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 97 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 97 of 177)
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the regular course and was graduated in 1905 with the degree of M.D. Spe-
cial opportunities for the study of nervous diseases came to him during a
service of one year as interne in the New York state hospital and later he
engaged in private practice in Buffalo, from which city in January of 1909 he
came to Los Angeles and since then he has engaged in professional work in
California.

Not long after his arrival in the west the young Doctor received an
offer to take up surgical work for the Los Angeles aqueduct project. By the
nature of the work there were frequent accidents among the workmen and
the company desired to secure the services of a physician of ability, surgical
skill and thorough medical knowledge. In their selection of Dr. Elwood they
were peculiarly fortunate, for he was b}' temperament and education qual-
ified for the difficult task of establishing and maintaining hospitals in the
different fields of labor extending from Saugus as far north as Haiwee. Dur-
ing the period of aqueduct construction work he started and conducted hos-



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 957

pitals at Cinco, San Caiion, Le Briin and Monolith, meanwhile establishing
headquarters at Mojave, where ever since he has made his home. His wife,
formerly Elizabeth Gray, was born at Tombstone, Ariz., and is a daughter
of John Gray, who served as a division engineer of the aqueduct. After
severing his connection with the aqueduct Mr. Gray was engaged by the
Pierson Engineering Company to put through a four-track subway power
and light tunnel in Barcelona, Spain, which was successfully accomplished
by him, after the failure of foreign engineers. Politically the Doctor votes
with the Republican party. In religion he is of the Baptist faith. Made a
Mason in York state in Nunda Lodge No. 682, A. F. & A. M., after coming
west he became identified with Los Angeles Consistory No. 3, Scottish Rite
of Los Angeles. In addition he is associated with the Royal Arcanum, also
the Alpha Chapter of the Alpha Omega Delta.

C. A. FOX. — The town of Taft has doubtless no more energetic and
liopular citizen than the proprietor of the Mariposa Hotel and cigar business,
who is now busying himself in the erection of the forty thousand dollar
hot€l building, a three-story brick structure which promises to be the most
sighth' building in the town. Mr. Fox has been in Taft since November,
1909, and since then he has evidenced his sincerity in making it his adopted
home by broadening his interests and taking an active part in the com-
munity welfare.

A native of Cass City, Tuscola county, Mich., his birth having oc-
curred September 20, 1870, he was but six years of age when brought by
his parents westward to Texas. His boyhood was spent at Honey Grove,
that state, where he attended the public and high schools, and his first busi-
ness interest was running a cotton gin at Monkstown when he was eighteen
years of age. He learned the trade of jeweler, serving an apprenticeship,
and conducted a successful jewelry business in connection with the cotton
gin at Monkstown. He next went on the road, and for a time made Port-
land, Ore., his home, going later to San Francisco and then tn Mariposa
county, at the latter place becoming proprietor of the general store known as
the Horseshoe. At the inauguration of activities in Taft he came to this town
and invested in property, which has so increased in value that he has become
a wealthy man. His place of business is strictly up-to-date, having every line
of equipment necessary to make a place of recreation complete, a barber shop,
club room and news depot being maintained in connection witli the billiard
and pool room.

The marriage of Mr. Fox took place in Minnesota, uniting him with
Miss Alaude M. Roney, who has surrounded herself with a host of friends.

CONRAD RITZMAN.— -Not a few representatives of the Swiss nation-
ality have found their way to California and almost invariably they have
proved to be thrifty, industrious and persevering people, a splendid acces-
sion to the population of the west. Of the late Mr. Ritzman it may be said
that he displayed the traits of his countrymen and during the long period
of his identification with our state he proved himself to be a capable work-
man and honest citizen. He was a member of an agricultural family of
Switzerland and was brought up on a farm in Canton Zurich, but had no
desire to enter the occupation as a means of livelihood, therefore he was
apprenticed in boyhood to the trade of stone-dresser, later serving his time
at the miller's trade, in which he became very proficient. During young
manhood he married Miss Susanna Reck, who was born and reared in
Zurich. They established a home in Canton Zurich, where were born their
two children. Carl and Alice. The latter, however, was taken from the home
by death at the early age of five years.

