Biographies

                Fresno, Tulare & Kern Counties

                California

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HON. ALVAH RUSSELL CONKLIN, of Bakersfield, was born, at Mehoopany, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, March 12, 1835. He came of the Mohawk valley branch of the Conklin family, State of New York, upon his father's side. His mother was one of the Vermont Redfields. He was educated at Kingston, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, at the Wyoming Seminary. He was a practical printer and was such until he was twenty years old, having edited two different newspapers before he arrived at that age. His legal education was acquired under the tutelage of Hon. Lyman Hakes, in Wilkes Barre, and with Hon. George S. Tutton, in Tnnkhannock, Pennsylvania. He emigrated to Missouri in 1858, and pursued his profession in Forest City, Holt County. From 1859 up to the time of the breaking out of the civil war, he was publishing the Forest City Courier. Early in 1861 he was waylaid and shot down in the highway while recruiting a company for the Thirteenth Missouri Infantry, Colonel Peabody's Regiment of Volunteers, being the second person " bushwhacked " in the State of Missouri.

He served four years in the Federal army, filling various responsible positions, and was the first Federal Judge Advocate to determine the admissibility of negro testimony before a military court. After the war he settled. in Warrensburg, Missouri, where he resided up to 1875. From 1868 to 1872 he was Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Johnson County.

In 1875 he emigrated to California. locating at Independence, Inyo County, where he actively engaged in the practice of his profession, in connection with Hon. Patrick Reddy, his brother-in-law. Under the new constitution, in 1879, he was the nominee of the Republican party of that county for the position of Superior Judge, which he declined, though the county was largely Republican in politics. In 1882 he was the nominee of the Republican party as its candidate for Lieutenant-Governor, winning his nomination over several well-known and active politicians, entirely through a three- minute magnetic speech before that body. Though the Republican ticket was defeated in - the election, he received a vote of over 6,000 more than the head of the ticket. In 1884 he was nominated as one of the electors-at-large on the James G. Blaine ticket, and was elected. Upon the assembling of the Electoral College he was chosen as its president.

He was made a Mason in Forest City Lodge, No. 214, at Forest City, Missouri. He is now a member of Inyo Lodge, No. 221, Independence, California. He was made a Royal Arch Mason in Bodie Chapter, No. 35, and received the orders of Knighthood in Bodie Commandery, No. 15, they having been conferred upon him by California Cominandery, No. 1, by special request of Bodie Commandery. He has been a member, and an active one, of the Grand Lodge of California, Free and Accepted Masons, since 1879. For several years he ably discharged the duties of chairman of the Committee on Grievances in that body. In 1886 he was elected Junior Grand Warden; in 1887, chosen as Senior Grand Warden; in 1888, he was elected as Deputy Grand Master; and in 1890 he was promoted to the  supreme head of the order in this jurisdiction, having been chosen Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, which position he now holds.

His family consists of his wife, two sons and two daughters. He is a resident of Bakersfield, Kern County, California, and occupies the position of Judge of the Superior Court of that County, to which position he was appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Hon. R. E. Arick. Page 280-281


MRS. HULDA SNELL, a venerable and highly esteemed lady of Tehachapi, is one of the early settlers of the Tehachapi valley. Mrs. Snell has been three times married. With her second husband, James E. Williams, she came to this valley as early as 1867. In 1869 they located at Old Town, where they erected the first dwelling house, and a little later the first hotel, known as the Mountain House. Both these buildings have since been removed to Tehachapi, the latter being the present Mountain House, fronting to the railway station.
Mr. Williams was an active business man and a respected citizen. He died in 1875, leaving five children: Isabella, now Mrs. Jesse Morrow, of Fresno; Laura, Mrs. E. Calhoun, of Selma; Milam, a resident of Norwalk, Los Angeles County; Sierra N., wife of William H. Knapp, of Tehachapi; and Major, a rancher and stock man of Tehachapi.

By her marriage to Mr. Snell, Mrs. Snell had no children. Although somewhat advanced in years, she is a woman of affairs; owns and manages a ranch besides other property in Tehachapi. Page 321


JESSE M FOX - Among the prominent business men of Vislia is found the name of Jesse M Fox, who was born in West Virginia, December 23 1838. His father and grandfather both had the same Christian name, that of William. They belonged to one of the old Virginia families, but of their ancestry little is known. Mr Fox’s father married Amy McGaham, a native of Virginia, of Scotch ancestry, and a daughter of a soldier of the war of 1812. To them were born two children, Jesse M and a daughter. The former was reared and educated in his native State, there learned the carpenter trade, and for six years was a clerk in the store of Mr Wilson at Wilsonburg.

In 1869 Mr. Fox came to Visalia, California, and was engaged in contracting and building for twelve years. He owned a half interest in the Visalia water works and at one time also owned two planing mills. Unfortunately, both the water works and planing and flouring mills were destroyed by fire. In 1889 Fox 4,4z Williams rebuilt their present flouring mill, which is 50 x 80 feet and four stories high. They also built the engine house and a fire-proof storehouse, the latter being 50 x 150 feet. The mill is fitted up with a full roller process, and Mr. Fox, now sole proprietor, is doing an extensive business.

