Merced County, California
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It is enlightening and inspiring to read the lives and see the faces of the men and women who have built up Merced County to the position it now holds, and who have been the very foundation of all development work which has taken place since their early settlement here, in building up the population of the County and State, and in demonstrating the fertility of the soil for future productiveness. Among these pioneers, none more thoroughly deserves mention in the history of the county than the late John Ruddle, "pioneer of pioneers," who crossed the plains in 1849, and one year later settled in Merced County, where his last days were spent.
John Ruddle was a native of Missouri, born in Madrid County, on October 17, 1830. He crossed the plains to Los Angeles in 1849, and went to the Mariposa mines in 1850. Though only a young man of twenty, he saw with a keen vision that the development of California would depend more upon farming than upon mining; and late in 1850 he came down to the Merced plains and took up land on the Merced River, near Hopeton, then called Greens, and later, for a time, justly called Forlorn Hope. This land he traded to his father for land in Missouri, which he in turn traded for cattle, bringing them across the plains in 1854 to California. Upon arriving here he bought 160 acres from S. Hyde, and this quarter section was the first permanent start of the 3800 acres now comprising the J. G. Ruddle Properties, Inc., and known as the Ruddle Ranch, founded by John Ruddle almost three-quarters of a century ago and now turning largely to dairying and fruit culture. It is unique that this large holding is one of the few ranches of the State that is still in the possession of members of the family by whom it was founded in the early fifties.
A sad incident of this narrative is the tragic fate of Allan Ruddle, brother of John, who had accompanied him across the plains and engaged in ranching with him. Allan left the river home one morning with an ox-team for Stockton, with several hundred dollars in gold dust to buy furniture for the ranch home. When the oxen returned late that afternoon, minus their driver, the worst was feared, and these fears were confirmed the next morning when the searching party found Allan Ruddle's body about six miles out on the Stockton road, toward the Tuolumne River. His rifled pockets, broken whipstock, and a bullet wound in the head told the ghastly story. As Joaquin Murietta, the bandit, who struck terror to the scattered communities in that day, was known to be operating in the neighborhood, the murder was laid to the door of the desperado and his gang.
In 1854, John Ruddle went back to Missouri and brought out the drove of cattle already mentioned, starting with 300 and arriving at.his ranch with about 240 of the animals. He spent the years from 1854 on for twenty-seven years conducting his ranch and gradually adding to it. In the late sixties he became connected with the private banking house of Wigginton, Blair & Company, of Snelling. When the county seat was moved to Merced, this company came to the new town and organized the Merced Bank. Late in the seventies Mr. Ruddle became president of the bank and continued with it until it closed up its affairs, in 1894. He then moved to the Merced River Flouring Mills, near Snelling, which he had purchased from the Curtiss interests in 1890, and with his family lived on the hill near the mill, in the house which was a landmark in that vicinity for many years. He at that time turned over his ranch to his son James, and in 1905, after being farmed to grain for half a century, the river bottom half of the ranch was turned to dairying, which has proved highly remunerative. There are now six complete dairying outfits on the ranch, conducted by tenants, who are milking 1000 cows on shares. The land is well adapted to alfalfa,
The marriage of John Ruddle, occurring August 23, 1860, united him with Ann Elizabeth Hardwick, daughter of a pioneer Merced River family. She made him a most worthy helpmate, and five children were born to them. Of these, the only child who lived beyond infancy is James G. Ruddle. He married Annette Stockird, born in Merced County, and is the father of three children: James Garland, Allan B., and Alice.
In 1900, Mr. Ruddle moved back to Merced from the old mill, and made his home in the city until 1910, when he removed to Santa Cruz; and there he and his good wife remained until 1918, that year returning to Merced to stay. Here, on February 1, 1925, after enjoying ninety-four years of life, John Ruddle passed to his reward, at the family home at 436 Twentieth Street. His was a life rich in labor, not only for himself and family, but for the common good and the upbuilding of his community. He held a place in the ranks of pioneers which never can be filled; for he was one of that comparatively small band of men who crossed the plains in their youth and here planted the seeds of industry that were to bear abundant harvests of achievement. The results of his labors have been and will continue to be so far-reaching that it is impossible to estimate the true value of this one man's life and endeavor. We can only, as a State, appreciate the fact that it is through the true vision and unceasing labor of men like John Ruddle, men who gave their entire lives to the developing of a barren country into one of the most productive valleys in the world, who came out to the frontier West, and stayed, not to speculate, nor to seek adventure, but to devote their God-given brain and brawn to the upbuilding of new communities and the betterment of humanity —it is through the efforts and achievements of such men that our glorious State has come to be known throughout the world. And as long as their spirit lives, emulated by their descendants, we know that we need never fear for the perpetuity of our commonwealth.
The Ruddle Ranch is now conducted by J. G. Ruddle Properties, Inc., of which J. G. Ruddle, son of John Ruddle, is president, and his sons, Allan and J. Garland, are vice-president and secretary and treasurer respectively. The corporation recently voted bonds to the extent of $300,000, and will proceed to develop the ranch into one of the best orchard and vineyard properties in California.
John Ruddle was the last remaining of a large family, and is survived by his devoted wife, his son, James, and three grandchildren. At Hopeton, in 186S, he joined the Methodist Church, South, which congregation was organized in 1853, Dr. J. C. Simmons and Rev. Burris being the ministers there in early days. The ministers always stopped at the Ruddle home, and he took pride and joy in housing them and was all his life an ardent supporter of the church.
HON. JOHN M. MONTGOMERY
A man of upright character, a firm friend and a patriotic citizen, John M. Montgomery held a warm place in the hearts of all who knew him. He was born in Hardin County, Ky., September 18, 1816, and died in Merced County, May 4, 1891. Between these dates his life and work were an open book to the communities he so well served. He went to school in the locality where he was born, and upon reaching young manhood he went to Missouri, where he remained until the spring of 1847. He then followed the westward trend of civilization, crossing the plains to California behind the slow-moving ox teams, and upon arrival he entered into the business life of Monterey, remaining there until the discovery of gold. Instead of seeking the precious metal as a miner, he thought he could do better as a freighter and fitted out his team of oxen that had brought him across the plains and began hauling supplies to the new diggings and to the miners. In the fall of 1849, with Samuel Scott as a companion, he located in what was probably the first settlement in what is now Merced County, being but a little distance from what is now the town of Snelling. Here he engaged in farming and stock-raising, in which he met with good results and continued many years.
In 1852 Mr. Montgomery went back to his old home in Missouri and there was united in marriage with Elizabeth Armstrong. Together they made the return trip to California and settled in the home already established by Mr. Montgomery on Bear Creek, six miles east of Merced. The following children were born of this union: Mary, wife of I. Jay Buckley; Jennie, wife of H. K. Huls; Ella, who married E. L. Smith; John A.; Robert H.; William S.; Katie and Lizzie. In politics Mr. Montgomery was a Democrat and was often called upon to fill positions of trust and honor. In 1861 he was elected to the board of supervisors and in 1875 to the State Senate, and in the sessions that followed he gave valuable service. One of the broadest acts he ever did had to do with his election to the Senate: His seat was hotly contested, and rather than allow the State to meet the expense he paid it himself. He was loved by all who knew him and his death was a source of regret to a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
ELBRIDGE GERRY RECTOR
A Mexican War veteran and a pioneer of 1849 in California, Elbridge G. Rector first saw the light in Sevier County, Tenn., on February 19, 1816. His father was Kenner Avery Rector, a Virginian, who participated in the War of 1812, and gained the reputation of being the best shot in General Jackson's army. He married Elizabeth Randall, prominently connected with families of the Old Dominion. The Rector family was transplanted on American soil from German forebears who first went to Scotland, thence to Virginia, where, at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Charles Rector, a prosperous planter, accompanied by several of his sons, joined the ranks of the colonists and fought for their independence. One of his sons was named Benjamin, born in Virginia and later a planter in Sevier County, Tenn. Next in line was Kenner Avery Rector.
Elbridge G. Rector went to Texas in 1835, where in 1836 he joined the Texan army and in the battle of San Jacinto was twice severely wounded, from the effects of which he never recovered. Later he was in the Indian War as a Texas Ranger under Colonel Jack Hayes and Captain Bird. In 1847 he took part in the Mexican War and served until peace was declared. In 1849, this intrepid frontiersman took a train of pack mules and set out for California, via El Paso, Tucson and Yuma to Los Angeles, and thence up the coast and across the mountains to San Joaquin County. He landed in Mariposa County in September, made memorable in the history of the State as the date of the election of members of the California constitutional convention. He mined for a time, then turned his attention to ranching in 1853, and later conducted a hotel at the Green Valley ranch for a time. He settled on the Merced River and became closely identified with the interests of the citizens of the locality. His first public effort was to circulate a petition for the setting off of Merced County from Mariposa County, which was successfully accomplished in 1855, and he was elected the first county clerk and for seven years he filled that post; he was next elected to the office of sheriff and served two years (1864-1866).
In 1868, Mr. Rector moved into Stanislaus County and farmed opposite the present site of Modesto, but in 1870 he removed to Mariposa County, and followed the same line of endeavor near Coulterville. His next move took him to Texas, in 1877, and there he engaged in the stock business in San Saba County. Five years later, in November, he came back to Merced County and from January, 1889, to January, 1891, he was county treasurer. For many years he had been a leader in the Democratic party and he had a happy faculty of making and winning friends. He was very public spirited and what he did was from a sense of public duty, not for emoluments that he might attain. He was a Mason of the Royal Arch Degree. He died in Merced County on October 19, 1902.
The marriage of Elbridge G. Rector in 1860, in Merced County, united him with Amanda McFarlane, who was born in Jackson County, Ala. Her parents, Robert and Elizabeth (Hobbs) McFarlane, were natives of Virginia and settled in Tennessee at an early day, thence removing to Alabama. There were five children in the family of Elbridge and Amanda Rector : William Fielding, Thomas Blackstone, Elbridge N., Mary E. and Laura A.
MRS. LOUISA M. WILSON
The oldest of the pioneer residents of Merced Falls, Mrs. Louisa M. Wilton is a native of the town, being the fourth and youngest child of the late Charles Murray. He was born in Ireland and was brought to America when a child and was reared in Missouri. In 1849 he came West, driving his own cattle and stock across the plains and arrived in Merced Falls after a long and tiresome journey of seven months. From the proceeds of the sale of his stock, Mr. Murray built a hotel and opened a general store, which he conducted under the name of Murray's Hotel and Store, and was very successful and built up a large trade with the miners. He also acted as postmaster of Merced Falls. In the early sixties a disastrous fire destroyed his store and hotel and, having no insurance to cover his loss, he quit the business and moved three miles below the Falls and engaged in the stock business, each year adding to his holdings until he had considerable land in Sections 3 and 4. In the latter part of 1865 he concluded the purchase of the balance of Section 4 and built a house into which he moved his family, and this is the home of Mrs. Wilson to this day. She has in her possession old account books kept by her father, including early postoffice records, which are very interesting from a historical standpoint. When Charles Murray moved from the ranch into Merced Falls again he purchased the ferry business from "Hookey" Wilson, who had built and was conducting it. Mr. Murray made of the bridge a most elaborate affair, completely housing it in, with a separate passageway for pedestrians, the toll office being on the Merced Falls side of the river. This entire structure was swept away by the flood of 1861-1862. In later years he operated this ferry until his death, at which time James McCoy, the first husband of Mrs. Wilson, carried on the business until about 1900, at which time the county supervisors bought the ferry and soon after replaced it with the present steel bridge.
