to the French and McClure Families of Greene County, Arkansas

During the early 1890s Cynthia Bell (Bomar) and Thomas Anderson French and their family migrated from their homes in the hills of Carroll and Henry Counties, Tennessee, to the hills of Greene and Clay Counties, Arkansas.  Other members of the Bomar family had migrated to Greene County in the 1860s. The Frenches traveled 200 miles by wagon and on foot through Murray, Kentucky, to Cairo, Illinois,  (where they ferried the Mississippi); on to Chalk Bluff to ford the St. Francis River; and settled on Crowley's Ridge. (At that time the bottomland of Greene County, now recognized as some of the most fertile in Arkansas, was considered worthless because it flooded.) With Cynthia and Thomas came nine of their ten children, all grown, and their spouses.

They are buried 100 miles west (like the crow flies) of their Tennessee home, in the first hills west of the Mississippi River, Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Greene County, Arkansas

One of the French daughters, Theodoshia (b. 8/24/1859 in Henry County, Tennessee), had married Riley McClure (b. 11/7/1856 in Hollow Rock, Tennessee) May 18, 1875. Riley was the son of Dice Pace McClure and her McClure husband, whose given name is unknown, but who has been affectionately known by the family through the years as "The Wanderer" because of his lifelong habit of. . .wandering! Theodoshia and Riley brought their seven children with the French clan; another son and daughter were born after arriving in Greene County. This last son was Virgil D McClure (b. 1/17/1895).

Virgil D was in the first Greene County group drafted during World War I; he earned the Purple Heart. After the war, he returned home to farm for the remainder of his life. On July 24, 1921, Virgil D married Ethel Lee (b. 9/21/1902 in Bernie, Missouri). They were married by a preacher, while they sat in a horse and buggy near Marmaduke.   Ethel's parents were John William Lee (b. 12/22/1863, d. 11/13/1931) and Jana Williams; they were married August 18, 1895.

Ethel and Virgil had two children. Willidean Eula, born December 1, 1922, died from diphtheria August 23, 1928. On September 30, 1939, Gary Lee was born at his parents' home one-half mile south of the Greene County/Clay County line near the Cotton Belt Railroad; this was less than a mile from his father's birthplace. Except for Gary's college years at Murray State University (Murray, KY) and three additional years in Kentucky after graduation, he has been a lifelong Greene County resident.

On June 5, 1960, Gary married Marilyn Kay Gordon of Milan, Tennessee. They had four children: Leianne Kaye, Lucinda Gaye, Gordon Michael, and Timothy Patrick. Marilyn McClure died September 14, 1987. Leianne, married to Mark McGinnis, has two children, Amy Elizabeth and Zackary Gordon. Lucinda's children are William Winston, (Will), Melissa Lynn, and John Michael Lawson; her husband is Mike Ford. Gordon Michael has two daughters, Lauren Emily, Rachel Katelin and two step sons Jason and Cody.  His wife is Cara.  On September 22, 2004 Gary married Bonnie Ann Leadford and they make their home in Tennessee.


Gary McClure lived  in the McClure-Highfill Home at 701 West Highland in Paragould. The McClures  lived in this home from August 17, 1969. until 1/6/2002

 Theodoshia (French) McClure and Family, about 1905. Standing: Virgil D McClure, Oda (McClure) Ray, Ellen (Johnson) McClure, Theodoshia, Lovie (McClure) Pace holding son Elmer, Lola McClure, and Zona McClure. Seated: Marvin O'Dell McClure, Marlon Ray, Henry Ray, Lorene Ray, and Frank Pace holding son Zelmar.

McClure-Ray Family Reunion, about 1923. Standing: Thomas Irby McClure and wife, Cullen Vincent and wife Zona (McClure), Virgil D McClure, Ment Meridith, Marlon Ray, Emily Pace, Irene Ray, Miss Sally Ray, Lorene (Ray) Weaver and husband Dee. Seated: Frank Pace and his 2nd wife, Ethel McClure holding daughter Willidean (in front of husband Virgil D), Lola (McClure) Meridith holding daughter Geniva, Oda (McClure) Ray and husband Henry holding son J. S., and unknown Ray couple and child. Front: Parker McClure (son of Irby) and Henry Ray's hired hand.





The French and McClure Families

May 27, 1967, at Labor Park in Rector, Arkansas


Other Links

Gary McClure's Home Page
Alice Evans Wilson Family
Marvin O'Dell McClure Family
July 31, 2012