2016 marked the sesquicentennial of the establishment of Kern County. To commemorate this, the HRC was busy researching photographs that document the history of the county for the exhibit 150: The History of Kern County Through Photographs. While researching this exhibit, I happened upon a timeline of the development of Kern County by former Kern County Museum Director, Richard C. Bailey. He noted that in 1866, Peter Gardett was the first naturalized citizen in the county. This piqued my curiosity and sent me on a quest to find more information about this Kern County Pioneer.
After consulting a variety of sources located in the Historical Research Center, I found that Gardett was born in Danzig, Prussia on December 22, 1825. He came to the United States on a ship that sailed “around the Horn” in 1851 and landed in San Francisco. Instead of chasing the dream of discovering gold, Gardett pursued his riches in business and farming. He owned a general store on Greenhorn Mountain and owned over five hundred acres of land, much of which was devoted to producing grain and alfalfa.
Gardett was a pillar of Kern County pioneer society, however, he likely was not the first immigrant to legally naturalize to the county. A review of the United States Naturalization Records located in the Stiern Library Archives reveals that Gardett declared his intention to be a U.S. citizen on September 7, 1868. So this begs the question: who was the first officially naturalized citizen in Kern County? The answer lurks behind the doors of the vault and is….
TO BE CONTINUED
Do you want to learn more about Peter Gardett and Kern County’s first pioneers? Their story and others are available in the Historical Research Center. Come visit us! You never know what you’ll discover!