Crossing the ocean from the old country and proceeding to California,
during 1882 Conrad Ritzman entered the employ of the Starr mills as a



958 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

stone-dresser. Later he bought and operated a mill at Roseville, Placer
county. The destruction of the plant by fire entailed upon him a heavy
loss and forced him to begin anew. Coming to Bakersfield he found work
as a stone-dresser in the Kern river mills and the excellent character of
his services led to his promotion to be head miller, in which capacity he
continued for many years. In the meantime he had been very economical
and thrifty, so that he had accumulated a neat sum for investment. Upon
resigning from the mill he bought the northwest corner of Humboldt and
Baker streets and erected a frame building, in which he engaged in the
liquor business. When the frame structure was destroyed by fire he erected
the Ritzman building, a brick structure, 76x100 feet in dimensions, con-
structed with a view to use as retail stores. For a time he engaged in
business, but on his retirement he rented the room to other parties. His
death occurred October 4, 1910, at his home in Bakersfield.

The only son of the late Conrad Ritzman and the sole survivor of the
family is Carl Ritzman, who was born at Flaach, Canton Zurich, Switzerland,
in 1870, and came to the United States in 1882, after which he attended
public schools and acquired a knowledge of the English language. For
some years he was employed on farms in Minnesota, but upon his return
to California he learned the trade of car-repairer in the Southern Pacific
shops at East Bakersfield and is still a member of the Car Repairers' Union,
although since the death of his father he has not followed the trade, but
has given his attention to looking after his interests. Politically he votes
for the men and measures promoted and sustained by the Republican party.

HARRY SYLVESTER KNIGHT.— Three diflferent commonwealths
have formed the environment for distinct periods in the life of Mr. Knight,
who passed the first twelve years of his useful existence in Iowa and spent
the ten ensuing years in Nebraska, but since 1888 has been a resident of Cali-
fornia, identifying himself with the development of the west and proving
a trustworthy citizen and capable farmer. Jasper county, Iowa, is his native
place, and March 13, 1866, the date of his birth. When only five years of
age he was sent to the country school near the home farm. There were
very few children in the district and in order to secure the number absolutely
necessary before a teacher would be furnished for the school, every available
child was sent as a pupil, hence his early initiation into the tasks of the
schoolroom. The same little primitive country building remained the center
of his educational activities and his daily pleasures for the next seven years
and then he bade farewell to boyhood friends and accompanied his parents
to Valley Junction, Douglas county, Neb., where they took up land and gave
close attention to the cultivation of a prairie farm. Until attaining his ma-
jority he worked for his father, after which without means or friends he came
to California to take up the battle of life alone and single-handed. After
his arrival in Pasadena in 1888 he began to team and to haul freight.

Identified with Kern county since 1890, Mr. Knight first settled in the
Weed Patch district and spent three years on a tract of one hundred and
sixty acres included in the claims of "Lucky" Baldwin. Although he lived
there only those few years he placed the land under cultivation and greatly
enhanced its possible returns. Next he removed to the vicinity of the Tejon
ranch and engaged in dry farming for eight years. Discouraged by lack of
success, he finally left the ranch and removed to Bakersfield, where he took
contracts for the grading of streets. In addition he teamed to and from
Oil City. The Standard Oil Company's interests kept him in the oil fields
for four years and meanwhile he also built oil tanks on contract. During
1904 he leased one hundred and forty acres sixteen miles west of Bakersfield
for a term of five years, with the privilege of purchase at the expiration of
the term of rental. From the first he was pleased with the land and convinced




RESIDENCE OF HARftY SYLVESTER KMlJHT, RIO BRAVO, CAL.







ti^kkm^






PUMPING PLANT ON THE KNIGHT RANCH AT RIO BRAVi
350 MINER'S INCH STREAM



THROWING A



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 961

of its possibilities lor general farming. Therefore, instead of awaiting the
end of his lease, he took up negotiations with the owner in three years and
the year 1907 found him with the title vested in his own name. In addi-
tion he has since bought three hundred and twenty acres on section 4, this
being wholly unimproved. Altogether he now owns an entire section of
land, the home place having one hundred acres under cultivation to alfalfa
and grain. One of his specialties is the raising of horses, cattle and hogs
and he now has two hundred head on the farm. It is said that he has here
the best water well in the entire county, the supply being abundant and of
superior quality. The pumping plant, which was the first brought into the
locality, comprises a forty horse-power engine manufactured by the Besse-
mer Gas Engine Company and operated at a cost of seven cents per hour.
It is a tw-elve-inch well, in which is placed a Xo. 8 centripetal pump, bring-
ing a stream of water flowing at the rate of about three thousand and eighty-
five gallons each minute, or three hundred and fifty inches of water. It
has the best record of any single well in the county.

