A McLean legacy:

Some years ago one of my aunts on my mother's side (a McLean) discovered the following document. I have no idea where or how she found it, but I immediately begged a copy. When they read this to Grandmother McLean, she made the connection between the McLeans documented here and our small segment of the family. Unfortunately, that information was lost. This history, though, is a very intimate and detailed accounting of 'begat's and begot's' during a time when our nation was very young and vibrant. It is all the more poignant for me because of my connection to these people. It is what triggered my interest in genealogy, and I hope it will open a window for other MacLeans onto what became a wide spread and influential branch of the Clan in this country.

 

 

History of the McLean Family
As told by Mr. Alney McLean, 1885

Ephraim McLean Family

(Transcribed from a copy of a letter in the possession of a Mrs. Robert McClain, Mt. Pleasant, Tenn.)

Middleton, Tennessee
August 26, 1885

Mr. Samuel M. Stockard
Springfield, Mo.

Dear Relative:

Your letter addressed to me at Shelbyville was received four days since. Shelbyville is twelve miles from my place, hence, the delay in it's delivery. Your letter is much appreciated. It is a pleasure to be able to give you the information desired. I am indeed the Alney McLean you knew when you were a mere child. I have now passed my three score years and ten. My health and strength have yielded to the weight of the years upon me, and my nerves are so shattered that I can only write with a pencil, and that with my left hand. My daughter, Lela Vance acts as penman in writing this letter.

