Transcribed from "An Illustrated History of The Big Bend Country, embracing
Lincoln, Douglas, Adams and Franklin counties, State of Washington",
published by Western Historical Publishing Co., 1904.
JOHN McKAY resides about three
and one-half miles south of Lamona, in Lincoln county. He was born
in Duntroon, Canada, October 10, 1857. His father, John McKay, was
born in Scotland and came to Canada when a young man. He bought timber
land near Duntroon, cleared it up and, made a home, where he has resided
since. The mother of our subject, Mary (Grant) McKay, was born in
Ireland. When a girl, she came to Duntroon and there was married.
The parents became wealthy and prominent people of Duntroon. Our
subject was forced to travel five miles to attend public school and received
his education under great difficulties. At the age of eighteen, he
enlisted to assist in putting down the Riel Rebellion in Canada, and was
in the heat of the fight in the Winnepeg country and he still holds a gold
badge awarded him as the most successful marksman among the patriots.
In 1876, Mr. McKay came to California and was engaged as foreman of a large
ranch for one year. After that he spent two years sailing.
In 1880, he came to Medical Lake and bought one thousand and twenty-five
acres of land. He transformed the same into one of the choicest farms
in Spokane county. He built a creamery and did much other commendable
labor in the upbuilding of the country and was one of the prominent men
in that section until 1902, when he sold the farm. After that he
bought eighteen hundred and eighty acres where he now resides in Lincoln
county. It is an especially fine farm, every acre of the same being
fertile wheat land, and is considered one of the choicest places in the
Big Bend country. Six hundred and twenty acres of this estate are
under irrigation ditch. Mr. McKay has the place supplied with all
buildings and improvements necessary and gives his attention to overseeing
the same together with handling other
In 1879, Mr. McKay married Miss Jane, the
daughter of Charles and Matilda J. (Cunningham) Spicknell, prominent and
wealthy people of Oregon. They were born in Indiana and came to the
Webfoot state among the earlies pioneers. Mrs. McKay was born in
the state of Iowa. Her sister, Elizabeth, drove a four horse team
all the way from Salem, Oregon, to Medical Lake, Washington, in 1880.
To Mr. and Mrs. McKay, six children have been born, Fred, Charles, John,
Jennie, Frank and Estella. Mr. McKay has always been on the frontier.
He bought the first plow sold in the city of Spokane, inaugurated the first
creamery enterprise in the Medical Lake country and has always been one
of the leading and progressive men of his day. He started in this
country without capital and the wealth that he has amassed since is the
result of his wisdom and well passed labors. He is rated as one of
the wealthiest farmers in Lincoln county. During the early days Mr.
McKay was considerably interested in mining and was one of the first to
enter the Coeur d' Alene country. He has been in most all kinds of
frontier life and is personally acquainted with the hardships, suffering
and dangers incident thereto. The thrilling experience of his life
would make a very interesting book. He is a genuine and typical frontiersman,
being a man of large physical proportions, active, powerful and possessed
of fearless and undaunted courage and one can readily understand why he
has always been placed in the lead on the frontier. On many occasions,
he has been the one to oust bands of robbers, to meet and take criminals
and it has been said of Mr. McKay that he never went to bring a man without
securing him. He is a man of free and generous disposition and has
made and spent a fortune in addition to what he now owns. No enterprise
for the welfare of the community ever appeals to Mr. McKay in vain.
In fact he has always been one of the first to inaugurate improvements,
better schools and better roads and everything for the convenience and
upbuilding of the country. In addition to the other labors mentioned,
from 1880 on, for twenty years, Mr. McKay has operated threshing outfits
all over the Big Bend country. In all his experiences through his
entire career, Mr. McKay has maintained unsullied his character and manifested
an uprightness and integrity unswerving and uncompromising.