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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
McNair

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 343-345 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

This family originated in Scotland. During the first half of the eighteenth century, David, John and Alexander McNair, sons of a Scotch Covenanter, came to America from the north of Ireland and settled along the Delaware river below Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. David, the progenitor of the family herein recorded, later settled in Lancaster county, married and had issue.

(II) David (2), son of David (1) McNair, was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, December 18, 1736, died February 19, 1777, from wounds and exposure. He was a lieutenant of Pennsylvania troops in the revolutionary army and rendered important service during the campaigns of 1776-77. He was with Washington at the "Crossing of the Delaware," and at the subsequent battles of Trenton and Princeton, where he received the wounds that resulted in his death. He is buried at Strawberry, New Jersey. He married, in 1756, Annie Dunning, born at Mount Rock, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, February, 1738, died at Wilkinsburg, near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, 1806-07. Her ancestors were among the early settlers of Pennsylvania.

(III) Alexander, sixth son of Lieutenant David (2) and Annie (Dunning) McNair, was born May 5, 1775, in Derry, Lancaster county, now Dauphin county, Pennsylvania. He was prepared for college in his native town and attended a term at the Philadelphia College, now University of Pennsylvania.

He served as lieutenant in command of a company from Lancaster county in suppressing the whisky insurrection in 1794; was lieutenant of infantry, United States army, in 1799-1800. He removed to St. Louis in the territory of Upper Louisiana in 1804, where he was commissary of the United States army for several years; in 1812 was made adjutant-general, and also served as inspector general; in 1813 he was colonel of a regiment of Missouri Rangers, with which he served on the frontier against the British and Indians in the war of 1812. He was a delegate from St. Louis county to the constitutional convention, July, 1820, and the same year was elected first governor of the state of Missouri, defeating General William Clark, who had been territorial governor of Upper Louisiana, now Missouri. He served from 1820 to 1824. He resided at St. Charles, the first seat of government in 1820. He was United States agent in the Indian department 1824-26. He was intimately connected with the stirring events of his period, and served well both his country and his state. Governor McNair died in St. Louis, March 18, 1826. He married, in 1804, at St. Louis, Marguerite de Reilhe, daughter of the Marquis Antoine de Reilhe of Montpelier, Languedoc, France, of an émigré royalist family driven into exile by the first revolution in France.

(IV) Antoine de Reilhe, third child of Governor Alexander and Marguerite (de Reilhe) McNair, was born April 10, 1809, died 1872, in Missouri. He was educated in private schools and at St. Louis University, of Missouri, at St. Louis. He entered the United States army as an officer, and while serving in the Black Hawk war of 1832 received injuries which rendered him a cripple for the remainder of his life. He resigned from the army and settled in St. Louis, where he died.

He married (first) Mary McCloskey, who bore him one child, Frederick A. C., born 1836; married (second) Elvina Johnson, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, married in 1838, bore him two children, twins. Only one lived, Antoine de Reilhe McNair, see forward. He married (third) Cornelia Tiffin, who bore him seven children:

  1. Mary, died in young womanhood;
  2. Pinkey, died in childhood;
  3. John M., died in childhood;
  4. Henry G., resides at St. Paul, Minnesota;
  5. Lilburn G., resides at St. Louis;
  6. John G.;
  7. Nina.

(V) Commander Antoine de Reilhe (2) McNair, son of Antoine de Reilhe (1) and Elvina (Johnson) McNair, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, September 15, 1839. He was educated in St. Louis, and was appointed from Missouri, September 22, 1856, to acting midshipman at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, from which he was graduated, class of 1860. During the years at the academy he saw active service in the sloop of war "Preble" in 1857, and on the "Plymouth" in 1859. On June 15, 1860, after his graduation, he was assigned to the sloop of war "Seminole," ranking as midshipman. He was attached to the South Atlantic squadron, the "Seminole" cruising in Brazilian and other South American waters until 1861, when she was ordered north and assigned, July 4, 1861, to the squadron blockading Charleston harbor, when he was on boat patrol duty at night. Then he was in service in the Potomac, clearing the river banks of Confederate batteries. Lieutenant McNair saw a great deal of dangerous service in the boat expeditions, and ship actions on the Potomac river. He had command of a division of launches for night patrol on the Potomac from Mt. Vernon to Indianhead, for stopping contraband of war. At Mathias Point, Evansport battery and Freestone Point battery, the "Seminole" was hotly engaged, losing a mast. He was present on board of the "Seminole" at the battle of Port Royal, South Carolina; in Dupont's victory of November 7, 1861, he was slightly wounded in the head and hand. He was in the expedition to Fernandina and Jacksonville, Florida; present in the attack on Hampton Roads by the "Merrimac," and consorts; present in the attack on Sewell's Point, the destruction of "Merrimac," and the capture of Norfolk. He had been promoted master, on September 19, 1861; lieutenant, July, 1862, and assigned to the sloop of war "Powhatan," immediately after, and sent to Charleston, where he was wounded at the capture of the Morris Island naval battery, July 16, 1862; served in the naval battery on Morris Island, and so participated in the siege of Charleston; was engaged the same year in the night attack on Fort Sumter by the boats of the fleet; was present at Dupont's attack with the ironclads on Fort Sumter and the defences of Charleston harbor, April 1863. From June to August, 1864, he commanded the United States steamer "Gemsbok" in West Indian waters, which he brought to the United States waters at New York, after which he returned to his old ship, the "Powhatan," then to the frigate "New Ironsides," during which time he was engaged in the first battle of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, December 24 and 25, 1864, and at the subsequent capture of the fort and the defences of the Cape Fear river, January 13-14-15, 1865, and was slightly wounded there. He was engaged with the Confederate rams on the James river and at the surrender of Richmond. He also served on board the United States steamer "Chicopee," Atlantic Squadron, in 1865-66, principally in support of the Freedman's Bureau on the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina. He was instructor at the United States Naval Academy in 1866-67, then returned to sea service on the frigates "Minnesota," "Contocook," and "Franklin." In 1871 he was inspector of supplies at the Norfolk navy yard. On October 26, 1872, he was retired on account of injuries received in the line of duty in 1868 on board the "Contocook" in the West Indies. By act of congress passed 1906, he was advanced to the rank of commander, for faithful and gallant service during the war of the rebellion.

After his retirement from active service in the navy in 1872, he spent four years as a graduate student at Harvard University. In 1871 he located at Saratoga Springs, New York, where he continues his residence at the present (1910), and served fifteen years on the board of education. He is a companion of Pennsylvania Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion; member of Luther M. Wheeler Post No. 92, Grand Army of the Republic of Saratoga Springs; of Beta Theta Pi, Eta Chapter, also of the Signet of Harvard, and is a Mason; also an honorary member of the Society of the Army of the Potomac.

He married, December 13, 1871, Frances, daughter of Benedict Clark, of Saratoga Springs. Children:

  1. Frederick Park, born October 27, 1872; was cadet for two years at West Point, class of 1898; enlisted with Second New York Infantry in Spanish-American War; died of fever, October 18, 1898; promoted while on death-bed to second lieutenant.
  2. Jessie, wife of Adrian W. Mather, of Albany, now of Rochester, New York, who served in Tenth Battalion, New York Infantry in Spanish-American war, as captain, was colonel on Governor Roosevelt's staff, and is now on General Rowe's staff as captain.
  3. Alexander, born 1876, died September 25, 1881.

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