Kern County Biographies


These biographies were supplied by:
Joan Gillman
My Genealogy pages

       Austin Foster Stoner was born January 23, 1862 in Atchison County, Missouri and died in San Francisco, California on July 2,
1915 at the age of 53.  Austin settled in Bakersfield, California in 1879.  He married Ella Stark on March 23, 1887.  Their
children were: Viola Eleanor, Reginald, L. K. "Lefty," Carroll, and Dorris.
        Upon first arriving in California, Austin lived in Tulare County and engaged in the hotel business there.  He later settled
in Kern County and engaged in farming, later as a contractor. Around 1900, he opened an agricultural implement store in
Bakersfield, which he operated until his death.  Austin was appointed a city trustee and re-elected to that position.  He was
a man of strong likes and dislikes, and to him his friends could do no wrong.  His sons, Reginald and L.K., also became prominent
Bakersfield citizens.


from "Kern's Movers and Shakers"

        Reg Stoner played a key role in the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia in the late 1930's.  Because of his strong belief in
the potential for production in the Middle Eastern kingdom, Stoner took what many consider courageous steps to ensure that
Standard Oil (now Chevron) would lead the way.

        In 1937, the geologist, who earlier had worked for Standard in the San Joaquin Valley, was based in San Francisco as the
general manager of production for the company.  Stoner was thwarted by a tight budget in his pursuit of uncovering oil in
Saudi Arabia.  The expenses of such an operation would run into the millions of dollars and he encountered problems when he tried
to get money for equipment needed to begin the exploration in Saudi Arabia.  Undaunted, Stoner diverted equipment from
Standard's operations in California.

        The result, on March 4, 1938, was Dammam No. 4, which began flowing oil at a rate of 1,580 barrels a day from 4,727 feet.  By
April 22, the well had produced more than 100,000 barrels. Subsequently named the Arab Zone, the formation would become the
main source of petroleum in Saudi Arabia.

        Nearly 40 years late, in its publication chronicling Standard Oil of California's 100-year history, the company
summarized the far-reaching effect of Stoner's efforts in Saudi Arabia.  "In (1938) the 20th year of its search for oil abroad
(Standard of California) had opened the door to the world's greatest oil treasure."

        The Bakersfield High School graduate went to work for Standard about 1913, after his graduation from the University of
California at Berkeley, and was one of the first geologists hired major fields in Southern California, including Coyote Hills,
Baldwin Hills, and Signal Hill.


from "History of Kern County California, Volume 2, 1929"

        L. K. Stoner, who fought for his country in the World War and served as mayor of Bakersfield, is numbered among the most
enterprising and capable young business men of the city.  He was born here, November 2, 1890, a son of A. F. and Ella (Stark)
Stoner, natives respectively of Missouri and California.  The father came to Kern county in 1879 and engaged in farming on Kern
Island.  Entering commercial circles of Bakersfield, he organized the A. F. Stoner Implement Company and served as its president
until his death in 1915.  He was endowed with executive force and keen sagacity and developed a business of substantial
proportions.  Mr. Stoner was a member of Bakersfield Lodge, No. 266, B.P.O.E., and his public spirit was expressed by service on
the board of trustees of Bakersfield.  He is survived by three children: L.K., Reginald C. and Mrs. Viola Laidley.

        The public schools of Bakersfield afforded L. K. Stoner his educational advantages, and his first money was earned by selling
papers for the Californian.  Afterward he served an apprenticeship under a butcher and was engaged in that line of
work until 1915, when he took over his father's business, fostering its growth by well formulated plans and judicious
management.  The firm, which handles tractors and farm implements of all kinds, is one of the oldest organizations of the kind in
this part of the state, and its success has been built upon the firm foundation of commercial integrity and honor.

        In 1919, Mr. Stoner married Miss Gertrude Smart, a native of Tacoma, Washington, and a member of an old and prominent family
of that city.  In 1917, Mr. Stoner enlisted in the United States Infantry and was made sergeant of his company.  He was sent
overseas and served with the Ninety-First Division on the western front in France, participating in many notable engagements.  He
belongs to the American Legion and to the local lodge of Elks. He is a republican in politics and was elected a member of the
common council in 1923.  At that time, he was appointed mayor and was retained in the office until the spring of 1929, giving to
the city a progressive and businesslike administration, characterized by needed reforms and improvements.  Firm in his
convictions, Mr. Stoner never deviates from the course dictated by conscience and honor, and his record is unsullied.  By nature
he is genial, frank and unselfish, and a wide circle of loyal friends attests his personal popularity.