NEWTON E. LEEK
Newton Edward Leek occupies the important and responsible position of superior court reporter in Stanislaus County, his home being at Modesto. He is one of California’s native sons, his birth having occurred in Calaveras County on April 18, 1868. His grandfather and grandmother on the paternal side immigrated from Germany to the new world in their early youth, and William Leek, the father of our subject, was a native of West Virginia, born at Wheeling on the 28th of February, 1835. With his father and the family he removed to Missouri, where he was reared to manhood and was happily married to Miss Sarah Roundtree, August 15, 1860. In 1863 he was drafted for service in the Civil War, but on account of physical disability was rejected. It was a time of great excitement in Missouri and he received a permit to leave the state. Relatives of both him and his wife decided to come to the golden west and make their future home, and accordingly left the state on the 20th of March, 1864, and crossed the plains to California. They were harassed by the Indians, but succeeded in making a safe journey. Mr. and Mrs. Leek were of the party. They remained for a short time in Utah on the way, arriving there in August, and also in Colorado, and the father of our subject prospected in these states, but without success. They arrived in California in 1867 and for some time Mr. Leek engaged in mining in Calaveras County at Quail Hill, after which he removed to Contra Costa County, locating near Antioch. He engaged in raising vegetables for a time, and afterward took up his abode in Merced County, securing a squatter’s right to a quarter-section of land, on which he made his home until 1878, farming with indifferent success. In the fall of that year the San Joaquin and Kings River canal was completed, carrying water to the thirsty plains of the “west side,” and Mr. Leek disposed of his holdings near the foothills and purchased a quarter-section of land “under” the canal, improved it and has since made it his home, residing thereon continuously until the last year, when he removed to Gilroy, California, where he now resides.
He has been a life-long Democrat and is an active and valued member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He is now in the sixty-sixth year of his age and is one of the respected pioneer residents of Merced County. His good wife, who shared with him the dangers of crossing the plains and of establishing a home on the frontier, departed this life in 1873. They had two sons and two daughters, namely: Frances J., now the wife of William Bradley, of Merced County; and Mrs. S. P. Walters, of Washington, who had a daughter and two sons, and died in 1884, at the age of twenty-six years; Jasper O., who is married and resides in Santa Cruz County; and Newton E., of this review.
Mr. Leek, whose name introduces this record, was only five years of age when his mother died and thus he was deprived of her tender care and counsel. He was educated in the public schools of Merced and Contra Costa counties and also completed a commercial college course, acquiring knowledge of shorthand in connection with the other branches taught in the school. His boyhood was spent on his father’s farm, to which he devoted his attention until he decide4d to take up shorthand as a profession. The choice made, he pursued it diligently, and was appointed in January, 1890, by Judge Minor to the position of superior court reporter, and for the past ten years he has ably and satisfactorily filled that position. He is an expert stenographer, and this, added to his broad general knowledge, well qualifies him for the position which he fills. He has always been an active supporter of the Democratic Party and in the present year, 1900, he filled the office of chairman of the Democratic county central committee of Stanislaus County. He is actively engaged in advancing the interests of his party, doing everything in his power to promote its growth and insure its success.
Mr. Leek was married in 1897 to Miss Effie A. Bledsoe, a daughter of Willis Bledsoe, one of the prominent early settlers of California. Two children have come to bless their union, Elbert Everett and Geraldine. Mr. Leek is a valued member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of the Artisans and of the Masonic fraternity, and is now secretary of the blue lodge. He and his wife are very highly respected people in Modesto and have a host of warm friends there. Well may they be numbered among the representative citizens of the state in which they were born and of whose history and progress they have every reason to feel a just pride.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2011 Gerald Iaquinta.