The Murray children were reared in Merced Falls. Charles Sheridan Murray was accidentally drowned in the Merced River at the age of sixteen, by slipping and falling from the top of the ferry. Sam R. Murray now resides in Madera County, and his son is Judge Murray of the superior court of Madera County. William E. Murray died at the age of twenty-two. The mother died at her home in Merced Falls on October 1, 1873, aged forty-six, and the father passed away at Oakdale on October 22, 1879, aged sixty-seven.
Louisa Murray was educated in the local schools. The sessions at Merced Falls were held in two localities prior to the erection of the present building. The first school was on the Kelsey ranch one mile below the Falls, but when fire destroyed the building a new school house was built on the same road, and is still standing, though vacated about ten years ago. Louisa and her brother attended these schools. The present school is a modern structure, located above the sawmill site of the Yosemite Lumber Company. In May, 1877, Miss Murray was married to James M. McCoy at Merced. He was born in 1851 in Silver City, Iowa, and came to California early in the seventies and conducted the livery stable and ferry business at Merced Falls; he died on July 4, 1906, survived by one son, Grover Cleveland McCoy, who is employed in the plumbing department of the Yosemite Mills, and married Eva De Camp of Fresno; and they have three children. He is a member of the Native Sons, belonging to an Oakland parlor.
On the edge of Merced Falls is the 160-acre ranch belonging to Mrs. Wilson. It is used for stock range, and here she engaged in the stock business with her late husband, James Clinton Wilson, whom she married on December 11, 1910 at Fresno. He was born in Iowa, on September 19, 1857, and was reared in Bates County, Mo. He arrived in Los Angeles, Cal., in October, 1888, and followed prospect mining for sixteen years in Tuolumne and Mariposa Counties. After locating at Merced Falls, in November, 1900, he resided here until his death on November 23, 1924.
MRS. ANN ELIZABETH RUDDLE
One of the best-known and beloved women in Merced is Mrs. Ann Elizabeth Ruddle. She was born in Jackson County, Ala., on August 25, 1841, the daughter of the late Thomas Jefferson and Ann (McFarlane) Hardwick, the former born in Georgia and the latter in Tennessee, where they were married. Soon after their marriage they moved to Alabama, where Mr. Hardwick was elected judge.
Judge Hardwick and his family, which consisted of his wife and six children, crossed the plains in 1859, from Jasper County, Mo., where Mr. Hardwick had been farming for some years. Upon their arrival in this State they settled on the Merced River, and there he farmed for many years. He died at the age of sixty-three. Mrs. Hardwick lived to reach the advanced age of ninety-six, making her home with Mr. and Mrs. John Ruddle for thirty years prior to her death. They were both honored pioneers. Everybody knew "Grandma Hardwick," as she was affectionately called by old and young. She was an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and had scores of friends.
The Hardwicks had six children : William J.; Amanda Malvina, who became the wife of James Dickinson; Mary Catherine, who married William Hoskins ; Ann Eliazbeth, Mrs. Ruddle; Jackson Gilmore, who resides near Turlock and is eighty years old; and Huldah Jane, who became the wife of Mark Howell, at one time surveyor of Merced County. Of these six children, only Mrs. Ruddle and Jackson Gilmore Hardwick are living.
Mrs. Ruddle is familiarly known by her many friends as "Aunt Betty Ruddle." She is an active member of the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church of Merced,
One of the most highly esteemed citizens of Merced County was the late James Cunningham, who had the distinction of being one of the organizers of the county. He was born in Dungiven, County Londonderry, Ireland, May 12, 1824, the son of James and Margaret (Dunlap) Cunningham. The father was born at Castle Colley, eight miles from Londonderry, served in the South Fifteenth Infantry for seventeen years, twelve of which he was color sergeant, stationed in the West Indies. He took part in some of the most famous battles of his time and was the last man to leave the island of Martinique when the island was given up to the French, wading to the boat with water up to his neck.
James Cunningham, our subject, remained at home until he was sixteen, when he ran away and went to sea in company with a boy friend, being apprenticed for four years as a sailor with the firm of Booker, Bond & Co., merchants of Liverpool, who shipped goods to all parts of the world. He was soon made second mate, and a few months later first mate of the ship Lancaster and it was while on this vessel that he met with an accident, breaking his collarbone and shoulder, which laid him up for six months, during which time he was not idle as he attended a school of navigation, and when again able to assume active duty he was made captain of the ship Cyclops. He followed the sea for eleven years, rounded Cape Horn three times and twice was over two-thirds around the globe. In his travels he had heard of the discovery of gold in California and made several attempts to reach the Eldorado, even offered to work his passage as an ordinary seaman, without success. It was his idea that he would work in the mines and the more rapidly accumulate wealth, which he intended to invest in ships.
In the fall of 1850 came his golden opportunity, he being selected as chief officer of the clipper ship Canada. After the ship had outfitted in 1851 he started for the New World and California, and at the end of a long and stormy voyage landed in San Francisco in February, 1852. Here the entire crew deserted ship. Mr. Cunningham had eight months pay coming to him but never received it and he found himself in a strange land and practically penniless. He soon found a friend in a Mr. Livingston, to whose cabin he removed his effects, and some time later a party was organized to go to the mines; Robert Sherwood supplied him with money and the party of five, among whom was a geologist, a Mr. Stephenson, who had been a passenger on the Canada, set out for the mines on Yuba River. Here Mr. Cunningham spent two years mining when he made a trip on horseback to Mariposa County to visit a cousin, William Laughlin, who is buried in the Cunningham lot in the Masonic Cemetery, and while there he located a claim on Mariposa Creek. Returning to the mines in Grass Valley, he there purchased some land, but continued mining. He made another trip to Mariposa County, only to find that some one had jumped his claim. In the meantime some parties had secured some 320 acres of land and put in a crop of barley and this Mr. Cunningham bought for $1000, and this was the beginning of his prosperity and his large land holdings. He got a good price for his barley. His nearest neighbors were seven miles distant.
Not meeting with success in mining ventures, Mr. Cunningham turned his attention to raising stock, in 1864, with Thomas Fowler, later Senator from Tulare County. He made several trips to the southern part of the State to buy cattle for his ranch and for beef to supply the mines. That same year was noted for its dry season and many of his cattle died. He with Alfred Harrell, Joseph Rodgers and J. G. J. Moray joined together and started for Humboldt County, Nev., but lost nearly all of their stock and barely escaped with their own lives owing to the depredations of the Indians. Mr. Cunningham gave up the idea of becoming a ship owner and turned his attention to farming and stock raising, having on his ranch an average of fifty head of fine horses and 1200 cattle. Beginning with his 320 acres he added to it from time to time until he owned some 16,000 acres which was operated by the Cunningham Corporation, composed of Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, his two sons, James C. and Emmett T., and his daughter, Mrs. E. Massengale, all of whom lived on the ranch, which was located sixteen miles northeast from Merced.
On July 30, 1868, occurred the ceremony that united the lives of James Cunningham and S. Elizabeth (Turner) Henderson. She was born in Jackson County, Mo., the daughter of Capt. Nicholas Turner, a Forty-niner in California, who made two subsequent trips overland as captain of wagon trains, then remained in this State. There were three children born of this union, viz : James Charles, born July 28, 1869, married for his first wife Miss Leota Williams, a native of Indiana, born in Muncie. After her death he married Miss Stella Smith, a native of Mariposa County, and they have three children, James Byron, Vesta and Augusta. Emmett T. was the second child and was born on November 23, 1870. He married Miss Bernice Brandon, born at Ione, Amador County, the daughter of Amberson Brandon, of Jefferson County, Wis., a California pioneer. His father, Var Price Brandon, was a Virginian who married Martha Engart, of Pennsylvania ; they also came to California as pioneers. Amberson Brandon married, August 31, 1868, in California, Julia A., daughter of Henry and Rachael Misenheimer, of North Carolina, and California pioneers of 1852. Julia A. Brandon was born in Illinois. Mr. and Mrs. Brandon had the following children : Susie, Bernice (Mrs. Emmett Cunningham), Howard, Myron (deceased), Frances, Lloyd, Rodger, Audley, Gladys, Roscoe (Ted), and Horace. Mr. and Mrs. Emmett Cunningham have four children: Margaret E., Mrs. George W. Clark, of Los Angeles; Julia Ione, Mrs. Arnold Grasmoen, of Merced; and Carlston E. and Nancy Rose, both at home. The third child born to this worthy pioneer couple was Margaret Evaline, born February 7, 1873. She became the wife of R. E. Massengale, of Le Grand and they have had three children: James, Mary (deceased), and Cecil. Mrs. James Cunningham's first husband was Henry Helm, by whom she had a daughter, 011ie, now Mrs. Samuel Rothery, of Santa Cruz. She has three living children, 011ie, Edward and Daisy. Mrs. Cunningham's second husband was a Mr. Henderson, of Snelling. Mr. Cunningham died on May 12, 1908, and his widow passed on in April, 1913.
James Cunningham was a Democrat and took an active part in the councils of that party, serving as a delegate to county and State conventions, and held the office of supervisor from 1860 to 1864. He served for many years as a school trustee. It was ever his policy to elevate the standard of education and he contributed liberally of his means to that end. He was made a Mason in Ireland and demitted to La Grange (now Yosemite) Lodge No. 99, F. & A. M. of Merced. In his long and eventful life he had many interesting and thrilling experiences. Of the latter, one incident will perpetuate his memory for generations. This was in 1862, during the flood at Snelling that threatened the lives of thirty-five people who sought refuge in the trees when the hotel was washed away from its foundation. Accustomed as a sailor to act quickly when danger threatened, he, with the assistance of others, among them Judge Breen, Hon. W. H. Howard, and a Mr. Perkins, constructed a raft and by hard work and great danger to their own lives, safely rescued the people from their perilous position.
In the later years of his life he was in the enjoyment of all his faculties, could read without glasses when past eighty, and took an active interest in all topics of the day and in the improvement of his property.
JOHN SANDERSON SWAN
As a city trustee of Merced and former sheriff of Merced County, John Sanderson Swan has been intimately associated with the public life of this locality for many years. He was born in Waterford, Maine, September 30, 1849, a son of Thomas and Eliza (Sanderson) Swan, of Welsh and Scotch ancestors, respectively. Both parents are deceased.
John Sanderson Swan was educated in the public schools of his native state and in the Bridgeton Academy; at nineteen years of age he began to earn his own way in the world and for fifteen years was foreman for one company in New England. Ashisparents were getting old and needed his assistance, he went back to his home in Maine and remained with them until they both passed away. In 1881 he came to Merced County; the first year he was occupied with farm work, then he rented land and followed grain farming for twenty years, having as many as 6000 acres under cultivation in one season. For many years he conducted a livery stable business in Merced and was also engaged in buying and shipping of hogs from Merced and vicinity. He was elected sheriff of Merced County on the Democratic ticket and served' for eight years with entire satisfaction to the public.
