My fourth great grandfather Alexander MacLean, Sr. was born in 1709 on the Isle of Mull. His mother died the night he was born. His father left Mull bringing young Alexander to County Antrim, Ireland, where his father remarried. Sometime between 1725 and 1730 young Alexander sailed from County Antrim to America, landing in Philadelphia.
He had no earthly possessions except for a membership Certificate in the Presbyterian Church of Ireland. Having no money to pay the expenses of the voyage, he hired himself to an Englishman named Ratchford, who lived in Dublin and was sailing on the same ship. It was a common practice in those times to be sponsored for such a voyage.
At age 30, when he had saved several hundred dollars, Alexander married Elizabeth Ratchford, born 1719, daughter of his benefactor. They remained some years in Pennsylvania where three children were born,Jean, Margaret, and Agnes. Jean and Margaret died of smallpox. The family left Pennsylvania for North Carolina, settling in the Dobbin neighborhood of Rowan County, eight miles from Salisbury. Here a son John was born about a year later, 2 April 1746; he was killed in the Revolutionary War. Son Alexander, Jr. was born 10 May 1755, and then William was born 2 April 1757.
Soon after William’s birth, Alexander, Sr. moved the family to a tract of land close to the junction of the South Fork and Catawba Rivers where two more sons were born—George on 14 October 1760, and Thomas in 1763. Alexander, Sr. and his wife were consistent members of the Presbyterian Church and lived to a good old age, Elizabeth surviving Alexander by a few years. Both are buried in the old Smith Graveyard in Belmont, North Carolina.