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Halbert Samuel McClure Family Mysteries

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Location: Botetourt, Augusta, and Rockbridge Counties, Virginiamap
Surname/tag: McClure
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Halbert Samuel McClure (1684-1754) and his family migrated from County Donegal, Ireland, to Botetourt County, Virgina in the 1730s. Botetourt has a well-established genealogy library as well as a plethora of other genealogical resources. As we go back in time, to before 1770 when Botetourt was still part of Augusta County (established 1738), things get fuzzy in internet genealogy land. Pieces parts of our history are scattered about, but there are places where those pieces aren't put together quite right. This mystery is about collecting up the legitimate pieces in one spot and untangling messes as we go.



  • Any primary or secondary source as to Halbert's wife's maiden name ("Agnes __?")
  • Additional sources for Halbert's brother, Nathaniel
  • Any primary or secondary source as to Halbert's son Nathaniel's wife's maiden name ("Mary __?")


  • Add the complete text of Halbert McClure's will, proven in 1754 (it is in Following the McClures starting on page 41)
  • Add the appropriate material from and the link to "The McClure Family" by James McClure (I have a link to the PDF, it was published in 1914 as is now past copyright).

The Evidence

Following the McClures - Donegal to Botetourt

I have, in physical, paper, form, a copy of Following the McClures - Donegal to Botetourt, Second Edition, by McClure, Joseph W., George E. Honts, and Ellwyn Worley, published in 2007. This tome contains almost two hundred pages of colorful history, followed by over 200 more pages of descendency charts printed in a very small font, followed by 80 pages of index. This is a secondary source in genealogy terms. Secondary sources are documents and records that were not created at the time that an even occurred. They may include old letters, books, oral interviews, and vital records for events other than that in which they were written for. Secondary sources are often provided by someone recollecting events of the past, and may not always be completely accurate. I've found a small error here and there when comparing to original source (i.e., a physical grave marker showed a different birth year), but in general this is a well researched and reliable resource, particularly because it had three authors that had easy access to the great resources of Botetourt, Augusta and Rockbridge counties, and that debated many points at length. I'm not about to type the whole thing in, but let's start with this bit about our protagonist, Halbert.

Amid this turmoil Halbert McClure felt secure enough to start a family when he married Agnes in 1707. Agnes was born around 1690, her last name is unknown, but assuredly she was of Scotch descent. The Scots, for the most part, were true to their religion and would not intermarry with the Catholics. The Catholics felt just as strongly about intermarrying with the Presbyrterians and as a result there were very few unions between the Scotch and the Irish. In any event, Halbert and Agnes has six children, all born in Raphoe Parish, County Donegal, as follows:

  • Samuel 1709
  • Moses 1710
  • Nathaniel 1712
  • Alexander 1717
  • Hannah 1719
  • John 1725

The rest of Halbert's family included his two brothers, Nathaniel born in 1685, and John who was born in 1706. Their father was James Andrew McClure who was born in 1660 and married about 1683. The name of his wife is not known. Nathaniel apparently never married. John married Nancy, who was born about 1710 and they had four sons. Two were born in Ireland, Arthur in 1732 and James in 1734. The other two were born in the Colony of Virginia, John in 1736 and Halbert iin 1738. It is important to note that another McClure family had its genesis in the Raphoe Parish. There are similarities in the pattern of events that brough each to Ireland from Scotland at about the same time and from Ireland to America, if not at the same time, only a year apart. Also, the duplication of first names reveals a remarkable similarity in background and there is evidence of family interactions in colonial times. The relevance of all this is that is leads to the possibility that these two families were related. The patriarch of the "other" McClure family was Andrew. Andrew, like James Andrew, was born about 1660 in Raphoe. He probably married in the early 1680's, since his first child, William, was born in 1685. His only other child, James, was born in 1690. The events and movements of the James McClure family are well recorded and have been the center of attention by historians at the exclusion of William and his family.[1]

McClure Families of Allen, Paulding and Van Wert Counties Ohio

Also in my possession in paper form is a book titled McClure Families of Allen, Paulding and Van Wert Counties Ohio, by Ruth Woten Rumbaugh, published in 1985. This is another secondary source, and this book has gotten a bit of a rep for being erroneous in places. I've had it recommended to me to double check it's contents against other sources when possible. Let's see what it has to say about our Halbert.