Mr. Fox built his home on Court street in 1873, having married, the year previous, Miss Georgia E. Erwin, a native of New York. To them was born one child, Amy. After sixteen years of married life Mrs. Fox died, in 1888. She was a lady much beloved and greatly missed by her bereaved family and many friends. Mr. Fox is a member of the I. 0. 0. F. in all its branches, and has been a representative to the Grand Lodge. In politics he is a Democrat. He has held the office of Mayor, and at different times has filled all the city offices except that of marshal. He is interested in real estate, owning both town and ranch property. As a business man he is enterprising and prosperous, enjoying the confidence and esteem of his fellow townsmen. Page 325
 

BRADLEY WAYMAN DOYLE.—To this gentleman belongs the distinction of being the first established dentist in Fresno.

Born December 10, 1853, the Doctor was reared in Dyersburg, Dyer County, Tennessee, and received his education in Newbern at the Union Seminary. At the age of eighteen he began the study of dentistry with his bother in Kentucky, remaining there three years. At the close of this period he returned to Tennessee, sold his interest in the home property, and, in December, 1875, charted a car, and with some friends started for the Pacific coast. He settled temporarily in Kingsburg, Fresno County, and, owing to ill-health, he did not immediately enter into active practice.of his professioe, but traveled over the surrounding country attending to patients in the different settlements.

In 1879 he came to Fresno and opened an office. The year previous he was united in marriage with Miss Bacon, a native of California, by whom he has two children. The Doctor had established a large practice, when, on account of his wife's ill-health, it was deemed expedient for them to travel in search of more favorable climate. At the end of nine months, however, the family returned to Fresno, where they have since resided. At present his office is in the Fiske building. His honorable business methods, his affable manner and his skillful treatment of patients have won for him an extensive practice. Page 327
 

A M. CLARK, one of the early pioneers of California. was born in Madison County, Mississippi, in 1831. He was educated in the private schools of that period, which were held in log cabins, and lived on the farm with his parents until he was nineteen years old.

In January, 1850, Mr. Clark started for California, crossing Mexico to Mazatlan and thence by water to San Francisco, where he arrived in May of that year. He then went to Nevada City to join his father, who came West in 1849. For sixteen years he followed mining continuously, always with paying results, but never striking a bonanza claim. He came to Fresno County in 1867, and was engaged at the copper mine, at Buchanan, for about six years.

In 1873, Mr. Clark was elected County Clerk and Recorder of Fresno County, assuming the duties of the office in March, 1874, at Miher- ton, which was then the county seat. In the fall of 1874 he moved the records to Fresno, and in September of the same year assisted in laying the corner stone of the new courthouse. In the interim his office was located in a cheap structure on the courthouse grounds. Mr. Clark held the office of County Clerk and Recorder for eleven years. By 1884 the business of the office had increased so much that it was deemed best to separate the work of the clerk and recorder, and he retired. In 1885 he was elected to the Legislature, and since the expiration of his term of office he has devoted himself to his private business, saying he has no further political aspirations.

Mr. Clark formed 'a-partnership with W H. McKenzie in abstract business, and since 1878 they have carried on an extensive business, using the Dnrfee system of abstracts. In 1884 Messrs. Clark & McKenzie bought a controlling interest in the Fresno Loan and Savings Bank. The capital stock, then $20,000, has been increased to $300,000, all paid up, and this bank now represents one of the leading institutions of its kind in the city. All through these years Mr. Clark has continued his mining interests, now being a member of the Harron Gold Mining Company, the stock of which is all owned by Messrs. Clark, McKenzie & Hoxie. Their mine is located in the foothills, near the old county seat. They have recently erected a Huntingdon rotary mill with rock breakers, concentrators, and the latest improved machinery, capacity of the same being equal to a ten-stamp mill. The quartz ranges from $25 to $30 per ton.

Mr. Clark was a member of the Board of School Trustees during 1886 and 1887. In 1887 he was elected a member of the Board of City Trustees, which office he resigned in 1889, to make a trip East. In addition to his interests already referred to, he has ranch and city property. Mr. Clark is a prominent Knight Templar, at this writing being Eminent Commander of the Fresno Commandery, No. 29.
In Sacramento, in 1865, he was married to Miss Emma Gliddon, who died in Fresno, in 1880. His present wife he wedded in Fresno, December 25, 1882. She as Miss Sadie Bemis, a native of Massachusetts. Mr. Clark is the father of four children, two sons and two daughters. Page 329
 

EDWIN SWAIN BALAAM crossed the plains to this State with an ox team in 1853,and as an old settler of Tulare County is justly entitled to honorable mention in the history now under consideration.

Mr. Balaam was born in Arkansas, December 19, 1841, son of George and Sarah (Swain) Balaam, natives of England. His father was born December 4, 1805; came to the United States and first settled in Ohio, then in Kentucky, later in Arkansas and still later in Texas, coming with his family to California in 1853. He now resides in Cambria, San Luis Obispo County. Of the nine children born to him and his wife seven are living.

