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 91 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 91 of 177)
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attorney by profession, he turned his attention to law practice after having
endeavored in vain to find a fortune in the mines. During 1872 he established
an office at Susanville and for years he was a prominent citizen of Lassen
county. Through his service as county judge he received the title of Judge
McClaskey, by which he was known among his acquaintances. While still
a resident of Yuba county he was elected to the state assembly and served
during the sessions of 1869-70, while during 1883 and 1884 he served as
assemblyman representing Plumas, Lassen and Sierra counties. His marriage
at Virginia City, Nev., in 1865, united him with Miss Anna J. Slavin, who two
years before had come from the east by way of Panama. As a legislator he
achieved considerable prominence.

GEORGE A. McLEAN. — Possession to a marked degree of unusual
business abilit_y and well-grounded information of his particular line has been
evidenced in the responsible position held by George A. McLean, who, after
entering the employ of the Kern County Land Company, so proved his
valuable services that he was promoted to the superintendency of the North
Side Canals with headquarters at what is known as the Calloway headquar-
ters in the company. A Canadian by birth, he is of Scotch extraction, his
father, Archie McLean, being a native of Scotland. When a young man the
father had come to Ontario to follow his trade of mason, but instead he em-
barked in contracting and building. In about 1888 he came to Riverside,
Cal., where he followed contracting mason work, later removing to Colton.
While at Riverside he was engaged in constructing the Gage canal for the
Riverside Water Company. He still makes his home at Colton, having fol-
lowed contracting in different parts of California. His wife, before her mar-
riage. Phoebe Harris, was born in Ontario, and she is making her home in
Colton, in the enjoyment, with her husband, of a beautiful afternoon of life.
Of their family of four children three survive.

The second eldest child of his parents, George A. McLean was born in




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HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 891

Catlicart, Ontario, May 3. 18S4, and a few vcars later was brought to Cali-
fornia by his parents, who gave him splendid opportunities for an education.
After graduating from the local high school at Colton he entered the San
Bernardino lUisiness College and was graduated. l)eing thoroughly equipped
to enter the business world. For the subsequent year he was in the employ
of the Colton Cement Company as storekeeper, and then entered the sur-
veying denartment of the Ray Cities Water Company, spending most of the
time in Santa Clara county. His next employment was with the Union Con-
struction Company at Calaveras and Tuolumne counties in the engineering
department on the construction of power plants, and then was with the
Pacific Improvement Company on a topographical survey of the peninsula.
In 1008 he came to Bakersfie'.d to work in the engineering department of the
Southern Pacific Railroad, continuing in this connection until March, 1910,
when he started his association with the Kern County Land Company as
liookkeeper and foreman at the Calloway headquarters. It was not long,
however, when his qualities and fitness for the special line of work attracted
his superiors and on January 1, 1911, he was made superintendent of the
North Side Canals with his headquarters at the above ranch.

Mr. McLean's marriage occurred in Colton to Miss Cora Lee Sisson,
who was born in Missouri. Two children bless their union, Edith Lee and
Virginia Phoebe.

A. C. JULIUS KIRSTEN.— A native of the kingdom of Prussia the
subject of this biographical review was born at Nordhausen December 7,
1859, being a son of Frederick and Emelia (P""erchland) Kirsten, natives of
Germany and lifelong residents of Prussia. For many years the father offici-
ated as mayor of Rossla. By trade he was a glazier. The only child in the
family was Julius, who was educated in the Kelbra gymnasium and served
an apprenticeship to the trade of confectioner at Nordhausen. On the close
of his term he went to Russia in 1878 and found work at his trade succes-
sively in St. Petersburg. Moscow and Odessa. When the time for military
examination drew near he returned to Germany, but there was exempted
from service, so he immediately started for New York. After landing Janu-
ary 29, 1882, he experienced no delay in securing employment in a bakery
in the metropolis, where during the same year he married Miss Frances
Pope, who died in October of 1888. Meanwhile he had come to California
and worked for five months in San Francisco. Later he followed his trade
for three years in Honolulu. Upon returning to San Francisco he bought
a bakery, but the business proved unprofitable and he went to Guatemala,
where for fourteen months he engaged in business. Next we find him in Costa
Rica. After four years in that and other Central American states and four
months in New Orleans, during 1896 he returned to San Francisco, where
he followed his trade at the ciifif House. Later he was similarly engaged
in Spokane, Colorado Springs and El Paso. From the last-named city he
traveled into Mexico, then returned to the east on a tour of inspection, later
finding employment in Denver, Colo. There was much to interest him in
these various places and sections of the country, nor did he find less inter-
esting the three years spent in Arizona. ]\Ieanwhile a tract of land he had
owned in Washington was sold and with the money he bought a bakery
at Florence, Cal., but at the expiration of ten months he si Id out, and .August
16, 1908, settled in Mojave, where on J street he erected the building in
which is housed his present fine bakery and delicatessen. In politics he is
a Republican.

