IAGenWeb Project

Shelby County


1889 Bio Index

Rev. William McGinness, is one of the prominent pioneers of Shelby County, having been identified with its history since 1856. He is a native of Kentucky, born in Campbell County, September 25, 1814. He is a son of William and Mary (Mitcheltree) McGinness. The father was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and a son of Samuel McGinness, who came to this country with eleven brothers and cousins, and settled in Philadelphia. Here Samuel McGinness followed the trade of a baker until the beginning of the revolutionary war, when he enlisted in defense of his adopted country; he served five years and six months under General Washington.

The father of our subject, William McGinness, was reared in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and was there married to Mary Mitcheltree, a daughter of George Mitcheltree, who came from County Tyrone, Ireland, when Mary (Mrs. McGinness) was a young lady. William McGinness and wife resided in Pennsylvania until after the birth of two children, when they emigrated to Nicholas County, and thence to Campbell county, Kentucky, in 1811, where they resided until 1817. They removed to Switzerland County, Indiana, and afterward to Hancock County, Indiana, where the mother died in 1831 and the father in 1833. They were the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters, of whom William is the youngest.

Our subject was reared to farming pursuits, and resided with is parents until their death, when he inherited the home place. Here he lived until 1837, with he exception of one year spent on the Ohio River. In March, 1838, he started west, coming up the Mississippi River and landing at Pine Creek. He settled in the Blackhawk purchase, then Wisconsin Territory, which was organized into Iowa Territory the following fourth of July. Afterward he took up a claim in what is now Linn County, and broke and improved fifty acres, which he sold in 1839.

William McGinness was married May 2, 1840, to Miss Mary Donehoo, a native of Clayborn County, Virginia, and a daughter of John and Keziah (Yehne) Donehoo. In 1839 Mrs. McGinness's parents moved to Iowa. After his marriage William McGinness engaged in the saw-mill business, and in 1844 he removed to Wapello County, Iowa, where he took a claim, which he improved and sold, and again entered 200 acres of wild land in Adams Township. Here he built the third cabin in the township, and improved the place, and resided upon it until 1852. He then started west, going to Kainsville, now Council Bluffs, with four yoke of oxen, which were stolen from him. He there bought a claim and sold it, and rented land, and earned the money with which he bought his present farm in Shelby County. The farm contained 140 acres, and cost $6.60 per acre. In the fall of 1856 Mr. McGinnis moved into the cabin on his place, which already sheltered one family, and thirteen people lived one winter in this cabin, 12 X 14 feet. Here Mr. McGinness has since resided, improving his place, and making a comfortable home. In 1858 he was licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal church, which he joined in 1833. He is one of the pioneer preachers, and has held services in thirty-five school-houses, in the old court-house, in the present court-house, and in the churches. He has organized three classes. He has been present at the celebration of our national independence, July 4th, since 1838; at that time there were only three people to celebrate. In 1861 he went to Central City, Colorado, and returned the following fall.

Mr. and Mrs. McGinness are the parents of ten children---two sons and eight daughters. Eight lived to maturity, and five still survive---Mary, Emily, Sarah (deceased), Henry M., John A., Nancy J. (deceased), Ellen, Hattie, and one child who died in infancy. Mr. McGinness has served in local offices of trust and responsibility. Politically, he affiliates with the Republican party; he was formerly an old-line Whig, and cast his first presidential vote for Scott.

Source: 1889 Biographical History of Shelby County, Iowa, pp. 342,343. Family Researcher: Transcribed and submitted by Craig and Nancy Poole - cpoole@unmc.edu

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