Tag Archives: Nathan Coffey McClain

Nathan McClain, Nebraska, early 1880s

Today’s photo was not originally part of the family archive. It was generously donated to the archive by my third cousin, Terri Shelby. Terri is a descendant of John Arthur McClain, Great Grandma Mary McClain’s younger brother. (John Arthur was Deo McClain’s father, if that helps at all. But Terri is a descendant of Deo’s older brother Leonard.)

This photo was apparently in the possession of John Arthur McClain and his wife Julia, and was passed down to Terri. John and Julia and children moved from Nebraska to Albany about 1903, and stayed for a time with “Uncle Nate” and Aunt Mary before finding a place of their own. Sometime before 1910, though, they moved to Salem, where they remained the rest of their lives. However their three oldest children (Leonard, Daisy and Oral) appear to have remained in Albany at that point. According to Aunt Betty McClain Scott, it was Oral McClain who introduced Grandpa Arthur McClain and Grandma Addie Hammel, as I mentioned in a previous post.

But that is just background to the provenance of this photo. When I “met” Terri via email recently and she learned I was a descendant of Nathan McClain, she wanted me to have this photo of him, which I was thrilled to accept.

The photo is in wonderful condition, as you can see. Terri didn’t have any information about when or where it was taken. Nathan is significantly younger here than in this photo from a previous post, for instance. Surprisingly, he was only about 46 in that photo, though he looks older.

Let’s consider some milestones in Nathan’s life to try to guess his age in this photo. He was 17 when his father Chesley died. He was 24 when he married Mary. He was 31 when they moved from Illinois to Cass County, Nebraska. He was 36 when the moved from Cass County to the homestead near Paxton. He was 53 when they moved to Oregon, 62 when they moved to North Albany, and just short of 70 when he died.

I’m going to say he is likely older than 31 in the above photo, which would mean it was taken in Nebraska rather than Illinois. I’m also going to say he is more than ten years younger than in the 1895 photo I referred to above. This would mean it was likely taken in Cass County, Nebraska, when he was in his early thirties. (Grandpa Arthur McClain was born during the time they were in Cass County.) Feel free to form your own opinion about how old Nathan is above. His appearance is definitely older than early thirties, but one has to consider that he was only 46 in the 1895 photo, and looks a lot older than that (to me, anyway).

Of all the features of this photo, I am most impressed by his hands. They have obviously seen a lot of work.

I’m so grateful to Terri for not just sharing a digital version of this photo with me, but actually sending me the physical photograph.