HON. MILTON T. FARMER.— The judge of the superior curt depart-
ment No. 3 of Kern county has the distinction of being a native son as
well as a descendant of a California pioneer of 18.S0 and a representative of
old .American stuck identified with the cnjunial and Revolutionarv eras.



892 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Tradition associates the Farmer family with man_v interesting; events in the
Olfl Di minion, whence some of the name crossed the mountains into Ken-
tnck-A'. From the Blue Grass state, his native commonwealth, George Farmer
migrated to Iowa and settled among the pioneer farmers at Riverton, a fron-
tier community of small population. From that region he went to the front
with an Iowa regiment during the Civil war. His service was made note-
worthy by ccnspicuous valor and one of the war heroes passed away when
he met his death from a wound received while campaigning in Tennessee.
;\mong the surviving members of his family there was a son, George Thomas
Farmer, born at Riverton, Iowa, and a pioneer of Yolo county, Cal., where
he married Miss Gertrude Ruggles, a member of a family identified with
New England during colonial times and represented in the army of patriots
during the Revclution. Born in Woodland, Cal., !\Irs. Farmer was a
daughter of L. D. Ruggles, a native of Illinois and a California pioneer

of isso.

After a somewhat prolonged sojourn in Yolo county, during which time
IVIilton T. Farmer was born at Woodland December 7, 1883, the Farmer
family .sought a more southerly location and during 1884 became residents
of Tulare county, where the father was a witness of the historic Mussel
Slough fight. The famih' comprised eight children, of whom the four
youngest, Theodore P., Paul, Clarence W. and Lucile B., make their home
with their parents in Kings county. The eldest daughter, Leta D., is the
wife of Dr. Lincoln Cothran, of San Jcse. The second son, Lyman D., is
the present sheriff of Kings county, and the second daughter, Ethel R., is the
wife of Simon Levy, a banker of Visalia. From his earliest memories Judge
Farmer was reared on a ranch in Tulare county, where he completed the
grammar-school course of study in the Excelsior district, one of his earliest
teachers having been Harry Weems, now of Wasco. After he had grad-
uated from the Hanford high school in 1901 he matriculated in the San Jose
State Normal and continued in that institution until he had completed the
studies in 1903. As principal of the Grangeville school in Kings ci unty he
proved to possess a decided bent for the high calling of a teacher and it
was with universal regret on the part of the patrons of the school that his
resignation was accepted in January, 1906, in order that he might pursue the
social science course of study in the University of California. In addition
he took up the study of law. During 1909 he received the degree of A.B.
and two years later the degree of doctor in jurisprudence was tendered to
him. During the period of his connection with the institution he played on
the Varsity football team with high honors and for two years engaged as
manager of athletics.

A period of connection with the office of Judge Bolton in San Francisco
and the management of a private office associated with W. J. Hayes of Oak-
land, gave Judge Farmer considerable experience in the law. In December,
1911, he was appointed as one of the counsel for the State Banking department,
but resigned the p( sition in 1912, as well as relinquishing his lucrative pri-
vate practice, in order that he might accept an appointment tendered by
Governor Johnson .August 14, 1913, as judge of superior court department 3,
Kern county, in which most responsible post he has justified the wisdom of
the appointment and proved his wide knowledge of the law. His marriage
took place .August 21, 1912, and united him with Miss Helen M. Yo.ung, of
Berkeley, a native daughter of Visalia, but reared principally in Seattle.
\A'ash., and a graduate of the LTniversity of California. The only child of
the union is Milton, Jr. Aside from his association with the bench and the
bar Judge l-'armer has numerous affiliations, being a member of Pomero}'
Caj)ter, Phi Delta Phi, LTniversity of California; Phi Beta Kanpa, National
Scholarshii) Fraternitv; fianford Parlor No. 37, X. S. G. W. ; Durant Lodge



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 895

No. 268, 1". & A. .\I.. of I'.erkeley, Lns An.uclcs Cmisistorv. and I'.crkclcv
Lods-e Xo. 1002. Order of Klks.

