Mary Elizabeth (Wise) McClelland Born: 13 September 1836 in Elizabethtown, New York

Died: 30 August 1918 in Saranac Lake, New York, age 82 yrs.

Buried: Pine Ridge Cemetery

Married: James McClelland about 1850


Mary Elizabeth Wise McClelland was one of the early settlers of Saranac Lake and the second school teacher in the district. She was also a contributor to local newspapers1 for happenings in Saranac Lake and she owned the land that is now known as French Hill. Her ownership likely accounts for the family names of James, Virginia, William and McClelland streets on French Hill.


The Malone Farmer, Adirondacks, New York

Wednesday September 11, 1918

Mrs. Mary E. McClelland, who died at her home in Saranac Lake last week was a noble woman who, for more than 60 years was an influential factor in all phases of community uplift and benefit in that village. When she settled there it was little more than a logging camp and contained but seven families. She was the second teacher in the schools of the place and laid the groundwork for splendid citizenship in her pupils. In the Methodist church and W.C.T.U. she was among the foremost acting as president of the latter for many years. Before Saranac Lake had newspapers of it’s own she acted as a special correspondent from time to time for other papers entering the community and was for some time on the [newspaper, the Malone] Farmer’s staff of correspondents. The farm left by her husband who died 21 years ago extended over what is now a large part of the thrifty Adirondack village. Her five surviving children are widely scattered, only one, Miss Lena McClelland, being left at Saranac Lake.

August 30, 1918

Community Loses Pioneer Resident

Mrs. Mary E. McClelland passes away at age of 81

Here over 60 Years

Only seven houses in Village When She Took Up Her Residence 66 Years Ago

Was Able to Teach School Where Others Had Failed

Wrote Interesting Articles Before Newspapers Were Established Here and

During Her Long Life Was A Factor in All Phases of Community Uplift.

In the death of Mrs. Mary E. McClelland, aged 81, which occurred at her home No. 172 Broadway, Friday night, at 7:30 o’clock, Saranac Lake lost another of its pioneer citizens and a resident who for more than sixty years was a powerful factor in all phases of community uplift and betterment.

Mrs. McClelland was born at Elizabethtown, Sept. 13, 1836, the daughter of the late Roswell and Mary Demon Wise. At the age of 15 she was married to James McClelland, who died here 21 years ago. Shortly after her marriage, Mrs. McClelland came to Saranac Lake, and with the exception of four or five years during which she resided in Canada, she had lived here until her death.

When Mrs. McClelland came to Saranac Lake the village was then a very small hamlet. It was little more than a logging camp. Seven families comprised its entire population. The inhabitants led the rough woods life. Mrs. McClelland, who was the second teacher in the community, brought with her a kindliness and a keen insight into human nature that won the respect and the friendship of the youths and she was able to teach the rudiments of education and to lay the groundwork for the fine community spirit that quickly developed. Many of her pupils became prominent citizens and accumulated considerable wealth. She taught two years in the red schoolhouse on Lake Street. She was successful because of her remarkable patience and her unfailing good nature which characterized her through life and won for her the endearment of hundreds of friends. This kindliness of spirit which made her a loving wife and mother, was omnipresent and through it was wielded a powerful influence for good in religious and community movements.

Mrs. McClelland was naturally of a literary turn of mind and during her life she contributed many interesting articles to the press. When she came here there were no newspapers, but papers from other parts of the Northern New York circulated here and Mrs. McClelland was the local correspondent. She wasn’t a correspondent in the sense of writing day to day news but devoted most of her time to articles of splendid literary merit and carrying always an inspiring note. During the Civil War she wrote many poems and clippings of what she had written were voluminous. These were destroyed in a fire a few years ago. Mrs. McClelland retained a remarkable grasp of her mental faculties until her death and was able to recite from memory 90 poems.

Mrs. McClelland was active in church circles, being deeply religious but without fanaticism. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was always at the forefront in Sunday School activities and the organization of other church societies. She was for many years the president of W.T.C.U. attended in a drinking fountain erected near the St. Regis Hotel on Bloomingdale Avenue, but it is said the fountain was destroyed by saloonkeepers whom she opposed.

Mrs. McClelland’s property extended over a large part of the village.

