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      Fred A. Ellenwood, one of the most prominent sheepmen of California and a recognized authority upon any question pertaining to the wool industry of the country, has long been numbered among the influential citizens of Red Bluff.  What he has accomplished represents the fit utilization of his innate power and talents, and his efforts have been an effective force in promoting the interests and welfare of his fellow townsmen as well as his own success.

      Mr. Ellenwood is one of Ohio’s contributions to the citizenship of this state.  He was born in Washington county, Ohio, April 10, 1876, a son of Douglas H. and Cynthia O. (Oakes) Ellenwood.  His father, also a native of the Buckeye state, was killed February 22, 1879, after which the mother continued her residence in Ohio until 1900, when she came to California to live with her younger son, Frank.

      Fred A. Ellenwood, the elder of the two sons, acquired a common school education in Ohio and at the age of sixteen years went to Lebanon, that state, to take the required examination which would win him a school teacher’s certificate but found that he was too young to gain employment of that character.  He then went to Valparaiso, Indiana, where he pursued a normal and business course, and afterward taught for two terms in his native state.  Through a winter season he attended the college at Marietta, Ohio.  It was the desire of two of his uncles, who were members of the bar, that he would take up the study of law and become an attorney but this did not prove attractive to him.  From 1886 until 1890 he took care of the sheep on the home farm and had charge of the shearing.  In 1896 he came west to California for the purpose of raising sheep, having corresponded with sheepmen while in school and thus gained a knowledge of opportunities and possibilities in that line.  Moreover, he had been subscriber to the only paper published in the United States devoted to the sheep-raising industry when he was ten years of age and has a scrapbook full of clippings concerning the industry.  He had thus familiarized himself with the business in every particular and had done a man’s work in connection with sheep raising upon the home farm when but twelve years of age.  Thus to his new tasks in the west he brought broad knowledge and wide experience.

      With his arrival in California in 1896, Mr. Ellenwood entered the employ of Leo L. McCoy at a wage of twenty-five dollars per month, remaining with him for five years.  Six months after tendering his resignation he accepted a position with the Cone & Ward Company.  Mr. Ellenwood remained with the company until 1900, however devoting part of the time to the California Wool Growers Association.  He attended the first meeting of that organization and acted as secretary for ten years without pay.  In 1910 he submitted to the meeting a solution for clean wool and grease wool with reference to the tariff and this was an expose of matters pertaining to Australian wool.  In 1911, when William Howard Taft was president, the Wool Growers Association of California raised two thousand dollars and sent Mr. Ellenwood to Washington to put over a protective tariff, based on the second content of wool, and he was absent on that mission for nine months.  There are few men who can speak with greater authority upon any subject connected with sheep raising or the wool industry.  He knows the business from the earliest point of production to the marketing of the finished product and knows the status of sheep raising in other countries.  After resigning as manager of the Cone & Ward Company he formed a partnership with T. H. Ramsey and purchased twenty-four thousand acres of land from his former employer, L. L. McCoy.  Since that time he has continued in business on this ranch and is running about three thousand sheep annually.  In 1917 he was chosen president of the California Wool Growers Association, which office he occupied for three years.  He has carried his investigations far and wide into every realm having to do with wool production and his high standing is indicated in the fact that he has been selected to serve as vice president of the National Wool Growers Association.  In this connection at a recent meeting he said:

      “Farmers are only twenty-five per cent efficient in marketing their crops, compared with farmers in the rest of the world.  Dealers inflame the mind of the grower so that the grower often sacrifices his crop.  That is done at a time when the dealer knows that it is a one hundred to one shot the market will go up.  I don’t blame the dealer in the very least.  Dealers were a necessity in the years gone by, but organization of the wool growers is necessary nowadays, and the interference of the dealers should be curtailed.  We have the offer of the farm board by which speculation in farm products is reduced to the minimum, and the farmer and the wool grower is able to secure the full market value for his product.       “The farm board has an appropriation of five hundred million dollars.  It has used one hundred and fifty million dollars already.  The wool grower can get an advance of one dollar per fleece before shearing.  He can get an advance of about ninety percent of the market when the wool is on the cars.  If it should happen between the time of the advance being given to the wool grower, the market goes down and there is a loss; that loss will be charged against a revolving fund and be made good in succeeding years.  The farm board cannot deal with the individual grower.  He must be represented through an organization so that the officers of the organization can estimate the value of the product of the individual farmer and the representation as to value on which the ninety per cent is based made through the association to the farm board.”

      On 6th of January, 1904, Mr. Ellenwood was married to Miss Minnie Hickman, a daughter of Elijah and Mary Ann (Shackelford) Hickman, who were farmers of Missouri.  Their family traveled across the plains at a very early day and Mrs. Hickman’s brother was shot through the leg by Indians while en route.  Such a trip was very hazardous as there was constant danger of attack from the red men.

      Mr. Ellenwood belongs to the Elks lodge of Red Bluff, to Vesper Lodge, No. 84, F. & A. M., to the various York Rite bodies, and to Ben Ali Temple of the Mystic Shrine in Sacramento.  He was exalted ruler of the Elks lodge from 1918 until 1921 and district deputy grand exalted ruler in 1922.  He is Rotarian and served as the second president of the Rotary Club of Red Bluff.  He finds rest and recreation in golf and in his leisure hours can frequently be found on the links.  His has been a busy and useful life, however, and one that has been far-reaching in its effects.  A public-spirited man, Mr. Ellenwood has done as much for the California Wool Growers Association as any other resident of the state and is frequently called upon to address public gatherings on questions relative to the industry.




Transcribed by Joyce Rugeroni.

Source: Wooldridge, J. W. Major, History of the Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 2 Pages 250-253. Pioneer Historical Publ. Co. Chicago 1931.

© 2010  Joyce Rugeroni.




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