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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Porter County's Muckraker: Samuel Sidney McClure

Of all the individuals born or raised in Porter County, Samuel Sidney McClure may have had the most profound and enduring impact on American culture. Yet, most people are unfamiliar with McClure despite his influence.

Though not born in Porter County, the bulk of McClure's formative years were spent there and, like many people, these early year experiences shaped his motivations and perspectives as an adult. McClure would leave Porter County to attend Knox College at Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois, after graduating from Valparaiso High School in 1875. While earning his degree, he would found the Western College Associated Press. This organization was a syndicated service that provided news for colleges throughout the Midwest and the western states.

After his graduation from college, McClure would serve as editor of the Wheelman, a new monthly publication focused on promoting the rapidly emerging activity and sport of bicycle riding. With his experience in serializing news and editing a successful magazine, McClure ventured out on his own and established McClure's Magazine in 1892, arguably the most prominent magazine published in the United States during the turn of the century. The magazine was internationally noted for its socio-political content and the high quality of its serialized novels-in-progress.

McClure is often credited for creating fact-based, investigative journalism that told the complete unvarnished story concerning people, industries, and government. As chief editor and publisher, McClure refused to allow his staff writers to "take sides" in the articles he published in his magazine, instead letting the reader draw their own conclusions based on the facts alone. The articles published in McClure's Magazine led to Congressional investigations, enactment of new laws, and strong support for the reorganization of city government from the alderman structure that could be very easily manipulated to a commission form.

Samuel S. McClure, circa 1903.
Source: The World's Work, 1914.

Ida M. Tarbell's 1902 articles in McClure's Magazine concerning the monopoly abuses of Standard Oil Company would eventually result in the breakup of that organization. Ray Stannard Baker focused a series of articles in McClure's Magazine on the United States Steel Corporation and its conduct as a business. The magazine was known as the premier publisher of muckraking articles, essentially establishing this journalism genre.

McClure's close personal and business ties to the "Who's Who" of authors of fiction is astonishing, leading some of his contemporaries to refer to him as a literary titan. Stephen Crane, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, O. Henry, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Robert Louis Stevenson (whom McClure would name a son after), Booth Tarkington, and Mark Twain are just a sample of authors whose careers were nurtured and furthered by McClure. Authors sought out McClure to have their work published in his magazine. This would result in greater revenue for the author, as they would receive payment for the serialized publication of their work prior to it being published in book form. For example, McClure paid Sir Arthur Canon Doyle $40 for each of the first dozen stories of Sherlock Holmes. For authors located in Europe, McClure's Magazine provided a very lucrative pathway to the North American market.

From October 1913 through May 1914, McClure's autobiography was published in a serialized format in the monthly McClure's Magazine. He was 56 years old at the time of its publication and would live to be 92. The biography was ghost-written by McClure's Magazine employee Willa Cather; she would serve as McClure's managing editor for four years. In 1914, the Frederick A. Stokes Company would publish McClure's My Autobiography in book form.

Below, I provide the first two of eight installments of McClure's serialized autobiography; these two installments were published in October and November 1913. They cover McClure's birth and very early life in Northern Ireland, his travel to America (he arrived at Valparaiso on July 3rd, 1866, at the age of nine, and then went to Hebron on July 4th to live with family), and his life in Porter County. The installments are historically important with respect to Porter County since many early immigrants to the area likely shared similar experiences.

The autobiography is presented exactly as it was published (i.e., unedited). However, I have included annotations that are identifiable by being indented and in smaller font size, as well as some images directly associated with information contained in McClure's autobiography.

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MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY

BY
S.S. MCCLURE

I wish to express my indebtedness to Miss Willa Sibert Cather for her invaluable assistance in the preparation of these memoirs.

S. S. MCCLURE

Samuel Sidney McClure would be known throughout much of his adult life simply as S. S. McClure. He would publish Cather's first collection of short stories, The Troll Garden, in 1905, and in 1906 he hired Cather to be a member of his editorial staff at McClure's Magazine.

McClure's Magazine would serialize Cather's first novel, Alexander's Bridge in 1912. Her novels concerning prairie life soon followed: O Pioneers! (1913), The Song of the Lark (1915), and My
Ántonia (1918). These novels firmly established Cather as a major American novelist. Her novel One of Ours would earn her the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. In 1927, Cather would publish Death Comes for the Archbishop, included in numerous critics' lists of the one hundred best English language novels of the twentieth century.

I was born in Ireland, fifty-six years ago. Antrim, the northeast county of the Province of Ulster, was my native county. My mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Gaston. Her people were descended from a French Huguenot family that came to Ireland after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and they still bore their French surname. My father's people, the McClures, were from Galloway, Scotland. The family had come across the North Channel about two hundred years ago and settled in Ulster.

McClure is an ancient Dalriadan clan of Scotland that located along Scotland's west coast and the Hebrides Islands. The McClures were followers (a sept clan) of Clan MacLeod.

Elizabeth "Betty" Gaston McClure was born January 18, 1837, in Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The date of her death is uncertain, but her great-grandson, Peter Lyon, writes in a biography of Samuel S. McClure that in 1926 she "was still alive, lodged in the Connecticut State Hospital, anile and crazy." Indeed, the federal census for 1930 reveals that ninety-three year old Elizabeth was a patient at the "Connecticut State Hospital for the Insane." Hospital records indicate a Elizabeth Simpson died there on July 8, 1931. Her burial location is unknown.

Elizabeth was the daughter of John Gaston III and Margaret Mary (Patton) Gaston. John died in 1852 and Elizabeth's mother was living in Brooklyn, New York as early as 1860.


Samuel McClure's mother, Elizabeth (Gaston) McClure Simpson.
Source: McClure, 1914 [see p. 216].

After the battle of the Boyne, as for hundreds of years before, it was a common thing for the Protestant kings of England to make large grants of Irish land to Protestant colonists from England and Scotland. Ulster, lying across a narrow strip of water from the Scottish coast, was given over to colonists from the Lowlands until half her population was foreign. The injustice of this system of colonization, together with the fierce retaliation of the Irish, brought about the long list of reciprocal atrocities which are at the root of the Irish question to-day.

The Battle of Boyne took place in 1690 at Oldbridge, County Meath, Ireland, when the deposed King James II of England and VII of Scotland attempted to regain his throne from William and Mary and bring Catholicism back to England and Scotland. James was unsuccessful and the aftermath of the battle led to the sovereignty of protestant Northern Ireland.

With such a dark historical background, the religious feeling on both sides was intense. There had been very few instances of intermarriage between the Scotch Protestant colonists and the Irish Catholics who were the original inhabitants of the Province of Ulster. Among both Protestants and Catholics the feeling against intermarriage was so strong that, when such a marriage occurred, even in my time, it was considered a terrible misfortune as well as a disgrace. This state of feeling had kept both races pure and unmodified, though they mingled together in the most friendly fashion in all the ordinary occupations of life. In Antrim the Scotch colonists had retained much of their Lowland speech. The dialect of Mr. Barrie's stories was familiar to my ears as a child.

My grandfather, Samuel McClure, for whom I was named, had seven sons. He lived at Drumaglea, on a small farm, and in addition to farming did carpentering, to which trade he brought up his boys. My father, Thomas McClure, was working for my grandfather as a carpenter at the time of his marriage to my mother, and continued to work for him for nearly a year after his marriage, living at his wife's home at the Frocess, one mile up the county road, and coming and going to and from his work every day. In my mother's home there were many sisters and brothers, fourteen in all — my grandfather Gaston had been married twice, — all farmers or farmers' wives.

Drumaglea is believed to be place name of a general area about 1.5 miles south of the present day village of Cloughmills. Frocess is located in Cloughmills in the southern portion of the village.

Samuel's grandfather, also Samuel, was born in 1805, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He died in September 1878 with some sources indicating that he died in Michigan, while others suggest he died at Ballymena, Country Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The full name of Samuel's father was Thomas Carlyle McClure. It is unclear where Thomas' birth in 1832 took place - either in Galloway, Scotland, or County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Thomas died at Glasgow, County Lanark, Scotland, on November 30, 1864, while working under contract on a carpentry job at a shipyard. Thomas hit his head after falling through a hatch on a partially constructed man o' war ship causing a severe spinal injury that resulted in his death a few days later at a Glasgow infirmary.

My mother was a girl of unusual physical vigor and great energy, and had always done farm-work. She was able to do a man's work and a woman's work at the same time. After keeping up with the men in the fields all day, she would come in and get supper for them at night. After her marriage she continued to work on her father's farm, and my father continued as one of my grandfather McClure's workmen. It was in my grandfather Gaston's house at the Frocess that I, the first child of this marriage, was born.

When I was about a year old, my father bought from my grandfather McClure a little farm of nine acres at Drumaglea, and we moved into a home of our own. This is the first home I can remember. It was a two-room stone house, with an earth floor and a thatch roof, set on a long, gently sloping hillside, about an eighth of a mile back from the main road that ran between Belfast and Derry. At Drumaglea we were midway between these two seaports, twenty-six miles from Belfast and the same distance from Derry. Eight miles to the south of us was Ballymena, a town of about four thousand population then; and eight miles to the north, on the same road, was Ballymoney, a considerably smaller town.

The road McClure is describing is likely present day A-26. Given the level of detail provided in the description, it appears that Thomas McClure's nine acre farm was located just south of the present day intersection of A-26 and Lisnasoo Road.

This county road was one of the important facts of our lives. Not many years before my time, a man in Belfast named MacAdam had originated and introduced the method of metaling roads now commonly called by his name. All our roads were macadamized and kept in excellent condition, a very important thing in a country as wet as Ireland. Through the long, rainy winters these highways and the paved lanes that led out from them were hard and firm, even where they ran through great stretches of bog-land, such as that from which we gathered our peat. On either side of the county road, sloping back from it, were dikes about three feet high, and on these dikes grew the hawthorn hedges that marked the line of the roadright. It was along these dikes that we children, on our way to school, used to find the first signs of spring yellow primroses, and violets of a deeper color than grow in countries where the air is less saturated with moisture.

Peat was gathered and used as a source of heating and cooking fuel.

Our cottage, though it had but two rooms and no ceiling under the thatch, was a comfortable enough dwelling. The rooms seemed large, — about twelve by fifteen feet, — and the kitchen served for dining-room and living-room. There was a large stone fireplace at one end, with pots and cranes, where the cooking was done. In the sleeping-room were two beds; in one slept the children, — three boys of us, in time, — and in the other my mother and father. This room served also as a parlor, and in it was kept the best household furniture. It was called "the room," and was never used in the daytime except when we had company. Formal visitors were always taken there and served with tea and eggs.

