Monthly Archives: June 2014

August Witte Crate Under the House & F.M. Masumoto Reedley, Ca


My neighbor contacted me a week or so ago and asked if I wanted an old crate he found under his house. I said Sure!

So this isnt exactly an old photo post, but an old Crate post with some personal history attached.


So the crate was underneath a late 20s-30 Craftsman home in Phoenix, Az. Who knows how long its been there and who left it there. But it held up nicely!

It says “August Witte Shipper, Reedley, California”

So I wondered if this was a common shipping company and googled it. Only to turn up empty handed, not one peep relating to this.

So my Mom did some of her more in depth detective work with all of her sites shes a part of and found me August’s Obituary.

“August Witte

Reedley-  Funeral arrangements are being made at the Corins Funeral Home in Reedley for August Witte, 73, who died in a local hospital last night.

Witte was a native of Germany and had lived in the United States and Reedley for the past 35 years. He was a fruit grower, packer and shipper.

He is survived by his widow, Louise, of Reedley and two sisters and a brother in Germany.”

Friday Oct 24, 1952 The Fresno Bee (he died on Oct 23rd)

From doing census searches he turns up in the 1930 Census in Reedley, it says he immigrated in 1917 from Germany and his wife at the time was name Anna C. Witte also from Germany. In the 1920 Census they were living in Alila, Tulare, California.

World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918

Listed as August Witte, worked as a Bus Driver. Lived at 2445 E. Colo, Lamanda Park, Ca. Pasadena

I also found a 1942 World War II Draft Registration Card


Born in Konigsteal, Germany July 30, 1880. At the time of the Draft he was 61 and lived at 86 Fresen Ave. Reedley, Fresno, Ca:

So doing the correct math with dates and numbers. August came to the US around 1917 and was about 38 yrs old at the time.

Found his marriage license to Anna.

Date 26 Aug 1918, he married Anne Placke of Germany. It also lists August’s parents names on this form. His father is August Witte and mother is Helena Mertens of Germany. He was living Pasadena it says and worked as a Chauffeur.

In the 1940 Census he still turns up as a Fruit Shipper and Packager in Reedley.

I tried searching newspaper archive records and found only one that mentions August Witte in a suit, it was an employee driving his truck in Bakersfield(not sure if this is the same August but Bakersfield is near the Fresno area). A driver trying to pass collided with Witte’s truck. That info can be found here..

Interesting note when looking up the town of Reedley, California. It was incorporated in 1913, August came from Germany around 1917. But then reading on wikipedia and history of Reedley it matches up even further! I wonder if he was part of the German Mennonite community.

American Civil War hero Thomas Law Reed settled here to provide wheat for Gold Rush miners in the mid-1800s. His donation of land for a railroad station site established the town as the center of the Valley’s[ booming wheat business. Railroad officials commemorated his vision by naming the fledgling City in his honor. When mining fever began to fade, wheat demand slackened. Kings River water was diverted for crop irrigation, and the region began its over 100-year tradition of bountiful field, tree, and vine fruit harvests. With water and railroad services in place, farming families of European immigrants were recruited, and the settlement was incorporated in 1913.  An important element in the early town was a colony of German Mennonites, whose strong traditions and values still shape Reedley’s culture”

From Wikipedia

Also found this mention of the Mennonites in Reedley, Ca

“The first church to be organized was the Reedley congregation in 1905, the first settlers having arrived one year earlier. The Reedley MB Church grew to be not only the largest Mennonite congregation in California, but also became the largest church in the North American Mennonite Brethren conference. The total baptized membership in 1950 was approximately 1,350. A new church was built with a seating capacity of 2,200.”


Maybe someone will turn up some more info along the way and show us Mr August Witte or where he once worked. For now his crate lives with me.

UPDATE: 6/30/2014

After I wrote this I went to restock my antiques. I have a Crate I have had for several years used as a display piece. But today it popped out at me as it says “Reedley Special” and Im all Hey! Reedley, where August Witte was and his crate. How funny that I have had this crate and it didnt sell for years but its just been sitting there. So I snapped a photo and did some research on the name on this one seeing as they both came out of Reedley, Ca. What are the odds eh?



