One identifiable photo from the past can be the catalyst that allows you to uncover the best folk history in America. Not only can pursuing genealogical findings provide the researcher with bare bones records, but also it can reward the genealogist with excellent, detailed information. The limits of the research depend so much upon the preservation of past papers and records.
Allow me to trace the family of P.T. McLellan, a Lucasville resident whose picture (above) I discovered in the Lucasville Area Historical Society's publication A Backward Glance: The Lucasville, Ohio Area 1819-1919, Volume I. It is a story of one of old Maine's most incredible families.
On September 13, 1861, McLellan enlisted in the Fifty-third Ohio Infantry as a private, and he was eventually promoted to Sergeant-Major. He served in companies F and S. McLellan was at the battle of Shiloh and with Sherman on his march to the sea.
Uniform of Ohio 53rd -- Unidentified soldier (Lucasville Area Historical Society)
Recruitment Poster for the 53rd
Here is a summary report of their action at Shiloh:
“On February 16, 1862, the 53rd boarded a steamboat at Portsmouth, Ohio and proceeded to Paducah, Kentucky, where the organization joined the Third Brigade of General William T. Sherman's division. Sherman's command boarded steamers and sailed to Savannah, Tennessee, where the division disembarked and moved against the Memphis and Charleston Railroad near Iuka, Mississippi.
“Upon the expedition's conclusion, the 53rd entered camp near the Shiloh Church at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. On April 6, 1862, more than three hundred of the regiment's enlisted men and one-half of the organization's officers were so ill that they were unfit for duty. On that day, a Confederate army attacked the Union's Army of the Tennessee at Pittsburg Landing.
“In the resulting Battle of Shiloh (April 6 and 7, 1862), the 53rd performed admirably, slowly retreating on the engagement's first day with the rest of the Union army and driving the Confederates from the field on the second day. On April 8, the regiment accompanied a cavalry battalion after the retreating Southerners. Confederate forces attacked the cavalry units, capturing many of these Northerners. The 53rd launched a counterattack, freeing most of the prisoners and prompting the Southerners to withdraw. After this engagement, the regiment returned to the organization's old camp at the Shiloh Church.”
P.T. was discharged August 2, 1865. The Ohio 53rd engaged in 69 battles and skirmishes and traveled 6,400 miles. The regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 76 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 6 Officers and 190 Enlisted men by disease. Total 276.
After returning home, McLellan successfully engaged in the mercantile business (Records account for carrying a stock of about $2,000, with sales amounting to about $9,000 a year).
In 1872 P.T. was married to Jane, daughter of James and Phoebe Rodgers. They had three children – Delia, Florence and Flora. Mr. McLellan was a member of Orient Lodge, No. 321, A. F. & A. M., and he belonged to Colwell Post, No. 245, G. A. R. P.T. died February 2, 1924, in Ashville, Pickaway, Ohio.
Thomas McLellan, Father of P.T.
Thomas was born May 19, 1794. He was married to Mercy Willis on April 19, 1829. Very little else is known.
Thomas McLellan and Jenny Paterson, Grandparents of P.T.
Thomas was born May 19, 1794. He was married to Mercy Willis on April 19, 1829. Very little else is known.
Thomas McLellan and Jenny Paterson, Grandparents of P.T.
P.T.'s grandfather, Thomas McLellan (1753-1829), was a native of Gorham, Maine, and he was of Dutch and Irish descent. Thomas was the youngest son of Hugh and Elizabeth McLellan, whose family was among the very first settlers of his county. Thomas McLellan lived and died in the old family mansion on the home in Maine. The structure is believed to be the first brick house built in Cumberland County, and is among the oldest surviving brick buildings in the state. He married Jenny Patterson of Saco. Thomas died January 13, 1829, age 75. Mrs. McLellan died October 30, 1841, age 84.
And, this is where the story opens into an entire chapter of American history – Hugh and Elizabeth McLellan were noted pioneers of Maine.
Hugh and Elizabeth McLellan, Great-Grandparents of P.T.
