The George McLean Diary Introduction

The document that you are presently reading may be the most important document ever published relating to the pre-Civil War history and genealogy of the Allegheny Region. George McLean's Diary was first published in the 1960's by Don Rice, who obtained a typewritten copy from one of McLean's relatives, Ollie Lunsford. Don had the copy retyped, mimeographed, and 100 copies were sold. The proceeds went to the Randolph County Historical Society, which has granted permission for the present publication.

While there may be documents around which rival McLean in certain aspects of local history and genealogy, to the best of my knowledge there is no single document available that offers such a varied combination of details concerning vital statistics, day to day life, economics, weather, manufacturing, religion and family life as does the diary of George McLean. Some minor additions have been made to the present volume. Bill Rice has prepared a short sketch of George McLean's life, which was published in the Fall 1993 issue of ALLEGHENY REGIONAL ANCESTORS, and is included herein. I myself have prepared some short explanatory notes for the text of the volume and these are included in the body of the diary. An index is also included in this publication. Credit must go to Marvin Hill, Vera Lewis, John McCollam, and Dick Phares for the production of this work. Marvin secured permission from the Historical Society, Vera and John have been responsible for the typing and computerizing of the text, and Dick is to provide a high quality printer as he has so generously in the past for our quarterly journal.

It is hoped that the present publication will make this important historical document more readily available to interested researchers. The publication of the first version in the 1960's was a major contribution to our local heritage. It is in the same spirit of historical preservation and co operation that the present volume is offered.

David Armstrong Editor ARFHS Elkins, WV 30 Nov 1992


Since 1966 when the Randolph County Historical Society first published a portion of his journal, George McLean has become almost a household word, even to the most amateur of local historians. Those 95 pages provide a snapshot of every day life in the Allegheny Region from 1831 to 1948 with a clarity difficult to achieve using other available sources. They do not, however, reveal a great deal about McLean himself.

George McLean was born on 25 March 1792 in Frederick County, Maryland as recorded there in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. He was the eldest child of Daniel McLean and Anna Marstiller who were married in Frederick County, Maryland the previous year. There are several indications that George's father is the same Daniel McLean who lived in the Upper Tygart Valley in the 1770's and who was living in Fayette County, Kentucky in September of 1792.

George McLean came to Randolph County in 1797 when his father is first listed in the tax lists. On 13 July 1809 Daniel McLean purchased a 341 acre tract of land from Georgetown resident John Hoyle (1774_1849) for whom they named their next child, Hoye McLean. This property lies southwest of the Elkins-Randolph County Airport on the east side of the Tygart Valley River and it would be the home of George McLean for the remaining 71 years of his life.

In 1978 the original McLean journal was in the possession of George's great- granddaughter, Evelyn Lytle Bodenheimer. The binding suggested that more preceded 1831 as well as followed 1848. Evidently Mrs. Knight Wees had access to that earlier portion at one time since in the Randolph County Annals kept in the vault of the County Clerk's Office she recorded several entries from 1815 and cited the source as the "George McLean Diary".

On 6 June 1822 George McLean married Susannah Hart(11 November 1799-8 April 1850), a daughter of John Montgomery Hart and Elizabeth Ryan. They had eight children: 1) An unnamed son who was born and died on 6 March 1823, 2) John born on 13 September 1824 who died on 19 February 1826, 3) Julia Ann born on 20 January 1827. She married George Caplinger Lytle(29 September 1825-15 January 1906) on 25 November 1852 and died 7 December 1873. 4) Edwin S. D. born on 28 November 1829. He was evidently named for a prominent local attorney, Edwin S. Duncan, and died on 28 November 1830, 5) Elizabeth Ellen who was delivered by Doctor Squire Bosworth on 18 January 1832 and died on 1 August 1837, 6) James Barber born on 7 March 1834. He was named for a local Presbyterian minister, studied law and was practicing in Buckhannon when he died on 3 February 1859, 7) Sarah "Jane" who was delivered by Bosworth on 18 June 1836 and died on 4 May 1854 and 8) Mary Virginia who was delivered by Bosworth on 27 March 1845. She married David Blackman Curtis (1841- 1893) on 26 December 1870 and died on 26 March 1893. George McLean and his wife and all eight of their children are buried in Arnold Hill Cemetery.

The McLeans were Presbyterians and several references to them are found in the records of the Tygart Valley Presbyterian Church. George's wife Susannah McLean and his sister Anna Foggy joined the church on 1 June 1823. George joined the congregation in October of 1831 and he had two of his children baptised in this church in April 1833. His father Daniel, was one of the ruling elders.

Even though the McLeans were not members of the Primitive Baptist Church, the family for some reason was very involved with that church's cemetery at Arnold Hill. At least 40 members of George McLean's immediate and extended family were buried there between 1823 and 1983 with several others not known to have been related buried there by George McLean. And there are indications that George McLean may have been one of the primary caretakers of the cemetery from its inception about 1818 until his death in 1880.

In local government affairs and military activities, George McLean was very active. From his journal we learn that the spent a lot of this time handling the official duties of the local militia and he earned the rank of Colonel in the 107th Regiment. Mr. McLean also spent a lot of time at the County Court House, handling the administrations of several estates, assisting with various court matters and even looking up deeds as he indicates in his journal. He was a Justice of the Peace during the early 1830's and was County Sheriff during the early 1850's.

George McLean was also a slave owner. In the 1830, 1840 and 1850 Randolph County census he owned a young male slave and middle-aged female slave. On several occasions in his journal he tells of making shoes for his family, often by name. The two otherwise unfamiliar names of "Allen" and "Bid" are evidently the names of his two slaves.

After the Civil War McLean Lived with the family of his son-in-law, George Caplinger Lytle. He died on 13 July 1880 without a will or any administration of his estate. He was buried in Arnold Hill Cemetery in what until recently was an unmarked grave.

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