An American Family History

Matilda Mary Jones Shefeld Treahy

Children of John Patrick Treahy
and Matilda Mary Jones
  • Ella Eliza Treahy Miller Long
  • May Violet Treahy Dobler Miller
  • Wilbur John Treahy
  • Lillie Estelle Treahy Hetlich
  • Jessie Belle Treahy Randall Kuhen
  • Order your own copy of Del Mar Looking Back.
    San Diego, California was incorporated in 1850, the same year California became a state. The original Old Town was located several miles inland. In the late 1860s, Alonzo Horton promoted a move to New Town on the bay. New Town grew quickly and became the city center. In 1915, San Diego hosted the Panama-California Exposition.

    Matilda Mary Jones Shefeld Treahy was born in San Francisco, California in about 1865. Her parents were Eliza Bridges Jones McKellar and Henry Jones. According to the Superior Court of San Diego Probate records she was called Mamie. Her mother, Eliza, claimed in her Civil War widow's pension application that on May 15, 1865, her father, Henry Jones, set sail for Australia to prospect for gold. Her mother received one letter from him and he was never heard from again. 

    From November 23, 1867 to May 20, 1871, Eliza and Matilda lived with John Jenkins at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. At the time of the 1870 census, she was listed as Matilda Jenkins age 4. 

    Her mother, Eliza, married Ellar McKellar on May 30, 1871 when Matilda was about five years old. After that, Matilda was raised at their stagecoach stop called Cocktail Springs near Del Mar, California.

    She attended school in the San Dieguito schoolhouse. Davidson in Some Place Names in San Diego County quotes a news item dated August 7, 1875 that said the San Dieguito schoolhouse had been moved to Cocktail Springs. The 1880 census of the school lists Matilda McKellar. The school was built in 1872, but not finished until 1880. It was a small frame building with a flagpole in front. On May 14, 1880, the ladies of the area held a ball at the school to help pay for finishing it. 

    Matilda was listed in the 1880 census. She was living in the San Dieguito Township with her mother, Eliza, and her step-father, Ellar. She was sixteen years old and was still at school. Her name was listed as Matilda McKellar.

    In 1881 Matilda married for the first time. Ewing describes Matilda's first wedding in Del Mar Looking Back.

    Eliza had been married before and had a daughter Matilda, whose wedding in 1881 to Tom Smith [sic?] was the occasion for a big party at the McKellar station. The local newspaper wrote of it at the time: "We understand it was a lively occasion, and the attendants had a royal good time, chasing the fleeting hours on the light fantastic until the clarion notes of chanticleer announced the rising sun, who struck his shining 'mug' laughingly above the eastern horizon."

    According to the marriage certificate, she married Henry F. Shefeld on July 18, 1881. She was only sixteen at the time and her mother had to give permission for the marriage. The marriage was performed by Frank Peterson, J.P. (a married farmer who lived in San Dieguito and was from Missouri). The witnesses were Stephen F. Wood (a laborer from Missouri who lived in San Dieguito with the Smith family) and Thomas W. Adams (a merchant from Texas who lived in San Dieguito).

    She supposedly married John Patrick Treahy. The marriage was not recorded in San Diego. Her first daughter, Nellie Treahy, was born in 1884 at Cocktail Springs. In the five birth announcements of her children in the newspaper, she was listed only as the "wife of J.P. Treahy." 

    Matilda and Patrick's children and life together are described in detail in the section on John and Matilda Treahy.

    In 1885, Matilda's stepfather, Ellar, died.  

    Matilda owned some land of her own. According to probate records, Matilda owned lot 36 in block 129 of Mannasse and Schiller's Addition and lot 2, section 19, township 14 south, range 3 west, San Bernardino Meridian which was 41 acres. 

    According to oral family history, she ran off with a traveling musician and left the children and her husband. According to Nellie Treahy Long, she was shot in a dance hall in Arizona by the man she ran off with because she danced with someone else. 

    According to Ewing "Matilda ran off with a young Englishman and was never heard of again." Her granddaughter, Jessie Long Finkenkeller wrote that her mother, Nellie, had said that Matilda left when Nellie was eleven years old. If she left when Nellie was eleven, that would be 1895. Her grandson, Jack Treahy, remembered his father saying that the last time the children saw their mother was at the old National City Hotel. 

    The family story seems to be supported by existing documents.  She moved to Tucson, Pima County, Arizona and died in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico according to a sworn statement from William Armine Julian.

    In the matter of the estate of John P. Treahy, deceased
    Affidavit of the death of Matilda Mary Treahy
    W.A. Julian, being duly sworn, deposes and says: I am of the age of 45 years. I was well acquainted with Mrs. Matilda Mary Treahy, formerly the wife of John P. Treahy, deceased. She is dead. I knew her when she resided in San Diego, California and afterwards in the town of Tucson, Arizona. I knew her at the time of her death. She died about the year 1899 at Nogales, south of Tucson, in Mexico, and south of the international boundary line. I was then living at Tucson. My residence at the present time is in Tucson, Arizona and I am here in San Diego on a visit. 

    Photo taken at the ligthouse when Matilda lived there. She is possibly the girl in the foreground.

