John McClurkin

1792 - 1874

By: Roger Kemps © 2010


John McClurkin was born on May 4, 1792 in South Carolina. He died on July 12, 1874 in Oakdale, Illinois. (He and his descendants used the “in” spelling of the last name).


His parents were Thomas McClurken (1756 - 1845) and Elizabeth Smith (1767 – 1852). John and his parents were Scotch-Irish. His siblings were:


·      Archibald (November 11, 1794 – April 7, 1853)

·      Nancy (December 25, 1797 – November 9, 1857)

·      James (January 5, 1801 – October 8, 1875)

·      Thomas (March 31, 1805 – January 10, 1867)

·      David (June 22, 1811 – March 18, 1880)


John shows up in the 1800 Census of Chester County, South Carolina along with his parents, brother, Archibald and another male child (under 10), another male (15 – 25), sister, Nancy (under 10) and 4 slaves.


John shows up in the 1810 Census of Chester County, South Carolina (male 16 – 25) along with his parents, brothers, Archibald, James and Thomas, and sister, Nancy.


John married Elizabeth Park of South Carolina in 1811.


John was a soldier in the War of 1812. He was a private in Mean’s 1st Regiment of the South Carolina Militia (along with his brother, Archibald). His participation is further supported by two references in the “History of Oakdale Township,” described below.


John and Elizabeth were Covenanters. They had all nine of their children while living in Chester County South Carolina:


·      Rev. John Johnston was born on June 6, 1813 and died on February 28, 1907.

·      Rebecca Donnelly was born on December 15, 1814 and died on January 15, 1834.

·      Thomas was born on April 4, 1816 and died on February 6, 1898.

·      Esther Torrens was born on April 6, 1819 and died on May 14, 1843.

·      Rev. Hugh Park was born on November 6, 1821 and died on February 18, 1905.

·      James B was born on December 23, 1823 and died on March 17, 1901.

·      William was born on June 6, 1826 and died on November 24, 1861.

·      Archibald was born on October 26, 1828 and died on March 14, 1896.

·      Samuel Donnelly was born on March 24, 1834 and died on November 7, 1916.


John and Elizabeth show up in the 1820 Census of Chester County, South Carolina along with their four children: John Johnston, Thomas, Rebecca and Esther.


John and Elizabeth show up in the 1830 Census of Chester County, South Carolina along with seven of their eight children: Thomas, Hugh Park, James, William, Archibald, Rebecca and Esther. John Johnston is presumed to be attending college.


In 1830, John’s brothers, James and Thomas, moved their families to Washington County, Illinois. (For an explanation of the circumstances associated with the move, see Covenanters). In 1833, John and his father, Thomas, sold their land and moved their families to Washington County Illinois. (John and Elizabeth sold their land on September 19, 1833). They traveled for six weeks in a wagon with four horses while his father, mother and sister traveled in a one horse carriage. In 1835, John purchased 80 acres in Section 21 and 80 acres in Section 22, of what became Oakdale Township. John and Elizabeth purchased an additional 600 acres of property in Sections 14, 16, 21, 22, 29 and 30 in 1836, 1837 and 1839. For the details of their purchases, see John Elizabeth McClurken Land.pdf.


John and Elizabeth were Charter Members of the Oakdale Reformed Presbyterian Church that was formed in 1834. John was chosen to be one of the ruling elders. It is likely that they participated in the Underground Railroad, along with other members of the congregation, because of their disdain for slavery. John is mentioned on page 345 of “History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America” in association with the founding of the church in Elkhorn, Illinois, as follows: “Soon they were joined by others, and the congregation was organized in July 1834 at the house of Archibald Hood, with nineteen members. John and Thomas McClurkin and John Donnelly were chosen ruling elders.”


John is mentioned in “History of Oakdale Township” (see references):


·      Page 4; Arrived in 1833

·      Page 8; Arrived in 1833

·      Page 29; Elder of RP Church in Spring 1834

·      Page 33; RP Church Charter Member

·      Page 34; War of 1812 Service RP Church member

·      Page 43; Gave land to church 10/13/1858 (w/Elizabeth)

·      Page 45; War of 1812 grave decoration

·      Page 120; Section 14 1839-8-31

·      Page 121; Section 21 1835-5-26 & 1836-8-10 & 1839-8-31

·      Page 121; Section 22 1835-5-26 & 1837-5-29

·      Page 125; Section 29 1837-5-3

·      Page 125; Section 30 1837-5-3


John and Elizabeth show up in the 1840 Census of Washington County, Illinois, along with all nine of their children.


John and Elizabeth show up in the 1850 Census (District 20 of Washington County, Illinois), along with four of their children: James, William, Archibald and Samuel.


John and Elizabeth show up in the 1860 Census (Township 3 South, Range 4 West of Washington County, Illinois), living by themselves.


The 1870 Census (T3S, R4W, Washington County, Illinois) shows John and Elizabeth, living with their son, James, and his two children. In old age, John was blind and Elizabeth very deaf.


Elizabeth died on July 8, 1874. She is buried in Oakdale Cemetery (Old Section, Row 12, Grave 32). For an image of the headstone, see this link.


John died on July 12, 1874. He is buried in Oakdale Cemetery (Old Section, Row 12, Grave 31). For an image of the headstone, see this link.


His obituary provides a valuable reflection of his life and, especially, his faith. His religious legacy was carried on by his family. Six descendants were ministers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church: sons, John Johnston, and Hugh Park; grandsons, John Knox McClurkin, Thaddeus Zwingle McClurkin and Albert Witsius McClurkin; and great grandson: Walter Clyde McClurkin.


Reference sources and files:


1800_Thomas_McKlirkin.pdf  see line 2

1810_Thos_McKlirkin_Chester_SC.jpg see line 19


1820_ Thos_McKlirkin_Chester_SC .jpg  see line 24

1830_J_McClurken.jpg  see line 19

1840_James_McClurken.jpg  see line 8

1850_John_McClurkin.jpg  see line 22

1860_John_McClurkin.pdf  see line 20

1870_James_Sarah_McClurken.jpg see line 30

Oakdale Reformed Presbyterian Church

John Elizabeth McClurken Land.pdf


Genealogy Trails Washington County, Illinois Website

Oakdale Cemetery Website

History of Oakdale Township and references

Narratives of Randolph County.pdf  page 59





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Last updated  2/21/2011