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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 573~


James Wharton McLean, M.D.

(photograph of James W. McLean in Ssurce book includes)


In one of the most exacting of all callings Dr. James Wharton McLean, of Fayette, Iowa, has attained distinction, being recognized as one of the most successful physicians in the county of Fayette. He is a well educated, symmetrically developed man, his work as a professional man having brought him prominently to the notice of the public, the result of which is a great demand for his services throughout this locality, where a high standard of professional excellence is required.  He is, in short, a worthy descendant of a distinguished and sterling ancestry which the genealogist is able to trace back to the fourteenth century, the numerous branches of this fine old family being traced back without a missing link to the old Scottish clan, McLeans, who possessed, by charter, as early as 1390, a part of the Island of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. This clan traced its origin to one Gillean, who flourished about 1250 and is named as its first chief. From that time until the breaking up of the clan, the McLeans were led by a succession of brave and warlike chiefs, who often found it necessary to defend their rights or revenge their wrongs at the point of the sword. Each clan enjoyed, in large degree, sovereign rights until the disastrous battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746, when the Highland army was defeated by the English. One of the results of the English victory was the taking away of the veritable jurisdiction of the proprietors and investing it in the crown, and the abolishing of the Highland garb. These and other inimical acts destroyed the distinct existence of the clans and caused many to seek homes in other lands. The United States alone has some twenty thousand Scotch descendants by the name of McLean, many having won prominence as statesmen, authors, lawyers, doctors, soldiers and divines.

A man of unusual sterling characteristics and the benefactor of his race was the father of Dr. James W. McLean, of this review, the Rev. John McLean, who was born July 22, 1805. Having been reared in an exceptionally religious home, he was early impressed with the idea of expounding the teachings of the Nazarene, in whom he confessed faith as the redeemer of mankind when sixteen years of age. When about twenty-three years of age he began the work of the ministry in the Methodist Episcopal Church, being received on trial at the conference held in Salem, Pennsylvania, in 1828. His lack of early text-book learning seems to have greatly distressed him temperamentally and he became a very arduous student, educating himself, becoming in due course of time a well informed man, possessing a full store of knowledge. In 1830 he was ordained a deacon at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and two years later at the conference held at Wellsburg, West Virginia, was made elder. After fourteen years connection with the Pittsburg conference, it was divided, and he was transferred to that part composing the Erie conference, thus becoming identified with Methodism on the Western Reserve. In 1876 these conferences were made into three and Rev. Mr. McLean cast his lot with the Eastern Ohio conference. After a period of nearly half a century, forty-seven years of faithful and devoted service in the ministry, he took a superannuated relation and located in Canfield, Ohio, where his death occurred February 15, 1887.  He was widely and favorably known in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio and accomplished an incalculable amount of good in those early days. Nothing deterred him from his work, storms, bad roads, deep snows, unbridged streams, physical ailments--nothing was allowed to stand in his way when there was an appointment to be filled or some one was in need of his services. He married Laury Pryor, a woman of rare beauty of character and strength of mind, and this union proved a most happy one; she was a woman of positive character, as one illustration will suffice to indicate. During the pastorate of her husband at Wesleyville, a saloon was opened in the village in spite of protest and defiance of law, so Mrs. McLean, assisted by a score of other local women, proceeded to demolish the saloon and its contents with axes and hatchets, and although the proprietor of the place attempted to have the despoilers of his place of business prosecuted, the grand jury refused to indict them.

Eight children were born to this worthy pioneer couple, of whom Dr. James W., of this review, was the sixth in order of birth. He is a native of Ravenna, Portage county, Ohio, and the date of his birth is recorded as November 13, 1843. He received a good education in the common schools, after which he attended the academy at Waterford, Pennsylvania, and the Western Reserve Seminary at West Farmington, Ohio. He showed his patriotism when the war between the states began by offering his services to the Union army, but was rejected on examination, much to his regret. In 1863, he emigrated to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and began teaching in the graded schools of Montfort, Beetown and Peach Grove, also clerked about two years in a store at the last named town. In the meantime he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. J. B. Cory, surgeon of the Convalescent Hospital at Prairie du Chien. In 1865 and 1866 he took a course of medical lectures at Ann Arbor, Michigan, and in 1869 graduated from Rush Medical College of Chicago. Thus well equipped for his chosen life work, he soon afterwards located at Volga City, where he successfully practiced for a period of ten years. In 1881, he removed to Fayette, this county, and formed a partnership with Dr. C. C. Parker, which continued until in October, 1903, when Dr. McLean withdrew from the partnership. In 1876 he took a special course at Long Island Hospital and in 1890 took a course at the Polyclinical School in Chicago. In 1876, he represented the Fayette County Medical Society at the centennial meeting of the American Medical Association, and also at a meeting of the State Medical Society. In the county organization he has held the positions of president, secretary, and treasurer. He is a member of the Knights of Phythias fraternity, having held the highest office in the local lodge, and he is a Knight Templar Mason. He has been master of the blue lodge, and high priest in the chapter -- in fact, he has passed all the chairs in the Masonic order. He has been representative to the grand lodge and the grand chapter. Politically, he is a Republican, and for four years was coroner. Both he and his wife belong to the Methodist church, of which he is chairman of the board of stewards. He was for years a member of the board of trustees of the Upper Iowa University and of the town school board, having voluntarily withdrawn from both. He is a member of the county medical board of pension examiners and is local surgeon for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company. It will thus be seen that Doctor McLean takes an abiding interest in all the institutions that have for their object the improvement of society.

The domestic life of Doctor McLean began on October 22, 1871, when he was united in marriage with Anna E. Miller, a native of New York and a woman of education and culture. To this union five children have been born, namely: Hattie L. is teaching vocal music in the graded schools of Miles City, Montana, having previously graduated from the Upper Iowa University and afterwards taken special musical training in both Minneapolis and Chicago; she is regarded as an instructor of high merit; Lester W. is married, lives in Miles City, Montana, and is traveling salesman for the Cudahy Packing Company; Dr. Ray A., who holds a degree of Bachelor of Science from the Upper Iowa University, and a degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Iowa State University, is associated with his father in the practice of medicine at Fayette and is making an excellent start; Harry A. is married and is devoting his time to music, piano tuning, band and orchestra instructor, and is a cornetist of much more than average ability; John P., who lives at home, is making a specialty of drawing, sketching, painting and other art work in that line, and his work is of a high order.

Dr. McLean has dignified his every station in life with a charm that has constantly added to his personal worth and has discharged the duties of citizenship with the earnestness and loyalty characteristic of the true American. His popularity extends wherever he is known, and his probity of character is recognized by his fellow men, who are free in according to him proper confidence and esteem.


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