Hon. Baxter D. McClain. One of the new members to take their seats in the State Senate in 1917 is Baxter D. McClain, of Iola. Senator McClain was elected November 7, 1916, on the republican ticket by the Fourteenth District, comprising Allen and Woodson counties. Much may be expected of Senator McClain since he had for many years been an able lawyer at Iola, and his professional attainments and wide experience in affairs constitute unusual qualifications for legislative work.
Senator McClain is a native of Kansas, having been born at Oswego, December 9, 1871. Much of his early life was spent in the State of Ohio, and the family belonged to Ohio by many ties and by a residence of more than a century. The McClains were Scotch-Irish people who came out of the north of Ireland sometime in the seventeenth century, settling in Virginia. There is an old homestead in Coshocton County, Ohio, which was owned and occupied by this family for several successive generations. The founder of the family in Ohio was Senator McClain’s great-grandfather, Seth McClain. Born in Virginia, he went into the country northwest of the Ohio River in the early years of the nineteenth century and received a patent, signed by James Madison, President of the United States, to the southeast quarter of section 9, township 4, range 5, in Coshocton County. Experiencing the life of a frontiersman, he became one of the substantial men of Coshocton County and increased his original holdings to 200 acres. He died on the old homestead.
The grandfather of Senator McClain was James McClain, who was born on the old Coshocton County farm, spent his life there as a farmer, and married a Miss Williams, of the same locality.
Noah H. McClain, father of Senator McClain, was born in Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1836, and died there in 1885. He was of the third successive generation to occupy the old homestead, but he spent a number of years in Kansas. He was a soldier of the Civil war, having enlisted in 1861 in the Ninety-seventh Ohio Infantry, and was first lieutenant of Company H. He was a member of part of the army commanded by General Halleck in the early campaigns in Tennessee, and after the battle of Murfreesboro was discharged on account of physical disability. At the close of the war he came out to Kansas, settling at Oswego, and as a pioneer had an influential part in establishing one of the most important industries in that locality. He brought out to that section of Kansas the machinery of a sawmill. This machinery was conveyed in wagons drawn by ox teams from Westport Landing, now Kansas City, to Oswego. After the mill was set up such was the demand upon it for lumber by the early settlers that it was operated night and day. The material manufactured by this mill entered into the construction of hundreds of the early homes and other buildings around Oswego. The firm was known as Bent, Williams & McClain. Later Mr. McClain engaged in farming in that part of Kansas, and he also retained the ownership of the homestead back in Coshocton County and traveled back and forth between these interests, his death occurring in his native county. He was a republican and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He also belonged to the Masonic fraternity. Noah H. McClain married Elizabeth Evans, who was born in 1844 and died in 1894, having spent her entire life in Coshocton County, Ohio, except for the several years she lived in Oswego, Kansas. Senator McClain was the oldest of her children. Eva L. first married Charles Gaumer, and after his death became the wife of Mr. North, a farmer, their home being in Muskingum County, Ohio. Mary O., the second daughter, married Fred Carr, a merchant at Youngstown, Ohio. Noah I. is a carpenter at Coshocton, Ohio. Seth R. is a mechanic at Coshocton.
Baxter D. McClain received his first schooling in Labette, Kansas. His teacher was W. F. Schock, who afterward became eminent in Kansas, serving as probate judge of Shawnee County and as a member of the present State Senate. When the family returned to Coshocton County, Senator McClain attended the rural schools there and was graduated from the Coshocton High School in 1891. For two years he was a student in the Ohio State University. After one year of clerical work in Cleveland he became a teacher in Coshocton, and was engaged in that work until April, 1898.
At the outbreak of the Spanish-American war he enlisted in the Seventh Ohio Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, and became captain of Company F. He went with his command to Camp Bushnell, Ohio, to Camp Alger at Washington, District of Columbia, and Camp Mead in Pennsylvania. He was mustered out November 7, 1898, without having participated in any service beyond the borders of the country.
After the war he went back to Coshocton, but in April, 1899, came to Oswego, Kansas, and put in a year in the law offices of M. E. Williams and in the Kansas City Law School. He was admitted to the bar in the fall of 1899, and in April, 1900, arrived at Iola, in which city he had since built up a large civil practice as a lawyer. His offices are in the Northrup National Bank Building. Senator McClain owned a modern home at 502 East Jackson Street and other city property. He also owned a farm of 80 acres in Allen County.
For the past three years he had been a member of the Iola School Board and is now its president. He is a member of Iola Lodge No. 38, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; of Iola Lodge No. 569, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; of Iola Camp of the Woodmen of the World, and belongs to the Spanish-American War Veterans in the Iola camp, and is a captain in reserve in the National Guard of Kansas. He had always declined official honors from the various fraternal organizations of which he is a member.
Senator McClain was married July 7, 1898, while at Camp Alger at Washington, District of Columbia. His wife was Miss Katherine Conroy, who was born and reared at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but resided at the time of her marriage in Coshocton, Ohio. Her parents were James and Katherine (Fricker) Conroy, the mother now living at Chicago. Her father was a gas and oil operator and organized a business by which gas was piped from the natural gas fields into the cities of Toledo and Sandusky. Senator and Mrs. McClain have three children: Margaret, a junior in the high school; Josephine, a freshman in high school; and Eloise, in the eighth grade of the public schools.