California Genealogy and History Archives
The spot familiar to the childhood memories of Mr. McCandless is the north of Ireland, whose shores are washed by the storm-tossed waves of the ocean and whose people have had an adventurous history since their ancestors fled thither to escape the religious persecutions in Scotland. County Donegal is his native place, and May 8, 1863, the date of his birth. The family of which he is a member lived and labored in Ireland for many generations, and his father, John, Sr., remained in his native land throughout the entire period of his industrious existence. The mother likewise remained in the old country until depth. Primarily educated in the national schools, John, Jr., owes his education more to observation and self-culture than to the study of text-books. Upon leaving school he served an apprenticeship to the trade of a carpenter, and thus gained a thorough knowledge of the occupation which he now follows.
A period of service as a member of the police force of Ireland gave Mr. McCandless a direct personal knowledge of the brutal oppression of the poor. His sympathies were aroused in behalf of the struggling and poverty-stricken tenants who were made the helpless victims of the greed of the rich. Unable to endure a condition which he was powerless to change he determined to see a home elsewhere. At the age of twenty-six years he crossed the ocean to New York City, and thus began his association with the country of which he is now a patriotic citizen. For three years he worked at the carpenter’s trade in Paterson, N. J., and from there went back to New York City, where he enlisted in the Fifth Artillery for a period of five years. The course of his service brought him to California, and at Sacramento he aided in quelling the great railroad strike of 1894, during which four of his comrades were killed.
The marriage of Mr. McCandless was solemnized in California in 1895, and united him with Miss Mary McCandless, who was born in Ireland and came to this country with her parents. The family settled in California, where the mother has continued to reside since the death of her husband. John McCandless and wife have two children, namely; John Thomas, born in San Francisco in 1896 and now a student in the Occidental schools; and Annie Maria, born in San Francisco in 1897 and now a pupil in the schools of the home town. During the year 1898 Mr. McCandless enlisted in the service of the government as a soldier of the Spanish-American war. Ordered to the Philippines, he remained in active service for three years and six months and returned to the United States under the command of General Taft. On his return in 1901 he was honorably discharged from the army and immediately afterward removed with his family to Occidental, where ever since he has made his home, being employed during all of this time as a bridge carpenter on the railroad. Notwithstanding his long service in the army he was fortunate in escaping unscathed, his only serious injury occurring when he was stationed in the Philippines and resulting from the braking of a leg which prevented him from taking part in the activities of the troops for some time. Ever since becoming a citizen of the United States he has been stanch in his allegiance to the Republican party, and has voted the ticket in local and general elections. In his home village he is well known and highly respected as a man of honor, a capable workman and a loyal citizen to his adopted country.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011