Mr. Swan has been married twice. The first time he was united with Miss Sarah Swan, the same name, but no relation; after her death he was subsequently married to Miss Eldora Fuller, a native of Rhode Island. In 1920 Mr. Swan was appointed to his present position of head janitor of the high school building, a responsible position which he capably fills. Fraternally he is an Odd Fellow and an Elk. As a good citizen he is now serving his second term as city trustee of Merced. Politically he votes for the best men and measures.
JAMES J. STEVINSON
Among the outstanding pioneers of Merced County there were none more widely known than the Stevinsons, father and son, Archibald W., and James J., who both were called "Colonel" by their intimate friends—not as a military title, however, but partly because they were from the South, and partly because of their participation in the Mexican War.
James J. "Stevinson was born in Boone County Mo., on November 6, 1828, the son of Archibald and Charlotte Stevinson. When he was five years old his mother died, and he and an older sister were placed with an uncle, Samuel Stevinson, and there the lad made his home and grew to young manhood. In 1846 he joined a trading train of General Kearney's Division and crossed the plains with Doniphan's Regiment, en route to Mexico, spending that winter on the Del Norte River and on the road to Santa Fe, N. M. Resuming the Journey again, he arrived at Chihauhau on March 1, 1847, and was happily surprised to meet his father, whom he had not seen for eleven years and who was engaged in merchandising there. He visited with him for two months and then joined the soldiers and arrived at Saltillo, where the troops met General Wool's Division. Mr. Stevinson remained at Saltillo until the close of the war, after which he returned to Chihuahua, with two companions, making the trip on mule back, a distance of 600 miles, in seven and one-half days. Here he again met his father, with whom he remained until December 27, 1848, when he started on his trip via Durango and Mazatlan, to San Francisco, where he arrived on March 25, 1849, "flat broke," having spent thirty days on the water, which he often referred to as thirty-five days—on account of the hardships endured.
Mr. Stevinson went to the mines on Mormon Gulch, Tuolumne County, and followed mining during the months of April and May, 1849, with fair success ; he then acted as agent for Colonel Jackson, at Jacksonville, for three months. Then, his father arriving here from Mexico, they formed a partnership and carried on a general merchandise business in Mariposa County from November, 1849, to August, 1852, when James J. Stevinson arrived in what is now Merced County. Here he obtained a large tract of land and began agricultural pursuits, and in time developed one of the most productive ranches and had one of the most beautiful homes in the entire San Joaquin Valley. He had 15,000 acres of land and about 1500 head of cattle and some 3000 sheep, besides other stock. The residence is on the left bank of the Merced River, upon which, in early days, stern-wheel steamers used to run and gather up the grain stored along the banks. In the course of time Mr. Stevinson accumulated 25,000 acres of land. He farmed on a large scale, raising stock and grain, and became one of the wealthy men of the county.
On December 27, 1855, James J. Stevinson was united in marriage with Miss Louisa Jane Cox, daughter of Isham J. Cox, of Cox's Ferry, on the Merced River. She was born in Illinois and was brought to California by her parents. They had three children : Samuel, Mary E., and Fannie B. After a long and useful life, filled with good works, not alone for his own family, but for the people of Merced County in general, James J. Stevinson passed to his reward on November 13, 1907, at the age of seventy-nine years.
Archibald W. Stevinson, the father of James J., was born in Clark County, Ky., in 1804, and received a good education in his native State. He was a man of high intelligence, and a farmer by occupation. When he was twenty he moved to Boone County, Mo., where he married; and there his children were born. In 1830 he engaged in the Santa Fe trade. Business required him to journey between Independence, Mo., and Chihuahua, Mexico, and he made these trips no less than nine times during the eighteen years he was engaged in this business. He set out for California on April 10, 1849, and reached Los Angeles in July. He was engaged in various mercantile operations in California and arrived in what is now Merced County on September 23, 1852, settling on the Stevinson ranch; and there he died in 1883, aged seventy-nine years.
There were three children born to Col. A. W. and Charlotte Stevinson, namely: James J., Elizabeth March, and Charlotte Silman.
IRWIN JAY BUCKLEY
As justice of the peace of Township No. 1, in Merced County, Irwin Jay Buckley is rendering efficient service to his constituents. He was born in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, November 17, 1845, and represents the eleventh generation from Peter Buckley (spelled by him Bulkeley), who came from England in 1635 and was educated at St. Johns College, Cambridge, England, of which he was a fellow for some time. He was rector of Woodhill for twenty-one years, and having, through his non-conformity, come into conflict with Archbishop Laud, emigrated to Cambridge, Mass. In 1636 he was the principal founder of Concord, where he was pastor until his death in 1659. In direct line of descent Sylvanus Buckley, father of I. J. Buckley, was born in Norwich, Otsego County, N. Y., on a farm owned by his father. He married Phoebe Merriman, also born in that same county of Scotch and Irish ancestors, who were soldiers in the Revolutionary War. She was also closely related to the Winchesters, founders of the Universalist religious denomination. Sylvanus Buckley was energetic and ambitious and in 1844 he located at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and began manufacturing plows. While so engaged he heard the glowing accounts of the discovery of gold on the Pacific Coast, and accordingly closed his business and started across the plains to California in 1849.
Arriving at his destination Mr. Buckley mined in Placer County and was among the Forty-niners who pioneered mining on the Yuba River. So successful was he that he was enabled to make his family a visit in 1853, removing the family from Iowa to New York. He came back to the mines and in 1856 made his second trip to see his family and bring them to the Coast. They came via Nicaragua and arrived in San Francisco on July 20 of that year. From this time he turned his attention to ranching, but he was unfortunate in investing in what later proved to be a Spanish grant in Alameda County, near Alvarado. In 1861 he located in Merced County, and in the vicinity of Snelling embarked in the sheep business, at the same time that he was interested in some mines in Nevada. In his stock enterprise he met with fair success and became owner of about 16,000 acres of land. He gave of his time and means to promote the welfare of his adopted home and was held in high regard by all who came in contact with him. He died at the age of seventy-nine years, in 1888. He was survived by his widow, who died in 1892, at the age of eighty-four. There were six children: Henry A., who died in 1872; Horace F.; Irwin Jay, of this review; George W., who died in 1902; S. P,, residing at Merced Falls; and C. 0. E. Buckley, who died at Hopeton in 1920.
Irwin Jay Buckley attended the public schools in Iowa and was reared under the parental roof, accompanying the family to California in 1856, via Nicaragua. He took passage on the S. S. Orizaba, Captain Blethen, on the Atlantic side and on the S. S. Sierra Nevada, Captain Tinklepaugh, on the Pacific side. He well recalls the encounter with the government troops who were in pursuit of Walker; also the Nicaragua rioters. He and his brother walked across the Isthmus as they found some 1200 people waiting on the Pacific side for transportation to California. After locating in this state our subject was closely associated with his father until the death of the parent. In 1887 he bought his ranch of 315 acres located between Snelling and Merced Falls and improved the place and became a very successful and progressive rancher. Three years of his time were spent in Merced, since which time he has lived in the section of the county he now makes his home. He has now retired from active agricultural pursuits, having leased his property, but he gives his entire time and attention to the duties of justice of the peace, to which post he was elected, and in which he is now serving his twenty-first year—though not in consecutive service, having held forth in the old court house (Merced's first) at Snelling.
The marriage of Mr. Buckley, in 1878, united him with Mary Montgomery, daughter of the late Hon. J. M. Montgomery, who is represented on another page of this history. Of this happy union there is one daughter, Irma, now the wife of Charles G. Connors; she has a daughter, Jean Jardine, by a former marriage. Judge Buckley is a Republican and has served his party well in various capacities in Merced County. He is unassuming, public-spirited and is very fond of good books, and was at one time the owner of a very large private library, which, unfortunately, was destroyed by fire some years ago. Both he and his good wife are liberal supporters of all progressive and upbuilding projects. They dispense hospitality of the old Californian type, and being among the very oldest of the living settlers in this section of the county, they have a wide acquaintance and a large circle of loyal friends.
The late Adam Kahl will be gratefully remembered by posterity as one of the foremost men of his day in Merced County, where he located in 1860 and established what has come to be known as the Kahl Ranch, near Plainsburg, along Mariposa Creek. From the time of his settling here he was active in every organization and movement that would be of benefit to the ranchers and help towards bettering the condition of the people of the county and State. He owned a ranch of 2000 acres and this he had improved with a spendid set of farm buildings and a substantial and commodious brick house. His ranch was stocked with the best breeds of live stock and he did much to raise the standard of live stock in the county. Such was his success that his accomplishments were the means of many others settling here and trying to follow his example. He was always ready and willing to advise others as to best methods to pursue to attain their own success.
He was born in Franklin County, Pa., September 6, 1825, a son of Jacob and Catherine Kahl, farmers in their day and place. He grew to manhood on the farm, attending the common schools and in time migrated to Richland County, Ohio, and later to Carroll County, Ind. It was while he was living in Indiana that he decided to come to California, for the discovery of gold had been heralded throughout the nation and he was among the first of his section to leave for New Orleans. He embarked on a sailing vessel, landing at Chagres, and crossing the Isthmus he secured passage on the barque Alyoma for San Francisco, arriving on June 20, 1850.
Upon his arrival he was engaged in mining in Butte Flat, Jackson and Mokelumne Hill and river districts for four years. He returned home for a visit in 1855, subsequently went to Iowa, thence to Pettis County, Mo. There, on July 4, 1858, he married Lydia A. Spangenberg, a native of Pennsylvania. Immediately after their marriage they set out for California. This time the trip was made across the plains behind ox-teams and via Salt Lake and the Carson Canyon route. They arrived at Snelling, Merced County, in October, 1859, but soon went to the Pajaro Valley, Monterey County, where he lived until 1860, when he bought a ranch near Plainsburg, now owned by the family. He paid from $1.25 to $35 per acre for his land. At the time of his death, January 11, 1889, Merced County lost one of her most progressive citizens. His estate was divided between his widow and children, each child receiving 320 acres. There were five children : Ernest D. ; Alice M., who married John Dickinson ; George A.; Charles WT., who is a successful physician in Merced; and Arthur S., of Merced County. To such men as Adam Kahl the county of Merced and the State of California owe much of their prosperity. Mrs. Kahl, lovingly called "Grandma Kahl" lived to be eighty-five years old, dying on September 23, 1924, at her home at Le Grand. Several years prior to her death Mrs. Kahl took an airplane trip from Merced to San Francisco with Emmett Tanner, at that time she was the oldest woman to take such a flight in the history of aviation and her journey was widely reported.
