Perhaps there is no factor so important in the development of an agricultural district as the financial institutions in its immediate vicinity, and the personnel of the management. Among these men is Clarke P. Ralston, a native son of California, born in Bakersfield, on July 23, 1890, the eldest of three children. His father, Frank Wesley Ralston, was also a native Californian, born in San Fran­cisco, on July 21, 1869, the youngest of eight children born to his parents, and was graduated from the pharmacy department of the University of California in 1888. He followed his profession until 1896, when he engaged in ranching on William Cook's ranch, on Bear Creek, Merced County, for three years. At the end of that time, he entered the employ of Klegg, Sherm and Prime Company, a wholesale firm of San Francisco, as traveling salesman, and while on the road, his death occurred in Seattle, Wash., in 1905, when only thirty-six years of age. The mother died at the Bear Creek home in 1895. F. W. Ralston was a member of the Woodmen of the World, and of the Foresters of America of Selma, Cal. A daughter, Mrs. Sadie Meek, resides in Oakland. She is a graduate of the Grammar and High Schools of Merced, and of the San Jose Teachers' College, and was vice-principal of the Michael Angelo School of San Francisco. She is the mother of a daughter, Alberta Ralston Meek. The third child, Albert B. Ralston, is proprietor of the Pleasant Corner Store. He enlisted in the United States Navy, for service in the World War, on June 15, 1917, and was honorably discharged on November 28, 1919. He is a member of the Elks.

Mr. Ralston's grandfather, Maj. Clarke Ralston, the founder of the family in California, was a native of Pennsylvania and was a major in the 66th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, serving through the Civil War. He was a California pioneer of 1849, coming around Cape Horn, and put in five years in the Southern Mines. He re­turned East, and after the war, came overland to California with his wife, Eliza (Butler) Ralston, and their six children. He was identified with mining, but located in Landram Colony in Merced County. He moved to San Francisco in 1905, but returned to At­water, where he passed away in March, 1912, at the venerable age of ninety-three years. He was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Masonic Lodge of Merced.


Clarke P. Ralston graduated from the Atwater Grammar School when there were but two teachers and forty pupils; there are now eight teachers and 280 pupils, an increase of 600 per cent, all the more remarkable when considering the comparatively short interval of time. After a course in the Polytechnic Business Col­lege in Oakland, in 1908, he entered the employ of the Merced Lum­ber Company, on June 23, 1909. Their yard then required only one man in attendance a third of his time; now the yards have been enlarged and two men are needed steadily, with an extra man work­ing part time. Mr. Ralston remained steadily in the employ of this company until June, 1917, being absent not more than thirty days during a period of eight years. He was then offered a position in the Atwater branch of the Merced Security Savings Bank, and in June of 1918 he succeeded C. R. Shaffer as cashier and manager.

About 1912, Mr. Ralston invested in real estate in Atwater, erected and furnished a home, and on June 16, 1913, his marriage occurred, uniting him with Miss Alta Greene, born in Atwater, a graduate of the grammar school, and for three years a clerk in the local post office. Her parents were Elmer E. and Mattie (Dunlap) Greene, the family being identified as early settlers in Merced County. Mr. Greene was formerly a grain farmer in the Atwater district, but is now a resident of Chowchilla. The mother passed away at At­water, in December, 1907.


Clarke P. Ralston has been a director of the Merced Security Savings Bank since 1917; on August 12, 1922, he was elected trustee of Atwater on the eve of its incorporation; and during the war he served as chairman of the Liberty Loan drives, and of the Red Cross, for foreign relief, while Mrs. Ralston served in the Home Department of Red Cross work. He is a Democrat in politics, and fraternally is a member of the Lodge and Chapter in Masonry, and of Merced Lodge No. 1240, B. P. 0. E. He contributes to all pub­lic charities, and is active in all projects for the upbuilding of his community.


 History of Merced County California With a Biographical Review OF The Leading Men and Woman of the County Who Have Been Identified with Its Growth and Development from Early Days to the Present

Author: John Outcalt (1925)

Raltson, Clarke P., page 747


Contributed by: Carol Lackey