The subject of our sketch was twelve years old when he arrived in California, and his education was obtained in Tulare County. He was married in 1863 to Miss Madora M. Glass, a native of Texas, and a daughter of Robert Glass, who came to California in 1853. Four children have been born to them, all in Tulare County, namely: Emma, wife of W. G. Davis; Albert S., Walter J. and Charles Frederick.

In 1865 Mr. Balaam located 160 acres of land adjoining the farm on which he now resides. He improved it and lived on it ten years, after which he sold out and in 1875 built the Farmersvihe Hotel, which he conducted four years. He then removed to Tulare and built the Pacific Hotel, leasing it soon afterward and coming to his present location. His home place consists of eighty acres of choice land, which he has improved by planting and building and on which he is engaged in grain, fruit and stock-farming. Mr. Balaam was in early life a Democrat, but in later years espoused the cause of temperance and is now a Prohibitionist. He is one of the worthy and reliable settlers of the county, and takes pride in its welfare and growth.

ELIJAH T. COLVIN, a rancher near Visalia, was born in Green County, Alabama, in 1834, the son of Charner and Mary (Coleman) Colvin, natives of South Carolina. The lather was a farmer, and they had a family of ten children, only two of whom survive, the subject of this sketch and a sister, Mrs. Martha J. Fuher, who lives in Texas. Mr. Colvin's father died in Texas in 1854, and his mother in 1840. In April, 1855, Mr. Colvin left the Elm Fork of the Brazos river, Texas, for California, via the Southern route, and in November arrived in Los Angeles County, where he rented land for one year. In 1857 he came to Tulare County and engaged in the stock business, at which he has been very successful. He first took up forty acres of Government laud in the foothills east of Visalia. At the present time he owns three sections of fine stock land at what is known as Colvin's Point, named for him, fourteen miles east of Visalia. Mr. Colvin has an interest in the Armory Hall, Visalia, and also owns valuable business property on Main street, and residence property in different parts of the city.

While in Texas he married Miss Catharine Reynolds, a native of Alabama, and the daughter of Jesse W. and Ann (Collins) Reynolds, both natives of North Carolina. She was their only child. By this marriage there were eight children, only four of whom are living,—Joseph, who married Behe Clarkson; Wiley, who died in infancy; Ida. wife of R. R. Elrod; she died in 1882, being the mother of two children; Jesse, who married Olive Gregg; Lee Ora, now a student at Stockton; Ella, who died at sixteen years of age; Charner, who died at seventeen years and Leonidas J. The mother of these children died in 1882, and in 1888 Mr. Colvin married Mrs. Anne Fudge, a daughter of William Noland of Downievihe, an early pioneer from Virginia. By her first husband she had two children, —Hattie and Willie. Mr. Colvin politically is a Democrat, and is a successful business man. Page 330-331

LORENZO A. ROCKWELL was born in Canada, January 30, 1852, the descendant of an old English family. They trace their ancestry back to Norman origin. The first of the family who went to England was Sir Rolph de Rochevihe, who accompanied the Empress Maud into England when she went thither to claim the throne during Norman conquests in 1066. He afterward joined the fortunes of King Henry II., and received a large grant of land in the county of York, where some of his descendants reside at the present day. Their arms were: " Argent (white) upon a chief sable (black); three boars' heads couped (cut off), or (gold) langued (tongued) gules (red) crest upon a wreath of the colors of the shield, or boar's head, as in the arms." The motto was: " Tout pour anon Dieu et .uzon Roi."

During the reign of King James II. (we think), when so many sought a refuge in America, where they could have the freedom to worship God as they chose. Deacon William Rockwell was among those who landed on the shores of Massachusetts. He sailed across the Atlantic in the ship Mary and John, and landed on New England soil May 30, 1630. He brought with him his wife and son, and they became the first settlers of Dorchester, Massachusetts. From this progenitor sprang the family of Rockwells in America. He was one of the first three selectmen of the town of Dorchester. He subsequently removed to Windsor, Connecticut, where he was deacon of the first church and a leading man in the settlement until the time of his death, May 15, 1640. The descendants of this man are now scattered all over the United States, Canada and other countries. In the United States they occupy prominent positions as statesmen, College professors and ministers of the gospel. Not less than twenty of them have represented their States in the lower house of Congress, and six have occupied seats in the United States Senate. In the times of war the Rockwells have acted valiantly their part.

Three of the descendants of William Rockwell were in succession cahed John Rockwell. Jonathan was of the fifth generation. The next descendant in direct line was Timothy Rockwell, born December 20, 1760. His son, Niram Wildman Rockwell, born August 12, 1797, removed from Vermont to Canada, and his son, Anson John Rockwell in Canada, was the father of the subject of this sketch.

