You know by now that I can’t resist an identified orphan photo. So when I saw five on sale by @old_magazines_and_books, all identified with the surname “McClure”, I jumped right in to buy them. Upon receipt in mail, I did my usual quick search on the available genealogy platforms. I wondered how the sitters might have been related. And I came across quite the family story. Those photos did indeed belong together and were all of one family!
The little boy’s name reads Harold McClure from Lewisburg, PA. While researching persons to match our Harold McClure, I came across this photo of him as an adult on Findagrave.com (originally published in the 1915 yearbook of Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA).
And I thought to myself, wait a minute, I recognise this face. I had seen this face, younger minus moustache, before. So, I went back to the seller and checked their archives for more photos that could relate to this family. And found this!
Luckily no one had claimed it and I could purchase it as well.
There is so much information available on this man and his family, I’ll try to put it in a nutshell for you. Harold Murray McClure, known as Hal or Mac, was born on August 8th, 1859, in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, to parents James Crouch McClure and Glorvina née Elder. Hal had a younger sister Marie Flanagan McClure, born in 1861, but about her later in more detail.
In 1871, Hal entered Bucknell University in Lewisburg and graduated in 1877 with a degree of A.B. In 1880, he did his Master’s degree.
Hal was athletic and loved sports, and apparently he was a very talented ball player. While at the University, he caught the attention of managers of professional teams who were all eager to pay him to play for their teams. Hal figured why not, if that salary could help him finance his law studies.
Quoting from “Commemorative Biographical Record of Central PA, including counties of Clinton, Union and Snyder”, published in Chicago by J.H. Beers and Co., in 1898, (pages 792-793), as found on the page dedicated to Hal on Ancestry.com:
He entered the professional ranks with John M. Ward, playing with the Athletics of Philadelphia, the Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, and Boston clubs. He was at the time regarded as one of the best catchers and most accurate throwers in the country, always remaining cool and deliberate in the most exciting games.
You can check his baseball statistics here. Hal played a couple of games with the 1882 Boston Red Stockings but was more famous for his minor league career. He was 183 cm tall and weighed 74 kg at the time of his professional career.
And after I had read this, I looked at the photo of Hal as a boy again and realised that he seemed to be wearing a baseball outfit and holding a helmet of sorts? Perhaps the love and talent for ball sports was already present in this little boy!
Quoting from “Commemorative Biographical Record of Central PA, including counties of Clinton, Union and Snyder” (see link above):
After traveling over a large part of the United States, including the Pacific coast, he left the field and commenced his preliminary course of reading at Sunbury, Penn., and in June 1881, was admitted to the Bar. He at once began the practice of law at Sunbury, three years being spent with his preceptor, before he opened an office of his own. His abilities commanded recognition from the first, and in 1891, as has been said, he was elected President Judge of the Seventeenth District.
Hal married Anna Margaret née Focht in 1890. Anna Margaret had been born in June 1858 in Perry County, PA.
Hal and Anna Margaret had 2 children:
–I could identify the baby in the photo as Hal’s son James Focht McClure (1892-1976), here just 3 months old.
James became a lawyer too. He married Florence née Fowler in 1924. They had two sons Richard Fowler McClure (1927-2010) and James Focht Jr. (1931-2010). James Jr., like his grandfather Hal, was a federal judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
–Hal’s daughter Margaret McClure (1894-1983) married Howard Voelkler Fisher in November 1920 in Selinsgrove, PA. The couple might have had 4 children.
Harold served as a judge from 1891-1911. Upon his election, he was one of the youngest judges in the State. The Commemorative biographical record (link above) from 1898 goes on to describe that “his acute and well-disciplined mind places him among the best of our able judiciary, and his decisions are marked by sound logic and a thorough knowledge of precedents (..) The admiration gained by his mental ability is augmented by his high character as a man of pure life and correct ideals, and his popularity is not limited to any class.”
He also received a fair share of criticism due to his relations with his brother-in-law, senator B.K. Focht. Here’s quite a provocative headline from the Lewisburg Journal, Oct 25th, 1901:
The McClures lived comfortably, as can be seen in this auditor general’s report from 1911 ($5.292 equals to about $156.000 today):
Apparently, Hal was not the first judge in his family. Following the American Revolution, his great-uncle Jonathan McClure had become one of the first judges in Dauphin, PA, when the county was organised in 1785 (read about it here).
