John McClure was born in 1758, presumably in Scotland. This knowledge was passed on through the writings of his grandson, Martin McClure and great grandson, John Rice Caldwell. Their daughter Ann listed them as being born in Pennsylvania on the 1880 census, but we are not certain of this fact. Right or wrong, we are going to assume they came to American shortly after the Revolutionary War and settled in Pennsylvania. We have no marriage date or exact burial dates of either John or his wife. But going with what information is available, we can reveal some of what took place in the rest of their lives and set the stage for tracing their descendants, our ancestors, on down our genealogy line.
York County, Pennsylvania was where John McClure was living in 1780 with his wife, Margaret Morrison, born in 1762. There were several McClure families living in York County, Pennsylvania but no connection to our John McClure has been found. There was at least one known Morrison family living there also but they did not include a Margaret Morrison. She may or may not have been related to them, as John could have been related to the other McClure’s living there.
We do know that John McClure and Margaret Morrison married sometime before 1780, the date when their first child, Mary, was born in York County, Pennsylvania. Margaret was 18 years old at that time and John was 22. We know of four more children born to them, William, Sarah, Anne and John. They very likely had even more children between 1780 and 1805, but no record of them has been found. In those days, there was usually a child born at an average of one every two years, making 12 to 13 the average number of children in a family. Of course, that size of family was only if all the children survived. Because of the many childhood illnesses that were incurable in those days, many didn’t. Even with the children that did survive, it is very difficult to find out their names if they were born before 1850 because wives and children’s names were not listed in censuses before 1850.
John and Margaret lived in York County until 1790 when they and their two children, Mary and William made the move west to Ohio. It was almost certain that they made the trip with other relatives or friends. That trip was made via the Ohio River but also involved over one hundred miles of overland travel to get from York County to Pittsburgh, the jumping off spot for the trip west, or rather the floating off spot. This is where the Ohio River begins, being formed from the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. At Pittsburgh, as hundreds of other pioneer families did, the McClure’s built, or more likely had built for them, a raft that would float them down the long meandering river. There were various types of crude floating devices made for the different people to go down the river, from canoes for adults with few possessions, to flat-bottomed family rafts which is most likely the type our travelers journeyed on. This was not just a short float trip on a mill pond but was a long arduous journey down a river that was largely unmapped at that time. The distance as the crow flies, between Pittsburgh and their landing spot, Cincinnati, is only 300 miles but following the curving winding river made the trip about 900 miles long. Most of the journeys heading westward down the river would start in the spring of the year so that the winter runoff and spring rains would swell the river enough to cover the sand bars that could have grounded the rafts. Of course, the larger volume of water in the river would also make for heavier and potentially dangerous currents to contend with, along with the sunken logs and tree snags embedded in the river bottom. Other hazards they had to watch out for were the numerous islands they could have run aground on. It was determined later that there were 98 of them just between Pittsburgh and Marietta. There were also not always friendly Indians to deal with along the route when the rafters would stop and tie up along the shore of the river.
We assume the McClure trip would have also started in the springtime. Although the length of time the journey took is not known, we do know they made the trip successfully. It would certainly be interesting to know about the trials and tribulations that were bound to have occurred during the river voyage. The McClure family may have stopped briefly at Marietta, as many other travelers had done on their journey down the river.
The McClure’s finally landed at the mouth of the Licking River where it empties from the south into the Ohio River. The Licking River ran from Kentucky past many salt marshes and salt licks from which it probably got its name. The north side of the Ohio River where the conjunction occurred is today the site of Cincinnati. At that time, there was a new fort located there called Fort Washington that had been built in 1789 to defend the settlers from the Native American tribes, especially the Miami Indians. Soon after they landed, John McClure moved his family to the fort for protection from the marauding Indians.
Around 1795, John and the family moved south across the Ohio River to live for a year in a fortified camp called a Lockade. This move put them in the state of Kentucky where in 1795, a daughter, Sarah, was born to John and Margaret.
Not liking the climatic conditions in that part of the state, John and his family headed back southeast about another 100 miles to Paint Township in Ross County, Ohio, where he purchased land to farm. John and Margaret would remain there the rest of their lives.
We know that John and Margaret arrived in Ross County by 1802, because a daughter Ann was born there that year. When their son, John Morrison McClure was born in 1805, they were living in Highland County, even though they had never moved, because by then Highland County had been created from a portion of the larger Ross County. John McClure passed away there between 1820 and 1830 at around 65-70 years old. According to the 1830 Highland County census, Margaret was living there with her 25-year-old son, John Morrison. However, she did not show up in any later records, so it is assumed she passed away between 1830 and 1840 at around 69-78 years old. It is not known where either John or Margaret are buried.
1790 census lists a John McClure in Mixed Township York, PA
A 1820 census for Paint Count, Ohio seems to substantiate that this is John since verified children were born there. The enumerator listed his name as John W. Clara.
1830 census Madison, Highland, OH living with son John M. McClure listed as Male 60-69
The County of Highland: A History of Highland County, Ohio, includes a biography of a grandson who states John was born in Scotland.
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