During the nineteenth century, William McClain was a ship captain on the Ohio River.
McClain was born in Virginia in 1807. His father, Hugh McClain, captained ships along the Ohio River. While little is known of William McClain's youth, he eventually pursued the same career as his father. McClain eventually became an abolitionist and actively protested slavery by ferrying runaway slaves across the Ohio River from the slave states of Virginia (now West Virginia) and Kentucky. McClain usually brought the runaway slaves to J.J. Webster, who resided in South Webster, Ohio. Webster then assisted the fugitives further along the Underground Railroad, taking many of his charges to the African-American community of Huston Hollow, which was located north of Portsmouth, Ohio.
McClain died on September 10, 1867, in Portsmouth.