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 83 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 83 of 177)
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out for himself he was given a position with the Wells-Fargo Company as
messenger between lone and Gait, Sacramento county. Two years later he
resigned in order to become a messenger on the Santa Fe Railroad out from
Fresno and at the expiration of three years he was promoted to be agent at
the Southern Pacific depot in that city.

The next promotion brought Mr. Hopper to Bakersfield in 1910 as agent
for the Wells-Fargo Express Company, whose interests he since has man-
aged at this point with characteristic intelligence and sagacity. Although
still a young man, he has had an experience of sixteen years in the business
and is thoroughly familiar with all of its details, so that he possesses every
qualification necessary for positions of great responsibility in the express
service. In the various places of his residence, when voting at all, he invar-
iably has voted the Republican ticket, for he believes in the principles and
platform of that party and attributes the growth and prosperity of our coun-
try to the wise leadership of its statesmen. His family comprises wife and
one daughter, Ramona 'Marbine, Mrs. Hopper, formerly Gertrude Scott
McArdle, having been a native of Placer county.

JOE M. ATWELL. — The general superintendent of the producing de-
partment of the Standard Oil Company in California comes of an old and
honored American lineage. Through his father the genealogy of the family
is traced to remote Scotch ancestry. The maternal records indicate a direct
descent from the illustrious Ethan Allen, leader of the Green Mountain boys
in the famous attack upon Ticonderoga, the brave and fearless man who hav-
ing crossed the lake to the. fort at dawn marched at the head of his untrained
and insignificant command, captured the garrison and called on the captain
(according to tradition) to surrender in the name of the great Jehovah and
the Continental Congress. The deference shown to Allen and the respect
entertained for his sagacity appears in the fact that he was sent into Canada
to endeavor to persuade the Canadians and Indians to ally themselves with
the Americans. However when later in the same year of 1775 he made an
attack upon Montreal he lost many of his men and himself fell into
the hands of the enemy and was sent to England as a prisoner of war.

Tracing the family history through the nineteenth century we find that
Ethan Allen Washburn, the lineal descendant of the Revolutionary com-
mander, left his native Vermont to aid in the agricultural upbuilding of
Michigan, which at the time was beyond the confines of civilization. Not
only did he develop a farm in Lenawee county, of which he was one of the
early settlers, but in addition he served as the first sheriff of that county,
filled other public offices of trust and responsibility, and further had a local
reputation for skill as a veterinary surgeon. Among his children there was
a daughter, Lura Washburn, a native of Adrian, Lenawee county, Mich.,
where in young womanhood she became the wife of John Atwell, who was
born in Port Henry, N. Y. For some years Mr. Atwell engaged in the
lumber business, but later he became interested in Michigan mines. Event-
ually he devoted his entire time to the mercantile business in Glasgow,





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HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 801

Lenawee county. Of his two children the sole s

in Adrian, Mich., January 26, 1868, and received a

and high schools and in Brown's Business Collej:;e. I-'or twn years afti

leaving school he worked along agricultural lines.

The first association of Mr. Atwell with the Standard Oil Company
occurred during the year 1889. At the beginning of the construction of the
refinery at \\'hiting, Ind., he entered the employ of the corporati( n, occupy-
ing different positions and remaining at the same place for about eight years.
Next he was transferred to Kansas and assigned to work on the construction
of the refinery at Neodesha. where he remained for one year. Returning to
Indiana and to Whiting, he was assigned to the paymaster's ( ffice with the
Standard Oil Company. In the general offices at Whiting he held different
positions, remaining there until 1900, when he was transferred to California
as a special agent. As superintendent of constructitJii he had charge of the
pipe-line work through the ui\ fields of Southern California and the Santa
Maria and San Joaquin valleys. Meanwhile he had been united in marriage,
at Oakland, this state, with Miss Emma ^Vylie, of Cleveland, Ohio, and had
established a hi me at Bakersfield. where he is now a popular and prominent
member of the Bakersfield Clul). Since 1908 he has officiated as general
superintendent of the producing department of the Standard Oil Comi)any's
oil fields in California and since 1911 the headquarters of his business have
been at Bakersfield. In earlier years he was a member of the Transporta-
tion Club of San I'^ancisco.

