Samuel Kraemer, a prominent rancher residing on Kraemer Avenue in Placentia, has lived within the borders of Orange County for two-thirds of a century. He has been a witness of and participant in the wonderful series of events which have marked the evolution of this section of California from a frontier wilderness to one of the most advanced and prosperous sections of the entire west, and he may well be proud of the part his family has played in this great drama of civilization.
Samuel Kraemer was born in Saint Clair County, Illinois, July 9, 1857, his parents being Daniel and Elenora (Schraw) Kraemer, both of whom were natives of Germany, the former born at Saint Johannes and the latter at Landau, on the Rhine. They immigrated to the United States in early years, became California pioneers in 1867 and spent the remainder of their lives in the Golden state. Having decided to establish a home on the Pacific coast, they began their journey at St. Louis, Missouri, and at the end of four days’ travel reached the city of New York, where they boarded a steamer for Panama, landing at the Isthmus after a tedious voyage of sixteen days. Three days were spent in unloading on the eastern side, crossing the Isthmus and loading up on the Pacific side, after which they took passage on the steamer bound for San Francisco. This voyage consumed fifteen days and the only stops made by the steamer were at Acapulco and Manzanillo, Mexico. The fact that the ship did not anchor at any port in Southern California cause extra expense and delay to the Kraemer family, who were forced to wait for twenty-one days in San Francisco before any vessel started for the southern part of the state. Eventually they landed at San Pedro, Los Angeles County, after a voyage of five days from San Francisco, and from San Pedro proceeded to Anaheim. At that time Los Angeles County embraced all of what is now Orange County. The environment was uninviting, for Americans had not settled in sufficient number to embark on any improvements; wild stock roamed the ranges. Immediately after his arrival the elder Kraemer bought thirty-nine hundred acres of land, which was the smallest land tract that could be purchased. This is located in what is now known as the Placentia district. This land was originally owned by A. D. Ontiveras, a Castilian gentleman, a native of Spain who received his grant from the Mexican government. Mr. Kraemer found the Ontiveras ditch, which ran eastward from his house, the intake being close to the old Trinidad Yorba house, was being seriously interfered with. He then built a ditch of his own to the Santa Ana River, which intersected the Ontiveras ditch one and one-half miles east of his home, and this was the first individual canal to be constructed in this section. In 1875 he became one of the builders of the Cajon canal, which carries water through the entire Placentia district, through Fullerton and Orangethorpe and much of Anaheim. Mr. Kraemer was one of the organizers of the Cajon school district in 1874 and donated an acre for school purposes. This later became known as the Placentia school district. He brought the first mowing and sewing machines here and improved between four hundred and five hundred acres of his estate. Very optimistic concerning the future development and prosperity of this section, Daniel Kraemer engaged extensively in ranching, setting out vineyards, and set out the first walnut orchard here. He was the first white settler to live in the old Ontiveras abode in the Placentia district and his was the first white family to settle outside of the willow fence enclosing the Anaheim settlement. His death occurred February 6, 1882. His widow died in Anaheim.
Samuel Kraemer, whose name introduces this review, was a lad of ten years when brought by his parents to Orange County, California. He assisted his father in the improvement and cultivation of the home ranch, eighty acres of which had been fenced in. At that time the entire country was open with the exception of twelve hundred acres of the Anaheim settlement, into which admission was gained through a gate on each of the four sides of the tract. Eight years later a fence law was enacted, which greatly aided in bringing in settlers. Samuel Kraemer attended the Yorba School for a time and has continually augmented his knowledge through reading and close observation, thus gaining a wide and accurate fund of information. He has always resided on the original tract owned by his father, five hundred acres thereof being now in his possession, and he has devoted a large part of this to the growing of citrus fruits. He was associated with William Crowther, A. S. Bradford, H. H. Hale and C. C. Chapman in promoting the town of Placentia, for which they gave the right of way to the Santa Fe Railroad. Mr. Kraemer donated ten acres of land for the station and side-tracks and erected a large packing house. He served as president of the Walnut Association for twenty-five years, was president of the Placentia Mutual Citrus Association for twenty years and president of the board of Anaheim Hospital for twelve years. However, he has resigned all directorships and public offices and at this time is serving only as a director of the Bank of America at Fullerton, at Anaheim and at Placentia.
On the 30th of September, 1886, Mr. Kraemer was united in marriage to Miss Angelina Yorba, a native of California and a daughter of Prudencio and Dolores (Ontiveras) Yorba, both of whom were of old Castilian stock. Mr. and Mrs. Kraemer became the parents of ten children, named hereafter. Adela, the eldest, is the wife of Walter Muckenthaler, of Fullerton, California. Samuel P. married Miss Edna Wentz, of Ohio. He saw active service in the World War and is now an orange grower at Placentia. Gilbert U., who is engaged in ranching on Kraemer Avenue, Placentia, married Miss Esther Munger, of Santa Ana, California. Angeline is the wife of Edward Backs, of Placentia, California. Arnold R., a successful orange grower of Placentia, served in the United States Naval Reserves during the World War, being stationed in New Jersey. He married Miss Elena Maurie, of Oakland, California. Lawrence P. married Miss Kathleen Cottom. Geraldine and Louis are the two other surviving members of the family, and two are deceased. Samuel Kraemer gave each of his sons one hundred twenty-five acres of citrus land and all are well known citrus growers of the Placentia district.
Fraternally Mr. Kraemer is affiliated with the Knights of Columbus and also with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, belonging to Lodge No. 1345 at Anaheim. At the age of seventy-six years he is still keenly alive to modern achievement in every field, and his aid and cooperation can be counted upon in the furtherance of all projects looking toward community advancement. An earlier biographer said: “In 1867, when Samuel Kraemer arrived in California, vast tracts were then untrodden by the foot of man, but were given over to countless herds of wild cattle and horses. Travel was almost wholly on horseback through pathless fields in which the wild mustard at time hid the animal and rider from view. Now his swift automobiles convey him over perfect roads and through a country densely populated. Then he aided in the cultivation of the ground with such rude implements as could be obtained. Now his land is cultivated by workmen having the most modern machinery money can buy.”
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. IV, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 279-282, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.