Rev John Maclean
researcher: Dr Jim Habeck -
Letter of May 27, 2009
    The First Presbyterian Church in Missoula, Montana has an interest in the history of one of its early day pastors....Dr/Rev John Norman Maclean.  He came to our Missoula church in February 1909, and served until August, 1925.   
       Very little is known about Rev John Maclean BEFORE  his 1909 arrival in western Montana; we do know he was  born in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1861, and attended the San Francisco Theological Seminary.     Most of what is known about Jon Maclean comes via references mentioned in writeups about  his very famous son, Norman Maclean [ author of "A River Runs Through It"; book & movie]  who is known to have been born in Clarinda, Page County, Iowa in 1902.     Thus, Rev john  Maclean was living in Clarinda and employed, presumably, in the local Presbyterian Church.  But...what year did Rev Maclean arrive in Clarinda?  Almost anything I have discovered on the Internet about Norman Maclean's father Rev. John Maclean is in the context of his son's well known writings.
        I do not even know the place or year when Rev Maclean died, so until I do, tracking down an obituary will be impossible.  However, it would be helpful if  there's any information from Page County Iowa-Clarinda history records...or from the local Presbyterian Church records  where Rev Maclean served.  
        If need be, please fw this request to others who may have knowledge about the early days of Clarinda.   Thank you.
        Dr. Jim Habeck, retired University of Montana professor, e-mail:
Letter from Dan Krebill to Dr Jim Habeck - May 28, 2009

Dear Dr. Habeck,


Rev. Maclean did indeed serve Bozeman’s First Presbyterian Church from 1897-1902. Two and a half years ago our church hosted a public event in which Rev. Maclean returned from the grave to give us some reflections on the history of our church. I’ve attached the script for that event which was written by a member of our congregation, Jane Klockman, who did extensive research in its preparation. Maclean was performed by Professor Michael Sexson of MSU’s English department. I think you will find it interesting and informative. This event was well attended by the community.


Although the church building that we currently occupy was built in 1910, after Maclean had left Bozeman, the pulpit from the church chancel in which he preached was retained and it was reinstalled in our current building when our sanctuary was renovated in the mid 1980s. It had been on loan to the Museum of the Rockies. So the pulpit from which my wife and I preach each week is the same pulpit from which Maclean proclaimed God’s word. Interestingly, when A River Runs Through It was filmed, the church scenes were shot in a church in Livingston. But Maclean’s pulpit was brought over to Livingston and was used in the movie.


Best wishes to you on the success of your project.


Dan Krebill, co-pastor

First Presbyterian Church

Bozeman, Montana


Letter from Dr Jim Habeck to Fairfield, Iowa library
May 29, 2009
     While searching out information on the life and times of Rev Dr John Norman Maclean....pastor at our Missoula, Montana Presbyterian Church from 1909 to 1925...I read his January, 1942 obituary.  He was the father of his famous author son, Norman Maclean ["A River Runs Through It"].     Rev John Maclean's obituary says he received an honorary "doctor of divinity degree" from Fairfield College in Iowa.   He received this honor while he was serving as pastor at the other end of the Clarinda, Iowa from 1902 to 1909 [he came to Missoula in 1909].  
       I'm trying to fill in biography gaps for Rev Maclean & make corrections in his record, but I'm having trouble tracking down information about "Fairfield College."    Basic Q's:   Was there such a college in Fairfield Iowa?  Was Parsons College ever called "Fairfield College"?  If so, was or is it a church college that might have been awarding honorary divinity degrees in that era?
     Thanks for your help.   Dr. James Habeck, retired U MT professor, Missoula, MT, e-mail:
Letter June 3, 2009 from Dr Jim Habeck -
Today I tracked down a 1909 newspaper report..on microfilm...which I've scanned & attached.  I'm sending it to you because Clarinda and the town newspaper, The Clarinda Herald, are referenced in this story.  It must have been some issue published in February, 1909  that the Clarinda Herald reported on Maclean's departure..with a lot of sadness. 
        I still have problems getting additional information on how, when and where he was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree...from a place called Fairfield College...which I presume is in Fairfield, Iowa.  [Maybe there's other "Fairfield Colleges"]   There's a Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa now, but was it ever called "Fairfield College" back in the early 1900's?  It almost certainly had to have been a Christian church college.  Anyway, I'm still interested in anything Page County archives might have on Maclean.  Best wishes, Jim Habeck, jphabeck@montana