Denver, Colorado

By Barbara Lewellen

David D. Seerie
Williams &18th Ave

Copyright 2005 Lewellen

John D. McGilvray
10th & Corona Street


Jessie Duff, born 1826, and Margaret McLean Duff, born 1842, daughters of John Duff and Margaret Orrock of the Parish of Inverarity, Angus, Scotland,  married into Scotch-Irish families of McGilvray and Seerie, skilled stone masons, working in the quarries in the Tayside area near Dundee, Scotland.  Father John Duff served in the English army under Sir John Moore in the Peninsular campaign against Napoleon.

Jessie Duff married Alexander McGilvray in 1846 in Inverarity and younger sister Margaret McLean Duff married Edward R. Seerie in 1861 in Tealing.  Both families immigrated to the United States, the McGilvray family about 1870 and Seerie family 1890.


Jessie Duff & Alexander McGilvray
Married December 26, 1846, Parish of Inverarity, Angus, Scotland

Jessie Duff and husband Alexander McGilvray married in Jessie's home parish of Inverarity, Scotland.  Alexander, a stonemason moved the family to Ireland, working the quarries in Ireland.  They had seven children born between 1847 and 1860, of which none were recorded with the Parish church records. Nor does the family appear in the 1851 or 1861 Scotland Census.  The 1851 Census for Ireland was destroyed in a fire at the Public Record Office and the census for years 1861 through 1891 were completely destroyed by order of the government.

Conflicting birth place information submitted in the United States Federal census between the years 1870 and 1910 makes it difficult to ascertain birth location, with some of the children switching their birthplace from Scotland to Ireland. 

The seven children of Jessie Duff and William McGilvray:

1.  John Duff McGilvray, b. ca. October 1847, Scotland. 
2.  Margaret McGilvray, b. ca. 1849, Scotland. 
3.  William B. McGilvray, b. ca. April 1852, Scotland or Ireland. 
4.  Mary Ann McGilvray, b. ca. March 1854, Scotland. 
5.  James Scott McGilvray, b. ca. 1855, Scotland or Ireland.
6.  Jessie P. McGilvray, b. ca. 1857, Scotland or Ireland.
7.  Alexander McGilvray, b. ca. 1859, unknown; d. 1861 Scotland

The youngest son, Alexander McGilvray, b. ca. 1859 died June 5, 1861 in the Parish of Inverarity, Angus, Scotland.  Alexander's name is included on the family headstone of grandparents John Duff and Margaret Orrock in the Inverarity Churchyard, Scotland.  The death record of Alexander states that his father, also named Alexander, is deceased.


Widowed at age 34, Jessie Duff McGilvray accompanied by her six surviving children emigrated from Scotland to the United States in about the year 1870. They lived briefly in New York, then moved to Chicago, Illinois.   On October 8, 1871, the McGilvray family witnessed the Great Fire of ChicagoSons John Duff McGilvray, age 24, and William B. McGilvray, age 19, worked as stone cutters in Chicago.

Four of Jessie's children married between 1870-1880: Eldest son John Duff McGilvray married Marion Beaton in Paisley, Scotland 8 April 1870 and Mary Ann McGilvray married William Thompson 23 July 1874 in Chicago. Sometime shortly before moving to Denver, Colorado in 1880 daughter Margaret McGilvray married Henry Sturrock about 1877, and son William B. McGilvray married Margaret Wilson.  Marion Beaton, William Thompson, Henry Sturrock, and Margaret Wilson were all natives of Scotland.

DENVER, COLORADO 1880-present

Widow Jessie Duff McGilvray and five of her children, spouses, and grandchildren, moved to Denver, Colorado between 1876 and 1880. Daughter Mary Ann McGilvray and husband William Thompson followed the family to Denver in 1882.

