By Mark Gutglueck
Born on August 5, 1867 in Hyde Park, Vermont, Milton Pierce Cheney was the son of Lorenzo D. and Delia (Keetch) Cheney. A foreman of engines for the Santa Fe Railroad, he came to San Bernardino County in 1907.
He made a number of acquaintances and friendships in this capacity, several of which would play a key part in the political life into which he was unexpectedly thrust a few years later. His next assignment was in Needles, an important railroad town that at that time was one of the most significant cities in San Bernardino County. Needles acceded to a position of distinction because it was where railroad executives had settled upon constructing the bridge that would bring the railroad across the Colorado River into California from the Arizona Territory.
In Needles, Cheney was the master mechanic of the Arizona Division of the Santa Fe Railroad. He retired from active railroad service and moved, either by design or coincidence, to one of the other major railroad towns in San Bernardino County, Colton.
From a life of retirement he was called into public service as a member of the city trustees and became active in the public affairs of his community. When Ray L. Riley resigned as a member of the board of supervisors to devote himself to the dual posts of state water commissioner and state real estate commissioner, Governor William D. Stephens appointed Cheney to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on March 15, 1920 to fill Mr. Riley’s unexpired post as Fourth District supervisor. Mr. Cheney won the election in 1922 to succeed himself and was reelected in 1926 and 1930.
As supervisor, Cheney evinced a particular interest in the county hospital and he served as chairman of the hospital committee for several years. He became a champion of the cause of efficient and compassionate hospital services to those in unfortunate circumstances.
While making an inspection of the hospital, Cheney found himself in need of its services, as he was coincidentally felled by his first light stoke. His physical condition continued to deteriorate during the next few months as he suffered further strokes. His fellow board members importuned him to withdraw, seeking to prevail upon him to resign for the sake of his health. He did not, however, heed the advice of friends, and, on May 17, 1933, at the age of 66 suffered a fatal stoke at his home in Colton.
Cheney was survived by his wife, Gertrude B. Cheney; they had no children. He was a member of the Masonic organization and an honorary member of the Colton Rotary Club. Frank H. Mogle of Chino was appointed to the board of supervisors to fill Mr. Cheney’s unexpired term.
By Mark Gutglueck