In that part of the country a caller can not escape tea. Even if you go to see several people in the same afternoon, you must have tea at each house. In larger houses than ours the parlor was a separate room, kept shut up all the time and used only when visitors of quality appeared. Neighbor women, who ran in for a few minutes with their shawls over their heads, and men who dropped in of an evening, in their workaday corduroys, were received in the kitchen, and talked there, seated by the big fireplace. It was no hardship to use the kitchen as a sitting-room. The cooking was so simple that, after the meal was over, there was no smell of food, and the ventilation was excellent. There was always the draught of the chimney, and the kitchen door was a half-door, that is, a door in halves, like the sashes of a window, swinging outward, and the upper half was nearly always open. The temperature was seldom low enough to make the outside air unpleasant, and on either side of the fireplace were high-backed settles to protect any one who was sensitive to drafts.

This house always seemed very fine to me; everything about it seemed interesting and beautiful and just as it ought to be. I remember asking my mother once whether there was anywhere in the world a more beautiful house than ours. The earthen floors would sometimes get out of repair and have to be filled in; but the house was warm and comfortable, and my mother kept it exceedingly neat. The yard about the house and the stable was paved with stone, so that even in the wet, soggy winters the place was never muddy, and the barnyard was always kept clean.

My father kept on with his carpenter work after he bought his farm. He could hire men to work the fields for sevenpence a day, and use his own time to better profit working at his trade. My father was only twenty-five when I was born. I remember him as a young man with a brown beard — a rather quiet man with a gentle face and manner. We children were not at all afraid of him, for he was never impatient with us. He was naturally open-hearted and open-handed. If any one in need came to him, he would give away the last shilling in his pocket. I can remember several times when friendless women, alone or with their children, who were walking the road to some distant part of Ireland, were taken in and fed and kept overnight. We could always make a shake-down bed for people who needed shelter. Such hospitality was usual in our neighborhood; nobody thought anything of it.

My father, though he was generous, was a thrifty man, and would have got ahead in the world had he lived. After he finished the public school as a boy, he hired a tutor to come to his home and give him lessons every evening for a shilling a night. He learned surveying, in addition to thoroughly mastering his own trade. A first-rate carpenter then was able to do the work that now is divided up among several trades. My father could build a house, do the finer finishing work on the interior, and he could also build a cart and make furniture. All our furniture at home was his handiwork.

We were poor, but we were of the well-to-do poor. We were always properly dressed on Sundays. We always had hats and shoes and stockings and warm clothes in winter. We had plenty of fuel, too. On the way to my grandfather Gaston's at Frocess, the road ran through a great green bog many miles in extent. As one looked off over it from the road he could see many places where there were deep holes, some of them twenty feet deep, cut down into the bog like the shafts in a quarry, where the peat had been cut deep. Some of these holes were full of water. Every year, in the month of July, we, with our neighbors, went to the bog and cut peat for the year. It was a regular part of the farmwork, like harvesting or potato-planting, and everything else was set aside for it. It was always done in July — I suppose because the bog was drier then than at any other time of the year. In the depths of this bog were many rich fat pine roots, left there from immemorial forests and preserved in their original fibrous state. These, along with the peat, made the most excellent fuel.

Our food, like that of our neighbors, was extremely simple. Potatoes were the staple, with a sparing use of bacon and plenty of butter-milk. We did not use bread, but oat-cakes, made of oatmeal and baked on a griddle. These were very crisp and tasty when they were well made. My mother occasionally varied them with fadge, a dough made of wheat flour with an infusion of potatoes and baked like pan-cakes. Fresh meat we seldom had, but we sometimes ate dried or fresh herrings, broiling them on the tongs over the peat fire. I can remember when the use of white bread and tea began to be general among the people, and I recall hearing the old people deplore the change in food and its effect upon the teeth of the people, which at once deteriorated.

Our house was only an eighth of a mile from my grandfather McClure's, and there I had a little aunt and uncle not much older than myself, with whom I used to play. I used to run along the little lane that connected the two farms at all hours of the night and day. It was in that lane, after dark, that I remember being first overtaken by the sensation of fear. I remember first thinking that one might be afraid out there, and then thinking how glad I was that I was not; then, all at once, I was afraid, though I did not know of what. It was not of the devil that time, though I always carried in mind the feeling that I might meet him.

When I was four years old I began to go to school. That was the first important event in my life. It was then that I first felt myself a human entity, and my first clear memories date from then. Everything before is made up of vague random impressions. The nearest National School was about a mile from our house. The schoolhouse was a well built stone building, excellently equipped. There was one room downstairs for the boys, another upstairs for the girls. In our room there were six benches, or forms, with a long desk in front of each, running from one side of the room to within three feet of the opposite side. On each of these long benches sat one class. The boys of the highest form sat on the front bench nearest the teacher. I, of course, was put with the little boys in the form at the back of the room.

I remember my distress at being put next to some very dirty children, and I remember how tired I got in the afternoon. For the first three days, toward four o'clock in the afternoon, I had a long crying spell from sheer fatigue, from sitting up on the bench, and the long hours, perhaps. I distinctly remember how kind the teacher, Mr. Boyd, was to me when these crying-fits came on, and how considerate the other boys were, big and little, not making fun of me, nor teasing me at all.

For the next six months my recollections about my school life are vague. I saw that if I learned my letters fast I would soon be able to get away from the dirty children with whom I had to sit, and pass into the next form, which I did in a few months. From then on my school life was one of unalloyed happiness. My life, the pleasant part of it, has always been made up of interests, and my school was my first live interest.

School lasted six hours a day, fifty weeks of the year, and there was only a half-holiday on Saturdays. I was always a little sad to see Saturday come around, because there were more interesting things to do at school than there were at home. I liked everything about going to school. I liked the teacher and the boys and girls. The girls were taught in classes of their own on the second floor of the building; but we all came and went and played on the road together. At noon we played in the triangular playground in front of the school, with a little brook running beside it. The boys of our school were all well mannered and likable. I do not remember any fights or quarrels. Some of my dearest friends were Catholic children. I love some of those boys to this day. We were all like brothers together.

Sometimes I walked to school alone, and sometimes with my young aunt and uncle. I always enjoyed the walk, whatever the weather. In winter the fields got soft, but the grass fields and the grass along the hedges stayed green, and there was only an occasional flurry of snow. Rain we did not mind. The roads were always firm underfoot. Potatoes were planted in March, and spring began early. When the spring flowers came on and the hawthorn hedges bloomed, the walk to school became such a delight that I could scarcely wait to set off in the morning.

Children feel such things much more than grown people know. I can remember what pleasure and comfort I took, even then, in every morning looking up and seeing the blue of distant mountains on the horizon. There was something reassuring to me as a child about that vague line of purple hills, and I thought it an indispensable feature of horizons. Some years later, on the prairies of Illinois, I learned that it was not, and I used to long for those far-away mountains very bitterly.

McClure attended Knox College in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois.

My eagerness to be off to school in the morning was attended by one sad consequence. I was not a strong child, and always had to be coaxed to eat my breakfast. I was never hungry for it. Eggs were a luxury and we could not afford them, but my father used to have one egg for his breakfast every morning. When he cut the top off his egg to eat it from the shell, I can remember being given that little piece of the white as a special appetizer. But usually I ate very little for breakfast. After I had set off on the road to school, however, and met other children, and wakened up to the sights and smells of the morning, then I began to feel happy and to get very hungry. With firm resolution I would open the package of oat-cake that was to serve for my school luncheon, and I would nibble a very little of it. Then I would wrap it up again. But the farther I walked the better I felt, and I would make all sorts of excuses to myself to justify another attack on the oat-cake — such as that it would be pleasanter to eat it under the hawthorn hedge than in the schoolhouse; that disposing of the oat-cake now would give me all the more time for play or study at noon; or — most improbable of all — that very likely at noon I should not be hungry at all! However I reasoned, I always ate the oatcake, to the last crumb. The same thing happened over and over, every day, for months and years. I was always lunchless and terribly hungry at noon, and I always ate my cake on the way to school again the very next day. I enjoyed my cake, too, unless I let my conscience trouble me too much about the irregularity of my conduct.

The road to school led through a beautiful country; it ran, indeed, among those same pleasant fields of oats and beets and potatoes over which we looked out from our own door. The flax-fields, with their beautiful blossoms, were the prettiest. The linen industry is one of the principal resources of the North of Ireland, and these flax-fields, with their sky-blue flowers, were a conspicuous feature of the landscape. In August the flax stalks used to lie for weeks in ditches full of water, until the softer matter had rotted away from the fibers.

In the spring and summer we passed by great patches of yellow gorse which we called whin bushes. The road led over a fine stone bridge with a single arch, which I always liked to cross, as the stream below it was very clear. But this bridge had its terrors, too. Just beyond it there was a public house where they kept geese and very fierce ganders that used to come squawking and thrusting out their beaks at us children. We little fellows were very much afraid of them indeed. I used to look forward to those geese with uncomfortable apprehension. The next landmark on the road was a church. It was not the church we attended; I don't know that I ever saw the inside of it. But it was a fine old stone church, and the church-yard was grown up with dark, luxuriant green bushes; they may have been rhododendrons. Passing this church always gave me a sense of great pleasure.

The school-room was not quiet, as schools are now. As you approached it you heard a hum of voices. While one form recited, the other forms studied, many of the boys going over their lessons aloud. Physical punishment was a very live fact in school then. Occasionally a boy was ferruled over the hand, and we believed that if you could manage to put two hairs from your head across your palm before you held out your hand to the ruler, the pain of chastisement would be greatly mitigated. When a boy was whipped he usually tried to stuff cloth or paper in the seat of his trousers.

The most interesting thing about school, however, was lessons. We were exceedingly well taught. The National School system was then, as it is now, one of the best in the world. Every few years each teacher in the public schools was required to spend six months in Dublin, freshening up his knowledge and receiving instruction in new methods of education. I can remember when our teacher, Mr. Boyd, went, and how none of us cared much for the substitute who took his place during his absence. Arithmetic and history were the branches liked best. Working out examples was like playing a game; I never tired of it. For a long while I was convinced that long division was the most exciting exercise a boy could find.

The National School system of Northern Ireland was fashioned after that established in Scotland. In fact, the American system of schools, including four years of education to obtain a college degree, was largely taken from the Scottish system of primary, secondary, and post-secondary education. For instance, a bachelor's degree earned in either England or Wales, and at some colleges in Ireland, require three years of education instead of four at Scottish universities.

I got up at six o'clock every morning to study my lessons. I remember that I once got up at half-past two o'clock by mistake, and it did not seem worth while to go back to bed again. I studied right on until breakfast-time. I can not remember a day when I did not want to go to school. But I used to hate to come home. It seemed dull to come back to the house and sit down to some fried potatoes that were usually a little too greasy. My feeling of the excitement and importance of the day, and of my part in it, seemed to die down as soon as I came into the doorway.

I never got over that feeling. At college everything went well with me until Friday night, and then a blank stretched before me. It always seemed a hard pull until Monday. I was never able to lay aside the interests and occupations of my life with any pleasure, and I have always experienced a sense of dreariness on going into houses where one was supposed to leave them outside. I have never been able to have one set of interests to work with and another set to play with. This is my misfortune, but it is true.

