This biography appears on pages 1387-1388 in "History of South Dakota" by Doane Robinson, Vol. II (1904)
JOHN J. McCAUGHEY, one of the leading business men of Aberdeen,
being president and general manager of the Aberdeen Hardware Company, is
a native of the state of New Jersey, having been born in the historic old town of New Brunswick, Middlesex county, on the 11th of June, 1857,
and being a son of Robert and Agnes (Cummings) McCaughey, the former of whom was born in County Antrim, Ireland, about twelve miles distant from
the city of Belfast, on the 12th of March, 1833, while his wife was born
in the same locality on the 12th of January, of that year. The paternal grandfather of the subject was a weaver and a designer of shawl
patterns, and removed from Paisley, Scotland, in which city he became one of the leading designers of the famous Paisley shawls, to Ireland in
the fall of 1832, just prior to Robert McCaughey's birth. The latter and
a younger brother were born in Ireland and two older brothers and two sisters in Scotland. From Ireland he immigrated with his family to
America and located in the city of Philadelphia, where he was associated
with two of his sons, John and William, in the manufacturing of shawls. About 1858 or '9 the grandparents moved to Wisconsin, near Madison,
there continuing to reside until the close of their long and useful lives. Robert McCaughey was a child at the time of the family
immigration to the United States, and in his youth he learned the tanner's trade, continuing to follow the same in New Jersey until 1860,
when he came west and joined the family near Madison, Wisconsin. He was there engaged in farming until the autumn of 1875 when he removed to
Kasson, Dodge county, Minnesota, where he devoted his attention to farming for the ensuing five years, at the expiration of which he came
to the present state of South Dakota, being among the first to file claim to government land in township 20, range 62, Spink county, making
entry on the 28th of May, 1880, while he did the first plowing in said township. June 11, 1880, he and his son John J. first filed on land in
range 63, but this filing was rejected, as, the land had not as yet been
thrown open, and thus each of them secured claims in range 62. In the spring of 1881 the remainder of the family came to the county from the
old home in Minnesota, and the land secured here in the early pioneer epoch is still retained by the family, the same being located in
LaPrairie township and being well improved and under effective cultivation.
John J. McCaughey received his educational training in the public
schools of Wisconsin, and accompanied his parents on their removal to Minnesota and eventually to South Dakota, as noted. He remained on the
farm until the spring of 1884, when he accepted a position as traveling salesman for farming machinery, being thus engaged for one year, at the
expiration of which he established himself in the implement and farming machinery business at Northville, Spink county, where he continued
operations two years. He then disposed of his interests in that line, and thereafter was engaged in the buying and shipping of grain until the
autumn of 1896, when he became traveling representative of the Acme Harvester Company, of Pekin, Illinois, covering a very considerable
territory in the northwest and being thus engaged until the spring of 1899, when he and W. G. Wells purchased the hardware business of E. O.
Mead, of Aberdeen, which was thereafter continued under the firm name of
Wells & McCaughey until the 1st of January, 1902, when the subject effected the purchase of his partner's interests and forthwith organized
the Aberdeen Hardware Company, which was duly incorporated under the laws of the state. He became president and general manager of the
company and has since remained incumbent of this important dual office, while he is directing the business of the concern with consummate
discrimination and ability. The company utilize a store fifty by one hundred and forty-two feet in dimensions, with basement, and also have a
large warehouse located on the line of the Chicago, Minneapolis & St.
Paul Railroad. They carry a full and comprehensive stock of heavy and shelf hardware, stoves, ranges, paints, oils, glass, etc., while in
addition to controlling a large and representative retail business their
jobbing trade is one which is far ramifying and constantly expanding. In
politics Mr. McCaughey is staunchly aligned with the Republican party, but has had no ambition for official preferment. He has attained to the
thirty-second degree of Scottish-rite Masonry and is also affiliated with the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, the
Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Modern Woodmen of America.
On the 11th of June, 1884, was solemnized the marriage of Mr.
McCaughey to Miss Nettie L. Austin, who was born in Minnesota, being a daughter of Philip B. Austin, who was one of the honored pioneers of
LaPrairie township, Spink county, where he located in 1881, there continuing to reside until 1900, when he removed to the city of
Aberdeen, where his death occurred August 26, 1903. Mr. and Mrs.
McCaughey have one son, Lester, who is employed in the establishment of which his father is the head.