During the year 1883 there came into Young county a youth destined, many years in the future, to play an efficient part in the mental and moral training of the county’s men and women in embryo and to assume, at the call of her voters, a prominent station in the conduct of the municipality’s affairs. He was an untutored, yet ambitious, boy, and industry and obedience to parental authority were his chief personal virtues. From the elements of the pure air and somewhat romantic surroundings an inspiration possessed him, after reaching his majority, to rise above the routine and monotony of the farm and to accomplish a mission in a higher and less laborious sphere. From the plow to the pupil’s desk, thence to the master of a public school and finally to the incumbency of the chief office in the gift of his county, mark briefly, the steps of George H. McLaren from a strong young farmer to the clerkship of Young county.
He represents a Scotch family which was founded in Lauderdale county, Alabama, probably in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, in which founding his grandfather, Andy McLaren, took a conspicuous part. The life of a planter seems to have had charms for him and be brought his large family of many sons and a few daughters to the banks of the Tennessee river. There James McLaren, our subject’s father, was born June 10, 1828, and passed to manhood under the influence of a county home and school.
When James McLaren married he chose a lady who was a native of the same county with himself, Miss Nannie Hough, a daughter of Colonel Joseph Hough, a planter and a large slave owner, whose ancestors settled in the south in her primitive and aristocratic days. Soon after his marriage Mr. McLaren migrated to Arkansas and located in Desarc, where he engaged in mercantile pursuits. A few years of residence in that climate told so upon the health of his wife that he felt impelled to seek another location, and he returned to his childhood scenes and home. In his native county he took up farming and carried it on somewhat extensively before the war. When the differences between the north and the south ripened into open hostility and a resort to arms he became a soldier of the Confederacy and followed its fortunes through the war. Much reduced in circumstances he returned again to the farm, rebuilt its old-time prestige as far as his ability permitted and was occupied with its cultivation until his death, March 25, 1883. The family of James and Nannie McLaren was a small one, and its childhood membership was reared to know and do the right. Of its personnel, Emma married M. J. Mabry and died in Tennessee in 1885; Ella, wife of W. L. Wheat, of Memphis, Texas; James L., a farmer, and Robert, a merchant of Young county, and George H. of this review. Two years subsequently to the death of her husband Mr. McLaren yielded to the wishes of her children, sold her old Alabama home and came to Texas. Her destination being Young county, she bought a farm on the Brazos river seven miles south of Graham, and her first home in the Lone Star state was established there. She was the guiding star and guardian angel of the family while it remained together, and her strong and willing sons furnished the sinews that did the work. On this farm she lived many years and only left it to preside over the home of her son. In recent years she was most sorrowfully afflicted with total blindness and she is yet, at the age of seventy, passing her decline amid the comforts of her son Robert’s home.
George H. McLaren, the subject of this notice, was born near St. Florian, Lauderdale county, Alabama, September 10, 1870, and, as has been suggested, was confined to the scenes of the home farm till he reached man’s estate. Every day of his youth provided its physical exercise and his body grew large and waxed strong, but lack of school opportunity worked to the detriment of his active mind. He seems to have been ever ambitious to accomplish results and when grown he seemed destined to be and remain a farmer. Being suddenly aroused in a full consciousness of his hampered condition and unpromising future he resolved to change the whole course of his career and sought the first step through education. Having already accumulated some property, he turned it into cash and its proceeds, with what he could acquire at various kinds of labor, later carried him through several terms of school.
He renewed his acquaintance with the common branches in two six months’ terms in Tonk Valley under the able instruction of Professor R. Lindsey, and many of his “big boy” companions of that school have become useful men and good citizens of Young county. He attended the summer normal in Graham, following that school, and, failing to pass successfully the teacher’s examination, he prepared himself for a year in Weatherford college. Not having sufficient funds to “see him through” the year, he laid his situation before R. E. Mabry, of Graham, who loaned him the cash shortage, and that school year was the most profitable of his student life. He made rapid progress in his studies, took part in the literary society and was chosen to represent it in contest in debate with another society, and was on the programme for debate at the commencement exercises of the college.
He spent three years in school in all, and easily obtained a certificate to teach. His first school was in Ming Bend, a few miles from home, and his forty dollars a month salary alone satisfied him that his investment in an education was a good one. He was an enthusiastic teacher, was original in method and tactful in management, and kept up an interest in the work. He encouraged literary work and independent effort, believing strongly in the practical good of the declamation and debate. He remained an active factor in school work until the autumn of 1900, when he was encouraged to make the race for county and district clerk, which he did and with success. He was sworn in November 19, 1900, was chosen for a second term in 1902 without opposition, and his service gave such satisfaction that he was the successful candidate in 1904.
April 19, 1903, Mr. McLaren was united in marriage, in Graham, with Miss Irene, daughter of Captain A. B. Gant. Captain Gant came to Young county early, was a surveyor and land-locator for many years and at one time represented Parker county in the legislature. He was a lawyer, a Confederate soldier from Tennessee and married Miss Julia Raines. Mrs. McLaren was born in Young county, and is the mother of Charles Gant McLaren, born in February, 1904. Mr. McLaren is a Chapter Mason, a Woodman and a Democrat.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 31-32.