I found it very hard to get books enough to read, particularly as I could never get any pleasure out of reading a book the second time. "Pilgrim's Progress" was the exception; I was able to read that two or three times with delight. Besides that, we had at home only Fox's "Book of Martyrs" and the Bible. I remember feeling very much depressed when I finished the historical books of the Old Testament, because then the last of those exciting stories was over for me. I think I liked these Old Testament stories better than any others. They took the place of books of adventure to me. I remember, too, reading one of the Gospels through several times, and each time hoping that Jesus would get away from his enemies.

The Pilgrim's Progress was published in 1678 by Englishman John Bunyan and was very widely read through the early 1900s. It is a Christian allegory considered to be the first novel written in English.

It is interesting to note that the term muckraking for which McClure would later be intimately associated with originates from The Pilgrim's Progress. A character in the book, "the Man with the Muck-rake," rejects salvation to instead focus on filth. On April 15,1906, President Theodore Roosevelt would refer to this fictional character in his famous The Man with the Muck Rake speech stating that "the men with the muck rakes are often indispensable to the well being of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the muck." Roosevelt was concerned about the fact that the muckrakers, McClure included, were too interested in publishing "hysterical sensationalism" merely to cause scandal and ignored the good of people, industry, and government.

Several times a year a big box of new schoolbooks from Dublin was left at our school. Opening those boxes and looking into the fresh books that still had the smell of the press, was about the most delightful thing that happened during the year. The readers contained excellent reading matter, and until I had read them through the new ones were a treasure.

My father and mother had once been Presbyterians, but in 1859 a revival swept over the northern part of Ireland, and they were converted to the new sect, which had no name and which strove to return to the simple teachings of the early church and to use the New Testament as a book of conduct, abolishing every sort of form. These believers had no houses of worship. Our congregation met sometimes in an upper chamber of the minister's house in Ballymena, and when I was old enough I used to walk the eight miles there with my mother. At other times the minister would come to Drumaglea and hold the services in our house or in the house of one of our neighbors.

Knox College, where McClure would later earn his college degree, was founded by a colony of Presbyterians and Congregationalists. The college was named in honor of Calvinist and Presbyterian minister John Knox of Scotland and Henry Knox, the United States' first Secretary of War.

Long discussions on religious matters were common among the neighbors, and in these a boy, if he could "argue," was allowed to take part. Infant baptism was one of the subjects most frequently discussed, and people felt very strongly about it. There was much talk, too, about men being saved by faith. The best man in the world would be lost unless he repented and accepted the sacrifice of Christ's blood, while a man who had committed crimes would, if he truly repented and believed, be saved. There was no discussion about a personal devil or a literal hell, because there was no doubt about them. If any one suggested that the torments of hell might be mental rather than physical, he was set down as an atheist without further question. I remember taking part in these discussions when I was seven or eight years old.

We heard some discussion of the Civil War, too; but our notions about it were vague. When Mr. Boyd, our schoolmaster, explained to us boys that the war was between the Northern and Southern States of North America, and not between North and South America, that was a great revelation to us.

I can remember, when I was about eight years old, going into Patrick McKeever's country store one evening, and seeing a group of men standing close together in the dim candle-light, talking in an excited way. I listened, and heard them say that President Lincoln had been assassinated. I can remember the scene perfectly — the people composing that group, their attitudes, and the expression on their faces. No piece of news from the outside world had ever moved me so much. It was the first of the world happenings, the first historical event, that had ever cast a shadow in my little world.

The American Civil War was very closely followed throughout the British Empire, likely due to several generations of English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh relatives that emigrated to America. The Scottish, including those in Northern Ireland, were particularly fond of Lincoln. For the Scots, Lincoln represented liberty and freedom, which were deeply embedded constructs of national identity in Scotland due to its centuries of strife with English kings acting as overlords. To honor Lincoln and his principles, a statue was erected in the Calton Burial Ground in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh, in 1893.

Statute of Abraham Lincoln located in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photograph taken by Steven R. Shook, April 12, 2018.


Years afterward, when I was publishing Miss Tarbell's "Life of Lincoln" in MCCLURE'S MAGAZINE, I interviewed a great many people, and I found that every one of them could remember minutely the circumstances under which he first heard of Lincoln's assassination: where he was, what he happened to be doing at the time, exactly how the news reached him. That day stood apart from other days in his life.

Every summer my mother took us children to Ballycastle, on the seashore, eighteen miles to the northeast. There, on the bay across from Fairhead, we used to take lodgings and stay for a week or so, that the children might have the benefit of the sea air. There we went bathing, and were allowed to play along the shore. I can remember, on one of these sojourns by the sea, when I was about five years old, becoming desperately attached to a young woman called Phoebe, a sister of our landlady. But after we went away I never thought of her again.

My first trip to Ballymena excited me very much. All the way there I kept feeling afraid that the city would not come up to my expectations, and I was so impatient that I thought every village along the road must surely be Ballymena. When we at last reached the place, everything delighted me — the clean streets, the neat brass signs outside the doors, the smell of soft-coal smoke, — it was the first time I had ever smelled that odor so suggestive of the city, — and most of all the gas street lamps, which were lit before we started for home. Those street lights seemed to suggest London, where I had always meant to go. I had thought about America, too, and that I would sometime go there in a ship. My notion of a ship was unconventional; I always imagined ships as being round, like a wash-bowl, with a mast in the center, from which ropes were stretched to the rim, and on this rim the passengers sat.

When I was seven years old my father went to Belfast to work at his trade in Wolff & Harland's shipyards. He had been away from us only a few weeks when my youngest brother, Robert, a year and a half old, died of diphtheria. After his death my father came home to see us, and stayed with us for a while. Then he went over to Greenock, in Scotland, to work on a man-of-war that was being built there, doing some of the finer carpenter work in the finishing of the cabins. I remember how sorry we were to see him go, and how we watched him from the house, as he went down our hill, across the road, and then disappeared over the next hill.

Founded in 1861, Harland & Wolff Heavy Industries, Limited, still exists as a shipyard specializing in ship conversions (such as sea-lifts), repairs, and offshore construction. The most famous ship it built was the RMS Titanic.

Robert McClure was born in Northern Ireland in 1862 and died in 1864.

Up to this time, however, I have had very few gloomy recollections. I was always delighted at the good fortune of being alive at all, of living in such a beautiful country and such a beautiful house, of being able to go to school and of having such fine playfellows. I have spoken of the long rainy winters, but when I think suddenly of Ireland I think of blue skies, light, fleecy clouds, and glowing sun. I know there was a great deal of raw weather, but it is the memory of the pleasant weather that seems to have stayed with me. I have often noticed that after a sea voyage or a sojourn in foreign countries, people remember the fine days, but the bad weather they soon forget.

All the turns of the season were delightful to me. In winter, when we used to come home from school through the twilight, I got great pleasure out of the early nightfall and the fact that it was dark by half-past four. That seemed to end the responsibilities of the day most agreeably, and to give one such a long evening. In summer I always found something exciting in being able to read out-of-doors up until ten o'clock at night, and in the fact that there were then only three or four hours of darkness out of the twenty-four.

I was very conscious, too, of the kindness of older people. I used to wonder about it, and to think how remarkable it was that they should make allowances for all my peculiar shortcomings, and that they always treated me so nicely. This feeling that the world all about me was friendly to me was very distinct, and it counted for a great deal in my life. I suppose I was an optimistic child, for I was always confident that delightful things were going to happen, and I never believed that unpleasant ones would, or even thought that they might. On my way home from school I was always imagining that when I got home I would find a splendid surprise of some kind, that something wonderfully nice had happened to the house or to my mother, or was waiting for me. One of my favorite anticipations was that when I got home and ran into the house, I would find a beautiful lady sitting there — quite a story-book sort of person, a lady of quality, radiantly lovely and magnificently dressed. But I was never downhearted when these things did not come true.

What did come true was something I had never even believed possible.

One November day, when I was nearly eight years old, I was going home from school in very high spirits. I had then been at the head of my class in every subject for seven weeks, and I was feeling that my father would be very proud to hear this. My class, moreover, was the highest in the school, and my classmates were big boys, fourteen and fifteen years of age. It usually took a boy more than a year to get through a form; but I had started to school when I was four years old, and in three years I had got into the sixth form, doing two forms a year. I found it exciting to stand at the head of a class of boys nearly twice my age, and I tried hard to keep my place at the head — though I remember reflecting that this was a low motive for trying to do well in my studies.

On this November day I was coming along the home road with several other boys, and we were all feeling unusually gay. We stopped at a turnip patch beside the road, where there were Swedish turnips, very sweet and not at all bitter. We were all hungry, and we went into the field and began to eat turnips with great enjoyment. While we were laughing and talking, a man came along the road, and called out to me:

"Samuel, your da is deid."

I left the turnip patch and started home, but I had no clear realization of what the man meant. When I got home, I found neighbor women there, looking after the younger children and the house. My mother and my grandfather McClure had gone to Glasgow to my father. Father had finished his day's work on the war-ship, and was leaving the vessel to go to his supper and then to the prayer-meeting. Through the carelessness of one of the workmen, a hatch had been left open that was supposed to be kept closed. In leaving his work my father fell down this hatchway, from the deck clear to the bottom of the hold, and seriously injured the base of his skull. He was taken to the infirmary at Glasgow, and died within three days after his admission to the hospital. My mother and grandfather did not reach the infirmary until after his death.

Glasgow, the largest city of Scotland, was one of the world's major shipbuilding centers at this time with numerous shipbuilders located along the River Clyde.

In 1890, when I was visiting Professor Henry Drummond in Glasgow, I went to the infirmary, and found the record in the books there of my father's admission to the hospital, — "Thomas McClure, injury to the spine," — together with the number of the room in which he was put; and after looking at the books I was shown the room in which he died. He was thirty-two years of age at the time of his death.

Henry Drummond (1851-1897) was a noted Scottish evangelist, biologist, lecturer, and writer. He is especially known for exploring the common ground between Christianity and natural law. One of his sermons, The Greatest Thing in the World, remains popular today in the Christian faiths.

I do not remember any funeral service. I remember that my father was brought home, I remember the coffin standing in the living-room, and the neighbors coming in to see my mother. I remember thinking then about my father's visit with us after the baby died, and about the day he went away, down our hill and over the next, and trying to realize that the look I had of him going over the hill was the last sight I would ever have of my father. The coffin was not opened. When it was taken away from the house, neither my mother nor we boys went to the interment.

It was after my father died, while his body was still in the house, indeed, that I began for the first time to be conscious of the pressure of poverty. It was not that we were desperately destitute or in immediate need, but the bread-winner of the family was gone, and I was conscious that we were facing difficulties. I knew that my mother was worrying, I could see that in her face. I remember, while my father's coffin was in the house, going out on the road and hoping that I would find just sixteen pennies in a row there, to take to my mother. It seemed to me that they would solve her difficulties.