CHARLES MORTIMER FRENCH
As city marshal and tax collector of Merced, Merced County, Charles Mortimer French is sustaining the reputation for ability and judgment, energy and thorough qualification for holding public office won entirely by his own efforts. In 1908 he was elected to the office of city marshal, and in addition to this he holds the position of tax collector for the city. His birth occurred in Augusta, Kennebec County, Me., on July 13, 1864, a son of Hayden Winfield and Felicia Hemans (Gould) French. Hayden Winfield French went to Montana in 1865, after having served in the Civil War. In 1868, when Charles Mortimer was a child of four years, the family joined him in California and the home was established in Merced County.. The father was in the sheep business for many years; then for fourteen years he served as deputy sheriff under Sheriff A. J. Meany. After that he became constable, an office he held until his death, April 7, 1894. The mother, who was born in Augusta, Me., April 23, 1837, was married November 25, 1859. She was the first teacher in the first public school held in Merced. She died February 4, 1897.
Charles Mortimer French received a grammar school education, for in the days of his schooling there was no high school in Merced. He was reared to hard work, and his summers were spent in farm work and during the winter months he worked in a blacksmith shop. In 1888 he established a transfer and hauling business, which he still operates, the firm name being French and Wood, Mr. Wood having been a member of the firm since 1912.
The marriage of Mr. French united him with Miss Mary Corrine Yoakum, born in Oakland, Cal. Mr. French is a Democrat in politics. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, the Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows and the Woodmen of the World; and he belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, all of Merced. Mr. French is an honorary member of the fire department and a charter member of the old El Capitan Hose Company No. 1, of early days. He has lived continuously in Merced since 1872.
MRS. LOUISA JANE STEVINSON
One of the oldest living of the pioneer women of Merced County is Mrs. Louisa Jane Stevinson, daughter of that pioneer Isham J. Cox, of Cox's Ferry fame on the Merced River and one of the stanch upbuilders of the county from its beginning. Isham J. Cox was born in Tennessee, went to Shelby County, Ill., and thence to Texas, and with ox-teams and wagons came overland to California, arriving at Hill's Ferry in March, 1850. He went to the gold mines on Sher-lock's Creek, Mariposa County, and met with more than ordinary good luck; and when he returned to his family, they moved to a place four miles below Snelling, where he settled on the Merced River and built a ferry, which was operated as Cox's Ferry for many years. His wife was Rebecca Chisenhall in maidenhood and was of Scotch descent. Her progenitors were early settlers in Virginia and 'Were large planters.
Louisa Jane (Cox) Stevinson was born in Shelby County, Ill., over eighty-five years ago, and was only two years old when she was taken across the plains by her parents to Texas, where they lived during 1846-1847. In 1849 they came to California via the southern route to San Diego, where they spent the winter of 1849-1850. She was ten years old at the time and well remembers the journey from Texas and the early-day history of this section of country, where she grew to womanhood. She attended school at Quartzberg, Mariposa County.
The marriage of Louisa Jane Cox and James J. Stevinson was solemnized on December 27, 1855. Of this union the following children were born: Samuel, Mary E., and Fannie B. Samuel married Alice Reed and had three boys: Archibald, in the cattle business in the Stevinson Colony, is married and has 'two children; Howard, who married Blanche DeGraff, by whom two children were born, died in 1917; Floyd I., a rancher, married Carmella Sorensen, and they have five children. Mary E. became the wife of Charles P. Harris of San Francisco, who died in 1899, and she is now living with her mother. Fannie B. married Howard H. Hogan, promoter of the Stevinson Colony, and had two children : Paul Iribe, art designer with Cecil De Mille at Culver City; and Judith B., wife of George Hatfield, an attorney in San Francisco. Mr. Hogan died in 1917.
Mr. and Mrs. Stevinson worked hand in hand and in time accumulated 25,000 acres of land, upon which they became independent. Together they planned their home and made extensive improvements on their property; and at the same time they did their full duty as citizens of their county. Their home has always been the center of a delightful California hospitality to their many friends. The commodious house was completed in 1891. It is fitted with all conveniences and is surrounded by a spacious lawn, which is decorated with flowering shrubs and trees. Here, amid the surroundings so dear to her, Mrs. Stevinson is living in peace and contentment, the center of a large circle of dear friends, and her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mr. Stevinson, an account of whose life is given on another page, passed away on November 13, 1907, when seventy-nine years of age.
Few among the names of those pioneers who did the big things in helping to develop and build up California into the Golden State have come to have half the fascination of romance and glamor of renown that surround the honored name of Henry Miller, the cattle 'king of California and father of Los Banos, whose story is the narrative, like that of a fairy tale, of the remarkable career of a man whose industry, intellect and integrity conquered one of the most promising, and in truth one of the richest empires on the face of the earth. A butcher boy in the days of his youth in San Francisco, he won lands and amassed a fortune above that of many a king, and was lord, not only of all that he could survey, but of twice the area of the kingdom of Belgium. He reached his ninetieth year, and it is safe to say that nearly eighty-five of those years were periods of hard toil, and strenuous activity.
Henry Miller was born in Brackenheim, Wurtemberg, Germany, on July 21, 1827, and grew up a farmer's boy, familiar with country life from early childhood. When fourteen years old, he had, among other duties, the job of watching over a flock of geese; but one day he walked home, leaving the geese to look after themselves, and informed his astonished and skeptical sister that he was through with that sort of slow routine and was going out into the world to do something for himself. Two or three years were spent in Holland and England, and then, setting sail for New York, the ambitious young German arrived in that city, even then the New World's metropolis, and was there engaged as a butcher. The discovery of gold in California in 1848 attracted not only the attention of most of the civilized world, but it seized hold of Henry Miller with such a grip that in the famous Argonaut year of 1849 he joined the hurrying throngs trying to cross the Isthmus of Panama, and himself sought the new El Dorado. Upon arriving in Panama, Henry Miller, then only twenty-two years of age, discovered an exceptionally good opportunity for engaging in business and there formed a partnership with an American; but the enterprise had been launched only a few weeks when Miller was stricken with Panama fever—a most serious malady at that time of inadequate medical skill and attendance. When he had sufficiently recovered to hobble down to his business house, he discovered that his partner had swamped the business beyond all possibility of salvation, so that when all the bills had been paid, Miller had barely sufficient cash to obtain passage to San Francisco, where he landed in 1850, with just five dollars in his pocket, and a walking stick in his hand. He was still weak, from the effects of the fever ; but he resolutely hobbled forth to seek employment, and made it a point to call at every business house along Montgomery Street. Usually he met with disappointment; but before the day was over, he had engaged himself to a butcher.
A young man of Henry Miller's natural and already developed ability could not be expected to accept employment from another person long. After the San Francisco fire in 1851, he leased a lot on Jackson Street, erected a one-story building, and there opened a retail butcher shop; and this unpretentious business store, with its very small stock but early openings and late closings, became the cornerstone of the Miller fortunes. He went down into the valleys below San Francisco, purchased beef cattle and drove them into the city for butchering; and in these journeyings about the country he became well acquainted with the cattle-raisers of the State and their condition. There were several large competitors in the butcher business in San Francisco at that time, and among them was one in particular, Charles W. Lux, who was soon to appreciate Miller's capabilities. In 1857, Henry Miller visited the cattle-raising regions and quietly secured options on all the available beef cattle north of the Tehachapi range; and when the astonished buyers of his competitors appeared, there were no beeves to be had by them. This splendid stroke of enterprise, marked at that time, enabled Miller to make his own terms with Lux and others, and partnership with Lux was the immediate outgrowth of the puzzling situation.
The new firm entered the field vigorously, and gradually began to acquire lands upon which to graze its herds, for when Miller & Lux began their business as a firm, a vast domain of unfenced grazing land existed in the great sweep of valleys and western slopes of the Sierra Nevada range—in fact, millions of acres were unclaimed from the Government. As the population increased, and the business of Miller & Lux expanded, it became necessary to increase the acreage held for grazing purposes, and Spanish grants were bought at prices that would astonish the ranchmen of today. A square mile could then be purchased at a figure now quoted for a single acre, and in those days even cowboy employees took up Government land under the preemption, homestead and desert-land acts, and after acquiring a title would dispose of it to their employers for a few cents an acre. In this way, and by purchasing the rights of discouraged ranchers, the vast and tremendously valuable Miller & Lux empire was obtained. It required foresight to inspire the investors, the power of looking ahead and discerning what so many others with equal opportunities failed to discover ; but it also required courage, nerve to carry the details through.
One of the most notable purchases made by this epoch-making firm was the great Santa Anita rancho of 100,000 acres near Los Banos, which was obtained from Hildreth & Hildreth with its vast herds, soon after Henry Miller's advent in the San Joaquin Valley; and the Hildreth brand of three bars, crossed through the center, became the Miller & Lux brand for many years thereafter. And where-ever the brand of Miller & Lux was to be found, one might bank upon it that it represented a desirable, superior quality, for the secret of the rise of Henry Miller to the position of millionaire cattle baron was his remarkable knowledge of cattle, and an equally remarkable knowledge of men.
It is stated that Henry Miller at one time had the ambition to own the whole of California; but whether that be true or not, it is known that he was never anxious to part with lands after he had once acquired them, especially if they were suitable for grazing purposes, and he was ever ready to invest all surplus cash in the purchase of land. It is said, on the other hand, that Charles Lux at one time became frightened at his partner's purchasing proclivities, and sought to retire from the business. "Mr. Miller, we now have $100,000 in the bank in cash, and I think that this is an opportune time to dissolve partnership. Let us settle up." "You say that we have $100,000 in cash?" replied Mr. Miller. "Well, wait until I return from this trip." When Mr. Miller came back, Mr. Lux found that the firm had just invested in more land to the tune of $100,000, for Miller could not pass up a good chance to invest in acreage when the cash lay temptingly at hand. While Mr. Lux was a good financier and office man, there is no doubt of the fact that he was made a millionaire in spite of himself, and that he owed much of his own prosperity to his more aggressive partner. He could not let go when he wished to, and he remained a member of the firm until his death in 1887.
Henry Miller reckoned his holdings by the square mile, not by the acre, and a bit of evidence he gave in court some years ago—entertaining reading today. "In taking it ranch after ranch," he said, "in Santa Clara County it has an extent of twenty-four miles north and south, and about seven to eight miles east and west. In Merced County we have thirty-six miles north and south, and then about thirty-two miles east and west. The Malheur property is an extent Of ninety miles northwest to southeast, and about sixty miles north to south. Then comes the purchase of what we call the Todhunter & Devine property. That lies in Harney County, Ore., and comprises over seven-tenths of 125 miles north and south and about seventy-five miles east and west, with a good distance in between." There is no doubt whatever, however, that the amount of the Miller & Lux holdings have been greatly overestimated. A special writer for one of the noted San Francisco dailies gave an estimate of 14,539,000 acres ; but behind these astounding figures was a journalistic purpose of exaggerating, for with, ownership and leases combined, the total would not reach half of that figure. The richest holdings are in Merced and Madera Counties, and amount to probably 350,000 acres. The Buttonwillow district will swell the total by 200,000 more, and Fresno County and other districts will probably increase the San Joaquin holdings to 700,000 acres, and there are nearly 20,000 acres in the region of Gilroy, and other, smaller tracts scattered over the State. The Miller & Lux acreage in the States of Nevada and Oregon will bring the grand total up to nearly 3,000,000 acres. It is a common saying among stockmen that Henry Miller could travel from the Idaho line to the Mexican border and camp on his own land every night; and no other man in America ever has, or ever will again, control such an immense acreage of agricultural lands. It almost staggers belief that this tremendous empire was owned and occupied by one man's interests, and was nearly all under his personal supervision. Henry Miller was almost continually on the move in the years of his health and activity, for he did most of his work in the days before the automobile, although he was one of the first to import a fine French car. He came to dislike the machine, however, owing to the rough roads he was generally compelled to travel, and in rather short order he discarded it again, and once more took to either his favorite buggy or his buckboard, in making his round of visits across the vast Miller & Lux ranches.
