Source: HISTORY OF WYOMING CO., NY
BY: F. W. BEERS, 1880
JOHN A. McELWAIN was born in the town of Palmer, Mass, Sept. 21st, 1794, of Scotch-Irish descent. He resided at home until he was sixteen years old. From that time until he was twenty-one he worked out summers by the month, and winters attended school. Oct., 1815, with $30 in cash, he put on his pack on his back and started for the "Genesee Couty". He stopped a few weeks in Otsego county, and arrived at Batavia, NY the last of December at the house of his brother-in-law. The day after his arrival he started off on foot ten miles, to the town of Alexander, to see the trustees, and made a contract to teach their school; borrowing a horse to ride back, and on Monday, the first of January, 1816, he commenced teaching in a log school-house, and boarded with the families whose children attended the school. The next day after his term of school expired he engaged for one year (1816) in the service of Judge Cummings, of Batavia, NY. In the smmer of 1817, he first came to Warsaw, Wyoming Co., NY, still in the employment of Judge Cummings, who had erected a flouring and oil-mill, which Mr. McElwain and a brother of Judge Cummings had the management of for some years. During that time he enlisted in all the enterprises that were calculated to benefit the county or town, and that he continued to do throughlife. His first effort was in organizing a Young Men's Library Association, which was carried into effect, and was very useful for some years. He identified himself in 1820 with the Clintonian party, in opposition to D.D. Tompkins. After Clinton's day he was identified with the Anti-Masons, who elected him sheriff of Genesee county in 1831. From that time he was recognized as a Whig, and was elected to the Assembly in 1837, and to the Senate in 1852 and 1853, and serving in both places with honor and usefulness. After the disorganization of the Whig party he was independent in politics, and voted for such persons as he thought best qualified for the offices. He was county treasurer five years, was State appraiser of lands to be mortgaged for banking purposes, and was assignee for Wyoming county under the national State bankrupt law as long as it was in force. He was president of the remarkably successful Wyoming County Mutual Insurance Company twelve for fourteen years. He was one of the first subscribers to and a director in the new cemtery association, and was four years its president. He was a director and the treasurer of the old Warsaw and Le Roy Railroad Company, and one of the party who surveyed it, and was for a time a director in the Buffalo and New York City Railroad Company in 1852. At the first organization of the Episcopal church he was elected warden, and remained so through life, and was a liberal supporter of that church. He was confirmed about twelve years before his death, and lived in the faithful observance of all the ordinances of the church. It was more, perhaps by his exertions than any one else's that Wyoming county was formed and the public buildings located at Warsaw, NY. He spent in 1840 and 1841 six months time in Albany, NY on the subject, and when it was effected the supervisors of the new county appointed him one of the commissioners to erect the new public buildings. In 1843 he built the large brick hotel on the corner of Main and Genesee streets, then an ornament to the village, and the first brick building put up after the court-house. General McElwain was one of the first to organize the Wyoming County Agricultural Society, and was made one of its managers and elected its treasurer, and remained such until the grounds were purchasaed and all the improvements made. Afterward he was for some years president of the society, and during the whole time he had control of its finances. One of the last public services he performed was aiding in the erection of an exhibition hall, the summer before his death, which was changed to a two-story building largely through his exertions. While in the Senate in 1852 and 1853 he procured the passage of the law that abolished the old district school system in Warsaw, and adopted the union free school plan. He was one of the board of education nearly twenty years, being president of the board during the time the stone school-house lot was purchased and the house built, and the lots in different parts of the village for primary schools were secured and buildings procured to put on them, and all in successful operation. Mr. McElwain's business after he left the grist and oil-mills, aside from his public duties, was keeping a public house, running the early stage lines and farming. His integrity, prudence, energy and strong native common sense won him success in all these callings, and secured for him the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens. He was a fine type of the resolute and public-spirited citizens who subdued the wilderness of western New York, and were worthy pioneers of the present enlightened and prosperous community. He died on the 2nd of March, 1875.
I am not researching this family. I have no further information on this family. The source of where this information was obtained is listed at the top of this posting.
Denise Perkins Ready