McLean, William Dr.
The following data is extracted from Sketches Of Western North Carolina, Historical And Biographical, Gaston County, North Carolina.
Dr. William McLean was born in Rowan county, N.C., on the 2nd day of April, 1757. His father, Alexander McLean, was a native of Ireland, who emigrated to America, landing at Philadelphia, between the years 1725 and 1730. Some time after his arrival in Pennsylvania he married Elizabeth Ratchford, whose father emigrated from England shortly after McLean left Ireland. Three of his daughters, Jane, Margaret and Agnes, were born in that State. He then joined the great tide of emigration to the more enticing fields and genial climate of the southern colonies, and settled in the Dobbin neighborhood, eight miles from Salisbury, Rowan county, N.C. Here he remained for a few years, during which time his eldest son John, and William, the immediate subject of this sketch, were born. He then moved to a tract of land he purchased near the junction of the South Fork with the main Catawba river, in Tryon, (now Gaston county,) where three more sons were born, Alexander, George and Thomas. This place he made his permanent abode during the remainder of his life, surrounded with the greater portion of his rising family. He attained a good old age, his wife surviving him a few years; both were consistent members of the Presbyterian church, and are buried at the old "Smith graveyard," near the place of his last settlement. Soon after the Revolutionary war, Alexander McLean, Jr., moved to Missouri, and George McLean to Tennessee. Thomas McLean, the youngest son, retained the old homestead, where, at an advanced age, he ended his earthly existence. Although only thirteen years old at the time of the battle of King's Mountain, he could give a glowing account of the heroic bravery which characterized that brilliant victory in which many of his neighbors, under the brave Lieut. Col. Hambright and Maj. Chronicle, actively participated. John McLean, the eldest son, performed a soldier's duty on several occasions during the war. Upon the call of troops from North Carolina for the defence of Charleston, he attached himself to Col. Graham's regiment, under Gen. Rutherford, and was there captured. Immediately after being exchanged, he returned to North Carolina and joined the command of Capt. Adlai Osborne, and about three month's afterward was killed in a skirmish at Buford's Bridge, S.C.
After the removal of Alexander McLean to his final settlement on the south fork of the Catawba, as previously stated, William assisted him on the farm, and when a favorable opportunity offered, went to school in the neighborhood, acquiring as good an education as the facilities of the country then afforded. His instructor for the last three months in this early training was a Mr. Blythe, who, noticing his rapid advancement in learning, and capacity for more extended usefulness, advised him to go to Queen's Museum, in Charlotte. This institution was then in high repute under the able management of Dr. Alexander and Rev. Alexander McWhorter, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman from New Jersey.
Dr. McLean complied with the advice of his instructor, and became a pupil of Queen's Museum. In this venerated institution, shedding abroad its enlightening influence on Western North Carolina, many of the leading patriots of the Revolution acquired their principal educational training. Its president, Dr. McWhorter, was not only an eminent preacher of the gospel, but was also an ardent patriot, and never failed, on suitable occasions, to discuss the politics of the day, and instil into the minds of his youthful pupils the essential principles of civil and religious liberty. His sentiments in this respect were so generally known, that it is said Cornwallis previous to his entrance into Charlotte in 1780, was extremely anxious to "enfold him in his embraces". Dr. McLean remained in this institution of learning about two years and then returned home. Having made up his mind to become a physician during his collegiate course, he gathered all the medical books he could procure at that period, and diligently devoted his time to their study. In this stage of his early preparation for future usefulness, Dr. Joseph Blythe, a distinguished surgeon in the Continental Army, wrote to him in terms of warmest friendship, and offered him the position of "surgeon's mate." This offer he accepted, repaired to Charlotte, and they both marched with the army to James Island, near Charleston. In this immediate vicinity at Stono (the narrow river or inlet, which separates John's Island from the main land) a severe but indecisive battle had been fought between a detachment of General Lincoln's army and the British, under General Prevost, in June, 1779. At the time of Dr. McLean's arrival at James Island, many soldiers were sick with the pestilential "camp fever" of that sultry climate, or were suffering from the wounds of battle at the army hospital. Some of these sufferers were from Lincoln and Mecklenburg counties, with whom he was personally acquainted. Under judicious medical treatment he was pleased to see most of them, in a short time, restored to health and ready for the future service of their country.
In the summer and fall of 1780 Dr. McLean was constantly with the Southern army watching the movements of Ferguson in the upper Tory settlements of South Carolina, previous to his defeat and death at King's Mountain. After that battle he went to Charlotte to wait on the sick and the wounded at that place.
In 1781 he was with General Greene's army, near Camden, and at other military encampments requiring his services. In all of these responsible positions he continued to faithfully discharge the duties of "Surgeon's Mate," or Assistant Surgeon, until the close of the Revolution.
Having completed his preparatory studies Dr. McLean went to the medical University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, and received from that venerable institution his diploma in 1787. In a short time after his arrival at home he purchased a farm in the "South Point" neighborhood, soon engaged in an extensive practice (frequently charitable) and became eminent in his profession.
On the 19th of June, 1792, Dr. McLean married Mary, daughter of Major John Davidson, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. In 1814 he was elected to the Senate from Lincoln county. In 1815 he delivered an address at King's Mountain, commemorative of the battle at that place, and caused to be erected, at his own expense, a plain headstone of dark slate rock, with appropriate inscriptions on both sides. The inscription on the east side reads thus: "Sacred to the memory of Major William Chronicle, Capt. John Mattocks, William Robb and John Boyd, who were killed here on the 7th of October, 1780, fighting in defence of America." The inscription on the west side reads thus: "Colonel Ferguson, an officer belonging to his Brittanic Majesty, was here defeated and killed."
Dr. McLean, after a life of protracted usefulness, died with peaceful resignation on the 25th of October, 1828, in the seventy-second year of his age. His wife survived him many years, being nearly ninety-seven years old at the time of her death. They were both long, worthy and consistant members of the Presbyterian church, dignified their lives with their professions, and are buried in Bethel Graveyard, York county, S.C.
Source: Sketches Of Western North Carolina, Historical And Biographical, Gaston County, North Carolina