Sherwood, Jay R. "J.R."

1885-1964 | Conductor, Alaska Railroad

Jay Robert “J.R.” Sherwood was born in New York City on December 16, 1886, the son of Warren B. Sherwood and Sarah Vandersill Sherwood. He ran away from home and went to sea as a young man. He later apprenticed as a trainman and also worked on fishing boats in southeast Alaska.[1]

On November 5, 1913, Sherwood married Agnes Elizabeth Banner in Victoria, British Columbia. She was born on July 24, 1894, in Victoria, the daughter of Samuel Banner and Elizabeth Banner. Her father was a gardener.[2]

During World War I, Sherwood was a private first class in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps in France. After the war, he worked on several railroads in California. In 1925 he moved his family to Anchorage, where he performed construction work prior to being hired by the Alaska Railroad. He also did commercial fishing and mining to fill in between jobs. In 1932, he was hired on a permanent basis as a trainman with the Alaska Railroad. He retired in 1947 on disability retirement as a conductor.[3]

The Sherwoods had five children: Elsie (born in 1918); Jay Robert "Bob" Jr. (born in 1920); Ruth (born in 1921); Warren H. (born in 1924); and Morgan B. (born in 1929).

Sherwood was a member of the Masonic Lodge, Anchorage Elks Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the National Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Agnes Sherwood was known as an excellent seamstress. She was active in the Order of the Eastern Star.

The Sherwoods retired to California in 1947, where they settled in Union City, located in the San Francisco Bay area.

Jay R. Sherwood, Sr. died on May 10, 1964, in Los Angeles, California, after suffering a heart attack. Agnes Banner Sherwood died on January 10, 1969, in Union City. They are both buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California.[4] They were survived by two daughters, Elsie Sherwood Mazur and Ruth Sherwood Holman[5]; and three sons, Jay Robert "Bob" Jr.,[6], Warren H.,[7] and Morgan B.[8]

Their son, Morgan B. Sherwood, was emeritus professor of history at the University of California, Davis. In addition to numerous articles, he wrote or edited four books about Alaska and its history: Exploration of Alaska, 1865-1900 (1965); Alaska and Its History (1967); Cook Inlet Collection: Two Hundred Years of Selected Alaskan History (1974); Big Game in Alaska: A History of Wildlife and People (1981); and Alaska and the Pacific Rim (1987).



[1] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage: Publications Consultants, 2001), 268; and Jay Rob[ert] Sherwood, U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 [database on-line], (accessed October 20, 2016).

[2] Agnes E. Banner, Census of Canada, 1901, Victoria, British Columbia, District No. 4, page 10, Library and Archives Canada, http:// (accessed October 20, 2016).

[3] John P. Bagoy, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935, 268; and “Ex-Railroad Employee Dies,” Anchorage Daily Times, May 15, 1964, 3.

[4] “Ex-Railroad Employee Dies,” Anchorage Daily Times, May 15, 1964, 3; U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration, Nationwide Gravesite Locator [database on-line], (accessed October 20, 2016); and Jay Robert Sherwood, U.S., Find a Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line], (accessed October 20, 2016).

[5] Obituary, Ruth Holman, Anchorage Daily News, December 2, 1998, E-9.

[6] Obituary, Jay Robert Sherwood, Anchorage Daily News, November 28, 2009, A-11.

[7] Obituary, Warren H. Sherwood, Anchorage Daily News, May 6, 2001, B-7.

[8] Obituary, Morgan B. Sherwood, Anchorage Daily News, November 7, 2000, B-7.


This biographical sketch of Jay R. Sherwood is based on an essay which originally appeared in John P. Bagoy's Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (Anchorage:  Publications Consultants, 2001), 268.  See also the Jay R. Sherwood file, Bagoy Pioneer Family Files (2004.11), Box 7, Atwood Resource Center, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Anchorage, AK.  Photographs courtesy of the Sherwood family.  Edited by Mina Jacobs, 2012.  Note:  edited, revised, and expanded by Bruce Parham, October 21, 2016.

Preferred citation: Bruce Parham, ed., “Sherwood, Jay R. ‘J.R.’,” Cook Inlet Historical Society, Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940,

Major support for Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1940, provided by: Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Atwood Foundation, Cook Inlet Historical Society, and the Rasmuson Foundation. This educational resource is provided by the Cook Inlet Historical Society, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt association. Contact us at the Cook Inlet Historical Society, by mail at Cook Inlet Historical Society, Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, 625 C Street, Anchorage, AK 99501 or through the Cook Inlet Historical Society website,