Sutter County










            WILLIAM McMURTRY, M. D.  The progenitor of the McMurtry family was Joseph McMurtry, a native of Wales, who came to the United States and settled in Philadelphia in 1734.  One of his descendants went to Kentucky with Daniel Boone in 1778, was captured by the Indians and held prisoner several months.  John McMurtry, the father of William McMurtry, M. D., settled in Mercer county, Ky., and it was there that his son William was born.  Having graduated as a physician, he practiced medicine for several years, amassing what was then considered quite a fortune.  Later he gave up his practice and purchased a farm ten miles from Elizabethtown, Ky., and there built a sawmill and a race track, besides raising fine horses.  The venture, however, did not prove successful and he gave it up to resume the practice of his profession near Louisville.  Misfortune still followed him, for his health became impaired by malaria, and the people among whom he had settled were poor and unable to pay their bills, so in 1849 he determined to try his fortune in the gold fields of California, to which people were flocking from all over America.

            Purchasing an ox team in Kentucky, Dr. McMurtry and his son John went to St. Joseph, Mo., from which place they took the Lawson route to California.  At Lawson’s ranch the oxen mired in the mud, due to the heavy rains, and the weather and roads were in such bad condition that they determined to remain at Lawson’s ranch for the winter.  They erected a cabin about ten miles below the mouth of Deer creek, a dozen miles from any white settlement, but the Indians were very numerous there at the time.  Dr. McMurtry occupied his time during the winter months by making clapboards, and in the spring built a log raft on which he started to Sacramento, but the raft was wrecked and lost.  Finally reaching Long’s Bar he worked for a time in a restaurant, and while there purchased cattle from poor emigrants coming west across the plains, and after fattening them sold them at good prices.  Having accumulated a little money he returned to Kentucky for his family, and upon coming to California with them located in Sutter county, near where the little village of Pennington now stands, north of the Buttes, and there in addition to the practice of his profession he also raised sheep.  He owned about two thousand acres of land, some of which he rented to others for farming purposes.  Dr. McMurtry’s marriage united him with Sarah M. Van Anglen, a native of New Jersey, and five children came to bless their union.  In 1889 Dr. McMurtry removed with his family to Oakland, where he lived retired from the cares and worries of business until his death, passing away March 6, 1892.




Transcribed by Doralisa Palomares.

Source: “History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the Sacramento Valley, California” by J. M. Guinn.  Pages 599. Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago 1906.

© 2017  Doralisa Palomares.








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