Almost a half century has come and gone since Levi H. Nicewonger located on the farm which is now his home--a valuable and attractive ranch situated at French Camp about twelve miles east of Stockton. He took up his abode here in 1856, but came to San Joaquin county three years before, so that for fifty-one years he has resided within its borders. Great have been the changes that have occurred since this time. The wild land has been reclaimed for the purposes of civilization, and the cultivable tracts have been transformed into rich and productive places. Towns and villages have sprung up and all the comforts and conveniences of an older civilization have been introduced. In all matters of citizenship and business life and in every relation with his fellow men Mr. Nicewonger has displayed the sterling traits of character that in every land and clime command respect and confidence.

A native of Pennsylvania, he was born in Westmoreland county on the 1st of September, 1830, and is a son of Joseph and Margaret (Hull) Nicewonger, also natives of the Keystone state. In the paternal line he is descended from German ancestry. He was reared in the county of his nativity upon his father's farm, there remaining until he had attained his majority, while in the common schools he acquired his education. He possessed, however, an observing eye and retentive memory, and through reading and practical experience has broadened his knowledge. Continuing a resident of Pennsylvania until 1853, he then bade adieu to his native state and many friends there and emigrated to California, making the long journey across the arid plains of the west. At length he arrived in San Joaquin county, where he has made his home continuously since. He is a typical and representative pioneer who, recognizing the value of industry and enterprise in the active affairs of life, has labored diligently and resolutely to win a competence, making good use of his opportunities from year to year. He had been a resident of the county for three years when, in 1856, he purchased the tract of land upon which he now resides. He here has a farm of one thousand acres, which he has made a valuable property by reason of his careful supervision and indefatigable energy.

In 1858 Mr. Nicewonger was united in marriage to Miss Mary Hendry, who was born in Missouri, and is a daughter of the late Judge William Hendry, of Mendocino county, California, who at one time was a resident of San Joaquin county. Eleven children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Nicewonger, namely: Josephine M., who is the wife of William Munson, of Stanislaus county, California; George C. and Charles H., who are residents of Stanislaus county; Olivia, the wife of Frederick Minor, of Napa county; Laura B., the wife of Albert Smith of Napa county; Mary E., the wife of Christopher Shank, of Alaska; Levi H., of New York; Maude, who is living in Stanislaus county; Effie V., the wife of Henry Gilbert, of San Francisco; Lela E., at home; and Bertha B., who is now a student in the high school of Stockton. The family is well known at Atlanta and throughout the surrounding country, and the members of the household occupy an enviable position in social circles.

In his political views Mr. Nicewonger is a Democrat, but does not hold himself bound by party ties, and at local elections frequently supports the candidates of the opposition if he thinks them better qualified for office. He has served for a number of years as a member of the board of supervisors of San Joaquin county, and he exercises his official prerogatives in support of every measure which he believes will contribute to the general welfare. He was one of the founders of the Methodist Episcopal church at Atlanta, and has long served as one of its trustees, taking a very active and helpful part in its work. His influence is ever on the side of justice, truth and right, and his own honorable career exemplifies his belief in all that is uplifting and of permanent benefit to mankind.

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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