Mr. Rockwell's father and family moved from Canada to a farm near Coldwater, Michigan, where they resided two years. In -1871 they located in Iowa, where they also remained two years, and in 1873 came to Visalia, California. Here both father and son engaged in contracting and building. Young Rockwell attended the normal school in Visalia three years, and after his graduation was engaged in teaching six years. In 1884 he came to Traver, then an embryo town, and since that time has been an important factor in its development, and is connected with much of its history. He opened the pioneer drug store of the town and is still conducting it. He was appointed the first Justice of the Peace and held the office nearly four years; was one of the organizers of the school district in the tow., was elected one of the first trustees and has served as secretary of the board of trustees since the organization of the district. In politics lie is a Republican, and an enthusiastic worker in the ranks of his party; has been a member of the Republican Central Committee for the past fifteen years; has been sent as a delegate to all the county conventions, and was a delegate to the three last State conventions (1886–'88–'90), and also delegate to the Congressional conventions. In the fraternal circles of Traver he is likewise popular, and there, too, is an enthusiastic worker. He is a charter member and was the first Master of the lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, which position he held three years, and is a Knight Templar, having held important offices in all the lodges of Masonry. He is a charter member of the I. O. O. F., was the first conductor and belongs to all the branches of Odd Fellowship. He belongs also to the Eastern Star order and was first Patron or the Chapter; was the first Chief Ranger in the lodge of Foresters; and is Past Master in the A. O. U. W. He is president of the Traver Import Company. In addition to his other business enterprises, he has also interested himself in a fruit ranch, where lie has erected buildings and planed vines and trees. He also built a nice residence in Traver

In 1880 Mr. Rockwell was united in marriage to Miss Ella Pennebaker, a native of Iowa and a daughter of W. G. Pennebaker, an early settler and prominent rancher of Visalia. Their union was blessed with one child, a son—Guy L. After four years of happy married life Mrs. Rockwell died. She was a most estimable lady and her loss is deeply felt.

Mr. Rockwell is a man of high moral character, a pleasing and interesting writer and a fluent and easy speaker. His labors for the benefit of his town have been appreciated by' his fellow citizens, and by all who know him he is highly esteemed.

JOHN REICHMAN, cashier of the Farmers' Bank of Fresno, is a native of Germany, born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, August 24, 1843. At the age of fourteen he came to America and located at New Orleans, where he availed himself of the educational advantages offered him by an uncle residing in that city. Having a taste for business, he entered Dolbear's Commercial College, which at that time was the leading business College of the South. There he received an excellent business education and developed a marked adaptation for business life. The work of the bookkeeper, the expert accountant and the cashier came natural to him when very young, and, as subsequent events show, his work in this field has been eminently successful.

After his graduation at New Orleans he accepted a position as bookkeeper and accountant in that city. In 1865 he removed to Houston, Texas, where he had a brother residing, with whom he entered business. From 1867 to 1874 he had charge of the offices of a large wholesale grocery and cotton factorage business, and in the latter year he was elected by the city council, Secretary and Treasurer of that city, which responsible position he held for a period of twelve years, being frequently elected by an unanimous vote. Being recognized as an expert accountant of ability, he was engaged by the parties in interest to examine into the books and affairs of a railroad town site company, the transactions running back for a period of twenty-five years, which employed his time until he left for California, in 1887. This work, involving over a million, was done so satisfactorily that the attorneys had him appointed auditor by the court before whom cases for settlement were pending, and all parties accepted his figures and settled and dismissed the suits. Another illustration of his ability as an expert accountant may be briefly cited here. He was selected by the bondsmen of a defaulting tax collector who had absconded, 1;o examine the books and tax rolls of his office in order to ascertain the amount of the defalcation and fix the liabilities of each of three sets of bondsmen, the party having been in office for three terms. He found the shortage to be over $40,000; his figures were accepted by the State and county and the bondsmen, and payment was promptly made accordingly,—a very gratifying result and one that reflected credit on its author. For nine years Mr. Reichman was a member of the Board of Education and its secretary, and devoted much time and labor to the public-school question, assisting materially in the upbuilding of one of the finest school systems and school buildings in Texas. He was instrumental in the organization of the Houston Homestead and Loan Association and became its secretary and treasurer, which position he held for seven years, turning over the books to his successor with a paid up capital of $100,000.

Being a lover of music he was always connected with some choral society, and in 1884 was the president of the Texas Saengerfest. For many years he was a director in the Houston Volksfest Association and also served as president for two terms. Both of these institutions are social in their character, the former being a convocation of all the singing societies of the State in some city previously selected, every two years, at which vocal and instrumental music of a very high order is produced; the latter arranges and manages in May of each year out-door feasts for young and old. These feasts have become very popular, having been celebrated for more than twenty years.

He is a member of the Masonic order, being a Past Master of Holland Lodge, No. 1, the oldest Masonic lodge in the State of Texas.
On September 14, 1887, Mr. Reichman arrived in Fresno to accept the office of cashier of the Farmers' Bank of Fresno, which position he now fills.

Mr. Reichman was married in 1867. He and his wife are the parents of one child, a very attractive little daughter.

AUSTIN YOUNG is the popular landlord of the Piute Hotel, and one of the leading citizens of Tehachapi. He is a son of Edmund Young, M. D., of Fruitvale, East Oakland, Alameda County, California. Dr. Young graduated in medicine at Syracuse, New York, and practiced his profession for a time, retiring in 1860. He is a native of Yates County, New York, and married Eleanor Bell, also of that county. They came to California, landing in San Francisco, May 6, 1865, their family then consisting of three sons and two daughters, of whom Austin Young is the oldest.

