McClelland Biographies

Notable McClelland's From Central and Western Pennsylvania

Included herein are excerpts of stories and biographies written about some of the notable McClellan(d)'s from central and western Pennsylvania. There is no indication that these McClelland's are related to this writer (Walter Edmond McClelland). They are included for the general interest of descendents of McClelland's who settled the western Pennsylvania area.

(1) The following is excerpted from "McClelland And His Men" (McClelland, John D. d.Dec 1776) by Wilson, Samuel, beginning on page 12. (LDS 921.73 A1 No.152)

Whence came John McClelland and "His Men", whom this monument is erected to honor?

Generally, they came from Western Pennsylvania, and from what was known as the Monongahela Country, in North-western Virginia. Westmoreland and Bedford Counties, Pennsylvania, furnished the majority of them. That was the home of the McClellands and the McConnells, of the Pattersons and the Perrys, of the Millers and Wilsons, of the Lowrys and Sterretts, and others. ...

With this general statement, let us take up the trail of the McClellands from their home in Pennsylvania to the waters of Elkhorn, in central Kentucky, which was then known as Fincastle County, Virginia. ...

John McClelland and his family, including Abraham McClelland and Sarah McClelland, who afterwards seems to have married Joseph Wilson, and Alexander McClelland, whose daughter, Mary, afterwards married Richard Wilson, Robert Patterson, William McConnell, Francis McConnell, Sr., Francis McConnell, Jr., Andrew McConnell, David Perry, and Stephen Lowry, late in October, 1775, left the neighborhood of Pittsburgh for Kentucky, taking their movable property in canoes and driving nine horses and fourteen head of cattle by land, the first importation of either into Northern Kentucky. Four of the above-named, to wit: John McClelland, William McConnell, Francis McConnell, Jr., and David Perry, as we have seen, had been to Kentucky in the spring and summer before. In November, 1775, this party reached Salt Lick Creek, in what is now Lewis County, near the site of the present town of Vanceburg. Here they parted company, Patterson, Lowry, William McConnell, and David Perry, under the piloting of Perry, striking across the country with the animals, while John McClelland and the others went down the Ohio river to the mouth of the Kentucky, and then up that stream to Leestown (one mile below Frankfort). The land party went up Salt Lick to its head, crossed Cabin Creek, passing the Stone Lick (Orangeburg, Mason County), and May's Lick, to the Lower Blue Licks, where they met with Simon Kenton and Thomas Williams, who then knew of no other white persons in the country; thence they traveled across Licking River, and several branches of the Elkhorn to Leestown, which point they reached ahead of those who were traveling by the water route. As soon as the canoes arrived, Patterson, Perry, Lowry and William McConnell joined forces with John McClelland and the others of his party and the whole company marched to the Royal Spring, where they proceeded to build a large cabin, in which they made their home until April, 1776. (Collins History of Kentucky, Vol. II, p.178)

The year 1775, after March 25th, was known as a peace year, the Indians committing no depredations until April, 1776, at Leestown. Because of these depredations and a general renewal of Indian hostilities, a battalion of militia, of the inhabitants on the North side of the Kentucky river, was formed and officers elected, who were duly commissioned by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some of the families from the South of Kentucky River, from Kinkston's settlement on Licking, and from Drennon's Lick, united with the McClellands and their associates in building a fort at the Royal Spring, which was known by the name of McClelland's Fort or Station. (American Pioneer, Vol. II, p.544) This was in May or June, 1776. Of those who helped in this undertaking from Hinkston's, were John and James Haggin. In November or December, 1775, it appears that Benjamin McClelland, John McCracken, Stephen Lowry, John Lowry, and James Sterrett came to the Elkhorn country from Western Pennsylvania. These men undoubtedly made McClelland's Station their headquarters or stopping place from time to time, although they were engaged in "improving" at a distance from the Royal Spring, from January, 1776, until late in the same year.

In the spring of 1776, Captain William McConnell, with the assistance of some of his comrades from McClelland's Station, built a cabin about two miles below where Lexington now is, where he afterwards erected a mill and station, known as "McConnell's Station", which preceded the founding of Lexington by about three years. ...

