Sacramento County







Varied enterprises have engaged the versatile talents of J. P. Dargitz at different periods of his useful and honorable career, but since his removal to Sacramento during 1910 he has devoted himself almost wholly to three very important movements, viz:  the organization and upbuilding of the California Almond Growers' Exchange, which he served three years as secretary and manager; the California Cured Fruit Exchange, organized in December, 1912;  and the Sacramento Clay Products Company.  The latter is the successor of the Silica Brick Company, which was organized in 1910 and which he served as secretary and as director and which expended more than $100,000 in the task of construction and preparation for the opening of their immense plant.  In 1912 they organized the Sacramento Clay Products Company, which took over the entire Silica brick plant and of which Mr. Dargitz became vice-president and director.  Among the various manufacturing institutions of this city the Sacramento Clay Products Company is one which promises very large results in the future development of the city and contiguous territory.  About two years were devoted to construction work on the parent plant at a vast expense, in order that the finest possible facilities and most modern equipment might be provided for its successful operation.  The factory now employs a large force of men and is turning out front (or face) brick and fire brick, as well as hollow building bricks and partition tiling.  With a modern plant and a desirable location from the standpoint of superior quality of clay and easy access to markets, the company has every prospect for a gratifying growth.  The reduced price at which the superior output can be furnished to builders and contractors in Sacramento will have a positive and large influence upon the permanent character of all future building operations in the capital city. 

Nor is the Sacramento Clay Products Company more important in its chosen field of endeavor than the California Almond Growers' Exchange in its special enterprises, and both owe much of their favorable promise to Mr. Dargitz.  The latter organization was incorporated during May of 1910 and has its principal office at Nos. 425-426 Ochsner Building, Sacramento.  Co-operative in purpose, its aim is to increase production and development as well as to secure the more satisfactory preparation of almonds for the markets.  Before the company was established the almond marketing for California growers had been conducted largely through the dried fruit packing houses of San Francisco, who used this as a side line and frequently for the purpose of making friends among the trade, whom they could induce thereby to purchase large quantities of dried fruit.  These packers secured the almonds ready for market from the grower and then after adding more or less profit for themselves, paid brokers to sell the almonds to the wholesale trade of the country.  The wholesale trade or jobbers in turn distributed to the retailers and the retailers finally sold to the consumers.  A large portion of the cost to the consumer was made up of profits to various people, through whose hands the almonds passed after they left the grower and before they reached the consumer.  The markets were also juggled so that the price was unstable and not uncommonly growers would receive from ten to twenty per cent difference in price for the same grade and quantity of almond on the same day, because they happened to live on different sides of the same county road and were not equally posted as to what the buyer wanted to do.  The speculative feature of the business was therefore equally detrimental to the grower, the trade and the consumer, and this is probably one of the reasons which has helped to make the organization a vital force in the community prosperity. 

At present sixteen districts of the principal almond growing sections of the state are organized and these are tied together in a marketing organization known as the California Almond Growers' Exchange.  The president of this concern for three years, B. F. Walton, of Yuba City, is one of the oldest farmers and best-known business men of the state.  He was succeeded as president by George W. Pierce, of Davis, a prominent orchardist.  The manager, J. P. Dargitz, has devoted a number of years to a study of the almond question from a standpoint of the markets as well as from its productive features.  As a result of his study he has become a local authority on the subject.  During 1910 the exchange controlled thirty-five percent of the crop of the state and by this means was enabled to steady the market, also had a very large effect in maintaining prices and establishing a solid foundation for the future of the business.  For 1911 the exchange handled at least fifty per cent of the crop of the state.  The output was marketable promptly and the growers received the highest prices ever obtained, while the good will of the trade was secured.  In 1912 the largest crop of almonds the state ever produced was marketed at satisfactory figures and was sold in forty-eight hours.  The business has been handled sagaciously, so as to please the trade as well as the growers.  T. C. Tucker, the efficient sales manager, under Mr. Dargitz, has made two trips throughout the country and as far as New York, introducing the business and bringing the trade in touch with the producing end of the almond industry.  His experience with the California Fruit Growers' Exchange in Chicago and with the California Fruit Exchange in California, before coming to the Almond Growers' Exchange, has given him a general grasp of the field and situation, and he naturally succeeded to the management in December, 1912, when Mr. Dargitz retired.  The work of the organization has stimulated almond planting until the nurseries of the state are not able to supply the desired trees in sufficient quantity for planting and the future of the industry promises very bright indeed. 

In November, 1912, the producers of dried fruits in California were being forced to sell their products at less than cost or not able to sell at all.  With the success of the almond growers before them they naturally turned to J. P. Dargitz to help them out and at their urgent solicitation he left the Almond Growers' Exchange December 1, 1912, and became manager of the California Cured Fruit Exchange, just organizing.  Its success in the few months since has been amazing to all interested and it bids fair to prove one of the greatest movements for the benefit of the producers of dried fruit ever started in California.


The manager of the Exchange is a member of an old eastern family and was born in Mansfield, Ohio, September 8, 1859, being a son of Marion and Tabitha J. (Mykrantz) Dargitz.  During early boyhood he was a pupil in the public school at Asland, Ohio, but in 1870 the family removed to Clarence, Iowa, and until 1876 he was a student in the grammar and high schools of that place.  Afterward he taught for five years in Union county, Iowa.  Leaving the schoolroom for the railroad business, he became an agent on the Iowa division of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad and afterward was promoted to be traveling auditor.  The life of a railroad man, however, soon proved unsatisfactory and he determined to seek a different field of activity.  Going to Chicago, he matriculated in the Chicago Homeopathic Medical College and after four years of study was graduated in 1889 with the degree of M. D. and an excellent standing.  For three years he practiced medicine at Wellsville, Allegany county, N. Y., after which he removed to Waukesha, Wis., and conducted a homeopathic sanitarium.  During 1893 he removed to the Pecos valley of New Mexico and not only practiced medicine, but also bought land which he developed into a fine farm.  In leisure hours he devoted himself to a correspondence course in Bible study. 

The greater climatic and other advantages offered by California led Mr. Dargitz to this state in 1896 and here he taught school, practiced medicine and preached the Gospel in Modoc county for eighteen months.  Afterward he devoted himself exclusively to ministerial work for a time and served as pastor of the Christian Church at Lakeport, Lake county, until 1900, when he resigned the charge in order to enter the state work of the church as an evangelist.  During 1904 he retired from active ministerial and evangelical labors in order to take up colonization activities.  His attention had been drawn to the superior qualities of the soil in the San Joaquin valley and he had bought eight hundred acres near Acampo.  There he established the Christian colony and devoted his attention to making known the attractions of the location to eastern people, desirous of engaging in horticultural work in California.  When he severed his connection with the colony in 1910, it was for the purpose of removing to Sacramento and devoting himself to the upbuilding of the almond industry, also to the promotion of the Silica Brick Company.  In politics he is a Republican of the progressive type.  His marriage occurred May 25, 1881, and united him with Miss Clara McDuffie, a native of Union county, Iowa, where the ceremony was performed.  They are the parents of three children, of whom only the youngest, Miss Dorothy, remains at home.  The eldest, Mrs. Florence Botts, resides at the Christian colony, where the family own valuable land interests.  The only son, Jesse L., also has a family home and fruit orchard in the colony.


Transcribed by Sally Kaleta.


Source: Willis, William L., History of Sacramento County, California, Pages 580-587. Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, CA. 1913.

2005 Sally Kaleta.




Sacramento County Biographies