John F. Kurtz, who resides about five miles southeast of the town of Mills, in Sacramento county, is a very successful and enterprising rancher. He located on his present homestead in 1868, and with the exception of a few years has lived there ever since, broadening his field of work and material activity and increasing the range of personal usefulness with each succeeding year. At the time of his location he purchased two hundred and eleven acres from the government and three hundred and twenty of railroad land, which, combined, make a large and handsome estate which he still owns and manages. In 1870, leaving his landed possessions for the time being, he went to Nevada, and for four and a half years engaged in freighting for W. L. Pritchard between Palisade, Eureka and Pioche. In 1876 he returned to Sacramento county and settled permanently on his ranch, where for many years he has successfully engaged in general farming and stock-raising.
Of German nativity, born in the province of Wurtemberg, March 28, 1840, Mr. Kurtz is a son of Gottfried and Catherine (Sendner) Kurtz, who were also born in that part of the fatherland. When a boy of nine years he accompanied his parents to the new world and lived in the home which they made in Crawford county, Ohio, where both the parents lived till death. There were eight children in the Kurtz family which crossed the Atlantic in 1849.
Reared in a good home and under the constant influences of daily labor, Mr. Kurtz was only a young lad when he began doing for himself, and since the age of fourteen has borne the brunt of life's responsibilities for himself. At that age he left Ohio and went to Crawfordsville, Indiana, and a short time later made the second stage in the various moves which finally brought him to the Pacific coast by going to Union county, Iowa; a few months there and he went ot Daviess county, Missouri, where he remained a similar period of time; then one year was spent at Santa Fe, New Mexico; returning east he became a government employe at Fort Leavenworth, being given charge of the mules at the army post, having been similarly employed at the army post in Santa Fe. From Leavenworth, in 1858, he drove mule teams across the plains to California, and for the succeeding ten years, until he located on his ranch, was mainly engaged in teaming and freighting from Sacramento and Folsom to the mines. Also for a brief period he did some placer gold mining in Placer county, near Pino.
In 1877 Mr. Kurtz married Miss Viola Shucks, who was born in the state of Oregon. Six children were born of their marriage, and the four living are Pearl, wife of Lewis Wright, of Sacramento county, Lester, John F., Jr., and Millard E.
A stanch Republican in political matters, eminently public-spirited, a friend of schools and general education, Mr. Kurtz has been a valuable member of the community for many years. Fraternally he affiliates with Granite Lodge No. 62, I. O. O. F., at Folsom, and with the Odd Fellows encampment at the same place. He is at this writing serving as a trustee of the Highland school district, which he assisted to organize, was a member of the first board of trustees and has remained on the board for many years.
Source: History of the New California - Its Resources and People, Volume II
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
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