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 61 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 61 of 177)
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Gilli was not the first of the name who crossed the ocean from the far-distant
Alpine home. When a young man his father, John Gilli, was attracted to the
Pacific coast by reason of the discovery of gold and prospected in all the
region lying between Bakersfield and San I'Vancisco, liut meeting with no
special luck in the mines and feeling deeply the isolation from kindret! he
returned after a time to his native land, where he settled on a farm. About
1905 he lost his wife, Rosa (Grischott) Gilli, since which time he has made
his home with his youngest daughter. For years he lived a life of self-



542 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

sacrificing labor and toiled early and late to support his family from the
products raised on his farm. In the earning of a livelihood he was- greatly
aided by an appointment as a Swiss road master and when he recently
retired from that position, after years of faithful service, he was given a sub-
stantial pension by the government. All cif his seven children excepting the
fourth, Peter, continue to li\'e in Switzerland. They are named as follows:
Eva, Mrs. Florian Cojori ; Rosa, Mrs. Alexander Joos ; Maria, the widow of
Albert Ritzzi ; Christine, Mrs. Peter Grischott; John, who is employed as a
custom house official by the Swiss government; and Elizabeth, who married
John Tobler and lives on a farm in her native canton.

Descended from an old Swiss family that also boasted of a pedigree going
back to ancient Roman blood, Peter Gilli was born in Graubunden, Grisons,
Switzerland, November 24, 1867, and during boyhood gained a comprehensive
knowledge i.f both the German and old Italian tongues. The schools of the
home neighborhood were excellent and after he had completed the grammar
course he spent two years in a high school, but did not graduate on account
of the necessity of earning his livelihood. Early in life he embraced the doc-
trines of the German Lutheran Church and since then he has been faithful in
devotion to that denomination. After having worked for one year in a store
at Zurich, Switzerland, and two years in Hotel Enderlin at Pontresina in the
picturesque Alpine region, he came to California, arriving at Bakersfield April
9, 1890. For five years he worked steadily in the employ of Welling Canfield,
a pioneer dairyman of Kern county. From 1895 to 1897 he worked for Chris
Mattly, a prominent dairyman of this county, who had come from the same
village as himself. Later he rented one hundred and sixty acres lying near
Lakeside and belonging to Mrs. R. Chubb. On that place he prospered as a
dairyman and general farmer and finally he accumulated an amount suf-
ficient to justify the improvement of the raw land which he had purchased
during 1894. Since then he has given his attenticjn to his own land, which
forms one of the valuable farms of the vicinity. In politics he is a Repub-
lican and belongs to the Woodmen of the World.

The first trip across the ocean was made by Mr. Gilli during 1890, when
on the 20th of March he boarded a trans-Atlantic steamer at Havre, France,
and journeyed over the usual ocean route to New York. The next trip was made
in 1900, during which year he left California for New York and from there
sailed for Europe. En route to Switzerland he visited the World's Fair at
Paris and found both pleasure and instruction in that great international ex-
l)Osition. After a happy renewal of friendships with the people of his native
canton he came back to work in California and eagerly took up the battle nec-
essary to the securing of financial independence. Again in 1908 he "returned
to his old home in the Alps. In the meantime his mother had passed away,
but there yet remained his father, then about seventy-three years of age.

Mr. Gilli was married at Bakersfield July 2, 1913, to Miss Avis Haworth,
daughter of C. N. and Mary A. (Mattley) Haworth, of El Reno, Okla. She was
born in Iowa, and went to Oklahoma with her parents when she was four
years old.

WILLIAM BRADLEY PECK.— In his native city of Detroit, Mich.,
where he was born May 23, 1840, he became familiar with the environment
of the frontier and tales of the dangers of the west did not daunt his resolu-
tion to come hither. At the age of nineteen he crossed the plains with a
large expedition of emigrants. The journey, although not without its
dangers, came to an uneventful end and the men dispersed to the various
mines, Mr. Peck seeking the placer mines of Hangtown. The camp with
its throngs of gold-seekers from every part of the world presented a weird
s)iectacle to a stranger, but he soon became familiar with the work of the
Tiiines and the customs of the miners. The life, although one of hardship




(^Ol lirH^^



HISTORY OF KKRX COUNTY 545

and deprivation, was not without its zest of adventure and thrilling exploits,
but in time he wearied of the unsatisfactory returns and the lack of
permanency, so he turned his attention to the buying of horses and the
running of a dairy near Placerville, Eldorado county.

