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San Bernardino County










            Emmett Livingston Shay, a popular young native son of San Bernardino, is making a splendid record in the office of deputy sheriff of San Bernardino county [sic].  He was born August 31, 1898, a son of the former noted sheriff, Walter A, Shay.  His paternal grandfather, Walter A. Shay, Sr., a native of Nova Scotia and a cooper by trade, went to Boston, Massachusetts, during the early ’40s and was living in that city when he heard the news of the discovery of gold in California, in 1848.  Seized at once with the fever that swept across the country, he made some few hurried preparations and boarded a steamer for a voyage around Cape Horn, but when the vessel put in at Aspinwall he left her and crossed the Isthmus.  On the Pacific side he took the old steamer, “Golden Gate,” and arrived at San Francisco in the early spring of 1849.  From that city he made his way by stage to Los Angeles, and, having found that the securing of gold was not as easy as had been represented, sought work at his trade there, and later engaged in ranching.  It was at the ranch of Rowland & Workman that he met the cook of the ranch, Mrs. Elisa Goshen, and they were married in 1853.  She had crossed the plains by immigrant train, in an ox-team drawn prairie schooner, early in 1851, coming via Santa Fe, New Mexico, crossing the Colorado river [sic] at Fort Yuma, then crossing the desert and passing through the Carriso Creek country, through the mountains to Chino and on to Los Angeles.  Her first husband had died en route, at Tucson, Arizona, and she came on alone and secured the position before noted.  She and her second husband, Mr. Shay, had five sons and one daughter: John; Henry, who died as a child; Thomas; William; Walter A., Jr.; and Mary, who became the wife of Thomas B. Hutchings.  In 1857, when the Mormons were recalled from this section of California by President Young, the “faithful” sacrificed their San Bernardino lands and all possessions, and Walter A. Shay was able to secure one hundred and sixty acres of land on Base Line for nine hundred dollars, in addition to which he bought one hundred acres of government land adjoining, at two dollars and a half per acre.  There he spent the remainder of his life in agricultural operations, and made a success of his vocation.  His death occurred December 2, 1899, as the result of injuries received when he was thrown from a horse.  His wife, a native of Arkansas, passed away in September, 1869.

            Their son, Walter A. Shay, Jr., the father of Emmett L. Shay of this review, was born in San Bernardino county [sic], June 29, 1866.  He attended the public schools of San Bernardino, after which he turned his attention to ranching and freighting devoting more time to the latter, in which occupation he continued for a number of years.  He freighted between San Bernardino and various desert points, and also hauled lumber for many purposes form the mountains of San Bernardino.  In 1898 he left this somewhat strenuous line of work and a year later went into the sheriff’s office as a deputy.  He was there four years in the same capacity. In 1903, after he left the sheriffs office, he was elected city marshal of the city of San Bernardino, and he held that office for two years.  At that time he was appointed chief of police by Mayor H. M. Barton, and served for two years, when he decided to leave the employ of the city and did so, immediately connecting with the office of special agent for the Pacific Electric Railroad in its east branch.  He kept this for two years, then took the office of chief of police of San Bernardino again, appointed by Mayor S. W. McNabb.  He served another two years and then went back to railroad work, this time as division special agent for the Arizona division of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad of the Coast Line.  He was there for four years, when he was again appointed chief of police of San Bernardino, this time by Mayor George H. Wixom, and he served two years.  Three appointments as chief of police by three different mayors is in itself some indication as to the character of his work in the position.  Mr. Shay was then appointed chief special investigator to the district attorney of San Bernardino county [sic] and was in that position a year and six months.  In 1918 he was elected sheriff of San Bernardino county [sic] and filled the position most acceptably for thirteen years, or until August, 1931, when he was succeeded by his nephew, Ernest T. Shay, a biography of whom may be found on another page of this work.  We quote from the “History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties,” published in 1922:  “In both his official and private life Walter A. Shay has made friends of people in all classes, and he deserves every one of them.  It is not only his wonderful gift for making stanch friends which has won Mr. Shay his popularity – it is also his devotion to duty, his entire trustworthiness in the administration of his duties in the public offices he has held and to which he has given himself without stint.  Mr. Shay has a deep-seated instinct for fair play and a strong and never-put-aside belief in justice and right, yet when it is necessary to use the ‘mailed fist’ he is never found stalling.  He is as much feared by the evil-doers as he is loved by the well-doers, and yet, while he is intolerant of any breaking of the laws, he still is full of the spirit of brotherly kindness and concord.  In fact Mr. Shay is getting out of life and its duties just what he puts into it, and his fellow citizens know he is a man to be depended upon, as officer, citizen and friend.”

            In March, 1892, Walter A. Shay married Matilda McCoy, a native of San Bernardino county [sic], California, and a daughter of W. W. and Elizabeth McCoy.  Four of their five children survive, namely:  Weston W., a dentist living in Los Angeles; Emmett L., of this review; George W., of San Bernardino; and Nellie, also a resident of San Bernardino.  Weston W. Shay was a lieutenant in the dental corps of the United States Army during the World war [sic].  He married Helen Mewhart and has a son, Robert.

            Emmett L. Shay, whose name introduces this article, acquired his education in the grammar and high schools of San Bernardino.  When this country became involved in the World war [sic] he enlisted in the navy and was assigned to the naval base at San Pedro.  Subsequently he became identified with the old Mountain Auto Line, one of the first transportation lines in this part of California, which operated prior to the era of modern road building.  It was in 1921 that he entered upon the duties of deputy sheriff of San Bernardino county [sic], which he has discharged most faithfully and efficiently to the present time.

            On the 11th of March, 1920, Mr. Shay was united in marriage to Miss Violet T. Wixon, daughter of William Riley and Ida Maria (Quick) Wixon and member of a pioneer family of San Bernardino.  Mr. and Mrs. Shay are the parents of two sons, William and Jack, who are twelve and six years of age, respectively.

            Mr. Shay gives his political allegiance to the republican [sic] party [sic], believing its principles most conducive to good government.  He is a member of the American Legion and the Native Sons of the Golden West and fraternally is affiliated with Lodge No. 836 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.  Hunting and fishing and other forms of outdoor life constitute his recreation.





Transcribed by Jeanne Turner.

Source: California of the South Vol. II, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 391-394, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,  Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012  Jeanne Turner.