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Ventura County









†††† The sterling traits of his Scotch and Irish ancestors were manifest in the career of the late Hon. Thomas R. Bard, who wrought along constructive lines, leaving the deep impress of his individuality upon the history of Ventura Countyís development and progress.Of him it was said: ďIn his long business career he handled and owned and controlled thousands upon thousands of acres of land; had bought and sold and leased; had seen his acres grow thick in population and wealth, but never had recorded against him any word of censure from this neighbors or from the vast numbers with whom he had dealings.As he advanced in years he found himself increasingly busy but yet he did not hesitate to place himself at the service of his fellows when the call for public activity became urgent.He earned his wealth by unquestioned methods.In fact, in every sphere of life entered by him, he emerged stainless, carrying with him the respect and esteem of his associates and acquaintances.Ē


†††† Mr. Bard was born at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, December 8, 1841, a son of Robert M. and Elizabeth S. (Little) Bard, who were the parents of four children, two sons and two daughters.Archibald Bard, the great-great grandfather of Thomas R. Bard, emigrated to this country from Ireland, settling in York County (now Adams County), Pennsylvania, in 1740.The great-grandfather, Richard Bard, and his wife were captured by the Indians, April 19, 1758, and five days later the husband made his escape.He at once exerted every effort to secure the release of his wife but was not successful until two years and five months later.She was finally released at Kittanning, Pennsylvania, for a ransom of forty pounds sterling.The grandfather, Thomas Bard, was a native of Chambersburg and his son, Robert M. Bard, was born in that city in 1810.He became one of its prominent lawyers and his death occurred in 1851, when he was forty-one years of age.His wife was a native of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, born in 1812, and passed away at Berylwood, near Hueneme, California, in 1880, at the age of sixty-eight years.She was the daughter of Dr. P. W. Little and a granddaughter of Colonel Robert Parker, a gallant officer of the Continental Army.


†††† Reared in Chambersburg, Thomas R. Bard attended an academy there and at the age of seventeen began the study of law under the Hon. George Chambers, then a justice of the supreme court of Pennsylvania.When he realized the length of time involved in the study of law and the establishment to practice, the young man decided his law ambitions would be too much of a burden to his mother.Because he wished instead to contribute to her and his sistersí support; and because of his health, Mr. Bard abandoned Blackstone for railroad and mining engineering in the Alleghenies.Later he accepted a position in a forwarding and commission house at Hagerstown, Maryland, a connection that existed until the dissolution of the firm at the opening of the Civil War.Hagerstown was close to the scene of hostilities and this sealed the fate of this particular commission firm.However, one of its members, Mr. Zeller, an uncle of Mr. Bard by marriage, took him in as a partner and this constituted the real beginning of the latterís business career, at the age of twenty-one.The new firm was agent for the Cumberland Valley Railroad Company and, owing to its proximity to the battle zone, a portion of Mr. Bardís duties consisted of scouting and protecting the companyís property.In this connection he was present on the battlefield of Antietam when that engagement opened and witnessed that notable conflict.It is a matter of history that the home of Mr. Bardís mother was burned by the Confederates under General McCauseland in July, 1864.


†††† In the course of his work Mr. Bard became acquainted with Thomas A. Scott, then assistant secretary of war, and had the privilege of rendering to him service that was appreciated by Mr. Scott, who recognizes the worth of the young man.Toward the end of the war Mr. Scott invited Mr. Bard to come to California to take charge of his vast interests in the west.Eager to advance, Mr. Bard accepted the offer and at once started for California, arriving at his destination on the 5th of January, 1865.At first he was assistant superintendent of the California Petroleum Company, one of the Scott interests, and attempted to develop the oil resources of the Ojai rancho, which was the first effort to develop the oil fields of California.The equipment used was brought by water from New York via the Horn or from San Francisco and was rafted to the shore from vessels.The search for oil was eventually abandoned, although a well was brought in, and Mr. Bard then took charge of the Scott lands.These comprised: The Simi, one hundred and thirteen thousand acres; Las Posas, twenty-six thousand, five hundred acres; the San Francisco rancho, forty-eight thousand acres; Calleguas, ten thousand acres; Colonia, forty-five thousand acres; Canyada Larga, six thousand, six hundred acres; Ojai, sixteen thousand acres; holdings in Los Angeles and Humboldt counties, totaling two hundred and seventy-seven thousand acres.The first of this vast property to be subdivided by Mr. Bard was the Ojai rancho, the next was Canyada Larga, which was followed by La Colonia.In exploiting the land he brought to bear business ability of a high order, encouraged settlement by every legitimate means, and sold much property.He laid out the town of Hueneme and built the wharf there in 1871.He continued as manager of the Scott lands until the death of the owner in 1882, when he was appointed administrator of the estate, and closed up the affairs of his employer.While in charge of the Scott interests Mr. Bard had purchased land for himself from time to time and when the growth of the county brought about soaring prices he was fortunate in being able to watch his personal fortune grow with it.He was one of the founders of the old Bank of Ventura and served as its president for fifteen years.He also organized the Hueneme Bank, becoming its executive head, and was likewise interested in oil and irrigation enterprises.


†††† April 17, 1876, Mr. Bard was married to Miss Mary B. Gerberding, a daughter of C. O. Gerberding, of San Francisco, where she was born in 1858.They were the parents of seven children: Miss Beryl B. Bard, at home; Mrs. Mary Louise Edwards, of Ojai; Miss Anna Greenwell Bard; Thomas G. Bard; Elizabeth Parker, the wife of Reginald C. Shand of Piedmont, California; Richard Bard; and Archibald Philip Bard, assistant professor of physiology at Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins University; Richard Bard is successfully managing his fatherís large estate, which embraces about nine thousand acres, constituting one of the largest agricultural projects in California.A tract of four hundred and thirty acres is devoted to the growing of walnuts and citrus fruits, while more than eight hundred acres of land are reserved for the production of beans and hay.Richard Bard is a director of the Bank of Hueneme and the Security-First National Bank of Los Angeles.He has a wife and five children and is one of the leading citizens of Hueneme.


†††† Mr. Bardís religious views were in harmony with the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church, in which he had membership and was an elder, and his political allegiance was given to the Republican Party.In its councils he was an influential factor, becoming a presidential elector in 1880 and a delegate to the Blaine convention in 1884.Elected to the board of county supervisors, he proved his worth as a public servant, working for the best interests of his district.In 1900 the people of the state needed a man strong enough to fight the railroad interests and the political ring.The state legislature had failed to elect a senator for over a year as they could not agree on any one candidate.When invited to run, Mr. Bard replied that he would serve if the people of the state wanted him but he would make no campaign for the office.Daniel M. Burns, representing the railroad interests, was the opposing candidate.The legislature battled long and bitterly but Mr. Bard was finally declared the winner of the contest and for five years he occupied a seat in the United States senate, making an enviable record.His death occurred at his home near Hueneme, March 5, 1915, when he was seventy-four years of age and ripe in honors and achievements.An exceptional man in many respects, he played well his part in life and his memory is revered by all who enjoyed the privilege of knowing him.His widow resides at Hueneme.†† ††



Transcribed by Bill Simpkins.

Source: California of the South Vol. II, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 399-403, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,Indianapolis.1933.

© 2012 Bill Simpkins.