-After coming to California Mr. Knight formed the acquaintance of Miss
Clara Day, who was born in Contra Costa county, this state, August 28, 1872,
antl is a daughter of John Day, a hunter and a farmer in Contra Costa county.
They were united in marriage on New Year's day in 1892 and are now the
parents of seven children, namely : Errol. Lydia, Loma, Doris. Virginia.
Hal and Alta.

G. H. GALBRAITH.— The era of early .American occupancy of Cali-
fornia witnessed the arrival in San Francisco of John Galbraith. an advent-
urous youth of Irish birth and ancestry, who sailed around Cape Horn and
at the end of a tedious voyage landed in San Francisco. .Although he landed
here almost penniless and friendless, his own energy enabled him to sur-
mount olistacles and achieve success. The Celtic wit carried him through
many a trying situation and gave him friends in every circle. To the
crude conditions of the nascent west he adajited himself with ready ease
and such was his popularity that at one time he was elected by a large
majority to represent his district of San Francisco in the state senate.
With the exception of some years spent in \'irginia City, Xev., during the
period of the great mining excitement in that region, he remained in San
Francisco until his death and during much of the time he was proprietor
of a grocery establishment in that city.

By the marriage of Hon. John Galbraith and Ellen McCary, who came
via Panama to San Francisco at an early age and who is ni-iw living in
Bakersfield. there were four children, the only scm and youngest child being
G. H., whose birth occurred in San Francisco February 22. 1875. The
schools of his native city gave him fair advantages. After he had been
graduated from the San Francisco high school in 1890 he secured a clerical
position with a mercantile agency and ct)ntinued in the same place until
1897. During that year he entered the employ of the Southern Pacific
Railroad Company as a clerk in the San Francisco warehouse. Later he
was transferred to the freight house in the same city and there continued until
1907. Meanwhile the ordeal of the earthquake and fire had placed him
under a great strain. The work of the department became greatly involved.
Under the pressure of his responsibilities his health became impaired and
he found it necessary to resign. In order to recuperate he followed ranch-
ing for nine months in the Santa Cruz mountains eight miles from .^anta
Cruz.

Upon coming to Bakersfield in September of 1908 Mr. Galbraith entered
upon his duties as chief clerk of the freight ofifice. For two years he filled
the position with ability and tact. In recognition of faithful service he was
promoted in September. 1910, to be freight agent at Bakersfield and con-



962 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

tinued in the position until May of 1912. But he had determined to embark
in business for himself and became proprietor of the Bakersfield Truck
Company, which he now owns and operates. Under his active supervision
the business has been made successful. In addition to the use of teams
and wagons he owns two auto trucks and these are kept in almost constant
use. Some time since he acquired by purchase a block of land on the Santa
Fe Railroad and on Fifteenth and S streets. On this site he has erected
large stables, garage and storeroom as a headquarters for rigs. The main
office is at No. 2016 Chester avenue.

In politics Mr. Galbraith votes with the Republican party. Fraternally
he is connected with Bakersfield Lodge No. 266, B. P. O. E. His family
consists of two sons, Howard and Donald, and his wife, formerly May Helen
Lowney, who is a native daughter of San Francisco and a graduate of the
Polytechnic high school of that city. Thoroughly educated in the schools
and naturally talented, she has been of the greatest assistance to her hus-
band, for she is not only a wise mother but a capable home-maker. She
represents the third generation of the Lowney family in California. Her
father, Thomas, was brought to this state when only a year old by her
grandfather, Timothy Lowney. who had been a shipbuilder in Massa-
chusetts and crossed the plains in 1849, and who for some years served as a
foreman in the Mare Island navy yard, afterwards was proprietor of a car-
riage repository in San Francisco. Eventually he became very prominent
in the public life of San Francisco and filled a number of important offices,
among them that of superintendent of streets of that city. Thomas Lowney-
was a graduate of San Francisco Boys' high school and St. Mary's College,
and continued the business established by his father.

