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To DOCHS 4/03

Alexander Vance McCarty
Pioneer Northwest Gospel Preacher
By Charles Dailey - Revision 3, 2003

Alexander Vance McCarty at a Glance:
Born: Boone Co., Missouri in 1825
Married: Jane Bounds in 1846
Emigrated:To Oregon in 1847.
Settled 1st: North of Buena Vista
1858 Salem, Oregon
1859 Moved to California's San Joaquin Valley
1864 Vacaville, California
1865 Returned from California.
1866 Corvallis, Oregon.
Died: In Vacaville, CA at about 43 years.
Buried: Vacaville-Elmira Cemetery, California

Alexander Vance McCarty and Jane, his wife of one year, made the overland trek in 1847 from Missouri. They had been enticed to come to Oregon by several events. Jane's parents had come west the year before, although her mother had died near Oakland, Oregon before reaching the Willamette Valley. Also a group of Christian leaders that had arrived earlier took up a special collection for the express purpose of getting A. V. McCarty to use his preaching talents in Oregon.

Historian storyteller Jerry Rushford tells of an event on the trail:

River crossings were always dangerous, and the McCarty wagon train experienced this first hand when they attempted to cross the Platte River. A. V. McCarty's wagon floated away during the crossing, taking his wife and infant daughter with it. Disaster was averted when "friendly Indians" swam to catch the wagon and tore a hole in the wagon-top. They rescued Jane and "resuscitated the drowning baby girl." This precious little girl, the first grandchild in both the McCarty and Bounds families, undoubtedly received special care that evening around the campfire.
-- Jerry Rushford in Christians on the Oregon Trail, 2nd edition, page 83.

Stephenie Flora lists Alexander Vance McCarty among the pioneers of 1847.

mccartyalex.jpg - 4384 Bytes
A. V. McCarty
Soon after arriving in Polk County, Alex and Jane settled on rich farmland about two miles north of Buena Vista in Polk County. Their property probably adjoined the present Buena Vista Cemetery on the north. It also joined the property of John Bird Bounds on the west. His daughter Jane was married to A. V. McCarty and his daughter Amanda was married to Edwin W. McCarty. Like all of the preachers of the time, A. V. McCarty was a farmer-preacher.

On one ancient land document signed at the Oregon City Donation Land Claim Office, were the signatures of both A. V. McCarty and fellow-Missourian John Burris Smith , the subject of another of these biographical profiles. McCarty, Smith, John Bird Bounds and a number of the Polk County McCarty relatives must have ridden to the Land Office together, as their signatures are on DLC documents beginning with number 1190 and ending with 1206.

There is a profile of J. B. Smith on this link.

The McCartys had a family of seven boys and seven girls. Part of them are listed in the family chart below.

An emigrant arrived from the Ukraine and worked on the McCarty farm. Years later he told a family member that he was treated so well he just couldn't believe it.

A. V. McCarty taught school at least one year. There were no schoolbooks for the children, so Mr. McCarty tore pages from the Bible and gave a page to each student. They learned to read from these pages.

McCarty loved Oregon. In 1852 he wrote to the Christian Record:

If ever there was a place in the wide creations of God, where his glories are displayed on the most magnificent scale, this lovely valley seems to me to be the place. Here you contemplate its variegated vales, jubelant hills, lofty mountains, and deep, shady forests of hoary pines, and lofty, aspiring firs. Situated on some convenient stand point in the elysian valley, clothed with a spirit-like calmness, one can behold everything to incite to the discharge of duty.

Oh! how these wonderful works of the great Creator proclaim the wisdom and goodness of God, and lift the soul to lofty contemplation of his ''eternal power and divinity." And while we thus inquire in the great temple of nature, we anticipate the time when we shall join the blood-washed family around his glorious throne above, to give praise to him who has made us "kings and priests to God."
Christian Record, May 1853, page 336.

In 1853 he was appointed postmaster at Parker (Bloomington) in Polk County. Also in 1853, McCarty held a two week gospel meeting at Howells Prairie in Marion County that resulted in 30 additions. Among them was Angeline Tate Todd, wife of Abbot Levi Todd. She had been raised in a Methodist home and had not been immersed to become a Christian.