Mr. Young was educated in the public schools of Solano county, and at Heald's business college, graduating at the latter institution in the class of 1876. After leaving school he conducted one of his father's farms for about six years; was employed one year as a shipping clerk at Port Costa, Contra Costa County, and served as a letter carrier in the United States postal service, in San Francisco, four years and a half. Mr. Young located at Tehachapi, March 1, 1889, and conducted the Golden Gate restaurant about eighteen months, after which, in 1890, he built and opened the Piute Hotel and bar.

June 6, 1888, Mr Austin Young married Miss Marian Goyhen, of San Francisco. She is a daughter of Peter Goyhen, deceased, a native of south France. Mrs. Young was born in San Francisco on the 6th of May, 1862. She is a lady of fine domestic tastes and modern education, speaks the French, Basque, Spanish and English languages fluently, and the graceful and quiet manner in which she fills the position of landlady of the new Piute Hotel is evidence of her social tact and executive ability. Mr. Young is a genial and social gentleman, an enterprising business man, and a popular citizen. His hotel is an orderly and favorite one—such an institution as no town of modern pretentions and aspirations can afford to do without.
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JOHN FRANKLIN FIREBAUGH, founder of the village of Exeter, Tulare County, California, was born in Virginia, December 12, 1846. His father, Benjamin Franklin Firebaugh, was a native of the Old Dominion, and his grandfather was a native of Pennsylvania, their ancestors having come to this country from Germany.

Mr. Firebaugh was reared and educated in his native State, and when the great civil war came on he was taken into the Confederate ranks and was under the command of Major Christman. He was participant in one of the battles fought in the Shenandoah valley, but was most of the time in service at Richmond, Virginia.

In 1868, in company with his father and family, he came to California, making the journey by water. His father subsequently died in .the San Joaquin valley. Mr. Firebaugh came to his present location in the fall of 1875, and took up a quarter section of Government land. He purchased another quarter section from the railroad company and also acquired other lands, making a total of 560 acres, which he devoted to the raising of grain. In the spring of 1889 the Southern Pacific Railroad Company was building its east branch. Ai, this time Mr. Firebaugh sold a part of his lar ds to Mr. D. W. Parkhurst, and they deeded to the railroad company one half of 240 acres of land on the condition they would build a depot and make a town site. The name of Exeter was given to the station by the railroad company. The site is a splendid one, ten miles and a half from Visalia, twenty miles from Portervihe and fifty- two miles from Fresno. It has a wide tract of grain land to the west Lnd is flanked by rocky hills. Mr. Firebangh built a fine residence in 1889, where he resides with his family.

Mr. Firebaugh has a half interest in the San Joaquin roher-process flouring mills, located west of Exeter on the People's Consolidated ditch. This mill is in a flourishing condition and does the business of the vicinity. Mr. Firebangh is a public spirited, energetic and enterprising business man, and is held in high esteem by the citizens of this new town. He is a liberal Democrat and belongs to the Farmers' Alliance.

He was married in 1873, to Miss Mary E. Davis, daughter of Edwin Davis, one of the early settlers of Tulare County. Five children have been born to them, all in Tulare County, namely : Minnie, Luther, Edna, Elmer and Clarence.

JAMES WALLACE OAKES was born in Canada West, September 1, 1836. His father, Hammon Oakes, was born and reared in Canada, and his grandfather, James Oakes, who was of French and German descent, was a lumberman on the St. John river, New Brunswick. Mr. Oakes' father married Isabella Philips, a native of Canada. Here people, however, were New Yorkers. Of their twelve children, three died when quite young and seven are still living. James W. was their fifth child. He was reared and educated in Norfolk County.
At the age of nineteen Mr. Oakes went to Iowa and worked there as a farmer, a part of the time doing job work, breaking up the prairies of Iowa and Missouri, using seven yokes of oxen to one large plow.

In 1858 he started from Leavenworth and crossed the plains to California. That year the Indians were troublesome and menaced them frequently, but the party arranged themselves for fight and the Indians withdrew. After a journey of three months, Mr. Oakes and his party arrived in this State, and he at once sought the mines. He followed mining nearly all the time for eleven years, both placer and quartz mining, in El Dorado and Butte counties, being at Orovihe, Cherokee Flats, Grass Valley and Nevada City. Sometimes he was fortunate and other times the reverse, his experience being similar to that of the majority of miners.

In 1868 he came to Tulare County, rented lands and farmed in that way several years. He now owns a nice home and valuable farm of 280 acres. where he is raising cattle, hogs and horses. His attention is especially given to the raising of trotting horses, both the John Franklin and Bay Rose breeds, and he is the owner of some valuable stock.
Mr. Oakes was married in 1873 to Mrs. Maggie Ahen, a native of Arkansas. By her former husband, a native of Missouri, Mrs. Oakes has one son, William Byron Ahen.

