John B. Tays a former Texas Ranger (Salt War fame), served as El Paso’s postmaster between February and August 1879 and its first city marshal from July to October 1880. He is listed as an engineer in the 1880 Federal Census for El Paso, but it was poor city engineering that cost him his job as marshal. Tays had attempted to fill a particularly large street pothole with town garbage, and the results were less than desirable in the city council’s eyes. Tays was far more successful in private enterprise than he had been in public service. He engaged in stock raising, railroad construction, and real estate in El Paso, where his holdings included the Central Hotel and some tenement houses. “He brought to bear in his various undertakings much business ability and indefatigable energy, and success attended his well-directed endeavors.” In 1883, John Tays relocated to the Ontario-Upland area of southern California, where he became one of the region’s first and foremost agriculturalists. Tays achieved a certain measure of fame in Ontario after designing a streetcar platform to carry mules downhill after they had labored to pull the car eight miles uphill. Ever the miner, Tays was on a gold-hunting expedition to South America when he was killed with over 150 other people in a spectacular boating accident at the Tumatumari Falls on the Rio Patera.
City Marshal John B. Tays
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