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 57 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 57 of 177)
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teen he shipped from Copenhagen as a cook on a schoo'ner bound for
England. In. the spring of the following year he shipped from Olberg
as an ordinary seaman on a vessel bound for London. His next \oyage
took him to the Mediterranean on a Danish vessel and later he shipped
from Hamburg on an old Danish frigate, the Ada, that had been con-
demned and discarded from the navy, then ccmverted to the merchant
marine service. ( )n this vessel he rounded the Cape of Cood 1 loj^e to Bombay.
On the return voyage the ship sprung a leak. By manning the pumps and
working with desperate haste, the crew managed to bring the disaliled shi;i
into the harbor of Marisus, where the old craft was condemned.

In order to reach his original destination the young sailor shipped
on an English vessel to Bristol. His next voyage, made as an able seaman
on an iron barque, began at Swansea. Wales, took him around Cape Horn,
thence up the Pacific to Callao. Peru, from which point return was made
to Swansea. The last long voyage associated with his life on the high
seas began at Hamburg and took him in a brig around Cape ll.irn and
up the Pacific t^ the harbor of the Ciolden Gate, where anchor was cast
iji March. 1862. Liking the ai)pearance of the country, he deserted his
ship at San Franciscn and went inland to Sacramento, where he found em-
ployment cin a Sacramento river scow for three months. Next as able
seaman on a barque, he engaged in the coasting trade as far south as .San
Diego. Returning to San Francisco, he enlisted in the United States navy
.\pril 14. 1863. fur a term of nne year, which was si)ent on the Shcinl)rick.
stationed at I'.lack Pide c,f the (inldcn date, as coxswain of



498 HISTORY OF KERX COUNTY

the first cutter, or the boat of the lieutenant. Upon the expiration of his
time he was honorably discharged from the service.

Ever since first landing at San Francisco there had been in the mind
of Mr. Petersen a desire to engage in mining, and this was gratified through
the friendship of his first lieutenant, who was a stockholder in the Big
Blue mine at Whiskey Flat, Tulare county (now Kernville, Kern county).
Upon the recommendation of the lieutenant he was induced to come to this
part of the countr}- in May, 1864, after which he found employment- at the
Big Blue mine for a year. During 1865 he prospected at Havilah for two
months and then spent two 3'ears as engineer in a quartz mill. Upon re-
turning to Kernville he spent another two years in a quartz mill at that
point. During 1873 he bought property and built the Kernville hotel, of
which he continued as proprietor for ten years. Going to Shasta in 1S84,
he leased a mine in French Gulch and operated it for eight months, then
sold out his interests and in 1885 returned to Kernville.

About this time Mr. Petersen purchased one hundred and sixty acres
fdrming the nucleus of his present large ranch in the South Fork valley.
By subsequent purchase he has become the owner of twelve hundred acres,
besides having two ranches on the Greenhorn mountains where he ranges
his stock in the summer months. The home property has been improved
with several sets of buildings and with ditches bringing water from the
river for the irrigation of the alfalfa. Grain is raised in large quantities.
A specialty is made of raising cattle, hogs and horses. The ranch lies
midway between Isabella and Onyx, between which points Mr. Petersen
runs a stage line, besides a line between Kernville and Caliente. As early
as July, 1890, he began to run a stage, using four four-horse teams. Upon
the advent of the automobile he bought three cars and he now uses motors
not only for the carrying of mail and passengers, but also for the operation
nf the express line. Besides his immense land holdings he owns residence
and business property in Kernville, Havilah and Caliente.

The marriage of Mr. Petersen took place in Kernville in 1876 and
united him with Mrs. Lizzie Annie (Davis) Swet, who was born in Boston,
Mass., and accompanied her parents to California in early life, settling
at Visalia, where she was educated in the public schools. By her first
marriage she had two sons, John Swet, of Bakersfield, and William Swet,
now living at Madera. Of her union with Mr. Petersen there are three
children, namely: Howard, a farmer on the South Fork; Mrs. Addie Fugitt,
also of the South Fork valley ; and ^^'alter, who has charge of the cattle
interests of his father. Fraternally Air. Petersen is connected with Bakers-
field Lodge No. 266, B. P. O. E., and the Ancient Order of L^nited Workmen.
For years he has served as a trustee of the South Fork school and his interest
in its welfare has been constant. To fill a vacancy in the office of super-
visor, formerly held b}- J. W. Kelley, he was appointed in 1902 by Governor
Gage to represent district No. 1 on the county board. At the regular elec-
tion in 1904 he was elected by a good majority on the Republican ticket
in a Democratic district, serving continuously until January, 1909. During
the period of his service the Iiall of records and high school were erected.
I-'rom the beginning of his residence in the state he has been deeply inter-
ested in its development. When Kern county was set apart from Tulare,
he was one nf the organizers nf the new county and his interest in its
progress has been unceasing.