KENT S. KNOWLTON.— In an era when horticulture to an ever in-
creasing extent is attracting the attention and commanding the highest talents
of the people of California the office of county horticultural commissioner
imposes great responsibilities upon its incumbent, who necessarily must be
an authority upon the subject, a man of wide information and wise judgment,
and one regarding a public office as a public trust. After having engaged
for one year as deputy to Dave Hirshfield, then the horticultural commis-
sioner of Kern county, Kent S. Knowlton was commissioned to the office
April 1, 1912, by the board of supervisors, who selected him after thoughtful
consideration of the matter, and with a realization that the office, in a county
as large as Kern and one just entering upon a great horticultural develop-
ment, demands more than ordinary ability on the part of its incumbent.
Already it has been proved that no mistake was made in the selection of Mr.
Knowlton, who is a man of progressive tendencies, a warm admirer of Bur-
bank, and an influential member of the State Association of County Horticul-
tural Commissioners. One of his first steps after entering upon official duties
was the preparation of a county map outlining the lands suitable for suc-
cessful orange-growing. On the completion of the map and after having
made a most careful study of the subject, he gave it as his opinion that there
are at least two hundred and fifty thousand acres of mesa land in the county,
upon which the growing of oranges can be made a commercial success.

Although from his earliest recollections a resident of California, Mr.
Knowlton is a native of Nebraska and a member of an old Pennsylvania
family. His father, O. V., was born at Spottsylvania, Pa., but accompanied
his parents to Illinois in early life and settled near Marengo. When only
fifteen years of age he enlisted in the Seventeenth Illinois Cavalry and served
during the three last years of the Civil war, returning home with a record
which, considering his extreme youth, was not only meritorious, but almost
remarkable. About 1885, accompanied by his wife, Julia (Huntington)
Knowlton, and their children, he came to California and settled at Fullerton,




Z^e^T-^^ 77^ytin^^^^



HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY 965

where his wife died in 1902. Ever since coming to the west he has been
interested in the orange business. Meanwhile he has been prominent as a
citizen and influential as a worker in the Grand Army of the Republic. Dur-
ing the summer of 1913 he was elected commander of the Southern Cali-
fornia Association at the Huntingtem Beach encampment, an honor richly
merited by his long connection with the Army. Of his five children the eldest,
Charles S., of Fullerton, is an expert in the budding and grafting of oranges;
the second, Avis S., resides at home; Hollis is an employe of the Lord Motor
Company in Los Angeles and Ruth C. is a student in the Fullerton high
school.

In this family of five the second son and third child, Kent S., was born
July 23, 1883, in Nuckolls county. Neb., near the village of Davenport. The
scenes of his early recollections are in Orange county, this state, where as
a boy he attended public school and learned tu bud, graft and plant oranges.
When sixteen years of age he became an employe of C. C. Chapman, who
had purchased the Leffingwell ranch near Fullerton and who since has devel-
oped the largest orange ranch in the state. After fourteen months on that
place he went to Riverside to work in a packing house. Later he spent a
year under a contractor, A. A. Polhemus, engaged in the construction of a
breakwater at San Luis Obispo. Next he took the full course of three years
in the California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo, where he specialized in
dairying and horticulture. Upon completing the course and finding no imme-
diate opening in the line of his special preparation, he went to the mining
districts of Nevada and engaged as an engineer and freighter, also for a time
carried on a feed business. Returning to California, he worked in the Santa
Maria and Coalinga oil fields, thence came to the west side fields of Kern
county, where, finding an available opening in the line of his preferred occu-
pation, he turned his attention to horticulture and is now county commis-
sioner, with office in the court-house. Aside from the duties of the office,
he finds leisure to participate in the work of the Woodmen of the World at
Bakersfield and since 1911 has been a member of Troop A First Squadron of
Cavalry, National Guard California, in which he ranks as sergeant.

