Hillsborough County, Florida

John Lane McClelland

1847 - 1922

John Lane McClelland was born in Hillsborough County, Florida on 3 December 1847 to John and Winnie McClelland. His birthdate is shown on his headstone as 3 December 1848, however, in other cited records it is shown as 3 December 1847. His parents had moved down from north Florida about 1846 settling in that part of Hillsborough County which became Polk County in 1861.

In Polk County, Florida, John was married to Elizabeth Hunter on 25 December 1870 by J. M. Hayman, Minister of the Gospel. Elizabeth was born in Florida on 4 January 1847, the daughter of John A. and Mary Hunter. The McClellands have five children, all sons:

1. Steven Washington McClelland, born 7 February 1874; died 20 July 1950; married Effie McInnis, 25 December 1892.

2. James Lawrence McClelland, born 3 December 1876; died 12 July 1952; married Rose Rodgers, 21 March 1901.

3. John Henry McClelland, born 20 January 1878; died 10 September 1939; married 1st, Sallie Forbes, 25 March 1900; married 2nd, Donna Odum, 16 May 1906.

4. Gabriel Jackson McClelland, born 27 July 1881; died 26 February 1936; married Birda Murrell, 30 June 1907.

5. Dennis McClelland, born 19 August 1882; died 15 November 1950; married Eva Hollingsworth.

The John L. McClellands raised a foster daughter, Mittie, whose parents are unknown at this time. She was born 1 March 1891, married Hardy English in Polk County on 31 March 1911 and died 18 July 1962.

John's first wife, Elizabeth died 4 March 1906 of gastric carcinoma and is buried in Gapway Cemetery, southeast of Lakeland, Florida. After her death he was married to Mary D. Loper, 17 April 1909 in Hillsborough County by C. L. Jackson, J. P. After her death, he married Mrs. Martha Futch of Wauchula, Florida on 13 October 1919 by Kelsey Blanton, C. J. in Polk County. There were no children from the last two marriages.

At the young age of fifteen years John Lane McClelland enlisted as a private at Tampa, Florida in Captain John T. Lesley's Company, Munnerlyn's Battalion (also known as First Battalion, Florida Cavalry) in the Confederate Army. In the book, Soldiers of Florida, this remark appears opposite his name, "Discharged under age; reenlisted Captain Hendry's Company". He was honorably discharged 9 May 1865 at the close of the war at Tampa, Florida. The Archives of Florida do not have official records of his service. However, he did give sworn evidence of service to qualify under Florida's Confederate Soldiers Pension Act of 1909, as he applied for a pension, 30 October 1909 and was awarded a pension of one hundred dollars per year.

Under provisions of Federal Homestead Act of 24 April 1820 he applied for about 1884 and was granted, 15 July 1889, a tract of land, south of Lakeland, containing one hundred twenty-three acres. He resided on this homestead where he raised livestock, crops and citrus until his death.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, joined the Gapway Baptist Church which was organized in 1875 near Sparling Station, southeast of Lakeland at the present Gapway Cemetery site. In 1887 he was elected Church clerk and on several occasions served as moderator of Church conferences (business sessions). The next year, January 1888 he was elected unanimously by the Church as a deacon. About three years later the good relations between him and the membership deteriorated as disclosed in the Church minutes and described in the Church history. "As a storm developed mdash; mdash; as so often happens in Churches. Mr. John L. McClelland, who had served as clerk, brought some accusation against the pastor (Rev. R. T. Caddin)." The specific nature of the accusation was not recorded in the minutes, except this general reference, "Bro. Caddin stated that Bro. John McClelland and Brother Shade Reynolds said he had not preached the gospel this year (1890)." It appears in the minutes after several "heated" Church conferences the differences between the parties was not resolved as minutes on January 1891 read: "Fellowship was withdrawn from Bro. J. L. McClelland because he brought false accusation against the pastor and failed to prove it." Minutes continue, "Sister (Elizabeth) McClelland called for her letter which was granted." Also at this time, "Bro. Caddin resigned the pastoral care of the Church." The Church records do not show how time "healed" the feelings or resolved the differences, but the McClellands rejoined the Church prior to 1895, and he again resumed a leadership role as a clerk and a deacon. He was proud of the fact that later, on 16 November 1907 his son, Steven W. McClelland, was ordained a minister by this Church. Rev. McClelland was pastor of this Church three times, 1909-10, 1928-29 and 1934-43 ad became a widely known circuit-rider evangelist in both Polk and Hillsborough Counties.

The following statements from his obituary describe, the compiler believes fairly accurately, the kind of pioneer citizen John Lane McClelland was: "He was keenly interested in the progress of his community and was president of the Good Roads Association formed ten years ago (1912) to secure good roads for triangle between Lakeland, Mulberry and Bartow.

"His keen intelligence and native oratorical ability were sources of delight to his friends while his straightforwardness and upright character won sincere admiration and affection of all who knew him."

The compiler would like to relate this story which was told about John. It was his practice while driving his horse and buggy through the countryside, on seeing a friend to stand up and wave at him or her. Afterwards while learning to drive a Model T Ford car, he forgot and did the same thing again and ran into the road ditch mdash; mdash; ending his car driving.

In the twillight years of his life he made a will, 8 October 1918, leaving all his property to his five sons except a bedstead, feather bed, two pillows and two sheets which he bequeathed to his foster daughter, Mittie (McClelland) English. He named his oldes son, Steven, as executor of the estate.

SOURCES: Marriage licenses, Clerk of Court, Polk County; death certificate, Department of HRS, Jacksonville, Florida; Hillsborough County marriages; Soldiers Pension Claim (1090) #5234, Florida Archives, Tallahassee, Florida; Soldiers of Florida, 1903, page 314-5; land patent, USA, #11378, Registrar Land Office, Gainesville, Florida, 15 July 1891, recorded Volume 20, p. 406, Clerk Court, Polk County, Florida; "History of Gapway Baptist Church", 1975, Lakeland, Florida; Courrier Informant, 14 July 1922, Bartow, Florida; Probate Judge's Office, Polk County, Florida.

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