Like many of the original pioneers Mr. Peck has folkiwed various occu-
pations, having been at different times a miner, dairyman, rancher and
liveryman, and while none of these callings brought him a fortune he has
become the possessor of a well-earned competency. During 1864 at San
Jose he married Aliss Hattie Stiner and his second marriage, which occurred
in Reedley, united him with Mrs. Amanda (Weeks) Burney, born in P\ind du
Lac, Wis. (^f his first marriage there are two daughters, namely : Euphemia,
wife of Joseph Stephens, a farmer at Turlock ; and Lillian, wife of Alfred
Giles, who is employed in a dairy business at Fresno. Of Mrs. Peck's first
marriage there were three children, Elgin of Bakersfield ; May, Mrs. Carter,
of Bakersfield ; and Frank, of New Westminster, B. C. For some time Mr.
Peck has made his home on a ranch of twenty acres two and one-half miles
south of Bakersfield. This property, which he purchased in 1910, has been
improved under his careful oversight.

CHARLES NEWTON JOHNSTON.— The Johnston family long has
been identified with New England, where C. N. and his father, John
Eldride, were born at Bristol. Me. He was the eighth generation and lineal
descendant of Governor Bradford of Massachusetts, the originator of Thanks-
giving day. The life of the father was all too brief, but was marked by
patriotism and courage. When yet a mere lad he had gone to sea and by
slow degrees he rose to be first mate of a vessel. When the Civil war began
he offered his services as a member (if a Maine regiment of infantry, but
soon after he had been accepted he was transferred to the United States
navy as an officer on the transport, Potomac, from which he rose to the
rank of captain. Upmi the expiration of his time of service he received an
honorable discharge from the navy, whereupon he resumed his former posi-
tion as first mate on an ocean steamer. While yet a young man he passed
from earth, leaving an only son, Charles Newton, whose birth had occurred
November 14. 1865. The widow, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth
Francis and was a native of Maine, was married again some time after losing
her first husband. Her second union was with Joseph Spinney, of Maine,
a man of ability and worth, who after bringing the family to California in
1877 settled at Fresno. In that city he engaged in the manufacture of brick
and also in the building business as a contractor. Some of the first permanent
buildings in Fresno were erected under his personal oversight. Rising to
prominence in the city of his adoption he was honored with election to the
mayoralty and filled the office for two terms. F"or some years he owned
the I. O. 0. F. building in Fresno, which he had erected during the period
of his activities as a cnntractor. After his death, which occurred at Fresno.
his widow removed to Point Richmond, C'lmtra Costa county, and con-
tinues to live there at the present time.

\^'hen about tweh-e years of age Charles Newton Johnston accomi^anied
his mother and stepfather in their removal from Maine to California, where
he completed his education in the Fresno schools. During 1879 he left
school to take up l)lacksmithing as an apprentice to J. \Y. Williams, whose
shop occupied the present site of the Grand Central hotel in Fresno. Until
the completion of his time he continued in the same shop, but upon starting
out for himself in 1882 he came to Bakersfield, where he began to work in
a shop on the corner of L and Nineteenth streets. For a time he was em-
ployed by J. E. Smith and later he was under H. H. Fish, being with the
two men about twenty years altogether. Buying the shop in 1907, he con-
ducted the business there, which was the oldest of the kind in the citv. It



546 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

was in Marcli. 1913, that he moved intei his new building. The site covers
an area of 132 x 115 feet on Eighteenth and O streets and the building, which
is two stories, is 70 x 90 feet. This has been fully ecjuipped with the most
modern and complete machinery for general blacksmithing ; woodwork, forg-
ings and repairing for automobiles is an important feature, and the heaviest
kind of work is handled in the shops. The largest automobile stage in the
valley was built here and- is used for service on the Oil Center stage line.
In the conduct of his business ^Ir. Johnston is ably assisted by his wife,
who has charge of his office.

The comfortable home which Mr. Johnston built at the corner of C and
Twenty-second streets is presided over with dignity and grace b\' his capable
wife, who bore the maiden name of Emma Blanche Redstone, and who is a
native of Dutch Flat, Placer county, this state. During the era of mining
activity her father. Col. A. E. Redstone, with Judge Rhoades and others,
crossed the plains in the '50s with ox-teams from Indianapolis to California,
and engaged in mining. Having no luck as a seeker of gold, he turned his
attention to journalistic affairs and became prominent in newspaper work.
For a time he also was employed in the secret service. At this writing he
and his wife make their home at Woody, Cal. His wife, who was before
her marriage Mary Josephine Koontz, was a native of Indianapolis, daughter
of George Koontz. She was a niece of Rev. Abraham Koontz, the founder of
the first Methodist Episcopal Churcli in Indianapolis. George Koontz was
an extensive farmer and left to his daughter the farm that is now the
City Park of Indianapolis. Colonel Redstone returned to Indianapolis and
served as Colonel of an Indiana regiment in the Civil war. He was a prom-
inent attorney, and was very talented. In California he published many
works bearing on the labor problem as well as other philanthropic reforms.
When a young lad)- Mrs. Johnston, then Miss Emma Pdanche Redstone, was
graduated from the Oakland high school, after which she was married to
F. R. Kalloch, who died leaving her with two children, namely: Rita, now
the wife of Herman S. Dumble, of Bakersfield ; and F. R. Kalloch, contractor
and builder of the same city. In llakersfield March 17. 1902, she became the
wife of Mr. Johnston.

