A History of the Former McTigue Harness Shop on Mission Street, as Shared by His Great-Great Grandson

McTigue Livery copyBSC


During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the McTigue family operated a harness manufacturing shop and livery stable for horses on Mission Street at the intersection of Precita, roughly on the site where El Rio stands today. We wrote about all this recently while dissecting an aerial photo of Bernal Heights taken during the 1920s.

Here’s what Mission Street at Precita looked like in May, 1923. Notice that there are several carriages parked in front of the McTigue Livery on the left:


When we zoom and enhance the image, we clearly see the McTigue name on the front of the livery stable building:


Here’s the same spot, in August, 1927, at which point McTigue Livery had been replaced by Mission Chevrolet (which is today home to O’Reilly Auto Parts):


La Lengua propagandist Burrito Justice located this entry from the 1908 City Directory:


This tells us that the McTigues also operated a harness making shop (at 3156 Mission), just south of the livery stable,  on the very site where El Rio now makes the universe a happier place.

About a year ago, Bernal Neighbor Michael Nolan did a geek-out on the McTigues in a Bernalwood comment, and discovered the following:

Did some genealogical research on the McTigue family, the harness makers. Michael McTigue and Frances Acton were Irish immigrants born in 1830 and 1832 who started the business South of Market . In 1872, they were living at 273 Minna, In 1880 on 8 1/2 Moss. with children Augusta, Fanny, Joseph, Richard, John and Jennie. By 1896 they were living at 19 Alvarado with their harness factory at 3156 Mission Street. Joseph W. McTigue was born in 1866 and died in 1939. He married Mary Theresa Costello and they had a daughter, Marie. She married William Dabel and in the 1940 census they lived at 3182A Mission Street. They had a son William (1927-2006) and I”m trying to trace his descendants.

Neighbor Michael was spot-on, because last week Bernalwood received a note from one of those descendants: Greg Dabel, the great-great grandson of Joseph W. McTigue(!!!!), who had stumbled upon our story about the aerial photo from 1924. Mr. Dabel told us:

My great great grandfather had various locations along the 3000-3100 block of Mission Street for buildings, stables, holding corrals, etc. Known addresses were: 3088-98; 3156; 3180 Mission and 1665 Valencia.

Mr. Dabel also shared a family history of Joseph McTigue, along with several never-before-seen photos of his equine businesses on Mission Street.

This was Joseph W. McTigue:

Joe McTigue

And this was his story…

The Dabel Family

Joseph William McTIGUE
Your great, great grandfather on your father’s side

Joseph McTigue was the first son of Michael and Fanny (Acton) McTigue. The family lived in an apartment on Kearney Street in San Francisco, California. Joseph grew up helping his father in the livery business located in downtown San Francisco.

According to the family, when Joseph McTigue was about twenty years old he left San Francisco to work as a stagecoach driver in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He was employed by the Yosemite Stage and Turnpike Company and drove the Mariposa-to-Yosemite Valley stage run. The company had daily passenger stage run.

When Joseph McTigue returned San Francisco he married Mary Theresa Costello at San Francisco’s St. John’s Catholic Church and he opened a new livery business in San Francisco’s Mission District. It is not clear whether he joined his father in moving the existing livery business from the downtown location or he started a new location. From photos of the business we know that his brother Richard ‘Dick’ McTigue was also part of the family business. In 1903 the San Francisco telephone book listed ‘Joseph W. McTigue – Saddle and Harness Maker – 3156 Mission Street. Phone number: ‘Church 2833.’


Joseph McTigue’s livery business thrived. He rented horses, wagons, and buggies. The local butcher and baker rented his wagons and horses to deliver their goods around the City. Others needing transport would rent a horse and buggy for the day.

Mission Street-1

‘Joe’ McTigue also had time and money to support racing horses. The family specialized in ‘harness-racing.’ Their prized trotter race horse named ‘Darby Mac’ won many weekend races held at Golden Gate Park and other Bay Area race tracks.

Joe.DickMcTigue3160 Mission

Family oral history says that Joseph McTigue missed a lucrative business opportunity. As the story goes, in about 1898 he was approached by a salesman, perhaps the owner himself, of the newly-founded Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. The company made rubber horseshoe pads so it was natural for the salesman to call on the McTigue Brothers. In addition to horseshoe pads and tires for bicycles, Goodyear was also making tires for ‘horseless carriages’ (automobiles).

The McTigue brothers had a well-established business and a perfect location to sell these rubber tires. It is said Goodyear offered Joseph McTigue an exclusive San Francisco franchise rights to sell tires and rubber products. But Joseph McTigue, a ‘hostler’ through-and-through, turned down the opportunity. He was not keen on the ‘new-fangled’ automobile and refused to believe that autos would ever replace horses.

Eventually it was the automobile that brought an end to the McTigue livery business. The McTigue Harness and Saddler Shop closed its doors in 1940. Most horse collars and other equipment in stock were sold. What was not sold was stored in the basement or loaded into the remaining wagons and towed to a Bay landfill near Hunter’s Point, San Francisco. Joseph McTigue died in 1939. His Death Certificate listed his profession as ‘Harness-Maker for 50 years.’

Many thanks to Greg Dabel for so generously sharing his family history!

PHOTOS: McTigue family, courtesy of Greg Dabel

14 thoughts on “A History of the Former McTigue Harness Shop on Mission Street, as Shared by His Great-Great Grandson

  1. Todd – What a stunning and lovely history of the McTigue family. Much gratitude to Greg Dabel and to you as our attentive and inquisitive editor and publisher of All Things Bernal. Happy Thanksgiving, Michael

  2. These historical posts are absolutely the best! I appreciate it so much and love learning about every generation that came before us. The stories these streets could tell.
    (Begin sarcasm)
    I wonder how all those horsemen felt about “the activist” who moved in after them and gentrified the neighborhood. The next generation moved in to Bernal and it became so generic compared to this generation, look at all that character.

  3. Great story. Especially the Goodyear Tire story. Reminds me of the people who said the Internet would never take off and that the world only needed a few computers.

  4. I love these stories. Thank you for sharing. My father immigrated directly to SF and my mother was born in SF to immigrant parents. We don’t have a long history here and these stories just help to bring this beautiful city even more alive.
    My parents were also married at St. John’s Church.

  5. Pingback: Then and Now: The View from a Horse Pasture on Mission Near Precita | Bernalwood

  6. Pingback: Pizzahacker Attacked by Runaway Streetcar! (in 1907) | Burrito Justice

  7. Pingback: Then and Now: 90 Years of Auto Biz at the Former Mission Chevrolet Dealership | Bernalwood

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s