Horace G. McMillan

Horace G. McMillan, United States district attorney for the northern district of Iowa, and one of the editors and owners of the Cedar Rapids Republican, was born in Wayne County, Ohio, May 20, 1854. Three years later his parents moved to Washington County, Iowa, first living at Crawfordsville, and afterwards on a farm four miles northeast of the town of Washington. Mr. McMillan's father was a man of sturdy character and of many attainments; of Scotch blood; and his mother belonged to the American pioneer women, who carried refinement as well as industry into the new states of the west and northwest.

As a boy, the subject of this sketch spent more time on the farm than in the schoolroom. He earned practically his own way to a place, first at the bar, and afterwards in the wider affairs of the state, in the business and politics of which he has been permitted to play a prominent part. His early education was obtained in the country schools of Washington County, and the academies of Grand View and Washington. He studied law with McJunkin & Henderson, of Washington, the senior member of the firm being at that time attorney general of the state of Iowa. He was admitted to the bar in 1880 by Circuit Judge L.C. Blanchard, of Oskaloosa, and immediately thereafter opened a law office in Washington.

In 1882 he became interested in northwestern Iowa, which was then in process of development, and that same year he located in Rock Rapids, Lyon County. A few days after he left his old home, his father died, and, having endorsed for friends and relatives, left an indebtedness of about $4,000. Upon returning to Washington to attend his father's funeral, young McMillan called upon all the creditors and voluntarily assumed this entire indebtedness. With this burden on his shoulders, and with no money, the young attorney invaded the open country of northwestern Iowa, determined to succeed.

Ten years afterwards he returned to Washington for the first time, having paid off every dollar of the family indebtedness. In Rock Rapids he had entered into a law partnership with A. Van Wagenen. This partnership was dissolved in 1891. In 1893 he formed another partnership, this time with J.W. Dunlap, also of Washington County. As a lawyer, Mr. McMillan has been eminently successful. He has been connected with much of the most important litigation of northwestern Iowa, and has been especially prominent in the bond litigation of Lyon County. The county had been fraudulently bonded for $170,000, and the various school districts had been bonded for from $20,000 to $250.000 each. Mr. McMillan has tried these cases in both the state and United States courts, the Supreme Court at Washington having decided two of them favorably to him. These services resulted in saving thousands of dollars to the taxpayers of the new county. Mr. McMillan has also been successful in the trial of personal injury and damage cases, especially those growing out of railway accidents.

As a boy of 19, he served one year as brakeman on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railway. His practice has brought him a large income for many years.

Mr. McMillan is also a businessman. He was one of the first to grasp the possibilities of northwestern Iowa, and on his faith in its development made many investments in land, which have turned out even better than he had anticipated. He is today the owner of 1,000 acres of land in Iowa, and the adjacent counties of Dakota, and manages the Lakewood stock farm, near Rock Rapids, on which is maintained what is conceded to be one of the finest, if not the finest, herds of Jersey cattle in the state or the west.

In 1898 the Cedar Rapids Daily Republican was for sale, owing to the death of its former chief owner, Mr. L.S. Merchant. Seeing the excellent opportunity it offered for building up a strong newspaper and a profitable business, Mr. McMillan and Cyrenus Cole, for a number of years associate editor of the Iowa State Register, bought the paper. It immediately took rank with the leading dallies of the state, grew in circulation and influence, and is now enjoying a firmly established prosperity. The change occurred in May 1898, and Mr. McMillan removed with his family to Cedar Rapids.

Mr. McMillan has, from his boyhood up, taken an active part in politics, being by birth and conviction an unswerving republican. Before leaving Washington County, he served as chairman of the county committee there. In 1886 he was elected county attorney of Lyon County, which office he filled for three terms, although the county was democratic part of the time. In 1892 he was elected a member of the republican state central committee for the Eleventh congressional district. He was re-elected in 1894, and in 1895 was elected chairman of the committee. He was in charge of the campaign in which Gen. Francis M. Drake was elected governor by an almost unprecedented majority, and also had charge of the Iowa campaign for William McKinley and Garret A. Hobart, and his conduct of that campaign won the praise of republicans and gold democrats alike.

In 1897 he desired to retire from the state chairmanship, but was again pressed into the service of his party as the manager of the campaign for Leslie M. Shaw for governor. As a campaign manager Mr. McMillan has tenacity of purpose and persistence of effort well combined with judgment and a wise spirit of conciliation. Under him the party has developed no factions, nor has it wavered. At the meeting of the Iowa congressional delegation, in the spring of 1897, Mr. McMillan was recommended to the president for appointment as United States attorney for the northern district of Iowa, an appointment which was made by President McKinley and confirmed by the senate in February, 1898.

In his home life Mr. McMillan has been happy and successful, as well as in business, law and politics. In 1877, before he began to study law, he was married to Miss Alice Van Doren, of Washington County, who has been a helpmeet to him, not only in his home, but in his public life. Six children were born to them, five of whom are living. They are Glenn V., Viva Alice, Florence, James B., and Horace G., Jr. Mrs. McMillan has taken a deep interest in the political affairs in which her husband has been prominent. She has taken, especially, an interest in educational matters, and was largely instrumental in the founding of the free public library, of Rock Rapids, and feels, with a woman's and a mother's pride, that her best contribution to the world has been her children.


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