William I. Traeger

William Isham Traeger (February 26, 1880 – January 20, 1935) was an American law enforcement official who served as sheriff of Los Angeles County from 1921 to 1932, and went on to serve one term as a United States Representative from California.[1]

William I. Traeger
Traeger as Los Angeles County Sheriff in 1922
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 15th district
In office
March 4, 1933  January 3, 1935
Preceded byNone (New district)
Succeeded byJohn M. Costello
Los Angeles County Sheriff
In office
Preceded byJohn C. Cline
Succeeded byEugene W. Biscailuz
Personal details
Born(1880-02-26)February 26, 1880
Porterville, California
DiedJanuary 20, 1935(1935-01-20) (aged 54)
Los Angeles, California
Alma materStanford University
William I. Traeger
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1903Occidental (assistant)
1906Los Angeles HS (CA)
Head coaching record
Overall6–3–1 (college)

Early life

Traeger was born in Porterville, California,[1] the oldest of five children of Augustus Traeger, a blacksmith who had migrated from Wisconsin in 1872, and his wife Martha Ellen (Dunn) Traeger, who had migrated from Arkansas in 1874. William attended elementary and high schools in Porterville,[1] also assisting his father in his trade; Martha Traeger died in 1895. Traeger served during the Spanish–American War as a private and corporal in the 6th California Volunteer Infantry from May 11 to December 15, 1898.[1]


After the war, he studied law at Stanford University, earning his undergraduate degree in 1901.[1] While there, he starred as a tackle on the football team, kicking a field goal to give Stanford a 5–0 victory over California in the 1900 rivalry game (field goals counted for 5 points until 1904); he was captain of the team that played in the first Rose Bowl Game on January 1, 1902, a game in which he tore his shoulder ligament yet continued to play.

Coaching and early law enforcement career

In 1902 he moved to Los Angeles, where he helped in various athletic departments, leading Pomona College's football team to a 3–2 record in 1902 and coaching at Occidental College the following year. He served as a deputy United States Marshal from April 1903 through 1906 and as a deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County from January 1907 to 1911.[1]

He also worked for a general contracting company. While a deputy marshal, he married Alice Collier, who died in 1908 from tuberculosis.

Law school and USC coaching

Traeger attended law school at the University of Southern California.[1] During his time at USC, he served as the head coach of the USC football team for the 1908 season; USC's teams were still called the Methodists before becoming known as the Trojans in 1912. He compiled a 3–1–1 record while coaching at USC; the schedule was entirely against southern California teams, including games against Pomona and Occidental as well as Los Angeles High School, a team he had coached in 1906, and a San Bernardino County athletic club, the only contest outside L.A. County. He was succeeded in 1909 by famous track coach Dean Cromwell.[2]

Traeger was admitted to the bar in California in 1909, and began private practice. In 1911, be began serving as deputy clerk for the Supreme Court of California, a position he would hold until 1921.[1] During World War I he enlisted in the Army and served at an officer's training camp.

In 1921, Traeger was appointed Sheriff of Los Angeles County; he was elected to 4-year terms in 1922, 1926 and 1930, serving until December 1932. During his time in office, he reorganized the county jail, established the county's honor camps for first-time misdemeanor offenders, and started the employment contact office which helped prisoners find employment after their release. In 1929 he became the first president of the Los Angeles County Peace Officers' Association.


In 1932, Traeger was elected as a Republican to the 73rd United States Congress (March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935)[1] despite the Democratic landslide which occurred that year. He lost his reelection bid to John M. Costello in 1934.


Traeger died at age 54 of a liver disorder at the Wadsworth Hospital in Los Angeles, two weeks after leaving office; he had become ill in late December. He was survived by his second wife, the former Ruth McAllister, a schoolteacher he had married in 1912, and by one daughter from each marriage.[3]

Traeger was interred at Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles.[1]

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs
Pomona Sagehens (Independent) (1902)
1902 Pomona 3–2
Pomona: 3–2
USC Methodists (Independent) (1908)
1908 USC 3–1–1
USC: 3–1–1


  1. United States Congress. "William I. Traeger (id: T000349)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  2. "2004 USC Football Media Guide" (PDF). (1.85 MiB)
  3. "Ex-Official Succumbs to Illness". Los Angeles Times. January 21, 1935. pp. 1–2.
Government offices
Preceded by
John C. Cline
Sheriff of Los Angeles County
Succeeded by
Eugene W. Biscailuz
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
John M. Costello
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