We have a letter from Mr. C. A. (Bally) Morrow "down under" in West Australia. He asks that we not forget to write a story about old man John H. McClellan who was one of the outstanding stalwarts of Paradise. We will quote a few paragraphs from Bally's letter, which describes this old gentleman perfectly:
"Mac had a little white mustache and goatee, trimmed and twisted to the style of that time. He was always a soldier and a perfect gentleman, drunk or sober, in any company. He and I were the best of pals regardless of the age difference. I was about six or eight and he was some 60 years plus, but he was a friend to everybody."
Mac was getting well along in years when he came to this part of the country from Harqua Hala, Arizona, in about the year 1900. Having gone there from Colorado on account of quite a gold boom which was started by another prospector finding a gold nugget weighing in the neighborhood of 70 pounds. (Our memory might be at fault as to the weight, or the story might have been exaggerated before we heard it, but anyway it must have been exceptionally large.) The nugget was found right on the surface and both placer and lode mining produced a lot of gold for several years in that vicinity.
Quite a change has taken place since Mac left there. After the mines petered out, the town was practically abandoned for muchos anos and deteriorated to the point that it was almost a blank spot on the map, as it is located out in what is known as the Harqua Hala Desert, where water was just about the unknown element and firewood almost as scarce.
But with the advent of modern thinking, modern pumping machinery and some man, or group of men, with an overgrown imagination and the luck of the devil, it was discovered that the vast, level desert is underlaid by a fairly shallow stratum of pumpable irrigation water, so that now thousands of acres of cotton are growing where Mac used to wander around looking for his burros and gold nuggets.
He was born in Missouri, date unknown, but evidently some years before the Civil War, as he frequently talked of events that occurred about that time but never mentioned having participated in the war.
Most of his stories about mining and prospecting in and around Cripple Creek, Colorado, and of occurrences while he was an Indian Scout or a member of an Army pack train. He was no windbag or braggart, so his stories really made for good listening, especially to all we kids. The grown-ups generally listened quite attentively, too, and seldom ever tried to "trump" any of his ace stories. He was never heard to lift his voice in anger or to argue. When the copper mining industry began to soar right after the turn of the century, he and Cap Burns were holding a group of mining claims in what is now known as Hospital Canyon. Their property was near the Chiricahua Development Company, and soon after it started big development work Mac sold his interest to Cap Burns and an easterner by the name of Hammond for a good price and lived well on the proceeds for a good many years.
Like most of the old boys of that time (and this time, too, of that matter) he liked his liquor but seldom got drunk. One of his favorite stories was about him and another mule packer being caught in a blizzard up in Colorado and snowed in for several days. They had one mule load of liquor and one load of HHH linament. He said they drank the liquor right away but that it took quite a bit longer to drink all the linament. That brand of linament had a high alcohol content and some other ingredients which would raise a blister pronto when rubbed on the skin of even a mule.
During the time old Mac was in the money, he lived pretty high on the hog by the standards of those days. He built himself a nice three-roomed house and a good barn and corral for his horse and burro. he was proud of his animals and took excellent care
of them. He would lend his burro, which he called Balaam, to some f
avorite kid once in a while, but the horse was never ridden by anyone else ex
cept on one occasion:
When William Noland was a
ly shot and Frank Noland foundered his horse coming to Parad
ise for the doctor, Mac lent him his horse to ride back home, which was then at the old Buckelew Ranch, a couple of miles
north of Nipper Peak.
If he had a family or was ever married no one knew about it. The only mention he ever made of his relatives was to the effect that his grandfather or uncle was the inventor of the McClellan saddle which was used almost exclusively by the U. S. Army for many years. Like most of the old Paradise residents who had no family, he died in the county hospital at Douglas and is buried in the Douglas Cemetery.