To John Elder belongs the unique and distinctive honor of being the oldest native son of California living in this
state. It is a far cry from the days of '47, antedating even the discovery of gold here, to the wonderful days
in which we now live; but John Elder, of Lemoore, has witnessed the beginning and the later days of this period.
He was born in San Joaquin county, this State, on the 5th day of November, 1847, when this section of country was
still a territory. He is the son of Turner and Paula (Rhoades) Elder, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter
of Illinois. In 1846 this brave couple and four children - Martin E., Elizabeth, Thomas, and Turner - made the
long, tiresome and dangerous trip across the plains by ox team, and upon their arrival at Sacramento they lived
at Sutter's Fort the first winter, then moved down on the Cosumnes river, and it was here that John, of this review,
and his twin sister were born. The father turned his attention to mining for gold in the mountains back of Sacramento.
He was very successful and in 1851 he returned to Missouri, wintering in Salt Lake City, driving a pony team and
light wagon in which rode his wife and six children. Upon arrival in Missouri the family located in Ray county,
where Mr. Elder bought a large ranch and devoted the remainder of his life to farming, owning twenty two slaves
until the Civil war freed them. To him and his wife were born thirteen children, of whom nine grew to maturity
and five are still living.
John Elder received his education in the common schools in Missouri and on attaining mature years he took up the
vocation of farming, which he followed until 1875, when he joined an emigrant train en route to California. After
his arrival here he obtained work on a ranch near Lemoore, Tulare county. On this trip the women of the party rode
in a spring wagon, the men walking. They stopped where Lemoore now stands and on the present site of the city,
Mr. Elder headed wheat that summer. In 1876 and 1877 he leased a tract of land and engaged in raising wheat. Then,
going over into Fresno county, he took up claims to a quarter section of land and during the following twelve years
was employed in grain farming and stock raising. Eventually he traded that place for a ranch near Corcoran, which
he operated for about three years. For twelve years he ran a livery stable in Bakersfield, but sold it and came
to Lemoore. Here he opened a meat market, which he has continued to the present time, a period of seventeen years
in one location, and he has always enjoyed his full share of the public patronage. He owns a modern slaughter house
and ten and one half acres of land. Through all the years of his residence in this section of the state Mr. Elder
has faithfully striven to live up to the highest ideals of good citizenship and his life has been such as to win
for him the universal confidence and esteem of all who know him.
On December 17, 1868, Mr. Elder was married in Missouri to Miss Ellen Fielder, a native of Texas, and to them were
born six children, four of whom are living, namely: A. R., of San Francisco; J. C., who is associated with his
father in business in Lemoore, is married and has two children; Wm. Reece and Doris; D. R., of Bakersfield, who
is married and has one child, F. B.; and Harry B., of Walnut Grove, Sacramento county. Mr. Elder is a member of
Bakersfield Parlor, No. 62, Native Sons of the Golden West. He is in comfortable circumstances, owning, besides
his business, six lots and three houses in Lemoore.
History of Tulare County, California
By: Kathleen Edwards Small
Kings County, California
By: J. Larry Smith
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
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