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 76 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 76 of 177)
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vear a total of $1,823.2.5 was received from the sale of hay and produce, and
in addition they raised many of the necessities for their own table. The total
expense, without counting their time, was limited to $300, this small expense
being made possible through their industry and wise management.

The marriage of ^fr. l-pton and Miss Flla R. Sutherland was solemnized



714 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

at Illiopolis, 111., February 17, 1875, and has been one of mutual helpfulness
and happiness, their only sorrow having been the loss of their children in
early life. J\Irs. Upton was born in ]\Iechanicsburg township, Sangamon
county. 111., and was fourth among the nine children comprising the family
of Hugh and Abbie (Bird) Sutherland. Only four of the nine are now living.
Born in 1809, Mr. Sutherland came from his native city of Edinburgh, Scot-
land, to the United States in 1825 and shortly thereafter settled in Illinois,
where he engaged in farming. Some years after locating in that state he
married Miss Bird, who was born in Frankfort, Ky., September 27, 1824,
and accompanied her mother to Illinois in 1833. Of late years -she has lived
in Springfield and has been physically active notwithstanding her advanced
age. Mrs. Upton is an earnest member of the Congregational church and a
leading worker in the Ladies' Aid Society. In addition she is a popular
member of the Woman's Relief Corps. Mr. Upton is connected with the
Fraternal Brotherhood and in politics always has voted with the Republican
party. Upon selling their farm in June of 1909 they came to East Bakersfield,
where they not only erected their present residence at No. 600 Pacific street,
but in addition built a number of cottages for rent.

REV. JAMES S. WEST, A. B.— The history of the First Baptist Church
of Bakersfield. of which Rev. James Samuel West is now nastor, dates back
to the year 1889, the inauguration of the movement occurring on the 21st of
April with the union as a congregation of a very few persons, adherents of
that faith and formerly communicants of the denomination in previous places
of residence. The following years were filled with anxious solicitude regarding
the future of the congregation, but nevertheless were years of spiritual and
numerical growth. The following is a list of the pastors together with their
periods of service: Rev. T. C. tordan, .\pril, 1889-Februarv, 1893: Rev. C.
O. Tohnson, Februarv, 1893-April, 1894; Rev. T. M. French, October, 1894-
Tanuarv, 1896: Rev. J. T. Collins, Januarv. 1897- August, 1899: Rev. William
Mullen, August, 1899-May, 1900: Rev. W. C. Whitaker, Mav, 1901-Mav, 1902;
Rev. W. M. Collins, January, 1903-May, 1906; Rev. J. Fred Jenkins. October,
1906-January, 1908: Rev. llloyd C. Smith, August, 1908-August, 1911, and
Rev. Tames Samuel West, the present pastor, whose ministry commenced in
September of 1911.

Immediately after the organization of the few members into a congrega-
tion steps were taken looking toward the building of a house of worship. The
corner of I and Twenty-second streets was secured as a suitable site. Febru-
ary 17, 1890, the corner-stone was laid of a structure of brick, small but sub-
stantial. The first services were held there on the first Sunday of April,
1890. With that building as headquarters, an excellent work was conducted
for years, but eventually the lot was sold March 2, 1904, the last services being
conducted in the old church on the 13th of March, of the same year. The
corner-stone of the new structure of white brick was laid September 14, 1904,
at the new lot on the corner of Twentieth and G streets. The first services
were held in the Sunday-school room December 6, 1904, and in the main
auditorium Alarch 5, 1905, while the formal dedication, April 9, 1905, conse-
crated the noble and dignified edifice to the worship of God. The building
contains the auditorium, Sunday-school room and pastor's study, and in mode
of construction adheres to modern ideas of church architecture. In addition
to the church edifice there is a commodious and attractive parsonage, also of
white brick. Besides the home Sunday-school a similar work has been estab-
lished at East Bakersfield, and two hundred children have the advantage of
the excellent religious training given by teachers thoroughly competent to
discharge their appointed tasks. The present membership of the church is
about two hundred and fifty, one hundred and fifteen having been added since
the beginning of the pastorate of the present minister. While devoting him-
self with self-sacrificing intensity to the upbuilding of this congregation, the



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 717

pastor has found time to minister at regular intervals to the congregation of
Baptists at Edison, which was organized by his predecessor. To aM in the
missionary work with the Mexican population of Bakersfield an assistant pas-
tor has been engaged, whose time is almost wholly given to that department
of Christian efTort.

