pythias at Des Moines, also Des Moines Lodge No. 98, B. P.
O. E., and the blue lodge of Masons. He is a member of the Fellows
Chamber of Ci.^mmerce.

JOHN TEMPLE TAYLOR.— When the colonial wars were calling for
the stalwart young men of the new world to assist in the defence of their
adopted country among those who responded were several members of the
Taylor and Temple families, representatives of the F. F. V's of Virginia and
imbued with the patriotic loyalty characteristic of every generation back to
the English progenitors. The outbreak of the Revolution found the men of
that generation eager to respond to the call of the colonies for help and
willing to sacrifice money, time, and, if need be, their lives to aid in securing
independence for their country. In the later years of peace the family pros-
pered and acquired large Virginian plantations. On one of these estates lived
Richard and Elizabeth (Temple) Taylor, whose son, John R. Taylor, ^M. D.,
was born and reared at the old homestead in Hanover county and was given
exceptional educational advantages that culminated in a course of study in
that famous Philadelphia institution, the Jefl:'erson Medical College. I'pon
receiving the degree of M. D. from that college he returned to Virginia and
purposed to devote his entire life to professional labors, but more and more
the management of his lands began to engross his attention and finally he
retired from practice in order to give his time to landed interests in di/iferent
parts of Virginia. For years prior to his demise he made his home at a
picturesque old plantation. Fall Hill, situated near Fredericksburg, Va., over-
looking the Rappahannock river. On that place occurred the birth of his son,
John Temple, February 16, 1845. There too were born the five other children
comprising the family and there also the mother spent her last days, so that
tiie endearing associations of both happy and sad memories clustered around
the old homestead. Three of the children are still living. Of the five sons
four bore arms for the Confederacy during the Civil war and one of these,
Capt. Murray F. Taylor, a member of the stafT of Gen. A. P. Hill, after the
war came to California, secured employment in Kern county, rose to be
sujierintendent of the Stockdale ranch and some years later returned to Vh-
ginia, where he died.

Attendance at the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington. \'a., was
brought to an abrupt close in 1862, when John Temple Taylor abandoned
the practice work and drills on the college campus for actual service in the
field. At the time of his enlistment in Company B, Ninth Virginia Cavalry,
he was a youth of seventeen years, courageous and enthusiastic, glad to
enlist in the cause of the south where his life had been passed and where
generations of his ancestors had lived and labored. The regiment to which
he was assigned and in which he continued until the close of the war,
served around Richmond and in other parts of Virginia, taking part in the
battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, the Shenandoah valley, Petersburg,
etc. In several battles he received saber wounds, at Ashland he was wounded
by a bullet in the right shoulder and at Five Forks his horse was shot from



428 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

under him, but he escaped by securing and mounting a riderless horse. Upon
the close of the war he returned to the Fall Hill plantation, but in the fall
of the same year (1865) he moved to the Hayes plantation in King George
county, on the Rappahannock river, twelve miles below Fredericksburg.
This plantation he owned throughout life, although for years it was leased
to other parties.

Coming to California in 1875, Mr. Taylor joined a relative. Dr. George
F. Thornton, the general superintendent for J. B. Haggin. This relative
gave him employment as a foreman. One year later he was made super-
intendent of the Bellevue ranch, which property he developed and put under
cultivation. On account of failing health in 1883 he went to Contra Costa
county to recuperate and while there he engaged in farming. With strength
renewed in 1887 he returned to Kern county and again became an employe
of J. B. Haggin. In 1891. when his brother, Capt. M. F. Taylor, returned
to Virginia, he became superintendent of the Stockdale, Bellevue, Buena
Vista and ■NlcClung ranches. Later he was tendered a similar position on
the Canfield ranch. Upon the formation of the Kern County Land Com-
pany he was retained as superintendent of all of these various ranches.
At the same time he himself became a property owner and invested in
valuable residential sections of Bakersfield and Los Angeles. Mr. Taylor's
son, Wallace Temple, is a railroad and general contractor with headquarters in
Los Angeles. Through all of his life John Temple Taylor was stanchly
devoted to Democratic principles. Some years ago he was chosen a member
of the county Democratic central committee and his service in that capacity.
as in every other association of political or business life, reflected his own
strength of character, energy of temperament and high ideals of citizenship.
Bakersfield mourned the loss oi one of her most dependable citizens when
John Temple Taylor passed from earth August 23, 1913. His remains were
buried in Bakersfield cemetery by the side of his brother, Capt. Murray
F. Taylor.

GEORGE MOLIDOR.— The rotary disc bit, which was invented
through the combined efforts of T. F. Litaker and George Molidor in 1910
and later covered by patents in this and foreign countries, is a device that
will work quickly and successfully in all formations, thus rendering unnec-
essary the changing of bits when another formation is struck. October 15,
1912, the Rotary Disc Bit Company was incorporated, the two hundred
shares being held by the gentlemen named, together with R. U. Harris
and W. J. Holland. Arrangements have been made whereby the Oil Well
Supply Company of Los Angeles will undertake the manufacture of the bit
on a royalty basis and as this concern has about one hundred and fifteen
branch stores in the various oil fields of the world, it would appear that
the bit will soon become well-known among oil operators everywhere.

Since the organization of the company its president, Mr. Molidor, has
traveled as a salesman introducing the bit into different oil fields, and he
finds that oil men are interested in the device by reason of its simplicity of
construction and the fact that there are no delicate parts. The discs
and pins are the only parts upon which there is any wear, and these can be
replaced quickh' and at small expense. The discs are made of manganese
steel and are so constructed that the}^ keep a cutting edge. As the discs
revolve on their pins they have over sixty inches of cutting surface.
Another advantage of the rotary disc bit is that it uses only one-third the
amount of steam required for a fish tail. This means there is very little
strain on the drill pipe and the danger of twisting the pipe is reduced to a
minimum. In drilling with the bit it is necessary to feed slowly or the
pumps will be choked. On the LaBeile lease on section 4- 32-23, near
P'ellciws, at a depth of three hundred and thirty-seven feet, in ten hours



HISTORY OF KERX COUNTY 429

and ten minutes of actual drilling, a soft formation was struck and the dril-
lers put in a fish tail, which ran through the formation, struck coarse gravel
and lasted only thirty minutes. The disc bit was again used and made nine
feet in boulders in one hour and thirty minutes. .\s the discs and pins
were worn the disc bit was taken out and the fish tail put in. which made
ten feet in fifty minutes and then had to be dressed. The formation con-



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 50 of 177)