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Donald McLean Biography


This biography appears on pages 965-966 in "History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. V (1915) 

Hon. Donald McLean, senator from Day county and a well known ranchman making his home at Webster, was born in Morrisburg, Ontario, Canada, February 19, 1869. His father, William McLean, was a teacher and farmer who, after attending school in his native country, Scotland, began imparting to others the knowledge that he had acquired, making an excellent record as an educator. In 1835 he crossed the Atlantic to Canada, settling on a farm near Morrisburg, Ontario, where his remaining days were passed, his death there occurring January 28, 1904, when he had reached the age of eighty-two years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Sarah Reddick, was a native of New England, descended from early colonial settlers, and her mother was an own cousin of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. 

Donald McLean was but eleven years of age at the time of his mother's demise and soon afterward he started out to make his own way in the world. He attended the public schools until he reached his fifteenth year, working between terms to pay his way and afterward entering college in order to pursue theological studies. In 1888 he arrived in Dakota territory, settling at Watertown, where he became a licensed Methodist preacher He was appointed to the Waverly circuit and the following year was given a regular pastorate at Wilmot, Roberts county. In 1891 he returned to the Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois, to complete his theological studies and his academic and college work, and when he again came to South Dakota he was assigned by his conference to the pastorate at Webster and this was followed by appointments to churches in Centerville and in Vermillion. In 1901 he returned to Webster, Day county, and he now divides his time between the work of the pulpit and the lecture platform and the operation of a ranch of eleven hundred acres. He has studied agriculture with the same thoroughness that he has given to other lines of investigation and research and therefore wisely directs the cultivation and development of his ranch. He is an earnest and fluent speaker and a logical thinker, and his presentation of any subject awakens interest and consideration. He has also taken an active part in political affairs and is a stalwart republican. In 1912 he was elected to represent his district in the state senate and at the close of a two years' term was reelected in 1914. He has proven one of the most able members of the upper house, taking a most active and intelligent part in the discussion of all measures of vital interest to the commonwealth. He has also done good work on important committees, including the appropriations, highways, public institutions, legislative expenses and agriculture committees. He has been especially active in the discussion of legislation relating to textbooks, to bridge construction, to taxation and to banking and his utterances along those subjects have elicited earnest thought and have won for the cause which he has championed hearty support. 

On the 25th of October, 1898, Mr. McLean was united in marriage to Miss Lyle Olive Harris, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. J. L. Harris, of Webster, South Dakota. To them have been born five children, namely: Donald,.Jr., John L., Malcolm, Marian and Wallace. 

Fraternally Mr. McLean is connected with the Masons. He enjoys hunting and various phases of outdoor life but also finds recreation in the study of literature, philosophy, political and civil history and government. He is a broad-minded man whom nature endowed with mental force and who has wisely used his time, talent and opportunities. He owes his educational training to his own labors, which provided him the means necessary to continue his studies and meet his expenses during his student days. All through his life he has been a student, reading broadly, thinking deeply and arriving at deductions which mature public opinion has endorsed He enjoys perhaps more than all else the mental stimulus which comes through the discussion of important topics and questions of interest vital to the political situation or which affect the sociological and economic conditions of the country.