In the 1700’s, many of the Scottish and Irish immigrated to the colonies and began settling in downtown Portland Maine (then part of Falmouth).
The town of Gorham owes its origin and settlement to the so-called Narragansett War. The Narragansetts were a numerous and powerful tribe (Estimates number them with some three or four thousand warriors.). The tribe was deemed to be “jealous of the English and of the Mohicans, both of whom had remained friendly to the English.” The Narragansetts eventually fought the settlers.
The war was also known as King Philip's War. Metacomet (He adopted the English name Philip due to the friendly relations between his father and the Mayflower Pilgrims.) was the second son of Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanog Confederacy who had coexisted peacefully with the Pilgrims for nearly 40 years. On the death of his brother Alexander, Philip succeeded to the chieftainship of the Wampanoags, and like Alexander, Philip became “the determined enemy of the white man.”
Historical records say “the Indians began their bloody work” on June, 1675, falling upon the town of Swanzey in Plymouth Colony, burning the town, and killing, it is said, “nine English.” The war raged on and became known as “the single greatest calamity to occur in seventeenth century Puritan New England,” and it is considered by many to be the deadliest war in the history of European settlement in North America in proportion to the population.
An early and reliable historian of the times, Benjamin Trumbull, says after careful consideration, that one of every eleven men capable of bearing arms was slain in the conflict, and one-eleventh of all the dwellings in the united colonies burned in the war with the savages.
The first action in Maine came when a 25-man militia gathered at Falmouth in 1675 and sailed to an Indian village, thought to be a part of the Abenaki, “with a single sloop and towing shallops.” The Indians drove them off and took the shallops (small boats) from them. Later that month, the tribe crossed the Saco River in the captured shallops and attacked the settlement of Winter Harbor. Little damage was caused, and similar raids were conducted on Wells and Falmouth later that year.
Philip was killed on August 12, 1676, by the brother of the Indian whom he had slain for advising him to sue for peace. With his death, hostilities largely ceased … for a while.
The McLellan Link
In 1733, Hugh and Elizabeth McLellan (of County Antrim, Ireland), along with their first child William, sailed from Londonderry. After a rough, stormy passage of two months, they arrived in Boston. On their voyage another child was born to them. This child died in infancy. From Boston, they went to York, then to Wells, where they purchased land and remained for a time, but their farm proving to be poor and unproductive, so they disposed of it and went to Saco, where Hugh's brother James lived.
From Saco the family went to to Falmouth where Hugh had a sister. Fearing Indian depredation, they finally moved to Falmouth Neck. While there, Hugh purchased a grantee's right of land in Narragansett No. 7, which consisted of 200 acres, now known as Gorham. Hugh's deed from Shubael Gorham was given August 10, 1739.
It is one of the seven townships granted by the General Court of Massachusetts to eight hundred and forty persons, who were either “personally present at the fort and fight at Narragansett, or who were descendants from those who were, or who were in the strictest alliance with them.”
Captain John Phinney and his family were the first settlers in this remote township – a part of Falmouth then called Presumpscot. Most of the people settling there were of Puritan and Pilgrim stock, but this region was in no way under puritanical ideals.
The McLellans moved in the latter part of the winter (1738-1739) to a logger's or hunter's camp Hugh had repaired earlier that year. The Hugh McLellan family became the second group of settlers in No. 7.
It is reported that the McLellans “moved on (to No. 7) with an old white horse harnessed to a drag – two long poles, the forward ends confined to the horse, like carriage shafts, the other ends dragging some twenty feet behind.” On these pieces they laced cross-pieces, on which they secured their effects. William, “then a lad of seven or eight years, drove the little cow,” and Hugh, the father, “carried Abigail, the babe, two or three months old, a part of the time, and drove the team, while the mother carried the babe part of the time.” There was no road or track. The family began life as pioneers.
