McLennans and their Travels
This is a story about the travels of the McLennans. Information from many people is included here. I will present everything as fact but, but I always welcome any additions or corrections. I will start with the family on their farm in Logie Easter, Rosshire, Scotland and end with their various departures from McLennan County, Texas.
Some say the McLennans left Scotland in order to find a better life in the New World. Others say they were not satisfied with the English government and Queen Victoria in particular. It seems that the Queen had promised the McLennans their land "as long as the winds blow and the waters run", but she had gone back on her word. And still others say the parents were afraid that the boys would have to fight in a foreign war. Probably all of these reasons prompted them to leave Scotland. From all the stories I have heard, I feel certain we can say that they were not satisfied with the English Government.
The story goes that William and Margaret McLennan had decided to take whichever of their children who wanted to go and leave Scotland. So Alexander comes home on leave from the army and has to make this decision about going or staying. During his visit, William, his father, came in one day to find his boys sitting on the fence. Alexander is talking to them, expressing concern that he might soon be called upon to go to war. His final decision is to desert the army and go to America with his family. In later years, Alexander is quoted as saying he could never return to Scotland because he was a deserter.
Only the oldest daughter, Eleanor Helen, chose to stay in Scotland, as she was engaged to marry James Ross. Indeed, she got married June 5, 1868, about two months after her parents and siblings got to America. Most in the family called her Helen, although some referred to her as Ellen. Helen and James had a daughter, Tina Bell, who corresponded with her kin in America for quite some time. I do not know if this line still continues in Scotland or ended with Tina Bell.
Now, the McLennans also had friends and neighbors who wanted to leave Scotland. So, the McLennans knew others on the ship that took them to America. When the time came, they packed their belongings in large trunks (I have seen some of these trunks) and took a boat to the port where they shipped out. Since Alexander was soon to become an army deserter, they were cautious about their departure. Thusly, they left their home at night. Or to quote my grandmother, "from the boat to the ship in the dark".
The family was 21 days on the Atlantic Ocean, and on April 10, 1868, they landed at Castle Garden in New York. This is where immigrants came in before Ellis Island became the processing location. From New York, the family took the train around the Great Lakes, eventually arriving in Chicago. From there, they went across Illinois to the Mississippi River.
Here the family then took a leisurely 23-day trip down the Mississippi River, eventually reaching New Orleans. The story goes that their trip down the Mississippi (23 days) was longer than their trip from Scotland to America (21 days). The McLennans were not struggling immigrants with only their clothes on their back. Instead, they had plenty of possessions and were more like tourists.
From Louisiana, the McLennan family headed east to Mobile and soon settled in Sumter County, Alabama. It was in the nearby woods of Mississippi that Kenneth McLennan hurt his leg. In his elderly years, it was amputated. He buried it on their farm in Haskell County, Texas.
The McLennans did menial jobs while in Alabama (I think my Great Aunt Vera means that they worked for wages and didn't own any land). Then two years after settling in Alabama, the McLennans started for Iowa. But they decided that the climate was too cold up there, so instead they settled in Montgomery County, Missouri in 1871. Here they bought a farm adjoining Isaac Vance Eubanks. They remained here until 1875. At that time, Ed Brown made up a group of 7 families, consisting of 12 covered wagons, one hack, one buggy, and several riders.
So on the morning of September 20, 1875, they all started for Texas. They crossed through Kansas at Baxter Springs and into Indian Territory. Eventually, they crossed the bridge over the Red River, four miles from Denison, Texas. The party then continued down through Texas until they reached Waco. It was here that the Eubanks family remained. At this point, the party had been traveling six weeks.
But the McLennans continue on down to Kendall County. They chose to go further southwest for the health of their ailing daughter, Annie. Annie had had a problem with asthma for a long time. Remember above when I said the McLennans decided not to go to Iowa because it was too cold up there? Now they are again seeking warmer weather in the Austin, Texas area.
A few months after arriving in Kendall County, the McLennans moved a short distance over to Hayes County. It was here that William and Margaret's child, Annie, died on Oct 17, 1876 at the young age of 22 in San Marcus, Texas. I have heard that she was buried in Elgin, Texas. So it appears that the McLennans lived at various places around the Austin area during this time period.
One year afterward, the McLennan family went to McLennan County and bought 160 acres five miles south of Robinson, which is south of Waco. Here they became neighbors to the Eubanks again. Then on November 2, 1881, the youngest McLennan boy, William, Jr., married Mary Seldon Eubanks, daughter to Isaac Vance "Ike" and Sarah Eubanks.
William McLennan, Sr. died on this land on May 1, 1882 at 67 years of age. Him and his wife, Margaret, are buried in the Fletcher Cemetery not far from their farm. Buried nearby are Ike and Sarah Eubanks.
After their marriage, William, Jr. and Mary Seldon McLennan move to the Mooresville-Chilton area in Falls County, just a few miles south from their parents. They had 15 children here in Falls County. Their first one died May 3, 1883 and is also buried in the above-mentioned Fletcher Cemetery. Indeed, that cemetery has lots of McLennan-Eubanks relatives buried there.
I have already talked about Helen and Annie. That leaves one more McLennan woman, Maggie. About two years before her father died, she married Henry Lee "H.L." Downey on February 10, 1880. Their daughter, Annie, was born in 1881. Then their son, James, was born in 1882. However on October 8, 1884, when James was a little over two, his mother, Maggie, died. Then when he was 12, James picked up a rusty gun by a railroad track and accidentally shot himself to death. H.L. Downey remarried, and Annie had many half brothers and half sisters. However, Annie had no children of her own, so Maggie McLennan has no living descendants.
Now I'll continue with information about the rest of the boys. Donald McLennan went up to Chicago to do brick mason work not too long after the Chicago Fire. While up there, he met Lottie. After he returned to McLennan County, Lottie came down, and they were married in January 13, 1881. Their first child was born near his parents' place. Their remaining children were born at Battle, Texas.
OK, as previously mentioned, William McLennan died in 1882. Then in the fall of 1884, his wife, Margaret, along with her sons, Alexander and Kenneth, all moved to Battle, Texas. Now let's go up to 1886. In this year, Alexander McLennan marries Mary Montgomery in Lorena, Texas. Mary, an orphan, was being raised by her cousins, the Gays, near Lorena, Texas. Indeed, the Gays and the McLennans were neighbors before the McLennans moved to Battle.
So, why did Alexander leave the Robinson area, move to Battle, then later return to the area to marry Mary? Well, they married a few days after her 19th birthday. My guess is that he was waiting for her to turn 19. He was almost 38 when they got married, just about twice her age. However, they had plenty of time together, being married nearly 50 years.
Now we move up to 1887, one year after Alexander and Mary were married. Let's see what McLennans are left and where they are located. Donald and Lottie have their third child, Kenny, in May of 1887. They are in the Battle Community. William and Mary Seldon have their fourth child, Ike, that year in July. They are in Falls County as I previously mentioned. And Alexander and Mary have their second child, Pearl, this year in December. They are also in the Battle Community. Living with them is Alexander's brother, Kenny and their mother, Margaret.
Also by 1887, the sister, Maggie McLennan, has been dead about three years. But her children, Annie (6) and James Lee (5) live on. Their father, H.L. Downey, has just remarried, and they have their first half brother, Osborne. Annie McLennan has been gone 11 years by now, buried somewhere near Austin, Texas. I have no idea about the McLennans left back in Scotland in this year 1887, except to say that Tina Bell would have turned 15. So, 1887 was the year of births for all McLennan families. The McLennan numbers start to rise again.
Four years after 1887, in 1891, the mother, Margaret McLennan dies. She was buried beside her husband in the Fletcher Cemetery. Grandkids report that she was "mean", but that might simply mean that she made them behave. I have never heard anyone say what her husband, William, Sr. was like.