John Duff McGilvray & Marion Beaton

Eldest son, John Duff McGilvray, born 1847, Parish of Inverarity, Scotland and wife Marion Beaton, born 1849, Scotland, had ten children of which five were born in Chicago and five in Denver.  John Duff McGilvray became a stone contractor in Denver, with co-founders James Scott McGilvray and Robert Findlay formed "John D. McGilvray and Company."  John later formed a company called "Hayes & McGilvray" with Thomas Carroll Hayes, husband of sister Jessie P. McGilvray.  The John Duff McGilvray family moved to Palo Alto, California in 1893, where John Duff McGilvray was employed by Leland Stanford University to build many stone buildings on the campus and founded the McGilvray Stone Company near San Francisco, California.


William B. McGilvray & Margaret Wilson

William B. McGilvray, a stone cutter,  and wife Margaret Wilson,  b. June 1857, Scotland,  are enumerated in the 1880 Colorado Federal Census.  Sometime between 1880 and 1885 the family moved to Portland, Oregon. They had two sons: Albert Wilson McGilvray, b. June 1880, Denver, and William Alexander McGilvray, born April 1883, Portland, Oregon.  The baseball stats stats of, son William "Big Bill" Alexander McGilvray, who played baseball while attending Leland Stanford University in the spring of  1908, show he was born April 29, 1883 in Portland, Oregon.

Margaret McGilvray & Henry Sturrock

Henry Sturrock, a native of Scotland, born 1849, son of David Sturrock and Mary Irvine, invested in a mining project in the foothills ten miles west of Boulder. Henry filed a location certificate in Boulder County in 1876 for the "Caledonia Lode." The 1880 Colorado Federal Census finds Henry Sturrock has a household of five residing in Denver: Henry Sturrock, head of household, wife Margaret McGilvray, mother-in-law,  Jessie Duff McGilvray, son-in-law James Scott McGilvray, age 23, and daughter-in-law, Jessie P. McGilvray, age 21.

Margaret McGilvray and Henry Sturrock, along with her brother William B. McGilvray and his wife Margaret Wilson, moved to Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon in 1881.  Both Henry Sturrock and William B. McGilvray were stone cutters. Henry Sturrock issued a power of attorney in Portland, to John Duff McGilvray, in the autumn of 1881, in order to sell property located in Boulder, Colorado.

William B. McGilvray and wife Margaret returned to Denver sometime before the 1900 census, where he was employed as Chief Inspector of the Denver Board of Public Works. 

Margaret McGilvray and her husband Henry Sturrock migrated south to Madera County, California where John Duff McGilvray had a stone quarry. The Sturrocks had two sons, Charles Irving Sturrock, b. 1880 in Denver and William K. Sturrock, b. 1885 in Portland, Oregon. Charles married in Salt Lake City, Utah, Grace Bell Richmond in 1903 and moved to Burlingame, San Mateo County, California. Brother William died in 1959 in San Joaquin County, California. Henry Sturrock and wife Margaret lived their later years in San Mateo County, California, where the died in 1924 and 1915 respectively.

The following links are at Madera County Rootsweb
(appears to be password protected-just click on cancel twice and the web pages will open)

Family photos McGilvray/Krohn/Sturrock)

 McGilvray Store and Bunkhouse


Mary Ann McGilvray & William Thompson

Mary Ann McGilvray and William Thompson married 23 July 1874, in Chicago, Illinois.  William Thompson, was the son of William Thomson and Margaret Japp, born December 10, 1843, Parish of Brechin, Angus, Scotland.  In the process of immigrating to the United States the surname Thomson was changed to Thompson.  They had five children: James M Thompson, Jessie Duff Thompson, George W. Thompson, Jean Thompson, and Helen Thompson. 

William Thompson, a carpenter, immigrated to the United States in 1871 and settled in Chicago, Illinois. After moving to Denver in 1882, William formed a contracting company partnership called "Thompson & Helm."  Among his contracts were those for Whittier school addition, Wayman school, Manual Training school, Franklin school, Logan school, Fairmount school, North High School, Columbine, Louise A. Wolcott, and Webster schools; Arapahoe block, Union depot, Charles block, and the finishing of the Albany hotel.

