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William McLure
1763 - 1840

His U. S. Surveys Gained for him the Title
"Father of American Geology"

William McLure was a man of wide and varied interests. He was a successful businessman, geologist, educator, social scientist and philanthropist. He traveled throughout the United States making geological surveys. As a result he became known as the "Father of American Geology." ■ McLure was born in Ayr, Scotland in 1763. He was educated in Ayr and went from there to London to go into business. He came to the U.S. in 1796 and later started his geological surveys, making observations in every territory and state of the young nation. ■ Before coming to the U.S. he had earned a substantial fortune operating his business in London. He was elected a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in 1812. He started the academy's publication and wrote for it frequently. ■ He contributed financially to many organizations and established an agricultural school in Spain for poor boys on 10,000 acres of land he bought near Alicant. Unfortunately, it was eventually confiscated by the Spanish government. ■ He also purchased extensive tracts of land near New Harmony, Indiana, in the spirit of the Rappites and reformer Robert Owen who had preceded him there. He hoped to set up an idealistic agricultural community where peace and prosperity would prevail. Unfortunately, this experiment, too, did not live up to his expectations. So he relinquished his holdings and moved to Mexico, where he died March 23, 1840. ■ McLure was a prolific writer on scientific and agricultural subjects. He also gave generously to the American Geological Society of which he was president for many years. He gave as well to many other organizations which he considered to be in the public interest.
 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546

2014