Our McLean family of America consists of two branches. Ephraim McLean being the progenenitor {actual spelling} of one branch, and Charles that of the other. Ephraim McLean, my grandfather was born in Scotland in the year 1730. His father was John McLean, and his mother was a daughter of Ephraim Moore, of that country. That accounts for the name Ephraim being so liberally patronized in the McLean families. Ephraim and his brother Charles came to America in the year 1750. Charles was the older of the two brothers, but I don't know how much. They both settled in Western North Carolina, and partly raised their families there. Ephraim married Elizabeth Davidson about the year 1761. She being the maternal head of the family demands her some notice of her Davidson family. Her father Major John Davidson, moved from near Philadelphia to Western North Carolina about the year 1748. He was also the father of William, George, and John Davidson. John and George married sisters, daughters of John Brevard. The large family of Brevards were distinguished patriots in the war of Independence. Dr. Ephraim Brevard wrote the Mecklinburg Declaration of Endependence {act. sp}, which was so enthustically {act. sp} ratified by the Convention assembled in Charlotte in May 1776. The convention then and there assembled appointed what they called a Committee of Safety, a kind of Legislature, which held regular monthly meetings at Salisburg in Rowan County. Ephraim McLean was a member of that committee. At the meeting of the committee, October 1775, it was ordered that three additional brigades should be raised. Thomas Polk was appointed Colonel, Charles McLean, Major of one of those brigades. I must say something more of the Davidson family before I leave them. John and his wife were killed by the Indians. William raised a large family of sons and daughters. Two of his daughters you have some knowledge of. They were Aunt Ruth and Sallie Williams. Ruth was the wife of Sam Williams, and Sallie the wife of Joshua Williams, and the mother of your Aunt Lucretia. The sons of William Davidson were George, John, Hugh, Mitchell and Samuel. Hugh and Mitchell married sisters of my mother. They were the daughters of David Vance, of Ashville, N. C. He was grandfather of Senator Zeb Vance, of that state, who is my cousin.
I learned from history (Wheeler's) of North Carolina, that Ephraim McLean was present at the meeting of the committee of safety at Salisburg on the 22nd of October, 1775. His name does not appear at any subsequent meeting of that body. Now I suppose he must have moved soon after to this Kentucky. He went to Harrodsburg, in that state, where he remained but a short time, when he removed to the Cumberland River and settled on that stream four miles above where Nashville now stands on a six hundred (600) acre tract of land in a bend of the river now known as the McLean Bend. At the time of Nashville's Centennial Celebration, in 1880, a history of the early settlement of that city was published in papers of the day, in which history Ephraim McLean was mentioned as one of the three trustees of the school at that place. I suppose he left Nashville soon after, for I have been told his youngest son, Robert, was born in Harrodsburg in 1782.
Sometime near the close of the last century, he moved to Maury County, Tennessee and settled in Knob Creek, where he remained until 1820. He was then 90 years old, and, being worn out with old age, he went back to Kentucky to spend his few remaining days with his sons, Alney and Robert who lived at Greenville. His son, Alney, had a house built in his yard for his father and mother to live in; he lived three more years, dying at the age of 93. I have never learned whether grandmother survived him or not. Ephraim McLean was the father of twelve children, his oldest, a son named John, was killed by the Indians, and his youngest, a daughter, died in infancy; he raised to manhood and womanhood 8 sons and 2 daughters; his sons were George, Ephraim, Charles, Alney, William, James and Robert. His daughters married and lived in Kentucky. One married General Robert Ewing, a brother of Rev. Dinis Ewing; she was the mother of Judge Ephraim Ewing, a very distinguished lawyer of his state. He represented Kentucky in the Congress of the United States, and was appointed Supreme Judge of the State, which position he held until his death. And he is the Ewing who endowed a professorship in Cumberland University at Lebanon, Tennessee. The other daughter Robert Brank; she was the mother of Dr. Huston Brank and Ephraim Brank. Ephraim Brank studied law in the office of Judge Alney McLean and in a class with John McLean, the oldest son of Rev. Ephraim McLean. George McLean married his cousin a daughter of General William Davidson. He settled in Logan County, Kentucky, 12 miles west of Russellville, about 100 years ago. His youngest son, Andrew Jackson died on the same farm a year since, at the age of 76 years. Alney McLean and Ephraim Brank married sisters. They are said to have been very refined and accomplished ladies. Uncle Alney's sons were William, a farmer; his second son, Thornton, a Presbyterian minister of fine ability, who went to Miss. and there died. His third son Robert Davidson, a lawyer, lived at Grenada, Miss. and was Judge of the Circuit Court of that District. He died there in 1878. His wife and two daughters died there of yellow fever, when it visited that place with such fatal results. His oldest, Eliza Ann, married a Mr. McBride. They moved to Miss. and there he died. She was an accomplished and elegant lady. His second daughter Tabitha, was also very accomplished and very learned; she never married. She is now 71 years old and lives with her twin brother Charles, and Alney, at Greenville. Uncle Robert married a Miss Wilson. They have five children, three sons and two daughters. The oldest son, Robert, was a practicing physician in Muhlinburg, County, Edward and Alney went with their father to Miss. and settled there. Celia married a Robert Russell and they still live in Clarksville, Tenn. Her father died at her home, age 90. I don't know what became of Eliza, the other daughter. Finis McLean the youngest of Rev. Ephraim McLean, once wrote me that he had a conversation with Uncle Robert, who told him he was then 80 years old, and that he had not felt a pain in his body for 30 years and was then an active practitioner of his profession. (Ramarkable {act. sp} vigor in old age.) Our ancestors were a hardy and athletic race of men. My father was six feet two inches high, and weighed over 300 pounds. Rev. Ephraim was the same height, and weighed 330 pounds. Neither carried any surplus flesh. I could tell many anedotes {act. sp} of their athletic sports but must desist. I am running too much into details; I must lop them off, or my letter will never come to an end. My father, Uncle Sam, Uncle Ephraim and Uncle William lived and died in Tennessee. The two latter, Ephraim and William were buried on Snow Creek, in Maury County, on the farm which belonged to your grandfather. Uncle William has two sons, William and Samuel, living in Marshall County, this state. (Tenn.) His oldest son, Andrew, died two weeks ago. He was 83 years old. My father ?Charles_McLean?, married in 1799. I could relate how it was that Charles McLean, of Maury County, Tenn. met, wooed, and won Sallie Vance, of the classic Swanonoa {sp?}, but I must refrain. My father lived in Maury County until 1811, when he moved to this Rutherford County, where I now live. He died here in 1825, leaving my mother with ten children to raise, six sons and four daughters. The sons were: David Vance, who died in Warren County, age 71. Ephraim Baxter died at Chattanooga in 1884, aged 81 years. Charles Grandison died here, aged 52. Dr. William McLean died in Tylor, Texas. Robert Brank, my youngest brother lived in Nashville, the only one of the large family living except myself. He is 62 years old. Sister Susan Howard Davidson died in Benton County, Arkansas, eight years past being about 70. Pricilla Brank McCutcheon died near Union City, Tenn. about six years since. Sara Jane Baird died in Marshall County. Cynthia Wadley died in Williamson County. My mother died here in 1847, in her 69th year. Uncle Sam lived and died near Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Uncle James lived and died in Madison County, Miss. has one son living in that state, Dr. Ephraim McLean. He is about 80 years old, and a daughter, Eliza Hannah, living at Hot Springs, Ark. I have devoted as much time and space to one branch of the family as will be of interest to you. I will now take up the other branch, the one through which J. D. Walker has descended.

