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Alameda County



O. Emlay & Sons, harness-makers and dealers in buggies, in Oakland, comprises Oliver Emlay and his sons Louis A. and Frederick E.  His father was born near Amherstburg, Canada, May 4, 1829, a son of Louis and Marie Marthe (Nadean) Hamelin, this being the original form of the French name that has been Americanized in this branch of the family into Emlay.  Oliver and his twin brother Eli served an apprenticeship to the harness-making trade in Detroit, Michigan, and while attending night school in that city were registered by the teacher as Emlay, which they adopted and ever since used, while the other branches of the family still retain the old form Hamelin.  Their parents were married October 8, 1806, and the original marriage contract in French is now in possession of this branch of the family.

     Louis and Marie Marthe Hamelin had twenty two children, of whom four pair were twins and seventeen were boys.  Eighteen lived to maturity, and eight are still living.  The first born, Julia, by marriage Mrs. Drouillard, of Windsor, Canada, is eighty-nine years of age. The father was born, lived and died near Amherstburg, reaching the age of sixty-five, and the mother was ninety-five at her death, about 1870.  The grandfather, also named Louis Hamelin, the original immigrant who settled in that section of Canada, was a farmer, as are most of his descendants to the present time, and both himself and wife lived to an advanced age, being the parents of a considerable family.

     Oliver Emlay and his brother Eli came to Detroit, Michigan, and there learned the trade of harness-making, being apprentices from 1843 to 1846.  Oliver then worked as journeyman in Jackson, Michigan, for two years, and in 1848 bought out his employer.  He carried on business there until 1860.  He enlisted in the First Michigan Volunteer Infantry in 1861, and being a musician he served in the regimental band.

     About 1864 he settled in Tecumseh, Michigan, where he carried on a tannery and harness shop until 1873, when he came to California.  June 26, that year, he rejoined his brother Eli, who had been here since 1850 and was then settled at Gilroy.  There they carried on business together as Emlay Bros., harness-makers, for four years.  In 1876 Oliver Emlay came to Oakland and has since carried on business here alone until 1885, when Louis A. was admitted and the firm name changed to Oliver Emlay & Son, which continued until the admission of Fred E. in 1889, when the firm became O. Emlay & Sons.

     Mr. O. Emlay was married in 1851, to Miss Roselle Hannah Foster, born in Jackson, in 1834, a daughter of Albert Foster, a carriage manufacturer of that city and still a resident there, now aged eighty-eight years.  Mrs. Emlay died in Tecumseh, Michigan, April 17, 1866, leaving three children, as follows:  Louis Albert, born June 17, 1856, now of the firm of Emlay & Sons; Ettie Eloise, born February 13, 1859, now the wife of Eben C. Farley, a bank cashier of Los Gatos; Frederick Eli, born March 31, 1866, now of O. Emlay & Sons.  Mr. Emlay was again married in 1872, to Miss Mary Josephine Van Antwerp, the issue of that marriage being two children:  Charles Abram, born March 27, 1873, now learning the trade of harness-maker in the shop of his father and brothers; Julia Mary, born in Gilroy, California, October 5, 1876.

     Louis A. Emlay was educated in the schools of Tecumseh, Michigan, finishing with a term in the high school and a business college course.  He then learned the trade of harness-maker in his father's shop.  After fourteen years as apprentice, journeyman and assistant, he was admitted to partnership in 1885, and was married in this city, February 20, 1886, to Miss Minnie Sophie Sohst, who was born in Oakland November 29, 1865, a daughter of J. F. W. Sohst, of Sohst Bros., carriage manufacturers of Oakland.  They have two children:  Roselle Marguerite, born May 21, 1887; Louise Alice, born August 19, 1888.  Louis A. Emlay is a member of Oak Leaf Lodge, No. 35, A.O.U.W., and of Oakland Lodge, No. 171, Benevolent Order of Protective Elks; and also of the Sons of Veterans, U.S.A., California Division.  He is now (1891) a candidate for nomination by the Republicans as Councilman from the Second Ward.  Frederick E. Emlay finished his education in the schools of Oakland and learned the harness-makers' trade in his father's shop, where he has ever since been employed, being admitted to partnership in 1889.  He was married in this city, September 19, 1885, to Agnes Beatrice King, who was born in New York city in 1867, a daughter of Robert and Elizabeth (McVey) King, both still living.  Her father is a carpenter and builder of Oakland.  Her maternal grandmother, Mrs. McVey, born in 1806, is also living, in Oakland.  Mr. and Mrs. F. E. Emlay have two children, Ettie Roselle, born July 4, 1886, and Frederick Oliver, born in September, 1891. Mr. Emlay is a member of the Sons of Veterans, U.S.A.,California Division.


Transcribed 1-4-05  Marilyn R. Pankey.

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 1, pages 683-684, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

2005 Marilyn R. Pankey.