This crate says “Reedley Special Tomatoes. F.M. Masumoto 19410 East Sumner Ave, Reedley, California” and the Litho is by “Sentinel Printing & Publishing Co., Dinuba, California”

Looks like he was Fred Minoru Masumoto born Jan 15, 1903 in Japan. The address comes up as his on the internet and his death record is June 24 1992. He comes up in the 1940 Census in Reedley and his occupation says “Ranch Work” . I have googled the address and its a house in the middle of farming fields. Its a newer building now, so Im sure there was once an older place standing out there.

When I google the Masumoto name other families come up as several generation farmers in the area, not sure if they are family relations or not.

Looks like 2 different immigrant families in the same community whos crates I have come upon.


Filed under Uncategorized

Baby and Funeral Book – Humphries and Whitcher

While out thrifting and picking with my big sister for furniture and goodies in California, she found me this Baby Book and Funeral Book tucked away in the large book section of this shop.


The Baby book is still in its original box which is coming apart but protected it for all these years along with all the little cards/mementos many mothers keep. This card is my favorite! It has a cute little Kewpie Doll attached on the front. It says inside “This Good Luck keepsake on this card is laden with the wishes That baby will always have and keep good friends, good health and riches” on the back it says its from Sister Ruth Aug 8, 1939


The most touching thing is the envelope of her sons hair. You never know when some Male Hair sample for DNA may come in handy eh? Its labeled “Norman’s Curls 16 mos old”


This was Norman Charles Humphries Baby Book. Born August 8, 1938 in Pomona, California.

Pictures tucked inside, the baby photo says “Norman Humphries 1 yr old August 8, 1939 Birthday Suit” I am not sure if the other picture is him also but it was tucked inside the baby book and says “1952” on the back so Im assuming its one of his school pictures as he got older.


Norman’s parents were Arthur Emerson Humphries and Helen Emily(Whitcher)Humphries

What was even more special, were 2 older photographs tucked inside this baby book. They belong to Norman’s Mother Helen and were taken back when she was a girl with her family in Burke, Vermont. The baby book is perfect for family tree info and the pictures tucked inside just puts the puzzle together so much easier. The back of this photo reads

“My home and father and mother in West Burke, Vermont. I may be 5 or 6 years old. Helen Whitcher Humphries” Helen was born in Canada around 1893 and died April 16, 1985 in Los Angeles, Ca

Helen’s parents were Samuel Sumner Whitcher and Bertha Agusta Whitcher Vosburgh (as listed in the baby book) on internet sites she is listed as Bertha George. Born in Canada on July 1876.


I always wonder when I find pictures like this…. Does anyone have these pictures or copies? I love to look and see if they are inputed on family trees on the internet, are their websites about this family? Are their photographs uploaded? Is there an obituary that will tell me about who these people were that I held in my hands? Is their a findagrave written on them? So far I have turned up empty handed with much info other then some family tree info inputed or census data. But not much beyond that.

This picture is even better! Its labeled “My birthplace taken in 1925 West Burke, Vermont” Since no names are listed Im going to guess this is a family photo and Helen is the younger teen looking girl near the front, and most likely her parents and grandparents? Who knows how many generations are in this photo!


I love little details like the newspaper clippings glued into the baby book announcement the birth of their baby, often times they listed the persons address in the older days along with any announcement about them. So for Baby Norman Charles Humphries it says the family address is “665 S. Park Ave” since everything is listed as Pomona, Im going to assume that is where this is. I went on zillow and google maps and found there is a house standing there still that is dated 1910. The house looks pretty run down. I imagine she looked much more loved and cared for back in 1938 when the baby was born. I was glancing back at the baby picture of Norman and I bet he is standing in front of this very house as you can see the siding edges through the bushes. Here is how the house looks today, sorry shes not very pretty.


Now lets get focused here. The Baby Book was Charles Norman Humphries baby book. I havent been able to find much on him, is he still alive?