Hal retired from law in 1911 and spent his retirement investing in utilities. But Hal’s life came to a sudden end at just 59 years of age, way too early for his time. He passed away on March 1st, 1919 of angina pectoris which translates to breast pain due to an insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle.
Hal’s wife Anna Margaret passed away more than 20 years later, in February 1941, at the age of 82. The were both buried at the family gravesite at the Lewisburg Cemetery, PA.
Since the photo lot also includes the photo of Hal’s mom, Mrs. James C. McClure, I write a few lines about Hal’s parents James and Glorvina McClure. They got married in 1857 in Philadelphia. James had been born in March 1830. James was in mercantile business. In 1877, James and Glorvina moved to Norththumberland where James started working in lumber business. They moved again in 1885, this time to Scranton, PA, where James operated anthracite-coal. James McClure passed away in September 1903 from a gangrene. The obituary was published in Lewisburg Journal on September 11th, 1903.
Hal’s mother Glorvina McClure née Elder had been born in January 1834 to parents Joshua D. Elder and Eliza née Murray, former residents of Harrisburg, PA. Quoting again the Commemorative biographical record, she was described as “a brilliant, gifted and charming woman, with rare musical talent, of broad culture and great intellectual attainments.” Glorvina worked as a vocal music teacher at the University of Lewisburg Female Institute. Glorvina McClure passed away on May 22nd, 1898, at just 64 years from a stroke.
Hal had a sister Maria Flanagan McClure who was born on September 11th, 1861. She married Frank B. Garvin of Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1885, and the couple had two daughters, Ella Baldwin (1887-1952) and Edna Brewer (1891-1976). Frank was a freight agent and a railroad worker. Maria passed away in September 1920, also just at the age of 59 like her brother Hal had. And just like her mother, Maria had suffered from a cerebral thrombosis.
We also have a photo of one Maria McClure. At first I thought she might have been Hal’s sister Maria. But the photo was taken in the 1860s, which suggests she might have been Hal’s father’s sister Maria McClure. If she was Hal’s paternal aunt, her parents were James McClure and Maria née Flanagan. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find much about her life. I found this family tree for her on Familysearch which suggest she was born on December 12th, 1838 in Lewisburg.
If you want to know more about the McClure, Flanagan and Elder families, there are quite a few sources out there. A long story about the McClures was published in the Mifflinburg Telegraph on November 6th, 2003:
The first McClure ancestor in Hal and Maria’s family, who settled in the United States, was Richard McClure, born in 1718 in Raphoe, Ireland. Upon arrival in the New World, he settled down in Dauphin, Pennsylvania, where he also died in 1774, having fathered about 17 children with his wife Jean née Sage. One of them was Hal and Maria’s great-grandfather Roan (Rowan) McClure.
Read more about the McClures here “Commemorative Biographical Record of Central PA, including counties of Clinton, Union and Snyder” (link mentioned above):
The McClure Family became identified with the Virginia colony at a very early period, but the Judge’s great-grandfather, Roan McClure, left the Old Dominion in 1790, and settled in what is now Union County, Penn., on Buffalo creek, two miles from Lewisburg, where his remaining years were spent in farming. His son, James, the Judge’s grandfather, married a widow, Mrs. Maria Flanagan Lyndall, who already had four children-Stephen, Henry, Joseph and Sarah. James and Maria McClure reared a family of six children: (1) Roan, (2) Richard and (3) Edward, all of whom went to California in the early days. Roan returned and is now living near Ames, Iowa. Richard and Edward died there. (4) James C. is our subject’s father. (5) Elizabeth, now deceased intermarried with Ogden Vorse of Lewisburg; and (6) Maria, who married Horace Nichols, resides near Ames Iowa.
Hal and Maria’s grandmother Maria née Flanagan’s ancestors also sailed from Ireland. Their great-grandfather Stephen Flanagan (1757-1832) served as a fifer and seaman on the armed boat Congress under Captain Isaac Roach. He was born in Ireland, died in Philadelphia, PA (information found here).
Hal and Maria’s maternal ancestors, the Elders, had been born in Scotland in the 1670s and had settled to America in about 1730 through Ireland (information found here).
What fun this has been to research this family! Well, I didn’t really have to research them, I just collected all the wonderful information about them into this blogpost. I hope the photos and the stories will bring you as much joy.