Colusa County









            A native of Kentucky Mr. McNary’s birth occurred in Muhlenberg County, on the 6th of January, 1850.  His father, Hon. William C. McNary, was born in Fayette County, that state, in September, 1801, and was a farmer by occupation.  Removing with his parents to Muhlenberg County in 1811, he there spent the rest of his life, his death occurring September 19, 1875, when his age was seventy-four years.  He was an old-line Whig in politics and took a very active part in advocating the issues of the day in which he believed.  For a number of years he served as a member of the state legislature and was a recognized leader in matters of public moment.  His parents, Mr. and Mrs. William McNary, were among the pioneer settlers of Kentucky, and for many years the name was inseparably interwoven with the history of that state.  The mother of our subject was in her maidenhood Miss Nancy B. Wilkins.  She was born in Todd County in 1811.  In October, 1891, she came to San Jose, California, where she died in April, 1895, at the age of eighty-four years.  Of their four children, the following are living:  James; Dr. W. T. McNary, of San Jose, California; and Jennie, the widow of Dr. T. H. Moore, of Earlington, Kentucky.

            James D. McNary spent his childhood days upon the old home farm, continuing there until twenty-six years of age.  He pursued his education in the district schools and in Greenville.  Twice during his youth his father removed to Greenville, but afterward returned to the farm, so that his surroundings in his minority were mostly of a rural character.  It is a noticeable fact that the majority of the leading men of our community have spent their early lives upon farms.  At the age of twenty-six, however, Mr. McNary left the parental roof and went to Evansville, Indiana, where he took a course in a commercial college.  He afterward returned home to settle up his father’s estate, and on the 27th of October, 1877 arrived on the Pacific coast, and a few days later took up his abode in Colusa.  He first engaged in the hotel business as a clerk, and later was an agent for the Sacramento Transportation Company, continuing with this organization for a year.  Subsequently he spent some years in grain dealing, and then became agent for a number of insurance companies, which he represented until 1887.  In the meantime he became connected with the furniture and undertaking business in Colusa, but in 1894 he disposed of his furniture, continuing the undertaking, and has since carried on operations along that line.  In 1898 he was elected coroner and public administrator, receiving a majority of two hundred and seventeen in a Democratic county.  He is not only a staunch Republican, but is an advocate for temperance principles, and did not use a single dollar in the saloons in order to win the favor and the votes of men who could be bought in that way.

            On the 15th of November, 1883, Mr. McNary was united in marriage to Miss Retta Deter, who was born in Yolo County, California, August 21, 1859, and they now have five children, namely:  Miriam, William Campbell, Verda, Rhea, John Deter and Annie Christine.  Both Mr. and Mrs. McNary are consistent and faithful members of the Methodist church take an active part in its work and for the past six years the former has served as a Sunday school superintendent.  Mrs. McNary is a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.  Mr. McNary has always abstained from the use of all intoxicants.  By precept and example he has advocated temperance principles, and he often speaks upon the question.  Though not pretending to be an orator, if called upon he can discuss his subject fluently, logically and in an entertaining manner.  Socially he is connected with the Masonic fraternity, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Independent Order of Foresters and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and is active in all those bodies.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 300-301. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.


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