WILLIAM S. McMURTRY, M.
SURNAMES: SHARP, HEADEN
son of William and Priscilla (Sharp) McMurtry, was born in Mercer County, Kentucky, August 24, 1818. The parents of both were among the first settlers in Kentucky. In 1825 the subject of this sketch removed with his parents to Parke County, Indiana, where he was reared and educated. He was raised in the woods until fifteen years of age, with a very limited education; what little he had acquired was obtained in a little log cabin, Pike's arithmetic and Webster's spelling book being the only text-books in use there. Such a book as a geography, grammar, penmanship book, or a dictionary was unknown. When fifteen years old he went to Wabash College, which had just opened, at Crawfordsville, Indiana. After this he attended the State University at Bloomington for eighteen months. In 1838 he began the study of medicine in Rockville, Indiana, with Drs. Tulley and Allen. In the winter of 1839-40 he attended the first course of lectures at the Miami University Medical College at Cincinnati, and in the winter of 1840-41 attended the Louisville Institute, and took a full course of lectures. Up to this time he had made such progress that Dr. Tulley, one of his preceptors, took him into full partnership.
The next season, on account of the severity of the climate in Indiana, he concluded to go to Mississippi. Arriving in that State he located in Benton, in January, 1843. The next winter he attended another full course of lectures at the Louisville Institute, at which institution he was graduated, in the spring of 1844, at the head of a class of forty-five. He then returned to Mississippi and practiced medicine very successfully until the commencement of the Mexican War, when he concluded to have a little adventure in the way of variety in life, and helped to organize a company that went out in the regiment of Mississippi Rifles, commanded by Jeff. Davis as Colonel. The company having been organized before the call for troops from Washington had reached Mississippi, and there being delay, he finally became impatient, upon learning that they were to go as infantry, and concluded to take his chances in striking something in a different direction, and mounted his horse and rode away, and finally found and joined a body of mounted men known as " Texas Rangers," commanded by Col. Jack Hays, the noted Indian fighter. He continued under his command till the battle of Monterey occurred, in which battle he participated, under General Worth, who commanded the right wing. He accompanied a party in storming the " Bishop's Palace," when the assault was made up the steep slope right under the works of the enemy, carrying everything before them, and driving the Mexicans into the city, and there, coming in contact with the army of General Taylor, the Mexicans were surrounded. His three months' service of enlistment having expired, he went home, and afterward joined another company of Texas Rangers, and remained in the service until 1848.
mustered out he located at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the purpose of practicing
medicine, and had hardly got settled down to practice when the California gold
fever broke out. A party of thirty was organized, he being one of the number,
and came to California by way of Mexico. At Mazatlan they engaged passage on a
sailing vessel, and reached San Francisco in thirty days, arriving there May 24,
1849. He at once went to the mines near Sacramento, locating at Horse Shoe Bar.
He worked in the mines with the usual luck—sometimes making money and at other
times without success, and finally, in 1857, he went to Grass Valley and engaged
in quartz mining. In 1858 he went to Santa Clara County and located at
Lexington, and engaged in the lumber business until 1868, when he settled at Los
Gatos, where he still resides. In 1863 he was elected a State Senator for Santa
Clara County and served one term. In the spring of 1864 he was elected a
delegate to the Republican National Convention at Baltimore, which re-nominated
Abraham Lincoln for the presidency. While in the East he visited the Army of the
Potomac. The base of supplies was established at the White House during the
battle of Cold Harbor, as it was at this time when he was there. He went around
with the Sanitary Committee, attending to the disabled, and was with them at
City Point at the commencement of the investment of Petersburg. He soon after
returned to California, and has since resided at his beautiful home in Los
Gatos. He is now the oldest resident of that place. He was married, November 17,
1858, to Ellen Headen, of the town of Santa Clara.
Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight