Guide to the Josiah McClain family papers

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information


Collection Overview +/-

Title: Josiah McClain family papers
Dates: 1870-1948 (inclusive)
Collection Number: MSS-021
Summary: This collection consists of the papers of Josiah McClain and his family. Josiah McClain served as the first minister of Third Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah from 1892-1906. The materials consists of photocopies of articles, autograph albums, Bible records, biographical files, clippings, correspondence, deeds, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks, dating from 1870-1948.
Repository: Westminster College, Giovale Library
1840 South 1300 East
Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
Phone: (801) 832-2250

Collection Inventory +/-

box 1, folder 1: Articles
box 1, folder 2: Autograph book from Princeton (1870-1871)
box 1, folder 3: Autograph book from Princeton (1871-1872)
box 1, folder 4: Bible records--Notes and news clippings
box 1, folder 5: Bible (Teacher's Bible)--Notes
box 1, folder 6: Biographical data
box 1, folder 7: Correspondence
box 1, folder 8: Deeds
box 1, folder 9: Diary
box 1, folder 10: Meditation book
box 1, folder 11: Photographs
box 1, folder 12: Plants scrapbook
box 2, folder 1: News clippings scrapbook

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

Josiah McClain was born on October 9, 1843 in Allendale, Illinois. However, his tombstone in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Salt Lake City, gives his birthdate as October 8, 1842, and one obituary claimed "Dr. McClain was born in Bald Hill Prairie, Ill., October 9, 1842. His parents were William McClain, Jr. of Ohio, and Margaret Crossen. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1871 (renamed Princeton University in 1896) and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1874.

Following graduation from seminary, Rev. McClain served as a missionary in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah between 1874-1892. He first went to Eureka, Utah (1874) and from there to Carson City, Nevada where he remained until 1880. The next three years of his life were spent in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1883 he went to Silver Cliffs and Trinidad, Colorado; Nephi, Utah; and from there to Ogden, Utah in 1885, where he organized the Ogden Presbyterian church.

In 1892 Josiah McClain moved to Third Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City, serving as its first minister for 14 years. In October 1906 McClain was elected Synodical superintendent for Utah (serving 8 years in the post before resigning October 1914).

McClain married Rhoda Maria (Molly) Barber (1852-1939) on December 27, 1876 in Bingham, Utah. Rhoda was born Feb. 13, 1854 and died Jan. 27, 1939 at age 85. They had eight children: Harry S., born 1878 in Carson City, Nevada (later of Salt Lake City), died Feb. 10, 1949; Emma, born June 27, 1880 (Mrs. Emma Tyrrell Iselton of Sacramento, Calif.); Jennie Dale, born April 22, 1882, died July 11, 1882; Margaret Amelia, born Oct. 22, 1884, died June 23, 1885; Martha Ells, born December 1, 1886 (Mrs. Martha Elle Campbell of Salt Lake City), William Kendall McClain, born January 20, 1888 (served on the USS Wisconsin circa 1907, later of Los Angeles); Ruth Isabell, born April 4, 1889, died Aug. 19, 1893; and Rhoda Barber McClain, born May 31, 1893.

The last 23 years of McClain's life he spent with Robert G. McNiece and others in establishing and building Westminster College. In 1922, McClain gave an address at Westminster College during its 25th anniversary celebration. The last years of his life he spent quietly at his home at 1184 Blaine Ave., Salt Lake City. At the time of his death he was a member of the Board of Trustees of Westminster College. He died at the age of 82 on October 25, 1925 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he had made his home. Funeral services were held at Third Presbyterian Church (at the time, housed at Gunton Chapel near Westminster College); addresses were delivered by Rev. William M. Paden, Dr. George E. Davies (pastor of First Presbyterian Church), and Dr. H.W. Berger (pastor of Third Presbyterian Church). McNiece was buried in the old Masonic plot of Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Salt Lake City.

Sources of this biographical note:

  • Biographical materials, including an obituary in Box 1, Folders 4-5 of this collection (MSS-021).
  • website (Josiah and Rhoda McClain entries), viewed online November 17, 2015.
  • Utah State Archives death certificate for Josiah McClain.
  • Wasatch Presbyterian Church records, 1885-1998, MsO679, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah.

