David McLanahan was for many years a foremost agriculturist and public-spirited citizen of Sacramento county, and his death on November 16, 1894, when in his seventieth year, meant a personal loss in the citizenship of the county and in the sum total of ability and character which are always the most valuable assets of any community.

The McLanahan family was of Scotch origin, but came to Pennsylvania in early colonial times. Two McLanahan brothers served in the Revolutionary war. Soon after the close of the war, John McLanahan settled in Indiana county, Pennsylvania, and married Nancy Ferris, a native of the same state. Three sons and two daughters were born to them. James, the youngest, war born in 1794. In 1822 he married Susan Blacley, a ntive of that part of Pennsylvania, and they settled on a farm near Lebanon, Indiana county. Three sons and three daughters were born to them. David, the subject of this sketch, was born in 1825. About 1837 the family moved to Ohio. Mr. McLanahan grew up at a period when education was not so easily obtained as at the present day, and the principal training which he received in his youth was in the practical details of farm life. He also learned the trade of carpenter, and followed it for some years.

He first crossed the plains to California in 1852, and from that time until his death his permanent home was in this state, although he several times returned to the east, either by the plains or the isthmus route. On some of these eastern trips he brought horses to the coast and disposed of them at good prices. He settled on the ranch which is now the home of his widow, in 1866, and was engaged in farming and stock-raising there until the time of his death. Public-spirited and interested in all that concerned the welfare of his locality, he helped found the Mokelumne school district and was one of its trustees for many years. In politics he was a Democrat. During his first years in this state he ahd followed his trade to some extent, and also did freighting and gold mining. He was one of the most successful farmers of Sacramento county, and at one time his landed possessions amounted to two thousand acres. He gave much care and attention to the beautifying of his home, and the McLanahan ranch still remains one of the charming and valuable places of the entire locality.

Mr. McLanahan went east in 1864, and at Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, on March 24th of that year, was married to Miss Jennie Harkins, who was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a daughter of William and Catherine (McAuley) Harkins. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. McLanahan: Mamie, the wife of Thomas Elder, of Phoenix, Arizona; Anna, at home; Katie, who is deceased; and James D., at home.

Mr. McLanahan was a Democrat in politics. The home ranch where Mrs. McLanahan resides is opposite the Mokelumne schools, and for a number of years she has served as a member, and much of the time as clerk, of this school district, thus continuing the interest in educational and other community matters which was always so deeply felt by her husband.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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