Biography of Hon. Robert McGarvey
Ukiah Township, Mendocino County, CA Biographies





Hon. Robert McGarvey. It is with the greatest of pleasure that we present to the readers of the History of Mendocino county a biographical sketch and a portrait of the present Superior Judge of the county, Honorable Robert McGarvey. Judge McGarvey was born at Cincinnati, Ohio, March 1, 1825. His father, William McGarvey, was a native of Ireland, but his innate energy caused him to early leave his native country, and seek for a home, and he hoped, a competence, in the broad and fertile domain of the United States. He was a man of liberal education, which served him in good stead in his new home. That he was enterprising and determined to make a home for himself and family was evinced by the fact of his pushing into the wilds of the West, as only men of nerve and energy braved the toils and privations of pioneering at that time in the history of the nation. In 1830 we find him superintending a lead mine in Galena, Illinois, at which place and time he fell ill and was called from the scenes and cares of mortal life to work in the broader and nobler fields of the Lord's vineyard on high, leaving his wife, and young Robert, then only five years of age, to do battle for themselves "in the bivouac of life." During the year 1830 his mother accompanied her father to Dearborn county, Indiana, taking with her young Robert. The family was not blessed with an abundance of this world's goods, and poverty at that time meant privation, struggling, and too often want; but young Robert soon began to evince a spirit that showed that he would overcome obstacles, no matter how great they were. By the work of his own hands he earned enough to keep him in the best schools of that section, and at the remarkably early age of twenty we find him a Professor of Mathematics in the Seminary at Lawrenceburg, Indiana. About this time he wisely decided to adopt the profession of Law, and with that object in view entered the office of William S. Holman, a very highly respected citizen of that place, and one who had served the people, for a number of years, as Congressman from the third district of Indiana In the midst of his studies as a law student the shrill notes of the bugle of war were sounded over the nation calling upon the brave and true men to come to the succor of their distraught land, and Robert McGarvey's name was soon enrolled among the country's defenders, and with books, hopes and ambitions all left behind he was marching away to the fields of carnage on the bloody plains of Mexico. He served during the war, and was present at several engagements. At Buena Vista he received two wounds, neither of which, fortunately, proved fatal. After receiving an honorable discharge he returned to Indiana, and immediately reentered the law office, and remained there till the wonderful report of the gold that was to be had for the picking up in California, reached his section of the country. Early in 1849 a company was formed at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, for the purpose of going to the land of gold, and he enrolled himself among their numbers, and on the first day of April, of that year, they set their faces westward. They "came the plains across," which was then a very dangerous as well as tedious route, and arrived at the Feather river about October 1st, being about seven months on the journey. What a change since then! The journey which then required seven months by ox teams, is now made in as many days in palace cars. Verily, this is the nineteenth century, the age of progress: He remained on the Feather river, engaged in mining with pick and shovel for about two months, and although successful, still he hoped to "strike it richer" elsewhere, hence at the end of that time he set out for Tuolumne county, where he engaged in mining for a season. He then carried on the business of freighting for a while, and finally embarked in merchandising, until 1853. For a number of years we have lost sight of the mother, but the boy - for boy he was to her - had not forgotten her, and during this year, 1853, he made a special trip to the State of Iowa to bring her to California, that he might have her near him in her declining days, for he had now fully resolved to make California his permanent home. On his return trip he brought over a large band of cattle, which he disposed of to good advantage. On Ms return to the State in 1854 he located in Stanislaus county. Here his natural abilities and merit soon received a substantial recognition, for he was elected County Clerk. At the next election the people promoted him, and conferred the honorable position of County Judge upon him He, however, only served about one half of his term of office, when he resigned, in 1861, and came to Ukiah, Mendocino county, where he has since resided. He at once entered actively into the practice of his profession as a lawyer and probably no man in the county has been more successful. Since he has resided in the county he has been honored with the offices of District Attorney, County Judge, Member of the Legislature as Member of the Legislature he served two sessions in the Senate, during the last was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, which is the most responsible position in that body and is at present Superior Judge of the county, all of which stations he has filled with a degree of ability not to be excelled. He was united in marriage with Charlotte Lenora Davis, a native of Indiana, in Stanislaus county, California, on the 28th day of December, 1854; and the issue of said marriage has been six children, four girls: Belle, Mollie, Sallie and Vic; and two boys: Stephen S. and Robert, all of whom are living with their parents in their comfortable home in Ukiah.

From:
History of Mendocino County, California
Alley, Bowen & Co., Publishers
San Francisco, California 1880


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