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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 2. Biographies
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
In December, 1865, after four years of honorable and loyal service in the Civil war, Archibald McVey came to Chillicothe and has since been closely and influentially identified with business interests of the city as a successful general merchant, standing today among the men who have been active in inaugurating business policies and in shaping commercial history here. He was born in Wyoming county, New York, in 1836 and is a son of Scottish parents, the father having been born in Scotland in 1806 and the mother in 1808. The former came to America in early manhood and settled in western New York, where he engaged in farming.
Archibald McVey acquired his education in the public schools of the Empire state and when not engaged with his books aided his father with the work of the farm, continuing thus until the outbreak of the Civil war, when his patriotic spirit was aroused and he offered his services to the Federal government, enlisting in the naval service. Captain McVey was connected in 1862 and 1863 with the West Gulf Squadron under Admiral Farragut and in 1864 and 1865 served as paymaster in the South Atlantic Squadron for the flagship John Adams, upon which he was stationed and which was then standing off Charleston. In addition to his duties on the flagship he had charge of the accounts of ten mortar schooners and tugs and a naval battery on Morris Island numbering one hundred men, making in all the largest number of men and officers carried on the books of any volunteer naval paymaster in the service. Among other responsible duties be had charge of the provisions for the fleet off Charleston and an idea of the importance of his duties can be formed when it is stated that this fleet never numbered less than thirty vessels, some of them being the largest in the service. Considered from all points of view, the position which he filled was about the most important held by any officer of his rank away from a home station. A unique feature among the duties which fell to his lot and the only incident of the kind occurring during the war was his paying off a month's salary by flag of truce to the naval officers in the prison in Charleston. This money was taken charge of by General Ripley, who was in command at Charleston at the time, and every dollar of it was scrupulously paid by the General to those for whom it was intended. General Ripley was a man of the highest sense of honor and a West Pointer, and this package of money which was given to him for transmission was of more actual value than all the Confederate script in the city of Charleston. Captain McVey was the first to land at that city after the surrender and he received his honorable discharge in 1865 and in December of that year he arrived in Chillicothe, still wearing the blue naval uniform of his service.
Here he engaged in the general merchandise business, conducting a small establishment, but with the development of the city his success grew and he is now one of the substantial and representative merchants of the community, owning one of the finest dry-goods establishments in Chillicothe. He has erected a modern double store building with every conceivable improvement in the way of fixtures, well lighted with electricity, heated by steam and thoroughly up-to-date in every particular. Mr. McVey carries an exceptionally fine line of merchandise and has built up a gratifying prosperity upon the substantial foundation of his hard work, industry and enterprise.
Mr. McVey is married and resides in one of the most beautiful homes in Chillicothe, presided over by his charming wife. He has two daughters; Mrs. Vincent, of Spokane, Washington; and Mrs. J. H. Barclay, of Chillicothe, whose husband is associated with Mr. McVey in business.
Mr. McVey's principal attention is concentrated upon the conduct of his store but in the course of time he has become interested in many important enterprises in the city, the success of which has been due in a large measure to his untiring and well directed efforts. He has been especially active in inducing western capitalists to invest here and in commercial, industrial and business fields the city has felt the stimulus of his work and enterprise. He has long been an active politician and was twice a member of the city council and held the office of mayor for some time. He belongs to the Masonic order, holding membership in the lodge, chapter and commandery and belongs also to the Loyal Legion and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. Public-spirited to a marked degree, he never withholds his support from any enterprise which he believes will prove of benefit to the community and he has always been found true to every trust reposed in him, whether of an official or private nature.