JOHN BIDART.— Third in a family of twelve children born to Jean
and Catherine (Inda) Bidart, ten of these children now living, John
Bidart was born in 1867, in Basses-Pyrenees, in the town of Urapel,
where he received his education. He remained in his native country until
he reached his majority, when he fulfilled a long-felt desire to come to the
United States and try his fortune here. In 1888 he reached California, and
coming to Kern county engaged in the stock business, starting with sheep,
which he ranged during the winters in Kern county; in the summers, how-
ever, they were ranged in the mountains in the counties of Kern, Inyo,
Tulare, Fresno, Alerced, Stanislaus, Mariposa, Kings, Mono, Sonoma, Cala-
veras, Tuolumne, Amador, Lassen, Eldorado, Placer, San Luis Obispo. Ven-
tura and San Joaquin, thus covering an enormous amount of territory. He
is one of the largest sheep men in the county. He also raises cattle, horses
and hogs of the best variety, his hogs l^eing the Poland-China breed, his
sheep Merino, cattle the full blooded Durham variety and his horses are
roadsters and saddle bred.

Mr. Bidart has his residence in East T.akersfield, while bis ranch head-
quarters are at Kancherio on Kern river. His ranch on Kern Island co\ers
about four hundred acres, which is planted to alfalfa and corn, and this is
situated about twelve miles south of Bakersfield. I'ifteen hundred head of
cattle are run out of Rancherio, and are rai.sed with such excellent care
and attention that their reputation in the market is ranked among the best.
Mr. Bidart's experience in the stock-raising business has covered a quarter
of a century more or less, and it is to this that he owes his present pros-
perity and exceptional success. He is known far and wide as an authority
on breeding and the care of stock, and his advice is often sought by th 'Se
whose experience has not been so far-reaching. When Mr. Bidart started in
the sheep business supplies were carried on the backs of pack animals, while
today he uses an automobile to go from ranch to ranch and to his various
flocks.

Mr. Bidart was married in East Bakersfield to Miss Marian Inda. who
like himself was a native r)f Basses-Pyrenees, France. To them have been
born five children, Leonard, Catherine, Francois, Lfuiisa and lohn .\nton. The



802 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

last-mentioned child died in 1913. Another child born to the parents now bears
the name of John A.

RALEIGH A. MOORE.— With the tide of migration that carried the
sturdy American pioneers from the shores of the Atlantic ocean to the
undeveloped prairies that stretched out toward the setting sun, the Moore
family became established in Ohio and thence was transplanted upon the
soil of Indiana by Samuel Aloore, a resourceful frontiersman whose ener-
getic temperament left a permanent impress upon his own neighborhood.
William F., son of Samuel, and a teacher by occupation, married Sarah E.
Danely, who was born in Indiana and died near Mattoon, 111. Descended
from fine old southern stock, Mrs. Moore was a daughter of Ira Danely, a
Virginian who removed to Indiana in a very early day and developed a
large farm from the raw prairie land. After his marriage the young school-
teacher followed his chosen calling with patient devotion, but when the Civil
war began he felt that he owed a duty to the Union and accordingly offered
his services as a private in the ranks. During July of 1861 he was enrolled
in the army and sent to the front, where he bore a brave part in the battles
of the Seventy-first Indiana Infantry. The death of officers in the company
and his own superior knowledge of military tactics caused him to be chosen
to lead his men in several engagements and he was elected their captain,
but before the papers had been received commissioning him to the office,
while he gallantly led his troops, he fell on the battlefield of Kenesaw
mountain in 1864. At the time of his tragic death he was still a young man.
His son, Raleigh A., who was born at Worthington, Greene county, Ind.,
February 22, 1859, was taken into the home of an uncle, who gave him such
advantages as his means permitted, sending him to the grammar and high
schools of Worthington until he had completed the regular course of study.