The McLennans were brought up to know farming and ranching and farm animals. Throughout the 1890's, they continued in this trade. William remained in Falls County, near Chilton, while Alexander, Kenny, and Donald remained in the Battle Community. Alexander and Kenny started a freight line, delivering freight to San Antonio. Many more children were born to these three brothers during the 1890's. Not all these children made it out of childhood, but most did. In later years, Alexander's children talked about swimming in the tank on their farm and walking into nearby Battle to buy things. Many of the McLennans had fond memories of this decade.
The 1890's pass, the century passes, and it is now 1901. While William and his family remain in Falls County, the lure of cheap land out west beckoned Alexander, Kenny, and Donald. They all three buy land in Haskell County, Texas that year. Donald buys his farmland up near Rule. Here he builds a house and then brings his family out west. Alexander and Kenny buy ranchland about 15 miles east of Stamford, Texas. However, Alexander immediately moves his family to this new land, and they live in tents initially. Afterward, Alexander and Kenny build a barn. The family then live in this barn briefly, with some of the boys sleeping up in the loft. And last of all, they finally build a house. All of Donald and Lottie's children were born before they moved to Haskell County, but Alexander and Mary will have two more births on this new land. Actually, when Alexander called his wife's name with his Scottish accent, it sounded more like "Murray" than "Mary".
Eventually, William and Mary Seldon had their last child in Falls County and moved to Ganado in Jackson County. His kin in Haskell County referred to him as the brother who "lives on the coast", which is pretty close to right. They are both buried in the cemetery at Ganado, and many of their descendants still live in and around nearby Edna, Texas. The final resting place for Donald and Lottie is in the cemetery at Rule. And Alexander and Kenny with other McLennans are buried in the Howard Cemetery, in the Paint Creek Community. Paint Creek is northeast of Stamford and southeast of Haskell, Texas.
So, I have taken all the McLennans from Scotland, across the Atlantic Ocean, and on to their final resting place. Most of their descendants are still in Texas - alllll over Texas (with some being also in Oklahoma, California, Oregon, Mississippi, etc.). Many of these descendants still have the McLennan name, which has survived and is in fine shape. As you can see, we actually know quite a bit about the McLennans since they left Scotland. I notice that if a family is proud and educated enough to write things down, their story survives. That is certainly the case for the McLennans.
I wish thank all who gave me information to make this story possible. I'll start out by naming those closest kin to me who told me about this heritage. My mother, Clothilde Hughes, gave me the framework of this story to be filled in by others. My grandmother, Maggie Houston, also helped greatly. I specifically remember her telling about the McLennans leaving their home in the night and taking a boat to the ship. She also talked about coming from Battle, Texas. Peggy Phillips filled in a lot of details, such as Helen's daughter was Tina Bell and that Tina Bell exchanged letters with the McLennans in America. Margaret Bolding added many memories of what her Grandma and Grandpa McLennan were like. Gerald McLennan told about how many days they were both on the Atlantic and the Mississippi, and so many other details and personal stories. Vera McLennan also told me much of what she remembered about her father, Alexander McLennan.
A special thanks goes to Louise Cox, who told me how the McLennans took the train around the Great Lakes on their way to the Mississippi. She also gave me the names and dates for all the children of William, Jr. and Mary Seldon. We exchanged many letters and phone calls back before computers became fashionable.
Thanks to Bill McLennan for giving me the information in the journals of Mary Seldon Eubanks McLennan. She told the story of their trip from Missouri to Texas. Linda Wolf told me about the Fletcher Cemetery and so many other details and data. She was especially helpful. Dot Balcom told me about the Queen and many other adventures the McLennans had. Pat Hendley added much information about Donald, Lottie, and their descendants.
Much also came from census records, court records, and books, especially "A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties, Texas", Lewis Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, 1893, pages 783, 784.
This just names a few sources that I can immediately remember. To all those I am not mentioning, I certainly appreciate your help also. So again thanks to all who added their piece to the puzzle to make it complete.