Biography of George Frank Gardner of Wooden Valley

George Frank Gardner is well known in Napa County as a public official whose loyalty and devotion to the general good and to the specific duties of his office stand as an unquestioned fact in his career, and at this writing, in the spring of 1904, he is serving as deputy tax collector and deputy treasurer. A native son of California, he was born in Wooden Valley, Napa County, on the 8th of September, 1855. His parents were George Gordon and Sarah T. (Rice) Gardner, the former a native of Arkansas and the latter of Tennessee. In the paternal line he is descended from an old southern family.

George Gordon Gardner, the father, served as a soldier in the Mexican War. In 1849 he came to California but shortly afterward returned to Arkansas. He then again came to this state and later went south, being married in Tennessee in 1852. In that year he brought his bride to the Pacific coast, traveling across the plains with an ox team.

In the maternal line George F. Gardner is of German lineage. His mother bore the maiden name of Sarah T. Rice. Her mother, who was a Miss Dodson, was born in the United States and became a member of the Rice family by marriage, which was celebrated in Tennessee. The brothers and sisters of George Frank Gardner are John H., a resident of Idaho; J. B., who is living in California; C. W., who is the wife of T. I. F. Johnson; and N. Ada, the wife of G. W. Hill, an insurance agent of Napa.

George F. Gardner became a public school pupil in 1861 when six years of age, and pursued his early education in Napa and Solano counties. He afterward attended Napa College, where he continued his studies until 1873. In the meantime he had entered the business world, becoming head clerk in the general mercantile establishment of Mansfield & Theodore, in Vacaville, California, when but fifteen years of age. He remained there for three years, and after the completion of his college training entered the employ of Van Beever & Thompson, general merchants at Napa, California, with whom he continued for six months, when the firm became Thompson & Beard. His connection with the house continued for seven years or until August, 1881, after which he went to Lakeport, where he spent two and a half years as manager and part owner of the enterprise conducted under the name of the Farmers’ Business Association. He continued there until 1884, and was afterward, for one year, in Soscol Valley, Napa County. He next went to Monticello, California, where he engaged as clerk in the general mercantile store of George S. McKenzie, with whom he continued until 1887. In that year he opened up the now celebrated Samuel Springs on Los Putas Rancho, at Berryessa, Napa County. There had been no improvements made there at that time, not even a road leading to the spring, but Mr. Gardner commenced the work of development and remained there for a year. He then became bookkeeper for James & Son of Napa County.

It was while occupying that position that Mr. Gardner was elected, in 1892, to the position of tax collector and treasurer for Napa County, entering upon the duties of the office in January, 1893, for a term of two years. He was afterward elected for two subsequent terms of four years each, and continued in the position for ten consecutive years, or until January, 1903, and is now serving as deputy tax collector and deputy treasurer, so that the office still has the benefit of his efficient service and long experience.

On the 17th of November, 1880, in Soscol Valley, Napa County, Mr. Gardner was united in marriage to Miss Dora L. Hill, a daughter of James Hill, a pioneer farmer of California, who came to the state in 1852. Mr. and Mrs. Gardner have three sons: James Ernest, who is twenty-one years of age and is a civil engineer with the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in Utah; George Cecil, nineteen years of age, a stenographer in the employ of Deweese & Gardner; and Edgar Frank, seventeen years of age, who is a rodman in the civil engineering corps with his brother in Utah.

In his political affiliations Mr. Gardner is a Democrat and has manifested a public-spirited interest in the questions and issues of the day whereon depend the municipal and national welfare. He belongs to several fraternal organizations, including the Improved Order of Red Men, the Native Sons of the Golden West and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He is also identified with all branches of Odd Fellowship, and his wife, very prominent in the ladies’ auxiliary of that fraternity, is now the vice-president of the Rebekah Assembly of California. Both have a wide acquaintance in the order, and are held in high esteem wherever their fraternal or social relations have made them known.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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