French and Indian War
April 18, 1746, an attack loomed. The McLellans had four guns in the house, and two men, Hugh and his son William capable of using them, while Mrs. McLellan “was not much behind her husband in point of courage and ability to defend their home in the wilderness.” All through the night, the McLellan's dog appeared upset, and no one slept in fear of an attack. Yet, no attack came.
The next day it was revealed that about a dozen Indians engaged in an attack on Gorham – they had planned to attack the Bryants, the Cloutmans, the Reeds, and the McLellans. The McLellans were not attacked because the Indians had already scored a victory with the murder and capture of others. They did not push their luck.
Early in the day, Mrs. McLellan sent her daughter Abigail to go to the Bryants because the McLellans had heard a gunshot they believed came from there – in those days, often a sign of inquiry and alarm.
Poor Abigail found “a sight past the description of everyone.”
The party sent to Bryants' had “fulfilled their bloody work.” The Indians had found the wife and the children in the house and captured them without trouble. Four of the children were “dispatched with the tomahawk and scalped, and an infant, two weeks old, had its brains beaten out on the stones of the fireplace.” The oldest child in the house was a girl about fifteen years of age, and tradition says that she would have been made captive with her mother, had it not been that one of her captors had, at a previous time, received an indignity from her, for which he had promised her that he would have his revenge when war came.
When Abigail arrived at the Bryants', she saw that the eldest daughter was still alive. In fact, in a feeble voice, she called Abigail by name. They had been companions in play and intimate friends. She could not even help her friend.
Stricken with horror at the sight before her, Abigail was completely paralyzed with fear and her tongue could not utter a word. At that moment, she heard Indians talking near the back of the house, and she instantly flew “with the swiftness of an arrow toward home.”
Upon her arrival at home, her mother could not get Abigail to speak of the tragedy: she was frozen in fear. However, sensing the seriousness of the situation, she went to the door and blew a horn of alarm. Hugh and William had been plowing, and they returned home. Then, the McLellans joined the rest of the community in assessing the situation.
It was eventually revealed that Mrs. Bryant was dragged into captivity and carried to Canada, where she subsequently married, and soon after died. Mr. Bryant and his son James were not at home at the time of the attack. Indians saw Mr. Bryant nearby, fired at him, and broke his arm. Bryant was able to secret his son in the woods, and his son returned safely to the fort the following morning.
As for the father … Bryant did not survive. He saw a resident, Daniel Mosher, and the men tried to shoot the pursuing Indians, but Bryant was weak from exertion and loss of blood, and “the rapid blows of the tomahawk quickly dispatched him.” The Indians scalped him and made their escape into the woods. Mosher did luckily escape to the fort to raise an alarm.
Mr. Cloutman and Mr. Reed were captured in the raid and taken to Canada by the Indians. Reed died in prison in Quebec in 1746. The brawny Cloutman made his escape in just a few days; however, he never reached home and was feared drown.
Soon, all the settlers of Gorham secured their families in the fort for greater security against the Indians.
So it was that during the French and Indian War, the McLellan family lived in “the fort on the hill,” which they entered on April 20, 1746, the day following the massacre of the Bryant Family. There, their daughter Jane was born.
Although the formal declaration of the French and Indian Wars did not occur until March, 1754, Indian problems continued to occur in the area for some time.
“Young Bill” McLellan
Young Bill discovered his “old friend” stalking him with murder in mind. The Indian was crawling on his hands and knees, trailing his gun, and Bill was busy hoeing corn. His row fortunately would lead him directly to the point to which the Indian was crawling. He saw the Indian, but the Indian did not know he had been discovered.
Bill had his gun in the field, but it was “by a stump some rods behind him.” He eventually hid from the Indian, got the gun, and called out to him. For some reason, the Indian stood up. Bill's “leaden messenger was on it way as soon as his words had arrived.” The ball took effect in the Indian's bowels. He immediately put his hand over the wound and make for the woods, calling out, “Bill, you shoot him well.” Whether the Indian died from his wound was never known. The gun barrel with which the Indian was shot is still in the family, and owned by the author of the history of Gorham.