And then the funeral book, it was his fathers. “In memory of Arthur Emerson Humphries born August 9, 1890 in Ontario, Canada. Passed away in Pomona, Ca on April 21 1967. Buried at  Bellevue Cemetery in Ontario, Ca. I cannot find much on the internet about Arthur, but did find a webpage on Arthur’s Father, Charles Price Humphries which gives a little personal background history on this family and their life. Interesting how he was in Ontario Canada and later ended up in the Ontario, California.

“One of the best known citizens of the Ontario community is Charles Price Humphries. His friends know him as a man of ample prosperity, with a long record of success as a fruit rancher. A few know that when he came to California many years ago he possessed practically no capital beyond his individual enterprise and energy.

He was born February 12, 1865, at Strathroy, Ontario, Canada, son of Samuel and Caroline (Bowen) Humphries. His maternal grandfather, Arthur William Bowen, was a major in the English Army, and for his services the English Government gave him extended concessions in and near Hamilton, Ontario. Charles Price Humphries was reared and educated in Strathroy, and at the age of sixteen became a clerk in a mercantile store at Wyoming, Ontario. A few years later he came to California and at San Jose during 1884-85 worked on a ranch to learn the fruit growing business. Subsequently he was at San Mateo and for two years had charge of the famous trotting stallion, Guy Wilkes, which held the Pacific Coast trotting record for a number of years, until it was taken away by another celebrated horse, Stamboul. Mr. Humphries was not inclined to follow racing as a permanent business, and finally, with perhaps a hundred dollars in capital, he started in a small way the growing of deciduous fruit, going to Cucamonga in January, 1887, and purchasing five acres of land at two hundred dollars an acre. In March, 1894, he moved to Ontario, where he has had his home for over a quarter of a century and where from the first he engaged in the deciduous fruit business on an extensive scale. Mr. Humphries now has thirty-seven acres planted to peaches and apricots. He was among the first to make a commercial success of deciduous fruits in the Ontario district, and he was the very first man of that section to market direct the product of his orchard. For his first peaches he received six dollars a ton and eight dollars a ton for his apricots. The crop of 1920 he sold at a hundred dollars a ton for the peaches and ninety dollars for the apricots.

Through many years of determined work and accumulating interests Mr. Humphries is now comfortably prosperous, and has an income sufficient for his needs from his bonds of the Edison Electric Company and other companies and the rental of property he owns in Los Angeles and Glendale. While his extensive fruit orchards are a business that he could play with provided his inclinations ran to radical experiments. For several years he was a director in the Cucamonga Water Company. Mr. Humphries is a republican, is a past noble grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and past chief patriarch of the Encampment, and jwas secretary and in 1919 was president of the Pioneer Society of Ontario. He is a member of the Methodist Church. His fruit ranch is a mile east of Ontario.

At San Bernardino November 23, 1887, Mr. Humphries married Mary Richards, daughter of George and Lydia (Powell) Richards. Mr. and Mrs. Humphries have three children: Leland Richard married Olive M. Wilcox, and they have two children, Billie and Donald Wilbur; Arthur Emerson married Helen Whitcher, and their two children are Arthur Wilbur and Ruth. The only daughter, Grace Winifred, is a teacher in the schools of Honolulu. Mrs. Humphries’ father, a native of England, came to Canada at the age of four years with his parents, and was educated in Canada. Later he was interested in the oil business at Petrolia, Ontario, Canada. Both her parents are now deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Humphries visited their daughter in the Hawaiian Islands in the winter of 1920 and 1921, and while there he took an active interest in the working of the oldest Lodge of Odd Fellows west of the Rocky Mountains. An American ship captain established this lodge in 1847. Its charter called for the establishment of a lodge in Oregon. The captain of the vessel sailed out of his course, and while in the Hawaiian Islands gathered enough members from his crew to establish a lodge under the charter.”

Info from

Hope you have enjoyed learning about the Humphries and Whitchers as much as I have and I hope to learn more!


Filed under Photo Albums