|WILLIAM A. McKAY.|
William A. McKay, chairman of the board of county commissioners of Carbon county and president of the Murray & McKay Sheep Company, is not only recognized as one of the prominent sheep men of his state but also as one of the leading citizens of Rawlins. He was born March 5, 1867, in Renton, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, a son of John and Mary (Murray) McKay, and was one of a family of three sons and a daughter. He had the ordinary school advantages that Scotland offered at that period, pursuing his studies to the age of seventeen years, after which he was apprenticed to learn the carpenter’s trade, his term of indenture to cover five years. During that period he received as a wage a dollar and a quarter per week for the first year, a dollar and a half per week for the second year and an additional twenty-five cents per week for each succeeding year until the expiration of the five years. As an illustration of how closely he applied himself to his work, it may be stated that he lost but nine days during that entire period and he had to make those up at the end. Another feature of his apprenticeship was the fact that he walked two miles to work and the same distance home every day. When he had completed his apprenticeship he went to work in the shipyard of the Deny Brothers, one of the noted shipbuilding firms of Scotland. It was in the yards there that several Shamrock yachts were built for Sir Thomas Lipton, these yachts being used in the contest for the American cup. From his early boyhood days Mr. McKay was interested in athletic sports and acquired no little fame as a football player at Renton, so much so that his services were sought in that connection by other cities. He later became a member of the celebrated Wanderers football team at Wolverhampton, England, and for two years was a valuable player in that organization, receiving a handsome salary. In 1893 he decided to come to America, sailing from Glasgow early in March on the Anchor Line steamer State of California for New York. Mr. McKay had friends in Rawlins and proceeded at once to that city, where he arrived on the 19th of March, 1893. On the 1st of April he entered the employ of Hans Larson, working at the carpenter’s trade, which pursuit he followed until the fall of 1894, when he entered the employ of the Union Pacific Railroad Company in the Rawlins shops, doing repair work on locomotives in the days when the pilots, cabs and other portions were built of wood. He remained in the employ of that company until 1904. when his interests in the sheep business had become so important that they required the greater part of his time. His connection with the sheep industry dates back to a short time after his arrival in America. He had from his salary as a football player saved some little money, which in September, 1893, enabled him to invest in sheep, and for that purpose he entered into partnership with Robert Murray, who later became his father-in-law. They purchased fifteen hundred lambs at two dollars per head and this constituted the beginning of what has become one of the extensive and successful sheep outfits of southern Wyoming. The business prospered from the first and while encountering drawbacks incident to the industry, it nevertheless ranks with the best managed outfits in this section and their business has on the whole been a prosperous one. In 1912 they incorporated their interests in Wyoming under the name of the Murray & McKay Sheep Company, with Mr. McKay as the president, Mrs. Robert Murray as vice president and Angus Murray as secretary, treasurer and general manager.
It was on the 5th of October, 1898, in Rawlins, that Mr. McKay was united in marriage to Miss Mary Murray, of that city, a native of Dumbartonshire, Scotland, born March 25, 1877, and a daughter of Robert and Jessie (Stuart) Murray, who left Scotland in 1885, locating in Canada, while after a few years they settled in Rawlins. Mr. and Mrs. McKay have one son, Harold Alexander, who was born in Rawlins, August 26, 1899, and was graduated from the high school of that city with the class of 1918. He was captain of the High School Cadets, played a cornet in the high school band, was captain of the basket ball team and was selected for the all Wyoming basket ball team in 1918.
Mr. McKay is one of the prominent republicans in Carbon county. In the fall of 1910 he was elected a member of the board of county commissioners of Carbon county and has since served in that capacity, being now chairman of the board. He takes an active and helpful interest in the success of his party but has never been an office seeker, consenting to become a candidate for his present office only through party loyalty. He has declined other candidacies which would have been equivalent to election. He is a member of the Presbyterian church and a liberal contributor to its support. He was made a Mason in his native town of Renton, Scotland, and has since taken the degrees of the York Rite and is now a member of the Korein Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He also belongs to the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. His time and attention, however, have chiefly been given to his business affairs and aside from his connection with the sheep industry he is a director of the Stock Growers National Bank of Rawlins, in which position he has served since the organization of that institution. He is also the vice president of the Carbon County Wool Growers Association. He built an excellent home on the northeast corner of Third and Maple streets in 1910 and it has since been the family residence. He is a well known man whose business career has been clean and whose influence has always been for uplift in every way. He is personally popular and is widely and favorably known.