Upon starting out to make his own way in the world Mr. Moore went
to Kansas in 1879 and took up land near Beloit, Mitchell county. The
country was new and few attempts at improvement had been inaugurated.
The location, in the north central portion of the state, v\'as somewhat remote
from the sections of the commonwealth already improved and developed.
In time he became the owner of a half-section farm where he made a spe-
cialty of Polled Angus cattle. Like all who lived in Kansas at that time
he enjoyed seasons of prosperity alternating with years of discouragement
and heavy loss, but eventually he sold his holdings at a fair profit. During
1890 he came west to Oregon and spent a year in Salem. The year 1891
found him in California, a newcomer in Kern county, where he bought
unimproved land in the Beardsley district. Through his industry and saga-
cious management the tract was converted into a valuable farm and he
cultivated the place with profit until, feeling the need of lightening his
labors, he relinquished agricultural activities and in 1907 began to engage
in the real-estate business in Bakersfield, where now he handles both city
and country property, has been a leading associate of the Bakersfield Realty
Board and is also a charter member of the Kern County Board of Trade.

After going to Kansas Mr. Moore was married in Beloit to Miss Mary
M. Talley, who was born in Greene county, Ind. They became the parents
of two children, Fleda O. and Columbus F. The family are identified with
the Bakersfield Christian Church and have been among its most generous
supporters. Every department of congregational activity has felt the
impetus of their devoted zeal, while as a member of the official board and
also as a member of the building committee at the time of the erection of
the new edifice Mr. Moore has been associated intimately and inseparably
with the policy of advancement manifested by the church. In fraternal
relations he has been identified with the Ancient Order of United Workmen
for many years. In politics he is a Republican.



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 803

BENJAMIN F. AND MAYME B. SUITER.— With the early col,,niz:i-
tion of America the Suiter family crossed the ocean from Holland and set-
tled among other Dutch colonists of Pennsylvania, where several successive
generations lived and labored. Benjamin F., Sr., was born in Davenport,
Iowa, of Pennsylvania parentage, and he lived in Illinois throughout the
greater part of his useful existence. During young manhood he married
Lydia Page, who was born in New York and received a classical education
in Lombard University. Two children were born of their union, the son,
Benjamin F., Jr., having been born in Mercer county, 111., December 1.^, 1864,
about the time of the death of the father in .Vndersonville prison. Leaving
his home and family, the father had served at the front as a member of the
Ninth Illinois Cavalry and in one of the battles during the fall of 1864 he fell
into the hands of the enemy, by whom he was conveyed to the historic south-
ern prison to end his days in suffering and privation. .After his death the
mother, who was a woman of fine mind and exceptional attainments, sup-
ported herself and children by teaching school. As soon as the son was old
enough he began to be self-supporting and thus made it easier for his moiher.
whose last days were passed in comfort and whose death occurred in 1893
in Illinois.

Ct ming to California in 1884 Benjamin F. Suiter, Jr., spent four years
near Mojave, Kern county, whence he returned to the old home in 1888 and
became a student in Lombard LTniversity. While attending that institution
he served as non-commissioned officer in the Illinois National Guard. .After
leaving the university he engaged in general merchandising at Oneida, Knox
county. 111. During the fall of 1893 he came to California for the second
time. At Palo Alto he conducted a mercantile establishment and in that
university town, June 26, 1895, he was united in marriage to Miss Mayme
Bass, principal of the Palo .Alto schools and a woman of exceptional educa-
tion, ability and attainments. Born near Chicago, 111., she was the daughter
of |ose;)h and Jane (Gordon) Bass, who died when she was a child of three,
and she was adopted by her uncle. Dr. Cyrus A. Bass. With the latter and
his wife, .Anna (\'an de \'oort) Bass, she came to California in childhood,
and settled at Pleasanton, .Alameda county, where she attended schoi 1 under
Prof. C. E. Alerwin, a talented educator. In 1886 she was graduated from the
San Jose State Normal, the youngest member of a class numbering sixty-
three students. .After graduating she taught in the schools of Alameda
county for seven years. On the opening of the schools of Palo .Alto she was
chosen the first principal. The choice reflected credit upon her ability and
success as an educator, for there were more than one hundred applicants.
During the two years of her connection with the schools of the university
town she gave them a substantial organization and systematized the standard
of the grades, so that the work was in excellent condition at the time of her
resignation. In religion she has been for some years a warm believer in
the doctrines t f the Christian Science Church. Of her marriage there is one
son, Gordon Page Suiter.