Two months after my father's death my youngest brother was born. My mother named him Robert after the little boy who died. We suffered no serious privations, but another baby added to my mother's cares and perplexities, and there was the feeling of hard times in the house. I used to notice how at night, when we were going to bed, my mother would keep looking toward the window. I took it for granted that she was thinking of my father, and indeed it seemed to me that I might at any time see his face there, pressed against the pane. It took me a long while to realize that he had really gone away from us for good. I did not cease to miss him for many years. After we went to America, when I was a boy of fifteen or sixteen, going to the Valparaiso High School, I used to waken up in the night and cry from the sense of my loss.

Robert Bruce McClure was born January 30, 1865, at Ballymena, Country Antrim, Ireland. He died at Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, on May 29, 1914. He was undoubtedly named after Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland from 1306 till his death in 1329. Robert the Bruce was leader of the of the Scots in their decisive victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 against the significantly larger and better equipped forces of King Edward II of England.

My mother stayed on at our old place at Drumaglea for a year, and managed the farm herself. She was a thoroughly capable farmer, but when we were deprived of my father's wages the farm of nine acres was simply too small to support a woman and three boys, and pay the rental, and the hire of a man to help with the work. At the end of a year, therefore, my mother sold the farm back to my grandfather McClure for £100 (five hundred dollars). My father had paid only £50 for it when he bought it, but under careful farming the land had risen in value. Then there was nothing for my mother to do but to take her four boys and go back to her father's house. My grandfather Gaston died when my mother was a young girl, and my grandmother and the younger boys lived in his house at the Frocess. There we were not very happy. My mother was troubled about the future, and I was transferred to the Frocess school, where I never felt at home as I had at my own school. In the new school I did not get on so well in my lessons. I was homesick all the time for my old playmates and my old schoolmaster. Nothing about the new school seemed as nice as the old one was.

Naturally, in my grandfather's house there was a good deal of discussion as to my mother's future and what she ought to do. Her brothers thought it very impractical to try to keep the family together. Their feeling was that we children had better be separated and parceled around among our aunts and uncles, and that my mother should stay on at my grandmother's house and work, as she had when she was a girl. But my mother would not hear to this. Before everything she would keep the family together.

My mother felt that she had not received all that was due her in the distribution of her father's estate. One morning in the early spring she and I walked to Clough, about three miles from the Frocess, to consult a lawyer. When my mother heard what steps it would be necessary for her to take to attempt to recover what she thought was due her, she decided not to enter upon such a controversy. We left Clough in low spirits, as we saw now no way of bettering our condition. On our way home we stopped at the Clough graveyard, where my father and little brother were buried. There was but one grave, for when my father was buried my brother's grave was opened and the little coffin containing his body was placed on top of my father's coffin. Coming home from Clough that day, my mother and I sought out this grave, and there, in our discouragement, we sat down and cried.

Numerous individuals with surnames Gaston and McClure are interred in the Clough Cemetery in Clough, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

It was soon after this that we first began to talk of going to America. Mother then had two unmarried brothers and two married sisters living in Porter County and Lake County, Indiana, and she thought that in America she could make a living for herself and her boys.

The brothers, James and Joseph Gaston, emigrated from Northern Ireland to Porter County in 1865.The federal census records for 1870 reveal that James was living with his wife, Matilda J. (Dickey) Gaston, and their two children, Rosana and William J., in Jackson Township, Porter County, Indiana. Joseph was born March 16, 1849, at Ireland, and died at Altadena, Los Angeles County, California, on April 22, 1934.

One married sister of Elizabeth (Gaston) McClure is believed to be Margaret Ann (Gaston) Moore, wife of James Moore. The other married sister was Rachel (Gaston) Coleman, wife of William Coleman. According to federal census records, the Colemans were residing in Porter County's Liberty Township with six daughters in 1870.

Photograph of Joseph Gaston taken in 1880
at Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois.
Source: Kristie Archibald Genealogy, Ancestry.com.

We began to read steamship circulars and to consult railway maps, and soon we began to make actual preparations for the journey. My mother had some little money left from the sale of our farm. It was, of course, something of an undertaking for a widow with four children — the eldest nine years old — and very little money, to start across the ocean to make her living and support her boys in a strange land.

We took passage on the Mongolia, a vessel of four thousand tons owned by the Allan Line. I remember that my mother bought cloth and had new suits made for us boys. When we started on our journey we took the train at Glarryford, and I remember the scenes of parting at the Glarryford railway station. There were a good many people from our part of the country going on the Mongolia, and their fathers and mothers had come to the railway station to bid them good-by. The old women wept as if they were taking a last farewell of their children. Indeed, statistics show that many of these Irish immigrants never see home again. I often think how much heartbreak each of our incoming steamers from Ireland or from Italy represents. For the old people at home such partings are like death.

Canadian immigration records reveal that the McClures Elizabeth (29), Samuel (9), John (7), Thomas (5), and Robert (infant) arrived at Grosse Isle, Quebec, on June 26, 1866, on the SS Moravian and not the SS Mongolia. The SS Moravian was a 2,013 ton iron-constructed ship built at Greenock, Scotland, in 1864 and operated by the Allan Line.

In our case there was no bitter grief. My mother was of a hopeful nature. She was then a strong young woman of twenty-nine, and was confident that she was doing the best thing for her boys. We were to sail from Londonderry. When the train swept around a curve and ran alongside Lough Foyle, the water seemed to me to rise in a slope beside us. We got off the train, and were put into a tender that carried us out of this Lough, twenty-six miles to the open sea, where we got on board the Mongolia, which had sailed from Glasgow.

We sailed on Friday the 14th day of June, 1866, when I was nine years old. Our steerage quarters were comfortable. We were not crowded, and the food was good. The first two days and nights we were all seasick and very miserable. I lay in my bunk Friday night with a raging thirst. I was too ill to get water, and nobody else was well enough to get any for me. I remember dreaming that I was drinking cool buttermilk in my grandmother Gaston's milkhouse at the Frocess. By Sunday, however, we were well enough to be on deck. I found everything delightful, and greatly enjoyed playing on the clean decks. All the way across I had a singular illusion which I have never since had at sea; it seemed to me that the surface of the water was concave, shaped like a bowl, that the vessel moved at the bottom of this concavity, and that the water swelled on all sides and met the sky.

We were to land at Quebec. I can remember going into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and then into the St. Lawrence River, and the never-to-be-repeated sensation of approaching the coast of a foreign land for the first time. Although this is an experience that one can never have twice, I had somewhat the same feeling, years afterward, when I first saw Jerusalem. We had sailed from Londonderry June 14, and we landed at Quebec June 26. The railway journey from Quebec to Valparaiso, Indiana, took seven days. Our immigrant train would be held up for hours on a side-track while passenger trains and even fast freights passed us. We bought our food as we went along, changing our English money as we had need. We were delighted to find that we got seven or eight dollars in exchange for a gold sovereign, but we were astonished to see how fast these dollars slipped away when we came to buy food. Everything, of course, was dearer than at home.

We reached Valparaiso on the third day of July, 1866. I suppose we were all very tired by this time, for I do not recall much about our arrival. My uncle, Joseph Gaston, met us with a wagon, and drove us fourteen miles south of Valparaiso to the farm where my mother's sister, Mrs. Coleman, lived.

Evidence suggests that the Colman family was residing in Porter Township at Hickory Point. Between late 1866 and early 1870, the family would move to the northeast portion of Liberty Township where Coleman would be employed as a tenant farmer.

The next day we drove to Hebron, two miles away, and there I celebrated my first Fourth of July in America, had my first firecrackers and lemonade. The exercises were conducted in a grove, where there were wooden seats and a speaker's platform. The orator of the day was Mr. Turpie, who was then the Democratic candidate for Congress. I remember feeling that he and I were of opposing parties. I don't know how or when I became a Republican, but I landed at Quebec nine years old and a readymade Republican. Mr. Turpie, in his speech, voiced the sentiments usually expressed on such occasions. He talked about the land of freedom, of popular institutions, and unbounded opportunities. I had never heard such a speech before. All these sentiments were new to me and moved me very deeply. As I sat in the grove listening to this speech, I could see off across the country, as far as my eye could reach, a great stretch of unfenced prairie in place of the little hedge-fenced fields I had always known. My heart swelled with the swelling periods of the orator. I felt that, as he said, here was something big and free — that a boy might make his mark on those prairies. Here was a young country for Youth.

David Turpie, a Democrat, was indeed running for a seat in the United States Congress. In 1863, Turpie served one month as a U.S. Senator, appointed by the governor of Indiana, completing another senator's term. Turpie lost the race for representative, however, to the very popular Republican, Schuyler Colfax. Colfax would later serve as Vice President of the United States under Ulysses S. Grant. During the Civil War, Turpie was clearly a favorite of Indiana copperheads, or southern sympathizers. Newspapers loyal to the Union cause referred to Turpie as "Dirty Dave." Turpie would earn a seat back in the United States Senate in 1887 and serve there till 1899.

Although my spirits rose so high on that Fourth of July day in Hebron, our arrival in America was the beginning of very hard times for my mother and us boys. We were now almost entirely without money, and were staying with my mother's sister, Mrs. Coleman. Her husband was struggling along on a little rented farm. He had then half a dozen children of his own, was living in a small story-and-a-half frame house, and my two unmarried uncles, Joseph and James, who had come over the year before, were living with him. To have a woman and four children arrive to share these already overcrowded quarters was a serious matter.

Very soon my brother Robert and I were sent to stay with another married sister of my mother, who lived north of Valparaiso, and my mother went to Valparaiso and got a place as servant in a household there. My aunt's husband was having a hard struggle to get along, and he soon became tired of having two extra children quartered upon him. So one day, without warning, he hitched up the wagon and took my brother and me to town and handed us over to mother. My mother was working for the Buell family, living in their house, and when her brother-in-law drove away her position was embarrassing. What to do with her two children she did not know. She could not very well ask the Buells to take us in. Late that afternoon, as evening was coming on, we wandered about the town with her, wondering what we should do. We came to a brick block called the Empire Block, on one of the business streets, which was undergoing repairs and was then unoccupied. Here we found an empty room that was open, and here we spent the night.

It is believed that Robert and Samuel were sent to live with James and Margaret Ann (Gaston) Moore in Jackson Township. Samuel's mother was employed by George C. Buel and his wife Caroline E. (Wilson) Buel; the Buel family resided about one-half block from the court house square at 35 West Mechanic Street (Mechanic Street would later be renamed Indiana Avenue). George was an early settler of Valparaiso and worked first as a carpenter and joiner. He would later become a retail grocer in Valparaiso with his business located at 3 Washington Street.

Business notice for George C. Buel's Valparaiso grocery.
Source: Porter County Vidette, January 14, 1875.

In order to keep us with her, my mother decided to give up her place at the Buells' and do washing by the day. For a dollar a week she rented a room in this same Empire Block, and here we lived, my mother, my youngest brother, and myself. My mother obtained washing and ironing to do in four families; so four days a week she went to the houses of these people, doing all the washing and ironing for a family in one day, and receiving $1.75 for a day's work.

