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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



Could the pioneers of the west have discerned the future greatness of the coast country they would have been overwhelmed by the comprehension of the vast changes in store for them and for their descendants. A few men of optimistic vision glimpsed the prosperity of the future and worked patiently with tbeir eyes fixed upon the goal, deeming no hardship too great, no obstacle too weighty and no task too laborious that would advance the common welfare. That the spirit of the honored pioneer, J. K. McKinstry, has been optimistic is abundantly proved by his long identification with Sacramento county. He arrived at Silver Lake on the 1st day of September, 1850, at the age of fifteen years, and soon afterward came to Sacramento county, where he has since labored in business undertakings of considerable importance. Upon his arrival he found a cosmopolitan population attracted hither by the discovery of gold. Few expected to remain in the west. The majority dreamed of finding a fortune in the mines and returning to their old homes with the fruits of their labors. To him, however, there came few visions of wealth. The mines did not fascinate him by their tempting opportunities. Instead, he chose the slow but sure path to success, that of ceaseless industry, unwavering perseverance and intelligent investments. The results testify as to the accuracy of bis judgment.

Born in Rochester, N. Y., February 9, 1835, J. K. McKinstry is a son of John and Jane (Kelso) McKinstry, natives of Ireland, but from early life residents of the new world. Tbe family removed to Chicago in 1837 and in 1840 settled among the pioneers of Galena, Ill., where the boy was sent to the public schools. At the age of fifteen years in 1850 he crossed the plains to California, crossing the Missouri river at St. Joseph May 4, and settled in Sacramento county, where he secured employment in the mines in Placer and Eldorado counties for four years, after which he became interested in ranching. Subsequently he secured a clerkshiis with the general mercantile firm of Whitaker & Ray in Gait, the ensiling eight years being spent as a salesman in their store. During 1872 he embarked in the livery business for himself and from that time to the present, a period of forty years, he has conducted the same concern, keeping on hand a general assortment of vehicles and teams for every use. In business he has been prompt, efficient and reliable, and the town has been benefited by his long residence therein.

The political views of Mr. McKinstry always have been in sym- pathy with the principles of the Republican party and he has voted that ticket at all elections. As a rule he has refused local offices, but he made an exception in favor of service as justice of the peace, which office he filled for eight years in Dry Creek township. As justice he proved to be efficient and capable, impartial and well-informed. His incumbency of the office was satisfactory to all concerned. In fraternal relations he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In his varied activities he has been benefited by the practical help and common sense of his wife, formerly Frances Armstrong, who possesses the sterling qualities inherited from a long line of British ancestors. Born in the city of Loudon, England, June 14, 1841, she came to the United States in 1856 aud shortly afterward landed in San Francisco. Since then she has continued to reside in Sacramento county. Her children, Clara, Elizabeth, Edgar, Charles and Thomas A., received the benefit of her devoted care, wise judgment and personal oversight during their early years, and each was thus wisely prepared for the responsibilities of life, while at the same time she gave generous assistance to charitable enterprises and was ever kind to the distressed or needy. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011