V. R. McGinnis, of Leon, whose ability as a lawyer has raised him to the first rank at the bar of southern Iowa,
is also known throughout the state for his political activity, as he is one of the recognized leaders of the democratic
party. His birth occurred on the 24th of May, 1861, in Muskingum county, Ohio, and he is a son of Daniel and Hannah
(Miller) McGinnis. His paternal grandparents, Samuel and Mary (Lemert) McGinnis, were born respectively in Pennsylvania
and in Ohio, and they became the parents of ten children, Daniel, Joshua, William, Lyman, Samuel, Mary, Hannah,
Susan, Rebecca and Alvira. The demise of the grandfather occurred in 1875 and that of the grandmother in 1884.
Daniel McGinnis farmed for some time but later turned his attention to merchandising in Frazeysburg, Ohio. He gained
gratifying success in business and was well known and highly esteemed. For several years he was the mayor of that
town and for twenty one years he was justice of the peace, his long continuance in the office being the best proof
of the acceptability of his services. He passed away on the 19th of January, 1909, when seventy eight years of
age, having survived his wife for many years, her demise occurring in May, 1881. They were the parents of the following
children: Mary, Oliver P., Harmon K., Clara, Balton, Ashley, V. R., Bethann, Chauncey, Samuel, Metta, Don O., D.
S. and Z. S.
V. R. McGinnis entered the public schools at the usual age and in due time became a pupil in the high school at
Frazeysburg, where he continued his studies. He was also for a year and a half a student in the State College of
Agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Ames, Iowa. For sixteen years he taught school but not wishing to devote his entire
life to that profession, he utilized his spare time in studying law. His reading was under the supervision of two
or three well known attorneys, among them E. W. Curry, of Leon, Iowa. In 1894 he was admitted to the bar and the
same year began the practice of his profession in partnership with his former preceptor, E. W. Curry. Two years
later Mr. Curry passed away and since that time Mr. McGinnis has practiced alone. From the start his clientele
has been large and important and he is justly regarded as one of the most prominent and successful attorneys of
southern Iowa. His thorough knowledge of the principles of the law and his convincing argument in presenting a
case before the court have been important factors in his continued success and his strict adherence to the ethics
of the profession has also had much to do with his advancement as it has gained him the confidence of the public
and of the bar. He has been a moving force in the furtherance of many worthy community activities, for twelve years
has been president of the school board and since its organization has been the executive head of the Carnegie library
of Leon. The impress of his individuality has also been felt in political circles, not only in his county and district,
but throughout the state of Iowa. In 1900 he was the democratic candidate for congress, in 1910 a candidate for
judge of the district court and in 1914 a candidate for governor. He is a strong and effective campaigner and scarcely
an election passes that he does not make many speeches in behalf of his party's candidates for state and national
offices. Not only is his clear and forceful reasoning as a public speaker a large factor in winning success for
his party in Iowa but in its inner councils his advice is listened to with respect. His ability as an orator is
recognized in other connections and he has often addressed reunions of old settlers and old soldiers.
On the 26th of December, 1888, occurred the marriage of Mr. McGinnis and Miss Emma C. Jennings, a daughter of S.
C. and Martha Jennings. Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis are the parents of two children. Ralph A., an alumnus of the State
University of Iowa, was in his college days captain of the varsity football team and made a wide reputation as
an athlete. He is now an instructor in the Iowa City high school. The second son, Donald, is attending school at
Mr. McGinnis is a member of the Presbyterian Church and is serving as a trustee therein. He is characterized by
energy and determination and in representing a client brings to his support every authority that will sustain his
position, but in his professional zeal never forgets the supreme allegiance which every member of the bar owes
to the law and to justice. Moreover, he is courteous to the opposing counsel, winning his cases by careful preparation
and resourcefulness, and when confronted by some unexpected turn in a case he does not resort to petty personalities
or ridicule his opponent but relies rather upon logical reasoning and the effective presentation of his argument.
He has become a power in political circles because of his ability to see things as they are and his faculty of
gaining the loyalty and securing the cooperation of others, qualities which insure their possessor of leadership
in whatever field of activity he may engage. He has many friends and admirers as his characteristics are those
that together constitute a high type of manhood.
History of Decatur County, Iowa
And its People
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Decatur County, IA
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