HON. J. W. McCLURG, ex-governor of the State of Missouri. A man’s life work measures his success, and the man who devotes his powers to the accomplishment of an honorable purpose is to be honored. If a careful study is made of the motives which actuate every man’s life, there is always to be found some object for which he lives. In Hon. J. W. McClurg it seems to have been an ambition to make the best use of his native and acquired powers and to develop in himself a true manhood. A native of St. Louis County, Missouri, he was born February 22, 1818.
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Son of Joseph and Mary (Brotherton) McClurg and grandson of Joseph McClurg, who came to America during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. He succeeded in making his escape to this country by concealing himself in the hold of a vessel, and his family soon after followed him to America. He was a man of much energy, and a worker in iron, and soon made his way to Pittsburgh, Penn., where he erected the first iron foundry ever put up in the city, and in or near Pittsburgh he passed the remainder of his days. Although he owned a farm, the most of his attention was given to his foundry, and after he had retired the business was continued by his sons. Joseph McClurg, the father of Ex-Gov. McClurg, was born in northern Ireland and came with his mother to America when about twelve years of age. He and his brothers, Alexander and William, followed in their father’s footsteps and became foundrymen, and while following that business in Ohio his career was closed. His widow died in St. Louis, having borne him two children: James B. (deceased), and J. W., the subject of this sketch.
The last named was reared in Pennsylvania, whither he had been taken at the age of seven years, but the principal part of his education was received in Ohio, where he remained until about nineteen years of age. Anticipating the advice of Horace Greeley, for young men to “Go West and grow up with the country,” he came to Missouri and made his home with his uncles, James and Marshall Brotherton, both of whom filled the office of sheriff of St. Louis County, and J. W. McClurg served as deputy under both of them for about two years. In the spring of 1839 he went to Texas, where he remained for some two years, and was shortly after admitted to the bar of Columbus, Tex. In 1841 he was married, in Washington County, Missouri, to Miss Mary C. Johnson, a native of Virginia, and this union resulted in the birth of eight children, six of whom are living: Mary E., wife of Col. M. W. Johnson, of Lebanon; Fannie, wife of C. C. Draper, also of Lebanon; Joseph E., who is engaged in farming in Dakota; Sarah, wife of Thomas Monroe of Lebanon; Dr. James A., a dentist at Lebanon, and Dr. Marshall J., also a dentist, at Carthage, Missouri
After his marriage Mr. McClurg turned his attention to merchandising, which he carried on at Hazlewood and Linn Creek, Missouri, until the opening of the great Civil War. In 1861 he enlisted in the Home Guards, was chosen colonel of his regiment, and in 1862 he became colonel of the Eighth Cavalry, Missouri State Militia. He was in this service until after his election to Congress, which was in 1862, from the Fifth District. He then resigned his position in the army to take his seat, and was re-elected in 1864 and 1866. Before the expiration of his last term of office he was elected by the Republican party as governor of the State of Missouri, in 1868, and served one term of two years. He then turned his attention to merchandising once more, also lead mining and steamboating, which he carried on until 1885, at which time he came to Laclede County, and has since been retired from business. He is now in his seventy-fifth year, but is still quite well preserved and bids fair to be spared for many more years of usefulness. It has not been alone in politics that he has borne a conspicuous and honorable part, for to all public enterprises calculated to advance the interests of his city he has given the benefit of his voice and means. He is today as enterprising and energetic and as alive to the issues of the times as in his earlier manhood, and is a man whose good judgment has never been called into question. He has been very prominent in the affairs of Missouri, and has ever been a strong adherent of the Republican party. He and his wife, who departed this life in December, 1861, at Jefferson City, were members of the Presbyterian Church, but he is now connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church. He has for some time been a resident of the city of Springfield, Missouri, and is held in high esteem by its citizens.