Biography of William H. McGinnis
Mahoning County, OH Biographies

WILLIAM H. McGINNIS, whose achievements in the field of scientific investigation have made his name familiar all over the country wherever interest is fostered in such studies, is a prominent resident of Youngstown and is now serving in his second term as recorder of Mahoning County. He was born at New Middletown, Ohio, December 21, 1847, and is a son of William and Lydia (Welk) McGinnis.

The McGinnis family in America was founded by William McGinnis (1), who was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1750, came to America in 1782, and died in Pennsylvania, prior to 1817. He left a son, William (2), and a grandson, William (3), the latter of whom was born at Staunton, Virginia, September 12, 1796, and died at Mt. Jackson, Pennsylvania, in 1873, leaving a son, William (4). This William McGinnis, father of William H. McGinnis of Youngstown, was born at Mt. Jackson, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, July 4, 1824. On March 4, 1847, he married Lydia Welk, who was born at New Middletown, Ohio, and died August 29, 1848. In 1857, William McGinnis went to Kansas, where he took part in the border troubles prior to the opening of the Civil War, and his death took place March 6, 1899, at Valley Falls, in that state.

William H. McGinnis attended school at New Middletown up to the age of 13 years. He then came to Youngstown, finding employment in the iron mills of this city, first as a practical workman and later as a skilled mechanic. For 25 years prior to 1896, he traveled extensively in the interest of various business houses. In the last named year he was elected clerk of Youngstown township and through re-election, served four years in that office. His political affiliations have always been with the Republican party to which he has always shown his fealty and by which he has been many times honored by appointment as delegate to important councils and conventions. On November 5, 1901, Mr. McGinnis was elected recorder of Mahoning County, and he has since conducted the affairs of his office with the promptness, efficiency and courtesy which have insured him the confidence and esteem of his fellow citizens.

Almost from boyhood and on through the years when his opportunities for study and investigation were limited, Mr. McGinnis has been deeply interested in scientific discoveries, particularly in geology and mineralogy. Considering the few advantages he had and the erudite learning necessary to establish scientific facts, Mr. McGinnis' achievements must be considered very remarkable. All of his leisure time was taken up in study on his favorite subjects and for years his careful conclusions were accepted by scientific bodies to which they were submitted. When, in April, 1899, he was elected a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, those competent to judge, felt that this honor was well bestowed. It was a pleasant but unexpected recognition of worth, to Mr. McGinnis, doubly valued, as he was the first Eastern Ohio scientist to be so recognized. He has continued to contribute much of value to the scientific institutions of Ohio and also to the Smithsonian Institute, at Washington.

While Mr. McGinnis has devoted so much careful study to geology and mineralogy, he has not confined his attention to these subjects, his mind and activities taking in all scientific knowledge. He has exhibited many most interesting specimens at various expositions and a remarkable collection was displayed at the World's Fair at Chicago. His discoveries have settled many scientific points and he has been recognized as an authority in the highest scientific circles. Perhaps his most notable discovery was the specimen of fossil head of the musk ox, which is now on exhibition in the State University at Columbus, in reference to which we are permitted to append portions of a letter received by Mr. McGinnis from Professor Edward Orton, State Geologist of Ohio, under date of February 26, 1899. After friendly congratulations upon this discovery, Professor Orton continues:

"This is the third specimen of this kind ever discovered in the United States and the only one ever found in Ohio. This species has been extinct now for over four thousand years. You have the honor of having discovered one of the rarest and most valuable fossils ever found in Ohio, and by and through you, this Institute is greatly enriched. You have the sincere thanks of the board of managers of this institution for your valuable gift."

At various times, Mr. McGinnis has consented to address gatherings on scientific topics, and an interesting occasion was the meeting of the State Horticultural Society, at Ravenna, April 19, 1902, when Mr. McGinnis, as the principal speaker, delivered a scholarly address on Mineralogy as a Moral Science. In this address he set forth with clear reasoning and scientific demonstration the value of this branch of science, including, as it does, the study of all inorganic substances in or on the earth, to the sum total of human knowledge, and dwelt especially upon its connection with the advancement of agriculture and the development of useful arts.

On February 23, 1865, Mr. McGinnis was married to Mary Morgan, who accompanied her father, Morgan Morgan, from their native land of Wales, when a child of eight years. Morgan Morgan was born at Ebbew, Wales, and with his family came to the United States, in 1855. Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis had children, as follows: Charles E., who was accidentally killed, at the age of 22 years, while engaged in his duty as assistant miller at the City Flouring Mills, at' Youngstown; Grace May, who married Jesse E. Woods; Ford B., who married Annabel Kennedy; William Wade, residing at home; and two children who died in infancy. Mr. McGinnis and family reside in an attractive home to which the pleasant name of Violet Banks, has been given, which is situated at No. 1018 Orange street, Youngstown. Among the many attractions of this home, not the least is the comprehensive museum which Mr. McGinnis has collected, a visit to which and study of the same, is a liberal education along scientific lines, and, to the ordinary student, is a lesson which may be of encouragement to those who, like Mr. McGinnis, find it necessary to meet and overcome many obstacles in order to grasp success.

Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis are both members of Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, he being a, member of the official board. He is principal of the junior department of the Sunday school, in which he has always taken a deep interest. Mrs. McGinnis is also active in church work and is a member of the Ladies' Aid Society. His fraternal connections include membership in Robert E. Johnson Lodge, No. 614, Knights of Pythias; the Junior Order of United American Mechanics; and the Maccabees. With interest he has watched and taken part in the growth and development of Youngstown and in all that represents its solid worth he is a representative citizen. It is with pleasure that the publishers present the protraits of Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis in con'nection with this biographical outline.

20th Century History of Youngstown
and Mahoning County, Ohio and
Representative Citizens,
Edited and compiled by Gen. Thos. W. Sanderson
Youngstown, Ohio
Biographical Publishing Company
Chicago, Illinois 1897

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