After serving as sheriff of Waukon, widower James McGhee came to Mason City in 1903 with his 3 children: Ruth, Leone and J. Donald. His wife had died 2 days after the birth of J. Donald, after several weeks of ill health.
In 1903, James McGhee, a widower, bought the house for himself and his three children, after serving several years as sheriff of Allamakee County.
In 1917, his daughter, Ruth, bought the house from him, having married a young bank clerk named Harold Bull who had been living across the street with his family at what is now 697 East State Street.
James McGhee was elected to the Iowa State Legislature in 1918, serving two terms. In 1922, he was elected mayor of Mason City, but died in office of smallpox in 1924. The newspaper reported that many townspeople went to the doctor to get vaccinated when they heard of his fate.
Donald McGhee, James' son, graduated from Iowa State College in 1917 and was drafted into World War I in 1918. His diplomas, unit photo, service manuals, letters and other personal effects remain preserved in the home. He went on to be employed in the livestock business after the war.
Harold and Ruth McGhee Bull lived at 718 East State Street until 1933. Ruth was active in the local historical society. Harold worked his way up the ranks at First National Bank until they moved to Mankato, where he became president of National Citizen's Bank. Harold and Ruth ended up in Sioux City, where he was president of Norwest Bank.