JOSEPH PERCY FREEAR.— A son of the late Henry T. Freear and a
grandsc n of Rev. Henry T. Freear, a rector in the Church of England, Joseph
P. Freear was born in Bakersfield, .April 18, 1881, and has since lived in Kern
county. After he had completed the studies of the local schools he was
sent to Stockton Business College, from which he was graduated



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 501

in 1903, and immediately afterward becainc bookkeeper for the
Union Oil Company at the refinery in the Kern river fiehl. where he con-
tinned perhaps three years. Meanwhile he had been interested in ranch
activities and with his brothers had owned a farm of one hundred and
sixty acres, but finally he sold his interest to the brothers and then began
to devote his attention tu alfalfa-raising on a tract on Union avenue, where
he remained for two years. Although since 1908 he lias made his home in
Oakersfield he still retains agricultural interests and during 1^12 with his
brothers he put in and raised five hundred acres of corn at Huena Vista
lake.

Devoted to the best interests of Bakersficld, manv measures for civic
advancement have received the enthusiastic support of Mr. Freear and
he has aided local projects to the extent of his abilit}'. In politics he votes
with the Republican party. His marriage was solemnized December 9, 1906.
at Red Bluff, this state, and united him with Miss Zola Clayman, a native of
that city, a woman of excellent education, an active worker with the Order
of Women of \\'oodcraft and a de\oted mother to her two children, Lorin
Donald and Vivian. The father of Mrs. Freear is John H. Clayman, a
pioneer of 1859 in California and since 1910 a resident of Bakersfield, where
with one exception all of his five children now make their homes.

J. J. DEUEL, JR. — As treasurer and manager of the E. A. Hardison Per-
forator Company of Bakersfield, j. J. Deuel. Jr., has evinced a high type of
the capable, foresighted and clear-minded business man. While interested in
many fields he devotes his chief attention to the perforating company
of which he is the principal owner and manager, and his extensive business
extends to all the California oil fields, as well as those in Texas and old
Mexico, and even to such remote points as Trinidad, West Indies, Australia.
Austria. China and Burmah. India. The automatic machine which this
company employs is one of the most important innovations in the oil pro-
ducing business today. Under absolute control of the operator perforations
of any size or shape may be made in casing of any weight or dimensions.
The device is the result of the ingenuity of Edwin A. Hardison of Los
Angeles and is now owned and improved by Mr. Deuel, who has his oil-
well supply store at No. 2111 Chester avenue. Bakersfield, under his personal
direction. He is also sales manager of the Axelson Machine Company.

J. J. Deuel. Jr.. was born July 31. 1879, at Wellsville, Columbiana county,
Ohio, son of Joseph Jasper and Flora V. (Eaton) Deuel, natives respec-
tively of Ohio and West Virginia. The father was employed fcir many years
as foreman for the C. & P. R. R., on the Panhandle and later fur the L. & N.
R. R. at Pensacola, Fla., where the son grew to manhixjd. In 1904 the
family joined the latter in Bakersfield, and father and son became asso-
ciated in business, outside of which they have acquired valuable property
and real estate. Joseph J. Deuel and wife were the parents nf two sons
and one daughter, of whom J. J. Jr., was the first born. In Pensacola. I-'la.,
he was educated in the common schools and also in the academy there, and
before he finished his education was well advanced in a practical knowledge
of the machinist's trade which he completed in due time. In .\pril, 1898,
he volunteered in the Cnited .States navy for the Spanish-.Xmerican war,
enlisting at the navy yard at Pensacola, Fla., and serving a year un the
-San Francisco and .\rmeria as a machinist, in the Cuban blockade. .Soon
after his honorable discharge from the United States service he went to
work at his trade and was so employed at Galveston at the time of the his-
toric flood which destroyed much of that city, and he spent several months
running a hoisting engine ( n the water-front clearing up the de1)ris. In
December, 1900. he located at I'lakersfield. Cal., where for fom- years he
was agent for the Standard ( )il Comi)any. buildint,' up a local bu'-ine^^ thref



