My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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ANDREW McELWAIN. Nearly forty-six years ago, in the spring of 1844, a young man started out from his home among the hills of Cumberland County, Pa., intent on seeking his fortune. He proceeded on foot to Pittsburg, then took a river steamer for Cincinnati and from there walked to Xenia, entering the embryo city with a capital of $37 in his pocket. The surroundings and the outlook pleased him, and he accordingly here took up his permanent abode, and with the exception of one year he has since been a resident thereof. From that modest beginning he worked his way upward, following his trade of a carpenter, and is now well-to-do, owning valuable property in and around the city. Many of the finest residences in Xenia have been constructed under his supervision, and he has superintended the erection of a number of its public buildings. His career as a man and a citizen has been such as to commend him to the esteem and confidence of all with whom he has had dealings.

A native of Mifflin Township, Cumberland County, Pa., the subject of this notice was born March 22, 1821, and is the son of William Bell and Susannah (Failor) McElwain, who were likewise natives of Cumberland County, the father born July 1, 1794, and the mother February 3, 1797. William McElwain was a lifelong farmer, and spent his entire life in his native State. In politics, he was a stanch Democrat, and in religion, a Presbyterian. The mother leaned to the doctrines of the Lutheran Church, and both finally became connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church.

To the parents of our subject, who were married December 12, 1816, there was born a family of twelve children, ten of whom lived to mature years, viz.: Margaret Jane, Andrew, Sarah Ann, William Bell, Jr., Susannah, James, Mary, Lacy and Elizabeth. These were all married and reared families of their own. Elinor died when about thirty-four years old, and the other child died in infancy.

Mrs. Susannah (Failor) McElwain departed this life at the old homestead in Cumberland County, Pa., May 2, 1839. The father contracted a second marriage, January 13, 1846, with Miss Elizabeth Kerr, and there were born to them three children — Robert Henderson, Thomas Simpson and Rebecca Agnes. Mrs. Elizabeth McElwain died May 26, 1853. William B. McElwain survived this wife for a period of twenty-one years, and died July 8. 1874, at a ripe old age. The paternal grandfather, Andrew McElwain, was likewise a native of Cumberland County, Pa. He grew up among the Indians, and when a child, upon one occasion when the family was fleeing to the fort for safety from the savages, he was overlooked and left in his cradle. It was not very long, however, until he was missed by his mother and rescued. He was reared to farm pursuits and learned distilling. Upon the outbreak of the Revolutionary War he shouldered his musket and did good service in the cause of the Colonists. He married for his first wife a Miss Shannon, and there were born to them the children named respectively: Robert, Andrew, Thomas, Jane, Mary and Elizabeth. The boys grew up large and athletic, presenting fine specimens of physical manhood. His first wife died, and he was then married to Miss Margaret Bell, a native of Belltown, Pa., and of Scotch parentage. All male members of the Bell family were also of large stature, one of them being over six feet in height. The father of Margaret Bell could call sixty of his descendants from his own door in Belltown. Grandfather McElwain by this marriage became the father of four more children — William, James, John and Sarah. He and his children were Presbyterians in religious belief. He died about 1816.

The paternal great-grandfather of our subject, also named Andrew, was a native of Scotland, whence he emigrated to Ireland and then crossed the Atlantic to America. He was afterward married to Mary Mickey, who was born in Delaware, in 1728. On the maternal side of the house, the grandfather of our subject was Andrew Failor, of Pennsylvania. He married Elizabeth Unauch, and both were of German descent. The six children born to them were named respectively: Susannah, Andrew, Elizabeth, Barbara, Mary and Nicholas. The last mentioned is still living and a resident of Missouri. Uncle Failor was an early settler of Crawford County, Pa., and a prominent man, serving as Associate County Judge for a period of fourteen years. He also acted in the capacity of Surveyor several years, and spent his last days in Ohio.

The subject of this notice remained with his parents on the farm in his native county until a young man of twenty-four years, obtaining his education in the common school and being trained to habits of industry and economy. After leaving school he occupied himself as a teacher one term, and when nineteen years old commenced learning the carpenter’s trade, which he has since followed. He was first married January 1, 1845, to Miss Margaret Ann Matts, the wedding taking place at the bride’s home in Springfield, this State. Mrs. McElwain like her husband was born in Cumberland County, Pa., April 11, 1825, and was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Hyland) Matts, who came to this State at an early day, locating in Springfield, where the father followed coopering. He had learned this trade in 1812 in Philadelphia, to which he had emigrated from his native State of New Jersey. He and his estimable wife spent their last years in Springfield, Ohio, he living to the advanced age of ninety-three years. Of this union there were born two children — Mary Ellen, now the wife of John Null, and one who died in infancy. Mrs. Margaret McElwain departed this life at her home in Xenia, December 28, 1846. She was a lady of many estimable qualities, and a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The second wife of our subject was in her maidenhood Miss Catherine D. Bower, who was born in Clear Spring, Md., and they were married August 17, 1852. Her parents were David and Rachel (Hyland) Bower, who were natives respectively of Dauphin County, Pa., and Washington County, Md. Mr. Bower was a hatter by trade, and died in Pennsylvania when middle aged. His widow and family came to this county in 1845, and the mother is now deceased. Our subject by this marriage became the father of seven children — Emma C., who died when eighteen months old; Andrew Asbury, Dennis Bower; Alice May, the wife of John Clemons, of Springfield; Laverna Kate, the wife of Frank Wolf, Jr.; Laura Bell and Etta Grover. Mr. and Mrs. McElwain have long been connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church in Xenia, in which Mr. McElwain officiated as Class-Leader for a period of forty years, and has been Steward for twenty-five years. He was the Treasurer of the church for over sixteen years.

Mr. McElwain rejoices in the possession of nine grandchildren. His daughter, Mrs. Mary E. Null, is the mother of two children — Laverna and McElwain Aliger; Laverna K., Mrs. Wolf, has two children — Margaret and Raymond C.; Andrew A. is the father of two children — Frank Wolf, Gertrude Alberta and Andrew Asbury; Dennis B. has two children — Frederick Beall and Paul Harrison. Since taking up his abode in Xenia Mr. McElwain has several times returned to his old home in Pennsylvania, and renewed the associations of his boyhood days. He has also been across the Mississippi into the State of Kansas and other parts of the West. During the Civil War he served several days with the Home Guards, and engaged in some skirmishing in the vicinity of Camp Denison.

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This family biography is one of the many biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Album of Greene and Clark Counties, Ohio published by Chapman Bros., in 1890. 

View additional Greene County, Ohio family biographies here: Greene County, Ohio Biographies

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