Footprints: McVay held office for 40 years


James Andrew Jackson McVay was born in 1834 in Indiana. In 1850 at the age of 16 he joined a wagon train and came west with his wife and child. On the long trip west, his wife and child both died of the fever. When he arrived in Del Norte County, he settled in Smith River. He acquired land and established his ranch.

In 1858, James A. J. McVay married Lucinda Bledsoe, the daughter of Anthony Jennings Bledsoe Sr. and the sister of Anthony J. Bledsoe Jr., the noted Del Norte County historian.

James and Lucinda had four children, two sons, Nathaniel Green and Asa, and two daughters Ella and Lillian.The children were raised on the ranch and didn't receive very much formal education.

In 1880, at the age of 15, Nathaniel left home to work on a ranch in Humboldt County, near Ferndale. He remained there for nearly a year, during which time he learned the carpentry trade and became very proficient at it.


Next, Nathaniel went to work in the logging camps. His first job was pulling rigging. He was a hard worker and rapidly advanced to higher positions with more re-sponsibility. Then he suffered a serious accident and couldn't work in the logging camps any longer. Nathaniel had to return to Crescent City.

For the next four years, Nathaniel worked in Crescent City as a clerk and bookkeeper. He became very proficient at bookkeeping and knowledgeable of the total operation of a business. He felt competent to have his own business, so he purchased a general merchandise store at Smith River in partnership with C. F. Goodrich.

Nathaniel conducted the business for 18 months and the store was very successful. Nathaniel became bored with the business so he sold his share of the business to his partner.

Nathaniel married Lucile Bolt in December 1890. Then Nathaniel went back to his real love, carpentry. He worked for the next four years in Smith River and Wedderburn, Ore. There he had complete control of the contracts he worked on.

Nathaniel then spent five months in Seattle where he worked at constructing railroad bridges in the construction yards of the Northern Pacific Railway. He returned to Crescent City to accept a position with the Crescent City Mill and Transportation Company. After driving a team for a year he was put in charge of their extensive transportation yards, a position which he filled for two and a half years.


In 1902 Nathaniel McVay was nominated on the Democratic ticket for the office of auditor and recorder of Del Norte County. Nathaniel was elected and took over the office in January 1903. He was repeatedly re-elected auditor and recorder and held the position for 40 years.

Nathaniel Green McVay died on March 20, 1942. He was still in office at the time of his death.

Reach David Gray, a Del Norte Historical Society volunteer, at .

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