    The Public Land Survey System is used to survey and spatially identify land parcels in the United States.
  • Range is the distance east or west from a referenced principal meridian in units of six miles.
  • A Section is approximately a one-square-mile block of land. There are 36 sections in a township.
  • A Township is a parcel of land of 36 square miles or a measure of the distance north or south from a referenced baseline in units of six miles.
    Nogales about 1899



    Left Her Husband and our Children
    The Departure of Mrs J Treahy

    The police all over the state are looking for a man known as "Three fingered Bill” and a Mrs J. Treahy who left this city together about May 20th. As yet no trace of them has been found. Some 16 years ago J.

    Treahy who is now an employee of the Standard Iron Works met and married the lady who still bears his name.

    They lived happily together and Treahy became reasonably prosperous. Out of his wages he took care of his wife and four children and laid by some money. Everything was placed In his wife’s name and at the first of the present year this amounted to $800 cash in the bank 750 in notes and deeds to four valuable pieces of property in the city.

    Early in May a gray horse owned by Mrs. Treahy became sick and he sent a veterinary surgeon known as “Three fingered Bill” from the fact that he had lost three fingers on his right hand, to his home at 525 Milton avenue to look after the horse.

    The animal did not improve rapidly and Bill became acquainted with Mrs Treahy and later was a frequent visitor at the house.

    About a week before Decoration day Mr. Treahy arrived at home one evening to find his wife gone. Upon investigation he discovered that she had taken his horse and buggy all his money and papers and left with "Three fingered Bill." She had not even told her children good-bye and had ransacked the house taking everything of value which was small enough to carry.

    The couple were seen the next day at Ramona where Mrs. Treahy bought a big bay horse to take the place of her gray.

    Since then they have not been seen since except once and then Mrs Treahy was recognized in Los Angeles on Decoration day.

    Warrants have been Issued for their arrest and their description sent to the police all over the country but they seem to have completely effaced themselves from the country. The children at home are cared for by Mrs. Treahy’s mother.

    from the San Diego Sun, , Fri, Jul 22, 1898, Page 5


    October 5, 1977 Glimpses of the Past
    In 1881...
    Teacher Describes Cardiff Early Days
    Some years ago, prior to World War II, the Times Advocate of Escondido published a story written by one of their older residents, a retired school teacher. In her yough, Mrs. Steven (Huffner) Wood had been a teacher in the new San Elijo school disctrict. As one of the first teachers in the area, she lived on the McKinnon ranch in what is now Cardiff. She describes Cardiff, the way of life thirty years before the community was named.

    In her narrative she mentions "Weed," this stage stop later became Del Mar. this was before Encinitas was subdivided although Las Encinitas Rancho was in existence. . .

    "I graduated from San Jose State Normal in June 1881. A classmate, Ida Carpenter, asked me if I would like to go to San Diego county to teach my first school, as she had a friend there who was acquinted with Superintendent Hitchcock, I was anxious to do so. My parents agreed to the plan provided my sister, Catherine Huffner, then teaching in Contra Costa county, also would go. The proposition pleased her so arrangements were made and, accompanied by my father who wanted to see us safely there, we started.

    We traveled from San Francisco to San Diego on the steamer Ancon. On reaching San Diego we docked at the wharf at the foot of Fifth Street and stopped for the night at the Horton House, at that time called the Hadley House, being managed by a man by the name of Hadley. The next day we took the stage for our respective schools which were in adjoining districts. Miss Carpenter had secured the San Dieguito school, my sister the Hope district and I the Sn Elijo, a new district.

    The stage stopped at Weed, the station near the San Dieguito store to change horses. It was kept by a family named McKellar. The coach continued northword until we reached the home of Frank Peterson, one of the trustees of my district, which was almost a mile and a half from the school. There I left the stage. I was told that after I got out one of the passengers, a traveling salesman, remarked, "God pity the poor girl if she has to stay in this place long."


    William Armine (W. A.) Julian was born in Brown's Valley near the Sweet Vengeance mine in Yuba County, California on September 10, 1865. His father was a metal worker who made pipe for the hydraulic miners. 

    When he was three, he moved with his family, A. H. and Mary M. Swain Julian and Father Horton  to San Diego to enter the plumbing and metal business. He lived in San Diego when it only had a population of 23. His father's business, which was established in 1868 was at 532 5th Avenue. There was a big fire in 1869 that destroyed the leading businesses. After that there was a big influx to New Town. He attended school in the little 'pink' school house on B Street.

    In those days there was not a single wharf here. Steamers that came from the north once every three months anchored out in the bay. A big scow was paddled out to the steamer by the use of long poles. That was what was called 'poling in.' Passengers and merchandise were brought to the shore on the scow.  (Warren, Forrest, December 6, 1936)

    He worked for five years in the composing room of the San Diego Union. 

    He married Margaret J. Clark in San Diego on July 16, 1886. He came to Tucson in 1899 and opened the W. A. Julian Company which eventually controlled 85% of the plumbing, heating and roofing business in Tucson.  Julian served as a member of the Tucson Chamber of Commerce and was elected chairman in 1928. He ran for mayor in 1929 and served one term until 1931. He was one of the organizers of the Tucson Gun Club. He was active in the Elks Lodge, the Tucson Rodeo committee, the Masons and Old Fellows. He died on July 25, 1941. 

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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