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California Genealogy and History Archives

Biographies
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San Bernardino County and Riverside County

 

THOMAS H. LACKEY. A remarkably eventful career has been that of this honored pioneer citizen of the Rialto district of San Bernardino County. He was born in Carlton County, Province of Ontario, Canada, at a point eighteen miles from the city of Ottawa, and the date of his nativity was March 27, 1852. Mr. Lackey is a son of Averil Cooper Lackey and Ellen (Johnston) Lackey, the former a native of Canada and the latter of County Antrim, Ireland, where she was born near Dublin. In the family were eight sons and three daughters, all of whom attained to maturity, married and became well established in life. The father was a farmer and carpenter in Canada, where he passed his entire life and where his wife likewise died.

Thomas H. Lackey was reared on the home farm to the age of fourteen years, his mother having taught him to read and write, and at times he attended the local school for brief intervals. He had to walk a distance of three miles to the little schoolhouse of the neighborhood, and as the winters in that section of Canada are cold, with much snow, he found it impossible to attend school regularly during the winter terms, while in the summer seasons he assisted in the work of the home farm. At the age of fourteen years he left the parental roof and was elsewhere employed one year. He then returned home, where he remained until he was nineteen years of age. In the meantime he learned the carpenter's trade under the direction of his father, who was a contractor in the erection of houses and other buildings, the timber of which was gotten out from the neighboring forests during the winter and spring, prior to the putting in of the crops on his farm. At the age of nineteen years Thomas H. Lackey went to the city of Ottawa, Canada, where he followed his trade five years, within which he took unto himself a wife, in 1873. In Ottawa he built up the leading wholesale and retail confectionery business, and this he was successfully conducting, with a corps of seventeen employes, when he sacrificed the entire business, in 1884, to enter the service of the English Government in connection with a most important and hazardous expedition. On the 15th of September of that year he left Ottawa as a member of a company of 400 men engaged by the English Government to go to the rescue of General Gordon in Egypt. The expedition made its way up the Nile River with 900 small boats sail and row boats and after reaching a point above Cortie the members of the company found that the gallant General Gordon had been killed. Mr. Lackey was absent on this expedition for a period of nine months, his service being in the transportation of British soldiers up the Nile. For this service he received a medal from Queen Victoria, the famous expedition having been in command of General Woolesley. From the Khedive of Egypt Mr. Lackey received also the star and crescent medal of that country. He was permitted to make a tour of the Khedive's palace and gardens m the City of Cairo. He went to Assuam, Egypt, by railroad and thence by river boat to Wada Haifa, he having been m Egypt at the time when the engineers were surveying in connection with the construction of the great dam on the Nile. He was in the best of health and thus proved immune when he nursed smallpox patients who were stricken on the expedition. It may well be understood that Mr. Lackey retains pleasing memories of this historic expedition in which he took part, and that he prizes the tangible souvenirs of the same. After his return to his home in Canada he there remained until 1886, when he came with his family to San Bernardino County, California, where he remained five years. He then took a homestead claim on Lytle Creek, and on this ranch he remained nine years, within which he developed and otherwise improved the property. He then returned to San Bernardino County. Upon his establishing his residence at Rialto he erected the first bakery building in the town, on the present Riverside Avenue. This he rented. There were at that time very few houses in the village and he became foremost in organizing the Rialto Building & Improvement Company, of which he continued president until the organization was permitted to lapse, after having admirably served its purpose. As a representative of this company he erected a number of houses, and he continued in business as a contractor and builder for many years. Mr. Lackey diversified his California experience by two years of desert gold-mining near Randsburg, Kern County, and he made also an extended prospecting trip in Mexico. He has been a constructive force in connection with civic and material development and progress in San Bernardino County, and here has secure place ir[?] popular confidence and esteem.

On December 23, 1873, Mr. Lackey married Miss Mary Edith Wyse, who was born at Montreal, Canada, April 21, 1854, a daughter of James and Julia (Sharp) Wyse, both natives of Scotland, where their marriage was solemnized and whence they immigrated to Canada in 1852. To Mr. and Mrs. Lackey have been born nine children, four having been born in San Bernardino County. Of the number only three attained to maturity : Julia R., who was born in 1874, is the wife of Frank Lingo, and they have one child, Gladys Lillian, born February 11, 1904. Averil Albert Lackey, who was born June 20, 1876, maintains his home at Rialto. He married Margaret Easton, a representative of an honored pioneer family of San Bernardino County. Miss Ruby Ethel Lackey, who was born September 3, 1887, was educated in the public schools, including the San Bernardino High School, and in the San Bernardino Business College, in which she was graduated. She became a most efficient young business woman, was for a number of years employed in the office of an orange packing house at Rialto, whence she was called to the Sun Office at San Bernardino. In that city she later held a responsible executive position in the Index newspaper office, and thereafter she gave similar service in the office of the San Bernardino Sun. She was uniformly admired for her exceptional ability and was loved for her gracious personality, so that all who knew her felt a sense of personal bereavement when she passed to the life eternal on the 15th of November, 1918.

 

Source:
History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011