ALBERT L. CRESSEY
The subject of this sketch has several claims to consideration. He is the president of the Modesto Bank, at Modesto, Stanislaus County, California, one of the staunchest financial institutions in that part of the state. He is one of the most prominent citizens of the town and county and was an early settler of California. He was born of old English stock and some early representatives of the family in America were prominent in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Curtis R. Cressey, his father, was born in New Hampshire and married Miss Susan Littlefield, a native of that state. They were prosperous farmers, who were respected by all who knew them and were active and consistent members of the Baptist Church. Curtis R. Cressey lived to be eighty-three years old and died at Brownfield, Maine, which had some time been his home. His wife died when in her thirty-sixth year. They had six children, of whom two are living.
Albert L. Cressey, who first saw the light of day in New Hampshire, was reared to the work of the farm and had few early opportunities for “book learning,” and his education, which impresses one as being quite ample, was acquired by self-directed reading and in the broad and instructive field of human experience. Sailing from New York by way of Panama, he arrived at San Francisco in 1857, young, single and with just money enough left after having paid his passage to settle his first hotel bill at Stockton. His knowledge of farming was turned to good account and he farmed in one way or another on other men’s land until he was able to take up one hundred and sixty acres of government land on his own account. He prospered and as occasion offered added to his possessions until he had a fine farm of five hundred acres. He gave his attention exclusively to farming for a number of years, until teaming became profitable in his part of the state, when he put a number of teams on the road hauling goods from Sacramento and Stockton to Virginia City and other mining towns in Nevada. This enterprise was successful and he directed it from headquarters on the Calaveras River north of Stockton and later at a point in Merced County, where he owns a second farm.
He took up his residence in Modesto in 1875, and he and his brother, C. J. Cressey, organized and opened the Modesto Bank, the first bank in Stanislaus County, of which C. J. Cressey was the president until he organized and assumed management of the Grangers’ Bank in San Francisco, when Albert L. Cressey became the president and manager of the Modesto Bank. The two brothers were partners in these and various other business enterprises until the death of C. J. Cressey in 1892. During his entire active career, Mr. Cressey has been a hard worker and his industry and business acumen have brought him well deserved success. During a serious drought in the Calaveras Valley he obtained water and irrigated his wheat fields, and by so doing was able to insure a good yield, when the wheat crop was a failure throughout the valley, and he sold his wheat in his granaries at five cents a pound and took notes of the purchaser at two-and-a-half per cent a month, and it was ten years before he received final payment! They were for some time in the sheep and wool growing business and their enterprise in that line brought them the money with which they erected a one-story brick building and organized the Modesto Bank. Their building was used for the bank until 1893, when the stockholders erected the present bank building, which is one of the finest banking structures in the state and is a credit alike to Mr. Cressey’s enterprise and to the City of Modesto. It is a three-story stone and brick building, with the bank on the ground floor, fitted up with elegance and with due regard to safety, the floors above being utilized for office purposes by some of the leading business and professional men of the town. The institution does a general commercial banking business. Frank A. Cressey, a son of C. J. Cressey, deceased, is its vice president, and G. R. Broughton has ably filled the office of cashier for more than twenty years.
Mr. Cressey owns nine thousand acres of land, including farms already mentioned in the counties of San Luis Obispo, Kings, Merced and Stanislaus and farms on a large scale. He formerly owned more than eight thousand sheep, but now gives his attention principally to wheat, horses and cattle. His Hanford ranch is devoted to the raising of horses and mules. By the importation of a Norman Percheron Draught stallion weighing thirty-two hundred pounds, Mr. Cressey not only improved his own stock but also the stock of many neighboring ranchmen. He was one of the organizers and the president of the company that made the first irrigating ditch in the county. That innovation showed the great productive possibilities of the land when properly watered, and it is believed that in all his useful career Mr. Cressey has done nothing for which he is entitled to more credit from the general public than for that unique and beneficial enterprise. His interest in the affairs of his town and county has always been active, and there has never been a movement for the general benefit to which he has not given his moral encouragement and financial aid. He has for some years been the president of the Stanislaus County Agricultural Association, which holds successful annual fairs, for the satisfactory management of which he is personally largely responsible. Mr. Cressey is, first of all, a businessman, but his business enterprises are deep and broad and their success is as beneficial to the community at large as to himself. He is a tireless worker and attributes much of his success to habits of industry early acquired and to close attention to business details. He has been an Odd Fellow for more than thirty years.
In 1870 Mr. Cressey married Miss Sylvia Swan, of Maine, who immediately after their wedding came to California with him. Of their four children, Charles, the eldest, died at the age of six years. Nellie is the wife of C. M. Maze, of Modesto. Alberta married Howard Taylor and lives in San Francisco. George is a bookkeeper in the Modesto Bank. Mrs. Cressey, who died in February, 1895, was a woman of great nobility of character and a most faithful and loving wife and mother, who was held in affectionate regard by all who knew her. The loss to her husband and children occasioned by her death can never be repaired, and Mr. Cressey has often said that words fail him when he attempts to offer a tribute to her life and character.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.