John Hugh McNary

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John Hugh McNary
John Hugh McNary 1910.jpg
McNary in 1910
Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon
In office
February 28, 1927 – October 25, 1936
Nominated byCalvin Coolidge
Preceded byCharles E. Wolverton
Succeeded byClaude Charles McColloch
Personal details
BornJanuary 31, 1867
Salem, Oregon Oregon
DiedOctober 25, 1936(1936-10-25) (aged 69)
Portland, Oregon
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Esther Hall

John Hugh McNary (January 31, 1867 – October 25, 1936) was an American attorney and jurist in the state of Oregon. He served as the federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland. A native of Oregon, he also served as a district attorney and as an assistant district attorney in Salem, Oregon. His brother Charles would serve as a United States Senator.

Early life[edit]

John McNary was born on January 31, 1867, on a farm in Marion County, Oregon to Hugh Linza McNary and Margaret Claggett McNary.[1][2]

The McNary family farm was north of Salem, where John’s parents would raise ten children.[2] John’s grandfather was James McNary who immigrated to Oregon Country from Kentucky in 1845, while his maternal grandfather immigrated from Missouri in 1852.[2] His father Hugh was a former brickyard operator and school teacher.[2] His mother died in 1878; his father died in 1883.[2]

John Hugh was educated in the local public schools in Marion County before attending Willamette University.[3]

John received his college education at the University of Oregon in Eugene. In 1890, he was elected as the recorder for Marion County.[3] After college he read law under the guidance of George H. Burnett, and passed the state bar in June 1894 and federal bar on July 17, 1901.[1][3] On January 29, 1893, he married Esther Hall.[3] A Republican, he also served as president of the county's bar association.[3]

Legal career[edit]

Beginning in 1897 John taught the law to his younger brother Charles L. McNary in Salem.[2] Charles passed the bar in 1898 and joined his brother in practicing law in Salem.[2] John was in private practice from 1898 until 1913.[1] During this time, he served as deputy district attorney for Marion County between 1898 and 1904, and in 1905 became the district attorney for Oregon’s third judicial district.[1] While in office he helped to prosecute some of those involved in the Oregon land fraud scandal.[4] When John was the district attorney, his brother worked under him as an assistant district attorney.[2] In 1912, he taught at the Willamette University College of Law as a professor of corporations under his brother who was the dean.[5]

On February 26, 1927, United States President Calvin Coolidge nominated John to serve on the United States District Court for the District of Oregon in Portland.[1] Confirmed by the United States Senate on February 28, he replaced Charles E. Wolverton who had died the previous year.[1] McNary served on the federal court from February 28 until his death in Portland on October 25, 1936.[1] He was buried at the Salem Pioneer Cemetery, with his funeral attended by others in the legal community including E. M. Page, James Alger Fee, James U. Campbell, John O. Bailey, Harry H. Belt, John L. Rand, George Rossman, Percy R. Kelly, and Henry J. Bean.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Judges of the United States: John Hugh McNary Archived 2007-09-19 at the Wayback Machine., Federal Judicial Center; accessed September 5, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Oregon Biographical Dictionary. St. Clair Shores, MI: Somerset Publishers, Inc. 1999. pp. 130–34. ISBN 0-403-09841-6.
  3. ^ a b c d e Colmer, Montagu, and Charles Erskine Scott Wood. History of the Bench and Bar of Oregon. Portland, Or: Historical Pub. Co, 1910. pp. 180–81.
  4. ^ Puter, Stephen A. Douglas, and Horace Stevens. Looters of the Public Domain, Embracing a Complete Exposure of the Fraudulent System of Acquiring Titles to the Public Lands of the United States. Portland, Ore: Portland Printing House, 1908.
  5. ^ The Wallulah, Volume 3. Salem, Or.: Associated Students of Willamette University, 1912.
  6. ^ John Hugh McNary, Salem Pioneer Cemetery. Retrieved September 5, 2007.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Charles E. Wolverton
Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
February 28, 1927 – October 25, 1936
Succeeded by
Claude C. McColloch