In the year 1774, as testified to by Alexander McClelland, in several depositions given by him, in the year 1803 and 1804, William McConnell explored the land on Lawrence Creek, in Mason County, and "was desirous", it is said "of improving for himself at the lick near where the town of Washington" was afterwards laid out. In the latter part of January, 1776, as proved by the same witness, and also by Joseph Wilson, David Perry, Joseph Wilson, and others from Pennsylvania, improved on Lawrence Creek. It was at Drennon's Spring, on one of the forks of Lawrence Creek, about three miles from Maysville and one mile from Washington, on the farm for many years owned by Thomas Forman, later by Dr. Alexander K. Marshall, and now (1920) owned by John Chambers, that Simon Kenton, in 1784, built a station for protection and defense. Lawrence Creek had been named in 1773 for Lawrence Darnall, one of a party of explorers from Fort Pitt, and Drennon's Spring was named for Jacob Drennon, a member of Captain Thomas Bullitt's company of Virginian surveyors, in 1773.

In the year 1776, Jason County and all of Northern Kentucky "fairly swarmed" with adventurers and "improvers" from Virginia and Pennsylvania. Many of them came to select their future homes, while others "improved" for friends or for speculation. These so-called improvements varied greatly, from deadening a few trees and marking initials upon them, up to a log cabin, sometimes covered with bark, but generally uncovered, and, clearing a patch of ground and planting corn. The men remained generally from two to four weeks. (Collins, History of Kentucky, Vol. II, p.550) ...

After McClelland's Station was broken up by the attack of Pluggy and his warriors, in January, 1777, the Haggins removed with the rest to Harrodsburg. ...

Frances McConnell, Senior and Junior, were both of them more closely indentified perhaps, with the beginnings of Lexington than with the birth of Georgetown, as was Captain William McConnell, but let me here say something about Andrew McConnell, who was one of the immortals who lost his life at the Battle of the Blue Licks, in August 19th, 1782.

The McConnells, like the McClellands and others of the Pennsylvanians who came out to Kentucky with them, were of Scotch-Irish origin. A tremendous immigration of the Scotch-Irish from the north of Ireland had peopled a large part of Western Pennsylvania a few years before the commencement of the American Revolution, and many of these excellent people constituted the vanguard of the pioneers in Central and Northern Kentucky. ...

(2) David McClelland from Union Township as written in the Lawrence County Pennsylvania History, p.423

David McClelland, a popular public official of Union Township, whose regular business for many years has been farming, in connection with conducting a wagon repair shop, was born February 19, 1833, at Schenectady, N.Y., and is a son of Alexander and Jane (Alexander) McClelland.

The father of Mr. McClelland was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, and his mother was of old Covenanter Scotch stock. Alexander McClelland brought his family to Schenectady, N.Y., in 1832, and died in Allegheny City, in 1844. David McClelland was only eleven years old at that time. He had only attended school until he was seven years of age, and after the death of his father, was thrown entirely upon his own resources. In the spring of 1853 he came to New Castle, married in that year and settled on his present farm in Union Township. While living on his farm he continued to work in the rolling mills of Rice, Brown and Berger, at New Castle, for a number of years. He later spent some years in Eastern Kansas, but in 1891 he returned to Union Township, where he has resided every since, his farm being the old home place of his father-in-law. In connection with farming, Mr. McClelland operates a repair shop. His fellow-citizens have kept him in public office for a number of years. In 1878 he was made township collector and served as such for six years, giving up the office when he moved to Kansas. Upon his return, his neighbors petitioned him to again become collector of Union Township and this office he has efficiently filled every since 1898, and has been treasurer of the Union Township road tax according to a new law relative to this tax.

On November 22, 1853, Mr. McClelland was married to Mary J. Stewart, who was born in Union Township, Lawrence County, Pa., in June, 1838, and is the daughter of William Stewart, who was a prominent Scotch Pioneer in Union Township. Of the children born to this union, the following survive: William A., residing at East New Castle; Stewart, residing at Greely, Colo.; John T., residing at South New Castle; Scott and Gilbert, both residing at Greeley, Colo., and Rebecca and Margaret, both residing in Union Township. Mr. and Mrs. McClelland enjoyed the celebration of their golden wedding, in 1903. If he were a voter he would vote with the Prohibition party.

(3) Robert McClellan from the Dictionary of American Biography, Volume XI, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1933.
Robert McClellan (1770-Nov. 22, 1815), scout, Indian trader, was born near Mercersburg, Pa., the son of a pioneer farmer, also named Robert. He had little schooling, but he became an expert woodsman and hunter. His first employment was that of a pack-horseman in the transport of goods. In 1790, at Fort Gower, on the Ohio, he joined the army as a spy, or ranger, and in the following year went to Fort Washington, (Cincinnati) and later to Fort Hamilton, where he again found work as a pack-horseman. On the arrival of Wayne's army he was engaged as a scout, serving throughout the campaign of 1794-95 and distinguishing himself by a series of daring exploits which won for him the rank of lieutenant. In the summer of 1799 he journeyed south and at New Orleans was stricken with yellow fever. On his recovery he went to Philadelphia, where on account of wounds suffered in Wayne's campaign he was awarded a small pension and where for a time he was employed in the quartermaster's department. Sent to the Illinois country on official business in 1801, he shortly afterward resigned and entered the Indian trade.