William Thompson died in 1922 while wife Mary Ann McGilvray Thompson died in 1910.  Both are buried at Riverside Cemetery, Adams County, Colorado. William  was a member of the Arapahoe Lodge No. 24. and one of the organizers of the Master Builders' Association of which he served as President.

David Orrock, nephew of John Duff McGilvray

Also arriving in Denver in 1882 was Jessie Duff's sister -Margaret McLean Duff, and husband Edward R. Seerie, who immigrated from Scotland with their ten children. A nephew, David Orrock, arrived from Scotland, taking up residence with Jessie P. McGilvray and husband Thomas Carroll Hayes, who had recently married 11th of April 1882 in Denver.

James Scott McGilvray

James Scott McGilvray, born 1855, Scotland married Annie Whitehouse in about the year 1890.  Annie was the daughter of James M. Whitehouse and Annie Sweeney of Manhattan, New York City, New York. The Whitehouse family moved to Denver sometime between 1888 and 1892.

Sculptor, James Whitehouse, was commissioned to create 26 medallions carved in stone, each depicting a native Rocky Mountain animal.  The carved animals are located between the seventh floor windows of the Brown Palace Hotel. 
James S. McGilvray, a co-partner along with John Duff McGilvray and Robert Findlay of the John D. McGilvray & Company, conducted business in Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco.  James & Annie had three children all born in Denver: William D. McGilvray (1891), Hazel McGilvray (1894), and Elizabeth Ann McGilvray (1896). 

He served two terms as City Councilman in Denver in the late 1890s.

Crushed Beneath A Broken Derrick

James S. McGilvray was killed instantly on Monday, the 10th of August, 1896, in a building under construction on Bansorne Street in San Francisco.  A derrick was hoisting and placing a stone weighing about two tons, the cap for the north pier, when it suddenly collapsed and James was struck on the back by a falling timber, which ruptured his left lung and crushed in five of his ribs.

On August 14, 1896 a hearse along with two carriages went to the Denver train depot to pick up James S. McGilvrays body. The day of the burial eight carriages accompanied the hearse to Riverside Cemetery where he was laid to rest in the McGilvray family plot.  Mrs. Annie Whitehouse McGilvray hired Denver photographer, Joseph Collier to take photos of James' gravesite at Riverside Cemetery.

Widow Annie W. McGilvray, living at 1019 Lincoln Avenue in Denver was assigned administrator of his estate (he died without a will) with bonds by John D. McGilvray and Robert Collier, Attorney.  Eldest son William D. McGilvray died March 25, 1908, just a few weeks shy of his 18th birthday. Annie married secondly William Faircloth, an auditor for Denver National Bank and native of Ireland, on July 7, 1909.

(Note: Details of San Francisco accident of James S. McGilvray researched by Virginia Pearson, Ashland, Oregon)

Margaret McLean Duff & Edward R. Seerie

Sister Margaret McLean Duff married Edward R. Seerie, June 28, 1861 in Tealing, Angus, Scotland.  Between 1862 and 1880 they had eleven children born in the Parish of Eassie & Nevay, Angus, Scotland.  Edward R. Seerie, a farmer, b. September 1839, Ireland, was the son of Peter Seery and Bridget Reilly.  The entire Seerie family, except for daughter Isabell Duff Seerie and her husband John Miller who remained in Scotland,  immigrated to the United States about the year 1893, settling in Denver, Colorado.

A son of Isabell Duff Seerie and John Miller, named James Miller, b. 1890, immigrated to Denver, died at age 54 in Denver.  James is buried in the McGilvray family plot at Riverside Cemetery.

The fist child David Duff Seerie was born in the Parish of Tealing and the rest were born in the Parish of Eassie & Nevay, Angus, Scotland. 