There is a separate profile of A. L. Todd.

In 1855 William and Martha Ann Barlow were immersed into Christ by Glen Owen Burnett and John Ecles Murphy. He was the son of Samuel Barlow who opened the Barlow Road over Mt. Hood. The community of Barlow, south of Canby, had been named after them. That same year, they invited A. V. McCarty to hold a gospel meeting in their spacious home and seven were added to the newly-forming church. He returned a month later for another meeting and six more were added.

There is a profile of Glen O. Burnett on this link.

McCarty was a strong believer in the simplicity of the church of the New Testament. He preached against the creeds and denominational structures that made sectarianism what it was (and is). He also warned against the growing trend of bringing state and national political issues into the churches. His warnings were unheeded and the issue of the looming war between the states divided some congregations for a few years.

It was Alex McCarty, along with John Rigdon, who organized the handful of worshippers meeting in the Salem Court House in 1855. This Christian Church was one of the four earliest Protestant churches organized in Salem and four years before Oregon was admitted to the Union.

We have a profile of John Rigdon on this link.

That same year, the silver-tongued McCarty and W. L. Adams presented July 4th addresses to the very large volunteer crew that was erecting the Bethel College building and had stopped for lunch. One writer says of McCarty, "He was said to have a wonderful memory, a musical voice, and could preach for two hours without tiring his audience."

There is a profile of William Lysander Adams on this link. The story of Bethel College is available, also.

Here are some excerpts from McCarty:

Education is a matter that is very closely allied not only to national but to individual independence. . . . I shall first address myself to the youth of the audience, as they form the objects of our most ardent solicitude.

. . . Just as sure as you have received from the hand of your Creator an individuality and have been placed in a sphere of outward circumstances, you have a distinct, positive mission to fulfill, as the object of your creation, and the responsibility of that mission you can never shift to other shoulders. . . .

The elements of nature were created solely for the use of man, and the proper use of them always answers exactly the design of their creation by affording happiness to man. . . . The relation you sustain to the human family forms the basis of your obligations, or duties you owe to your fellows. You must view yourselves as having received from the hands of your Creator, an important commission, one the performance of which your own interest and happiness, as well as that of your fellow men, to a great extent are made to depend.

There is certainly a God-like principle in the bosom of man that distinguishes him from the rest of creation and elevates him far above it . . . . Perhaps with a Newton he scans the heavens, with a Locke dissects the human mind, or with a Hunter pries into the anatomical structure of the human body. With a Franklin he may snatch the lightning from the clouds, or with a Milton entrance the nations with the melody of poetic numbers.

The machinery of the reasoning faculties being once set in motion, man starts off on a journey of explorations through the vegetable, mineral and even the spiritual kingdoms in quest of new contributions with which to garnish the storehouse of his wealth, and add to his comfort and happiness. . . .

You will readily understand that the noble faculty about which I have been speaking, which places man on an almost infinite elevation above the brute creation, when cultivated and expanded as it should be leads him into a vast field of observation which not only furnishes exhaustless supplies of knowledge and of comforts but also presents an almost infinite number of high and elevating motives for action.

Viewing education, then, as one of the greatest means of acquiring the highest human happiness, compared with its inestimable worth, how do the treasures of Golconda or the diadems that deck the brows of Eastern Kings and princes, fade into insignificance . . . .

Contrast for a moment the civil and religious privileges of an enlightened England with those of ignorant and priest ridden Spain, Germany with Portugal, or of our own country with benighted Peru or Papal Mexico, and what stronger proof can anyone demand of the proposal we have already enumerated, that light and knowledge are the forerunners of civil and religious liberty. . . .

Your individual happiness, the happiness of your fellow men, the good of our country, and the glory of your God, all constitute inducements of the strongest imaginable character to entice you into the flowery fields of science.

After you have entered these fields you will find an infinite variety of objects to engage your attention which you have never yet dreamed of wisely ministering to your pleasure and adding to your profits in every conceivable manner. The motives for continued exertion and onward and upward ascent will grow stronger and more unresisting if you should devote your whole three score years and ten, in culling flowers in these Elysian fields of delight and you will go off the stage of existence, rejoicing in the full consciousness that you are merely entering upon a new stage of existence, where your fields of investigation will be expanded in an infinite degree, and where all present obstacles to the full consummation of your most ardent desires for unlimited knowledge, will be effectually removed.
Excerpts printed in Bethel by John E. Smith.

