Charles L. McNary - Early Life

Early Life

McNary was born on his maternal grandfather's family farm north of Salem on June 12, 1874. He was the ninth of ten children, and the third son, born to Hugh Linza McNary and Margaret McNary (née Claggett). When the two married in 1860, Hugh McNary's father-in-law gave him a 112-acre (0.45 km2) farm in what is now the city of Keizer. Charles McNary's paternal grandfather, James McNary, immigrated to the Oregon Country from Kentucky in 1845, while his maternal grandfather and namesake, Charles Claggett, immigrated from Missouri in 1852.

McNary's father helped on the family farm, then taught school for a few years before returning to farming near Salem. When McNary's mother died in 1878, his father moved the family to Salem where he bought a general merchandise store after being unable to run the family farm because of declining health. Charles, known as Tot, began his education at a one-room school in Keizer and later attended Central School in Salem, living on North Commercial Street. Hugh McNary died in 1883, making Charlie an orphan at the age of nine.

Nina McNary became the head of the household, while other siblings took jobs in order to provide for the family. As a boy, Charles worked as a paperboy, in an orchard, and at other farming tasks. He met Herbert Hoover, a future U.S. president, who moved to Salem in 1888. He later worked in the county recorder's office for his brother John Hugh McNary, who had been elected as county recorder in 1890, and for a short time attended the Capital Business College. After leaving that school, he enrolled in college preparatory classes at Willamette University, with an eye towards attending Stanford University or the University of California. During this time he met Jessie Breyman, whom he began dating, at a social club he helped start. Another member of the club was Oswald West, a future governor of Oregon.

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