By Mark Gutglueck
William J. Tebo was one of the most dynamic and vigorous figures in Chino and the Chino Valley in the 55 years between 1886 and 1941. He was a merchant, and farmer, with constantly growing business interests, and at the same time the town’s main lawman. He devoted himself, in the words of a historian writing in the 1920s, to the community and “proved himself indispensable to the task of making this a clean and safe place in which to live.”
Like many remarkable people of any generation, he had a father who was himself remarkable, resilient strong-willed and determined. And he found Chino to his liking, at least in some measure because it was a less inhospitable place to where he first sought his fortune.
William Tebo was born at Dundas, Province of Ontario, Canada, June 20, 1865, the son of George and Elizabeth Strong Tebo. His father was a native of Canada, where he spent his life as a farmer. George Tebo was left an orphan when a child and was reared by friends until he was old enough to make his own way. He lived to the remarkable age of ninety-eight years, passing away on August 27, 1921. His wife and William’s mother, Elizabeth, was born in England and came to Canada with her parents at the age of seventeen.
William J. Tebo, one of a family of four sons and four daughters, acquired a good common school education, and in 1881, at the age of sixteen, left Canada and went to Plymouth County, Iowa. That was a newly-formed prairie county, where cattle raising was then the principal industry. He secured employment the first year working among the cattle and constructing pole sheds covered with flax straw for protection from the winter storms. The following summer he farmed and then rented land and set out on an enterprise of his own. He bought horses and tools, put in a crop, but later discovered the horses he had bought were afflicted with a virulent disease – the glanders. The authorities took the animals, destroyed them, buried the harness and burned his shed barns as the official means to stamp out the disease. It was a heavy financial blow to Tebo, who nevertheless had one consolation: He had planted his corn crop on a high ridge of land. A frost had killed most of the corn in that section, but his plants, being on the high ground, survived, and he was able to sell the crop for seed corn at a premium.
In the fall of 1883, Tebo left Iowa and came to Sacramento, working there for one year. He then went back to Iowa, primarily to testify on behalf of a friend, who like himself, had bought diseased horses on time. The seller had sued his friend for damages, but Mr. Tebo’s testimony established a defense that prevented the fraud. While in Iowa in 1884, Tebo married Miss Alice Hammond, a native of that state. Again for a season he tried farming there and had a contract for breaking a large prairie. In that year Iowa became a prohibition state and was afflicted with hard times as those who were fond of liquor abandoned the place in droves. Mr. Tebo sold his teams and two weeks later was on his way to California.
After one year in Yolo County, where he broke and shipped horses to the Los Angeles market, Mr. Tebo, about 1886, moved south and bought a half interest in 20 acres of land east of and near Chino.
At that time this section was a splendid stock range, and land surveys were just being run and the surveyors were working on a plat of the Chino townsite. Tebo soon traded his land interests for Chino lots, and built one of the first homes in the town, at the corner of B and Sixth streets. He lived on this property for more than thirty five years.
In 1891 work was started on he construction of the sugar refinery, and for about a year he did much of the hauling of material for that purpose. In 1892 he opened a feed, grocery and general merchandize store, operating it for two year and selling to B.K.Galbreath.
In 1904 Chino Constable and deputy sheriff Fred Bristol was fatally stabbed. Tebo took up Bristol’s responsibilities. During his thirty-seven years as constable and deputy sheriff, he took on rustlers, gunmen, and other law-breakers. He also enforced the law against the sale and distribution of alcohol in Chino during Prohibition, which was appreciated by many but loathed by some.
He was among the first city councilmen when Chino was incorporated in 1910.
Around 1913 he built one of the most modern homes of the town. There was no interruption to his work as a farmer in all those years.
Tebo and his wife , known as Allie, were the parents of at least four children, two of whom worked in the medical profession. The oldest, Mable, who was born at Woodland in Yolo County, September 20 1885, was a graduate of the Chino High School, and became a graduate nurse and followed that profession until her marriage to William Cissna, who died, leaving two children. Aletha and Robley. Mable later became Mrs. Rolf Lindner. Tebo’s second child, Ethel, who was born in Chino on June 28, 1893, was a graduate of the Chino High School and the Los Angeles State Normal School. She was a trained nurse who later became the wife of Stanley Goode, a graduate of law in Stanford University. Their two children were Betty and William. The third child was Frederick A. Tebo, actively associated with his father in business. The fourth child, who was born in Chino July 16,1897, was a graduate of the Chino High School and was married in 1919 to Grover Breseon, who died in 1920. Another source credits a fifth child to the Tebos, Harry Tebo (nicknamed the Pioneer Baby) who was sid to have been born on March 13, 1888.
Frederick A. Tebo was born February 22,1895, progressed with his education in the Chino High School, but on account of poor health left school and though much under age, with is parents’ consent joined Company D of the Pomona National Guard and was on border duty during the Mexican troubles of 1914. He was sent to the hospital and operated on for appendicitis, was invalided home, and in the World War was rejected and given Class 5 draft status. He was in the Edison Company’s office at Chino until it was removed, and later went on to bear some of the heavy burdens of his father’s business. Together, they leased and farmed 1,200 acres, growing alfalfa, grain and sugar beets, operating one 75-horseposer tractor and two smaller tractors, and all other modern equipment of the day. They also did an extensive trading business, needing three heavy service trucks for transporting goods and commodities. They established a wholesale and retail feed, fuel, hay and grain business under the firm name of Fugate & Tebo at the corner of Seventh and D streets in Chino. Frederick A. Tebo married Miss Elizabeth Beach, who was socially prominent at Pomona.
William J. Tebo was still constable of Chino when he died in 1941.
By Mark Gutglueck