"This work is intended to serve several purposes. First, it provides a genealogy as complete as it has been possible to compile with the material [the author] has been able to uncover. It also attempts to gather together such documents as are available concerning the life of the early generations of the McElwain family in this country, and to link these together with a narrative. Finally, it endeavors to set forth how some genealogical and historical conclusions were reached and to suggest to future family historians research which might prove fruitful and problems which might arise." This new work consists of two parts, a history and a genealogy, separately organized and indexed, but consecutively paged. History presents the early history of the McElwain family, giving overviews of the lives of early family members and members of certain related families (such as Nicholson, Bell, Zanhiser, Thompson, McCracken, Shannon and McIlvaine), and then provides material on the land where they lived and the institutions which they knew. This section is more of a narrative than a listing of data. Genealogy presents a large volume of data organized by family, beginning with the parents and a serial number (which is often keyed to references in the historical section) and then lists all of their children. For each individual, wherever possible, information is given concerning birth, marriage(s) and death (typically date and location). The book has two indices: for History, there is a full name and subject index including about 500 entries, and for Genealogy, there is a full name index including about 5,000 entries.
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