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Obed Macy and Oscar Macy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Obed Macy (1801–1857) and his son, Oscar Macy (ca. 1821–1910). were pioneers in Los Angeles County, California, arriving there by wagon train shortly after California became a part of the United States following the Mexican–American War. Both were members of the Los Angeles Common Council, the governing body of that city, and Oscar was the county sheriff and served on the county Board of Supervisors. They operated one of Los Angeles's historic hotels. Obed was a physician and Oscar, among other things, was a newspaper publisher.

Obed Macy


Obed Macy was born December 14, 1801, in New Garden, Guilford County, North Carolina, the son of William Macy and Mary Barnard.[1] He was married in 1824 to Lucinda Polk in Bruceville, Indiana, in which state he practiced medicine "for years." The family came to California with several others from Knox County, Indiana, in 1850 by wagon train pulled by oxen.[2][3][4][5][6]

The family lost one child, Charles, on the nine-month journey who died of a cholera outbreak sweeping the wagon train. A later account noted that the Macys "suffered innumerable hardships and privations en route by the lack of water and feed for the teams, which nearly all perished thereby."[5][7]

They arrived in San Francisco,[5] but in 1851 they went to the site of El Monte, California, where they were the first American settlers;[8] a year later they moved to Los Angeles.[7][9]

Obed and Lucinda had a family of thirteen children, including a boy whom they named Obed and who later also became active in Los Angeles commerce, and another son, Oscar, noted below.[1][2][9][10]

Obed Macy died on July 19, 1857.[9]


Obed Macy was the first physician in the Los Angeles area.,[3] but he also opened a bathhouse called The Alameda[9] and bought the Bella Union Hotel,[11] which, according to an account written more than a century later:

was a magnet for the town's young blades and affluent business leaders. The hotel was one of the few places in Los Angeles with shade trees in front, where idlers would gather on warm afternoons to wait for the Banning stage from San Pedro with passengers and newspapers from the East.[12]

Public service

Obed Macy was elected to the Los Angeles Common Council in a special election on January 5, 1855, his term ending on May 9 of that year.[13]

Oscar Macy


Oscar Macy was born July 28, 1829, at Maria Creek in Knox County, Indiana,[14] and died at the age of 81 on November 1, 1910, in his residence at 519 Plymouth Street in Boyle Heights,[15] leaving four children, Oscar A. Macy, Estelle and Alice Macy and Irene Macy Whitney, as well as siblings Obed Macy and Lucinda M. Foy.[16] The cause was noted as "an attack of bronchial asthma.[7] He was predeceased by his wife, Margaret Elizabeth Bell, whom he had married on August 24, 1873, in Los Angeles: She died October 28, 1891, at the age of 42.[14][17]


Oscar Macy had no formal schooling, but was tutored by his father. Soon after the settlers' party arrived in California, Oscar went with a brother-in-law, David W. Chessman, to Condemned Bar in Yuba County to work a gold mine. The venture was unsuccessful, so Macy went to Sacramento to work as a printer on the Alta California. He next worked for his father at the Bella Union Hotel,[14] and in the late 1850s he was the foreman of the print shop of the Southern Vineyard newspaper published by J.J. Warner.[18]

In the early 1870s, Macy had a fifty percent share of a herd of ten thousand sheep on Catalina Island, and at the same time he worked on the Los Angeles Star, a newspaper published in both Spanish and English. He left the newspaper while serving as city treasurer (below) but returned in 1888 and remained a journalist until retiring in June 1903.[14]

Public service

Oscar Macy represented the 1st Ward on the Los Angeles Common Council in 1871–72.[13] It was during this term when the city opened the street west of Alameda Street where the Macys had their home and property eastward to the Los Angeles River and named it Macy Street.[14]

Macy, a Republican,[19] was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in November 1884 and was seated on January 3, 1885. During his term, a new county jail was built (later demolished to make way for the present Hall of Records.[20] He was Los Angeles city treasurer from 1886 to 1888.[14] Sheriff John C. Cline appointed him as Los Angeles county jailer from 1892 to 1894, when he resigned.[21][22]


