The McNary family

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The first Hugh McNary to live m America was born in Ulster, Ireland. After coming to this country, he married Janet Logan in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1751.

Then the family moved to North Carolina where their son, Hugh, served in the militia when he was only 15.

Seeking new land after the Revolutionary War, the family moved to Fayette, Kentucky, and lived there for 28 years before moving to Illinois. James and Alexander, sons of Hugh, became interested in tales of the mild climate and rich land of the Oregon country, and in 1843 decided to go to Missouri to prepare for the wagon train trip to the West Coast.

Alexander’s family went immediately and James followed with his wife and children m 1844. It was too late in the year to start out for Oregon and the following year they were told that they should wait at least until May so that there would be sufficient grass for the teams and stock. It was recommended that each family take 150 pounds of flour, 50 pounds of bacon, and other staples as they saw fit for the four or five months the journey would take. They were also to take livestock enough to provide 100-150 pounds of beef per person on the way.

Jumping the gun a bit, a 6O-wagon train left Missouri on April 29, 1845, and the McNarys went with it. The jomney was difficult; some days the travelers had nothing to eat. Twenty-five persons died and were buried along the way.

When they reached Oregon, the McNarys were among those who elected to take the Meek Cutoff over the mountains. The party suffered extreme hardship. It was someone in their wagon train who found some heavy, yellow pebbles while carrying water from Twelve-Mile Creek, and brought them back to camp in a blue bucket. When the pebbles were pounded they were found to be soft and malleable and guessed to be gold. Years later gold was found in that area and the mine was named the Blue Bucket Mine after the initial discovery.

The McNarys and their companions met the rest of their train at The Dalles. They had traveled 1817 miles in 161 days.

Hugh McNary with one of 7 daughters

The wagon train went on to the Willamette Valley. James filed a land claim on 645 acres at Oregon City; Alexander went on to Oak Grove in Polk County.

Both McNarys had sons named Hugh. Hugh, son of James and the former Elizabeth Sharp, was only 5-1/2 years old when the family left Morgan County, Illinois, for Oregon. He stayed on his father’s farm at Oregon City for ten years, then went to Linn County where he taught school for several years, later taking up a 160-acre claim near Scio. Hugh McNary married Mary Margaret Claggett of Keizer Bottom on December 21, 1854, and took his bride back to Linn County. The young couple settled their claim on January 26, 1855. In 1866 they sold their land and moved to Keizer with their five children who ranged in age from one to 7 years: Mary Elizabeth (Bruce) called Bess, was born in 1859; Martha (Savage), 1862; Sarah E. (Nina), 1860; Eliza, 1863; and Harriett, 1865. Hugh and Margaret purchased 112.39 acres from Margaret’s father, Charles Claggett. (Governor Os West states that Claggett gave the acreage to his son-in-law as a wedding present, but deed records indicate a $1,000 consideration in the transaction, which took place 12 years after the marriage.)

Five more children were born to the couple: John Hugh in 1868; Ella in 1871; James, who died in infancy, 1872; Charles Unza, 1874; and Julia, 1876.

Margaret McNary died in 1878. The oldest daughter, Bess, was married to Tom Bruce at that time, and Nina (Sarah Elizabeth) who was 18 then, took over rearing the younger children, besides teaching at the new one-room school which had been built at Keizer that year.

Hugh moved his family into Salem in order to obtain better schooling facilities for his children, but continued to operate the farm in Keizer until his death, July 18, 1883.

He had remarried, but had left no will. The widow, the former Julia Johnson, and the children sold their shares of the McNary to the Bruces, who continued to work it. In the estate there was also the house in town on a double lot, and three other lots in north Salem.

The Bruces sold about 101 acres to Alice and C.A. Harold in 1911, and the farm was purchased by the Raymond Jungwirths in 1944.

All the McNary children graduated from high school and attended universities. Charles attended Stanford University for two years. He and John became attorneys, practicing in Salem. John later became federal judge.

Charles was admitted to the Oregon Bar in 1898. He taught at Willamette University for two years and was Dean of the law school for four. In 1913 he was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court to fill an unexpired vacancy. At the end of the term he lost the election to that office by only one vote, but refused to ask for a recount.

Ella married Walter Stolz, whose father had a bottling plant in Salem and also a large farm at what is now Shoreline Drive and Chemawa Road North. The Stolzes had a daughter, Margaret, who married Willard Marshall, and a son, Richard McNary Stolz.

Charles married Jessie Breyman on November 19, 1902. Her father, Eugene Breyman, built a house for the young couple at 643 Court Street, next to his own.

The Charles McNarys and the Walter Stolzes had a strong attachment for the land in Keizer and acquired about 250 acres of grandfather Claggett’s land on which they raised wheat, oats, potatoes, and hops. For a number of years they leased part of it out, at one time to the Sun family. In later years, McNary bought out his brother-in-law’s interest.

Charles L. McNary by Henrique Medina (Oil on canvas, 1946)

After two temporary appointments to the U. S. Senate, McNary was elected Senator in 1917. He made annual summer visits to Salem and it was during his first return from Washington, D.C., that his wife died. She was killed in one of the first automobile accidents in the Salem area when the McNary car overturned on a curve near the Harritt home on Wallace Road.