The present pastor, to whose earnest, sincere and self-denying efforts
much of the present gratifying growth of the church may be attributed, is a
member of a family long and honorably identified with the Baptist denomina-
tion. His father. Rev. W. W. West, a Virginian by birth and a member of a
colonial family of the Old Dominion established there by Scotch forbears long
before the Revolutionary war, has met with remarkable success in the Baptist
ministry in West Virginia, where he has the record of having baptized more
people into the Baptist Church than any other clergyman in the entire state.
By his marriage to Miss Margaret Underwood, a native of Franklin County,
Va., he became the father of four sons and three daughters, all still living
except two of the sons. The eldest child in the family, James Samuel, was born
at Highpeak, Franklin county, Va., March 17, 1875, and passed the years of
boyhood in West Virginia, where at the age of sixteen he began to teach in the
country district of his home county. It was his ambition to acquire a thorough
education and with that end in view he carefully hoarded his earnings, so that
he was able to work his way through higher institutions of learning. In 1897
he matriculated in Doane Academy, the preparatory department of Denison
University at Granville, Ohio. After years of study he was graduated from
the university in 1904 with the degree of A. B., and at the same time was
licen:^ed to preach, but feeling the need of more experience and further study
before entering the ministr}- he accepted a position with the Young Men's
Christian Association of Ohio as state secretary. In that office he inaugurated
two departments of the state work. viz. : the county department and the
bituminous coal miners' department, both of which he pioneered and pro-
moted by personal supervision.

After having spent eighteen months of pleasant and profitable labor in
the work of the Young Men's Christian Association, resigning from such
service Mr. West matriculated in the Rochester (N. Y.) Theological Semin-
ary. Upon his graduation in 1908 he returned to West Virginia and at West
Union was ordained to the ministry of the Baptist denomination. For one
year he served as pastor at West Union, after which he spent two years with
the First Baptist Church of Bucyrus, Ohio. Meanwhile he had married at
East Rochester, N. Y., Miss Helen Elizabeth Tufts, who was born in Can-
andaigua, Ontario county, N. Y., and received excellent advantages in the
academy in that city. With his wife he has established a comfortable home
in the Bakersfield Baptist parsonage, which is brightened by the presence of
their small daughter, Virginia Aileen. Since coming to the west he has
identified himself with the Los Angeles Baptist Association and the Southern
California Baptist State convention. In fraternal relations he holds member-
ship with the Tribe of Ben Hur and the Woodmen of the World, while during
his university course he was identified with the Kappa Sigma.

VERNON L. UNDERWOOD.— The growing influence of Mr. Under-
wood as a citizen of Tehachapi and as a participant in the railroad service
results from the possession of qualifications eminently afla])ting him for influ-
ential identification with any measure or movement that may enlist his aid.
As agent at Tehachapi for the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railroads he
discharges duties of importance and in addition he serves acce])tablv as local
agent for the \\'ells-Fargo Express Company.

The only child of Philip and Anne (Mathevvson) Lawler, \'erncMi L.
I'ndervvood was born in Pasadena, Cal., September 3. 1888, anfl at the age
of nine months was left fatlierless. Some vears later his mother became the



718 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

wife of Dr. Maro F. Underwood and the boy was given the name of the
step-father. Phihp Lawler, who was a native of Alaine, enlisted in the Union
army at the opening of the Civil war and remained at the front until the
expiration of his term of service. Later he came to California and engaged
in the lumber business in Mendocino county. Although he lived until 1889
and never relinquished his business enterprises, always he suffered as the
result of his war service and the hardships of that period were the direct
cause of his death. His wife, who was born in Wilmington, Del., and who
now makes her home with her only child, was a daughter of a pioneer of
1849 who had come across the plains to California with a brave band of
argonauts.

Upon completing the studies of the Los Angeles grammar and high
schools, Vernon L. Underwood entered the railroad service, his first work
being that of an assistant in the ticket office at Lindsay, Tulare county, where
he remained for eighteen months and meantime learned much of value to
him in subsequent positions. From Lindsay he was sent to Oil City as cashier
and chief clerk, and later became agent : and afterwards acted as agent at
Owenyo for eighteen months. During May of 1912 he was transferred to
Tehachapi as agent for the Southern Pacific Company, besides which he
has acted as Santa Fe agent and as the local representative of the Wells-
Fargo Express Company.

