|Born: about 1801 in Northern Ireland Died: 1865 Beragh, Tyrone County, N. Ireland
|Omagh, County Tyrone, Ireland
|Joseph McClain was born in Northern Ireland about 1801.
Joseph married Jane Ellison about 1835. They lived in Beragh, County Tyrone, Ireland, where Joseph
farmed 21 acres on Radergan Road south of Kilcam Road as a tenant farmer to the Earl of Belmore.
|Historic print of an Irish Common Man
|Three McClain sons were experienced in the stonemason trade like their father. Eldest son Arthur spoke for them when solicited about a stone railway bridge over the
Ohio River. The story of how they saved the bridge was chronicled in the book "Eliza And The House That Jack Built" by Albert Wass. According to this account Jacob
Heatherington was tasked with contracting the stone railway bridge. When an old stonemason that Jacob respected, Zeb McMahon, told Jacob that the early stone
supports would crumble, Zeb recommended the McClain brothers:
"...three young men came down from the hill to the abandoned site, looked it over, discussed it among themselves... the oldest asked...'Mr. Heatherington? My name is
Arthur McClain, stonemason I am... and willing to contract that railroad bridge if we can come to an understanding. Before we start talking there's one thing I have to say...
all that's standing must be taken down'. Jacob stared at him, shocked. 'Taken down? Just like that? Three months' work?' 'Sorry Mr. Heatherington. We know your
company is losing money but we can't help that. We looked it over and Mr. McMahon's right. Those columns won't stand up to the weight and vibration. My brothers and I
can't take the responsibility for what's there. It has to come down before we touch one single stone.' In June the three McClain brothers Arthur, William and George went
to work. The McClain brothers were kept on the job ...for three years. Slowly and steadily the bridge was put together, numbered stone by numbered stone. By the time it
was finished the stone quary on Moss Run had been bought by the McClains and it was called the McClain Quarry. They settled down and built their homes below the
quarry naming the place McClainville....[When the bridge was finished] Arthur McClain insisted the entire Board of the railroad company be with him under the bridge on
the Ohio side when the first train came across. There were the gentlemen, all dressed for celebration, under the third column, looking up uneasily when the heavy
locomotive came huffing and puffing and rattled across overhead, pulling a long chain of passenger and freight cars. Even the ground seemed to be trembling and
shaking around them when Arthur McClain calmly laid his big hand on the side of the support column he and his brothers had built. 'Gentlemen' he told them, 'lay your
hands against the stone as I do!' Guardedly they followed his suggestion. 'Do you feel anything?' McClain asked them. The good gentlemen in their black suits looked at
each other. In spite of the heavy rattle above, the shaking of the beams, the pounding of the wheels on the connecting rails, there was not even a slight vibration in the
stone structure. 'This bridge will stand for a hundred years' Arthur McClain said proudly. 'You have my word gentlemen'."
|Joseph was a skilled stonemason and taught his sons the trade.
Many fine stone buildings can be found in nearby Omagh, the capital of County Tyrone.
|Joseph died in Ireland in 1867. With few prospect at home, the older sons had begun emigrating to America beginning
about 1860 where they settled on the Ohio River near the busy transport hub of the Wheeling/Bellaire area.
Joseph's widow Jane came to live with her sons about 1871 and died in Bellaire in 1882.
|Joseph and Jane had 9 children. Though Joseph was a skilled stonemason,
things were very bad in Ireland in the mid to late 1800s.
The Great Hunger - An Gorta Mo'r - devasted Ireland from 1845 through 1852.
Over 1.5 million Irish died and another 2 million fled Ireland, decimating the population
by about one quarter.
It was during this period that most of Joseph and Jane's children were born.
It is a testament to Joseph's abilities that most of his children
survived the Famine years. There are two children who may have perished during that time
- two girls, Rose and Kathleen.
|The Great Hunger - An Gorta Mo'r - The Irish Potato Famine
|Countryside around Beragh
|"The Stone Cutter" by Jean-FranÃ§ois Millet
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HOWEVER, you may NOT share with others nor post copies of the photos or information to other repositories
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