From A History of Jasper County, Missouri, and its People, Vol. II, Joel T. Livingston (Lewis Pub. Co. 1915), pp. 899-900:
John Craig McKAY.—The Scotch type is one which has found many representatives in the New World and it has assuredly contributed its quota toward the onward movement of progress. In short, America owes much to the Scotch stock and has honored and been honored by many noble men and women of this extraction. As his name indicates, the subject of this brief record is a son of Caledonia and he exemplifies in himself those rugged, noble characteristics which have served to “Make her loved at home, revered abroad.”
The ancestry as far as known was pure Scotch. His paternal greatgrandfather was a Highlander and was a man of splendid physique, standing six feet six inches in his stocking feet. The maternal great- grandmother lived to the age of one hundred years and six months. She was blind for a time but received her second sight.
Mr. McKay is entitled to particular honor as a veteran of the Civil war. For some years he has been identified with the agricultural prosperity and enterprise of this section of the state and he is especially well known among his brethren of the great basic industry as a breeder of fine saddle and driving horses and of registered Short Horn cattle mid Poland Chir.a hogs.
Mr. McKay was born January 23, 1842, in Mantrap, Scotland, the son of Peter and Barbara McKay, the former a blacksmith by trade. In 1855 the family came to America and settled first in Illinois, where the father followed his trade. About six years after the arrival of the family occurred the outbreak of the Civil war and both father and son enlisted in defense of the integrity of the adopted country they had come to love as their own. The father served three years and the son, as he himself facetiously puts it, was in the service of the Union for three years, three months, three days, three hours, three minutes, and three seconds. The latter was a member of Company H, Fifth Illinois Volunteer Cavalry and saw some of the most important action of the war. He was a scout in the Southwest, served at the siege of Vicksburg and saw considerable service in Arkansas, Missouri, and the Mississippi River region. At the close of the war Mr. McKay returned to Illinois and followed agricultural occupations until 1868, but in that year he came to Missouri and located in Jasper county. He is the possessor of one hundred acres located in McDonald township and he is known over a wide area as a breeder of fine saddle and driving horses, and also of registered Short Horn cattle and registered Poland China hogs. He has increased his original tract of forty acres from time to time and has met with the utmost success in his undertakings. His farm is situated two and a quarter miles east of Avilla.
On the 18th day of June, 1867, Mr. McKay laid the foundation of a happy married life by his union with Mrs. Harriet (Rice) Thaxton, a widow, daughter of Jeremiah and Massah (Bandy) Rice, whose native state was Tennessee. They have two children living: Barbara J., born April, 1868, the wife of W. A. Hafford, and Robert A., born in November, 1870. Mrs. McKay first married Jasper Thaxton, who was a native of Illinois. He served in the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and lost his life in charging Fort McAlester. She had two children by her first marriage, Delilah and Thomas J., but Delilah, who married J. W. Gulich, is now deceased. Mr. McKay has numerous fraternal relations, these extending to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; the Grand Army of the Republic; the A. H. T. A., and both Mr. and Mrs. McKay are members of the Daughters of the Rebekah.
Mr. McKay, after a life of industry and usefulness, is now living in the village of Avilla, retired from the more strenuous occupations of his calling, with well-earned leisure to enjoy the finer things of life.