Search billions of records on


 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


JOHN MARSHALL PHY was a pioneer of the Pacific Coast, and after nearly half a century of residence in Oregon as a stock rancher found a delightful home at Highland, California, where he lived several busy and contented years, developing his home and orange groves, until called by death in 1914.  

At that time he had reached the age of nearly three quarters of a century. He was born in 1840, an<l at the age of eighteen left Missouri, going by way of New Orleans and the Isthmus of Panama to Portland, Oregon. He reached Portland with fifty cents in money. After writ- ing four letters back home he was penniless. Before coming West he had borrowed from a maiden lady eighty-five dollars, and thus his introduction to the coast country was as a stranger in a strange land and eighty-five dollars in debt. For a time he worked for board and clothes, also attended school, and for three months labored in a saw mill, doing extra time so that he was paid for four months. One summer he raised a crop of corn. There was no market for the grain, so he fed it to hogs and sold them at a profit. For several years his routine was working in stores during the winter months and farming in summer. Gradually he laid by some money and then opened a stock of goods to supply miners. There was no currency, and he paid the accepted rates by weight with gold dust. Still later he bought a stock ranch at The Dalles, Oregon, and there he laid a still firmer foundation for his material prosperity. After selling out he returned to Union County, Oregon. There he continued ranching and looking after his family. After his second marriage, in 1896, he homesteaded land in Catherine Creek Meadows. It was a rich summer pasture, but in winter heavy snows fell and all stock had to be removed by November, and there was no open range until the following April. Mr. Phy was eminently successful as a stockman. In 1905 he paid a visit to Southern California, and was so delighted with the country that within three weeks he had bought a place at Highland and soon afterward left the environment of half a century and moved permanently to San Bernardino County. His first purchase was six acres and later he added four acres more on Boulder Avenue. Mr. Phy lived here nearly ten years. He came to enjoy the utmost respect of the community, and took part in social and civic affairs. He was a thirty-second degree Mason, an Odd Fellow, a member of the Congregational Church, and always a stanch democrat in politics. During the early frontier days he served as a deputy sheriff, and showed himself absolutely unafraid in the performance of his official duties.  

In 1866 Mr. Phy married Miss Margaret Ann Shoemaker. She died in 1891, the mother of seven children. The oldest, J. F. Phy, is a successful business man in Union County, Oregon, being the controlling factor in the Land and Security Company of that county. He served two terms each as deputy sheriff and sheriff and later was county judge. The second child, M. H. Phy, is now deceased. The third. Dr. W. T. Phy, is reputed to be one of the most eminent and skillful surgeons in the West, and lives at Hot Lake, Oregon. During the World war he was on duty at Letterman's Hospital at the Presidio, San Francisco. The fourth of the family was J. A. Phy, now deceased. Mary Mar- garet is the wife of P. J. Shropshire, a prominent lumber dealer and one of the principal owners of the San Bernardino Lumber & Box Company. Mr. Shropshire is now deceased and his widow is active manager of his former interests. Mrs. Shropshire has three children: Edna Phy, Hester D. and P. J. Shropshire, Jr. The sixth of the family, Margaret Louisa, is a graduate nurse and is the wife of Dr. Sanders of San Jose, California, and ha^ one son, C. E. Sanders, Jr. The seventh and young- est is Hester Caroline, wife of O. M. Green, a prominent banker of Spokane, Washington. They have a son. John Thomas Green.  

In 1896 the late Mr. Phy married Miss Lydia Jackson. Mrs. Phy has had a wide range of experience in the far West. She was born at Leadhill, Boone County, Arkansas, daughter of J. D. and Louisa (McNabb) Jackson, the former a native of Arkansas and the latter of Tennessee. When she was seven years of age her parents moved over into Indian Territory, where her father located in the Cherokee Strip. He soon afterward died, and when Mrs. Phy was nine years of age her mother, then an invalid, returned with her four children to Harrison, Arkansas. During this journey Mrs. Phy had her first ride on a railroad train. She remained at Harrison until she was fifteen, when her mother married and the family then came out to Oregon. There she remained until her marriage to Mr. Phy in 1896. Mrs. Phy has one son, Conrad Vernon Phy, born January 25, 1898. He was reared and educated in California, attending school at Highland, the Harvard Military Academy at Los Angeles, and in 1915 enlisted in the navy and served out his term of enlistment. When America entered the war with Germany, being still under draft age, he volunteered in the army in th Motor Transport Division, and served until the signing of the armistice. In November, 1920 this son married Miss Christine Bacus, of San Bernardino. He is now enlisted as a navy marine engineer, was stationed at San Pedro and later transferred to Honolulu, where he and his wife reside.  

Mrs. Phy since the death of her husband has shown a great business ability in operating and maintaining the ranch and orange grove at Highland, and is one of that community's most respected citizens. She is a member of San Bernardino Chapter of the Eastern Star and was a member of the Rebekahs in Oregon. She takes an active interest in betterment work of all kinds and is chairman of the Home Department of the Farm Bureau of Highland Center, and a member of the Woman's Club of Highland.  

Allen Cornelius first knew California in the role of a miner in the golden days of the early fifties. Some thirty years later he returned to the state, settling in the southern part, and from thereafter until his death was one of the useful and honored pioneers and business men of Ontario, where Mrs. Cornelius still resides.

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