MERCY HOSPITAL.— The new and ek'sanl Mercy lIosi)iial. which
occupies a block of ground on Truxtun a\enue between 15 and C streets, is a
branch of and was built by the Sisters of Mercy, whose Mtther House is
located at West Washington and Concord streets. Los Angeles. The Bakers-
field institution dates from February 19. 1910. when the St. Clair property,
near the Santa Fe depot, was secured. It was soon discovered that this loca-
tion was too noisy for a hi spital site and the block on which it now stands
was bought and the building removed to it and enlarged. The new Ijuilding,
which was dedicated by Bishop Conaty November 9. 1913, is on the Spanish
renaissance order, constructed of concrete below the ground, while above it
is brick plastered with white Medusa cement and inlaid tapestry brick.
It is 108x48 feet in dimensions and is three stories high, with a high base-
ment besides. A C( mplete steel frame forms the center of the building and the
roof is of Spanish tile. Thirty-six private rooms, the greater number oi them
with private baths, constitute this hospital and there is on each floor a well-
equipped diet kitchen. In the center of the building is an electric automatic
passenger elevator, which was the first of its kind in the city. The stair-
ways are located one at each end of the building. Two glass sun parlors and
a large veranda fir the patients are located on the ground floor, and the
operating department, which is said to be without exceiition the finest
equipped in the state, having every facility with which to obtain the best
possible results, is on the third floor. A great many special features have been
provided for the lighting of the operating department as well as the entire
building, an electric light signal system is installed, the entire lighting
arrangement being a decidedly fine addition.

The interior of the building is finished in white enamel, all the doors
being finished in mahogany. A vacuum steam heating plant, which is also a
source of supply for the sterilizers and the diet kitchens, provides the heating.
Separate kitchen and laundry room are located at the rear of the hospital
building and the old hospital of two stories is connected with the new by
means of a steel bridge. In connection with the hospital the Sisters manage
a large parochial school, under the St. Francis' church, the pastor of which is
Father H( Iden, who is given further mention elsewhere.

CHARLES HENRY McCOY.— Even prior to the discovery of gold in
California a cnnsiderable amnnnt of emigration had been turned toward the
west and as early as 1848 the AlcCoy family joined a party of home-seekers
whose course of travel took them across plains, deserts and mountains, and
through Nevada near the present site of Winnemucca. Toward the end of
the tedious journey the Indians became more and more annoying. Finally,
in fear of their lives, the McCoy family deflected their path from the destina-
tion originally planned and turned north into Modoc county, where they
became the very first white settlers in Surprise valley. Taking up land, they
embarked in the cattle industry. Abundance of water and pasturage enabled
them to prosper, but for years they continued to find the red men troublesome.
.\n old log house on Eagle creek was fortified for use whenever the Pitt River
or Modoc Indians went on the war-path. John Henry McCoy, who was a
native of Arkansas, had not attained man's estate at the time of the migration
to the west and all of his active life was ])assed in Modoc county, where he
was prominent, honored and influential. While serving as sherifif, which
office he filled with energy and courage, he was shot down in cold blood by a
Mexican. The white settlers, aroused by the death of a pioneer of such
splendid qualities of manhood, lynched the murderer. Surviving Mr. McCoy
were his young wife and two sons. The elder. Charles Henry, is a resident
of Kern county, and the }-ounger. James, who went to Oregon, is now an



896 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

extensive rancher of Lake county. The wife and mother, Elizabeth (Moulton)
McCoy, was brought across the plains in infancy by her parents, who became
pioneers of Surprise valley. After the death of her husband she continued
in the cattle business and is still living at Bear ranch, the old homestead.