In 1860, Henry Miller was married to Miss Sarah Wilmarth Sheldon, a lady of culture and refinement. Two daughters and a son were born to them. Henry Miller, Jr., died in his fortieth year, survived by a widow, an honored resident of Gilroy. The youngest daughter, Miss Sarah Alice, was killed by a runaway horse. Another daughter, Mrs. J. Leroy Nickel, resided at 2101 Laguna Street, San Francisco, and it was at her residence that Mr. Miller expired, on October 14, 1916. George Nickel, a grandson of the famous pioneer, has resided on the Ortigalito ranch, eight miles to the southeast of Los Banos. The immediate life estate was left to Mrs. Nickel and her husband, who had taken a leading hand in the management of the Miller & Lux properties, and some $225,000 for surviving relatives of Mr. and Mrs. Miller, and $30,000 in smaller amounts to employees, were provided for by bequests in the will.
A notable achievement of Henry Miller was his organization and control of the San Joaquin & Kings River Canal and Irrigation Company, and not a few of his enterprises were productive of much benefit to others as well as to himself and near of kin. William J. Stockton, the pioneer, who first became acquainted with Mr. Miller in 1872, soon overcame his prejudices against great landholders and found that Miller was performing a great service to other folks seeking to establish themselves. The pioneer could go to his straw-stacks and get straw for the asking, and to Canal Farm and get a cow ; and such courtesies were given to rich and poor alike. When the section from Los Banos to Newman was in dire straits for water, Henry Miller, at a cost of some $3,000,000, built a canal and delivered water to the people, without an extra cent of cost to them. He also made a present to the county of a road built at an expense of $45,000, and running to the San Joaquin River. He was born to rule, to lead, to point the way to others, and ,to get there himself; he testified in court that during the hard times in the five years following Mr. Lux's death, he made $1,700,000 a year, or $8,000,000 in five years, an amount that seems almost incredible, but which must be true. Henry Miller was of striking personal appearance, and in his prime was an exact image of General U. S. Grant. He was simple in his habits, and would tolerate no homage from anyone. Dr. J. L. McClelland said, when Mr. Miller died : "He has endowed no colleges, but he has given millions as he went along without exacting any pledge of remembrance, or making any condition of, publicity. There are thousands of humble men and widows who can testify that his giving of valuable land and goodly sums of coin has been in strict accord with the Scripture admonition, 'Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.' " And Andrew R. Schottky, the distinguished lawyer, said: "I saw a poor butcher boy coming from Germany to California; I saw him accumulating vast acreages of land on the Pacific Coast; I saw thousands of happy and prosperous homes on land developed and sold by him; I saw no instance of colonists being defrauded and impoverished by being placed on poor land at high prices. Under-thinking persons will perhaps censure him for his great wealth; but the fair-minded will think of the fact that in accumulating his wealth he developed land and took advantage of opportunity, but did not crush and destroy men. When all is said and done, his was a life of intense usefulness, and his contribution to the present and the future of California is large. The words of Mark Anthony at the death of Brutus are peculiarly appropriate at the death of Henry Miller : `This was a man I' "
CAPT. HENRY GEORGE JAMES
Few men have had a more interesting, as well as serviceable career than the late Capt. Henry George James, a native of Camborne, Cornwall, England, and the son of William and Elizabeth Eva James, who had three sons, all born at Camborne, the others having been Edward and William. The elder James, a blacksmith by trade, was a member of an English exploring company which visited South America, and having accidentally broken his ankle, he was carried over the Andes Mountains lashed to a chair strapped to the back of a stalwart native. Returning to England, he immigrated to the United States, about 1832. His brother, Edward, took part in the Black Hawk War. He was a correspondent of the St. Louis Democrat and lost his life in war journalistic service. During the trouble with the Indians in this Black Hawk outbreak, the men of Iowa County, Wis., formed companies for drill, and so did their sons; and thus it happened that Henry G. James was dubbed "Captain," a title he always bore.
He came out to California in 1850, walking across the Isthmus of Panama in the more primitive days before the railroad was built there, and upon his arrival at Sonora, Tuolumne County, he engaged in mining. Later he went into the cattle business and in time became one of the largest cattle men in Stanislaus County, and for twenty years he furnished cattle, hogs and sheep to wholesale butchers in San Francisco. During his experience in furnishing beef for a butcher firm in Sonora, he once made a journey to the coast to purchase stock; meeting a company of men in charge of a band of steers, Capt. James bought what he wanted and started to drive them home. Before he had traveled far he was overtaken by the real owners of the steers, who informed him that the cattle had been stolen. The Captain and his companions pursued the thieves to San Francisco, where they obtained the assistance of Capt. Harry Love, a famous detective of that time, by whom one of the thieves was arrested. The other made his escape. While on the way back with their prisoner, Captain James and party stopped to have lunch and ostensibly to give the prisoner a trial. They assumed an air of carelessness and the thief thought that it would be a good opportunity to escape; so he crawled off into the chaparral; but several shots followed him and he was killed. No one knew whose shot did the business.
In 1873, at Salida, Stanislaus County, Captain James was married to Miss Nannie Jamison, the daughter of A. H. Jamison, a native of Arkansas, who served for two terms as supervisor in Stanislaus County when the county seat was at Knights Ferry. One daughter married John R. Barnett, sheriff of Madera County. Captain James was a Democrat and a sympathizer with, and an active supporter of the Confederacy of the Southern States. He served at one time as a trustee of Modesto. He belonged to the Masons and assisted with their ritual at the laying of the cornerstone of the Stanislaus County court house. He died at the home of his sister, Mrs. Root, at Salida in 1901 or 1902.
Another of the native sons of the Golden State who has made his influence felt in agricultural circles is Joshua Casaretto, now living in retirement on his ranch on Bear Creek about three miles from Merced. He was born at Hornitos, Mariposa County, on April 19, 1859, a son of the late Giuseppe and Catherine (Daneri) Casaretto, the former born in Genoa, Italy, and the latter at Chiavari. Giuseppe Casaretto left his native country in 1852 and came by way of Panama to California to make his fortune in the mines, but after trying his luck until 1855 he decided the surest way to fortune was in something more substantial and he engaged in working at the trade of stone mason. He had married in Italy and when he sent for his wife and son in 1855, he quit mining for his trade. They settled in an adobe house near Benton's Mill; then in the late fifties he moved to Hornitos and built a stone store building, which he later traded to Mr. Olcese, who had a store at Indian Gulch, for his building and business there, but this did not prove to be a profitable exchange for the store at Indian Gulch was soon to become extinct with the dwindling of the mines. In 1857 Mr. Casaretto moved to Merced Falls and took up his home, working at his trade and raising stock. He died of blood poisoning while at Snelling, on June 28, 1885, when fifty-eight years old. Three boys and one girl in the Casaretto family grew up and are still living: John lives at Merced Falls on the old home place; David is a butcher in Atwater; Joshua is the subject of this review; and Mrs. Julia Fee lives in Modesto. Her husband was the son of the late Peter Fee, who came to California in 1849 and conducted the first hotel in the mining section of Mt. Bullion, known as Norwegian Tent, because it was only a tent house. The elder Casaretto was a man of integrity of character and was highly esteemed.
Joshua went to the school in Indian Valley and was brought up on the mountain ranch owned by his father and spent much of his time in the saddle, during which time he learned to speak the French, Spanish, Italian and English languages fluently. In 1870 he was a joint owner in a sheep and wool growing business; and in 1872-1873, with John and David, his brothers, conducted a general store at Hopeton, but continuing his sheep business until 1884, when he was forced to quit during the Cleveland administration when wool dropped so low in price that no one could afford to keep sheep. He then turned his attention to cattle and horse raising on a part of the old home place, and at the same time was made manager of the Casaretto interests. He sold out his stock interests in 1919 and decided to retire when he moved to his present place of eighty-six acres. The rich Bear Creek land had such an attraction for him that he once more began farming, raising Poland China hogs and fruit; he also owns 1800 acres of foothill land in Mariposa County where he runs some stock, and with the help of his sons they are making a success of their ventures.
When Mr. Casaretto married on September 8, 1902, he chose for his wife Miss Marceline Leota, born on November 15, 1861, on a ranch at Mokelumne Hill, Calaveras County, the daughter of Leon Leota, born in Marseilles, France, and a man of considerable intellect and culture. He was proficient in seven different languages; came to California in 1851 and settled in the mining section. He was the second man in Calaveras County to receive a patent from the United States Government for land. Her mother was Mary Mullin, born in Ireland of Scotch parents, and she died in Oakland in 1915. Mr. and Mrs. Casaretto have two boys, Victor Emanuel and Emanuel Victor, who are assisting their father to run the ranches owned by him. Mr. Casaretto is a Republican and the family belong to the Catholic Church.
J. MIGUEL ARBURUA
One of the most prominent citizens of the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley, now a resident near the city of Los Banos, is J. Miguel Arburua, who is living retired after many years of useful activity. He was born in the Basque Province of Etchlar, in the Pyrenees, Spain, on November 24, 1844, and received a limited education, so practically what he received was obtained from contact with the world. He came to the United States and California, via Cape Horn in 1866, taking six months to complete the journey. He had no money and his only assets were his indomitable courage and a willingness to work. His uncle, Miguel Aguirre, had settled in San Francisco in an early day, and when the nephew arrived in San Francisco he obtained a job for him in Butchertown at twenty dollars per month and the young man held down that job for four years, saving his money and paying back the amount advanced him for his fare to the new world. He had no knowledge of English and that made it harder for him, but he stuck to his job and in time mastered enough of the English language to enable him to transact business—and in time there was no shrewder business man and financier than J. M. Arburua.
The first venture our subject tackled was in partnership with J. Lugea. They carried on a sheep business for four years and made it a success, though suffering severe losses in 1877 on account of the drought, when he took his sheep to Nevada. In 1886 Mr. Arburua located on the Carrizalito grant in Merced County, purchasing the property of 22,000 acres for $42,000 from the man who had previously bought it for $65,000 and failed to make good and was willing to turn over the huge indebtedness to Mr. Arburua for $2000 and he to assume the mortgage. He had no money, but he bought the land, having as his only assets about 7000 head of sheep. He made money from the start and in time added by purchase from various settlers in his vicinity 6500 more acres. On this large tract of land he engaged in the cattle and sheep business until 1915, being assisted by his entire family to attain their independence. In the year mentioned he divided his large acreage among his children and turned over the management of its affairs, bought sixty-five acres near Los Banos, known as Rouse ranch, and settled down to farming on a small scale and is now living retired on this ranch with his wife. He is known as one of the most honorable men of his day and age, public spirited, generous and at eighty is hale and hearty and enjoys life to its full. He has always been a hard worker and expected his sons to do their share, which each of .them has done and all are worthy representatives of their honored parent.