There were 13 children in the family, of whom the following survive; Mrs. Frank S. Barton and Mrs. George W. Walton of Salem, Oregon, Fred S. McClelland of Whitinsville, Mass., Mrs. Herbert Hazelwood of Mattawa, Ontario and Miss Lena C. McClelland of Saranac Lake, besides one brother, George W. Wise of Saranac Lake.

The funeral was held from the Methodist Episcopal Church Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock. Rev. Alexander McKinley, pastor of the church officiating. There was a profusion of beautiful flowers. Members of the Women’s Relief Corp attended in a body. A special program of music was given, two hymns, “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere” and “Abide With Me” being beautifully sung by a mixed quartet. The pall bearers were her grandsons, Thomas, Charles, and Gaylord McClelland, Paul Walton, Frank Washburn and George Quick. Burial was in Pine Ridge Cemetery.

—Transcribed by Michele Tucker of the William Chapman White Room, Saranac Lake Free Library, 4/11/2006, from Alfred L. Donaldson's Scrapbook 8.

Last Will and Testament:


I, Mary E. McClelland of the Village of Saranac Lake, in the County of Franklin and State of New York, being of sound mind and memory, do make, publish and declare this my last Will and Testament, in the manner following, that is to say:

1st. I direct that my just debts and funeral expenses be paid.

2nd. I give and bequeath to Christ's Mission, No. 331 W. 57th St., New York City, N.Y., the sum of Fifty ($50) Dollars.

3rd. I give and bequeath to the New York State Woman's Christian Temperance Union the sum of Fifty ($50) Dollars.

4th. I give and bequeath to the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Church the sum of Fifty ($50) Dollars.

5th. I give and bequeath to the Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Church the sum of Fifty ($50) Dollars.

6th. I give and bequeath to my daughters, Susan E. Walton and Agnes R. Hazelwood, the sum of Three Hundred ($300) Dollars, the same to be divided equally between them share and share alike.

7th. All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, real and personal, I give, devise and bequeath to my children, William McClelland, Susan E. Walton, Martha E. Washburn, Fred S. McClelland, Eliza L. Selfridge, Agnes R. Hazelwood, Clara V. Barton and Lena C. McClelland, the same to be divided equally between them share and share alike; provided, however, that if any of my said children shall predecease me leaving lawful issue then and in that event such issue shall together take the share its parents would have taken under this Will had such parent survived me.

8th. I give and empower my executors hereinafter mentioned the right to sell and transfer any and all real estate of which I may die seized, and to give to the purchaser, or purchasers thereof, a good sufficient deed for the same.

Lastly, I hereby appoint, Lena C. McClelland and Robert E. Selfridge, both of Saranac Lake, N.Y., executors of this, my last Will and Testament: hereby revoking all former Wills by me made.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto subscribed my name the 9th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eleven.

Mary E. McClelland (L.S.)

We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, DO CERTIFY, that on the 9th day of June, 1911, Mary E. McClelland the testator, subscribed her name to this instrument in our presence and in the presence of each of us, and at the same time, in our presence and hearing, declared the same to be her last Will and Testament, and requested to us, and each of us, to sign our names thereto as witnesses to the execution thereof, which we hereby do in the presence of the testator and of each other, on the said date, and write opposite our names our respective places of residence.

William B. Scott Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Addis K. Botsford Saranac Lake, N.Y.


I, Mary E. McClelland, of Saranac Lake, Town of Harrietstown, County of Franklin and State of New York, having made my last WILL and TESTAMENT, bearing date the 9th of June, 1911, do now make this codicil to be taken as part of the same. First:- I ratify and confirm said Will in every respect except so far as any part of it is inconsistent with the Codicil. Second:- I Give and Devise to my daughter, Lena C. McClelland, my dwelling house where I now live, together with the garden and door yard appurtenant to the same, and to her heirs and assigns forever; subject, however, to the payment of $500 towards a mortgage of $1500 against said property, the balance of $1000 to be paid out of my estate; this to be in addition to her share of the residue of the property in consideration of her loving care of me, and of her uncle, George W. Wise, in these years last past. IN WITNESS THEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 10th day of August, 1918.

Mary E. McClelland (L.S.)

THE FOREGOING INSTRUMENT was at the date thereof signed, sealed, published and declared by the said testator, Mary E. McClelland, as and for a Codicil to her last Will and Testament, in the prescence of us, who, at her request, in her presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.

