Abia Taylor Lightner, Jr.

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Abia Taylor Lightner, Jr.

Birthplace: Pomona, Los Angeles, California, USA
Death: Died in Bakersfield, Kern, California, USA
Cause of death: Cause of Death Incident to Age
Place of Burial: Cremated, Fresno, California, Location of Ashes Unknown
Immediate Family:

Son of Abia Taylor Lightner, Sr. and Jemima Snelling Lightner
Husband of Ida Lightner and Rectina "Tena" Lightner
Father of Lola Belle Heberbasch; Gladys Strou and Marguerite Follansbee
Brother of Diana Taylor Barrows; Sarah Ann Lightner; Isaac Abia Lightner; William Lightner; Daniel S. Lightner and 2 others

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About Abia Taylor Lightner, Jr.

Abia Taylor Lightner, Jr., Obituary from The Bakersfield Californian, Bakersfield, Kern County, California, Wednesday, March 11, 1936: A.T. Lightner, Kern Pioneer, Passes Away: Resident of County 80 Years Dies; Plan Services Tomorrow: Death yesterday summoned Abia Taylor Lightner, 86, distinguished native son of California, and one of Kern County's most widely known and respected pioneer citizens. He was one of the lst of California's famous "covered wagon babies," having been born January 1, 1850, in the ox-train wagon that had brought his parents across the plains from Independence, Missouri, in 1849. his birth occurred near the present site of Pomona.

Late yesterday afternoon he passed away peacefully at his home, 2601 Nineteenth Street. A colorful and picturesque figure, Mr. Lightner's own life was a chapter in the history of this state. Early in the year 1849, his father and mother, Captain and Mrs. Abia T. Lightner decided to try their fortunes in the west. In June of that year, their train was ready and moved out of Independence, Missouri, with Captain Lightner as its leader.

They journeyed the southern route through New Mexico and Arizona. More than six months was spent on the way. Well armed, the train had no difficulty in repulsing Indian attacks, but encountered many other forms of hardship as it pushed westward. There were 20 wagons in the train.

Its first stop after reaching California was near the site of Pomona, where on New Years day, Abia Taylor Lightner, Jr., made his advent into the world. The Lightners first settled in Santa Clara county, then came to Kern County in 1856. following the gold excitement in the mountains northeast of here.

They settled near Keysville, Captain Lightner purchasing a mine near there later known as the Mammoth. The mine did not prove profitable, however, and in 1863, the family moved to the Walkers Basin district where members still reside. Captain Lightner was killed there in 1867, by a runaway team. Mrs. Lightner followed him in death in 1896.

Abia, Jr., youngest member of the family, in 1861 went to Santa Clara County to live for a year with a sister, the late Mrs. Diana Barrows. This gave him an opportunity to attend school, an opportunity not to be found in Kern County at the time.

After the death of his father in 1867, he attended Vacaville College for a year and in 1870 entered Heald's Business College, from which he graduated in June, 1871. Returning to Kern he engaged in farming and stock raising, then abandoned farming for a business career. From 1876 to 1878 he also served the county as a deputy sheriff. During this period there occurred an incident that provided an admirable example of the courageous, yet peaceable, character of the young pioneer, old-time friends relate.

Going into the mountains after a fugitive, he captured his man and was preparing to bring him back to jail in Bakersfield when a group of the prisoner's friends attempted to stage a rescue. As they rushed the lone deputy he first warned them, then shot the ring leader dead in his tracks and forced the others to fall back. Unflinching in the face of duty, Mr. Lightner nevertheless grieved for years because he had been forced to take a life, friends said and he had little heart for the work of a peace officer.

In the meantime, the eyes of the older political leaders had fallen upon him and in 1879 he was elected clerk and recorder of Kern county. When the new constitution went into effect a year later and another election was necessary, he was re-elected and held the office until January of 1886.

For a time, Mr. Lighner engaged in the hotel business in Tulare, but a disastrous fire wiped out the property. In the spring of 1887, he returned to Bakersfield and formed a partnership with W.E. Houghton under the title of Houghton & Lightner, searchers of records.

Upon being elected county assessor in the fall of 1890, he retired from the abstract business. He was the first city clerk of Bakersfield following the incorporation of the municipality and held that office until 1910, when he was not a candidate for re-election. His activities since 1910 had been varied and had brought him into close association with a score of industries through out the state.

At the time of his death he was the state inheritance tax assessor for this district and for a score of years had been serving the Kern County Cattlemen's Association as its secretary. As an appraiser he was said to have no peer in California. The accuracy of his judgment was enhanced by his broad knowledge of jurisprudence, for at an early age he was admitted to practice as an attorney before United States land offices, his certificate of application bearing the signature of the Hon. R.E. Arick, judge of the Superior court of Kern County.

