JOHN A. WISE
The history of East Nicolaus and the business record of John A. Wise are largely synonymous, for to his initiative and enterprise is due the growth of the town, which is located on the line of the Sacramento Northern Electric Railway, twenty miles southeast of Yuba City, and the splendid measure of success which has crowned his efforts is well merited. Mr. Wise was born on the 1st of April, 1878, at Wilcomir, near Kovno, Lithuania, and is a son of Nathan and Diana (Ritblatt) Wise, of whose three children he is the youngest. His father was a tanner by trade and operated an extensive business for many years.
Though his educational facilities were limited to the public schools of his native country, John A. Wise is familiar with three languages, German, Russian and English. Early in life he began to make his own way in the world, obtaining his first regular position in a wholesale mercantile house, where he was employed, at a very small wage, until twenty-two years of age. He then resolved to go to South Africa, to see his mother, but by the time he reached London the Boer War was on and he remained in England for fourteen months. Embarking for Canada, on his arrival at Port Halifax he was employed by the British government as an interpreter for a short time. He then came to the United States, locating in Chicago, where he joined his brother, Leon Wise, a painting and decorating contractor. There he was employed for two months by Swift & Company, after which he went into the country and found employment as a farm laborer. Later he went to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was employed as a night watchman at the World’s Fair until it closed. He also visited the Lewis & Clark Exposition at Portland, Oregon.
In 1905 Mr. Wise came to California and soon obtained employment in the fruit harvest of Yolo County. Later he was foreman for the Abbott Orchard Company at Tudor. At about that time Mr. Wise purchased ten acres of land near Tudor, which he planted to peaches and apples. He later sold that property and bought land at East Nicolaus, at that time a new town, containing only a railroad station and a lumberyard operated by the Diamond Match Company. He had a vision of the future growth of this place and he proceeded to erect a store building in 1914, the first in the town. In 1919 he built another and better store building and in 1921 erected the Wise Hotel, so that he is the builder and owner of the principal business block in East Nicolaus. The Wise Hotel is well furnished and the dining tables are well served, so that this has become a very popular stopping place. When the Odd Fellows building was completed in 1924, Mr. Wise, in association with his nephew, Nathan D. Wise, opened the East Nicolaus Market and Grocery, in that building, which they conducted successfully for three years, when they sold out to the present owner, Elwood W. Danforth. Mr. Wise is now conducting his general store, carrying a well selected stock of dry goods, hats, caps, drugs, boots, shoes, household hardware and sundry electrical supplies. He is a man of reliable business judgment and through his success has contributed to the general welfare of his community. He also erected three attractive modern residences, one of which was recently destroyed by fire.
Through the efforts of Mr. Wise a post office of the fourth class was established in East Nicolaus in 1915, Mrs. Evelyn S. Smith being appointed as the first postmistress. She has rendered very satisfactory service and is still the incumbent of the office. She is also the manager of the Wise Hotel, and is a clerk in Mr. Wise’s store, in which the post office is located. Mrs. Smith, who is a native of Maine, is the wife of George F. Smith, who owns a forty-acre farm near East Nicolaus. She is the vice president of the board of trustees of the Sutter high school district and takes a deep interest in the progress and welfare of the splendid high school at East Nicolaus, which is accredited to the University of California.
Mr. Wise is a Democrat in his political view and fraternally is a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge at East Nicolaus and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks at Marysville. He deserves great credit for what he has accomplished since coming to this country and throughout the community in which he is so prominent a factor is held in the highest regard, for all recognize his sterling character and progressive and enterprising methods, which he has exemplified at every state of his career.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3, Pages 72-74. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.