FRANCIS M. COTTLE
More than a century ago Washington said that “farming is the most honorable as well as the most useful occupation to which man devotes his energies.” Truth is eternal, and therefore the utterance of the Father of his Country stands today, as it did then, without question. Farming has been the basis of all prosperity and this is so in California as in other states, although mining and fruit-growing have had, too, an important part in promoting the progress of the state. Among the representatives of the agricultural interests of Stanislaus County is Francis Marion Cottle, who came to California in 1853 and now owns a fine farm a mile east of Oakdale. He was born in Lincoln County, Missouri, on the 23rd of March, 1837, and is of English and German descent, although for many generations the family has been found in America. The grandfather of our subject was a resident of Woodstock, Vermont, and at an early day removed to Missouri, where he became one of the pioneer settlers of the state. Ira Cottle, the father of our subject, was born in Lincoln County, Missouri, and was there reared to manhood and married Miss Sarah Smithers, a native of Kentucky. He followed farming as a means of livelihood and was one of the energetic and enterprising agriculturists of his community. Both he and his wife died in the same year, leaving four children, of whom Mr. Cottle is now the only survivor.
In 1853 he crossed the plains with oxen in a party of fifty men, who brought with them much stock. When they reached the Platte, Mr. Cottle’s uncle, Zora Cottle, and his son, accompanied by our subject, started on ahead, making their way direct to Stanislaus River. They brought with them a band of cattle, Francis M. Cottle being in his seventeenth year when he drove the stock across the plains. Here he continued in the stock business until 1865, during which time he made two trips to Los Angeles to purchase cattle. In partnership with his uncle he had as high as four thousand cattle at one time. This region was then one vast plain over which the stock had an unlimited range and as the country afforded pasturage and there was little money outlay in raising stock the business proved a very profitable one.
In 1865 Mr. Cottle purchased one thousand and fifty acres of land, including the site of what is now Burnett Station, and he today owns five hundred acres; a very valuable tract which is improved with a good frame residence and all modern accessories and conveniences. For the past thirty-five years he has devoted his energies to fruit-raising and has had as high as twenty-five hundred acres planted to the crop. Sometimes his fields have given an immense yield and other times a very light one, but he has prosecuted his business with diligence, doing the best he could to secure good returns, and his career has been one of prosperity.
In 1869 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Cottle and Miss Hattie L. Kennedy, a native of Missouri and a daughter of John Kennedy, who came to California in 1857. Four children were born to them, of whom three are now living, the eldest, Ira Stephen, being with his father on the farm. Zora Ernest is in Tuolumne County and Francis Marion is at school. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cottle were reared by Methodist parents and in early life became members of that church. He long gave his political support to the Democracy, but is now somewhat independent in his political views. His time and attention has been given untiringly to his business interests. The qualities which insure success are his for he is a man of unfaltering energy and resolute purpose. He enjoys an enviable reputation as a worthy citizen and as one of the pioneers of the Golden state.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2011 Gerald Iaquinta.
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