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RG3775.AM:  Washington Lafayette McClary, 1853(?)-1938

Diaries, etc.:  1892-1932

Stockville, Frontier County; Lewellen, Garden County, Neb.; and Lac La Hache, British Columbia, Canada:  Farmer, Livestockman

Size:  1.0 cu.ft.


W.L. McClary, son of Joshua and Eliza Cobb McClary, was born in Woodsfield, Monroe County, Ohio. Family records show that he was born on April 2, 1851, but McClary’s own writings state his birthdate as April 18, 1853.

Both of McClary’s parents had died by the time he was nine years old. He was raised by an older sister until he left home at the age of thirteen and made his way to St. Joseph, Missouri. McClary got his first job somewhere in Kansas working as a stableboy at a pony express station. He began traveling throughout the Midwest, spending time in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska, working as a buffalo hunter, trapper, and guide. During this time he was adopted by the Sioux as a “blood member.” He read, spoke, and wrote their language fluently and claimed a friendship with Red Cloud.

Sometime in the 1870s, W.L. McClary became a resident of newly organized Frontier County, Nebraska. During his residency in western Nebraska, he acted as (or with) a purchasing agent for a Chicago packing plant, buying and shipping cattle to market. It is said that he once won a wager of two thousand dollars by organizing and conducting a buffalo drive that resulted in two boxcars being loaded and shipped to Chicago. He eventually had his own farm and ranch in Stockville, Nebraska.

W.L. McClary was married for the first time in 1884 to Anne Ballantine, widow of David C. Ballantine. She died a year later probably in childbirth. McClary was married to Lillian J. Rummel in 1885. They were divorced in 1892. Two years later he married Jeannette Bannerman. This marriage produced five children.

Records show that in 1904 the McClarys were still residents of Stockville. By 1909, the family had removed to Lewellen, Garden County, Nebraska. In 1913 the McClary’s resettled in Lac La Hache, British Columbia, Canada, where W.L. McClary died in 1938. Jeanette McClary died there in 1946.


This collection consists of one box of manuscript material arranged in two series: 1) Diaries, 1892-1932; and 2) Biographical and genealogical material.

This material relates to W.L. McClary’s life as a farmer in Frontier and Garden Counties, Nebraska, and in British Columbia, Canada. Biographical information about his early life is also provided, as is genealogical material about the McClary family.

The bulk of this collection is comprised of the Diaries 1892-1932, of Series One. Over a forty-year period, these diaries cover a multitude of subjects, but most of the entries relate to farming in western Nebraska and, later Canada. Other topics discussed include weather conditions, church meetings, cases being heard at the District Court, travels to nearby towns (e.g. Indianola and McCook), illnesses, business dealings, neighbors and visitors, his boyhood in Ohio (particularly Volume 2), the quantity, cost, and profit of crops planted, hunting and trapping, his ice business, fraternal organizations in Stockville, politics and elections, upbringing of children, and resettlement in Canada. Entries are sometimes made by McClary’s wife, Jeannette, or by the children. Several volumes also contain some account records, but these entries refer to an earlier time period than the diary recordings. Also, Volume 1 contains many entries written in McClary’s private code. These entries of his private thoughts are not deciphered, but they presumably are related to the break-up of his marriage in 1892.

Series Two consists of Biographical and Genealogical material about W.L. McClary and the McClary family. Census recordings are included as well as additional information provided by Norman H. McClary, son of W.L. McClary.


Series 1 – Diaries, 1892-1932

Box 1


  1. 1892, Aug. – 1893, Feb.; 1898, Nov. 12 – 1899, Feb. (see oversize)

  2. 1893, Mar. – Oct.

  3. 1897, Sept. 10 – Nov. 27

  4. 1899, Aug. 14 – 1900, May 18

  5. 1900, May 19 – 1901, May 16

  6. 1902

  7. 1903, Jan. – 1904, Feb.

  8. 1904, Mar. – 1905, Apr. 24

  9. 1905, May – Dec. 4; 1928, Sept. – Dec. 20

  10. 1910, Mar. – 1911, May 2 and 1911, June – Aug. (on bottom of pages that had been blank) (see oversize)

  11. 1911, Aug. 16 – 1912, May

  12. 1912, June – 1913, Dec.

  13. 1914, Jan. – 1915, July 3

  14. 1914, Mar. 5 – May 13 and 1915, July – 1916, May

  15. 1916, June – Oct.

  16. 1919, Oct. – 1920, July 28

  17. 1920, July 21 – Oct. 16 and 1921, July – Sept.

  18. 1920, Nov. – 1921, July 9

  19. 1922, Aug. 20 – 1923, Feb. 23

  20. 1923, Feb. 24 – Sept. 29 (September 24-29, 1923 on page 2; February 24 – September 22, 1923 continues chronologically)

  21. 1923, Oct. – 1924, Sept.13

  22. 1924, Sept. 14 – 1925, Aug. 15

  23. 1926, Aug. 14 – Nov. 8

  24. 1928, July 12 – July 28 and 1926, Nov. 15 – 1928, July 11

  25. 1929

  26. 1932

Series 2 – Biographical and genealogical material

  1. Includes census recordings and information provided by Norman H. McClary, son of W.L. McClary



Agricultural laborers — Nebraska

Agriculture — Nebraska — Frontier County

Agriculture — Nebraska — Garden County

Farm life — Canada

Farm life — Nebraska — Frontier County

Farm life — Nebraska — Garden County

Frontier County (Neb.) — History

Garden County (Neb.) — History

Lewellen (Neb.) — History

McClary Family

McClary, Washington Lafayette, 1853(?)-1938

Stockville (Neb.) — History


01-24-2007   Revised TMM/tmm