Numbered among that intrepid band of pioneers who came to California in the stirring times when gold was discovered we find the name of Joseph Vasche, who had come across the plains behind slow-moving oxen to reach the land of opportunity and share in the wealth that seemed to be obtainable here. He and his hardy band met with the usual trouble that the immigrants experienced with Indians, though no record has been made that any of their party were killed or injured. Upon arriving in this state he followed mining for a time, and although a mere boy, he participated in the stirring times of the Vigilante Days in San Francisco. He turned his attention to the more secure method of gaining his independence and engaged in the sheep business, continuing until about 1875, when he disposed of his flocks and went to San Jose and was engaged in the mercantile business for six years. The future of Merced County appealed strongly to him and he returned here and invested his money in 2100 acres of land at Athlone, which he developed into a fruitful ranch with diversified products, though he was one of the large grain raisers here.
Joseph Vasche was born in Germany in 1826, came to America when he was but fourteen years of age, grew up in Missouri until 1848, and then began his journey to the unknown West. In 1871 he was united in marriage with Miss Margaret Bielenberg, the wedding taking place at the famous old “stone house” above Plainsburg. They had one daughter, Josephine, Mrs. Ringnalda, now connected with the schools in Los Angeles. The wife and mother died in 1872, after which Mr. Vasche toured Europe. In 1874 he was married to Maria Halenkamp, born in Germany and who became the mother of ten children, four of whom remain at home. The children are: Pauline Lines, deceased; Gertrude, supervisor in the schools of Merced County ; Joseph, Henry, Francis (deceased), Elma (deceased), Fredrika, Florence; Karl, who saw service in Siberia during the World War ; and Harold, who also was in the service of his country when the armistice was signed.
Mr. Vasche died in 1912. He was a Democrat in politics and cast his first vote for Franklin Pierce. It is to such men as Mr. Vasche that the generation of today owe much of their prosperity for he was among the early trail-blazers in California.
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.