William I. Traeger - 1921-1932
A native son of California; twenty-sixth Sheriff of Los Angeles County; the son of a blacksmith;
attended Stanford University; a football star; a progressive Sheriff; twelve years in the office;
elected to Congress from the fifteenth California District; Spanish American and World War
veteran; first President Los Angeles County Peace Officers Association.
When John C. Cline resigned as Sheriff of Los Angeles County in March 1921, the County
Board of Supervisors appointed as his successor, to fill out the unexpired portion of his term,
Wm. I. Traeger, who assumed the duties of the office for which he had been appointed, on
November fourth 1922, was re-elected November second, 1926, and again on November fourth
1930. Following his last election, he served until December first 1932, when he resigned the
office to take his seat in the National Congress, to which he had been chosen, at the election in
the November preceding his resignation.
William Traeger was the twenty-sixth Sheriff of the County, the fourth man to be appointed by
the County Board of Supervisors to fill out an unexpired term, and the second appointee who was
elected Sheriff at the close of the period for which he had been appointed. He was the sixth
native son of California to serve the County as Sheriff, and the only Sheriff who resigned the
office because of election to a higher official position.
Sheriff Traeger had the longest continuous service of any man who had ever filled the office, and
only one previous Sheriff, Wm. A. Hammel, had exceeded him in the aggregate time of his
incumbency. However Hammel, though he served three full terms of four years each, had not
served continuously, while Traeger lacked only three months of equaling the full time that
Hammel had served, and his period of incumbency was continuous.
The life history of Wm. I. Traeger is as unique and colorful as the man himself. He was a man
who made a place of his own in life and filled it well. His critics as well as his friends recognized
the many elements of greatness in his personality and his career. He was great in physical
stature, a giant in fact, and easily the "biggest man" in the official life of Los Angeles County.
He was great in heart and mind as well, and his greatness as a law enforcement official was
readily conceded by all who knew him. He was great in his generosity, justice and loyalty to the
men who served with and under him. He was friend to every man and woman in County service.
In his own Department he enjoyed one hundred percent loyalty from the employees. They
served because they loved him, and his traits of personality were such as to secure the fullest
co-operation on the part of peace officers throughout the County. He was respected because of
his ability and faithfulness in the discharge of the duties of the high office committed to him by
the citizens of the County. He left behind him, upon his retirement from the office, an honest and
conscientious record of achievement.
William Isham (Bill) Traeger was born in Porterville, Tulare County, California, February
twenty-sixth 1880. His father was Augustus Traeger, a native of Wisconsin, who came to
California in 1872; his mother, Martha Ellen Dunn Traeger, was born in Arkansas, coming to
California in 1874. They both settled in Porterville, met, and in 1879 were married. To this
worthy couple were born five children, two sons and three daughters, of which William I. was the
The Traegers were plain, earnest and scrupulously honest people. They believed in hard work
and strict morality. They were humble and without social aspirations. Augustus Traeger, though
an exceptionally strong man, able to crush the average man with one hand, was simple, gentle,
kind and amiable, refusing to hurt anybody or anything that lived. He despised physical
violence. He died January second, 1921, his wife having passed away in 1895. They lie buried
side by side in the Porterville cemetery.
By occupation, Augustus Traeger was a blacksmith, and it was in his father's shop, that Bill
received his physical culture training, building up the fine physique, endurance, and strength,
that made him superior on the football field a little later. Bill attended the Porterville Grammar
and High School beginning his career in football in the High School, where he was captain of
their team for two years. He graduated from High School just prior to the beginning of the
Spanish-American War. He enlisted in Company E. Sixth California Infantry, in which he served
for eight months, when he was honorably discharged, having attained the rank of Corporal.