502 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

times the size it was when he took it in hand. The subsequent two years
he was a special officer, operating on the San Joaquin division, in the employ
of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. Resigning that position to take
charge of the Bakersfield interests of the Axelson Machine Company, of
Los Angeles, who were manufacturers of oil pumps and dealers in oil well
supplies, with the Axelson pump and the Parker pump as specialties, he
materially advanced the interests of the concern, and later was advanced to
sales manager of the entire output and various stores. His perforator is
the most successful in use today and is employed by the largest companies
who aim to obtain the best results. In 1909 Mr. Deuel became the owner
of the Hardison Perforator by purchasing it from the inventor, E. A. Hardi-
son, and since that time he has patented an improvement on the machine.
His operations have extended over a wide area and he employs five experi-
enced men to operate the perforator.

Mr. Deuel and his interesting family occupy a high place among the
citizens of Bakersfield. His marriage occurred here June 1, 1902, uniting
him. with Miss Mary E. Thurlow, a native of New York state, and they have
six children, viz.: Edwin J., James ^V.. George A., Ruth, Harry A. and Jack-
son Bryan. Mr. Deuel is a member of the Kern County Merchants' Asso-
ciation, and politically believes in the principles of the Democratic party.
He is a communicant of the Christian church and affiliates with the Wood-
men of the World. On Chester avenue, near Twentieth, he occupies a store
and office quarters. He owns two hundred and forty acres of land four
miles southeast of Bakersfield, which is devoted to farming and horticul-
ture and on which he has installed two pumping plants.

ROBERT NEILL.— The first twenty years in the useful and interesting
life of Robert Neill were passed near the bleak shores of the Atlantic, where
the family, Scotch by birth and ancestry, but Canadian by adoption, had
established a home near Kensington, Prince Edward Island. The stern and
rigorous climate to which he was inured from earliest recollections developed
not only a sturdy physique, but also a forceful mentality and a self-reliant
spirit, qualifying him to successfully cope with the hardships of the work-
a-day world. His parents, James and Marion (McCaull) Neill, were natives
of Scotland, who seeking a home in the new world had settled in Canada,
identifying themselves with farming interests on Prince Edward Island,
where, in the midst of an environment given over to the fishing business
and the coasting trade, they tilled the soil and raised such crops as the all
too brief summers permitted.

The eldest of eight children, Robert Neill was born on the farm in
Prince Edward Island February 18, 1852, and grew to manhood at the
old homestead, where he worked during the vacation months in the period
of his school life. Leaving school at the age of fifteen, he devoted his time
entirely to farm work as an assistant to his father. Upon starting out for
himself in 1872 he went first to Massachusetts and spent the summer months
on a farm near Middleboro. During the winter of 1872-73 he was sent by
Swift & Co. from iMew Bedford, Mass., to Florida, where he engaged as a
broad axeman in getting out live oak timber for the government navy yards.
During the summer he went from Florida to Bath, Me., to do similar work
in the private yard.

From boyhood it had been the desire of Mr. Neill to see the land of
the Golden West and during 1875, giving up his work in the east, he crossed
the continent to California. It was his original intention to remain here
only long enough to accumulate a little money and then return to his old
home, but he was so favorably impressed by the state that he decided to
remain, a decision he has no cause to regret. During the first three months
he was employed on a farm at Baden Station owned by Miller & Lux, and
from that place in .August of the same year he came to Kernville. From that




^^Q^^J^.yk::^:!:^,



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY SOS

time to the present he has been identified with Kern county, of which he is
not only one of the old settlers, but also one of the most honored citizens and
])rogressive farmers. However, his connection with agriculture does not
go back to his settlement in the county. First as a carman and later as a
fireman, he spent four years with the Sumner Mining Company. Next he was
an employe in the store of .Andrew Brown at Kernville, where he re-
mained for ten years, first as a clerk and then as bookkeeper and office-man.
Meanwhile he saved his earnings with frugal care, for he had determined to
engage in farming. Resigning his position in the store in 1889. he purchased
two hundred and eighty acres and took up general ranch pursuits.

