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Captain James C. McClellan

McCLELLAN, (Captain) James C., was born in Washington County, Pa., April 1, 1829. His parents were James and Abigail (Cornwell) McClellan, natives of the same State. They were poor in the world's goods, but rich in faith, and in their intercourse with the world ever endeavored to observe the Golden Rule. The father was by trade a carpenter, and when James was but fourteen years of age he took him in the shop that he might learn the same trade. The common school, that institution from which so many of the eminent men have graduated, was the only place where a knowledge of letters was imparted to him, and the place where all knowledge of books was received, save what he has since learned by self-application. For nineteen years he followed his chosen trade, acquiring considerable skill in the work.

At an early period in his life his parents moved to Preston County, Va., where they remained until their removal to Illinois in 1854. James accompanied them to West Virginia, but tarried there after their, removal to this State, having in the meantime been bound by ties stronger than of bloody-that of marriage with Miss Venia J. Harned. The result of this union was one son, P. H. McClellan, who has now arrived at man's estate, and was lately himself united in marriage with Miss Hattie Burt, of Quincy. The young couple now reside at Mt. Sterling, Ill., where the husband was engaged in the mercantile trade.

While a citizen of West Virginia, Mr. McClellan concluded he would subscribe for and read the "New York Tribune," that he might know what was transpiring in the outer world. This was in ante-war times. Uncle Sam's officials permitted him to receive one copy of the paper, after which they confiscated each number as it appeared and fed it to the flames. In the fall of 1857 Mr. McClellan came to Illinois, and during the winter of 1857-58 was in the employ of William L. Imes & Co., of Macomb, in the manufacture of agricultural implements. In the spring of 1858 he went to Missouri, remaining there one year, when he returned to McDonough County, settling in the village of Industry, where he labored at his trade until the summer of 1862, when he enlisted as a private in Company I, Seventy-eighth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and with the regiment was mustered into the United States service at Camp Wood, near Quincy, on the first day of September of that year. With this regiment he continued for some fifteen months, participating in every engagement. He was in the battle of Chickamauga, Mission Ridge, and many minor skirmishes and battles — the Seventy-eighth always being in the front. In December, 1863, he was discharged for promotion, receiving the commission as First Lieutenant of Company H. Seventeenth Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. Shortly after the battle of Nashville — the most important battle in which the regiment was engaged — he was promoted to the rank of Captain, which position he retained during the war, and as such was honorably discharged in August, 1865, a few months after the close of the war.

On his return home Captain McClellan embarked in the drug business in Industry, continuing in that connection about five years, in which time he built up an excellent trade, while laying by a little money for a "rainy day." After closing out his drug trade, he removed to his farm, in Industry Township, where he remained one year, from which place he removed to Macomb in the fall of 1871. Shortly after coming to Macomb he engaged as salesman in the dry-goods house of Luther Johnson, where he remained one year, when he purchased of Messrs. Knapp & Hamilton the bookstore on the northeast corner of the square, in which line of trade he continued for about two years, when having favorable opportunity to dispose of the stock, he sold the same and immediately purchased the well-known clothing store of S. P. Dewey.

In 1852 Captain McClellan made a profession of religion, uniting with the Methodist Episcopal Church, with which body he yet remains connected. On the organization of the Republican party in 1856, he gave adhesion to its principles as enunciated in Its national platform, but living in a slave State, he dared not express his sentiments as publicly as he desired, though his sentiments were well known. In the first Presidential campaign of that party, though he was not permitted to vote for the candidate of his choice, he did the next best thing, and voted for Millard Fillmore for President. As soon as he arrived in the free State of Illinois the seal was removed from his lips, and he could enjoy the right of free speech and vote for his sentiments without fear of molestation.

Captain McClellan is above medium height, well and strongly built, has a good head, wears a full beard, and as a citizen enjoys the respect and confidence of his fellowmen. As a business man he has been eminently successful in every enterprise in which he has engaged. He is quite cautious in his business ventures, and calculates with certainty the result of every step. In the family he is kind and indulgent, and as a friend and neighbor he is universally esteemed.

Source: The Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of McDonough County, compiled by Dr. Newton Bateman, and Paul Shelby, 1907, volume 2, pages 947-949, extracted 12 Sep 2019 by Norma Hass.

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