In 1807 McClellan and Ramsay Crooks led an expedition toward the upper Missouri. On meeting Ensign Pryor's party returning from its defeat by the Arikaras they turned back to a point near Old Council Bluffs and established a trading post. They again started upstream in 1809 but were halted by a Sioux tribe and compelled to erect another establishment for trade. On the retirement of Crooks from the partnership early the following year, McClellan continued alone, but on being robbed by the Sioux he became disheartened and started for St. Louis. At the mouth of the Nodaway he found Crooks in the winter camp of Hunt's Astoria party and at once joined the Pacific Fur Company. He accompanied the expedition the following spring, arriving in Astoria, ragged, ill, and emaciated, in January 1812. In March he withdrew from the company, and in June started eastward with Stuart's party, which reached St. Louis, after extreme hardships and privations, Apr. 30, 1813. A month later he was imprisoned for debt. In January 1814, with a stock of goods furnished by a friend, he opened a store in Cape Girardeau, Mo., but ill health compelled his return to St. Louis the following summer. He found a home on the farm of Abraham Gallatin, and it was probably there that he died. He was buried on Gen. William Clark's farm, where his tombstone was unearthed in 1875. Though of slight physique, McClellan was in his prime a man of great strength and agility, and pioneer annals credit him, while a scout in Wayne's army, with many amazing athletic feats. His courage is well attested by the inscription on his tombstone, thought to have been written by Clark: "Brave, honest and sincere; an intrepid warrior, whose services deserve perpetual remembrance."

(4) Robert McClelland from the Dictionary of American Biography, Volume XI, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1933.
Robert McClelland (Aug. 1, 1807-Aug. 30, 1880), congressman, governor of Michigan, secretary of the interior, was born at Greencastle, Pa., the son of Dr. John McClellan and Eleanor Bell McCulloh. He graduated from Dickinson College in 1829 and was admitted to the bar at Chambersburg in 1831. After practicing for a year in Pittsburgh he migrated to Monroe, Mich., in 1833, where four years later he married Sarah E. Sabine of Williamstown, Mass. Michigan was about to become a state and McClelland was active in organizing the new government and the Democratic party. He served in the constitutional convention of 1835 and in the legislature, 1838-43; in the last-named year he want to Congress, to which he was twice reelected. At Washington he was interested in commerce and foreign affairs, and enjoyed the friendship of Wilmot and of Lewis Cass. He was in close association with the former and supported the "Proviso" to his later embarrassment. He became Cass's chief Michigan lieutenant and aided him considerably in his presidential campaign in 1848.

McClelland retired from Congress in 1849 and after participating in the constitutional convention of 1850 was twice elected governor (1850, 1852). During this period he labored to heal the party schism of 1848 by abandoning his support of the Wilmot Proviso and successfully urging the Michigan Democracy to endorse the compromise measures of 1850. His success in Michigan, his activities at the national Democratic convention of 1852, and especially his close association with Cass, attracted attention outside of Michigan, and when President-Elect Pierce sought a representative man from the Cass faction for his cabinet he invited McClelland to become secretary of the interior.

McClelland found his four-year-old department badly organized and set himself to produce order. His four bureaus, land, Indian, pension, and patent, were scattered over Washington and their work was behindhand. He instituted new regulations requiring more effort from his clerks, classified them under a recently enacted law, and in due time was able to report a coherent and efficient service. He struggled to reduce the corruption and waste that clung persistently to the land, Indian and pension bureaus and his strictness improved conditions in these respects without adding, however, to the popularity of the Pierce administration. He urged that pensions be given only to the indigent. The Indians he favored placing upon reservations, as quickly as possible, so that they might be taught the arts of civilization. Money payments to them should be stopped, he argued, and their annuities settled in goods. As to the public lands, he was at first much interested in grants to the states to be used for railroad purposes and favored a Pacific railroad constructed by the aid of land subsidies from the federal government, but as the railroad interests became more importunate and brought to bear upon Congress what the Pierce administration considered improper pressure, he withdrew his support from projects for this form of aid. The land system itself he thought needed no improvement, and like the dominant element in his party he opposed homestead legislation. None of his major recommendations was adopted by Congress, however; the value of his service to his department lay in his ability to produce system, order and honesty. As a member of Pierce's cabinet he belonged with Marcy and Guthrie to the more conservative wing and joined the former in advising the President to follow a neutral policy in Kansas.