In 1923, McNary married Cornelia Morton. She was the daughter of Major Bruce and Mary Morton of Washington. D.C., and was educated in Washington schools. The Senator and she met at a dinner party during World War I, and for a time she served as his secretary. The she went to Boston where she organized the Massachusetts League of Women Voters, returning later to Washington as an administrator of that organization.

McNary built a house on Fircone in 1926, supposedly on the site where his grandfather had built his first house of logs. However, Grandpa Claggett’s land claim was on the other side of River Road. He built a large home there which was later purchased by the Keefers, and it is very likely that the original cabin was nearby.

McNary’s house was a U-shaped western ranch style, with a living room the width of the house. The McNarys also developed a tennis court, putting green. picnic area on the creek, rose garden, arboretum with identification tags on all the trees, and a fishpond which McNary stocked with trout.

McNary and Cornelia adopted a baby girl and named her Charlotte. The first summer that they brought her to Fuoone, they also brought along a black mammy to look after the baby. When Charlotte was old enough to handle a boat, McNary dammed Claggett Creek so that she could paddle her canoe on it. She also had a pet dog, and a pony to ride.

In 1927, McNary had 110 acres in fruit and nut orchards. He pioneered in filberts, bringing trees from all parts of the world to Salem for trial.

He also brought to Keizer a very large, sweet prune from an old monastery near Paris. He commented that his 12-acre orchard at that time was the only planting of those prunes in the West.

He had registered the name of the pruneÑImperialÑand it brought the highest price of any prunes he raised. He gradually replaced his Italian prune orchard with walnuts, removing every other prune tree and replacing it with a nut tree until all the Italian prunes were gone.

He also had 15 acres of cherries.

The only livestock on the farm were 25 white Leghorn hens, purchased from a government farm at Beltsville, Maryland, for which he had paid the princely sum of $5 apiece. There was some local criticism because he had not pmchased local chickens.

Charlie McNary, as he was known to his colleagues and neighbors, was one of the organizers of the Salem Fruit Union, and served as president. He was president of the Salem Board of Trade from 1909 through 1911. Cornelia had been active in the National Farm and Garden Association and formed an Oregon branch when the McNarys were in Salem in 1936.

McNary had an outstanding record in the Congress. According to Senator White of Maine, he was involved in two principal fields of endeavor: agriculture, and hydro-electric development and associated irrigation and reclamation projects.

To that end he served on the Irrigation and Reclamation Committee for 13 consecutive sessions; the Agriculture and Forestry Committee for six sessions; Commerce for 13 Congresses, and 21 other committees for shorter terms.

In March 1933 he was elected minority leader of the Senate and served in that capacity until his death.

McNary was an outspoken advocate of public power, an isolationist and protectionist of American industry. He introduced a reforestation bill which had the merit of not antagonizing timbermen or lumbermen, while encouraging them to replant cut-over land. Many gave McNary credit for keeping the Republican party alive during the Franklin Roosevelt years.

In 1940 Senator McNary was nominated for vice president, to run with Wendell Willkie on the Republican ticket against Roosevelt and Wallace. The Republicans lost the election, but won more votes than expected.

1940 Willkie-McNary campaign button

It is interesting to note that both Willkie and McNary died in 1944. McNary died in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where he had gone to recuperate from an operation.

Willard Marshall took over the responsibility for the operation of Fircone and hired caretakers to run it. For about six years Mrs. McNary and Charlotte returned to the farm to spend their summers. When they stopped coming, the house was rented out by Marshall.

On April 23, 1954, Fircone was sold by Mrs. McNary and Willard Marshall to Mr. and Mrs. John Dean Schackman, who had been running the farm. In 1952 the Schackmans had purchased 16 acres adjoining the McNary property and built a large house on what is now McNary Heights.

They joined others and formed a corporation and made plans to develop a golf course. There was an effort to sell subscriptions for a private club, but that failed, and the decision was made to develop a public course. There were tentative plans to use the Schackman house, with its large patio and daylight basement as a club house.

In 1960, 77 acres of the adjoining Jungwirth property were optioned by the developers, who were Mr. and Mrs. John Slovar, Bert Stamps, Orpha Sills Miller, Jim Sills, Ven and Leal Savage, and Dean Schackman. William D. Miller was their attorney.

The course was laid out by Siovar and Savage of California, who also put in the irrigation. The McNary house, which had been remodeled and refurbished by the Schackmans, was used as an office and clubhouse until the present one was built immediately north of it, and the McNary home was torn down.

The musical, strong name of the pioneer family is a favorite in the Keizer area and is memorialized chiefly by the McNary High School, and McNary Golf Club on the former McNary farm.

Published June 9, 1981. Reprinted with permission of Ann Lossner from her book, “Looking Back – People and Places in the Early Keizer Area.” The book may be bought at the Keizer Heritage Museum, 980 Chemawa Road NE, Keizer.

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