(My sincere thanks to our "cousin", Jonathan McClure, of Northern Ireland for his help with some of the early history of Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Clans.)
Our McClure family originated in Scotland and was of Scottish or Scots-Irish descent.
The ancient people of Scotland were of Celtic descent. They were given the name Pict by the Romans because of their custom of painting their skin. The fierce Pictish tribes fought the Romans for many years. Because Scotland and England shared an island, the Romans built a long wall on the English-Scottish border to control the Picts and keep them out of England. In the 500's a tribe of Celts, called the "Scotti" tribe from Ulster (the northern area of Ireland) settled in Scotland and eventually converted the fierce Picts to Christianity.
The Scottish Clans began around the year 1000. They grew out of a similar system formed in Celtic Ireland, from whence the Scots originated. The Clan system was an effective way of government in the Scottish Highlands. These clans were organized under the rule of a chief. The chief was head of the whole family or clan in Scotland. Chieftains were heads of branches of the family name.
Although most people believe that in the early centuries each Clan had its own tartan and members of each Clan were recognized by the tartan they wore, Jonathan McClure, who studied Modern History (particularly Irish History) at the Queens University of Belfast, assures me that the idea that Clan tartans originated in the early centuries is a misconception. He advises that the tartans did not surface until the 19th century. He also advises that the early tartans more resembled a toga than the short version of the kilt that is used today, which was an English invention.
In the late 1200's Scotland was again invaded by the English. The Scots suffered terrible oppression and brutality at the hands of the English. This gave rise to such famous leaders as William Wallace and Robert Bruce. Wars continued with England into the 1500's. When James V of Scotland died in 1542, his one week old daughter, Mary, was proclaimed Queen of Scotland. She was sent to France to be educated and did not return to Scotland until 1561.
Before 1560, the Roman Catholic Church was the official church of Scotland. Many Scottish leaders resented the power of the church and in the late 1550's drove out many Catholic officials and soldiers. When Mary Queen of Scots returned to Scotland in 1561, Scotland was in the process of establishing a Protestant Church. In 1567, Mary was forced to give up the throne, in part because she was Catholic. She escaped to England in 1568, but was captured and imprisoned. She was executed in 1587.
Mary Queen of Scots' infant son, James VI, was made King of Scotland in 1567. He was reared as a Protestant, and the Presbyterian Church became firmly established in Scotland. James inherited the English throne and ruled both England and Scotland as James I of England.
In the 1600's, Scotland and the border lands between England and Scotland were lawless lands filled with poor farmers constantly waging war with each other and engaging in clan fighting. The soil was poor and the working conditions were primitive. The people knew little about ways to improve their land and make their crops more productive. Scotland contained two distinct groups, the Highlanders, or Celtic stock, more racially akin to the Irish, and the Lowlanders and Borderers who were more racially akin to the British. To promote British influence in Ireland, King James, of Scotland, sent many Lowlander Scots to Northern Ireland (Ulster) in the early 1600's, to form colonies. They became known as the Ulster-Scots or Scots-Irish.
Surnames were not common until about the 1200's. Nobles first adopted the use of surnames to set them apart from the common people. Soon the common people also began using surnames. Surnames were selected in several ways in Scotland. Sometimes, as in our case, the surname was taken from the name of the landlord or clan. It did not necessarily denote kinship. The word mac (mc) meant son of.
Leod was the younger son of Olaf the Black. Olaf died around 1237, and Leod inherited the Islands of Lewis and Harris, with part of the Isle of Skye. The Clan MacLeod consisted of two main branches, the MacLeods of Lewis and the MacLeods of Harris.