Upon the organization of the first volunteer fire dejjartment in Bakers-
field many years ago, Mr. Johnston became a member and at different times
he served as foreman of the Eureka Engine Company, also for one term
he served as chief of the fire department. Before the incorporation of
the city he was chosen a fire commissioner and served as such for two terms, .
being honored with the chairmanship of the board for one term. Recogniz-
ing the imperative need of fire protection, he cheerfully gave his services as
long as funds were lacking for the payment of a regular corps of workers.
From the time of attaining his majority he has voted the Republican ticket
at all national elections, but he is independent in local affairs. After coming
to Bakersfield he was made a ]\lason in Bakersfield Lodge No. 224, F. & .A. M.,
and was raised to the Royal Arch degree in Kern A^alley Chanter No. 75.
R. .\. .M, Later he ji ined the local lodge of the Knights of Pythias, and
with his wife is a member of Sunset Temple No. 16, Pythian Sisters. Air.
Johnston is an influential local worker in the Independent Order of Odd
Fellows, and is a member of the encampment.

THADDEUS M. McNAMARA, M.D.— The jNIcNamara family is of
Anglo-Saxon origin and was founded in America by William M. McNamara,
for years a farmer in Illinois. The next generation was represented by
T. M., born on the home farm near Elgin, 111., but from young manhood a
resident of California. The eldest of his three children, Thaddeus M., was
born at Visalia. Cal., August 1, 1880, received his early education at St.
Ignatius College in San Francisco and then matriculated in St. Mary"s





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HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 549

College in Kansas, from which institution he received the degree of A. B.
upon his graduation in 1901. On returning to California he entered the
Cooper Medical College in San Francisco, where he took the regular course
uf lectures, graduating in 1905 with the degree of M. D. and with an
excellent reci rd for scholarshij). Indeed, it was largely due to his capabilit}-
in clinical work that he received an appointment as interne in the city and
county hospital, where he remained for sixteen months. Valuable experience
also was gained through a service of eight months as resident physician in
the emergency and general hospital at Los Angeles. Important professional
knowledge was further acquired while acting as interne in the Fane hcis-
pital of San Francisco, .\fter he had filled that position for ten months
he was promoted to be resident physician in the same institution, where
he continued during the following year and then resigned in 1909 in order
to engage in practice in Bakersfield. In this city for a time he had the
advantage of an association with Dr. A. F. Schafer, but since the latter has
concentrated his attention upon an important professional specialty. Dr.
AIcNamara has succeeded to their private practice. Besides the private
practice and hospital activities he has been prominent in the work of the
Kern County Medical Society, and is now filling the ofifice of vice-president:
he is also a member of the State Medical Society and American Medical
Association. Since coming to Bakersfield he has associated himself with
the Knights of Columbus and the Fraternal Brotherhood. While making
his home in San Francisco he met and married Miss Lillian Price, who was
born in Stockton and is a graduate uf the Lane hospital training school for
nurses. Two sons bless their union, Thaddeus M. and Joseph, the elder
representin.g the third generation to bear the same name.

JOHN HENRY McMILLEN.— Not alone as a son of that honored pio-
neer, jnel McMillen. but because of his own worthy achievements is Juhn
Henry McMillen, of Wasco, entitled to prominence in this work. Joel Mc-
Millen. a native of Cape Elizabeth, Me., born February 22, 1833, was educated
in public schools near his boyhood home and early acquired a practical knowl-
edge of the ship-joiners" trade. In 1849, when he was sixteen years old, he
came to California with the Simpson brothers, around Cape Horn on a sailer
to San Francisco, Simpson brothers becoming successful lumber manufac-
turers and dealers in that city. Mr. McMillen was for some years employed
at teaming, but eventually engaged in contract work. From San Francisco
he moved to Nevada, where he emisloyed himself profitably in teaming and
hauling, chiefly in the mining districts. He followed the mining booms here
and there in Nevada until 1879, when he came to Kern county and bought a
section of land near Poso ranch and engaged in general farming and stock-
raising on a large scale. He died December 3, 1896, on his homestead and his
wife passed away October .^, 1902. He married Henrietta Matlock, a native
of New York City, who accompanied her parents across the plains to Cali-
fornia when she was six years old. settling at Placerville.

It was in Lodi, Sacramento county, Cal., that lohn Henrv McMillen
was born August 11. 1877. His parents brought him to Kern comnty in 187".
when he was about two years old, and he remained at home until after the
death of his mother in 1902. He attended school until he was sixteen vears
old. then took a commercial course in Heald's Business College. San Fran-
cisco, from which he was graduated in 1807. Then returninsr to Kern count\'.
he a'^sociated himself with his mother on the old farm, carrying on general
farming and stock-raisiner on a laree scale. Mr. McMillen also eneasred in
breedintr and handlinp^ for the market horses, mules, cattle and ho



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 61 of 177)