David Duff Seerie

b. March 11, 1862

Isabell Duff Seerie

b. Nov 19, 1863

Ann Seerie

b. Nov 23, 1865

Elizabeth Seerie

b. July 26,1867

Mary J. Seerie

b. Sept 4, 1869

Jessie McGilvray Seerie

b. Dec 24, 1871

Helen Imrie Seerie

b. Dec 18, 1873

Edward Seerie

b. January 26, 1876

John Duff Law Seerie

b. Nov 13, 1877

Peter Seerie

b. February 27, 1880


The first Union Pacific railroad line opened from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Denver, Colorado in the year 1870, the city quickly became the hub of commerce and trade. Colorado was admitted as the 38th state to the union in 1876. The demand for the building of both commercial and civic buildings provided the men of these families golden opportunities.

John Duff McGilvray, James S. McGilvray and Robert Findlay co-founded a stone company called "McGilvray Stone Contractors" company  before 1892. In addition John Duff McGilvray formed a contracting company with Thomas Hayes called "Hayes & McGilvray."  Mr. Hayes previously worked in the contracting company "Hayes and Cain" started in 1878.  The McGilvray men would make a strong presence in the Denver contracting business until 1893 when they moved to Palo Alto, California. 

The Seerie brothers formed several contracting companies.  Eldest son, David Duff Seerie co-founded a contracting business with William Geddes  "Geddes & Seerie" and they later founded Denver Sewer, Pipe, and Clay Company.   Brothers David Duff Seerie and Edward Seerie formed the contracting company "Seerie Brothers,"   while younger brother Peter Seerie joined the contracting company "Seerie & Varnum."

Next --->  List of Projects - Buildings Built in Denver

The table below illustrates the relationships between the families of McGilvray, Seerie, Hayes, Duff, and Orrock.

Alexander ORROCK, 1761-1837 & Rachel CRICHTON, (1765-1789)
Margaret Orrock (1796-1868) & John DUFF (1790-1853)


Jessie DUFF b. 1826 - Scotland
& Spouse: William McGILVRAY (1846-1860)
Married Inverarity, Angus, Scotland - 1846
Family lived in Chicago about 1870
Moved to Denver in 1880.
Children all born in Scotland:

Margaret McLean DUFF, b. 1842, Scotland
& Spouse: Edward R. SEERIE
Married - Dundee, Scotland - 1861
Emigrated to Denver, Colorado in 1880
Children all born in Scotland except
Wm Smith SEERIE, who was born in Denver:

(1) John Duff McGilvray, b. 1847. Sp: Marion BEATON
      Moved to Palo Alto, California

(2) Margaret McGilvray, b. 1849. Sp: Henry STURROCK
     Moved to Oregon; Madera Co., California

(3) William B.  McGilvray, b. 1852. Sp: Margaret WILSON
      Lived in Denver, Colorado

(4) Mary A. McGilvray, b. 1855. Sp: William THOMPSON
     Lived in Denver, Colorado

(5) James Scott McGilvray, b. 1854. sp: Annie WHITEHOUSE.  Lived in Denver, Colorado

(6) Jessie P. McGilvray, b. 1857. Sp: Thomas C. HAYES
      Lived in Denver, Colorado

(7) Alexander McGilvray. (1859-1861) Died in Scotland


(1) David Duff Seerie, b. 1862. Sp: Margaret A. PRICE

(2) Isabel Duff Seerie, b. 1863. Sp: John MILLER
      Stayed in Scotland

(3) Ann Seerie, b. 1865. Died before 1911

(4) Elizabeth Seerie, b. 1867. Sp: Robert FINDLAY
(5) Mary J. Seerie, b. 1869. Sp1: Joseph GOLD
                                               Sp 2: Charles HALL

(6) Jessie McGilvray Seerie, b. 1871. Sp: James KNOX

(7) Helen Imrie Seerie, b. 1873. Sp: William Edmonston RUSSELL

(8) Edward Seerie, b. 1876. Sp: Janet P. McNEIL

(9) John Duff Law Seerie, b. 1877. Sp: Fannie R. BARTON
     Divorced 1908

(10) Peter Seerie, b. 1880. Sp: Else O. HIMMELHEBER

(11) William Smith Seerie, b. 1882. Sp: Marie HIMMELHEBER


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