Biography of 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 I, 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 countryside 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 subdivision of forty-two acres put on the market; also the subdivision 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.

Source: Outcalt, John. A history of Merced County, California : with a biographical review of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; Los Angeles, Calif. : Historic Record Company, 1925.

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