Politically Mr. Oakes is a Democrat; has served as deputy county sheriff two years and as United States deputy marshal three years. He is a. member of the A. 0. U. W., and is a reliable and worthy citizen of Tulare County.

JUDGE SAMUEL ASHE HOLMES, Fresno, California, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, December 20, 1830. His father, Owen Holmes, was a lawyer of Wilmington and a man of marked ability. He was elected Superior Judge of North Carolina in 1836, by the General Assembly, but declined accepting the office as he was engaged in a very large practice. He was Democratic elector in the Harrison-Van Buren cammign in 1840. He died at Wilmington June 6, 1840, in his forty- fifth year.

After the death of his father, Samuel was sent to Fayettevihe, North Carolina, to live with a maiden aunt and to attend the academy
of Rev. Simeon Colton, where he remained until 1847. In that year he entered the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, and graduated in 1851. The following year he commenced the study of law in the office of Hon. James C. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy under President Franklin Pierce. In 1853 young Holmes went to Hillsboro, North Carolina, and entered the law office of Messrs. Nash & Bailey. Judge Nash was at that time chief justice of the State. In 1854 Mr. Holmes was admitted to; practice in the county courts, and in 185', to all the courts of the State. Judge John Stahley, a Democratic candidate for Supreme Court of California, was a member of his class.

In 1855 the subject of our sketch began the practice of his profession in Wilmington. The following year he was elected a member of the Legislature of North Carolina. In 1868 he moved to Washington County, Mississippi, retired from practice and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits on a cotton plantation of 1,000 acres. In 1861 he volunteered in the Twenty- eighth Mississippi Cavalry as a private, and served in that capacity until the close of the war. He then returned to his plantation, and for three years continued the cultivation of cotton; but, with free negroes, who would not work steadily, it was no longer a profitable business, and he gave it up.

In company with four others, he came to California in April, 1868, making the voyage via the Isthmus of Panama, and landing in San Francisco May 3, 1868. They came to Fresno County in July and founded the Alabama Colony near the present town of Madera. Judge Holmes bought lumber in Stockton, built a house and sent for his family that fall. Stockton was the nearest town for supplies and Miherton, thirty-five miles- away, was the nearest post office. The Judge purchased about 4,000 acres of land; but, from a series of dry years, support became impossible on the ranch, arid in 1879 he was forced by circumstances to curtail his farming interest. In 1878 he was elected delegate from Fresno County to the constitutional convention at Sacramento, held September 28, 1878, to formulate the new constitution. In 1879 he was elected the first Superior Judge of Fresno County under the new constitution, and occupied that position until January, 1885, when he retired from the bench. In the fall of 1889 he was re-elected to the same office, taking his seat January 5, 1891.

Judge Holmes was married in Arcola, Alabama, January 6, 1855, to Miss Mary W. Strudwrick. Of the ten children born to this worthy couple, only three are living, namely: Betsy, wife of W. J. Pickett, deputy sheriff of Fresno County; Owen, engaged in the real-estate business in Fresno; and William Ashe, who is now attending school.
 

JEREMIAH SHIELDS, one of the solid men and a pioneer of the Tehachapi valley,
, has, by dint of his own industry and perseverance, illustrated what a man with these qualities and virtues may accomplish in California.

Mr. Shields was born in Ireland, January 1, 1844; came to America in 1867, at the age of twenty-three years, with comparatively no means. In 1869 he landed in California, having since his arrival in America worked along the line of the Union Pacific in Wyoming and Utah territories. In San Joaquin he tried his hand at farming, and in 1870 commenced work for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. In 1876 he came to Tehachapi, since which time he has continuously held the position of railroad section boss of section 13, Los Angeles division, having charge of one of the most crooked and heavy pieces of road on the entire line. His long service with the company speaks volumes for his skill as a track man and shows that his labors have been appreciated.

Mr. Shields purchased a tract of land lying along the road about two miles below Tehachapi station in 1878. From time to time he has added to his possessions until he now owns 1,000 acres of good agricultural and grazing lands. This season (1891) he has 200 acres in grain. He ranges about 150 cattle, ten horses and other stock.

February 19, 1873, Mr. Shields married in Sacramento, Miss Catharine Shields, no relative of his, however. They have six children: James, Henry, George, Jeremiah, Edward and Hugh. Mr. Shields is a public-spirited and progressive citizen. He takes a lively interest in matters pertaining to the public good; is now serving as School Director for Tehachapi district.

D. AND D. S. EWING, gentlemen well known throughout Fresno County, California, are natives of Callaway County, Missouri. Their father, H. N. Ewing, is a farmer by occupation. He visited the gold mines of California in 1852, but returned to Missouri and remained there until April, 1882, when he brought his family to this State and settled in Fresno.