The marriage of J. Miguel Arburua occurred on November 24, 1882, when he was united with Josefa Lavayn, daughter of Baptiste and Michaela Lavayn. She was born in the same province, in 1860, as her husband and came to America when fourteen, receiving her education in California. To this wonderful woman Mr. Arburua gives great credit for his success as she helped in the management of their affairs. They had the following children : Carmen, single; Helen M., married I. B. Cornett and lives in Los Banos; Frank J., married Helena Harms and resides on the home ranch; Louis P., married Marie M. Chotro, has two children, Lucille and Josephine, and is the proprietor of the City Market in Los Banos, besides largely interested in ranching; Joseph M. is a veterinary surgeon in San Francisco and married to Eleanor Kehoe and has a son John Joseph.. He was a first lieutenant and saw service on the Mexican border and in France with the Eighth Division. Mr. Arburua was a director of the First National Bank, now the Bank of Italy, in Los Banos. He has always been prominent in educational affairs and donated land for two school buildings and served as a trustee for many years. He believes in doing good wherever he can and has always been a liberal giver to churches and church work, regardless of denomination. His great outstanding characteristic has been his ability to get results from those he has employed and at the same time cement a friendship that lasts while either party lives. He has worked unceasingly himself and attributes his good health to that activity. With his good wife he is enjoying the fruits of their labors and their friends are legion.
HENRY FREDERICK FERDINAND SALAU
Among the pioneers of Merced County none had a more eventful career than Henry F. F. Salau, who made his home five miles southwest of Los Banos. He was a prominent rancher and stockman in California, and few had touched at as many ports of the world as had Mr. Salau while he was sailing the seas. He was born June 3, 1835, at Kiel, Germany, the son of John and Catherine (Kremhoff) Salau, also natives of that same place. The mother died in 1854 while the father lived to reach the age of sixty. He was a weaver by trade and he and his wife were members of the Lutheran Church and strict in the discipline of their children.
The oldest son in the family, Henry Salau remained at home until he was fourteen; then, feeling the touch of poverty and lack of opportunity, he became a sailor aboard the brig "Betsy of London," which was the vessel used by John Paul Jones fifty years before, sailing to London, then to Quebec, Canada, but before reaching the latter port experienced his first shipwreck, in which eleven of the crew were rescued by the Humboldt of Hamburg and taken to New York. Three months later he shipped on the Humboldt for Hamburg, then on the same ship made two trips to New York. The last time he came around the Horn to California, reaching San Francisco in August, 1852. Thereafter he was engaged in the coasting trade between San Francisco and Puget Sound. In 1861 he shipped on the Challenger for Liverpool, a voyage of 103 days. His next ship was the Nicholas Biddle for New York, after which he took a trip to the West Indies on the Warwick. His next trip was around the Horn on the clipper ship, Magnet, 140 days. He continued as a sailor on various ships and had reached the rank of second officer. During the years that had passed he had become well informed on conditions in nearly every part of the world, and when he had spent about a year in Germany, where he worked in a moulding factory, he decided he would come to the United States and California. Like the majority of men who follow the sea, he had not accumulated any money, so he had to begin at the bottom and work his way to the top. His arrival in San Francisco was in April, 1867, on the Moses Taylor. Going to Santa Clara he farmed in that vicinity until 1869, then went to the West Side in Merced County and entered 160 acres near Volta. He did not prove up on this land but soon settled near Los Banos and engaged in the sheep business. In 1871 he located on 160 acres and improved it and made that his home for many years, adding to his property until he had 700 acres which he devoted to grain and stock.
Mr. Salau entered into every movement that had for its end the betterment of general conditions, was a strong Republican and served on the County Central Committee and as a delegate to county and state conventions. Fraternally he held membership in the Workmen. He was reared in the Lutheran faith and belonged to that church in Los Banos. He married at Kiel, Germany, Miss Marie Dorathea (Weber) Salau, born in Holstein, and they had five children : Augusta C., the wife of M. Becker of Berkeley; Adolph of Fruit-vale; Mary; Louis, who died in 1918 ; and Doretta C., of Los Banos. Mr. Salau died on April 12, 1910, aged seventy-five, and Mrs. Salau passed away on November 23, 1919.
WILLIAM FIELDING TAYLOR
A real pioneer of California and an early settler in the San Joaquin Valley, William Fielding Taylor was a lineal descendant of the Zachary Taylor family, the twelfth President of the United States. He was the son of William and Martha Taylor, who were of English descent and early Colonists, who migrated from the New England states to Tennessee, where they cleared the land for pioneer farming. Born June 20., 1821, near Nashville, Tenn., William F. Taylor was reared in that locality, receiving but a limited education, owing to lack of schools on the frontier, attending a private school for a few months each year. When seventeen years of age, his father having died, he moved among the early pioneers to Missouri, and there engaged in clearing land and farming, until 1852.
Still seeking a newer country in which to make his home, in 1852, Mr. Taylor brought his family to California, landing at French Bar (now La Grange) on the Tuolumne River, and followed mining for three years, then conducted an eating-house for seven years. He later bought land on Dry Creek, near Snelling, and farmed. Due to the drought of 1864, he moved to the Gwin ranch, now owned by the Buckley Brothers, in the Merced River bottom. In 1868 he moved to Bear Creek, near Merced, and took up land in what is now known as the British Colony. The last years of his life were spent in Merced, his death occurring January 6, 1896. Mrs. Taylor died at the home of Mrs. G. W. Baxter in 1910, aged eighty years.
The marriage of Mr. Taylor, which occurred on March 16, 1848, near Springfield, Mo., united him with Elizabeth Ellen Inman, daughter of Ezekiel Inman. Her parents were of Scotch and Philadelphia Dutch extraction, and were engaged in the mercantile business. Several brothers served in the Civil War in the Union Army. Ten children were born to William and Elizabeth Taylor, as follows : Martha A., widow of W. B. Aiken, of Fresno; John H., married Miss Lilly Van Blaricum of Oregon; George, deceased, married Het-tie J. Booker, of Sonora ; William D., married Molly Quinly, lives at Zion City, Ill.; Atlanta B., Mrs. G. F. Hannah of San Jose; Milton T., deceased; Mary A., now Mrs. Vern Christy of Modesto; Fanny B., now Mrs. George Baxter of Le Grand; Rebecca F., Mrs. W. A. Quinly of El Cerrito ; and Miss Sidney J., deceased. The two oldest children, who took the pioneer trip across the plains with their parents, are living and active today, Mrs. Martha Aiken of Fresno, aged seventy-six years, and John H., of Oregon, aged seventy-four.
WILLIAM C. TURNER
The late William C. Turner was one of those intrepid pioneers who were the forerunners of our present-day civilization in California. He was born in Caswell County, North Carolina, on February 14, 1827, and in 1849, with a party of 150 men, all on the hunt for the gold to be found in the new Eldorado, left Greene County to take the northern route; but upon hearing that cholera was prevalent along that route, they turned south and with their ox-teams and wagons began the long trek that was to occupy six months. Their trip was without incident, and to relieve the monotony of the days they would organize hunting parties and go after buffalo, bear, deer, antelope, and elk, which were plentiful on the plains. Among the men of their party, to Mr. Turner was given the credit for killing the first buffalo. Upon reaching Los Banos, N. M., they traded their oxen for pack-mules and employed two guides to pilot them through the mountains to Salt Lake. En route they ran out of provisions and most of the party stopped at Utah Lake while the advance guard went on to get provisions from the Mormons. When they reached Salt Lake, September 15, they were told by the Mormons that it was too late to cross the Sierra Nevadas, on account of the snow; but the party, under the guidance of James Waters, reached Los Angeles without mishap. They traveled through Cajon Pass up to Tulare Lake, and crossing the various streams reached Fort Miller. Resting for a few days, they then continued on to Fine Gold Gulch and did some prospecting, and then went on to Mariposa County. Large bands of elk were found in the San Joaquin Valley; and while one of their party was following one of these bands, he got lost in a heavy fog and wandered about for eighteen days. He was found in a hollow log on the Merced River, with his feet so badly frost-bitten that he lost some of his toes. He was taken to a New York company camped on the river, and later went back to Alabama without trying his luck at mining.
Mr. Turner reached the Mariposa mines on December 8, 1849, and began operating on Sherlock's Creek. Having brought sheet-iron with them, they made what the miners called a cradle and from the dirt obtained gold very rapidly, some days taking out as high as fourteen ounces. He remained in Mariposa County until 1852, when he came onto the Merced 'River and began farming and stock-raising; and that same year he reaped a good crop. In time he accumulated 2500 acres of land, with water facilities for shipping, and later the railroad came within eight miles of his place. His house was located on an eminence that commanded a fine view for miles around the valley. Here he set out a fine family orchard and a vineyard, all of which grew on the fine sandy loam without irrigation. His average yield was twelve bushels of wheat to the acre ; and he kept about 1000 head of cattle and some 1200 head of hogs, and 100 head of horses and mules to operate his ranch.
On one occasion, it is related, Mr. Turner, while teaming into the mountains, secured a large grizzly bear, which he hauled to Stockton from near Jamestown. He built a strong log cabin or corral on his wagon, into which he got the bear, and with a ten-horse team hauled it to Stockton. During the journey the grizzly became very hot and angry and nearly tore the cabin to pieces; but the bear was landed safely in Stockton, where for years it was an exhibit in one of the parks.
About 1860, Mr. Turner was married to Miss Elizabeth Walling, who was born in New Madrid County, Mo. They had ten children. William E. was a superintendent for Miller & Lux for twenty years, and was a prominent stockman of Merced County. He married Ella Rucker and died in 1923. Mary E. married Capt. W. W. Gray, formerly a supervisor of Merced County. She is deceased. John Archibald is mentioned on another page of this history; Harriet E. is the widow of John Breckenridge, and resides in Santa Cruz; Thomas C. is also mentioned in this history; Mrs. Lucinda Barson lives in San Francisco ; Mrs. Diana Henderson lives in Berkeley; Virginia died in Santa Cruz ; and Eva and Evy both died in early childhood. Mr. Turner died at the age of sixty-four, on February 14, 1892 ; Mrs. Turner lived until February, .1922.
The life story of Mr. Turner is one of great interest; for the pioneers are practically all gone, and with them the stories of their trials and tribulations, as well as their jubilations. He was always optimistic and public-spirited, and their home always dispensed that particular kind of hospitality which is only to be found in the homes of the pioneers who have lived for others as well as for themselves.