Charles McLean, the brother of Ephraim, married Susan Howard, a daughter of Dr. Howard of Philadelphia, an eminent physician of that city in his day. She was, however a widow Allison, when he married her. They had three children, two sons and a daughter. The oldest son, John, distinguished himself as a soldier in the Rev. war, and died soon after its close. His daughter Rebecca, married in North Carolina a man by the name of White. She died young, leaving one son named Charles White. He was taken to Kentucky, while an infant, and raised by his grandmother. Ephraim, the youngest child, married Elizabeth Byers, her father moved from Rockbridge County, Va. to South Carolina, before the Rev. war began. He was engaged in indigo farming, which was a profitable persuit {act. sp} in those days. When the war was prevailing, he raised a company of volunteers, in which his three sons enlisted, and entered the service, leaving his wife and three daughters on the farm. The patriotic position Mr. Byers and his sons had assumed excited the malice and hatred of the Tories, who were numerous in that locality. They, the Tories, had frequently threatened Mrs. Byers to take vengence {act. sp} on her and her family by burning her home over her head and destroying her property, if she did not leave. She finally became alarmed for her safety and hastily gathered up what light household plunder she could pack in a two horse wagon, and with a faithful servant to drive, started out with her three daughters for Rockbridge County, Va., where it was comparatively peaceable. When she got to the Catawba River, at Cowans Ford, she found the stream very much swollen from recent rains. Gen. Davidson, with his troops were posted on this side of the ford, expecting Earl Cornwallis to attempt to cross from the other side of the river. In this great dilemna, {act. sp} she ordered the driver to chain the bed to the running gear of the wagon and take the stream. They forded in safety and when they rose the hill on the other side, Cornwallis had filed in behind them and attempted to cross. When the fight commenced at the ford, Gen. Davidson was shot and fell off his horse in the river. Mrs. Byers and her daughters witnessed this battle from the top of the hill beyond. They went on to Virginia without any further trouble, after the battle of King's Mountain, and retreat of the British Army to Yorktown, Va. They returned to their home to find it greatly despoiled by the Tories. They had broken up the furniture, ripped open the beds, emptied the feathers in the yard, cut down the young orchard and destroyed fencing on the farm. To complete the vandalism, they built a fire on the floor of one of the rooms of the house, with the intention of burning it; at this juncture they discovered a sick man in another room, and raised the cry of smallpox; with this fear they hastily fled. The sick man extinguished the fire and saved the house. This is the version of those events, as given by Elizabeth Byers McLean in after life, and handed down by tradition through her generation. It has been my good fortune to obtain them through correspondence with her youngest son, Finis Ewing McLean, late of Greencastle, Ind. I am much indebted to him for valued family history. At the time when the above events transpired, Elizabeth was twelve years old. She and Ephraim McLean were united in marriage in 1788. In 1796, they, with their father Charles. McLean, moved to Kentucky and settled in the wilderness twelve miles west of Russellville, in Logan County. In those days there were no Doctors in that country. From necessity, Ephraims mother took up the practice of medicine, having learned something of the science from her father. She continued to practice as long as she lived dying at the advanced age of 90. Her husband preceded her to the grave many years. Ephraim McLean was converted under the preaching of the great McGrady, in the revival of 1800, and soon afterward joined the Cumberland Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, as a candidate for the ministry. Church history will inform you why it was that the young men candidates for the ministry belonging to that presbytery were ordinatied {sp?} so long. On the third day of February 1810, Finis Ewing and Samuel King went to the house of Ephraim McLean to consult with him on the subject of the restrictions the Synod of Kentucky had placed on the Cumberland Presbytery under the control of the Synod. That night's consultation directed to the formation of an independent Presbytery, resulted in a determination to go to Samuel McAdoo's in Dickson County, Tenn. the next day and if they could enlist him in their cause, they would constitute an independent Presbytery. Mr. McAdoo, after giving the matter much prayerful consideration, decided to enter into their plans. They then and there organized a Presbytery and ordained Ephraim McLean to the full work of the ministry. His ordination was the constitution of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Rev. Ephraim McLean died in 1812. The Character and capability of a noble woman was then developed in the person of his wife. She had been rocked in the Rev., injured to the privations and troubles of a long war and the hardships and trials of a frontier life in later years, which fitted her for the new field in life imposed upon her by the death of her husband. Her great merit is fully attested in the distinguished family of sons and daughters she raised. She was left with a family of six sons and three daughters to provide for and educate. Her oldest son, John, after returning from the Indian War, under Gen. Jackson, studied law under the instructions of Judge McLean in Greenville. John settled in