W. G. McNair - A Pioneering Exporter


The Marvelous McNairs

The McNairs raised children who were notably successful in their passions.

Frances de Lancy as a consummate politician's wife and lady of society. Frances also held strong the Melendy Legacy by being an official member of The Daughters of the American Revolution

I shared in the post introducing Grace, it appears her passion and life was dedicated to academia and activism in women's causes. Grace was an eager academic with a passion for literature, language, and history.

Grant was the most difficult to track of the siblings, however, in piecing together the history of the McNair sisters ... I found a lead on Grant that produced incredible discoveries that sparked my imagination.

Finding W. Grant

The trails of Grant's history are the sort that make epic movies.

My first clue on Grant, is discovering he was in the Junior class at Beloit College in 1882-1883.

The second clue I discovered is that he still identified as a Brodhead resident in 1893. I found a Congressional record in which Grant was leading a petition for the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago to open for the Select Committee on the columbian Exposition on a Sunday. 

Later, Grant went on to be prolifically documented as a successful exporter. Where as Frances' sons served in WWI (coming in a future post), Grant profited during the "European War," pioneering a new American industry. He was a leading exporter of fine furniture and goods made in the U.S.A. to the South American market.

I found this article on Grant from the New York Times, from August 23rd, 1916:

"The time is now opportune for the furniture manufacturers of the United States to commence definite and positive movements toward establishing trade in the Latin-American countries, according to W.G. McNair, who is stopping at the Biltmore after a six months' stay in South America in the interests of thirty American companies as their direct representative."

I have also found mention of Grant, W. G. McNair Trading Co., and documentation of his world travels in various publications...
"Mr McNair will leave about April 1 for London, England, and will spend several weeks in the British Isles and on the continent, loading up markets for American furniture. He will go thence to South America for a stay of several months." ~ 1916 Furniture Manufacturer & Artisan
"Mr McNair will leave the country about April 1and will go to Australia to make connections for his furniture company."  ~ Furniture Manufacturer & Artisan
"The time is ripe for American manufacturers to get into the export trade, and some pioneer work has been done by W. G. McNair has made that fact evident."  ~ Furniture Manufacturer & Artisan
The 1920 Buyers Guide and Industrial Directory of Chicago, lists W. G. McNair Trading Co. of U.S.A. as:
"Exporter of furniture, textiles, hardware, automobile, and auto accessories."

World Travels, Family Visits...

In Grant's epic world travels, I have documentation he still found time to come home to Wisconsin. The following is from the Wauwatosa News, Dated January 23rd, 1914:

"W. Grant McNair of New York city, has been spending some time with his sister, Mrs C. B. Perry."

Next Steps...

Can you imagine what all of Grant's world travels must of been like as he pioneered relationships and opportunities for the export business of American made goods post-turn-of-the-century and during WWI?

From his mysterious involvement with the historic 1893 World's Fair documented via Congressional Record, to pioneering trade to Europe, South America, and Australia. The travels and adventure spark my imagination.

I have traveled extensively through my profession, so the thought of what it must have been like to be a pioneer a hundred years earlier ... and the diversity of certain cultures not-yet-westernized, or commercially homogenized, must have been fantastical.

I very much look forward to pulling together the rest of the research I have on W. G. McNair Trading Co., as well as discovering more of Grant's epic adventures.


*as Lap of Legends documents ongoing research, please utilize the post "tags" for the most recent and accurate information