C. H. HUFFMAN
At one time known as the "wheat king" of the San Joaquin Valley because of his close association with Isaac Friedlander, who was known as the "wheat king" of California during his active career in the wheat growing, buying and shipping business, C. H. Huffman left a void in the ranks of the upbuilders of Merced County when he sold out his interests to take up his residence in San Francisco, in which city he died on July 7, 1905. His was a busy life, filled with work for the State he adopted for his home. He participated actively in the initiation and development, in the county in which he lived, of the irrigation projects that have had such far-reaching effects on the expansion of its agricultural and horticultural interests, thereby enriching the people who sought homes in what is considered by many as the garden spot of the San Joaquin Valley.
C. H. Huffman was born at a point near the mouth of the Mississippi River, on July 14, 1829. In early boyhood he received a fairly good schooling, and evinced a desire to make his own way in the world when he was but ten years of age, for we find the records state that he was then working his own way and acquiring a knowledge of business on board a pilot boat at the entrance of the Mississippi River. Following his experience on the river, and up to his nineteenth year, he followed the sea on vessels plying between America and European ports; and in this manner he was widening his scope of knowledge of the world and its people, and the lessons he learned and the experiences he met with helped to mould his future life and work. At the age of nineteen he was a second officer of a full-rigged ship.
When the tide of emigration started West in 1849, Mr. Huffman decided to get to California and made his way around the Horn, in company with other California pioneers, who later became prominent in the making of the State. Mr. Huffman remained in San Francisco a short time and then made his way to Sierra County. There he followed mining for a time; but his health necessitated a change, and so he located in Stockton and began teaming into the southern mines. Meeting with gratifying success, he gradually built up an extensive freighting business, and for twenty years was identified with Stockton as one of her sound business men and financiers of more than ordinary ability.
In 1868 Mr. Huffman visited Merced County; and, being favorably impressed with its many advantages, he concluded to purchase land and in time accumulated many hundred acres of good farming land. Through his connection with the Crocker-Huffman Land & Water Company, which had so much to do with the irrigation of the East Side of this fertile region, he added very materially in bringing the fame of Merced County as an agricultural section prominently to the fore.
Mr. Huffman became associated with the late Isaac Friedlander in the buying of grain throughout the San Joaquin. Valley, acting as his agent and continuing thus until the death of his employer. Thereafter Mr. Huffman devoted his time to raising wheat and became a large grower of that commodity. He accumulated much property and was very successful in all that he undertook, working not alone for his own personal gain, but also to advance the general welfare of Merced County.
From the small beginnings of irrigation made before the advent of Mr. Huffman in Merced County, he readily saw that the future prosperity of the entire San Joaquin Valley depended upon getting water onto the fertile lands that only wanted that necessary adjunct to make the whole section "blossom as the rose" ; and through his association with the Crocker-Huffman Land & Water Company, he did his full share to bring about the present prosperity of Merced County. The details of the initiation and successful consummation of the irrigation movement are given in detail in the historical section of this volume and need no repetition here. Suffice it, here, to say that no one man did more to promote the various movements directed toward obtaining water for the lands in the county than did our subject. He was the prime mover in the organization of the First National Bank of Merced, and was its president from its organization until it was reorganized into the Commercial and Savings Bank in 1892, when he retained his position as a director and helped to guide its affairs through the trying times of its early life in the community. Mr. Huffman was a man of rare executive ability and maintained a personal contact with his large interests until he retired. He moved to San Francisco in 1893 and located in the home he had purchased at Broadway and Buchanan Streets ; and there he passed to his reward on July 7, 1905.
The marriage of C. H. Huffman, which occurred on May 26, 1869, united him with Miss Laura A. E. Kirkland, born in Missouri, the daughter of R. M. and Catharine (Woods) Kirkland, natives of Missouri and Kentucky, respectively. At the age of nine years, in 1861, the daughter accompanied her parents across the plains to California behind slow-going ox-teams. Her father was a dentist. Upon arriving in California, they settled in Gilroy, where the daughter grew up. After her school days were over, she was married and then moved with her husband to Modesto. They first lived at Paradise City, where Mr. Huffman built a house, which later he moved to Modesto. Of this union there were ten children. William R. died at the age of twenty-eight years, unmarried; Caroline is now the wife of Dr. A. C. Griffith and resides at 119 Palm Avenue, San Francisco; Mary E. became the wife of Espie White, of Portland, Ore.; Fred H. is a cattleman in Modoc County; E. T. is interested in the automobile business at Miami Lodge and is also connected with transportation into the Yosemite Valley; Mercedes is the wife of Maj. G. E. Nelson, who is stationed at Fort Sill, Okla.; Genevieve married Col. Matt C. Bristol and lives in Honolulu; J. Walton lives in Merced; Hazel died at the age of fifteen months; and another infant died unnamed. By a former marriage Mr. Huffman was the father of three children. Mr. Huffman was recognized as townsite man for the Southern Pacific Railway and located nearly all the towns along the railroad through the San Joaquin Valley. The family moved to Merced; and there Mr. Huffman erected on the banks of Bear Creek, a large residence known as the Huffman Mansion by nearly everybody in that section of the country. This property was sold at the time they moved to San Francisco to the home in which he died; and this, in turn, was sold later by Mrs. Huffman, after a residence there of twenty-three years. She now makes her home at 119 Palm Avenue, San Francisco.
WALTER E. LILLEY, M. D.
Merced County has been most fortunate in the class of business and professional men who have chosen to come here and establish their homes and business careers. The fertile valley of the San Joaquin is today the background for many thriving community centers, and the business and professional offices, as well as the mercantile establishments, are equal to any like communities in the United States, long famous for its cities, developed from what were formerly "country towns," but now ranking with the larger metropolis in point of wealth and convenience. That this is due to the caliber and work of the men who have lived and been identified with the towns for the past decade or two, goes without saying, and is a lasting monument to their individuality. Among these in Merced we find Dr. Walter E. Lilley, born in Portland, Chautauqua County, N. Y., November 5, 1868, the son of Abner Lilley, also a native of that State. After finishing his preliminary education, Dr. Lilley attended the Baltimore Medical College, from which institution he' graduated in 1894 with his degree of M. D. He practiced in Findley's Lake, N. Y., and later in Barnard, Windsor County, Vt. In 1899, he came out West and located in Merced, and has ever since that date been prominent in the medical fraternity of the city and county. He is county physician of Merced County, in charge of the County Hospital, in addition to his private practice, and has built up a most enviable reputation as a conscientious and able doctor of humanity. He is past president of the San Joaquin Medical Society, serving twice in that office, and is also past president of the Merced County Medical Society; a member of the State Medical Society and the National Medical Association; and surgeon for the Santa Fe and Yosemite Valley railways.
The marriage of Dr. Lilley, occurring at Mayville, Chautauqua County, N. Y., united him with Mabel Crosgrove, a native of that city, and two sons have blessed their union: Harold, a graduate of St. Mary's College, Oakland, now engaged in fig culture; and Ivan, a graduate of the University of California, and now a member of the firm of Lilley and Stribling, nurserymen. Prominent in the financial and civic life of his community, as well as professionally, Dr. Lilley is a director in the Farmers and Merchants National Bank of Merced; he is a member of the Merced Rotary Club ; belongs to the Merced Lodge No. 1240, B. P. 0. E.; and is a Mason of high standing, a member of Merced Lodge No. 99, F. & A. M., and all branches, including Aahmes Shrine, of Oakland. As dean of the practicing M. D.'s of Merced County, and a man learned in his profession both through practical experience and scientific knowledge, Dr. Lilley is held in high esteem by the entire county, and by his friends and business associates, who have found him to be relied upon at all times when the greater good of Merced and Merced County were in question, doing all in his power to advance the civic, economic and educational life of his district. His opportunities for public welfare work have been many, and have been taken advantage of unostentatiously and with a true regard for humanity. It is such men as this who have helped build up our communities, and now stand with their shoulders to the wheel to help tide over any temporary difficulties and make the way clear for posterity.
JAMES V. TOSCANO
The rise from very moderate circumstances to a position of honor and affluence has been the lot of James V. Toscano, leading citizen of Los Banos, solely through his energy and business integrity. A native of Italy, he was born in Basilicata, Potenza, on December 1, 1868, a son of Joseph Toscano, with whom he came to America in 1878. The mother and other members of the family followed them four years later and the home was established in New York City for a short time; later they came on to San Francisco. The year 1881 marks their advent in Merced County, the father purchasing forty acres of land in Badger Flat, near Los Banos. Improvements were made by building a house and fencing the property, our subject, then only a lad, assisting his father with this work. They raised vegetables and James V. sold them from a wagon, traveling over the coun-. tryside in a territory twenty miles wide by sixty miles in length and working from daylight until after dark.
In 1890 James V. Toscano came into Los Banos and embarked in business on his own account and erected the first business house in the new town. Seven years later his was the largest general merchandise business in Los Banos, the store growing in proportion to the increase in population. For nineteen years he carried on his business; then after a lapse of two years he engaged in the furniture business, which he continued for twelve years. In the meantime he became the leading spirit in the town, giving of his time and means to help every project that he had an idea would help develop the community. He was the founder of the First National Bank of Los Banos, in 1911, serving as its president for twelve years, until the bank was taken over by the Bank of Italy, when he retired. During the twelve years he served as president of the bank it paid an average yearly dividend of over forty-three per cent to the stockholders. He helped organize the Merchants' Association and was its president for nine years; for eleven years he served as a city trustee, part of the time as chairman of the board; and he was one of the prime movers for the incorporation of Los Banos, being on the board when this became a city; he worked for the installation of a sewer system, for street improvements, in fact every movement that would advance the city met with his hearty support. He was one of the organizers of the local Chamber of Commerce and served as treasurer for four years. Since 1909 Mr. Toscano has served as a member of the board of education; he was instrumental in having the local telephone service extended to give night service. After his retirement from the bank he engaged in the real estate business and was the means of having the Miller and Lux land sub-division of forty-two acres put on the market; also the sub-division southeast on the highway, and he sold most of the lots.
In June, 1888, James V. Toscano was united in marriage with Miss Mary Sarbo, who was born in the same town as himself, in 1871, and was brought to California by her parents when a baby. They have had eight children, viz : Joseph L., engaged in the life insurance business in Los Banos, is married and the father of two daughters, Sydney and Inez ; William P., who was a prominent attorney is now deceased; Rosie, Mrs. Julio Bartolomeoni of Los Banos; Margaret; Julia, a teacher in the Los Banos schools for the past seven years; Antone, attending the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco, Class of 1925 ; Violet, attending the San Francisco Teachers College ; and Jeanette, a student in the Los Banos High School. Mr. Toscano helped organize the Druids Lodge and was a Grand Trustee of the Grand Lodge for six years, and for one year was Grand Herald; he was one of the organizers of the Foresters of America and for sixteen years was District Grand Chief Ranger; he has passed all the chairs in the Mountain Brow Lodge of Odd Fellows, is a member of Newman Encampment and Modesto Canton; and he belongs to the Fraternal Order of Eagles and to the Fraternal Brotherhood. After many years of activity Mr. Toscano is living practically retired, only looking after his own private interests for he owns considerable property in Los Banos, as well as ranch land. He is fond of outdoor life and spends much of his time enjoying the great out-of-doors.