Shawneetown to practice law, when Ill. was a territory. He was a fine scholar and a natural orator, a robust man, weighing over 300 pounds. He was elected to the convention that formed Ill. first constitution, and was her first congressman when she had but one representative, and was elected to the United States Senate in 1824. He served out his first term and part of the second and died in Shawneetown, leaving a wife and one child. The populous county of McLean, in which Bloomington is situated was named for him. Her son William settled in Ill. in about 1820; he laid out the town of McLeansboro which was named for him in the County of Hamilton, where he lived for a few years, then he moved to Randolph County, Mo. bought a farm adjoining his brother where he farmed and practiced medicine very extensively and where he died at an advanced age and was buried by the side of his brother Charles who died a few years before him. They both left families. James lived and died at Lawrenceville, Ill. He left two daughters and three sons. Azell McGee died in Logan County, Kentucky about twenty five years ago leaving a son and two daughters and was buried at the family burying ground where his father and mother were buried, and also his brothers Ephraim Howard, and his three sisters Susan Howard, the eldest, Elizabeth Walton, the next and Ann the youngest. Susan Howard McLean married Col. James V. Walker of Logan County. She left four sons and one daughter, Senator J. D. Walker of the youngest son. Ephraim Howard died young.
Finis Ewing McLean, later of Greencastle, Ind. was the youngest child of Rev. Ephraim and Elizabeth McLean. He died about two years ago at the age of 77. He was a lawyer in his younger days and practiced his profession in the courts of Judge McLean for about twelve years. In 1837 he was elected to the legislature of Ky. afterwards appointed a member of the board of Internal Improvement for the State, and he farmed extensively in Todd County, near Elkton. In 1848 he was a member of the Electoral College that cast the vote of the state for Gen. Taylor for President. He was elected to Congress in 1849, and served two years, his health broke down at this time and he retired from public life. He has three sons by his first wife living. Thorton lives in this Rutherford County near Murfreesboro. He married a daughter of Judge Ridley of this county. She died leaving one son who is about twelve years old. He is said to be a prodigy of smartness and manly behavior. Finis, the next son lives at St. Joseph, Mo. Eds. G {?} the next gave his address in last minutes of the General Assembly of the C. P. Church at Greencastle, Ind. He is a minister of that church. They (preachers) sometimes float around, without any local habitation. Hon. Finis E. McLean has left an only son by his last wife, his name is Ewing. He is 20 years old. I guess he is with his mother at Greencastle. He was to have finished his course at Asbury College last year.
I have now finished my long letter, except to make some mention of my own family, which I will do briefly. My wife has now been dead two years. I was married to her in 1845; she was 18 years old and I was 30. Her name was Martha J. Moore, a sister to Hon. Wm. R. Moore of Memphis. (He was elected to Congress from that district in 1882). I must be permitted to say she was a woman of rare qualities of heart and mind, and highly adorned with the Christian graces. She was a good wife, and a loving mother, ever watchful of the best interest of her family, and highly capable of training her children for useful lives. They loved her with a hallowed devotion, and her councils will ever be cherished and remembered by them. May Heaven's blessings follow them for her sake. I have seven living children, three sons and four daughters. My oldest, Robert Moore went to Memphis in 1864 when he was 16 years old to work in the store with his uncle, William Moore. Mr. Moore has been a wholesale dry goods merchant in that city since before the late war. Robert long since became a partner in the house. My youngest son Walter Baxter, 20 years old, went there two years ago to work in the store with his brother. They are the largest establishment of the kind in the south. The store is 115 x 325 feet, running through from Main to Second street, and owned by Mr. Moore. My second son William Watkins, 34 years old went in business with me in farming and merchandising. I have been in that business for 32 years, William is married and has four children. Robert is also married, and has one child, a daughter. My oldest daughter Fannie, married Rev. L. B. Jarmon, a Baptist minister. The second daughter Sallie married Hon. H. H. Norman, a farmer. The third daughter D'Ella married on the 17th inst., {?} a Mr. W. I. Early, of Nashville. My youngest daughter, Lela Vance, and myself constitute my present family.
Since writing this off hand letter, imperfect as it is, I conclude it contains too much of our family history to be lost to them. Perhaps no other member of the family now living is in possession of all the facts down to my posterity, hoping their appreciation will secure it for careful preservation and transmission to succeeding generations.
I will not {now?} tell you the relationship existing between the son of Rev. Finis Ewing, mentioned in your letter, and our branch of the McLean family. His mother was a daughter of Gen. Davidson, and a niece of my grandfather. Grandmother McLean was a Boyd. She was a sister of old Lardner Boyd, of Maury County. I think John and Lynn Boyd were nephews of hers. If so, your Aunt Becky married her cousin.
Give my affectionate regards to J. D. Walker and all other relatives I may have out west.


Your kinsman,

ALNEY H. McLEAN