Sources show the Clan MacClure (McClure) was a Sept of the Clan MacLeod of Harris, and entitled to clan rights including the use of the clan tartan. A sept was a family directly affiliated with another family. Another source indicates that part of the MacLeod's fled to Ireland in the 1500 and 1600's and changed the pronunciation of their surname from MacLeod to MacClure. According to Scots Kith and Kin, Clan MacClure was in Galway, Ireland, in the 16th Century. Jonathan McClure tells me that in his experience he has only come across McClure's in "Ulster, specifically County Antrim in areas such as Ballymoney and Belfast and County Londonderry in areas such as Coleraine." It is thought that many members of the MacClure clan returned to Scotland.
Records indicate that some members of the MacClure (McClure) family immigrated to America around 1700. These immigrants settled primarily in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the Piedmont Country of North Carolina, and along the eastern seaboard.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
First we will tell you what we believe, but can not prove at this time.
We believe (but cannot prove) that our 3rd great grandfather was John McClure who was born about 1765, possibly in Harrison County, Virginia (now West Virginia). John married Ruth Burkham who we believe was our 3rd great grandmother. Ruth was born about 1770, the daughter of Charles Zephaniah Burkham and Zelpha Brewster.
John McClure appeared on the 1800 Mason County, Kentucky tax list. John died between 1800 and 1810.
Ruth was listed as head of the household on the 1810 Mason County census. Listed with her on the census were one male under 10; two males 10-15 and one female 10-15.
We have been unable to locate the 1820 census for Mason County. The 1830 Mason County census shows Valentine McClure, age 20-29, head of household. Shown with him on the census was his mother, Ruth age 60-69, and an unidentified male age 10-14.
The 1840 Mason County census shows Valentine, age 30-39, head of household. With him on the census was one female 15-19 and one female 60-69. We have no record of Valentine marrying until 1846, so we are unsure of the identity of the younger woman, unless he was married twice. The older woman was probably Ruth. We know that Ruth died prior to 1850.
We do not know how many children
were born to John and Ruth. Different researchers list different
children. Some have been proven and some have not. We believe their
children included William McClure and Francis McClure
born between 1792 and 1797; Stephen McClure born about 1798; Zelpha
McClure born about 1801 (she was named for her grandmother) and Valentine
McClure born in 1807. (Note: Our main reason for believing
Stephen was a son of John and Ruth is because of the naming
pattern. We have found only three individuals with the name
Valentine in our McClure research. One was the son of John and
Ruth. The second was the grandson of John and Ruth
(Valentine's son, John Valentine). And the third Valentine we
know of was the son of Stephen. (Stephen also named his first
son John and his third son William, which indicates they were family names.)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Now we will tell you what we know and can prove.
We know that our great-great grandfather was Stephen McClure and that he was born about 1798, in Kentucky, probably in Mason County. Although we have been unable to find documentation, we believe he was the son of John McClure and Ruth Burkham.
Stephen migrated to Illinois prior to 1825. He married (first) our great-great grandmother, Sarah "Sally" Smith, on April 6, 1825, in Clinton County. The marriage was performed by John Abbott, J.P. It is believed that Sarah "Sally" Smith was born March 12, 1804, in Kentucky. We believe (but cannot prove) that she was the daughter of John Smith, who was born about 1770-1780.
Stephen appeared on the 1825 Clinton County, Illinois, special census. Stephen was listed as residing in Gumridge Precinct. Also listed as residing in Gumridge Precinct was Benjamin Smith, who we believe was related to Sarah. Stephen was the only McClure we found listed in Clinton County on the 1825 special census.
Stephen's family appears on the 1830 Clinton County census. The census shows one male age 20-30 (Stephen); one male age 10-15 (unidentified); 2 males under 5 years (John and Robert); one female age 20-30 (Sarah); one female 10-15 (unidentified) and 1 female under 5 years (Rachael). Also listed on the 1830 Clinton County census was John Smith, who we believe was Sarah's father, William Smith, age 20-30 years, and Benjamin Smith. (The two unidentified individuals living with Stephen and Sarah were probably siblings, or other family members.)
About 1836/37, Stephen moved his family from Illinois to Arkansas. Stephen stopped in Searcy County, Arkansas, where he appears on the 1839 tax books. He is shown as owing taxes for 1838. The family moved to Conway County, Arkansas, between 1839 and early 1840. Stephen was a farmer.