DANIEL K. THORNTON
A citizen of whom any community might be proud is Daniel K. Thornton, and the people of Merced County, appreciating his public spirit and ability, elected him to the office of county supervisor, in which position he served for three consecutive terms of four years each. Not only while in office but in the common walk of life does he command the respect of all the people.
The son of Michael and Ellen (Hanlon) Thornton, he was born two and a half miles west of Merced on April 15, 1873. His father came to Napa, Cal., via Cape Horn, in 1866, and to Merced County in 1868, and bought the place on which his son Daniel was born; this he sold in 1883 and moved on to the P. Bennett ranch on the Mariposa and Merced County line. He moved again, in 1885, to Bear Creek, where he staid fourteen years; from there he went into the Planada district for six years. His next move was to the old Hooper place near Yosemite Lake and two years later he returned to Merced. He died in the fall of 1924 at the age of eighty-six years. His wife, whom he had arrived in San Francisco, where she had come as a girl, died about 1905. There were thirteen children in his family, ten boys and three girls, of whom eleven are still living.
Daniel Thornton was educated in the public schools of Merced County and helped his father on the ranch in the farming season. From the age of twenty to thirty he worked for wages and then was able to engage in farming on his own account, which he did on several different rented places, first on the old Twitchell place for two years and next on the old Ivett ranch of 1300 acres for two years; then on the McClosky place for a like period. His last place to rent was the Cleek ranch near Plainsburg, after which he purchased his present place of forty acres on the Athlone-Buchanan road. In all his farming operations he has been fairly successful.
Mr. Thornton was married in 1904 to Miss Jessie Frances Poor, daughter of a pioneer rancher, • and they have three children; Jesse Marvin, Ronald Daniel and Theresa Belle. Mr. Thornton's activity as county commissioner was marked by an activity for the good of the county in general and was highly commendable; the concrete highways and bridges in the county have all been built during his terms in office. Fraternally, he belongs to the Odd Fellows, the Rebekahs, and the Modern Woodmen. He is a member of the Le Grand Band and also plays the violin.
JOHN A. RODUNER
One of the prosperous and well-known ranchers and diarymen of Merced County, John A. Roduner has spent most of his life in the San Joaquin Valley, and has thus become well versed in its possibilities, both as to soil and climatic conditions, and in the products best calculated for successful growth in this most fertile region of California, and his success has been founded on the knowledge thus gained and on its practical application. He is a native of Minnesota, born March 10, 1853, at St. Anthony Falls, the eldest of two sons born to his parents. His father, John Roduner, was born in Switzerland on August 24, 1824, and came to the United States in 1846, with his parents, first locating in New York, then moving to Wisconsin, and later to Minnesota, following his trade of carpenter. He came to California in 1863, via Panama, bringing his family with him; they boarded the steamer Ocean Queen from New York, and from the Isthmus came on the Golden Shore to San Francisco. Locating in Stockton, Mr. Roduner, Sr., there worked at his trade as carpenter until he retired from active business cares. His wife died in Stockton on September 2, 1902, and that same year he came to Merced County and made his home with his son, until his death on August 19, 1909, at the age of eighty-four years. The mother is also buried in Merced County.
John A. Roduner received his education in the public schools of Stockton, and also took a course at Heald's Business College, in San Francisco. He then followed teaming for ten years, in Stanislaus, Mariposa and Merced Counties, coming to the latter in 1869, as a teamster hauling grain to Murray's Mill near Snelling. In 1871 he located in the county and worked for John Montgomery, and in 1879 located on land seven miles southwest of Merced in Merced County, 140 acres of which was given over to grain raising, and the balance to alfalfa and stock. In 1886 or 1887 he developed a fine nine-inch artesian well on his ranch, with an inch and a half flow at the top, and flowing 24,000 gallons every twenty-four hours, and this is the only one of five wells that is• now flowing. Ranching was a little harder in his earlier days of development work, and it meant hard application and good management to bring land to where it meant success for the owner, and future prosperity for the whole section of which his life and work are a part. Of late years Mr. Roduner has been engaged in raising registered Holstein dairy cattle, and he owns a herd of 200 fine cattle of this breed, milking sixty-five cows; he was a breeder of pure bred Poland-China hogs, but since his son has taken over the ranch, he changed to Red Durocs. During 1891-96, he conducted a retail milk delivery in Merced, supplying a large patronage.
At Hornitos, Mariposa County, on November 7, 1879, occurred the marriage of John A. Roduner to Miss Hattie Arthur, who was born in Ohio, and brought to California in 1862, a babe in arms, and the eldest of ten children born to Robert and Belle (Steele) Arthur, both natives of Ohio, the father a blacksmith by trade and a pioneer in that business at Coulterville, and Hornitos, this State. Ten children have blessed the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Roduner : J. Edward; George A.; Belle, the wife of Samuel Hale; Julia, deceased; J. Elmer; Mary, wife of C. A. Blauert; C. Roscoe; Cornelius A., deceased; Walter P., who now rents his father's ranch; Robert S., of Merced. Two sons, C. R. Roduner and Walter P., served their country in the World War; C. R. as a corporal in the A. E. F. from May, 1917, to July, 1919, receiving his honorable discharge at the Presidio, San Francisco. He is a member of the Merced American Legion post. Walter P. served in the U. S. N. R., attending the Radio School of the 12th Naval District, and received his honorable discharge September 30, 1921. In October, 1924, Mr. Roduner retired from the ranch and now lives at 436, Twenty-second Street, Merced. Fraternally, he belongs to Merced Lodge No. 1240, B. P. 0. E.; Yosemite Lodge No. 30, K. of P., and the Woodmen of the World.
SAMUEL LEWIS GIVENS
Of the pioneers living in Merced County, there are few who can so clearly recount the early stories and incidents that happened in the lives of the men and women who blazed the trail for the generations that are to follow, as can Samuel Lewis Givens, the retired rancher of the Bear Creek district, near Planada. A representative of a distinguished family who came to California in 1853, he was born in Union County, Ky., November 8, 1842, the youngest of ten children born of the marriage of Thomas and Catherine D. F. (Richards) Givens. His father was born in Virginia on December 1, 1798, and his mother was born in Kentucky on February 1, 1805. They were married on June 23, 1825, and became the parents of the following children: Robert R., born April 7, 1826, who now has a daughter Ada teaching school in Merced; Lewis R., born June 21, 1827, and died July 22, 1840; Eleazar, born October 17, 1828; Matilda L., born May 24, 1830, died August 7, 1853; Jane R., born March 7, 1832, married D. M. Pool of Mariposa County, who served in the State legislature; Catherine A., born November 17, 1833, married A. J. Gregory, who served in the legislature (she died November 25, 1856) ; Thomas Jr., born October 15, 1838; John H., born October 15, 1838, served one term as sheriff of Merced County ; Mary R., born October 30, 1840, married E. E. Thrift of Stockton; and Samuel L., our subject and the only one of the family now living.
It was on December 24, 1852, that the Givens family left their home in the Eastern States and started for California, reaching New Orleans on January 1, 1853, from which port they embarked on board the Pampero for Greytown, which they reached twelve days later. They crossed the Isthmus on the backs of mules and then took passage on the Brother Jonathan for San Francisco, reaching that city on February 2. The Brother Jonathan disappeared on its next trip and was never heard from again. The family proceeded to Mariposa County by way of Stockton on the mail stage and arrived at their destination in due time over some very bad roads, as it was a wet season. Mr. Givens bought the possessory rights of the Texas Ranch, comprising 1040 acres, which ranch is now owned by our subject. Here the father died on September 12, 1860.
Samuel L. Givens was educated in the pay schools of Mariposa County, attending about four months each year, and finished with a course at the University of the Pacific at San Jose. His schooling over, he returned to the home ranch and remained until 1869 and then engaged in running stock into Inyo County until 1876. In 1878 he bought the ranch he now owns in Merced County, known as the M. 0. Barber ranch, on Bear Creek, upon which he has since lived. This ranch comprises some 520 acres, which has been devoted to grain and stock-raising; in addition he has been a large leasor of land for stock purposes.
Mr. Givens has been closely allied with all movements for the upbuilding of this part of the county and has maintained his interest in the events of the period, keeping abreast of the times by observation and reading. In politics he is a Democrat. Since his retirement the ranch has been managed by his son Archibald, who is an only child, and who has been given the best of educational advantages.
On December 20, 1877, in Mariposa County, Mr. Givens was united in marriage with Miss Susan Lurana Wills, a native of Mariposa County, born December 9, 1855, a daughter of Benjamin Wills, a native of Alabama, who married Miss Amanda Cathey. Mr. Wills made his first trip to the Golden State in 1849, and afterwards he went back East for his family. Mr. and Mrs. Givens have one son, Archibald, who married Miss Virginia McReynolds of Santa Rosa; and they have a daughter, Virginia Lurana.
On Mr. Givens' ranch stands an orange tree, a seedling grown from a seed of an orange which Mrs. Givens obtained when she was coming across the Isthmus of Panama in 1853, and which she planted seventy-five years ago on their Texas Ranch in Mariposa County. In 1900 the tree was moved to .the ranch of our subject, and still bears a bountiful crop each year.
GILBERT B. NEIGHBOR
The late Gilbert B. Neighbor of Snelling, Merced County, was one of the pioneer merchants of that village and he was one of the foremost upbuilders of his adopted State. He was born in German Valley, Morris County, N. J., September 14, 1836, a son of Jacob Weise and Mary Ann (Trimmer) Neighbor, both born in that same state. His paternal great-grandfather, Leonard Neighbor, and the grandfather, also named Leonard, served in the War of the Revolution. The latter lived to be ninety-one years old. In 1855 Jacob Neighbor moved to Princeton, Ill., and there both himself and his wife died.
Our subject received a common school education and was nineteen when the family located in Illinois. In 1859 he came on to California, via Panama, and arriving in San Francisco he went at once to Tuolumne County where he farmed seven years, then for the next seven years he was a clerk in a general store. In 1873 the came to Snelling with his experience and embarked in the general merchandise business that he followed until his death. He was interested in sheep raising and in farming, owning 120 acres, besides some town property. As one interested in the upbuilding of the county he served as justice of the peace four years and in every way possible gave of his time and means to advance the interests of the people and the county.
Mr. Neighbor married Matilda H. Smith, born in Augusta, Me., the daughter of P. B. Smith, who came around the Horn to California in 1850 and lived for many years in Jamestown, Cal. Of this union eight children were born: Charles G., a rancher in Merced County; Marjorie A., married William C. Richards; May N., became the wife of Fred G. Robinson; Ada Grace, married R. H. Allen; Pearl, deceased; Josie; Melvin, postmaster at Snelling; and Ethel. Mr. Neighbor died February 20, 1922, aged eighty-six years, and is survived by his wife, who lives in Snelling. He was faithful to every trust reposed in him, as was attested by his serving the Wells Fargo Express Company for almost forty years. He is missed by a wide circle of friends who appreciated his noble qualities of mind and heart.
History of Merced County California: John Outcalt
Historic Record Company Los Angeles, California 1925
Transcribed by Martha A Crosley Graham – Pages 379-429