James McClure was born circa 1733, and his granddaughter, Martha McClure Hartman, lists William of Scotland as his father on her NSDAR application. So far, nothing has been established about his parents or entry into the Colonies, except that he had settled in Lancaster County, probably in the area that later became Dauphin County. There is a record of the marriage of James McClure and Mary Espy on 30 October 1760 in Dauphin County by Rev. John Doan (Dauphin Co. Marriages,1744-1854).
In November 1768, the Penns purchased a large area from the Iroquois Indians under the Treaty of Fort Stanwick and opened it to settlement the following spring. On the first day the land office opened on April 3 1769, Francis Stuart applied for a Warrent to Survey "300 acres of land ...on the North East branch of Susquehanna and on the West side of said River near the Mouth of Fishing Creek adjoining land applied for by William Barton" (Application #34). The very next day, Stuart conveyed the rights to William Smith D.D. of Philadelphia, stating that he had been acting as trustee in the matter for Smith.
The survey was completed June 3, 1769. It is rather interesting to notice that on May 10, 1769, military representatives of the Penns said in their report that they had found "James McClure with others encamped at the mouth of Fishing Creek, enroute to Wyoming as an advance party." Could this have actually been the survey party concealing their true purpose?
On August 22, 1769, for 116 pounds, William Smith conveyed his right to the property to James McClure. Not until Nov. 5, 1772, probably when final payment had been made, was the conveyance registered and then, on Nov. 6, 1772, the Proprietaries issued the Patent (first Deed) in the name of James McClure. It was called McClure's Choice.
McClure purchased two other tracts adjoining this property but sold them subsequently. The original land stayed in the family, except for small parcels used as right of ways by the N. Branch Canal and the Railroad, until deaths of sons Josiah and James.
James McClure was a respected and involved citizen of Northumberland County. He served as an Assessor and had a number of terms on the Committee of Safety. As such in Sept. 1776 he was selected to distribute powder and lead among Captain Hunters battalion. His last appointment is recorded in 1777, and in March 22 of that year the committee was to meet at the McClure house to hear a complaint about a stolen horse.
Apparently in poor health, on 8th April 1777, James McClure made his will. There is no record yet found of his death date, but we know that it had occurred before July 1778 because when Mrs. McClure and her four children fled following the Wyoming massacre (July 3, 1778) he had died.
The Assessor's record for 1778 lists Mary McClure as head of household, with 211 unimproved acres, 30 improved, 1 horse & four cows. It appears likely that the family stayed in Dauphin County with relatives until some time after the Revolution had ended. During those years the children received their education.
On September 22 1788, an Inventory of the Estate was made and the Will was probated on October 14, 1788. Final accounting was as of 6 April 1791. An interesting item there records the charge of 19 pounds for "the four cows which were drown in the possession of the children of the testator." The will mentions McClure's wife Mary, brother-in-law George Espy, oldest daughter Margaret, daughter Presila, and sons Joseph and James.
In the year 1793, we find Josiah McClure crossed off in the single man's listing with the notation "has to support a helpless family." He had become of legal age, or possibly because of the death of Mary McClure we can not be certain, but we never see anything concerning "Widow" McClure from that date in legal papers. In 1802 both Josiah and James appear on tax records sharing a 2 story log house with 150 acre each.
1805 - Now they have 100 acres each, as 100 acres was sold from the Fishing Creek side in June of that year. They are still living in one two story log house.
1811 - Josiah now has frame house and barn and James has log house and barn. So the earliest frame house was built prior to 1811, but we have not yet determined if that was the present McClure House. We note that Josiah's daughter says she was born on the site of Fort McClure but, so were James' children.
1814 - Assessment shows Josiah as Registrar (of Columbia County, formed 1813 from Northumberland Co.). He had been appointed in 1813 as the first Registrar of Columbia County, serving until 1821. James is listed as a farmer.
1823 - James now is assessed for a frame house. If McClure House is the one built by James, it was built between 1820 & 1823. Both men paid the taxes until their deaths. Their descendants sold various parcels until the final piece was sold by James' estate in 1855. Part of that particular tract of 73 acres became the property in 1866 of George Hughes, then Douglas Hughes, and finally to the Geo. Hughes who died in 1944. His heirs in turn sold it to the town of Bloomsburg in 1945. In 1955, Fort McClure Chapter DAR was given use of the house and surrounding acre, and in 1960 the Chapter received the deed.
Prepared by Loraine K. Prutzman, Ft. McClure Chapter Daughter
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