FRED ALBERT HILL.— Simeon Smith Hill came to Kern county
in 1880, having worked formerly with the Great Western Quick Silver
Mine in Lake county. He had reached Califi rnia from the East in 1874. He
and his five sons followed farming in Rosedale district, Kern county, two
years, but the venture not proving a success Mr. Hill bought eighty acres
in another section of Rosedale district, and remained there until the death
of the mother in 1885, when he sold the place and went into the livery busi-
ness in Bakersfield. In 1888 he sold out and moved to Linns Valley, where
he became engaged in farming, three years later moving to Golanagi Springs,
a summer resort situated three miles above Democrat Springs, where he
stayed for a short time, then deciding to purchase eighty acres of land in
Linns Valley. Some time later he sold his place here and again launched
into the livery business, but he finally purchased the Democrat Hot Springs,
which he afterward sold to his son, D. D.

Fred A. Hill was born in Monmouth, Warren county. 111., November 1,
1863, and attended school there. He came with his parents to California in
1874 and attended public schools in Lake county, this state. With the rest
of the familv he came to Kern county October 13, 1880, and as early as 1882
began working for Haggin & Carr, which firm is now known as the Kern
County Land Company. Mr. Hill has been in the employ of the original
company and its successor ever since 1880 with the exception of two years,
when he was in the livery business with his father. In 1890 he was made
foreman of the Kern County Land Company and in 1895 he was promoted
to assistant to C. L. Conner, superintendent of the Lakeside ranch, upon whose
death, in December, 1910, Mr. Hill was given full charge.

Mr. Hill was married in Bakersfield August 9, 1903, to Miss Edna M.
Baker, a native of Hanford, Cal. Her father, John M. Baker, crossed the
plains with ox teams in pioneer days and settled on a farm near Hanford.
He now resides in East Bakersfield. To Air. and Mrs. Hill were born three
children, Milton S. S., Evelyn Edna and Fred Richard. A Democrat in
politics, Mr. Hill is conversant with all the subjects of the day, and adheres
closely to the principles of his partv. Fraternally he is a member of the
Fraternal Order of Eagles and the Knights of Pythias.

C. E. GETCHELL.— .\ true and loyal" son of the great west is Mr.
Cetchell, who was Iwrn at Helena, Mont., December 18. 1866, and in all of
his long life has ne\'er been east of the Rocky mountains, but with charac-



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HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 721

teristic energy and progressive devotion has labored for the material upl)uilil-
ing of his section of the country.

The distinction of being the second white child and the first white boy
born in what is now the state of IMontana belongs to Mr. (Jetchell, the first
white child having been Anna Flowerre. His father, F. S. Getchell, came
to California via the Isthmus of Panama and landed in San Francisco in
June of 1850, after which he engaged in placer mining on the American
river, at Sawmill Flat, Marysville, Grass Valley and other places. In
Tuolumne county he married Mrs. Sarah (Sparks) De Noielle, a widow with
three children. Of their union only one child, Charles E., was born, and
he passed his early years in Montana, where the elder Getchell was an historic
character and prominent pioneer miner, known throughout the length and
breadth of the mountain state for his kindly hospitality, positive convictions
and broad knowledge of gold mines.

When fourteen years of age C. E. Getchell became a cowboy, engaging
with the D. H. S. Cattle Company. During 1880 he helped to drive the first
band of cattle into the now celebrated Judith basin country in Montana.
For five years he rode the range as an employe of the same organization,
after which he filled a similar position with Daniel Flowerre for two years.
In that way he became familiar with the entire country, besides acquiring a
thorough understanding of stock and a really remarkable skill as a rider.
At the age of twenty-one he began to run horses for himself, beginning on a
very small scale and by degrees rising to business of a larger nature. Together
with his half-brother, R. \\'. De Noielle, and J. P. Ketchum, he bought out
the Holter planing mill in 1888. The plant was enlarged immediately after
its purchase. Everything indicated an era of prosperity. However, there
soon broke out a local financial depression which ultimately involved the
whole country in a money stringenc3^ and in 1892 the business went into
the hands of receivers.

Forced to make a new start and determined to seek a new location, Mr.
Getchell came to Calif( rnia and arrived in Los .\ngeles in June of 1893 with
only $7 between him and destitution. Without delay he was able to secure
work. For two years he was employed in the real-estate business. Later
he secured employment with a large company dealing in electrical, mining
and irrigation machinery, .'\fter some years with that concern he resigned
and in 1902 became connected with the firm of Fairbanks, Alorse & Co., in
whose interests he traveled through the northern ])art of Arizona, selling and
installing electrical, mining and irrigation machinery. During 1903 he was
dispatched to Bakersfield to take charge of the local interests of the company's
business and until 1906 he served efficiently as their manager at this point.
Since 1906 he has engaged in the automobile livery business, catering to the
local passenger trade. At Helena, Mont., he met and married Miss Ella V.,
daughter of Joseph ' Walton, of that city. They are the parents of three
children, Frances, Willard and Virginia, whose presence l)riglitens the elegant
residence erected at No. 2118 Eighteenth street.