The Empire Block as it appeared in the 1890s. This
block is located directly north of the court house
square on Main Street, known today as Lincolnway.
Source: Neeley, 1989 [see p. 2].

Later Doctor Everts' wife, who had probably heard of my mother's efforts to get along, came to her and told her that she would gladly let her have one of the downstairs corner rooms in her house for herself and her boys, if my mother would do the family washing. This proved a very satisfactory arrangement for us. We were most kindly and hospitably treated in the Everts family. They were extremely considerate of my mother and of us children. Dr. Everts had a large library, and for the first time in my life I found myself in a house where there were plenty of books. I sometimes read two or three books a day. I lay on the carpet, face down, and read for hours at a time. It was then that I first read "Robinson Crusoe."

At the time Dr. Sylvanus Everts offered assistance to Elizabeth (Gaston) McClure he was 79 years old; he would pass away in Valparaiso at the age of 91. Everts arrived in neighboring LaPorte County in 1834 and constructed the mill at what would become known as Union Mills in 1839. He moved to Michigan City and then to Minnesota. In 1857, Everts moved to Valparaiso and practiced medicine till the death of his wife, Elizabeth (Heywood) Everts in 1867. Given the date of Elizabeth Everts' death, it is possible that she was an invalid when she approached Elizabeth (Gaston) McClure about employment.

The enormously popular novel Robinson Crusoe was published in 1719 by Daniel Defoe. It is a fictional autobiographical story of the life of a castaway who spends 28 years on an island off the coast of Venezuela. The story of Crusoe is thought to be based on the life of Alexander Selkirk, a castaway from Scotland who lived four years (1704-1709) on the Pacific island of Más a Tierra.

In that library there were some books about witches and witchcraft which I eagerly devoured. They took possession of my mind and made me so unhappy that I have always felt that such books should be kept away from children. I remember thinking that any one might be a witch in disguise, and wondering whether my own mother were not. I was so nervous that, when some children came in one evening with their faces blacked and grown people's clothes on, I ran screaming into the yard, and could not be quieted for a long while.

But these easy times, too, came to an end. The Everts family moved to Indianapolis, and then we found ourselves back in my uncle Coleman's overcrowded story-and-a-half house, fourteen miles south of Valparaiso, with winter coming on. My mother could always get work if it was to be had, and she obtained a place six miles away from the Coleman farm; but she received only two dollars a week, and this was the period immediately following the War, still remembered for the high cost of living. Brown sugar, I remember, went up to twenty-five cents a pound, and gold was at a high premium. I remember the great anxiety about getting shoes for the children. I had gone barefoot as late as possible, like all the other country boys, and delighted to do it; but the time came when shoes were a necessity. My mother managed to get them, somehow. I can remember when she bought me mine, and that they had brass toes. We had not very heavy clothing, and during that winter we children and the Coleman family lived very meagerly. I remember the hardship of having to eat frozen potatoes boiled into a kind of gray mush. I did not thrive on this nourishment. Before the winter was over I had become so weak that my hands were very unsteady and I could not carry a glass of water without spilling it.

The Colemans were living near Porter Township's Hickory Point, a location that was somewhat of a magnet for early Porter County settlers from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Elizabeth (Gaston) McClure is stated to have "obtained a place six miles away from the Coleman farm." This "place" is believed to be located in Winfield Township in Lake County, Indiana, as that is where Elizabeth and her children appear in the federal census for 1870 after widow Elizabeth married Thomas Simpson.

Half a mile west of us lived Thomas Simpson. His farm was the outlying farm of the neighborhood, the one nearest the unoccupied land where the cows grazed. Simpson was a kindly, industrious man from Tyrone, Ireland. He wanted to marry my mother. Clearly something had to be done, and it seemed to mother that when she had this opportunity she ought to marry and give her children a home. She married Thomas Simpson that winter, and Robert and I were taken to his house. The other two boys lived a while with Mr. Simpson's brother, but my brother John came to live with us in March.

There were a hundred acres in the farm, and it was worth about three thousand dollars. At the time of his marriage to my mother Mr. Simpson owed five hundred dollars on it. During the several years that I worked on the place we were never able to reduce the debt. Sometimes we fell behind and owed money to the storekeepers in Hebron.

Thomas Simpson and Elizabeth (Gaston) McClure were married in Lake County, Indiana, on November 21, 1866.

Little is known concerning the life of Thomas Simpson. He was born in Ireland on October 13, 1823, the son of William Simpson and Jane (Semple) Simpson. William and Jane emigrated with their children from Ireland to Porter County prior to 1855. Thomas died of typhoid fever on his farm in Lake County, Indiana, on December 18, 1873, and is buried at Hebron Cemetery in Hebron.

John and I did the morning and evening chores, which I always hated. The work I liked was cutting wood for the kitchen stove. Our stepfather got his fire-wood from the Kankakee swamp, a great stretch of marshy land to the south of us, of considerable geographical importance in that country. There were wagon-roads through the swamp, and when it was frozen over the settlers took their teams in and felled and hauled away their winter wood. The timber was mostly ash, which is easy wood to split. John and I cut up and split ten logs a day. The logs were about ten feet long and eight inches to a foot in diameter, and each log made six lengths of stove wood. As long as I stayed on the farm I enjoyed this work. Some years later, when I was working my way through college and doing pretty much everything that came to hand, I suddenly turned against wood-sawing. I made up my mind that I had sawed so much wood that, whatever happened, I would never saw any more. And I never have.

Newspaper item concerning the cutting of wood in the Kankakee swamp.
Source: Porter County Vidette, January 21, 1875.

The second winter I attended school for the first time since we came to America. I went to the Hickory Point School, and my Irish speech afforded the boys there a great deal of amusement. The snows were very deep there, and the crust was often so hard that we skated to school, over fields and fences. I was so fond of school that, if I had to work at home for part of the day, I would go all the way to school to get the last hour, from three to four, there.

The "second winter" suggests that Samuel began his education at the Hickory Point School in 1867. Also known as the Skinner School, it was located one-quarter mile west of present day County Road 600 West along the south side of County Road 500 South. This school was constructed in 1867 and would have been used for the first time when Samuel began attending it.

When I was twelve years old and was still going to that school, I heard somewhere, for the first time in my life, that there was a kind of "arithmetic" in which letters were used instead of figures. I knew at once that I must somehow get hold of this. I asked the teacher, a young man who was then trying to work his way toward a medical school; but, though he had heard of algebra, he had never studied it and had no text-book. There lived not far from us an ex-soldier named McGinley, and I had heard that his wife had been a school-teacher. I went to Mrs. McGinley to ask her advice, and she lent me an algebra. My brother John and I took up this book and went through it as fast as we could, working it out for ourselves and solving the problems as we came to them. We got so excited about it and talked about it so much that my stepfather said he thought he would like to study it, too. He would sit down with us in the evening and work at the problems. But after a little while his zeal flagged and he decided that he could get through the rest of his days without knowing algebra.

The McGinleys were early pioneers of Porter County and numerous descendants of the family still reside in the county. Research to identify the "ex-soldier named McGinley" has been unsuccessful. Enumerations of Porter County's participants in the Civil War and the Mexican War (1846-1848) do not include any individuals named McGinley. It is possible that McClure was incorrect in stating the McGinley was an ex-soldier.

If McClure is correct that a Mrs. McGinley allowed him to borrow an algebra book, then the most probable individuals being described by McClure are John McGinley and his wife Lucinda (Armentrout) McGinley. John and Lucinda resided about four miles northeast of Hickory Point in Porter County's Porter Township.

During these years the lack of reading matter was one of the deprivations which I felt most keenly. We had no books at home but a bound volume of "Agricultural Reports," sent us by our congressman, and this I read over and over. Then I used to read, with the closest attention, the catalogues sent out by the companies that sold agricultural implements. They seemed absorbingly interesting, and I read them through like books. When I was about thirteen years old I first read, in the weekly edition of the Chicago Tribune, "The Luck of Roaring Camp." It seemed to me a fairly good story about an interesting kind of life. Petroleum V. Nasby, the famous dialect philosopher of that time, I read closely in the weekly paper. It was then I first began to hear of Mark Twain, and to see little extracts from him quoted in the newspapers. It was years before I saw even the outside of one of his books.

The Luck of Roaring Camp by Bret Harte was published in 1868, widely read, and catapulted Harte to international prominence. Ironically, Harte would publish his short story A Jack and Jill of the Sierras: A Story of the California Mines in McClure's Magazine in 1900.

Petroleum V. Nasby was the pseudonym of David Ross Locke, a witty journalist, humorist, and satirist. Locke rapidly rose to popularity during the Civil War by contributing the "Nasby Letters" to the Toledo Blade newspaper in Ohio. The letters were purportedly written and submitted to the newspaper by one Petroleum V. Nasby. They revealed Nasby to be a vicious and ardent Copperhead, a Southern sympathizer from the North, and in direct opposition to the newspaper's Union position. Nasby's arguments supporting the Southern cause using a bastardized and nearly illiterate dialect of a Southerner were hilarious and made him appear to be a outright fool. Many readers of the Nasby Letters were deceived and thought them to be the true position of a Copperhead. Abraham Lincoln, who enjoyed the humor, would occasionally read Nasby Letters to his cabinet members.

Like Bret Harte, Mark Twain would later contract to have some of his work first published in serialized form in McClure's Magazine.

I remember some hunters once camped for the night on our place. I went over to their camp the next morning after they were gone, and found that they had left several old paper-backed novels and a few tattered magazines. These were a great find for me. Years afterward, the idea of forming a newspaper syndicate first came to me through my remembering my hunger, as a boy, for something to read. In the early eighties, when I was working for the Century Magazine in New York, and was going over the files of the St. Nicholas Magazine, I could not help feeling how much I had missed. Here were good stories of adventure, stories of poor boys who had got on, stories of boys who had made collections of insects and butterflies and learned all about them, or who had learned geology by collecting stones and fossils — things that I might have done, myself, if I had known how. It occurred to me that it would be an excellent plan to take a lot of these stories from the old volumes of St. Nicholas and syndicate them among the weekly county newspapers over the country, where they would reach thousands of country boys who would enjoy them as much as I would have if I had had them. I took this plan to Mr. Roswell Smith, of the Century Company. Mr. Smith did not carry out the plan, but the idea of such a syndicate was firmly fixed in my head, and later I was able to carry it out myself.

Roswell Chamberlain Smith, a native of Connecticut, would move to Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, as a young man and enter the real estate business. He later practiced law in Lafayette. He would move back east to found Century, Scribner's, and St. Nicholas magazines.

