IRVING LEROY DIFFIN SR.

1874 ~ 1966

Contributed by; Carol Lackey

Irving Leroy Diffin Sr. was born in Syracuse Onondago County, New York on June 6, 1874 . He is the son of Charles and Sylvie Electa (Welch) Diffin and was raised in the same neighborhood as J. L. Gilliette and Paul Neumann both pioneers of the Le Grand area. It was with his friend Fritz Neumann that he made his first trip to California to visit with Neumann's relatives. After a short stay he decided to settle here permanently and consequently spent the remainder of his life in this vicinity going home only twice on a short visit.

Mr. Diffin married a local girl Alice Rosebud Turner in February 1901. She was a member of the Turner-Helm Clan and a daughter of Jonas and Amanda (Redman) Turner both pioneers of 1854 and 1856 respectively. They became the parents of three sons, Merwin Adrain, Charles Glenn and Irving Leroy Jr. Mrs. Diffin died when the youngerst child Leroy was about two yers old after a lingering illness of tuberculosis on October 25, 1913.

Irve, as he was known to his many friends, farmed with his in-laws from the time he married until the home ranch was sold around 1915. Irve then purchased the Yosemite Hotel in Le Grand and after running the hotel for several years he sold it to Mrs. Mary Hake. Irve then bought a small ranch on the suth bank of the Mariposa Creek and east of the Mitchell road. This ranch he retained until his death.

Mr. Diffin was fond of sports and was a prominent member of the first baseball team in Le Grand where he played in the outfield. There were no other sports in this part of the country at that time so baseball was very popular. Irve remained a baseball fan and was one of those who helped to have lights installed on the High School diamond.


In October 1922 he married Mrs. Pearl Lewis Cook. She was born in Kason Iowa on January 18, 1877 and as a child came to California with her parents Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tate Lewis, the son of John Lewis who is buried in Cathey Valley. She spent her early childhood in the Lingard district where her father farmed for a number of years. Mrs. Diffin attended the local schools and was one of the first pupils to attend the Ringnalda Normal School at Athlone and later attended San Jose Normal. She became a teacher and taught in several of the local schools that were in Merced County at that time.

Mrs. Diffin was the widow of W. H. Cook County Auditor of Merced County. She worked in the County auditory office till after his death. He was elected in 18-- and held the office till his death in 1908. After his death she returned to teaching. At the time of her marriage to Mr. Diffin they purchased another small ranch across the road from his other ranch. Here they lived until 1938 when they sold this ranch and moved into town as Mr. Diffin was suffering from heart disease. It was here Irve passed away in 1943 after a long lingering illness.

Mrs. Diffin still resides by herself in her home in Le Grand where she celebrated her 89th birthday on January 18, 1966. She stopped driving her car on that date. Mrs. Diffin has never had an accident in her many years of driving and has driven the same car over 30 years. Mrs. Diffin is active in Community affairs and is a member of the local Methodist Church and is believed to be the oldest and longest living member of the church, having first joined the church when it was located in Plainsburg. Mrs. Diffin is a member of the Le Grand Historical Society and belongs to the Rebekah Lodge of Chowchilla.

Contributed by: Carol Lackey