††††††††††† One of the self-made and highly esteemed pioneer settlers of Colusa county, Cal., was Joseph McVay, who rose from a subordinate position to that of a prosperous and much respected land owner.† At the present writing his property is rented to his son, and his widow makes her home in San Francisco.† Born in Franklin county, Tenn., December 12, 1828, he was the son of Joseph McVay, Sr., whose property extended both in Tennessee and Alabama.† In 1838 his parents located in Missouri, where they died.† Joseph McVay remained in Missouri working as a farm hand until 1848, when he went to Illinois and earned money to come to California by chopping wood in Jersey county until November, 1849.† He then returned to Missouri, and in May, 1850, started for this state in company with his two brothers, Thomas Clinton and John R., crossing the plains with ox-teams.† Upon his arrival he engaged in mining, first near Nevada City, and in 1851 moved further north, where he mined during the summer.† Returning to the vicinity of Grass Valley in the winter, he became engaged in mining there until the spring of 1852, when he removed to the American river mining districts, returning to Grass Valley again in the fall.† In 1851 he had entered into partnership with the late Henry Nelson, and two years later in company with him went to New Orleans by way of the Isthmus of Panama and up the Mississippi river to St. Louis.† From that point he rode horseback two hundred miles to visit his old home.
††††††††††† With his partner, in 1854 Mr. McVay purchased a large band of cattle and brought them across the plains to this state.† Upon their arrival they settled on land in Colusa county, near Princeton, and when the land came into the market purchased it and devoted it to stock-raising until 1871, when they moved their cattle north into Modoc county, purchasing thirteen hundred acres of fine meadow land.† Four years later the partnership was dissolved, Mr. McVay taking as his share the land owned by his heirs, also retaining the property in Modoc county.† Later a company was formed for the purpose of satisfactorily conducting the extensive property in Modoc county, under the title of the Modoc Stock and Land Company.† Mr. McVay was one of the original stockholders in the company and was a director until 1901, when he sold his interests and practically retired from business life, making his home in San Francisco until his death.† During active life he was successful both in stock-raising and farming.† His property was well improved by his own efforts, and the buildings are substantial and commodious.
††††††††††† In April, 1872, Mr. McVay married Ella Nelson, a niece of his former partner.† She was born near Richmond, Va., and was brought to California in the fall of 1860 by her parents.† Her father, John Nelson, dying enroute, was buried at sea in sight of San Francisco, while her mother survived until 1893.† Mr. and Mrs. McVay became the parents of three children, viz:† Virgie Nelson, wife of J. G. Donaldson, a druggist of San Francisco, and the mother of one child, Richard Nelson; William Nelson, who married Grace Rawlins in September, 1904, and now resides on the old Nelson ranch (property his mother and a sister inherited from the late H. C. Nelson, he buying the sisterís interest); and Irwin Nelson, who rents and lives on the old home farm of his father.† In 1902 the latter married Dolly Rawlins, a sister of his brotherís wife.† Mrs. McVay is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of Marvin Chapel, to which her husband also belonged.† Politically Mr. McVay adhered to Democratic principles, and supported that partyís men and measures by his ballot.† In all matters brought before the people of the county for the advancement of its agricultural prosperity, Mr. McVay was always found a leader, was a liberal contributor toward religious and educational institutions, and in all things was a public spirited citizen. He died November 27, 1905, at his home in San Francisco, and is buried in Marvin Chapel Cemetery, Colusa county.
≠≠≠≠Source: "History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the Sacramento Valley, Cal.," J. M. Guinn, Pages 477-478.† The Chapman Publishing Company, Chicago, 1906.
© 2017 †Joyce Rugeroni.