JAMES T. RAGSDALE
The owner of the Ragsdale subdivision and addition to Merced, [sic] James T. Ragsdale, has a national reputation as a dealer in horses, mules and blooded
stock. It was a business that came naturally to him from his father. He was born on a farm in Missouri on October 25, 1869, the fourth of nine children born to Thomas and Betty (Smith) Ragsdale, both natives of Missouri. The elder Ragsdale was a farmer, who owned vast tracts of land in Missouri before the first
railroad bridged the Mississippi; he was also a well-known buyer of mules and horses, taking large droves of them to St. Louis. He devoted his life to that
work and was a most successful business man; he died at the age of sixty-nine, and his wife at the age of sixty-eight.
James T. Ragsdale was brought up on the farm and attended the Washington district school. At the age of eighteen he began an interest in his fathers
business, taking charge of 160 acres, five miles south of Shelbina, and was there located until 1902, in the meantime engaging more and more in the breeding of shorthorn cattle, buying and selling mules and horses and handling as high as 2000 head of horses and mules in a season, shipping them to Texas and into the South. As a buyer he represented Brown and Price and Clay Robinson, of Chicago. During those days he never failed to show at the county and state fairs of Missouri for thirty years. At the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, he and his father took many premiums; he was the only one of his brothers who followed in the footsteps of their father in the stock business.
In 1893 James T. Ragsdale was married in Missouri to Miss Nannie Whaley, a native of Missouri, and they have a son, Marcus, who is married and has three children. Mr. Ragsdale and his family came to Merced County in 1902. The county was a great wheat belt and began farming on a ranch two and one half miles out of Merced on the Oakdale road. Six months later he invested in Merced town property, and buying out the Merced Livery Stables changed the name to Yosemite Stables. From time to time he added other stables until he had three of the largest livery stables in Merced County with a string of seventy-five horses. During this time Mr. Ragsdale brought to Merced the first five-gaited horses. He owned the celebrated Monroe McDonald, a $1000 three-year-old; in 1914 he was the gold medal grand champion winner at the Sacramento State Fair. He also owned the champion stallion, Orfeld Prince who was bought, in 1910, by Miller & Lux.
In 1914 Mr. Ragsdale sold out his entire livery stable business owing to the coming of the motor vehicles and has since devoted a great deal of attention to
the buying and selling of mules and horses throughout the valley. He represented T. H. Gilroy, of Kansas City, as agent of the U. S. Government in purchasing and shipping animals in 1917-1918, handling 150 a week throughout the valley from Sacramento to Bakersfield. He also shipped to Guyton and Harrington Mule Company at Kansas City, Mo. He was made the initial horse and mule inspector for California. Soon after the call came from the U. S. Government for horses and mules for war purposes, in association with Godfrey Priest of Long Island, he transported mules to French soil, and conducted the first inspection of war stock for the French government held in California, which took place in Merced when 250 horses were inspected. Since the war he has dealt with Rominger & Co., of Fort Worth, Texas, supplying work stock for southern cotton planters. He has shipped to Lambert and Langley in Salt River Valley and Phoenix, Ariz., also to Honolulu and other foreign ports. In 1920 he quit the stock business and entered the real estate field and bought the Bradley Tract embracing fifty-two acres, on Bear Creek at the eastern boundary of Merced, and placed the Ragsdale Addition on the market and found a ready response, for its value is unequaled in the State.
He has been a member of the Modern Woodmen of America thirty years; the Court of Honor twenty years; an Odd Fellow and a Rebekah in Merced for seventeen years. Mr. Ragsdale served as city trustee, 1918 to 1921, resigning the latter year when he removed from the city into the Ragsdale Addition of Merced. He has made two trips East since 1902, and has returned each time with a higher appreciation of California.
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