A. D. Ewing was educated in the common schools of Missouri, and graduated at Spaulding's Commercial College, Kansas City, in 1880. He then gave his attention to the bay and grain business in that city, continuing there about two years. He sold out in January, 1883, and came to California, purchasing twenty acres of land in the Fresno colony and devoting his time to cultivating it in fruit, vines and alfalfa. In 1887 he sold out, went to San Francisco and took a course of study in the Pacific Business College. Returning to Fresno, he accepted a deputyship under B. A. Hawkins, Superintendent of County Schools. In the fall of 1888, Mr. Ewing was elected County Tax Collector, assuming the duties of the office on January 1, 1889. For two years he has performed the work of this office in a manner that has reflected much credit on himself. He was married at Kansas City June 2, 1890, to Miss Mollie W. Mundy. Socially he is connected with the I. O. O. F., Fresno Lodge, No. 186.

D. S. Ewing was educated in the ward schools of Missouri, and came to California with his parents in April, 1882. He remained on the ranch with them until 188S, when he entered the Pacific Business College of San Francisco and pursued a course of study. Returning to Fresno in the fall of that year, he was appointed Deputy City Tax Collector, and on January 1, 1889, he received the appointment of Deputy County Tax Collector by his brother A. D. Ewing. He is a member of Fresno Lodge, No. 409, I. 0. G. T.
The brothers have recently purchased a forty- acre ranch in the Nye-Marden colony, near Fowler, which they are planting in vines.
 

JACOB DANIEL CRESS.—This gentlemen, who is one of the enterprising horticulturists of Tulare County, is a native of Illinois, born August 25, 1845. His grandfather, Jacob Cress, a native of North Carolina, removed to Illinois in 1818, and there, in that same year, his son, Jacob Cress, Jr., was born. Arriving at manhood, he was united in marriage to Helena Sherer, a native of his own State, and to them eleven children were born, nine of whom are living, the subject of this sketch being their third child. He was reared and educated in Illinois, and there learned the trade of harness-making.

In 1869 he came to California. For six years he worked on ranches in Sutter County, and subsequently spent a year and a half in Oregon. In 1888, in connection with a partner, he purchased forty acres of fruit land, seven miles northeast of Traver and three miles and a half west of Dinuba, the property being then a stubble-field. Mr. Cress planted thirty- five acres of raisin grapes, and the second year gathered three tons of grapes from the young vineyard. The present crop is estimated at from twenty to thirty tons. On the remaining five acres he has built a comfortable residence and planted a variety of fruit trees, many of them being now in bearing. Umbrella trees in the front yard, two years old, now measure twenty inches around the trunk near the ground. The firm is Gregory & Cress, Kr. Cress having the management of the vineyard, and to his skillful attention is due its success. In 1890 Mr. Cress married Miss Phama Anderson, a native of Missouri, daughter of J. D. Anderson, who resides near them. Politically, Mr. Cress is a Republican. He belongs to the Farmers' Alliance and is a Royal Arch Mason, has_ ing held several offices in his lodge. A man of good judgment, energetic and progressive, he is a desirable acquisition to the community in which he has taken up his abode.

FRED W. FICKERT.—There are few pioneers of Kern County whose names are more familiar to the people of the Kern river and Tehachapi valleys than that heading this biographical sketch. Having come to the county when it was in its infancy of development, he located in Bear valley, and laid the foundation for his present home and family estate. Be was then in the prime of a vigorous manhood and has devoted the best years of his life to opening up and fostering the material development of one of the finest valleys in the State of California.

Mr. Fickert was born of German parents, in the province of Prussia, August 27, 1830. His father, Gotlieb Fickert, was a mechanic by trade and a successful contractor on the government works in Prussia. He also made some of the most elaborate public improvements in the city of Coburg, Prussia. Fred, who was then a restless and ambitious youth, chose the lot of sailor and went before the mast at about fifteen years of age. He lived a seafaring life for nearly five years, at the expiration of which time he sailed from the city of Hamburg to New York, as provision master on board a sailing vessel, reaching the great American port in 1850. Here he spent about one month, and then embarked for California, via Cape Horn, reaching San Francisco in the latter part of the same year. He made only a brief stay in San Francisco, however, and proceeded directly to the mining regions of California, where, like many others, he hoped to carve out his fortune from the quartz ledges or water courses of the mountain ranges. His time up to about 1865 was spent in the mountain regions of the upper Kern river country and the counties of Sierra, Butte and Yuba. In 1863 he discovered the world renowned Sierra Gorda mine, located the same and formed a mining district. Owing to serious Indian outbreaks, he was compelled to abandon the same for the safety of his family before he derived any practical benefits from his discovery; others in time took up and prosecuted the work, reaping large fortunes from the benfits of his enterprise and hard labor.

In the spring of 1865 he made a trip to Kernville, which was then attracting attention as a mining center. The following fall he went to Havilah, where he remained until late in the year 1869. Meeting with only moderate success, he decided to abandon mining as an occupation, and accordingly came over the Tehachapi range, explored the country and visited Bear valley. Its beauty, fertile soil and adjacent grazing country attracted his eye and he decided on a location here. He purchased a squatter's right to 160 acres of agricultural land of James Williams, Esq., took up his residence on it and has been prominently identified with the valley since then. From time to time he has added to his landed estate until he now owns upwards of 8,000 acres. At the time of his location in the valley he found only one actual settler, namely: J. L. Hosac, who still resides there. The wisdom of Mr. Fickert's choice for a home is proven by the eminent success he has enjoyed, and also the general good health of his family. His domains extend well over into the San Joaquin valley to the north, where he holds some fine tracts of good orange-producing land, lying in the thermal belt of the foothills, which are abundantly supplied with water. His large bands of stock used to range at will over vast tracts of open country; but with the progress and growth of the country, all of which he welcomes, has come the occupation. and fencing of so much of these lands that lie now confines his herds mostly to his own domains. He has at this writing about 1,600 head of cattle, thirty to forty horses and other stock as well.

