Sacramento County







HON. J. H. McKUNE.  Remembered as one of the oldest and most eminent members of the bar of Sacramento county, Hon. J. H. McKune, who died March 23, 1905, is named among the representative citizens of this section of the state of California.  He was a native of New York state, his birth having occurred in Sullivan county March 23, 1819.  Becoming a resident of Pennsylvania, he read law in the office of Bently & Richards at Montrose, Susquehanna county, from 1839 to 1844, at the close of that period being admitted to the bar at that place.  He remained a citizen of Montrose for the ensuing four years, engaged in the practice of his profession, when he removed to Illinois and resumed practice in Lee Center, Lee county.

The following year he came overland to California, on the 7th of May leaving Independence, Mo., and on the 1st of September crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains at a point near where the present railroad crosses.  Like the great majority of those who sought the state at that time, his first employment was in gold mining at Nevada City, in which occupation he remained for a short time.  He hunted deer in the fall of 1849, and in January of the following year came to Sacramento, where he resided until his death, with the exception of two years spent in San Francisco.  At the election April 5, 1850, he was chosen county attorney and held the office for two years.  Following this he was appointed law agent for the United States land commission, which office he held for a like period, being the only agent appointed in California.  At the general election of 1856 he was elected on the Democratic ticket to the legislature, and during the session of 1857 he took a prominent part, acting as chairman of the committee appointed to conduct the impeachment of State Treasurer Bates.  At the regular election of 1858 he was elected district judge of the sixth judicial district, a candidate of the Douglas Democrats, and five years later was elected to the same office on the Republican ticket.  He held the office until the 31st of December 1869.  In company with John C. Burch and Creed Haymond, he was appointed by Governor Booth as code commissioner to compile the statutes that were ratified by the legislature in 1871-72.  It is said that Judge McKune was connected with more celebrated law suits than any other attorney in Sacramento county; while he also compiled all of the ordinances of the city of Sacramento (except a few touching franchises) into one ordinance numbered 17, and that number is still preserved among the ordinances of the city.

February 26, 1855, Judge McKune was united in marriage with Mary G. Bennett, of San Francisco, and they became the parents of two children:  Florence A. and Charles Ralph, the latter of whom died in June, 1889, at the age of thirty-one years.  Fraternally he was a Mason and an Odd Fellow, and took a great interest in the Grange from its organization.  He was always an indefatigable worker, and only retired from practice two years prior to his death.  He was a member of the Society of California Pioneers and of the Sacramento Society. 



Transcribed by Kathy Porter.

Source: “History of the State of California and Biographical Record of the Sacramento Valley, California  by J. M. Guinn.  Page 364. Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago 1906.

© 2007 Kathy Porter.




Sacramento County Biographies