After I had started my newspaper syndicate, I did manage to get Stevenson and Kipling, Conan Doyle, Stanley Weyman, Quiller-Couch, Stephen Crane, the new writers and the young Idea, to the boys on the farm. I am always meeting young men in business who say: "Stevenson? Oh,yes! I first read 'Treasure Island' in some newspaper or other when l was a boy. It came out in instalments"; or "Why doesn't Quiller-Couch ever write anything as good as 'Dead Man's Rock'? I read that story in the Omaha Bee when I was a kid, and I think it was the best adventure story I ever read. I never got the last chapter. Our paper didn't come that week, and it bothered me till I was a grown man. I finally had to get the book and find out what did happen to Simon Colliver." I believe that my newspaper syndicate did a good deal to awaken in the country boys everywhere an interest in the new writers of that time, and to create for those writers an appreciative audience, besides all the pleasure such stories gave to minds that would have been emptier without them.

The second summer I spent on my stepfather's farm — I was eleven years old — I did the same work as a man, except where my lack of height was against me. I built the hay on the wagon, for instance, instead of throwing it up from the field, and when the hay was forked from the wagon I built it up on the stack. John and I planted the corn by hand, dropping across the plowed furrows. We cultivated the corn twice, twice down the rows and twice across. When I was twelve and thirteen years old a part of my work was to break the young colts to being ridden.

We all worked hard, but it seemed to me that my mother worked hardest of all. She got up at five every morning and milked five or six cows. The North of Ireland people are the best butter-makers in the world, and when butter was bringing twelve and a half cents at the stores in Hebron, my mother's butter always brought twenty-five cents a pound and was sent to families in Chicago who had given a standing order for it. Besides milking and making butter for market, my mother did all the housework, the cooking and washing and ironing and caring for the children. During the seven years that my stepfather lived, my mother bore four children, of whom three died in infancy of enlargement of the spleen. I seem to remember that there was always a sick baby in the house. About the time the new baby was a few weeks old, the eighteen-months-old baby would fall sick, and then my mother would have a baby in her arms and a sick baby in the cradle. She did a great deal of her work with a baby in her arms, and often after being up half the night with the sick one. I used even then to wonder how she did it.

During the time period being described by McClure, women on the farm were often expected to have the kitchen stove started, the family cow(s) milked, and breakfast prepared before the men rose for their work in the fields.

Thomas and Elizabeth's three children that died in infancy were William Simpson (January 1, 1868, d. August 30, 1870), Charles Simpson (b. June 27, 1870, d. December 12, 1872), and Sarah Jane Simpson (d. November 27, 1873).

The fourth child that lived past infancy was Ella R. Simpson. Seven year old Ella appears with Elizabeth in the federal census for 1880 living in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois. Also listed in this enumeration are Elizabeth's sons Samuel and John; note that this census erroneously provides the surname of Simpson for Samuel and John instead of McClure. At this particular time, Samuel was attending Knox College in Galesburg. Ella's life has been very difficult to trace.

My stepfather was always kind to us. Though physical punishment was then regarded as a necessary thing, especially for boys, he never whipped any of us. He let us work, indeed, harder than growing boys should have been allowed to work, but it was because he knew no better. All our neighbors worked their boys, and my stepfather himself worked very hard. No matter how hard we worked, we could never seem to reduce the debt that we still owed on our farm. The summer that I was fourteen my mother got discouraged. She had always had a fierce desire that her boys should be educated, and my schooling was at a standstill. I had gone as far as I could go in the country school, and had done all the work several times over. I had worked beyond my strength all through the summer of my fourteenth year. Haying was late, and the heavy work came in the very hot weather. I used to drop on the ground from weakness after my work was done, and I suffered so from dysentery that I was unable to sit on the buggy-rake.

One day in September, my mother called me to her and told me that she could not see any chance for me on the farm. If I wanted more education I must manage to get it for myself, and the best thing for me to do was to go away and try. At Valparaiso a new High School was to open that fall, and my mother said she thought I had better go there and see if I could work for my board and go to school. I followed her advice.

The first Valparaiso High School was constructed in 1871, the same year Samuel McClure began his education there in the fall. The school was located at 305 North Franklin Avenue, which is the current site of Central Elementary School. The structure was razed and replaced with another school building in 1903. The seniors of 1874 were the first graduating class from Valparaiso High School. McClure would graduate with the second class from the high school in 1875.

The new Valparaiso High School attended by Samuel S. McClure.
Source: Andreas, 1876 [see p. 32].

I carried with me no clothes except those I had on, and I don't think I took a package or a bundle of any kind. I had no capital but a dollar and the hopefulness and open-mindedness of fourteen years. When I came out on a little hill above Valparaiso and looked down at the white houses and the shady streets, bordered by young maple trees, I had a lift of heart. It seemed to me the most beautiful place in the world.

Samuel S. McClure, age 14, the year he
entered Valparaiso High School, 1871.

Source: Lyon, 1963.

I walked into Valparaiso as fast as I could, and began going from house to house, asking whether anybody wanted a boy to do chores and go to school. It was then late in the afternoon, and I had to get a place to sleep that night. The Everts family, for whom my mother had worked, were then living in Indianapolis; but I went to some of their neighbors. Some one told me that they thought Dr. Cass would take a chore-boy. I knew of Dr. Cass. Indeed, once, when he came to our farm to buy corn, I had computed in my head the cubic contents of a crib for him.

Dr. Levi A. Cass, M.D., the son of a physician, was born July 9, 1819, and attended Oberlin College. He arrived in Porter County in 1840 and engaged in the practice of medicine at Valparaiso. He then would go to LaPorte and attend and graduate from the Indiana Medical College; William Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic also attended this college, graduating in 1850. Upon returning to Valparaiso, he practiced medicine for the remainder of his life. He was also an organizer of the Valparaiso National Bank and served as its president. By 1876, Cass owned at least 1,802 acres immediately northeast and east of Hickory Point in Porter Township and 41 acres in adjacent Boone Township.

Cass married Louisa Schofield Porter in 1849, a sister-in-law of Robert Alexander Cameron; Cameron was a physician that rose to the rank of Major General during the Civil War. The Cass, Cameron, and Porter families had relatives residing in the Hebron area and Louisa was a Presbyterian who likely interacted somewhat regularly with Elizabeth (Gaston) McClure Simpson. Louisa's husband, Levi, was a Methodist.

Dr. Cass was then the richest man in all that country. He owned several farms and a good many cattle, and was worth something like $100,000. He was reputed a hard man and was not very well liked. I went to his house and he took me in. There I was called at five every morning, made the fire in four stoves, took care of the cow and the horses, and did part of the marketing before school. In the afternoon I worked on the grounds and did chores until supper-time, and after supper I studied my lessons. Every Monday, however, I was called at one o'clock in the morning to help Ida and Bertha, the two daughters of the house, with the washing. By eight o'clock we would have the washing for the family on the line.

Ida G. Cass was three years older than Samuel. She married Reverend Lafayette S. Buckles on May 8, 1881, in Porter County. Two years later, on June 5, 1883, at the age of 28 Ida would die from tuberculosis.

Alberta B. Cass was nearly the same age as Samuel. She would marry Ida's widower, Reverend Lafayette S. Buckles, on December 3, 1883 in Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Buckles was a Methodist minister.

As I have said, there had been no High School in Valparaiso until that year. It was conducted in one large room of the new school building just completed.

After the new pupils were seated, Professor McFetrich came down the aisle, asking each boy to give his full name and say what studies he wanted to take. I was a little nervous, anyway, and it made me more nervous to hear each boy giving three names — John Henry Smith or Edward Thomas Jones. What bothered me was that I had but two names, Samuel McClure, and I didn't want to be conspicuous by having less than the other fellows. I began to rack my brain to supply the deficiency. I had read not long before a subscription history of the Civil War, and had greatly admired the figure of General Sherman. Professor McFetrich was still about six boys away from me, and before he came to my desk I had decided on a middle name. So, when he put his question to me, I replied that my name was Samuel Sherman McClure. Later I changed the Sherman to Sidney. I am usually known now as S. S. McClure, but there never was any S. S. McClure until that morning, and my becoming so was, like most things in my life, entirely accidental.

James McFetrich was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, on March 4, 1835, his parents both being natives of County Derry, Northern Ireland. James studied law and operated a retail drug business prior to being hired as a teacher at Valparaiso High School. He taught eight years and was then elected as Porter County Superintendent of Schools, a position he held for two years. He then entered the lumber trade at Valparaiso under the name White, McFetrich & Company.

White, McFetrich & Company would eventually evolve into McFetrich Lumber & Coal Company. In February 1921, Smith & Smiths Company purchased McFetrich Lumber & Coal Company along West Indiana Avenue in Valparaiso. In 1949, the business was reorganized and named Smith Nuppnau Ready Mix, Inc., and later renamed Smith Ready Mix.

After he took down my name, the principal began to name over the studies, for me to say "yes" or "no": Arithmetic, History, Latin, Geography, German, Algebra, Geometry. To his amusement, I said "yes" to every one of them. I did not know what else to do. There was certainly nothing in that list that I could afford to give up, and it didn't occur to me that I could save any of them and take them at a later date. During the morning, however, I began to get nervous about the number of studies I had agreed to take. At noon I went to the principal and told him that I was afraid I had registered for more subjects than I could do justice to. He smiled knowingly and said he thought I had. We compromised on a rational number.

I had come to Valparaiso run down and worn out with the hard summer on the farm, and the work at Doctor Cass' was not light for a boy of fourteen. Still, I got on pretty well except for the fact that I had no money. I had my board and lodging from Dr. Cass, but not a penny to buy clothes or books. Of course I had no overcoat. I didn't own an overcoat until I was nearly through college. When it was cold — and it was often bitterly cold — I ran. Speed was my overcoat.

I stayed with Dr. Cass through the first term of school, and then I went to spend Christmas with my uncle James Gaston, who had married and then lived four miles north of Valparaiso.

James Gaston and Matilda J. Dickey were married on October 6, 1866, in Porter County, about six weeks prior to James' widowed sister's marriage to Thomas Simpson.

I was not supposed to be away from my chores for more than a day or two, but I had not had a vacation for a long while, and I had such a good time at my uncle's that I overstayed my time. The snow was hard and firm. Sleighing was fine, and there were a lot of friendly young people about. There was one very pretty girl, Helen McCallister, with whom I thought I was very much in love. I certainly enjoyed that vacation. But when I went back to Valparaiso on the first day of January, Dr. Cass refused to take me in again, because I had overstayed my time.

It is believed that McClure misidentified the "very pretty girl, Helen McCallister." William McAllister was the only landowner in Jackson Township in 1860 and 1870 of that surname. William's 80 acres of land was about one-half mile southwest of Lansing's Mill, a grist mill, and directly north of land owned by Issac C. B. Suman.

William McAllister, a native of Scotland, had a daughter named Isabella who was six month younger than Samuel. Isabella would marry Joseph Rycraft Clark in Jackson Township on October 26, 1875, and pass away on May 11, 1885, in Seven Mile, Butler County, Ohio.

My misfortune, however, was only temporary, and my loss proved to be my gain in the end. I soon heard that Mr. Kellogg wanted a chore-boy. John and Alfred Kellogg were brothers who lived in a double house in Valparaiso and, with a third brother, operated an iron foundry. I went to live with the Alfred Kellogg family, and there I found a home indeed. I at first joyfully characterized the house to myself as a "place with only one cow and one stove." And Mrs. Kellogg was so merciful to the sleep of growing boys that she frequently got up and made that one fire herself. I regret to say that I can remember lying guiltily in bed on a cold morning and hearing her build it. I could never adequately describe the kindness of the Kelloggs.

