Author: John Outcalt (1925)


A descendant of an ancient and honored Irish family, and a pioneer grain rancher of Merced County, William J. McCorry is the owner of a ranch comprising
1,258 acres, five miles northeast of Planada. which represents a lifetime of honest and hard work; for he came to this country a poor boy, and with his own
way to make in the world. Born in County Antrim, Ireland, on March 17, 1853, he is the only surviving member of the family born to his parents, Patrick and
Marie (Crossey) McCorry. The McCorry family have records showing their occupancy of the same home in Ireland for 420 years, up to the time William J. left home, in 1872.

Reared and educated in his native land, at the age of eighteen his youthful ambition led him to seek to better his condition by coming to the new world. He
was nine days en route to New York on the S. S. City of Paris; and from there he made his way to Buffalo, and then on up the lakes to Marquette, Mich., where he worked two and one-half years in the iron foundries, at $2.25 a day for ten hours' work. In 1875 he came west to California, first locating in Knoxville, Napa County, working as a wage-earner in the quicksilver mines.

Twelve months later, in 1876, Mr. McCorry arrived at the Huffman ranch, in Merced County, and worked the first season in haying and harvesting. He preferred the rural life, and put in the dry seasons of 1877-1879 at Stony Creek, Colusa County, in the Sacramento Valley, and also spent a short time in Butte County. As an example of the obstacles to be overcome in those days, Mr. McCorry planted grain in 1877, but the weather continued so dry that the grain did not come up until the winter of 1878-1879. With the exception of these seasons, he has resided in Merced County ever since his first arrival here. From 1876 until 1881, he continued to work out on the farms southeast of Merced. The following year, in company with Dan Reilly, he started grain-farming, and for four seasons had splendid success. In 1885 he bought 200 acres of the Reilly lands, and by a number of subsequent purchases increased his acreage up to 1,280 acres. In 1919 he donated to the county a portion of the north edge of his ranch, for the Yosemite Boulevard, but retains 1,258 acres of it still.

As a pioneer Mr. McCorry introduced modern ways and methods of ranching and thus set an example which has been followed by others; and as a man, he set an example for honesty and integrity which has been a strong factor for good in his community. By all who know him he is called one of the finest and squarest of men. His reminiscences of early days are most interesting and show the sturdy character of the man. He says, "I sold barley for four bits a hundred, and wheat at seventy-nine cents, but in some way managed to pay my debts at those prices, though it took some figuring!" He states that "usually the ranchers lived well, having plenty on the table, and as a general thing enjoyed life." This is particularly true of Mr. McCorry, for his family have staid on the home place to a large extent, carrying on the work so well started by their sire. His sons are enterprising men and have loyally taken up the operation of the ranch,cultivating 2,000 acres to grain.

The marriage of Mr. McCorry, which occurred on February 5, 1884, united him with Mary O'Dea, a native of County Claire, Ireland, who came to California
about 1881. They were blessed with eleven children, nine of whom have grown to maturity: John J., of Planada; Marie, at home; Hugh; William F.; Margaret, of San Francisco; Elizabeth, now Mrs. W. J. Angelich of Fresno; James, of Planada; Anne, of Fresno; and Daniel, with the Central National Bank of Oakland; and a son of Mrs. McCorry's twin sister, Frank, has been reared from babyhood at their own son.

Mr. McCorry is a stockholder in the Merced Security Savings Bank. For twenty years he has served as a trustee for the Cunningham school district; and he has also served many times on election boards. He has always taken an active interest in furthering the best interests of the county, and in all his development work has had that end in view. Fraternally, he is a member of Merced Lodge No. 1240, B. P. O. E., as are also his sons John J. and William F.

Biographical Review
The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been
Identified with Its Growth and Development
from the Early Days to the Present



File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher February 8, 2006, 11:19 pm