Mr. Fickert was married in San Francisco, December 19, 1861, to Miss Mary Glenn, a native of Barney's Slough, Ireland. She is one of six sisters of the family who have come to America and become permanently located and identified with its material progress, she having made the journey to the United States in the fall of of 1859 with a brother-in-law, Charles Boland, of San Francisco (now deceased). Mrs. Fickert is a lady of strong individuality and executive ability and has proven a faithful and loving wife and mother. They have six children living, all of whom have enjoyed the blessings of a well-regulated home and a good education. Of this family, Louis, the eldest, was born in San Francisco, October 3, 1863; Louise E., in Havilah, December 16, 1866; others of the family were born in Bear valley; Nellie, October 11, 1869; Charles, February 23, 1872; Clara, July 11, 1874, and Fred, July 23, 1876. Thomas and Frank are deceased.

The Fickert home is known by all to be a place where the friend as also the stranger is always hospitably received and entertained. When generations have passed from the scenes of active life and this beautiful valley shall have advanced to the dignity of a princely paradise, the name of this pioneer family will still stand boldly out on the pages of local history as the founder of the settlement, growth and prosperity of lovely Bear valley--one of the most charming of the many beautiful mountain nooks of Central California.

C C. ELLIOTT, of Fresno, was born in Benton, near Yazoo City, Mississippi, in 1856. His father, James H. Elliott, was a machinist and contractor by trade, but for many years was Justice of the Peace of Benton. Young Elliott was educated in the private schools of Benton, after which, for one year he taught a public school on the Big Black river. He then returned to Benton and engaged in mercantile business with his brother, W. H. Elliott, in a family grocery store, where he remained for two years. He sold his interest in the business in April, 1879, and in January, 1880, went to Yazoo City to accept the appointment of under sheriff, by his brother-in-law, W. H. Stubblefield, then sheriff of that county. After serving in that capacity four years, he went to Pickens, Mississippi, as bookkeeper and assistant postmaster in the general merchandise store of Wilbur Bros., remaining there about two years.

In April, 1886, Mr. Elliott came to the Pacific coast, passed the summer in Seattle and returned to Pickens in September. The latter part of that same year be came via the Sunset route to California, arriving in Fresno December 27, 1886. On March 1, 1887, he accepted the appointment of deputy recorder, under C. L. Wainwright, and was reappointed by Mr. Wainwright's successor, T. A. Bell, in 1889. In partnership with W. L. Codins, Mr. Elliott owns a ranch of forty acres northeast of Fresno. This land is set out to Muscat and Malaga vines, and on it a residence and outbuildings. These gentlemen are also interested in city property.

H. McKENZIE, a prominent business man of Fresno, was born at Fort Miller, Fresno County, California, March 10, 1857. His father, James McKenzie, came to California in 1852, and was prominently engaged in stock-raising. Young McKenzie was educated in the public schools of Fresno County, and lived at home until 1874, when he received the appointment of deputy sheriff, under J. S., Ashman, and came to Fresno to reside. In 1876 he was appointed deputy assessor, under J. A. Stroud, and occupied that position until 1880 being then elected to the office of County Assessor for a term of four years.

In 1878 he became associated in the abstract business with A. M. Clark (whose biography appears elsewhere in this work), and since Mr. McKenzie's retirement from office they have carried on the business quite extensively. The Fresno Loan & Savings Bank was incorporated on January 28, 1884, with capital stock of $20,000. During that year Messrs. Clark and McKenzie bought a controlling interest in the bank, and Mr. McKenzie became its cashier and manager. In 1885 the stock was increased to $50,000, and has since been increased to $300,000. Under Mr. McKenzie's efficient management it now ranks among the first banks of the city. When Fresno was incorporated in 1885, our subject was appointed City Treasurer, and was re-elected in 1887 and 1889. Besides his various interests already referred to, Mr. McKenzie also owns stock in the Harron Gold Mining Company, whose mine is located in the foothills, twenty-eight miles east of Fresno. His partners in this company are A. M. Clark and J. C. Hoxie, the latter being manager of the mine. A Huntingdon rotary mill has recently been erected, and the work is being pushed forward with very satisfactory results.
Mr. McKenzie was married at Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California, in 1879, to Miss Carrie E. Hoxie.
Socially Mr. McKenzie is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, being a member of Fresno Lodge, No. 186.

Memorial and Biographical History of the counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kern, California - Illustrated
Chicago The Lewis Publishing Company 1892
Transcribed by: Martha A Crosley Graham - Pages 321-340
25 May 2008

 

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Martha A Crosley Graham

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