Elizabeth, Indian Slayer
Then there is the tale of Elizabeth McLellan's slaying of a hostile Indian. One day the men and the boys were in the field. As no Indians had been seen, no danger was apprehended. The women and children of probably ten families remained in the fort.
The McLellan family had an old dog and had instructed him to make no peace with any Indian. That day the dog came quickly bounding into the fort, “showing indications of great anger and of being much disturbed.”
Mrs. McLellan immediately closed the gate of the stockade. The dog quieted down at once, and Elizabeth said she was “certain sure Indians were about because Bose knew an Indian.” She then took a gun and went into the watch-box with another woman, Mrs. Watson, who “not withstanding old Bose's intelligence, was rather incredulous.”
Since the Indians had counted all the males at work in the field, they were not so cautious that day. Elizabeth thought she saw a bush move. It was a warm day, and no air was stirring. Up popped the head of an Indian, who “after looking warily about, stepped out from his cover in order to more clearly view the fort.” Elizabeth fired her weapon and saw the Indian “give a leap into the air and fall flat on his face where he lay a minute, pawing the earth with his hands as if to draw himself back into the bushes.” The two women watched with much anxiety.
As expected, the men, having heard the gunshot, came running to the fort to see what was the matter. Seeing nothing of Indians, most partook somewhat of the incredulity of the women, but Mrs. McLellan and her companion insisted that Elizabeth had either killed or desperately wounded one.
An examination of the spot where the enemy had fallen began. The spot was examined and proof was evident that either death or a desperate wound had been the result of her shot. A large pool of blood was on the ground, and a trail of blood was seen running some distance through the woods, where the living had carried the dead or wounded body. Mrs. McLellan had most likely killed an Indian.
The fort was actually burned by Indians in 1747 and badly damaged.
In 1757, Hugh McLellan agreed to complete reconstruction work for the General Court at the price “on each right (person) one shilling four pence, lawful money for repairing the fort.” The fort was fortified with cannons for the purpose of defense against the Indians and to warn the neighboring towns when they were discovered “to be prowling the vicinity.”
After the long war, the McLellans returned to their log-house, and subsequently by industry, perseverance and prudence, they “accumulated a competency, and even became wealthy for the times.” Hugh became a successful farmer and lumber worker, and “in 1763, and for many hears thereafter, he paid the highest provincial tax then paid in the town.”
About 1770 the Mclellans commenced the erection of the brick house on the north side of Academy Hill. It was not completed, however, until four years later. It is the oldes brick house in the county. The bricks were made by family on their own land near the brook.
Hugh died on January 2, 1787, aged 77. His wife Elizabeth was a remarkably intelligent woman who retained her faculties down to a late period in her life.
Tombstone of Hugh McLellan
Elizabeth McLellan always “held unconquerable antipathy against Indians”; still, she treated them kindly. In passing through the town, Indians always made her a call (Perhaps, they respected her bravery and marksmanship.), and she never let one go away hungry while “making her conduct invariably kind to them.”
At the age of ninety, Elizabeth put the saddle and bridle upon her horse and mounting from the horse-block rode over two miles to the house of her daughter, Mrs. Warren, spent the day, and returned alone. She died July 16, 1804 at age 96.
Reverberations Continue To Today
The payoff for the student of history and genealogy is the record of these early times in American history. Much like the Lucasville Area Historical Society owes key families of the past for a fine recorded heritage, the residents of Maine are indebted to the McLellans for their interest in preservation. The forward of their book reads ...
Through my research, I believe P.T. was actually in Company F. (Lucasville Area Historical Society Photo)
John K. Duke. History of the Fifty-third regiment Ohio volunteer infantry, during the war of the rebellion, 1861 to 1865. 1844.Mike Mangus. “53rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry (1861-1865).” Ohio Civil War Central. January 24, 2014.
Hugh D. McLellan compiled and edited by his daughter Katharine B. Lewis. The History of Gorham, ME. By Portland: Smith & Sale, Printers 1903.