John Rathjen, who is engaged in general farming near Banta in San Joaquin county, where he owns and operates three hundred and twenty acres of land, on which he has made his home since 1872, is a representative of that class of worthy citizens that Germany has furnished to the new world. He is a native of Holstein, Germany, born on the 21st of September, 1843, and his parents were also born in the same locality. The father, Hans N. Rathjen, remained a resident of the old world until 1872, when, leaving his native country, he crossed the Atlantic to America and spent his last days in Nabraska, his death occurring in Washington county, that state, on the 17th of October, 1903.

In the fatherland John Rathjen spent the days of his boyhood and youth and acquired a fair education in his native language. Experience and observation have added greatly to his knowledge and given him broad practical information that has enabled him to successfully transact his business affairs. It was in 1865 that he sailed for the United States and made his way to Scott county, Iowa, where he remained for a short time. After visiting various portions of the west he came to California in 1868, settling in San Joaquin county, and in 1872 he took up his abode upon his present ranch, where he has remained continuously since, covering a period of thrity-two consecutive years. Here he has three hundred and twenty acres devoted to the raising of grain and annually harvests rich crops. His labors are devoted untiringly to the improvement of his farm and the cultivation of his fields, and whatever success he has achieved has resulted directly from his own efforts.

On the 24th of March, 1879, Mr. Rathjen was married to Miss Gesine Hilken, who was born in San Francisco, California, and is a daughter of John Hilken, late of San Joaquin county. To Mr. and Mrs. Rathjen have been born six children: Clara; Fredericka, who is the wife of Walter McArdle, of Banta, California; John; Charles; Amy; and Ida. Mr. Rathjen has never sought to figure in any public light, caring not for political preferment or anything else what would cause him to occupy a place in public attention, but he has the qualities of the good and loyal citizen, who upholds the business interests and stability of his county. He feels that he made a wise choice when he determined to make his home here, for he has improved business opportunities that have led to success.

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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