The Kellogg foundry and machine shop was owned and operated by brothers Alfred Washington Kellogg, Dennis Azor Kellogg, and John Woodward Kellogg. Their business was located adjacent to the tracks of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railway along the south side of Mechanic Street (known today as Indiana Avenue) and directly southeast of present day Franklin House. The brothers manufactured engines, boilers, sawmills, grates, threshers, mowers, and reapers, among many other products.

I finished my first winter at the Valparaiso High School happily enough in the Kellogg family. When the summer vacation came on, it was necessary for me to get something to do. I passed the county examinations, and took charge of a country school two miles north and east of my stepfather's farm. I received fourteen dollars a month and boarded round. I had an opportunity to find out how bad country cooking in America can be, and what outrages can be committed upon good food-stuff.

The school referred to above is believed to have been located in the southeast quarter of Section 36 in Lake County's Ross Township, southwest of the present day intersection of 101st Avenue and Clay Street.

The custom was then in country schools to keep the little children in their seats all day, although they had only three or four recitations during the school period. This seemed to me inflicting a needless hardship, so I decided to give the youngest children eight short recitation periods a day and to let them play out of doors the rest of the time. The doors and windows of the schoolhouse were always open, and I could keep an eye on the children just as well as if they were inside, squirming in their seats.

This was not the usual way of managing a country school, however, and a hired man who worked in the fields near the schoolhouse complained to the directors that the new teacher didn't teach the children anything; he was sure of this, because whenever he looked up from his plowing he could see children playing in the yard. I can remember the look of that fellow; he was a big man with a big, brutal face, and for years afterward, whenever I read about bullies or ruffians in novels, they always took on the face of that man.

The school directors met and asked me what I had to say to this charge. I was then fifteen, had had no experience in teaching before, and I was so amazed I hadn't anything to say at all. On the contrary, I put my head down on the desk and cried. But Mr. James Carson, one of my old teachers at the Hickory Point School, spoke up for me, defending my conduct, and the charge was dismissed. I could not, however, teach out my term of three months. The humdrum of teaching was more than I could endure. At the end of two months I quit. One thing I could never do was teach a country school. I tried it twice afterward, but both times I had to run away from the job before the term was over.

James E. Carson was an early Porter County settler. He was born in Ireland on July 24, 1841, and passed away at Hebron on December 17, 1925. Though a farmer, Carson often served as a public servant in Porter County. He was a county commissioner for twelve years, Porter Township trustee for eight years, and the postmaster of Hebron for nine years.

The next winter I went back to Valparaiso to go to school. I stayed with the Kellogg's again, but this winter I had to have more clothes and more school-books. I seemed to need more money than I had the winter before, and my school work was interrupted more by the necessity of earning it. I clerked in a grocery store for two months, and for two months I was printer's devil for the proprietor of the Valparaiso Vidette. I learned to set type and make up the paper, but what I most remember was learning to swear. Profanity was then the accepted etiquette about a country newspaper office. The oaths meant nothing. They were not even ingenious or amusing, and they were not indicative of strong feeling. It was simply an ugly habit, like tobacco-chewing — which I got to hate there because the loafers in the office used to spit on the floor about the type-cases, from which I often had to pick up type. I soon became expert in profanity myself, and could scarcely utter a sentence without an oath. When I got over this habit of swearing, I got over it entirely. Ever since it has seemed to me a vice as stupid as it is ugly.

The newspaper's official name and the name printed on its masthead was Porter County Vidette. It is interesting to note this was a Democratic newspaper and McClure mentions earlier in this biography that he was "a readymade Republican." The Republican newspaper in Valparaiso at this time was the Valparaiso Messenger. Both newspapers would eventually merge to form The Vidette-Messenger.

I have always been against using profane expressions in MCCLURE'S MAGAZINE, except where the author could convince me that they were absolutely necessary for the truthful portrayal of character — and then the author had to be some one who knew what he was talking about.

About this time I fell in with Charley Griffith, a lad of my own age who lived with his widowed mother on a hill at the edge of the town. Charley didn't go to school; his eye was too much on the main chance, and he was exceedingly full of shifts. Charley was a great schemer. He was always devising novel and interesting ways to make money. He was never afraid to work, but somehow he never stuck at anything long and he never came out much ahead. Charley's large and adventurous ideas took hold of me right away. Credulity was my native virtue; I beamed with it.

Charles Griffith was the son of Reverend Warren Griffith, a Methodist minister and very early settler at Hebron. Reverend Griffith was born October 25, 1802, in Whitehall, Washington County, New York, and was a circuit riding preacher in the counties of Lake and Porter as early as 1835 and would take up residence at Hebron in 1837. He died in Porter County's Center Township on February 16, 1872. At the time McClure "fell in with Charley Griffith," Charley had very recently lost his father.

It would take me a long while to enumerate all the ventures upon which Charley and I embarked with proud hopes. I remember at one time we used to borrow horses, ride about the country all night until we could find some one who had an old cow for sale cheap, lead her home, and butcher her in a disused slaughter-house outside the town. Then, after cutting the meat up, we would sell it off a wagon about the town. I can't remember that we ever made much. I don't know what ever made Charley think he could be a butcher, unless it was seeing a perfectly good slaughter-house that nobody was using, and figuring that if only he could be a butcher, he would be ahead a slaughter-house. Charley often figured his profits on a similar basis.

When the summer vacation came on, we decided that it was time we entered business in earnest. I was then sixteen and Charley was about the same age. We went to Westville, a small town about ten miles from Valparaiso, and opened a butcher shop. We started out with a flourishing business, and sold all the meat we could get. It looked a sure thing from the first, and we felt pretty well fixed and had a great sense of dignity. I remember what good breakfasts we used to get at the restaurant near our shop, and with what complacency we ate our pork chops and coffee. But at the end of the month our dream was shattered. We sent out out bills, "dr. to meat for one month," with great satisfaction, but we received few replies. Then we learned that most of our customers were "dead beats," people who owed the other butcher shops so much they couldn't get any meat there. Some of them had not had any meat for a good while, so they had bought it on a generous scale when they had a chance.

Well, now we had no meat and no money. Charley's ardor cooled. We decided that we would employ our talents in other fields. We sold all we had except our team and wagon, and Charley suggested that we drive to Anderson, Indiana, and get a job grading where the Baltimore and Ohio Road was being put through. I was game for that too, so off we went.

The Baltimore, Pittsburgh & Chicago Railroad, a subsidiary of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, would be laid across Porter County in 1874, with the first trains on that line traversing the county in November 1874.

But again we were poor calculators, for there were two of us and we had but one team. We got a job on the grade, but there was an extra boy with nothing to do. I drove the team, while Charley tried to get a job carrying water. We worked on the grade for some weeks, and I have forgotten now just why we left it. Probably the elusive goddess beckoned Charley in some other direction.

As for me, I have never been sorry that I tried and learned something about a good many kinds of work when I was a boy. If I had become a writer when I grew up, such knowledge as I obtained from these experiences would have been of inestimable value to me. The late O. Henry was one of a dozen writers who got their material and their knowledge of people and of the caprices of fortune by knocking about at all kinds of jobs. I am not sure but that, in another way, such experiences were almost as helpful to me as an editor. They made me, I think, more open-minded than I would otherwise have been, and more quick to recognize the young writers who were trying to tell the truth about some phases of American life.

In the fall of '73, when I was sixteen years old, I went back to Valparaiso, and went to work in the Kellogg iron foundry for four dollars a week, living with the Kelloggs again and paying them two dollars a week for board. That was the panic year, and times were so hard that I couldn't manage to start to school at all that fall. Money was so scarce and so hard to make that I became discouraged and began to think of throwing up everything and taking to the road as a tramp.

The Panic of 1873 affected both Europe and North America and its economic outfall were strongly felt in the United States through 1877; it was often referred to as the Great Depression until a new standard was set in 1929 through the 1930s. The financial collapse of 2008 was similar to the events of 1873 as both were triggered by highly speculative investments — real estate in 2008 and railroads in 1873. In 1873, Jay Cooke & Company, a major American bank, found itself unable to market Northern Pacific Railway bonds in the sum of millions of dollars.

President Grant's monetary policy resulted in reducing the American money supply and increased interest rates on debt. Jay Cooke & Company was able to obtain a $300 million government loan to finance the construction of the Northern Pacific Railway, but soon after the bank's credit was widely reported in the banking industry to have become worthless and the debt could not be sold to finance construction. The bank filed bankruptcy on September 18, 1873, which rapidly led to a number of major bank failures. The New York Stock Exchange closed for ten days beginning September 20 in an attempt to stem the enormous outflow of capital. Within one year of Jay Cooke & Company's collapse, 115 railroads in the United States declared bankruptcy. For the next 20 years the United States experienced stagflation.

The life of a tramp would not have been so distasteful to me as it would to most people. I escaped being a tramp so narrowly that I have always felt that I know exactly what kind of one I should have been. I don't think I should have been unhappy as such. After I left the farm and first went to Valparaiso to go to school, I began to have attacks of restlessness. I simply had to run away for a day, for half a day, for two days. It was not that I wanted to go anywhere in particular, but that I had to go somewhere, that I could not stay another minute.

These fits were apt to come on at any time; but in the spring, when the first warm winds began to blow, then they were sure to come, and to come with a vengeance. There was no standing up against them, and there was no punishment like trying to stand up against them. Usually I didn't try; I simply ran down to the station and took the first freight-car out of town. I rode until I was put off, and then maybe I waited until I could catch another outbound freight and rode some more. Maybe, if the first passing freight happened to be headed for Valparaiso, I jumped on it and rode home. I ran away like this, not once or twice, but dozens and dozens of times. It was a regular irregularity in my life. It was, indeed, more than most other things, a necessity of my life. I could do without a bed, without an overcoat, could go without food for twenty-four hours; but I had to break away and go when I wanted to.

In those days, on each freight-car there were two little platforms about a foot wide, one at each end of the car, where the brake-rod came down. On this little projection I used to sit, with my cap pulled down tight on my head. Of course I preferred to ride on a passenger-train, and I usually managed to get out of Valparaiso on a passenger, resorting to freights to get home. When I rode on the passenger, I made myself at home on the blind end of the baggage-car, winding my woolen comforter close about my neck to protect me from the showers of sparks that blew back from the engine.

This restlessness was something that I seemed to have no control over. I have had to reckon with it all my life, and whatever I have been able to do has been in spite of it. As a lad I followed this impulse blindly, but later I realized that this restlessness was a kind of misfortune, and that it could be at times a hard master. In most things I was fickle and inconsequential, open to any suggestion, ready to quit one job because another was offered, not a very good judge of business propositions, the plaything of casual contacts and chance happenings. But there was one fixed determination, one constant quantity, in my life as a boy — the desire to get an education. That was my one steadiness. Everything else was as it happened. In reality, my runaway trips, my rushing from one job to another, were only apparent ficklenesses. The one thing I really meant to do was to get an education, and in that I never wavered.

