McMillan-Wreden California Condor Collection, MS 044
The following biographical sketch was found in Mr. McMillan's papers:
Ian McMillan, a native of eastern San Luis Obispo County, California, with a lifetime of experience as a grain and cattle grower, is also an active long-standing conservationist. From studies of natural history of his region he has written a book on the California condor and various articles on other matters of wildlife conservation. The Current Status and Welfare of the California Condor by Alden Miller, Ian McMillan, and Eben McMillan, was the forerunner to McMillan's later condor writings. He is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, a member of the California Parks and Recreation Commission, and belongs to a number of other conservation organizations including the Cooper Ornithological Society, National Audubon Society, and the Cholame Township Sportsmen's Association. In recent years he has carried out various special assignments as a field observer and reporter for the National Defenders of Wildlife.
Ian Irving McMillan was born on the family ranch outside Cholame, San Luis Obispo County, California, on November 15, 1905. Ian McMillan's grandparents and their seven adult children took up adjoining homesteads in a canyon among the open rolling hills near the little settlement of Starkey, now known as Shandon, in 1885. Ian's father, Alexander, married the local schoolteacher, Mary Harte, in 1894. They raised a family of five boys and two girls on their ranch in McMillan Canyon.
Of his childhood, McMillan's children wrote: "Prior to November of 1934, it can be said that Ian's life, even though adventurous, was one of great hardship with few personal rewards. Ian's mother, a loving mother, a person of artistic talent with a sensitive awareness of nature was, early in Ian's childhood, unable to cope with the daily struggles of domestic responsibility. Ian's father lost his home and land to those of different principles and his wife to mental illness. Alexander McMillan died in despair."
In 1934 Ian married May Reed and his life changed. His children wrote: "May was his secretary, typing and retyping everything he wrote. She fed and entertained the many visitors who came to exchange views and witness this magnificent area of California. She took responsibility for making certain that all of the needs of their three children, Don, Barbara, and Irv, were fully met. This well organized and hard-working woman allowed Ian the freedom to pursue his interests."
They bought their ranch in Gillis Canyon in 1936. His children wrote: "Never a man who chased the dollar, when the ranch was owned free and clear, he dedicated his life to the issues of land use, government accountability, wildlife protection, and human ecology. After his marriage, Ian's first priority was getting out of debt, followed by building a modest home and then funding for his children's college educations. Ian had absolutely no interest in owning more land, building bigger houses, owning the newest model shotgun or anything not having essential value. He enjoyed breaking horses and training hunting dogs and proudly displayed their talent to any audience. It can be said that Ian did well not because of how much he had, but in how little he needed."
The National Audubon Society commissioned Ian and Eben to study the decline of condors in 1968. The years of research resulted in publication of Ian McMillan's Man and the California Condor: The Embattled History and Uncertain Future of North America's Largest Free-Living Bird (New York: Dutton, 1968).
Ian McMillan died of congestive heart failure at the age of 85 on February 21, 1991 in Templeton, California.
- Groshong, Warren, "Naturalist Ian McMillan Dies," San Luis Obispo County (Calif.) Telegram-Tribune, 25 Feb. 1991
- McMillan family, 1994
- Social Security Death Index, Ancestry.com
- U.S. Census, 1910, 1920, Ancestry.com
William P. Wreden
William Paul Wreden was born on May 2, 1910, in Petaluma, California, to William P. and Elizabeth Prien Wreden. A rare book dealer and rancher, Wreden was educated at Stanford University and began his career at the Anglo-California National Bank in San Francisco. In 1937, he left banking to start an antiquarian book company, Wm. P. Wreden Books & Manuscripts in Burlingame, California. After 16 years, he relocated to Palo Alto, where he remained in business until shortly before his death on February 5, 1995. Wreden also owned and operated the Pinole Land & Cattle Co. in Santa Margarita, San Luis Obispo County, California.
- Social Security Death Index, Ancestry.com
- Who's Who in the West. 24th edition, 1994-1995. New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who's Who, 1993.