Removing from Palo .Mto to Oakland in 1900, .Mr. and .Mrs. Suiter
resided in that city for two years and meantime he located nil lands, r.elore
a railroad had been built into the Sunset field in Kern county he located at
that point and in 1905 removed to the Coalinga fields, where he had the able
assistance of his wife in land and oil ventures. The family came to liakers-
field in the spring of 1907 and since then Mr. and Mrs. Suiter have engaged
in the real-estate business in partnership, having offices at No. 1615 Nine-
teenth street. They are Republicans in politics.

W. A. FERGUSON.— The original promoter of the Knob Hill Oil Com-
pany and likewise the first and only secretary of the organization, Mr. Fer-
guson merits recognition for his continuous connection with the concern.



804 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

The history of the company has been one of uninterrupted success. The
striking of oil in the lease, September 15, 1900, marked an epoch in the devel-
opment of the Kern river oil field, for therewith passed the experimental
stage of the work and since then the field in the opinions of its friends and
investors has been the safest oil proposition in the entire state. It is worthy
of mention that the company has never made an assessment on its stockhold-
ers, nor has it ever failed to declare monthly dividends in the past ten
years. Since the first derrick was built in July of 1900 under the supervision
of Mr. Ferguson and since the first well was completed, as previously stated,
in September of the same year, with a flow of two hundred barrels, there
have been many other wells sunk by the company, which now owns thirty-
six producing wells on its lease. The concern has been incorporated with a
capital stock of $25,000 and with James Porteous as president, W. J. Kittrell,
secretary, the Fresno National Bank treasurer, and W. A. Ferguson super-
intendent, the three gentlemen named acting as directors together with G. T.
Willis and F. Cathgart.

The Ferguson family comes of Scotch lineage and was established in
California by J. R. Ferguson, a native of Kentucky, born in the city of Lex-
ington, where in early manhood he married Julia Dryden, a native of Mis-
souri. After their marriage they lived upon a Missouri farm until 1862, when
they disposed of their holdings and crossed the plains in a "prairie schooner"
drawn by oxen. Six months were spent in the tedious journey. Settlement
was made in Santa Cruz county, where Mr. Ferguson engaged in general
farming and stock-raising until the infirmities of age obliged him to relin-
quish all responsibilities. Both he and his wife are eighty years of age and
continue to make their home in Santa Cruz county, where their son, W. A.,
was born March 15, 1870, and where he spent the first fourteen years of life.
In a family of eight children, all but one still living, he was fourth in order
of birth. The eldest child, Belle, is the widow of J. T. Lowry and lives in
Los Angeles. Mollie is a resident of Fresno. Charles, now in the Kern river
oil field, is a stockholder in the Knob Hill Oil Company and superintendent
of its power plant. Marie is the widow of Charles Sexton, a court reporter
in Los Angeles. Ida. Mrs. S. F. Mitchell, is living in San Francisco, and
Fred, the _voungest of ihe family, engages in the raising of stock in Fresno
county.

At the age of fourteen years W. A. Ferguson moved with his parents to
San Benito county and settled near Hollister. Later he accompanied the
family to Georgetown, Eldorado county, where he completed the studies of
the common schools. After leaving school he began to work on a stock
ranch south of Fresno and from there he came to Kern county in 18'^9.
Among his personal friends was J. E. Ellwcod, who sank the first oil well
in the Kern river field and had the first lease (written on brown paper) with
the late Thomas Means, the same covering section 4, township 28, range 28,
which property, later absorbed by the Associated, is known as the Central
Point lease. Through the in.strumentality of Mr. Ferguson a lease was
secured from the Aztec Oil Company, managed by B. F. Brooks, said lease
covering forty acres on section 4, township 28, range 28. Upon the organiza-
tion of the Knob Hill Oil Company, in which he was a large factor and
principal stockholder, he returned to Fresno, but later estalilished his home
at No. 2029 Truxtun avenue, Bakersfield. Besides his home place he owns
several other residence properties in the city and his local investments are
enlarged through the purchase of stock in the new Bakersfield National
Bank. At Fresno in 1893 he married Miss Theo Ormsby, (,f that city, and
they are the parents of three children. The daughters, Cleo and Tina, are
graduates of the Bakersfield high school and the only son, Robert, a bright
lad of twelve years, is a student in the grammar school of the city.