In the WILL of Halbert McClure (Augusta Co., Va, Will Bk 2, pgs 36-38) he is referred to as "Gentleman". The term "Gentleman" was understood to be one of the Upper Middle Class, coming between the nobility and the yoemen. They were descended from free men, with a coat-of-arms and the privilege of wearing a sword. On the American frontier a prominent person would be given the title, only, as a matter of courtesy. In Halbert's WILL dated 23 March 1753 and proven 15 March 1754 we find the name of his wife to be Agnes. Two of his sons, Alexander and Nathaniel were named executors of his estate. We also find he had a brother John, for he mentions his brother John's son, Halbert in his WILL. A complete list of Halbert's children are found in the McClure Family by James A. McClure pgs. 135, 136, 140 181, and 193 as follows:

  • Nathaniel 1712-1761, married Mary ___
  • Alexander 1717-1789, married Martha Moore
  • Hannah unknown-1779, married Robert Allison
  • Moses 1720-1778, married Isabella Steele (dau. of David Steele)
  • #Samuel unknown -1779, married Mary ___ (probably Mary Kelso)
  • John 1725-1777, married (1) Mary Malcolm, (2) Mary Allen

#Samuel was a member of Capt. John Buchanan's Va. Militia[2]

So, we have a reference to a primary source, the will of Halbert McClure. We also have a reference to yet another secondary source, "The McClure Family" by James A. McClure. The list of children almost matches between these two sources. While I myself have found a couple mistakes in this resource, it looks like it isn't out in the woods either.


These 1700's McClures loved to use and re-use a small set of given names. This has led to much confusion of persons. Here we map out the unique individuals with the same name. Patriarch here refers to the James Andrew McClure that fathered the men that emigrated to the United States in the late 1730s.

I suggest including the following block of text on profiles that are listed below.

Due to the re-use of a handful of first names by the Colonial era McClures, please consult [[Space:Halbert Samuel McClure Family Mysteries|The Halbert Samuel McClure Family Mysteries]] "Duplicity" section when contemplating a merge of this profile.

Note: These tables are just barely started and are very much in progress.

The Alexander McClure Collection

Profile Birth Death Wives
McClure-2748 1796 Rockbridge County, Virginia, United States 1859 Adams County, Ohio, United States Esther Campbell
McClure-1422 14 July 1806 Cynthiana, Harris County, Kentucky, United States 30 September 1862 Paulding Count, Ohio, United States Margaret Neely

The James McClure Collection

Profile Birth Death Wives
McClure-814 15 Jan 1765 Ireland 15 Dec 1851 Butts, Georgia, United States Mary Polly Sharpe

The Nathaniel McClure Collection

Profile Birth Death Wives
McClure-1222 1685 Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland 1754 Augusta, Virginia Never married
McClure-1413 1712 Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland May 1761 Augusta, Virginia Mary (poss. Dryden Harrelson/Harrison)
McClure-1233 1746 Augusta, Virginia 1791 Kentucky, United States UK, Dorcas Cole/Cox
McClure-3621 1773 Fincastle, Virginia Unknown Jane (not a duplicate of McClure-570)
McClure-570 4 Feb 1774 Botetourt, Virginia 18 Jan 1848 Boone, Kentucky, United States Jane Porter (merged with McClure-1467)

The Thomas McClure Collection

Profile Birth Death Wives
McClure-813 21 Mar 1806 Mecklinberg, North Carolina, United States 27 Jun 1890 Butts, Georgia, United States Sarah C. Hardey
McClure-1283 (Thomas Jefferson) 1850 Gilmer County, Georgia, United States 28 November 1931 Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, United States Mary Elizabeth Bolding

Noted, need to add to above

  • Halbert and James' brother Alexander (1717-1790) had a son Nathaniel (1752-1788)
  • Go thru the books


Here are some breadcrumbs that may or may not be useful. Perhaps as a collection they will shed some light. I'm going to start with some tidbits from Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia. This is original source material, but in pieces that may not be useful for genealogy. For example, you might find your ancestor's name, but not with enough context to confirm or deny that it is indeed about your ancestor.

