Biography of Hon. Hugh Wilson McClellan


History of Columbia County, New York

By Captain Franklin Ellis

Published by Everts & Ensign

Philadelphia, PA



Page 346


        Hon. Hugh Wilson McClellan was born on the 12th of December, 1820, in Schodack, Rensselaer Co., N. Y.  He is the elder of two sons of Dr. Samuel and Laura (Cook) McClellan.

     Dr. McClellan was the son of Hugh McClellan, who was born in Currin, Ireland, in 1845, and who came to what is now Coleraine, Massachusetts, in 1749, with his father, Michael McClellan.  This Michael purchased a farm there, which was owned by his descendants until 1870.

     At the commencement of the Revolutionary war, Hugh McClellan raised a company of minute-men, and was chosen their captain.  This company was attached to the army of General Gates for some time before the battles which resulted in the capture of Burgoyne, and were employed as scouts.  In this capacity they captured a company of British which was returning to Burgoyne with news that they had found a practicable route for retreat, which capture was very important.

     After the war Captain McClellan became colonel, which rank he held at the time of the Shay Rebellion, in which he did man's duty on the side of the government while it lasted, and in securing pardon for the misguided men after its suppression.  He continued to represent his town in the general court (Legislature) until he refused to be again elected.

     Dr. McClellan was born in Coleraine, Massachusetts, on the 14th day of June, 1787.  He studied medicine with his elder brother, John McClellan, M.D., in Livingston, Columbia Co., N. Y., and became an eminent physician, removing to Schodack, Rensselaer county, in 1812, where he practiced till his death, in 1855.  Mr. McClellan survived him about ten years.

     The early life of Hugh Wilson McClellan was spent amidst superior education advantages.  After pursuing a thorough academical course he passed a successful examination, upon which he entered the junior class of Union College, where he was graduated in 1839, being less than nineteen years of age.  After graduation he immediately entered upon the study of law in the office of Hon. John Koon, of Troy, N. Y., at that time, afterwards of Albany, where he continued his studies three years, and was admitted to the bar as an attorney at law and solicitor in chancery in October, 1842.  He began practice in the village of Bethel, Ontario Co., N. Y., and continued there two years, connecting farming with his professional duties.  At the expiration of this time he removed to the town of Chatham and opened a law-office, where he continued in practice till 1856.  He then removed to Albany, in which city he practiced till 1866.  On the death of Horatio N. Wright, Esq., to whom he sold his office on moving to Albany, he returned and resumed his practice in Chatham, and has continued his successful career as a lawyer there ever since.

     He is thoroughly informed on all points of law and practice, and is remarkably self-reliant in his judgment and in the management of his causes.  He has been characterized throughout his extensive practice by thorough honesty and integrity, and has sought always to make the cause of his clients his own.  In bringing his causes to trial he has the merit of having them well prepared, of understanding all the points involved, and being able to present the facts and argument of the case in a strong and convincing light; he therefore convinces the judgment of the court, while he is not ineffective before a jury.  Judge McClellan has had an extensive practice both in Albany and Chatham, and has the reputation of being one of the most successful lawyers of this county, while his character for integrity is above reproach.

     In politics he is a Democrat, and has been honored by the people of his county with almost every office of trust in their gift; has been town clerk, town superintendent of schools, supervisor, etc., having declined the office of district attorney on account of his dislike to engage in criminal prosecutions.  In the fall of 1867 he was elected surrogate of the county, and held the office four years.  In 1877 he was elected county judge, which office he holds at the present time.

     January 17, 1846, he was united in married to Miss Emma F., daughter of George Marvin, of Albany, and has three children, two sons and one daughter.