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Biography of John Birch McClain

JOHN BIRCH McCLAIN. – This pioneer, whose record extends to the memorable year of 1843, was born January 31, 1820, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the son of John and Mary Swallow McClane. At the age of twenty-two, he left Philadelphia for Texas with the purpose of assisting General Sam Houston to gain the independence of Texas. The ship, however, upon which he took passage, sailing from Delaware Bay in a storm, was delayed thirty days; and, upon his arrival in New Orleans, the young man found that Houston had withdrawn his proclamation of war against Mexico, and that he was in no need of recruits. Encountering yellow fever in the Southern city, he took passage on a Mississippi steamer, stopping off at Burlington, Iowa, and happening along at Fairfield at the time of the Indian treaty with, and the payment to, the Sacs and Foxes. Still having in mind a journey to foreign parts, he had his eye on Chili as a desirable point, and learning something of the route to Oregon, determined to make his way to the Columbia, and await a ship which would take him to South America. Arriving at the rendezvous in the spring of 1843, he found the emigrants gathering, and with them set out upon the memorable journey. He recalls that there were nine hundred and ninety-nine souls in the company, being precisely the same as the number of the loose stock. His recollection of the incidents of the way is vivid and exceedingly interesting. We take the liberty to insert here a little fuller report of his connections with Doctor Whitman...

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