In 1857 McClelland returned to Michigan, settling down in Detroit to twenty-three years of legal practice. He returned to public service briefly in 1867 as a member of the Michigan constitutional convention. In personality he was always plain and unprepossessing; his manners were somewhat brusque and forbidding; and he was regular and painstaking in his mode of life to an extent which in his later years became proverbial among his neighbors.

(5) James H. McClelland, Architect, Builder, from Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania, Biography, by John W. Jordan, LL.D., Vol. III, New York, Lewis Publishing Company, 1914.
To characterize in few words the achievements and abilities of such a man as the late James H. McClelland, one of the most noted architects and builders that has ever honored the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by residence in it, is to attempt the well-nigh impossible. His life was in large measure an object lesson, teaching plainly his belief in the true brotherhood of man, and the noble ideas which he fostered and promulgated have been inherited by his sons, whose sketches follow this, the names of Dr. James H. McClelland, Dr. John B. McClelland and Dr. Robert W. McClelland being blessed by countless numbers. With a soul far above mere business gain, James H. McClelland was esteemed throughout the business community for the integrity and honesty with which he conducted all his business transactions, and his word was in truth considered as a bond. The memory of such a man can never die. The structures he created, the noble ideals to which he gave visible form, will ever arouse a deep interest and an earnest desire to emulate them. The vivid imagination with which so many children of the Emerald Isle are gifted found varied expression in the beautiful creations of James H. McClelland, and it is well for the beauty of the city that this is the case. His sons have inherited the brilliant mind of their father, but have turned these ideas in the direction of assisting suffering humanity with an equal amount of success.

James H. McClelland was born two miles from Belfast, in County Down, North of Ireland, September 23, 1800, and died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 15, 1871. At the age of sixteen years his energetic and enterprising nature would no longer permit him to ignore the opportunities which appeared to beckon from the shores of the New World. He accordingly emigrated to America and settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1816. Earnest and studious in his habits he took up the profession of architecture, not alone by means of theoretical study but by actual practical work as an architect and builder. Many of the finest buildings in the city are the productions of his genius, and with his ideal and imaginative work as an architect he combined the practical work of a contractor. In numerous instances he played the dual role of contractor and superintendent of construction work, an ordeal which only a man of his fine constitution could have successfully carried out. His designs were repeatedly commended by those best able to judge of such matters, and his promptness in the execution of orders became proverbial. In manner he was simply and direct, coming clearly and concisely to any point which he wished to make. What was characteristic of his speech was also characteristic of his work. His plans were always carefully thought out down to the veriest detail before work was commenced upon them, and when once begun the work progressed along well defined lines which prevented unnecessary delay. As a writer Mr. McClelland possessed graphic powers of description which made anything emanating from his pen a pleasure to read, and his intense interest in the public welfare made him a frequent and ever welcome contributor to the daily press. Appreciation of his well deserved popularity was shown in 1867, when he was appointed postmaster of the city of Pittsburgh, an office which, although it had come to him without personal solicitation on his part, he filled with remarkable executive ability until his death.

Mr. McClelland married, February 12, 1835, Elizabeth Thomson, daughter of Rev. John Black, D.D., who was born in the North of Ireland, but was of Scotch ancestry. He was graduated from the University of Glasgow, and came to the United States in 1797. His power as a pulpit orator won him fame all over the country, and for half a century he was pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh. As a man of learning he had few equals in his day, and his facile and graceful pen gained him a large circle of admirers. For a period of twelve years he held the chair of Professor of Languages in the Western University of Pennsylvania, and under his able tuition his daughter, Mrs. James H. McClelland, became exceptionally well read in ancient and modern literature. Mr. and Mrs. McClelland had eleven children: Two sons, each in turn named John Black, both dying in infancy; Thomas C., who fought bravely in the Civil War and was killed in battle; Mary Watson Pentland; Elizabeth Black, who married Rev. J.S. Kelsey; Sarah Collins; Annie Eva; Dr. James H., who is the subject of a following narrative; Dr. John Black, deceased; William B., deceased, who was an able member of the Pittsburgh bar; Dr. Robert W., who is written of on following pages.

In many respects Mr. McClelland was a model in business life. While it was but natural that he should desire success to crown his efforts, he would accept this only if it were founded on truth and honor. False representations were abhorrent to him, and the mere thought of a possible greater monetary gain never appealed to him. Characteristic of the man were his industry, his practical mind and his power of organization. His nature was genial and sympathetic and in complete harmony with his fine personal appearance. His language, while rich and imaginative, was simple and unaffected, and a rich sense of humor pervaded all his utterances.

McClelland Home Page