Content Description +/-

This collection consists of the papers of Josiah McClain and his family. Josiah McClain served as the first minister of Third Presbyterian Church (1892-1906) in Salt Lake City, Utah. The materials consists of photocopies of articles, autograph albums, Bible records, biographical files, clippings, correspondence, deeds, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks, dating from 1870-1948.

Articles (Box 1, Folder 1) includes an article by Josiah McClean [sic] in the Dec. 1885 issue of Presbyterian Home Missionary entitled "Utah : the government's grip on the Mormons"; another article by McClain in the May 1889 (Vol. 3, No. 7) issue of Home Mission Monthly entitled "Mormonism as it is to-day in Utah"; and an obituary with photograph in The Utah Westminster (Vol. 12, No. 3) dated November 1925

Autograph books (Box 1, Folders 2-3) are from McClain's Princeton years. At Princeton, McClain was nicknamed "Mac, "Mc" and "Josh".

Bibles--notes and news clippings (Box 1, Folder 4) includes an obituary for Mrs. Sarah Irwin McNiece, an early teacher at the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute and wife of Rev. R.G. McNiece; Josiah and Rhoda McClain's wedding announcement; obituaries for Rev. Josiah McClain, Harry Silas McClain, Silas Barber (Rhoda Barber McClain's father), and many others obituaries, news clippings, and notes on small slips of paper inserted in the Bibles.

Bible (Teacher's Bible)--notes (Box 1, Folder 5) includes a biographical sketch of Josiah McClain written by one of his unidentified children; some sermon notes signed by Josiah McClain, Nephi, Utah, April 27th, 1892.

Biographical data (Box 1, Folder 6) includes two documents. First, an anonymous biographical document on Josiah McClain, including significant dates and specific information on McClain's career, excerpted from Presbyterian Church documentation (Presbyterian Roll, Minutes of the Presbytery of Utah (1885-1906), Minutes of the Presbytery of Salt Lake (1914-1926)) and compiled into a 15-page typed document. The second is a photocopied document comprised of an 1871 photograph of Josiah McClain (age 28), a handwritten alumni profile he submitted to Princeton in 1913. The second document also includes 14 excerpts on McClain from Princeton records, dating 1873-1926.

Correspondence (Box 1, Folder 7) contains a letter dated Dec. 10, 1925 from C.W. Morse to Mrs. Josiah McClain enclosing a resolution entitled "In memory of Josiah McClain" written by the Westminster College Board of Trustees.

Diary (Box 1, Folder 9) has entries recording births, marriages, and deaths, notes of expenditures, and dated diary entries up to 1948.

Meditation book(Box 1, Folder 10) is a loose-leaf book that belonged to Josiah McClain. It appears that he typed and pasted other printed documents onto the blank pages. The typed material is in light blue ink and thus when photocopied, is difficult to read. Topics of the writings include temperance, drunkenness, faith, Christian love, baptism, and compassion. Persons mentioned in the writings include ex-Governor M.R. Patterson of Tennessee, William E. Gladstone, Cyrus Guernsey Prindle (Quaker conscience), and Da Vinci. There are quotes and poems from Wagner, Goethe, Chancellor Lloyd-George, William Cullen Bryant, and Joseph Addison Richards.

Plants scapbook (Box 1, Folder 12) is comprised of gardening articles clipped from newspapers. Mostly undated, one article mentions Fall 1940, another is dated October 1939. Authors include Maud Chegwidden (Telegram Garden Editor) and Barbara Vorse ("Through the garden gate" series). Gardening questions come from writers in Utah (Provo, Salt Lake, Murray) and Idaho (American Falls). One article describes and pictures the garden of Mrs. Ammon S. Brown at 1739 Herbert Ave., Salt Lake City. Another article is about the first U.S. importation of the "Glory of the sun" lily from the Andean foothills of South America--16,000 bulbs sent from Chile to Dr. H.T. Goodspeed, director of the botanical gardens at University of California, Berkeley.