Stephen's family appears on the 1840 Conway County census, living in Hardin Township, near Greenbrier. The census shows one male age 30-40 (Stephen); one male 10-15 (John); 2 males 5-10 (Robert and William); one male under 5 (Valentine); one female 30-40 (Sarah); 2 females 5-10 (Rachael and unknown) and 2 females under 5 (Melissa and Matilda).
Stephen's neighbors in Hardin Township included John McInturf, Henry Newell, James Newell, William Newell, Edward Cargile, D. B. Cargile, Berry Saunders, W. H. Lay, William Plant and David McElmurry.
During the 1840's, Stephen owned no real estate property. He did, however pay taxes in Conway County on personal property during the years 1841 through 1849. That property included several head of cattle and horses.
In 1849, Stephen acquired 160 acres of land near Quitman, in Benton Township of Conway County. The legal description of the land was as follows: W 1/2 of NE part of Sect. 6, Township 8 N, Range 11 W, 80 acres and W 1/2 of SE part of Sect. 6, Township 8 N, Range 11 W, 80 acres. (This property is located in present day Faulkner County, just off Hwy. 107, near the Cleburne County line. Faulkner County Road #74, also called the Buffalo Mountain Road, runs very near the property.)
The family appears on the 1850 Conway County census in Benton Township, Quitman Post Office. The census shows Stephen McClure, 52, farmer, born in KY; Sarah, 50, born KY; John, 25; Robert, 22; Rachael, 21 and William, 18, all born in KY; Valentine, 14; Melissa, 14; Matilda, 11; Sarah, 9; Stephen, 8 and James, 6, all born in AR. (Note: Records indicate that the children listed as born in KY were actually born in IL.)
On January 4, 1854, Stephen and Sarah sold 33 acres of land to Charles Plant. About the same time, they purchased additional land. Conway County tax records show that Stephen paid taxes on 320 acres of land in 1855. Records indicate that Stephen raised and sold cotton as a money crop.
Sarah died April 28, 1854, in Conway County. She was only about 50 years old. Sarah was the mother of at least eleven children, ten of whom lived to adulthood.
Stephen married (second) Mary Allen on September 4, 1856, in Conway County. The marriage is recorded in Conway County Marriage Book 1, page 115. Nenion Elijah Cargile, J.P., who by that time was an in-law to Stephen, performed the marriage. We have no information on Mary Allen. It appears she either died or they divorced about 1857/58.
Stephen married (third) Mrs. Louisa (Chandler) Goff about 1857/58. Louisa "Eliza" Chandler was born about 1818, in Kentucky. She was one of at least four children born to Zachariah Chandler and Elizabeth Kelly. Louisa was the widow of Jesse Goff, who lived in Van Buren County, Arkansas. Jesse Goff was born about 1815, in Kentucky and died about 1855, in Van Buren County, leaving a wife and at least 6 children.
In 1857, Stephen purchased 40 more acres of land adjacent to his other property in Conway County. This purchcase brought the total land he owned to 360 acres.
On October 14, 1859, Stephen applied for guardianship of the five youngest Goff children: Jesse M. Goff, Wilson Z. Goff, Nancy Goff, Elizabeth Goff and Emily Perline Goff. Guardianship was granted by the court. In the October term of the Van Buren County Probate Court, two older children of Jesse Goff filed their petition to be reinstated as executors of their fathers estate.
The 1860 Conway County census shows the family still living in Benton Township, Quitman Post Office. The census shows Stephen McClure, 60, farmer, $3000 real property, $1500 personal property, born in KY; Louiza, 41, born KY; Rachael, 27, born IL; Malissa, 24, born AR; Matilda, 22, born AR; Stephen, 19, working on farm, born AR; Orison, 15, working on farm, born AR; Alma, 2, born AR; Wilson Goff, 15, working on farm, born AR; William Goff, 13, born AR; Nancy E. Goff, 11, born AR and Emily P. Goff, 7, born in AR.