"Uncle Alex" preached in the Willamette Valley (probably the Long Tom River area west of Eugene) for more than 12 years before moving his family to California's San Joaquin Valley in December 1859. The town was San Joaquin, near Fresno.

A passing comment in the Millennial Harbinger of 1862 reports from California on a meeting at Georgetown:

Owing to Bro. McCarty's poor health he could not be here.

It seems that A. V. McCarty was in declining health during the time the family lived in California.

Vacaville Christian Church building.

From the history of the Vacaville Christian Church we learn that A. V. McCarty was preaching there in 1864. The building is pictured as it was in 1864 at the edge of Oiler's Gum Grove.

In 1866, the McCartys were back living in Corvallis where he established a congregation numbering about 40 people. Within the next two years, they returned to Solano County, California. He died in that vicinity in October of 1869 at the age of 43. Jane died in Salem in 1908, but was also buried in California.

Our entry on Corvallis mentions A. V. McCarty.

Both A. V. and Jane are buried in a Vacaville-Elmira Cemetery, near the junction of I-505 and I-80. The 30 acre cemetery on Elmira Road in Vacaville was founded in 1852. The Christian Church received the deed for 2.67 acres of the cemetery in 1866, but this was later added to the public portion. The precise location of the McCarty graves has been lost.

Our thanks to HeadStone Hunter Jim Penkal for tracing the burial place of A. V. McCarty.


A. V. McCarty's parents, John and Rosanna, came from a Scotch-Irish heritage. Their family had settled first in S.W. Pennsylvania, then pushed on to Tennessee when that territory opened up. From there, they moved on to Missouri. After coming to Oregon, they finally settled in northern Polk County. They were members of the Christian Church at Bethel. They are buried on the west side of the main road through the Bethel Cemetery.

A. V. McCarty's sister Nancy Jane was married to John R. Pigg. They were members of the Bethel church. When he died, she married William M. Cornett, a blacksmith and ardent churchman.

His brother Wilburn, with his wife Amanda Bounds, were Christians and are listed in Jerry Rushford's book. Another brother, James St. Clair with his wife Sarah were members of the Amity Church of Christ and are buried in the Amity Cemetery. The same holds true for brother John Granville and his wife Cynthia.

McCarty's brother William Rucker and his wife Eliza Ann settled near Amity, then moved to Douglas County and homesteaded near Lookingglass.

Charles Dailey, August 1999
Northwest College of the Bible

Our thanks to Thomas Vere McCarty of Mt. Angel, Oregon for assistance with the background of the McCarty family.

John McCarty (1798-1891) & Rosanna Wilburn (1806-1872)
|      Alexander Vance McCarty (1825-1869) & Jane Bounds (1827-1908)
|      |      Elizabeth Ann  (1847- 1869)
|      |      Albert H. McCarty (1849-)
|      |      John B. McCarty (1850-)
|      |      Rosanna F. McCarty (1852-)
|      |      Edward W. McCarty (1853-)
|      |      Thomas Lycurgus McCarty (1854-)
|      |      William Granville McCarty (1856-)
|      |      David Aleck McCarty (1858-)
|      |      Martha (Mattie) McCarty (1859-)
|      |      Minnie McCarty (1861-)
|      |      Mary McCarty (1863-)
|      |      Clara McCarty (1865-)
|      |      Arthur McCarty (1867-)
|      John Granville McCarty  & Cynthia Walling 
|      Edwin Wilburn McCarty (1827-1895) & Amanda Bounds (1832-)
|      William Rucker McCarty (1829-1888) & Elizabeth Ann Lovelady (1837-)
|      |      E. A. "Lige" McCarty 
|      Nancy Jane McCarty* (1832-) & John R. Pigg (1828-1852)
|      Nancy Jane McCarty* (1832-) & William M. Cornett (1821-1909)
|      James St. Clair McCarty (1844-) & Sarah Bridewell (1851-1920)

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