By subsequent purchase the ranch of Mr. .Neill has been enlarged to
eight hundred and forty acres, all in one body, situated about two and one-
half miles west of Weldon. Several hundred acres are in alfalfa, irrigation
for which is provided by the South Fork. The balance of the valley land
is devoted to the raising of grain. Realizing the importance of the stock
industry, the owner has made a specialty of the same from the very beginning
of his farming operations. The brand of R. N. (with letters separate) is to
be seen on his large herd of shorthorn Durham cattle.

Throughout this portion of the county "Bob" Xeill is known as a
man of honor and integrity. His name is a synonym for all that is worthy
in citizenship and progressive in agriculture. When a postmaster was to
be chosen at Weldon during the year 1888 he was selected as one satisfac-
tory to all concerned and his service was efficient to an unusual degree.
At this writing he is a school trustee in the Weldon district and he has acted
in a similar capacitv for' many years. Since coming to this countv he was
made a Mascn in Bakersfield Lodge No. 224, F. & A. M. As a boy in the
old Canadian home he was trained to a belief in Presbyterian doctrines.
There being no church of that denomination near his ranch he, with his sister.
Miss Millie A. Neill. who is a member of his household, attend the Methodist
Episcopal Church at \\''eldon. By nature religious, his life expresses less
the religion of creeds than that of a cheerful, hopeful and helpful existence,
devoted to the uplifting if humanity and the welfare of the race. Careful
study of the principles upon which our government is founded led him to
espouse the nlatform of the Republican party when he became a citizen of
our country in 1884. Of his services to his adopted country it may be said
that they have been admirable, whether viewed from the point of agriculture
or business or private life.

THOMAS HENRY McGOVERN.— Change and development have
marked the history of Kern county since Mr. McGovern became a resident
of Annette during the year 1881. The small hamlet near which he took up
land stands in the northwestern corner of the county and being remote
from the railroad has acquired no significance as a market town. The near-
est market was San r,uis Obispo, a distance of fifty-five miles toward the
coast, and thither the farmers were accustomed to drive for the purpose of
buying provisions, clothing and lumber. Immediately after his arrival in
the state Mr. McGovern took up a homestead, a pre-emption and a timber-
culture, amounting to four hundred and eighty acres altogether, the tract
being adapted chiefly to the raising of grain. With one exception he was
the first settler in that part of the county. Privations were many, the task
of caring for the crops of oats, wheat and barley without sufficient help was
discouraging, and the long drives to market took up much valuable time,
but ultimately he saw the fruit of his labor and became financially inde-
pendent. His only son, John A., took up a claim of three hundred and
twentv acres, so that the two owned and cultivated eight hundred acres,
and this has been increased by subsequent purchase to seventeen hundred
acres, the whole forming a stock ranch of great value, now managed b\- the
son, the father having retired to a life of ease and merited rest.



506 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

County Cavan in the north of Ireland is the native home of Thomas
Henry McGovern and September 11, 1835, the date of his birth. On the
eighth anniversary of his birth the family landed in New Orleans from the
vessel that had brought them from Ireland to America. A voyage up the
Mississippi took them to Illinois and after a brief sojourn at Galena they
moved to Wisconsin, where the father took up land near Platteville, Grant
county. As a boy Thomas H. attended school at Ellenboro, and aided in
the development of the home farm. After he ceased to attend school he
gave his attention wholly to farming until 1857, when he left Wisconsin for
Missouri. Holding the position of driller, he remained for four years in the
Iron mountain mines. At the opening of the war he decided to return to
Wisconsin and went to St. Louis with that object in view, but found that
no trains were leaving the city. Meanwhile John H. McHenry, general
foreman of the mine in which he had worked, became colonel in the Fif-
teenth Mississippi Regiment, C. S. A. At Cape Girardeau Mr. McGovern
volunteered for service in that regiment, which was later consolidated with
and became the Seventeenth Mississippi Regiment. For four years and
seven months he remained in the Confederate army. During that time he
endured all the hardships of war and fought in many bloody battles. One
of the hardest fought engagements in which he participated was that of
Cold Harbor. At the siege of Vicksburg he served as an army scout.
During a portion of his service he was under General Pemberton, and in
addition he served under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston. After the battle of
Fredericksburg, Va., he was released from service and allowed to return to
Wisconsin, where he joined his parents, then living at Platteville, Grant
county. For several years he worked in lead ore mines during the winters
and farmed in the summer months, but later he carried on a general mer-
cantile store at Trempealeau, Wis., and also served as a justice of the peace,
remaining there until the time of his removal to California. In Kern county
he was twice elected justice of the peace, but did not qualify. He also filled
the office of roadmaster for a number of years, and for sixteen years acted
as clerk of the Annette school district.