In 1861, when the call went out from President Lincoln for troops, Arkansas was quick to rally in support of the Confederacy. At least four and possibly all six of Stephen's sons served in the Confederacy. We found record that at least two of his sons died in the war and two others were held as POW's.
The 1868 Conway County tax records show Stephen was still paying taxes on the 360 acres of land he owned.
Stephen, whose real property was valued on the 1860 census at $3000.00, was shown to have real property of only $680 on the 1870 census. His personal property valued at $1300.00 on the 1860 census, was shown on the 1870 census to be only $350.00. It appears the war took a heavy toll on Stephen's family, not only in loss of life, but also financially.
The 1870 Conway County census showed Stephen, now 72 years of age, with Louisa, 53 (listed as Elizabeth on the census) and children Nancy, 21; Caroline, 18 and Almeda, 15. All three children were listed with the McClure surname, although Nancy and Caroline were Louisa and Jesse Goff's children. Stephen had guardianship of the five youngest Goff children, but we have found nothing to indicate that Stephen adopted any of the children. Marriage records of the children list them with the Goff last name. Listed with the family on the 1870 census was J. D. Chandler, 20, born in AR. This was John D. Chandler, the son of Louisa's brother King Solomon Chandler. Listed in the household next to Stephen was Eliza's widowed daughter, Jane (Goff) Cargile and her children.
(On April 12, 1873, portions of Conway County and Pulaski County were divided off to form Faulkner County. Benton Township, where Stephen lived for so many years, became part of the newly formed Faulkner County.)
Stephen died May 1873, on his property in Conway County. Van Buren County Administration Book C shows that on July 28, 1873, James H. Frasier posted a bond of administration and was appointed administrator of Stephen's estate by the Court. In 1875, James Frasier returned to the Van Buren County Court asking that his bond be canceled.
We have been unable to locate Louisa after the 1870 census. We believe she died prior to 1880. We do not know what happened to Stephen's property.
We believe Stephen and Sarah are both buried in unmarked graves in Mortor Creek Cemetery located on Faulkner County Road #74, also called the Buffalo Mountain Road. The property that Stephen owned for so many years was located only about half a mile from the cemetery.
Children of Stephen McClure and Sarah Smith
1. John M. McClure, b. 1826, Clinton Co, IL
2. Robert S. McClure, b. 1828/29, Clinton Co, IL
3. Rachael McClure, b. 1830, Clinton Co, IL
4. William Holliway S. McClure, b. 1832, Clinton Co, IL (our line)
5. Unknown Daughter McClure, b. about 1834, Clinton Co, IL; d. about 1846, Conway Co, AR
6. Valentine M. McClure, b. 1837, AR
7. Melissa McClure, b. 1837, AR
8. Matilda McClure, b. 1839, AR
9. Sarah McClure, b. 1841, Conway Co, AR
10. Stephen McClure, Jr., b. 1842, Conway Co, AR
11. James Orsen B. McClure, b. 1844, Conway Co, AR
Child of Stephen McClure and Louisa Chandler Goff
12. Almeda "Alma" McClure, b. 1857/58, Conway Co, AR
I am not a professional genealogist and although I have researched much of the information found at this site, some of it was given to me by other researchers and may not have been documented. Each bit of information found here should be carefully researched and proved or disproved by you, the researcher. Researchers may copy information found at this site for their own personal use and to share with other researchers or genealogical organizations. Any commercial use or distribution without the written consent of this author is prohibited.
Others researching the McClure line:
Virginia Rose (descendant of Rachel -- researching McClure, Moore, Bradford, and Ramsey)
Jane Hall Barfield (researching SC line)
Linda Earls-Pereira (descendant of Martha Jane McClure, b. 1852, AR, and Richard Lee Smith)
The music you are hearing is Scotland The Brave.
Back to Index