In December of 1873, while I was working at the foundry and wondering what I was going to do next, I received a message from my mother telling me that my stepfather was very ill and I was to return home at once. I went home, and in a few weeks my stepfather died of typhoid fever, leaving the farm to my mother and their one living child. I was mother's oldest son, and there was nothing for me to do then but to stay at home and work the farm for her.

McClure's stepfather, Thomas Simpson, died on December 18, 1873.

My brother John was then fifteen and my bother Tom thirteen. Robert was still a little fellow. So that winter my two brothers and I undertook to run the farm. In the spring we planted the crops, and that summer we raised and harvested the largest ones that had ever been produced on that farm. In addition, we increased our profits by taking over some marsh-land and making hay on it on shares.

It was while we were working in the hay-field, one day, that there occurred one of those seemingly unimportant events which are often destined to make a great change in people's lives. My brothers and I saw some one coming across the hay-field, and as he approached we recognized my uncle Joseph Gaston, whom we had not seen for several years. He was trying to fit himself for the ministry, and was then attending Knox College, at Galesburg, Illinois. He came up to us in the field, asked us about the farm and how we were getting on with it, and then told us that the thing we must try for was a college education, and that the place to get it was Knox College.

Since I first left the farm to go to school I had meant to get to college somehow; but how I should go, or to what college, was not clear to me. As I listened to my uncle, this vague project instantly became a definite plan. I was going to Knox College. Uncle Joseph talked the matter over with my mother, who required little persuasion. She wanted all her boys to have an education, and, as I was the oldest, it was natural that I should have the first chance.

When September came I set off for Galesburg with eight dollars to pay my carfare, and a heavy black oilcloth valise. Because of this valise my money did not hold out. I took the train at Hebron, and when I arrived in Chicago I had to pay a man fifty cents for hauling me and my big satchel across the city from the Pennsylvania depot to the C. B. & Q. depot. When I went to get my ticket to Galesburg, I found I had not quite enough money left; I hadn't counted on that fifty cents. I bought a ticket to Galva, a town about twenty miles this side of Galesburg, and trusted to luck. I went through all right.

The railroad from Chicago to Galesburg was the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad.

I got off the train with fifteen cents in my pocket. I had on my only suit of clothes, and my mother had made them. The trousers were a good deal too wide and about an inch too short in the leg, and of very stiff cloth. The coat and vest probably had similar faults, but I was most conscious of the trousers. I had on a pair of cowhide boots, and a black felt hat with a droopy brim. I went at once to the campus, and stood looking over the campus and the buildings. I thought I had never seen such fine trees. The afternoon was singularly fresh and clear after a rain, and everything looked wonderful to me.
 
Newspaper item concerning Samuel S. McClure's
travels and his education at Knox College .
Source: Porter County Vidette, September 7, 1876.

There are few feelings any deeper than those with which a country boy gazes for the first time upon the college that he feels is going to supply all the deficiencies he feels in himself, and fit him to struggle in the world. My preparation had been scanty and I would have to enter the third preparatory year; that meant that it would be three years until I was even a freshman. I was seventeen, and it was a seven years' job that I was starting upon, with fifteen cents in my pocket. I felt complete self-reliance. I had never had any difficulty in making a living, and I knew that I was well able to take care of myself. On the first afternoon, certainly, there was no room in my mind for apprehensions. I could only think about what a beautiful place this was, and that here I was going to learn Latin and Greek.
 
Newspaper item concerning Samuel S. McClure's
visit to Valparaiso from Knox College .
Source: Porter County Vidette, July 26, 1877.
 
Newspaper item concerning Mrs. Thomas Simpson,
Samuel S. McClure's mother, and her trip to Ireland.

Source: Porter County Vidette, July 26, 1877.
 
Newspaper item concerning Joseph Gaston and Samuel
S. McClure. It alludes to the fact that Samuel may have
enrolled for a term at Oberlin College in Ohio.

Source: Porter County Vidette, September 6, 1877.
 
 Once, in Ireland, when I was a little boy, in the Public House at Ballymena I had seen a young priest sitting at a table, reading a book intently. I looked over his shoulder, and, though I could read very well by that time, I could not read a word of that book. I asked him why this was, and he told me that this was Latin. I had never heard of Latin before, but I instantly knew that I wanted to learn to read it, and resolved that one day I would. Now, ten years later, on the other side of the ocean, that day had come.

✦    ✦    ✦    ✦    ✦    ✦    ✦    ✦    ✦    ✦    ✦

The remaining six serialized installments of Samuel S. McClure's autobiography are available online at the Willa Cather Archive located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While these remaining installments do not discuss McClure's life in Porter County in any great detail, there are occasional mentions of Valparaiso, his family, and the country schools of the county.

Two additional major biographies of Samuel S. McClure have been published, both of which are very well written and quite fascinating. In 1963, Peter Lyon published Success Story: The Life and Times of S. S. McClure, which was awarded the George Polk Memorial Award, one of the the most prestigious journalism honors in the United States. Though never mentioned by Lyon in his book, Samuel S. McClure was his maternal grandfather; Samuel's daughter, Mary Charlotte (McClure) Lyon, was Peter's mother. Thus, ready access to personal letters and correspondence through his family ties provided Lyon material that added great depth in telling the full story of McClure's life. Incidentally, Peter Lyon's birth name was Robert Crawford Lyon (1915-1996).

Toward the end of the biography, Lyon recounts the assistance that Dr. Edward A. Rumely, a native of LaPorte County, Indiana, and publisher of the New York Evening Mail, provided to McClure in an attempt to keep the magazine afloat and in Samuel's control. Rumely introduced Samuel to Lewis E. Myers. Myers provided the magazine much needed capital and took over ownership but allowed McClure to continue day-to-day operational management. This arrangement was carried out for a year before the magazine finally collapsed in March 1929.

In a ironic twist, though never mentioned in Lyon's book, it is very likely that McClure and Myers knew one another prior to Rumely's introduction, as Myers was a nationally known entrepreneur from Valparaiso, the town from which McClure graduated high school in 1875. Myers also placed advertisements for his products in McClure's Magazine.

In 2020, Stephanie Gorton published Citizen Reporters, S. S. McClure, Ida Tarbell, and the Magazine that Rewrote America. The bulk of the factual information in this book was previously published by Willa Cather and Peter Lyon. However, Gorton greatly expands upon the relationship between Ida Tarbell and McClure and the cultural impact that this duo had on Americans and their perspectives concerning industry and government.

Advertisement for Lewis E. Myers &
Company's celebrated Chautauqua Equipment.

Source: McClure's Magazine,  July 1925 [see pp. 472-473]

Advertisement for Lewis E. Myers &
Company's Rolls Racer Model FC wagon.

Source: Playthings,  January 1925 [see p. 86]

Source Material

Books
Andreas, Alfred T. 1876. Illustrated Historical Atlas of Indiana. Chicago, Illinois: Baskin, Forster & Company. 462 p. [see p. 32]

Goodspeed, Weston A., and Charles Blanchard. 1882. Counties of Porter and Lake, Indiana: Historical and Biographical, Illustrated. Chicago, Illinois: F. A. Battey & Company. 771 p. [see pp. 140-141, 254-255, 259, 360, 379-380, 386-387]

Gorton, Stephanie. 2020. Citizen Reporters, S. S. McClure, Ida Tarbell, and the Magazine that Rewrote America. New York, New York: Ecco. 384 p.

Hardesty, A. G. 1876. Illustrated Historical Atlas of Porter County, Indiana. Valparaiso, Indiana: A. G. Hardesty. 90 p. [see pp. 33, 39].

Lyon, Peter. 1964. Success Story: The Life and Times of S. S. McClure. New York, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 433 p.

McClure, S. S. 1914. My Autobiography. New York, New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 266 p. [ghost written by Willa Cather]

Neeley, George E. 1989. Valparaiso: A Pictorial History. St. Louis, Missouri: G. Bradley Publishing, Inc. 200 p. [see p. 2]

Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute. 1876. Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute. Annual Catalog. Valparaiso, Indiana: Valparaiso Messenger. 32 p. [see p. 13]

Periodicals
McClure, Samuel S. 1913. My Autobiography. McClure's Magazine 41(6):33-45. [ghostwritten by Willa Cather]

McClure, Samuel S. 1913. My Autobiography. McClure's Magazine 42(1):78-87. [ghostwritten by Willa Cather]

Page, Arthur W. 1914. The March of Events. The World's Work 28(1):7.

Newspapers (listed by date of publication)
Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Cook County, Indiana; July 22, 1864; Volume 17, Number 345, Page 1, Columns 6-7. Column titled "A Snake-Hissing in Indiana. Copperhead Convention in the Ninth Congressional District. Dirty Dave Nominated at Valparaiso Yesterday."
 
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; January 14, 1875; Volume 19, Number 2, Page 3, Column 1. Column titled "Miscellaneous."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; January 21, 1875; Volume 19, Number 3, Page 3, Column 5. Column titled "Hebron Items."
 
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter, County, Indiana; September 7, 1876; Volume 20, Number 36, Page 3, Column 5. column titled "Hebron Items."
 
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; July 26, 1877; Volume 21, Number 30, Page 3, Column 6. Column titled "Personals."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; July 26, 1877; Volume 21, Number 30, Page 3, Column 7. Column titled "Hebron Items."
 
Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; September 6, 1877; Volume 21, Number 36, Page 3, Column 5. Column titled "Personals."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; September 26, 1878; Volume 22, Number 39, Page 3, Column 9. Column titled "Obituary."

Porter County Vidette, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; January 29, 1885; Volume 29, Number 5, Page 4, Column 3. Column title "The County. Hebron."

The Tribune, Chesterton, Porter County, Indiana; February 11, 1886; Volume 2, Number 46, Page 4, Column 3. Column titled "Valparaiso."

The Lake County Times, Hammond, Lake County, Indiana; August 22, 1913; Volume 8, Number 56, Page 6, Column 4. Column titled "Editor M'Clure Lived Near Here."

The Times, Clay Center, Clay County, Kansas; July 20, 1916; Volume 40, Number 29, Page 1, Column 7. Column titled "Deaths."

The Boston Globe, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts; January 30, 1924; Volume , Number, Page 6, Columns 3-4. Column titled "Six Foreign-Born Successes: Father of Feature Syndicate, Samuel Sidney McClure," by Margaret Bell.

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; March 24, 1949; Volume, Number , Page 6, Column 6. Column titled "Editor Dies; Was Former Resident Here."

The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; June 27, 1953; Volume , Number , Page 4, Columns 1-2. Column titled "Lewis E. Myers - A Tribute," by N. S. Amstutz.

© 2020 Steven R. Shook. All Rights Reserved.

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