The Egnew Family in Marin Railroading

by Ruby Bronson Egnew

Oliver Perry Morton Egnew was born 8 March 1878 in Chrisney, Spencer Co., IN. He was one of eleven children, the son of William Ruby Egnew and Alice Adelia Ayer. His father was a farmer and a school teacher, and had served in the Civil War.

In 1900 Oliver married Omega Alpha Kimbrel in Bloomington, Monroe Co., IN. She was born 19 April 1800 in Bedford, Lawrence Co., IN. Oliver was called Mike by family and friends, and Omega was known as Meg. They had two natural children: a daughter Florence, born 9 August 1902 in Bedford, Lawrence Co., IN, and a son Oliver Charles, born 19 February 1905, who only lived for 17 months. By this time they had moved to South Dakota. In 1916 they adopted a month old baby boy, Glen, whose mother had died five days after his birth. The two families had been friends and the natural father of the baby was unable to take care of a newborn. He had four other small children and had just completed building a new home and had planned on moving his family into it when the mother was released from the hospital. Unfortunately it burned down while she was hospitalized.

Mike had worked for a railroad company in Minnesota and Indiana in his early years. About 1920 he, Meg and Glen moved to California (Florence had already
married). He had come to California intending to go into the poultry business in Sebastopol or Petaluma, where they had friends. After arriving there tho' he decided to settle in Sausalito and went to work as a brakeman for the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company, first working on the main line and later on the electric railway system running through Marin Co. He especially enjoyed the runs to and from Tamalpais High School and was known by many students as "Big Mike".

He was very interested in music and had belonged to a drum and bugle corp in South Dakota. He was also a member of the Elks and the Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen.

Meg was a member of the Pythian Sisters, the Sausalito Poppy Club, SanFranciscoCamp, Royal Neighbors of America, and Ladies' Auxiliary to the Brother of Railway Trainmen. She was active in the PTA in Sausalito and served as President of that organization for several years. She was also very active in the Presbyterian Church in Sausalito and took it upon herself to clean the church regularly, including the kitchen, and supplying the church with fresh flowers each week. She enjoyed writing poetry and some of her poems had been published in the Marin County newspaper.

Meg's mother, Emma Watts Kimbrel, lived with Mike and Meg during most of their married life.

Oliver Perry Egnew died 2 February 1930 in San Francisco, Alpha Omega died 22 April 1940 in Ross, Emma Watts Kimbrel died 5 September 1942 in Ross, and all three are buried in the Tamalpais Cemetery in San Rafael. Glen died 15 July 1985 at Lake Lagunitas, near Fairfax. His ashes were scattered among the redwood groves in Humboldt Co., CA. He had served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and there is a tombstone for him in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, Colma, CA.


The name AGNEW is recognized as a Scottish-English family name but it is believed it had an earlier origin to the Barony of Agneaux in Normandy, France. In 1066 when William the Conqueror and the Normans invaded England he had two General Agnews in his army and because of their allegiance he bestowed to one an estate in the west of Scotland and the other an estate in the north of Ireland.

King David II of Scotland appointed several Agnews hereditary sheriffs of Galloway and they became great landowners in County Wigton circa 1363. In 1451 a Andrew Agnew, Constable of Lochnaw, was appointed sheriff of Wigtoun. One of his descendants was created a baronet and the title was inherited by the eldest son in each generation. The fourth Baronet, Sir James Agnew, married in l683, died in l735, having had twenty-one children. There is still a Lochnaw Castle dating from l426, owned and lived in by Agnews. Family legend has it that there was a rift in this Scottish family because the younger sons could not inherit property, so they left Scotland and settled in Ireland, changing their name to Egnew. One settled at Craigmore, near Randallstown, county of Antrim, another at Donegore, near Antrimtown, and the other in the county of Tyrone. Descendants of these three eventually came to America and it is believed they are the ancestors of our Egnew family.


This information was located in World of Heraldry, Peerage and Baronetage, Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy, First families of America, Vol. III, History of Westmoreland Co., PA and a brochure on the Lochnaw Castle. Several persons have sent me portions of these, without a more defined citation.