No one need be deeply versed in the history of family names to fix upon the nationality of the Barclays. In truth, not only were the paternal grandfather, John, and the father, James, sons of sturdy Scotland, but Mary Paul, the grandmother, was born there, as also were Agnes Binnie, the mother of the subject of this sketch, and her grandparents, Robert and Mary (Eady) Binnie. John Bar-lay is himself a native of Falkirk, Scotland, where he was born July 25, 1833. On June 6, 1861, he was married to Miss Nancy Kelly, of Argyleshire. Mrs. Barclay's grandparents, James and Effie (McDonald) Kelly and Charles and Elizabeth (Thompson) McNeil, were unswerving Scots, and her parents. James and Elizabeth (McNeil) Kelly, stood in the same firm ranks. The following named children of Mr. and Mrs. Barclay may therefore claim as pure a strain of Scotch blood as can be found anywhere in the State. Margaret Elizabeth (Mrs. R. Paschal, Cass County, Ill.), Nannie C. (Mrs. W. Allison, McDonough County), James L., Charles W. and John A. — the three last named being residents of Scotland Township.
Mr. Barclay left the land of his birth and of his ancestors, on the 25th of April, 1850, landing in New York City, whence he traveled via the Erie Canal to Buffalo and thence by lake boat to Chicago. The old Michigan Canal bore him to La Salle, and then he came on to McDonough County, where his parents purchased a farm in what is now Scotland Township. John remained with his parents until a year before his marriage, when he bought eighty acres as the nucleus of an independent homestead. Until his marriage in 1861, his sister kept house for him. At this location he lived, prospered and established himself as a useful and honorable citizen, adding to his possessions from time to time, until he was the proprietor of 200 acres of improved land. In March, 1894, he retired from his farm, and' removed to Macomb, purchasing property on East Washington Street and erecting thereon a tasteful residence.
During his active life as an agriculturist, as well as during his less strenuous experience at Macomb, Mr. Barclay was repeatedly called upon to perform public service of an important character. For two years he served as Highway Commissioner of Scotland Township, was School Director for a period of twenty years. Supervisor for two years, and Town Clerk, Assessor, and School Treasurer sue cessively for a period of three years each, resigning the latter office on his removal to Macomb. In that city he has also been a member of the City Council for the Third Ward for two years. In politics, he has always been a Republican and, as is quite natural from his unadulterated Scotch ancestry, as well as from his individual convictions, he is a firm adherent to the tenets of the Presbyterian Church.
Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 821-822, extracted 19 Nov 2018 by Norma Hass.