PIERRE DUHART. — An intimate association of some twenty-five years
with the sheep and farming industries of California has enabled Mr. Duhart
to conduct his farming operations along the most successful lines, and his
active citizenship and untiring efforts toward the benefit of his community
have been deeply appreciated by all who have come to know him. He is a
native of the Canton of Hasparren, Basses-Pyrenees, France, his birth having
occurred there in 1837. His father, Jean Duhart, was a farmer and stockman
in that vicinity and he reared his son in that environment, imparting to
him the rudiments of that occupation and thus preparing him for his life's
work. His educational opportunities were naturally limited, as at that time
there was no demand for public schools as now, and the young boy grew
to young manhood learning the lessons necessary for his development more
by 'observation than by teaching. In 1888 he came to Los Angeles, and
later followed farming and sheep raising in Orange county for a period of
five years. Then purchasing a flock of sheep he ranged them in Orange
and San Bernardino counties. In 1894 he came to Kern county with his
flock and ranged them in this vicinity, becoming so pleased with the country
that he brought his family and settled in Tehachapi, where he built a
comfortable residence which he still owns. He sold his sheep in 1905
and then purchased a forty-acre tract of land, located three and a half miles
southwest of Bakersfield. which he immediately set to work to improve.
Leveling it, he sowed it to alfalfa and corn, and the place is irrigated by
the Stine canal.

Mr. Duhart was married in I^os Angeles to Miss Elizabeth Borda, a



966 HISTORY OF KERN COUNTY

native of Cambo, the beautiful watering place of France, in Basses-Pyrenees.
An only child has come to them, Lida, who is a graduate of the Kern county
high school, class of 1912. The family worship at St. Francis Catholic
Church. Politically he is a Republican.

HENRY E. SMITH.— From early life identified with the oil industry
and employed in the eastern oil fields at an age when the majority of boys
are receiving educational advantages, Mr. Smith correctly stands among the
most experienced men in the oil fields centering around Taft. Born in
Pennsylvania April 8, 1862, he passed the days of childhood in Venango and
Crawford counties and had meager opportunities to gain an education. While
in text-books he advanced no further than a knowledge of the three R's, by
reading and observation he has become a man of broad culture and wide
information, with a reputation for being particularly well informed in the
oil industry. By working in various departments and in several capacities
he acquired a versatile familiarity with the business. During 1890 he became
an employe of the Standard Oil Company at Franklin, Pa., and remained
with them there for three years, after which he bought an oil lease and
devoted two years to its improvement. Next he represented the Standard
Oil Company at Gibsonburg, Sandusky County, Ohio, for a number of years
and then was transferred to their interests at Marion, Ind., where he remained
for eight years.

On the 6th of March, 1909, Mr. Smith and his family arrived at Bakers-
field after a quick trip from their former eastern home. On the 8th of the
same month they came to what is now Taft, and here he engaged as store-
keeper for the Standard Oil Company^ having charge of their warehouse.
On the present townsite of Taft he erected the first rooming house in the
new town, it being the first building erected for business purposes, and was
completed two weeks before the disastrous fire which wiped out all the busi-
ness houses which were then located on Sidetrack No. 2. Since then he
and his wife have continued to operate the rooming business and meanwhile
have established a regular patronage among people whose business interests
often bring them to this district. Upon the organization of a company to
operate an electric light plant Mr. Smith was chosen vice president and a
director of the new concern, which later became a branch of the San Joaquin
Light & Power Company. When the Chamber of Commerce was established
he was chosen its first vice president and gave of his time and influence to
place the new venture upon a substantial basis to aid in the material upbuild-
ing of the town. His marriage took place at Olean, N. Y., in March of 1886
and united him with Miss Mary Fitzpatrick, a native of Canada. One son,
George, blessed their union.

In all his life's work Mr. Smith has had the most hearty co-operation of
his excellent wife. She has not only carefully managed many of the business
aiTairs connected with their household and rooming house, but has taken a
decided stand for the civic betterment and the social and moral upliftment of
Taft. She bears the distinction of having been the fifst woman to vote



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 97 of 177)