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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Thomas Maclay

With logical and discriminating qualities of mind and far-reaching judgment Thomas Maclay has become one of the prominent men of Petaluma, lending himself heartily to the promotion of every movement calculated to advance the progress and welfare of the community. A native of Scotland, he was born in the city of Glasgow in March, 1859, the son of Scotch parents. Thomas Maclay was given the best advantages for an education that his parents could possibly bestow, which consisted of a good training in the common schools and university, as well as a thorough course in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons at Glasgow, from which institution he graduated with honors and with the degree of M. R. C. V. S. After graduating, he was chosen as chief assistant to the principal and as demonstrator of anatomy, serving at the college in that capacity for about two years.

It was with a complete theoretical and practical knowledge of veterinary medicine and surgery that Mr. Maclay came to the United States in 1884, and in June, 1885, at the urgent request of the late Josiah H. White, Esq., of Lakeville, this county, and on the advice of Professor Law of Cornell University, Ithaca, N. Y., he came to Petaluma and commenced the practice of his profession. During the few years in which he followed his profession he worked a transformation in the treatment and care of horses that had its effect all over the state. Recognizing the need of organizing the scattered forces of those interested in the profession he vigorously advocated and diligently labored for the organization of the California State Veterinary-Medical Association, and was an active participant in passing laws in the state for the protection of the profession as well as the protection of the horse and cattle industry. For three years he rendered efficient service as president of the association, and for a time served as veterinary inspector of Sonoma county.

Of later yes, however, Mr. Maclay has not been so prominently identified with the profession, his attention of late being centered largely in the various banking and land companies with which his name is connected. Two of the strongest financial institutions in Petaluma are under his immediate supervision as president, the Wickersham Banking Company and the Petaluma-Swiss-American Bank, the latter organized in May, 1910. It is housed in the finest and most modern banking building north of San Francisco, and thus far in its career has shown a stability and solidity of which the officers may well be proud. Besides the president, Thomas Maclay, the officers are Charles Filippini, vice-president; R. Righetti, cashier; W. R. Hall, assistant cashier; and F. A. Allenberg, accountant. Mr. Maclay is also president of the Novato Land Company and the Albion-Idaho Land Company. These various positions of responsibility and trust do not exhaust the ability of Mr. Maclay, for he is rendering equally good service to his fellow-citizens as president of the Chamber of Commerce of Petaluma and as Sonoma county’s representative on the California development board. From his very earliest association with the town he showed an interest in her welfare, and at one time filled the office of city clerk for six years and was also city treasurer for a time. Still later he was secretary of the Sonoma and Marin District Agricultural Association for about eight years and at the same time was secretary of the Sonoma and Marin Agricultural Society. For seven years he was captain of “C” Company, Fifth Regiment of Infantry, N. G. C., and at the present time is a member of the board of library trustees of Petaluma. The above enumeration gives abundant proof of Mr. Maclay’s versatile ability, and also speaks in flattering terms of the high regard in which he is held among his fellow citizens.

Mr. Maclay’s marriage, in 1891, united him with Miss Lizzie C. Wickersham, a daughter of Isaac G. Wickersham, a pioneer banker of Petaluma, of whom a sketch will be found elsewhere in this volume. Few names are better known in fraternal circles than is Mr. Maclay’s and here as in financial and business matters he is a leader among his associates. He is a Past Exalted Ruler of Petaluima Lodge No. 901, B. P. O. E., an office which sought the man and which he filled for three consecutive years. In Masonic circles he is also well known, being past and present commander of Mount Olivet Commandery No. 20, K. T., and is also a member of the Shrine, being identified with Islam Temple of San Francisco.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011