From early life Mr. McGovern has been a member of the Roman Catho-
lic Church. Since attaining his majority he has given stanch support to
the Democratic party. January 8, 1866, he married in Platteville, Wis.,
Miss Josephine Roselip, who was born in Grant county. Wis., July 8, 1841.
By their union there is an only child, John A., who resides with his parents
and superintends the large landed interests of the family. Removing to
Wasco from the ranch in 1905, Mr. McGovern has since been retired from
active agricultural cares and enjoys the comforts possible after long years
of labor. When he came to this small town it had only one general store,
but there were also two saloons. Shortly after settling here he built the
W^asco Hotel and this he now leases.

CHARLES F. BENNETT.— As county supervisor of the first district
of Kern county and a successful business man as well, Charles F. Bennett has
identified himself closely with the industrial work of this county, becoming
well and favorably known for the impartial execution of his official duties,
his painstaking efforts to meet the approbation of his constituents and his
never-failing good-will toward all. He was born May 8, 1862, in Washoe
City, Nev., the son of Rev. Jesse Lee Bennett, a well-known minister, who
was born in ^^'est Virginia and made his way to Missouri to fill the respon-
sible office of minister in the Methodist Episcopal church. Later he crossed
the plains to California in 1849, followed mining for a time and was pastor
of the Methodist Episcopal church at Washoe City, Nev. He returned east
after a time and was married, but the call of the west again brought him to
Washoe Cit>-, this trij) being made \'ia Panama. Upon arrival he resumed
the duties of minister and until 1873 he and his estimable wife, who before



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 507

her marriage was Elizabeth de Jersey, made their home in Nevada. In the
latter year he came with his family to Kernville, this county, where he was
the local pastor until his death, in .\pril. 1888. I'rnni Kernville he went to
different parts of the county to minister, his trips often being made on foot,
and extending from Tehachapi and P.akersfield and places on the south fork
to Linn's valley and Darwin. His wife, who was a native of the Isle of
Guernsey, England, and was of French parentage, passed away in Bakers-
field. Of their six children, four are living: Charles F. : .'\nnie, of Bakers-
field; Edith, Mrs. Charles C. Taylor; and Nellie, of Bakersfield.

Charles F. Bennett was but eleven years of age when his parents
brought him to Kern county and until he was thirteen he attended the public
school of his vicinity. His first work was on neighboring ranches ; after-
ward mining took his attention, and he learned the details of that industry,
becoming foreman of \Varrington mine at Havilah, and after a time foreman
of the Lafly 15ell mine, at Kern\'ille. and he also prospected and mined in
Piute. Subsequently for some years he was engaged in running a hotel bus
in Kernville, and it was in 1888 that he entered into public life by being
elected on the Democratic ticket as supervisor of the first district, his term
of service covering the period from January, 1889, to January, 1893. In
1903 Mr. Bennett started a livery business in Caliente, which also embraced
a hay and grain business, a blacksmith shop and a wagon and carriage fac-
tory. The business was a splendid success from the start and he built it up
to a most profitable condition. In 1910 he built the store in which he is
now engaged in general merchandising, his capable wife lending her assist-
ance in order to relieve Mr. Bennett of the many arduous tasks incident to
the business.

On February 16, 1892, Mr. Bennett was married in Bakersfield to Miss
Lulie Jones, a native of Mariposa county, Cal., and daughter of D. E. and
Caroline (W'yatt) Jones, born in Ohio and Virginia, respectively. Her
father was a miner, but has passed away, the mother making her home with
her daughter. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, Jesse L.,
who is a member of the San Luis Obispo high school class of 1914; Loring
F. and Alice Caroline. Mr. Bennett was for several years a member of the
board of school trustees in Caliente, serving as clerk for seven years. In
1912 he was an independent candidate for county supervisor and received



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 57 of 177)