Bio-History of Merced

 A resident of Merced County for the last thirty-five years, and until the last few years an extensive grain rancher of the San Joaquin, J. J. McMaster has been prominent in the developing of this part of the Golden West; and during his residence here he has built up a reputation for honesty of purpose, and as an advocate of the creed of right living has had a very helpful and wholesome influence among his friends and associates in his adopted country.

 A native of Ontario, Canada, he was born on November 3, 1856, the fourth of eight children, and second of four sons, born to his worthy parents, Robert and Minerva (McGleason) McMaster, both natives of Ontario and now deceased. They were farmers in the Dominion, and young John J. grew up on the home farm, attending the public school and between study periods learning the duties of a farmer's son in the sixties, when soil cultivation was a quite different matter from what it is today, with all the modern machinery and farm appliances. When nine years old, he earned his first dollar, paid him by a wealthy stockman for the return of a strayed animal; and in those days a dollar looked mighty big to the lad. On reaching thirteen years, he started to work as a plow boy, working for a widow, Mrs. White, who paid him nine dollars a month and supplied him with an ox-team and plow; and so he started life in Canada, amid pioneer surroundings, working out on neighboring farms but remaining at the home fireside until he reached the age of twenty-four. That year he married and took on the responsibilities of a man of family, starting in the ranch business in Brighton Township, at a time when general prices were lower than at any previous time. Locating nine miles from Trenton, he made three trips to market weekly to dispose of his produce; and by the hardest kind of work, and early and late application, made a comfortable living for his growing family.

 In 1890, Mr. McMaster and his family arrived in Merced, Cal., with his entire reserve capital amounting to $312. A brother, C. W. McMaster, had preceded him to California and was located in Hornitos, owning and conducting a goat farm. The brothers started a joint business in general ranching, three miles from Hornitos, and also farmed the Chamberlain place in Merced County, two years, after which J. J. McMaster sold out his interests to his brother. In 1893 he started ranching on his own account as a grain-raiser on the Al Sylvester place near Hornitos, and five years later went to Cathey Valley and for five seasons farmed there, doing well each year. He then enlarged his equipment and stock, and entered grain-raising on an extensive scale, farming the Garibaldi ranch of 1800 acres for a period of five years; and while he had seasons when losses occurred, he always made up for it the next, and come out very successfully in the long run. He put in grain on the Wolfsen ranch, in Merced County, one year with excellent results, and rented the Earle ranch nine years steadily, making good, but only as a result of hard work and good management, the secret of all agricultural success. In the meantime Mr. McMaster had made investments in an alfalfa and dairy ranch at Le Grand, his present home place, fifteen acres on the edge of town. He continued in the grain business until after the World War, and sold out in 1919, after realizing on two of the fullest crops in his experience; he was at that time farming on a large scale near Valley Home, Stanislaus County.

Mr. McMaster is a stockholder in the Le Grand Bank, a shareholder in the Le Grand Mercantile Company. With the exception of two occasions, when he has been absent from California on visits to Ontario, he has remained in the Golden State since his first arrival on January 19, 1890. The marriage of Mr. McMaster, on December 24, 1880, at Smithfield, Brighton Township, Ontario, united him with Miss Fannie Bray, a native of Huron Township, that country, and daughter of a well-established family of Canadian farmers. Seven children have been born to them, as follows: Mrs. Martha Pate, of Le Grand, mother of seven children; Robert, of Merced, who has four children; Charles, deceased; Roy, of Merced, who has two children; Mrs. Stella Clendennin, of Le Grand, who has five children; Harry, of Plainsburg, ex-service man of the Ninety-first, A.E.F., serving over seas for nine months and in the United States for ten months; and Lily (a twin of Harry), living at home. Mr. McMaster received his United States citizenship papers in Merced, March 20, 1895, and he has always been active in local affairs. He is a Democrat in politics, and a worker for the cause of right in all matters. He has done jury service, and held the office of school trustee, among other public duties. As he says, his favorite hobby is right living; for he firmly believes that obedience to law and truth is a power for good in one's success, helping to bring out character, while at the same time requiring character, and that "stick-to-itiveness" is the greatest item in success.