The fact that Mr. Getchell possesses a complete knowledge of the roads
of Kern county led to his selection in January of 1913 to serve on a committee
of three to investigate and report to the board of supervisors concerning the
roads of the county. The task demands great familiarity with all parts of
the county and when it is remembered that Kern county is larger than Con-
necticut, Rhode Island and Delaware put together, it will be seen that his
study of conditions has been broad and long-continued. A practical system
of county roads will cost between three and six million dollars, so that the
• committee of three, viz.: A. J. Woody, J. L. Evans and C. E. Getchell, have a
tremendous responsibility placed upon them.



722 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

DANIEL BURKE. — One of the men who have achieved success in Kern
county is Daniel Burke, a native son of the county, born twelve miles south-
east of Glennville, January 18, 1867, a son of Daniel Burke, Sr. The father was
born in County Mayo, Ireland, in October, 1828, and came to the United
States in 1849 and to California in 1852. Until 1864 he followed mining i-i
different parts of the state, during this time going to the Frazier river mines
in British Columbia and remaining two years. In the meantime,' in 1862, he
bought a land claim on Little Peso creek, and in 1883, after a survey had been
made, he acquired a homestead and four sections of railroad land. In 1889
he also bought land in the Panama district, to which he moved in 1898, but
he died on his ranch in the Greenhorn mountains in August, 1900. He was a
man of prominence in his time and locality, who had much to do with pulilic
affairs.

Daniel Burke, Jr., attended public schouls until he was sixteen years old
and afterward worked on his father's homestead at the stock business and on
the Burke property in the Panama district. The present place of forty acres
seven miles south of Bakersfield was bought in 1902 and Mr. Burke devotes
it to raising alfalfa and a small vineyard of choice varieties of table grapes.

In Hot Springs valley, near Havilah, January 26, 1896. Daniel Burke
married Miss Rose Palmer, who was born near Kernville, September 29, 1874,
and they have a son, Palmer Burke. Robert Palmer, "Sirs. Burke's father,
was born in Christian county, Ky., May 7, 1823, and settled at Jacksonville,
111., whence he came in 1850 to California across the plains on horseback and
with pack mules. For ten years he was more or less successful in placer
mining in different parts of the state, and in 1860 he came to the Piute moun-
tains and made his headquarters there while he prospected and mined in
Kern county. XA'hile engaged in his mining ventures he also carried on a
stock business, establishing his home on the ranch in Hot Springs valle}' in
1878, and there he died in 1905, when he was eighty-two years of age. Fra-
ternally Mr. Burke affiliates with the Knights of Columbus and the Wood-
men of the World, politically he is a Republican, and with his wife is a mem-
ber of St. Francis Catholic Church.

COL. THOMAS BAKER.— During the pioneer period of the history of
California one of its foremost men was Col. Thomas Baker, the founder of
Bakersfield and the original owner of the entire town site. For the difficult
task of frontier upbuilding he was qualified by temperament and experience.
He possessed in abundance the qualities characteristic of the progressive
pioneer, the generosity that sacrifices its own • needs for the welfare of
others and the hospitality that finds a friend in every home-seeker. To an
unusual degree he possessed foresight and sagacious judgment. When
first he rode over the broad expanse of country where Bakersfield now
stands as a commercial metropolis he pointed out the vast possibilities of the
region and asserted that some day a large city would stand on this site.
Further than that, he pointed out the line of a railroad and the exact point
where it would pass through the Tehachapi mountains. When finally the
railroad was built it was remembered by others that it followed the course
of his prediction. In addition he predicted that some day oil would be
produced in this \^alley, although it is scarcely probable that even his vivid
imagination grasped the enormous magnitude of the industry in the twen-
tieth century. With a broad and prophetic vision he united a kind-hearted
helpfulness and unwearied hospitality. To strangers he was very hospitable,
even when hard pressed for money himself and more than once he gave to
newcomers a sack of flour when he did not have the means to buy another
for his family use. Travelers were entertained in his adobe house and their
horses were fed in his corral, nor was a charge ever made for feed or board. •
Although he had acquired large tracts of land he used these not for his own




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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 76 of 177)