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Madera Biographies: TIGHE


As an example of the opportunities offered by central California to young men of ambition, intelligence and tireless energy, the business career of William C. Tighe furnishes a fitting illustration. When he came to the town of Madera, which has been his home, and the scene of his commercial activities since 1891, he had a very limited amount of capital and he lacked also the prestige given by experience and influence. In compensation for these disadvantages he possessed force of character and determination, decision of purpose and high principles of honor, together with that optimistic faith in the future which is one of the endowments of youth.

Not only by education, but also by birth as well, Mr. Tighe is a Californian, for he is a native of Oakland, Alameda county, born January 5, 1868. His grandfather, J. W. Tighe, a native of Ireland, followed the butcher's trade in London, England, where J. W., Jr., was born. After some years in that city he brought the family to California via Panama and engaged in business as butcher in Oakland. The same trade was followed by his son, J. W.  Jr., who opened a meat market at what is now East Oakland. Later, however, he turned his attention to other forms of activity. For a time he operated in the mines of California and Nevada. From the west he removed to Howe, Grayson County, Tex., where he conducted a hardware store and also acted as postmaster. His death occurred in that village when he was fifty-two years of age. During his residence in California he married Maria Henry, who was horn in Boston and died in Oakland.

   The only child of J. W. Tighe. Jr., and Maria, his wife, was William C. Tighe, who was reared in his native city of Oakland and attended the local grammar schools. When thirteen years of age he began to clerk in a men’s furnishing goods store on Broadway, between Seventh and Eighth streets, Oakland, where he acquired a thorough knowledge of that business and excelled in his ability as a salesman. Seeking an opening for himself, he resigned there and went to Fresno in 1891, but during the same year proceeded to Madera as offering, in his opinion, a better opening for a man with small capital. With a partner, under the title of Harris & Company, he opened a store in a small frame house occupying the present site of the post office. Here a small stock of men’s furnishing goods was placed on sale. Reasonable prices and courteous treatment of all won and retained customers. On assuming the entire management of the business, in the spring of 1893, Mr. Tighe leased a room occupying a part of his present location, and to this he has added from time to time until the building is now 100x50 feet in dimensions, with four entrances. Conducted as a department store, the business is the largest of its kind in Madera County. A full and complete assortment is kept in stock of men’s furnishing goods, clothing, hats and caps, boots and shoes, dry goods, notions and ladies’ tailor-made goods. The equipment is thoroughly up-to-date in every respect.  In 1901 the Tighe-Breyfogle Company was incorporated, with Mr. Tighe as president, and the business has since been conducted under that title. He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and through his member­ship in the Madera Chamber of Commerce he has done much to promote the material growth and commercial prosperity of his home city. He is thoroughly alive to the importance of movements tending to promote the standing of California as a member of the great galaxy of states comprising our nation.

Guinn, J. M., History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the San Joaquin Valley, California, (Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1905), page 523.

Transcribed by Harriet Sturk.

Last update: October 17, 2012 
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