On the Modoc county ranch Charles Henry McCoy was born January 31,
1870, and there he was reared to manhood. In 1877 his father was murdered.
At that time and even later Indians frequently made raids into the valley and
stole the cattle, so it was necessary to maintain an unceasing vigilance. From
his earliest recollections he was familiar with horses and accustomed to the
saddle. While yet a small child he began to ride the range and round up the
cattle. As soon as he was old enough to manage the stock, his mother turned
the supervision of the property over to him, but the failure of his health
forced him to seek a different climate. Acting upon the advice of physicians
he went to Arizona in 1895. Some time was spent in that territory and in
New Mexico and Colorado, where he was interested in the cattle business.
During 1899 he was one of five men appointed by the United States govern-
ment to serve as "broncho busters" in the Philippines. After his arrival at
the seat of war he engaged in breaking and training wild horses. At the out-
break of the Boxer disturbance he was sent to China with the American
troops, remaining at Pekin until quiet had been restored, when he was ordered
to return to the Philippines. Having completed the work of training horses,
he was placed in charge of pack trains in different parts of the islands. More
than once he was forced into skirmishes with the natives, but in each instance
he came off victorious.

Returning to California in 1906, Jlr. McCoy came to Kern county the
following year and secured employment in riding after cattle on the range.
During 1909 he entered the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company
and became a stationary engineer at Caliente, where now he has charge of
the pumping plant. Besides a farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Honey
Lake valley he owns sixty acres of fertile land in the Weed Patch. His
marriage was solemnized in Lassen county and united him with Miss Katherine
Bond, a native of that county and a daughter of Jeremiah Bond, now living
retired on his large ranch in the Honey Lake valley. Three sons, Marvin,
Bernard and Lester, comprise the family of Mr. and Mrs. McCoy. In addi-
tion to caring for her husband and sons with exemplary diligence and house-
wifely skill, Mrs. McCoy has been an earnest worker in the Methodist Church,
an official member of the Native Daughters of the Golden West, and a leading
member of the Rebekahs and the Order of the Eastern Star.

IRA B. DAVIS.— Since 1911 Ira B. Davis has been a resident of
Caliente, where as a clerk under John Ripley, postmaster, he became familiar
with the management of the office, winning recognition as a capable man in
such responsibilities and rendering possible his own appointment as post-
master in June, 1913. In filling the office he has for a deputy his wife, who
also engages as operator of the Caliente long distance telephone.

Springhill, Champaign county, Ohio, is the native place of Ira B. Davis
and January 27, 1851, the date of his birth, his parents being Benjamin and
Sarah (Patton) Davis, natives respectively of Kentucky and Virginia, but
during their married life residents of Ohio. The father died on the home
farm in 1873, having survived his wife for many years. Of their fourteen
children all but one attained years of maturity and three of the sons were
soldiers in the Union army during the Civil war. Two events impressed
themselves vividly uoon the youthful years of Mr. Davis, one of these being
the departure of his older brothers for the war and the other being the death
of his mother. With these exceptions his early life was uneventful. He
attended the country schools and the St. Paris high school and in vacations
assisted his father on the home farm. Upon leaving school he learned the
butcher's trade at West Lil)erty, but did not like the occupation and turned



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 897

to otlier pursuits. l"'or a tinn' he clerked in a general store. Folluwiny the
drift of emigration toward the west, he took up land in Kansas during 1880
and developed a farm near Burlingame, Osage county.

The marriage of Mr. Da\is was solemnized at Empuria. Kan.. March
25, 1881, and united him with Miss Belle Beckes, who was born in Indianapolis,
Ind., and received an excellent education culminating in a course of study in
the Emporia Normal. For a time prior to her marriage she engaged in teach-
ing school in Kansas. Her parents, Caleb and Mary (Graham) Beckes, were
natives of Indiana. After the death of Mrs. Beckes in that state the father
removed to Kansas in 1859 and took up a claim in Osage county, where he
engaged in agricultural pursuits. The last days of his life were passed in
Emporia. After his marriage Mr. Davis remained in Kansas and continued
in farming until 1893, when he removed to Salem. Fulton county, Ark. Later
he spent some time in Missouri, but removed from there in 1900, after which
he spent four years with the Sandoval Manufacturing Company in Sandoval,
111. For a time he later engaged as a foreman with a manufacturing concern
at Galesburg, that state. Upon resigning his position in 1911 he came to
Caliente, since which time he has been connected with the postofifice. Both
he and his wife are stanch believers in Republican principles, but partisanship
has not entered into their service in the office, which has come to them through
meritorious service rather than political prestige. Mrs. Davis has been iden-
tified with the Presbyterian denomination since girlhood. In fraternal rela-
tions Mr. Davis is a member of the Court of Honor. Their only daughter,
Mrs. Mary E. Schanbert. is living in Colorado, her home being at Cripple
Creek.