Fraternally, he was a charter member of Bakersfield Lodge No. 266, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

He leaves a widow, Mrs. Tena M. Lightner, residing at the family home; three daughters, Mrs. Lola Heberlasch of Newman, California, Mr., Gladys Stroud of Los Angeles, and Mrs. Marguerite Follansbee of Bakersfield; three grandchildren, Mrs. Joan Bennett, Peggy Follansbee, and Bill Follansbee of Bakersfield, and one sister, Mrs. L.E. Rankin of Walkers Basin.

His body lies in state in Doughty-Calhoun-O'Meara chapel. Funeral services will be held in the chapel at 10 o'clock Thursday morning. Following the rites the body will be taken to Fresno for cremation.


From a book, History of Kern County California, Page 227, by Wallace M. Morgan - Published 1914 (Public Domain)

Abia Taylor Lightner - Genealogical records indicate that during the eighteenth century three brothers, William A., John and Nathaniel Lightner, crossed the ocean from Holland to America and settled in Pennsylvania, where the last-named devoted the remainder of his life to farming in Lancaster county. Captain Abia Taylor Lightner, son of Nathaniel, was born in that county in october of 1801, and at a very early age became a pioneer of Missouri, where at Independence he married Miss Jemima S. Snelling, a native of Louisville, KY, born in September, 1809. The Snelling family is of welsh lineage. During 1849 her aged mother and two brothers, Daniel and Benjamin Snelling, started across the plains, but in the course of the tedious journey the mother died at the age of about eighty-nine years. The brothers continued on their way, settled in California and became men of some local prominence, Benjamin being the founder of the village of Snelling, in Merced county.

Having decided to try his fortunes in the west, Captain Lightner outfitted at Independence, MO, and during June of 18490 started as captain of a train that journeyed with ox-teams along the southern route through New Mexico and Arizona. More than six months were spent on the way and often in the lonely road they were in great danger from the Indians, but they traveled well-0armed, each family taking a large supply of guns and ammunition. The twenty wagons comprising the train were under his guidance as train master and were drawn by oxen, while milk cows were taken along, not only in order that milk and butter might be obtained for daily use, but also to be used for motive power in case of accident to the oxen or to furnish beef if needed.

In every respect the expedition was well equipped, hence they escaped many of the privations that befell other bands of Argonauts. A brief stop was made near the present site of Pomona in Los Angeles county, and there on New Year's day of 1850, the numerical importance of the expedition was enhanced by the birth of Abia Taylor Lightner, Jr. Proceeding to the coast and thence northward, the travelers finally separated at Alviso, Santa Clara county, where the captain took up land one and one half miles from Santa Clara and engaged not only in farming, but also in teaming for James Lick. During the mining excitement on the Kern River, he made a trip of investigation and decided to remove to the location.

As early as 1856 he bought on that river near Keyesville a mine later known as the Mammoth and also built a quartz mill, where he not only utilized rock from his own mine, but also engaged in custom work. The family established their home in Keyesville during 1857, but the following year, the milling and mining not proving profitable, he purchased the claim and stock owned by Bob Wilson in Walker's Basin and removed his wife and children to the new location. Ever since then the place has been occupied by members of the family and is now owned by one of his daughters, Mrs. Walker Rankin.

While hauling a load of hay, February 12, 1867, from Walker's Basin to Havilah, then the county seat, he fell from the wagon and was run over by the team and killed. At the time of the accident he was alone and when found life was extinct. The widow remained at the old homestead until her death in 1896. Devoted to the doctrines of the Baptist Church and a generous contributor to denominational work, her interest and gifts continued until her demise; her daughters have exhibited the same intense loyalty to Baptist tenets.

There were nine children in the parental family, but two of these died in Missouri prior to the date of the westward migration. Isaac died at Walker's Basin in 1906, and William passed away in Calaveras county, January 3, 1907, while Daniel S. died in Costa Rica, Central America, in 1909. Bakersfield Lodge No. 266, B.P.O.E., and is now the oldest surviving member of that body. Mrs. Lightner, formerly Miss Tena Morrell, is also a native Californian and has spent her entire life in the west. There are two daughters in the family, Gladys and Marguerite, the elder of whom is the wife of B.K. Stroud, superintendent of drilling operations in Lost Hills for the Universal Oil Company.

Source: Find A Grave.com, Memorial #122340080

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Abia Taylor Lightner, Jr.'s Timeline

January 1, 1850
Pomona, Los Angeles, California, USA
February 12, 1936
Age 86
Bakersfield, Kern, California, USA
Cremated, Fresno, California, Location of Ashes Unknown