JAMES McCLAY, Corporal, Company "B"
JAMES M. McCLAY, is named in the biography of the McCLAY FAMILY in Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania, by J. H. Beers, 1893; page 1382.
WILLIAM A. McCLAY, one of the representative citizens of Canton township, was born September 9, 1846, on the farm now occupied by his brother, J. F. McClay.
His grandfather, Samuel McClay, was a native of Ireland, and immigrating to America when a child of ten years, finally settled in Chester county, Penn., and there married Sarah McClellan, a resident of the same county, whose parents had also immigrated to America. Mr. and Mrs. McClay afterward removed from Chester to Washington county, where he bought and with the aid of his children began work upon a large tract of land. The children born to this union were: Margaret (Mrs. Robert Dinsmore), Elizabeth (Mrs. William Morrow), John, David, Robert, William and Sarah Jane. The entire family were active and zealous members of the Covenanter Church, and a majority of their descendants are true to the faith of their ancestors. In politics, Mr. McClay was active to the interests of the Whig party. After an eventful and useful life he died in 1838, his wife following him to the grave in 1842, leaving a comfortable property to their heirs.
David McClay, father of subject, was born June 11, 1811, on the home farm in Canton township, this county, where his Youth was passed amid the rudest of pioneer surroundings, his education consisting of hard lessons in the school of toil and privation, but, when thoroughly mastered, those lessons proved of greater value to the young pioneer than does much of our "cramming methods" benefit the modern student. By dint of close observation and practical common sense, Mr. McClay soon surmounted these early obstacles to succeess, and became a prosperous and well-informed man. On January 31, 1840, he married Margaret McElroy, and settled upon the farm now owned by his son, J. F., where the following children were born: James (deceased in infancy), James (who enlisted in the W. Va. Cavalry, and died February 25, 1862, from disease contracted in the service), William A., Nannie (deceased), Samuel, David (deceased) and J. F. Mr. McClay was, in politics, an active Republican; in 1855 he united with the U. P. Church at West Middletown, then under the ministry of Isaac Everett, but later he became a member of the church at Washington. He died April 5, 1887, leaving to his heirs about four hundred acres of land.
William A. McClay, the oldest living son of David McClay, passed his earlier years on the home farm in Canton township, this county, receiving a limited education, but as he possesses a retentive memory, and is an indefatigable reader, he has, notwithstanding the privations of youth, become one of the most intelligent men in his township. On May 19, 1869, Mr. McClay was married to Annie, daughter of Jonathan Swisher, a prosperous farmer of Putnam county, Il1., and the young couple immediately settled on the home place, where they have since resided. After the death of his father Mr. McClay and his three brothers divided the property among themselves without recourse to legal aid an excellent example and William still retains the portion allotted him, to which he has made many fine improvements. The house is of the "L" style, 36x32. The barn, which was erected with only the assistance of his children, is a commodious structure, and the well-cultivated farm affords still another evidence of the thrift and enterprise of the owner. The union of Mr. and Mrs. McClay has been blessed with three children: Harry, William and Elmer. In politics Mr. McClay is the stanchest of Republicans, and for many years has filled the office of judge of elections in his township. The family are liberal supporters and earnest members of the Disciple Church at Washington, and are ever foremost in all enterprises pertaining to the welfare of the people.
Submitted by Linda Fluharty.