JAMES LINDSAY BRUCE.— During the nineteenth century represen-
tatives of the Bruce family came from the Highlands of Scotland to the shores
of America and established themselves in Canada, where for many years
George Bruce, a son of the original immigrant, engaged in the drilling of oil
wells and the operating of oil leases at Petrolea, County Lambton, Ontario,
near the river St. Clair. Since his demise, which occurred in his home town,
his widow, who bore the maiden name of Mary Lindsay and was born in
Ontario, has removed to California and is now living in Bakersfield. Of their
seven children there now survive four daughters and one son, James Lindsay,
who was next to the oldest among the children and was born at Petrolea,
Canada, August 2, 1876. As a boy he became familiar with that narrow strip
of country lying between Lakes Huron and St. Clair. The family home was
only fifteen miles from the river that joins these two lakes and he was there-
fore very near to the United States. While yet a small boy he began to
assist his father in such work as was possible for him to do in the oil business.
At the age of sixteen he became a tool dresser. Two years later he became
a driller, running a string of tools. When about twenty years of age he
ceased to work for his father and began in the employ of other oil operators.

Coming to California in 1901 and seeking the oil regions of Kern county,
Mr. Bruce drilled on 25-Hill one of the first wells sunk there. In 1902 he
became an employe of the Associated Oil Company, .^t first he filled a very
humble position. Gradually he worked up from one position to another, each
more important than the former, and at the expiration of four years he was
made general superintendent of the company's afTairs in the Kern river field.

After having been connected with the company for ten years Mr. Bruce
resigned August 1, 1912, in order to devote his entire time to the automobile
business and to his personal interests. The Southern garage, of which he is
now the proprietor, stands at the corner of Twenty-fifth street and Chester
avenue and in construction represents the mission type of architecture. Brick
and cement used in the building render it practically fireproof. The storage
capacity is sufficient for fifty cars. Reliable work is done at reas inable prices.
Repairing is done ])r(im]itl\- and satisfactorilv. He has the agency for the



898 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

Buick automobile for Kern county and the garage is also the headquarters
for the Packard, Chalmers and other cars. Every facility is to be found in
the garage in the way of modern machinery and improved tools. The vul-
canizing shop is complete and expert service is guaranteed. Although the
present proprietor has been connected with the business for a short time only,
he has gained great popularity among owners of automobiles and has won his
share of repair work as well as orders for new cars. In addition to his inter-
ests in Bakersfield he owns property in Los Angeles and also has forty acres
of fine orange land in the Porterville district. In politics he is stanchly
Republican, while socially he holds membership with the Bakersfield Club.
After coming to California he married in Bakersfield Miss Maude Lingwood,
who was born in Missouri. They have two daughters, Velma and Silva.

B. H. SILL. — Long before the American occupancy of California had
becc me an historic fact Daniel Sill had identified his destiny with that of
the then unknown West, where with his own hands and the aid of such few
carpenters' tools as he could secure he put up the fifth house ever built in
San Francisco. (This was the Sill blacksmith shop marked 35 on picture
of San Francisco 1846-7.) His first trip to this country occurred as early as
1832, when the Spanish and the Indian inhabitants had as yet been undisturbed
in their dreamy, contented existence by the arrival of throngs of eager,
enterprising settlers of ether races. It was as an employe of the Hudson Bay
Fur Company that the young man had come to the West from Michigan,
where he left his wife and children to await his return. The fascination of
the West impelled him to remain, and in 1850 his family joined him, among
them being a son, Daniel, Jr., who came overland from Dowagiac, Mich.
Meanwhile the energetic pioneer had followed various occupations besides



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 91 of 177)