Biography of George W. McNear
San Francisco, CA Biographies





GEORGE WASHINGTON McNEAR
Since the early '60s, the McNear family has been prominently connected with the commercial and corporation affairs of northern California, and a representative member of this well known family is George Washington McNear, who is engaged in shipping oil and grain, with his headquarters in the Federal Reserve Bank building in San Francisco.

Mr. McNear is a native son of San Francisco, his birth having occurred July 12, 1868, and he is a son of the late George Washington and Amanda (Church) McNear. The first of the name to come to America was John McNear, from the north of Scotland, who reached our shores in 1725, and first settled in what is now the state of Maine. He served in the Indian wars of the pre Revolutionary period, and took a helpful part in the various colonial activities of his time. George Washington McNear, Sr., born at Washington, Maine, March 27, 1837, was descended from a race of seagoing men, with the natural result that during his youth he was inspired with the vivid tales of ocean voyages and adventure in strange ports and lands. When he was fifteen years old he first went to sea himself, and made several voyages to foreign ports and along the coast. In the year 1854, he landed in New Orleans, and at the age of seventeen he took command of a schooner plying the waters of the Mississippi and of Lake Pontchartrain. In 1856, he became part owner and master of a steamboat which operated on the same waters, and this project he successfully managed until 1860, when he sold his interest in the vessel, having decided to come to California. He began his long journey from his parents' home in Maine, and traveled by way of the Isthmus of Panama route. He arrived in San Francisco, August 2, 1860, and shortly afterward joined his brother, John A., in Petaluma, California, with the result that a commission grain merchandise partnership was formed under the title of McNear & Brother. In March, 1861, a branch was opened in San Francisco, and in 1867 they sent their first ship load of wheat to Europe. Mr. McNear separated from his brother, John A., in 1874, and established the house of G. W. McNear, which became well known in every grain market of the world. In 1880, he concentrated his shipping facilities in Port Costa, building warehouses and docks where he could load ten deep water ships at once. In 1894, he acquired the flour mills and warehouses of Starr & Company, situated in Wheatport and in Vallejo, California, which were the largest on the Pacific coast. He then added the flour and milling business to his other interests. He likewise owned about twenty five warehouses in the interior portions of California, with a capacity of eight million bushels of grain. He was one of the organizers and president of the first electric street railway in Oakland, and was president of the First National Bank of the same city. He was married in 1859 to Amanda Maria Church, a daughter of the Rev. Albert Church of Bangor, Maine, who was a Methodist bishop. To their union were born four sons and two daughters, namely: Mary A., who is the wife of Philip E. Bowles of San Francisco; John A., of San Francisco; George Washington, immediate subject of this biography; Frederick W., of San Francisco; Seward B., of San Francisco; and Elizabeth, who is married to John P. Hutchins, and lives in Paris, France. George W. McNear, Sr., the father of the foregoing children, died December 28, 1909, and his wife passed away in 1917.

George W. McNear, son of the above described, finished his public school education in the high school in San Francisco, and in 1888, when twenty years old, took over his father's business in association with his brother, John A. He has carried the development of the business along in a manner worthy of the labors performed by his honored sire, and is now recognized widely as one of the foremost oil and grain shippers of the western coast. He is president of the Petroleum Products Company, and is also president of the Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association in San Francisco.

In Oakland, California, December 31, 1890, Mr. McNear was married to Miss Etta B. Tucker, a daughter of Dr. J. C. Tucker. Dr. Tucker was a pioneer of California, and his wife, in her maidenhood a Miss Havemeyer, was a descendant of a wealthy New York family. Mr. and Mrs. McNear have two daughters and one son, as follows: Ernestine, who is the wife of George Nickel, of San Francisco, and the mother of George, Jr., Sally, Mary, and Beverly; Mrs. Einnin Train, who is the mother of two sons; and George W. McNear (III), who married Louise Hellman, and is the father of Joan McNear. Mr. and Mrs. McNear make their home on their country estate in Diablo, California.

In politics, Mr. McNear has always been affiliated with the republican party, and is now serving as a trustee of the city of Piedmont, California. His church is the Episcopal, and he belongs to the Pacific Union, the Bohemian, the Claremont Country, and the Mount Diablo Country Clubs, also the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. His cooperation in local civic affairs, always assured, has been one of the most commendable features of his career, and betokens the sincere loyalty he has felt toward the community where he and his forbears have achieved success. He has won hosts of friends through his integrity in business dealings and through his democratic contact with his fellow citizens in social and club circles.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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