McLean County, Illinois
JUDGE J. E. McCLUN, a highly respected resident of Bloomington, now living in peace and comfort, retired from the active duties of life, is a native of Frederick County, Va., where he was born in 1812. He is the son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Bailey) McClun, who were natives of Pennsylvania, and moved when children to the Shenandoah Valley with their parents.
The ancestral McCluns came from the North of Ireland, and were of Scotch-Irish descent. The first members of the family in this country settled in Pennsylvania at an early period in the history of that State, and located in Lancaster and Chester Counties.
The grandfather of our subject, Thomas McClun, was there born, and reared a Quaker [ed., Quakers are a/k/a the Religious Society of Friends], and became prominent in the affairs of that locality. He moved to the Shenandoah Valley in about 1770, settled upon a farm, and reared his family in those principles by which his forefathers had distinguished themselves.
The maternal grandfather of Judge McClun, William Bailey, was a Revolutionary soldier, and died in the service of the colonies. He was of English ancestry and parentage, and one of the early pioneers of Chester County, Pa.
Thomas McClun, the father of our subject, was the parent of seven sons, of whom the Judge was the youngest born. Thomas McClun died at the old homestead in Virginia, in 1820. The mother survived her husband for a period of twenty-three years, spending her last days with her son, in Bloomington, her death occurring on the 1st of June, 1843. She was reared an Episcopalian, but in the latter years of her life was identified with the Methodist Church.
Judge McClun, of our sketch, distinctly remembers many of the incidents connected with his childhood, and other matters which he noticed with the interest of a bright and intelligent boy, among which was the election of John Quincy Adams, in 1824, and the contest which occurred between Adams and Jackson.
He witnessed the inauguration of Gen. Jackson [ed., Gen. Thomas Jonathan Stonewall Jackson], who received the oath of office from John Marshall, and he well remembers hearing a sermon by old Bishop Asbury, who preached at a camp-meeting near his mother's house when our subject was only three and one-half years old.
His education was begun in the old cabin school-house, nearly two miles from his home, with puncheon floor and slabs for seats and desks, and where he taught school when he became a young man, for a period of three years. He had forty pupils under his charge, who ranged all the way from six to twenty-two years old.
Some two years after he had attained his majority young McClun removed from his native State to Springfield, Ill., whence he came to McLean County, in 1836, and located in Bloomington. He was greatly impressed by the scenes then surrounding the spot, the deer roaming over the prairie, the howling of wolves at night, and the abundance of all kinds of wild game, with thousands of prairie chickens flying over and amidst the tall grass.
At Springfield he became acquainted with Abraham Lincoln, and also Stephen A. Douglas, who was just commencing the practice of law at Jacksonville, Ill.
Mr. McClun, during his first years in Bloomington, was engaged in mercantile pursuits, and also established a stage-line, running from Danville to Peoria. He was energetic and industrious, and at an early age gave indications of his ability to become a leader in his community.
After filling various minor positions, in 1849 he was elected Judge of the Probate Court, and afterward a representative to the General Assembly of Illinois. These positions he held with great credit to himself and satisfaction to his constituents. Afterward, in connection with a few other gentlemen, he established the Home Bank, which for many years transacted an extensive business, and has been largely identified with the growth and prosperity of the city.
The marriage of Judge McClun and Miss Hannah Harkness took place on the 31st of January, 1839. The wife of our subject is a native of Ohio, and the daughter of Samuel and Esther (Evans) Harkness, of Rhode Island. Of this marriage there were born eleven children, six of whom died in infancy; the others are Elisha H., a real-estate agent of Englewood, Ill.; Isaac B., who died at the age of thirty-one years; Edward is connected with the Board of Public Works of Chicago; Robert, who is a miller, and lives in Chicago; Esther E., Mrs. Martin, who lives in Bloomington.
The Judge and his amiable and excellent lady are prominent members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, he having been connected with this denomination for sixty years. They occupy a handsome residence at No. 405 West Jefferson street, and enjoy the society and friendship of the most cultivated people in the city.
Judge McClun has been one of the moving spirits in developing the resources of this section, and to him the city of Bloomington is greatly indebted for her standing and position among other prominent cities of the Prairie State. The wife of our subject is noted for her refinement and kindness of heart, and the entire family are widely and favorably known for their high character and personal worth. In politics Judge, McClun is a Prohibitionist, and is praying for the extermination of the liquor traffic.
Portrait and biographical album of McLean County, Ill. : containing full page portraits and biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county, together with portraits and biographies of all the governors of Illinois, and of the presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), 343. Transcribed and annotated by Judy Rosella Edwards
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