Nora H. Buckley who resides at Saranac Lake, N.Y.

4 Garden St.

Harold P. Buckely, who resides at Saranac Lake, N.Y.

Above Will and Codicil admitted to the probate February 5th, 1919.

McClelland Family with Mary E. (Wise) McClelland in centre, William McClelland behind her left shoulder. Lena McClelland to Mary's right, Clara (McClelland) Barton behind Lena's right shoulder. (Unsure of who others are. If you have an idea, please advise.)

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 25, 1909 [a fragmentary article from the Donaldson scrapbook]


Another Interesting Chapter in Saranac Lake's Early History.


Mrs. McClelland Writes of Some of the Famous Men and Women Who Enjoyed the Delights of the Adi-rondacks When the Region Was Far More of a Wilderness Than It Now Is—Pioneers of Saranac Lake

Editor, Adirondack Enterprise:

While reading in "The Enterprise" of the wonderful growth of Saranac Lake since 1880, it almost seemed like a fairy tale. But there was something back of 1880 that gets small recognition, although to some that date may seem almost like the beginning of things. It was not so. In the Enterprise of March 11, 1909, the number of houses in Saranac Lake in 1880 was given as twelve. There is a mistake somewhere. There were fifty or more at that time. It is a little difficult, it is true, to be exact to the number without having some data to work from. The growth of the village has been so rapid in recent years that it is easy perhaps to imagine a less number than there really was at a given time.

Going back to 1856 the writer can speak with more confidence. At that time the following families had homes within the present bounds of the village: Alanson Neal, Milote Baker, Ensine Miller, Hilyer Miller, Jacob Moody, Smith Moody, Daniel Moody, Curtis Moody, Captain Miller, James Daley, James McClelland, Henry Douglas, W. F. Martin, Isaac Brown, Mr. Chase, Theodore Clemons, Harvey Moody, Moses Goodrich, Rodney Maloney, Newell Reynolds, Alvah Ring, Mr. Averill and Homer Miller.

There were no tenement houses; no "congested districts." To be sure many of the houses were built of logs, as befits the pioneer settlers in the wilderness, as do sod houses the dwellers on the prairie.

Brave, hardy and independent were the early settlers of this region, and they prepared the way for the present Saranac Lake. Jacob Moody, and Captain Miller were the first settlers, and they raised large families, and their descendants are still with us. In 1856 there were two schools, in one of which there were 12 pupils registered; in the other,

. . .

name of "Martin's" famous. Marion Harland (Mrs. Terhune) came with impaired health, and while recuperating laid the plan of her best stories in this vicinity. Susan B. Anthony came to rest from her labors.

In the days now spoken of eminent clergymen from New York and other cities would sometimes consent to preach in hotel parlors. Notice would be given through the neighborhood, and the parlors would be filled by the "natives" who thus enjoyed hearing many eloquent speakers, whom otherwise they could never hope to hear.

Henry M. Pease spoke of his work at Five Points Mission, then in its early struggles; Henry N. Cobb and many others were among them. Theodore L. Cuyler was one who was an especial favorite with his hearers. And when their was not an instrument of music in nearly every home as now, the guides and their families were often invited to Martin's by some one who liked to give as well as receive pleasure. Chief among these young men, Harry Brown retains his place in the memory of those who enjoyed his songs and the good times his hearers had. But if living he is no longer Young Harry Brown.

These happenings are mentioned to show the relations that then existed between the residents and the tourists, or at least, very many of them. Baker's first, then soon after, Martin's Hotel was opened to them, and their houses were full during the season, and they took the principal part of this class of travelers. It is needless to say that suites of rooms were not then in vogue in the Adirondacks.

While the tourists named were the most of them, visitors later than 1854 or 1855, yet they were all long before 1880. Only a name here and there in the long list recurs to memory, yet they show that Saranac Lake has had an existence for some time.

We had no cement sidewalks, no paved streets, no sewers or electric lights, no water systems, except Nature's own, which was sufficient in quantity if a little inconvenient. Brave, hardy, and independent, the people of Saranac Lake surely were, and happy and healthy too. If doctors were hard to be gotten, they were seldom needed. We are not of those who think the old must necessarily be better than the new order of things, but wish to show that to the earlier settlers of the place belongs the credit of preparing a way in the wilderness. The . . .



1. See her article on Pioneer Days, for example