JUD A. AGER
One of the oldest native sons of Siskiyou county still living here is Jud A. Ager, during whose life span of seventy years this section of the west has made marvelous advancement, until today it is one of the most desirable and attractive districts of California. He has not only been an eye witness to this transformation, but has also been an active figure in the drama of civilization which has been enacted here. He was born in Siskiyou county, within about a mile of his present home, May 15, 1861, and is a son of Jerome B. and Lucy Jane (Axtell) Ager. The town of Ager, on the Southern Pacific Railroad, was named in honor of the father. The latter was born at Watertown, Jefferson county, New York, where he lived until he had attained manhood. Then, inspired by the stories of fortunes made in the new gold fields of California, he went to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he equipped a caravan of ox teams and some forty wagons. It required six months’ time for the company to cross the plains to Hangtown, now Placerville, where he followed mining for about a year, with a fair measure of success. Taking gold in his belt, he rode a mule back to St. Joseph, a trip of considerable danger. In order to avoid hostile Indians he would make his evening fire along his route, eat his evening meal, and would then go back into the prairies to sleep. After reaching St. Joseph, he spent some time in organizing another party, and in 1853 crossed the plains a second time. He located at Oregon City, Oregon, where he mined with but little success. He was at Cape Blanco on the coast, when the Rogue river Indian war broke out, but got away with his scalp, though but little else was left to him. He then went to the Willamette valley, and from there to Siskiyou county California, and later came to the Shasta valley, where he traded his horses for a ranch of one hundred and sixty acres, to the cultivation of which he devoted his attention until his death, which occurred in 1902. He was a man of strong character, did his full part in promoting the development of the country and for many years was one of the best known men in this section of the state. During the Modoc war he hauled supplies for the government. During that troublous period his wife would take their children away from home and hide among the rocks to save them from the redskins. She also frequently, when remaining in the house at night, would open the cellar door in front of the entrance to her house, so that if the Indians attacked they would fall into the cellar, thus giving her time to get the children away. Mr. Ager gave his political support to the republican party and maintained a constant interest in public affairs, though he never aspired to public office. All who knew him respected him highly for his sterling qualities and fine public spirit.
Jud A. Ager received his education in the grade schools and remained on the home ranch until twenty-seven years of age, or until the mortgage on the property was paid off. He then went into the forwarding freight commission business, which meant that he bought in carload lots everything required in his home community, and freighted it there by team and wagon. He also wholesaled supplies to the merchants of eastern Oregon. This proved a successful enterprise and Mr. Ager carried it on for many years, or until the great earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906. From that time the forwarding commission merchants of San Francisco required cash payment for all purchases there, amounting to from four hundred to fifteen hundred dollars a day. At that time Mr. Ager bought out the D. W. Earl & Company interests, which he conducted thereafter. He was also in the livestock business for six years, and in addition had a hotel and saloon at Ager, where he has spent practically his entire life. He still owns the general store which he bought in 1909 and conducts it with the aid of clerks, as he is practically retired.
In 1892 Mr. Ager was united in marriage to Miss Emma Spannaus, who was born and reared at Yreka and is a daughter of Ernest and Catherine (Theiss) Spannaus, both of whom were natives of Germany, the father being from Hamburg. He came to the Pacific in the early ’50s and followed the butcher’s trade, in which he was an expert, being the possessor of a medal from a Chicago packing house for the quickest dressing of a beef. He spent most of his life in Yreka, and devoted his later years to farming. Mr. and Mrs. Ager have five children, namely: Vesta M., the wife of Conrad Liebert, of San Francisco, who is engaged in the lumber business with John W. McCullum; Arthur F., who is connected with the state railroad commission in San Francisco; Earl F., engaged in the farming implement and tractor business at Yreka; Inez D., the wife of James Aylsworth, or Portland, Oregon, and Harriet H., the wife of George Trimmer, of Yreka.
Politically Mr. Ager has always supported the republican party and has been active in local public affairs. He served as supervisor of his district from 1912 until 1916 and from 1920 to 1924, and has been chairman of the board of high school trustees continuously since 1914. He belongs to Howard Lodge, No. 96, F. & A. M. of Yreka; Mount Shasta Chapter, R. A. M.; Mount Shasta Commandery, K. T.; and Islam Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. of San Francisco. He likewise belongs to Ashland Lodge, No. 944, B. P. O. E., and he and his wife are members of the Order of the Eastern Star at Yreka. Both of his sons also are Masons and Shriners.
Mr. Ager is the owner of the large and attractive residence, containing nine bedrooms, and the spacious yard is ornamented with shrubbery and fruit trees, while a fine spring, enclosed within a concrete house, is a valuable asset to the property. Mr. Ager, in addition to all of his other activities, was in the stage business for six years, from Klamath Falls Oregon, to Lakeview. He had a real part in the construction of the various railroad lines in this part of the state, having, in 1887, helped to build the Southern Pacific Railroad and at later periods aided in the construction of the line from Shingle Springs to Placerville. He helped to build a railroad in Arizona, the Coalinga Railroad, in the San Joaquin valley of California, and one near Santa Maria, California. He is one of the pioneers of this section of the state, has done his full part in every relation of life and well deserves the high place which he holds in the esteem of his fellowmen.
Transcribed by Marie Hassard 23 April 2010.
© 2010 Marie Hassard.