The former Macy Street in Downtown Los Angeles was named to mark the Macy family ranch, and when the city engineer suggested in 1920 that Macy Street and Brooklyn Avenue, which were "practically continuous," should bear the same name, a committee from the Native Sons of the Golden West appeared before the City Council to protest. Spokesman H.O. Lichtenberger said of Obed Macy:

He was a man of undaunted courage, for on [his] . . . perilous trip to the land of gold [in 1850] he faced the dangers of an unknown future, and when we think of him undertaking this journey and assuming the care and protection of a wife and nine children, we must concede that he was a hardy and brave pioneer, indeed.[6]

On that occasion the plea was successful, and the Macy Street name was retained, but in May 1993 the City Council unanimously decided to change the name of a portion of Sunset Boulevard and all of Macy Street and Brooklyn Avenue to a new appellation—Cesar Chavez Avenue, in honor of the late labor leader.[23] Nevertheless, a roadway and pedestrian bridge over the Los Angeles River is still often called the "Macy Street Viaduct."[24]


Access to the Los Angeles Times links may require the use of a library card.

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b "Obed Macy," Nantucket Historical Society
  3. ^ a b "Aged Pioneer to Be Buried at Calvary," Los Angeles Times, August 24, 1922, page II-8
  4. ^ Christie Ann Hill Russell, Our Coffin Family History, with sources as listed there
  5. ^ a b c The American Genealogical Record, San Francisco (1897)
  6. ^ a b "Plea to Retain Pioneer Names," Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1920, page II-12
  7. ^ a b c "Death Takes Oscar Macy," Los Angeles Times, November 2, 1910, page II-1
  8. ^ An Illustrated History of Southern California, Chicago: Lewis Publishing (1890)
  9. ^ a b c d Floyd B. Bariscale, "Big Orange Landmarks," January 6, 2008
  10. ^ 1850 U.S. census, which was enumerated on March 12, 1851 Archived May 4, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Boyle Workman, The City That Grew, 1936
  12. ^ William S. Murphy, "Then . . . . . and Now," Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1973, page F-28
  13. ^ a b Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials,1850-1938, compiled under direction of Municipal Reference Library, City Hall, Los Angeles (March 1938, reprinted 1966). "Prepared ... as a report on Project No. SA 3123-5703-6077-8121-9900 conducted under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration."
  14. ^ a b c d e f [1] Florence H. Goddard, Los Angeles Public Library reference file.
  15. ^ Now part of North Cummings Street."Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 8, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. Location of the Oscar Macy home here on Mapping L.A.
  16. ^ "Funeral Notices," Los Angeles Herald, November 2, 1910, page 13 The Los Angeles Times, same date, listed as survivors: "one son, Oscar Macy, Jr., three daughters, Mrs. Irene Whitney, Misses Alice and Stella Macy, Medford, Or., and four sisters, Mrs. Ellen Foy of Los Angeles, Mrs. Urania Cheeseman, Medford; Mrs. Tahesin Evans, Oakland, and Mrs. Nancy Woodruff, Nevada City."
  17. ^ "Died," Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1891, page 7
  18. ^ H.D. Barrows, "Memorial Sketch of Col. J.J. Warner," Annual Publication of the Historical Society of Southern California, 1895
  19. ^ "The Republican City Ticket," Los Angeles Times, December 1, 1886, page 4
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2012-10-27. Los Angeles County government website
  21. ^ "Sheriff-Elect Cline's Deputies," Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1892, page 9
  22. ^ "Change in Jailers," Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1894, page 5
  23. ^ "Council Votes to Rename Street for Cesar Chavez," Los Angeles Times, May 12, 1993, page 2
  24. ^ Bridge Walk 2007

Further reading

  • [2] "Family Reunion Marks 100 Years in California," Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1950, page A-1

This page was last edited on 16 July 2018, at 19:03
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