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HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 809

JOHN E. CALDWELL.— lly birth and ancestry he is a southerner
and his early childhnod days were passed in his native C()mmf)n\vcaltli of
ALississippi, where his father, the late W. A. F. Caldwell. M. D., had a hijjh
standinaf as a physician and surgeon. During the Civil war he went to the
front as a surgeon and endured all the hardships and jjrivations incident to
that long struggle, returning to his Mississippi home at the close of the
conflict to take up again his private practice in the midst of the associations
long familiar to him. It was not until 1879 that he removed from Mississippi
and for four years he engaged in professional work in .\rkansas, whence in
1883 he brought the family to California. He made his home near White
River. Tulare county, where, having given up the practice of medicine and
being a great lover of horses, throughout the balance of his life he devoted
his attention almost wholly to raising horses, besides raising a few cattle.
His death occurred in Tulare county, which is still the home of his widow,
Mrs. Sarah J. (Cochran) Caldwell. Of their ten children the third in order
of birth, John E., forms the subject of this article. Educated in grammar
schools, he has made the cattle industry his life work and has continued in
Kern county since young manhood, with the si le excejition of three years
spent in Arizona.

Having been joined by a brother, James Robert, in 1909 .Mr. Caldwell em-
liarked in the cattle business upon a somewhat larger scale than herettjfore,
the two brothers buying the French ranch of nine hundred and sixty acres,
in addition to which they own a ranch of eight hundred acres at Granite.
Both ranches are well w^atered and therefore offer exceptional advantages
to cattle-raisers. I'esides the land which they own they lease land in Kern
county. Through a long and intimate identification with the stock industry
in Kern county Mr. Caldwell has become known to men in the occupation
and everywhere he is Yn nored for ability, intelligence and energy. Particu-
larly is he urominent and popular in the vicinity of Granite, where he makes
his home and has his headquarters. Liberal and enterprising, he favors all
niii\cnicnts for the UDbuildin;.'^ of Kern county. He is a member of the Flaijlcs.

JAMES ROBERT CALDWELL.— A firm believer in the future of Kern
county and in the excellent opportunities it affords to men of intelligence and
energy is to be found in the person of James Robert Caldwell, whose early
identification with this and Tulare counties gave him a positive knowledge of
conditions existing during the '80s and whose later association with the stock
industry here, dating from 1909, makes him familiar with twentieth century
possibilities. While he has great faith in the county its citizens have an equal
faith in him and few men are more popular than "Bob" Caldwell, whose
genial disposition, progressive outlc ok upon life, kind heart and energetic
temperament are as well known as his name itself. At the time of first com-
ing to this county and state in 1883 he was a youth of about fifteen years, at
the impressionable and plastic age when the impressions are the most tenacious
and the faculties of observation the most alert. Although a later sojourn of
many years was made in another section of country, it was only to return to
Kern county with renewed faith in its advantages and increased desire to
identify himself with its agricultural development.

A member of an old southern family, James Robert Caldwell was born
in Sumner. Miss., in 1868, and is a son of the late W. A. F. Caldwell. .M. D., a
graduate physician and skilled surgeon, whose quiet and successful practice
of the profession in the south covered many years, broken only by arduous
service as a surgeon in the Civil w^ar. During 1879 the family moved across
the Mississippi river into Arkansas, but not being satisfied with conditions in
that state, they came to California in 1883, where afterward Dr. Caldwell
engaged in farming and stock-raising in Kern and Tulare counties. His death
occurred in Tulare county and the widow is still living at the ohl homestead
there. (M the ten children in the family all but four are still living, James



810 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Robert being the fourth in order of birth. After coming to California he at-
tended school in Kern county for a brief period, but for the most part he gave
his time to the cattle industry. During 1891 he went to Arizona, where he
embarked in the cattle business. As soon as able, he purchased a ranch in
the Williamson valley. After having continued in stock-raising for a long
period, in 1909 he disposed of his interests and returned to Kern county, join-
ing his brother, John E., a cattleman in the Greenhorn mountains. The
brothers purchased the old French ranch of nine hundred and sixty acres in
these mountains, adjacent to the government reserve. An abundance of rain-
fall enables the land to afford excellent grazing for the stock. In addition to
this large tract, the brothers own eight hundred acres near Granite, a tract
well watered and used exclusively for their large and growing cattle business.



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 83 of 177)