Charles L. McNary Biography
Conspicuous on the roll of those who have been honored by the state of Oregon stands the Hon. Charles L. McNary, who for years has ably represented this state in the United States Senate. He was born on the 12th of June, 1874, where he now resides near Salem, and is a son of Hugh L. and Margaret (Claggett) McNary. His paternal grandfather, James McNary, came from Tennessee to Oregon in 1845 and took a donation claim near Portland. Later he came to Marion county and settled on the Claggett donation claim, where he spent his remaining years. Hugh L McNary, who was born in Tennessee, accompanied his father to Oregon when he was about seven years of age, and was here reared and educated. He married Margaret Claggett, a native of this state and a daughter of Charles Claggett, who crossed the plains with ox teams in 1852 and took up a donation claim, a part of which is now owned by Senator McNary. Here the father devoted his life to farming and also took an active part in local public affairs. To him and his wife were born ten children, as follows: Elizabeth, now the wife of H. T. Bruce, of New Rochelle, New York; Nina, who lives in Salem, Oregon; .Martha, Eliza and Hattie, who died of diptheria in childhood; John H., judge of the Federal Court in Portland; Elle., the wife of W. T. Stolz of Salem and the mother of two children; James; Charles L., and Julia.
Charles L. McNary secured his early education in the Keiser district school and the public schools of Salem. He then entered Leland Stanford University, where he majored in economics and law. On taking the bar examination, he was admitted to the practice of law and located in Salem, where he formed a law partnership with his brother John H. He was Dean of Willamette College of Law 1908-13. His ability and industry soon gained for him distinctive recognition and he was successfully engaged in the practice until 1913, when he was appointed a member of the supreme court of Oregon. In that position he rendered conspicuous service until 1915. In 1916 he was selected chairman of the republican state central committee; a year later was appointed United States Senator by Governor Withycombe to fill the unexpired term of Senator Harry Lane, deceased. His term of office expired at the general election November 5, 1918, and on December 17, 1918, he was appointed by Governor Withycombe to fill the vacancy caused by resignation of Hon. F. W. Mulkey, who had been elected to fill the short term ending March 3, 1919. He was elected November 5, 1818, for a six year term beginning March 4, 1819 and has been reelected successively ever since. He was chairman of the committee on agriculture and forestry and was ranking member of the committees on commerce, reclamation and irrigation, Indian affairs, manufactures and commerce, and the committee on committees of the senate. He has been a particularly effective advocate of measures for the benefit of the farmer and is regarded as one of the ablest members of the honorable body in which he serves.
Mr. McNary's home farm comprises two hundred acres of splendid land, a large part of which is devoted to the raising of prunes, cherries, walnuts and filberts, in the production of which he has been very successful. He has made substantial improvements on the place and has a very comfortable and attractive home.
Mr. McNary has been married twice, first, in 1904, to Miss Jessie Breyman, who was born and reared in Salem, and who was killed in an automobile accident July 3, 1918. She was a daughter of Eugene and Margaret (Skaife) Breyman, the former of whom came to the Willamette valley in the '60s and was here engaged in mercantile business. In 1923 Mr. McNary was united in marriage to Miss Cornelia Morton, who was born and reared in Washington, D. C., a daughter of Major Bruce and Woodburn (Greeley) Morton, the latter a relative of Horace Greeley. Major Morton served us aide to General Nelson Miles while the latter was chief of staff of the United States army. Mr. McNary is a Mason and a member of the Elks Lodge I. O. O. F., having passed through all the chairs in the last two named.
As a republican he has always taken an active part in politics and was prominently mentioned as a running mate of the presidential nominee, and in 1940, he was nominated as vice-president and Wendell L. Wilke as President, but they were not elected.
Senator McNary died February 25, 1944.
Arthur F. Benson's Original Biography Document