Biography of John McClellan

John McClellan, one of the earliest pioneers of Boise, Idaho, is a native of Ohio, born in Licking County, March 16, 1827, of Irish and English extraction, his paternal ancestors being Irish, his maternal, English. John McClellan, his father, was born in Ireland in 1777, and in the year 1820 came to America, landing at New York, where he remained for some time and where he was married to Miss Amanda Reed, a native of New York and a daughter of English parents. From New York they removed to Dresden, Ohio, where they resided until 1850 in which year he and his wife and seven children crossed the plains to Oregon, John, the subject of this sketch, at that time being twenty-two years of age. That year many of the overland emigrants died of cholera, and several of the company with which the McClellan family traveled were victims of that dread disease and were buried by the wayside, among them an aunt of our subject. His immediate family, however, made the trip in safety, and stopped first at Milwaukee, on the Willamette River, six miles above Portland. Later they removed to Yam Hill County and settled on a farm, where the father spent the rest of his life and died at the age of eighty-eight years. Of his family of seven who crossed the plains in 1850, only four are now living, John and three sisters.

From Dayton, Oregon, in 1863, John McClellan, the subject of our sketch, came to Boise, arriving on the 6th of May, or, rather, came to where Boise is now located, for this place was then a wilderness and there were plenty of Bannack Indians camped near the river. The military post was not located until the 7th of July following; the state capital a little later. Mr. McClellan’s trip from Oregon to this place was made with an ox train. He mined in the Owyhee, without success, however, and was at the Florence mines for a short time, when he took out forty dollars per day, after which he prospected, again being unsuccessful. That same year he took a claim to a tract of eighty acres of land on the north side of the river, and built on it a log cabin, which still stands on the property in a good state of preservation, and which he intends to keep there as long as he lives. Later he built a good frame residence, the one ne now occupies, which is surrounded with large fruit trees, planted by his own hands. In the course of time the city of Boise grew out to his property and he sold thirty acres of it for three hundred dollars per acre, and on it have been built a number of residences. Mr. McClellan, soon after locating at Boise, floated logs down the river, sawed them into lumber and built a ferryboat, with which for many years he ferried the people across the river. Afterward he, in company with others, built a toll bridge, and had charge of that some three years. Both of these undertakings were a financial success. After selling them he directed his energies to farming and raising fruit and vegetables, and later gave attention to the keeping of bees, in all of which he has been fairly successful.

Mr. McClellan is a lifelong Republican, taking an intelligent interest in public affairs, but never caring for or seeking official honors. He is member of the Methodist Episcopal church and was one of the early trustees of the church at Boise. His sister. Miss Letta Ann, who came to Boise in 1867, is his housekeeper, both having remained unmarried. In their pleasant home they extend to their neighbors and many friends that genial hospitality so characteristic of the west.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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