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A lot happened to William Emig while he was Sheriff - a Deputy Sheriff was shot to death, a mob broke into his jail and lynched two inmates, to a criminal conviction that led to the end of his political career.
Sheriff Emig was born in Santa Clara, California, on December 19,1890. He attended the public schools of Santa Clara until the completion of the eighth grade. Later in life he attended San Jose Normal School, which was renamed San Jose State. William worked in a variety of occupations ( Including window glazing, the electrical trade he even worked as a truck driver ) before entering into law enforcement. Including window glazing, the electrical trade, and as a truck driver. In 1920 he joined the Santa Clara Police Department as the night officer, later taking the position of City Marshal. In 1922, William became a motorcycle officer for the San Jose Police Department. He quickly climbed the promotional ladder and was promoted to Lieutenant, then Captain. While he was with the San Jose Police Department, Emig becoming heavily involved with traffic safety for children. He gave lectures to local school children and went so far as to write a book called "Mother Goose in Safety Land". He also wrote and directed a motion picture titled "Caution." In 1930, William ran for Sheriff on the Independent ticket, and won, beating the controversial incumbent George Lyle. He took office in January 1931 as the 19th Sheriff of Santa Clara County. Only ten short months later, Sheriff Emig had to bury Deputy Sheriff H.W. McAuley, the first deputy to die in the line of duty in over thirty years. McAuley was shot to death by rum runners on Oakland Road in San Jose. November 1933, Brooke Hart the son of a local department store owner, was kidnapped and murdered. When Brooke's body was found in the mud flats of San Francisco Bay, word reached San Jose and an angry mob formed in front of the county jail. That night the two suspects, Jack Holmes and Harold Thurmond, were dragged from their cells after the mob stormed the jail. The two were carried across the street to St. James Park and hung from two trees (the two trees were cut down shortly thereafter).
Sheriff Emig ran for re-election in 1934 winning the primary, but losing in the general election by 1,158 votes. In the election of 1938, he again beat George Lyle. During his three terms as Sheriff, Emig was one of the first law enforcement leaders to equip his men with bullet proof vests, bullet proof windshields, machine guns and tear gas bombs. In February 1946, Sheriff Emig was forced to resign from office after he was convicted on charges of conspiracy to violate state gambling laws. He eventually served three months in the county jail. After his release he moved to Santa Cruz and in 1950 made an unsuccessful bid for Sheriff of Santa Cruz County. Shortly afterward he moved to Palm Springs.
Monday night, October 21, 1963, William Emig was serving a summons when he apparently tripped in the dark. He struck his head, fell into a swimming pool and drowned. He was 72 years old.
The San Jose Mercury Herald, April 1,1930, November 12,1931, February 2,1946
The San Jose Mercury, October 23,1963
The Santa Clara News, November 7,1930
James, William F., History of San Jose, Smith Printing Co., San Jose, 1933
Farrell, Harry, Swift Justice, St. Martins Press, New York, 1992
Conversations with William Emig's Daughters.