New clipping scrapbook (Box 2, Folder 1) is photocopied pages from a scrapbook of news clippings. Dates of the materials range from 1915-1959 but are primarily from the 1930s-1950s; many of the clippings are undated, some with inked-over dates, a few with printed dates. The clippings include many obituaries and announcements of personal accomplishments or tragedies. The subjects include ministers, parishoners, educators, and members of the Westminster College community, mostly from Salt Lake City or other Utah locations.

  • Obituaries: Included are two obituaries for McClain, one from the Princeton Alumni Monthly giving his birthdate as 1843, and the second from a Presbyterian Church publication giving his birthdate as October 9, 1842. Other obituaries include those for: Rev. W.M. Paden (minister of First Presbyterian Church); Dr. Perry L. Stevenson (dean of Westminster College, dated 10/21/33); Rev. Theodore Lee ("formerly in charge of the Presbyterian mission at Spanish Fork"); Lt. Walter Gerard Pontz (son of Westminster College's treasurer Parke M. Pontz killed in World War II); Ruth Storer McNiece; Dr. John Edward Carver (Ogden Presbyterian minister); and Dr. Herbert W. Reherd (Westminster College president-emeritus, 1952). There are also many obituaries or news items about members of the McClain Family.
  • Non-obituary clippings include these topics: an article entitled "Temple garments greatly modified" (1923); Converse Hall fire at Westminster College (1926); Rev. Alfred M. Williams (new pastor at Third Presbyterian Church, 1928); military promotions during World War II; Wasatch Presbyterian Church groundbreaking (1948); Westminster College groundbreaking for new science building and Hansen stadium, and retirements (1949); a sermon by Dr. Robert D. Steele (President of Westminster College); Rev. J. Richard Palmer (named new Westminster president, 1952); and Westminster College ski team and Intermountain Skiing Association competitions (1957-1958).
  • Miscellaneous materials (non-clippings) include: wedding announcements, holiday cards, handwritten letters and cards from grandchildren, and a telegram.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Open to public research.

Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Twenty-four hours advance notice is encouraged.

Restrictions on Use:

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material must be obtained from the director of the Giovale Library.

Preferred Citation:

Josiah McClain family papers, 1870-1948, MSS-021, Giovale Library Archives, Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Administrative Information +/-


Arranged alphabetically by subject.

Processing Note:

This collection was processed by Rebekah Sappington in May 2009. One of the articles for this collection was obtained through Inter-Library Loan. The "Bible" folders contain photocopies that were in the front and back of a bible owned by Josiah McClain. Quit claims, Warranty deeds, and several items were copied from Josiah McClain's bibles with permission of Dana Griffiths Adams, McClain's great-great-granddaughter. The original documents and Bible are in her possession.


McClain, Josiah

McClain family


Collection materials are in English.


0.5 linear feet

Language of the Finding Aid:


Author of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid written May 2009 by Rebekah Sappington. Expanded November 2015 by Sarah Shaw.

EAD Creation Date:

2015 November 12 by Sarah Shaw


Describing Archives : A Content Standard (DACS)



Related Material:

Related collections in Giovale Library Archives:

Related photographs in Giovale Library Archives:

Related collection and photograph held by other institutions:

Subjects +/-

Corporate Names:

Converse Hall (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Dane Hansen Stadium (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Gunton Memorial Chapel (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Synod of Utah--History--Sources
Third Presbyterian Church (Salt Lake City, Utah)--History--Sources

Subject Terms:

Presbyterian Church--Utah

Form or Genre Terms:

Autograph albums
Bible records
Biographical files
Clippings (information artifacts)
Family papers

Personal Names:

Carver, John Edward, 1871-1950
Gladstone, W. E. (William Ewart), 1809-1898
Lloyd George, David, 1863-1945
McClain, Josiah--Archives
McClain, Rhoda Marie Barber, 1852-1939--Archives
Paden, William Mitchell, 1854-1931
Palmer, J. Richard, 1916-
Patterson, Malcolm R. (Malcolm Rice), 1861-1935
Pontz, Walter Gerard, 1918-1943
Prindle, Cyrus, 1800-1885
Reherd, Herbert Ware, 1869-1952
Steele, Robert D. (Robert Denham), 1901-1972
Stevenson, Perry L., 1890-1933
Williams, Alfred M.

Family Names:

McClain family--Archives

Geographical Names:

Salt Lake City (Utah)--History--Sources