November 17, 1767, (page 339) Thomas McClure aged 14, orphan of Nathaniel McClure, chose Halbert McClure guardian. John Cassaty, aged 16, orphan of Neil Cassaty, chose Saml. Davis his guardian. Samuel Davis qualifies administrator of Neil Cassaty.
This is likely Thomas McClure (son of Nathaniel, grandson of Halbert) as he was indeed 14 years of age at this time and his mother Mary died 10 August 1767. His eldest brother was named Halbert, but there were other Halberts in his extended family.[3]


  1. McClure, Joseph W., George E. Honts, and Ellwyn Worley. Following the McClures - Donegal to Botetourt. Chester, Va.?: J.W. McClure, 2007. 9-10. Print.
  2. Rumbaugh, Ruth Woten. McClure Families of Allen, Paulding and Van Wert Counties Ohio. 1990. 3. Print.
  3. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~chalkley/volume_1/or11_140.htm#page 140,Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia,Volume I,AUGUSTA COUNTY COURT RECORDS.,ORDER BOOK No. XI. (cont.),© Copyright 1996, USGenWeb NOTICE: Material may be freely used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other presentation.
  • [1]Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745-1800, Volume 1,Lyman Chalkley,1912.
  • [2], Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta County, 1745-1800, Volume 3,Lyman Chalkley,1912.

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I found this resource today. https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/viewer/283217/?offset=2#page=8&viewer=picture&o=&n=0&q=

It is called The McClure Story. I think this is a secondary source. It lists a number of sources utilized to create the book. I am currently reading it. Idk how useful it will be. Thought I would check in and share what I have stumbled across. I hope it doesn’t muddy the waters more.

posted by Kris (Lenhart) Socha
I got on familytree today to sift thru my tree and see if I could find new leads. I noticed Halbert McClure had been edited and so I went to find this... https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LT9C-51K

If you will notice in the bio it states, “MOST LIKELY END OF LINE: DO NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES UNLESS YOU ARE A POFESSIONAL RESARCHER FOR IRELAND. One of the Church’s LDS Accredited professional researchers has cleaned up and extensively researched this family. Please be so kind to not make any changes except with absolute credible sources and only after reading that research so that guess work and speculative data from incorrect secondary sources are not perpetuated. If you want to add a lead, please do so in the “Notes” section. The location of that research can be found under “Collaborate” above. Additional research possible but unlikely, but only can be done by an Ireland profession researcher.

Halbert Samuel McClure BIRTH 1684 Raphoe, County Donegal, Ireland DEATH 15 May 1754 (aged 69–70) Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA BURIAL Timber Ridge Presbyterian Churchyard Timber Ridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA MEMORIAL ID 127227074 · View Source

MEMORIAL PHOTOS 0 FLOWERS 8 Family Members Parents James Arthur Andrew McClure 1660–1732

Spouse Agnes Elizabeth Steele McClure 1690–1768

Children John McClure 1725–1779

Per "Following the McClures - Donegal to Botetourt", page 10, Halbert and Agnes had six children, all born in Raphoe Parish, County Donegal, Ireland, as follows:

Samuel 1709 Moses 1710 Nathaniel 1712 Alexander 1717 Hannah 1719 John 1725

Per "McClure Families of Allen, Paulding and Van Wert Counties, Ohio", page 3, they had the following children: Nathaniel 1712-1761, married Mary ___ Alexander 1717-1789, married Martha Moore Hannah unknown-1779, married Robert Allison Moses 1720-1778, married Isabella Steele (dau. of David Steele)

  • Samuel unknown -1779, married Mary ___ (probably Mary Kelso)

John 1725-1777, married (1) Mary Malcolm, (2) Mary Allen

Neither of these sources mentions Agnes's last name. If I were to go out on a limb, I would say "both" his wives are the same person. There is much commonality between Agnes Elizabeth Steele and Agnes Elizabeth McTavish, but no actual source for either. I'm going to leave that mess alone for now, cleaning up from the children down my line.“

posted by Kris (Lenhart) Socha

I've been trying to trace my family back through the James Andrew McClure line, but I suspect the family ties got tangled. Your mention of an Andrew and James McClure also in the same areas seems like the best lead I have, but I can't seem to find them. Can you point me in the right direction please?

posted by Stevie Barnes

Categories: Family Mysteries