Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 152] who is a representative and leading farmer of North Beaver township, was born in Washington Co., Pa., Jan. 23, 1847. His grandfather, James McGinnis, was the son of William McGinnis, who was born about the middle of the eighteenth century in County Down, Ireland. In 1780 William McGinnis wedded Martha Wilson, an estimable lady of Scotch ancestry, and two years later they came to America and settled in Carlisle, Cumberland Co., Pa. After a short sojourn there, he began looking about for a suitable location for a home, and made a trial of Staunton, Va., and Lancaster Co., Pa.; finally in company with his wife he took up his residence near Cavatt's Mills, Allegheny Co., Pa., where he lived from 1796 until 1800. In that year Mr. McGinnis bought a 200-acre tract of land in Shenango township, Crawford County, and devoted the greater portion of his remaining years to clearing the ground of the forest that cumbered it, and getting the fields in cultivation. He died on this farm in Crawford County in 1817. Mr. McGinnis was a devoted parent, a Christian gentleman, and an active and zealous member of the Seceder's denomination. Five children were born to this pioneer couple, and were named: James; John; Martha; Elizabeth; and William.

James McGinnis, the eldest son of the preceding, and grandfather of our subject, was born in Ireland in 1781, and was brought when a babe in arms by his parents to this country. He received the best school training available in those days, and when still a youth entered Cavatt's Mills, where he soon became an expert workman. His duties in the mill kept him for the most part in the foundry department, where he worked on castings, mainly those of mold-boards and plows. He married Mary Scott, the daughter of Samuel Scott, and leaving his mechanical pursuits settled on a farm in Robinson township, where he died July 8, 1817, at the early age of thirty-six years. His widow afterwards married Joseph Logan, and lived with that gentleman until her death, March 30, 1849. James McGinnis left five children: Samuel W.; William; John; James; and Elizabeth.

William McGinnis, father of John M., the subject of this article, was born in Allegheny Co., Pa., March 28, 1811. When still a lad he served an apprenticeship at the trade of wagon-making with George Hoffman. Feeling that that line of work was not suited to him, and having by his own efforts secured a good education, he began teaching school—a calling in which he was very successful. He wedded Matilda E. Hoffman, May 16, 1835, and located at Sharon, Pa., where he embarked in mercantile pursuits. Later on he removed to Stevenson's Mills, Allegheny County, where he continued in business. In 1843, Mr. McGinnis went to Hickory, Washington County, and resided there several years, conducting a large store, and dealing heavily in wool and other commodities. In 1848, he closed out his business interests, and came to North Beaver township, buying the farm, where his son, William S. McGinnis, now resides. Here he lived the life of a retired farmer until his decease, which occurred Aug. 14, 1889. His first wife, Matilda, died in 1844, when but thirty years of age, leaving three children: James, Mary and George. His second wife, with whom he was joined in matrimonial bonds March 12, 1846, was Mary Tannihill, daughter of James Tannihill. She was born Feb. 1, 1825, and died Feb. 4, 1886, leaving six children: John M.; Wilson; Sarah; William; Duira; and Ada.

John M. McGinnis was the eldest son by the last marriage. He attended public and select schools, gaining a good, substantial education, and in 1869, when twenty-two years of age, he followed out the instincts of his pioneer blood, and went to Dickinson Co., Kansas, then a new section of the country so far as improvements and a settled character went, and settled down on a claim near Abilene. There he became interested in farming property, bought and sold land, and followed with a large measure of success agricultural pursuits. In 1875, he returned to his old home to care for his interests there, for he had fallen heir to the valuable James Tannihill estate of 172 acres, which he still owns and operates at this writing. Since taking hold of this extensive property he has made many improvements. In 1893, he built a very handsome modern residence, and laid out broad lawns about it. The large and commodious barn, 42x80 feet in dimensions, was built about 1885. One of the most complete dairies in his neighborhood is maintained, and two of the finest springs in the township are situated on his farm, giving him an abundance of clear, cold water for use in the house, in the dairy, and for watering the stock. Every element which goes to make the modern country place is here provided. Orchards, grain fields, and broad meadows, all well and carefully tended, stretch away from the home plot.

John M. McGinnis was married, Nov. 4, 1891, to Miss Addie Hopper, daughter of John and Annie (Hamilton) Hopper. John Hopper was born in Westmoreland Co., Pa., March 24, 1797, and was a son of Robert and Margaret (Watson) Hopper, who were both of Irish birth. This last named couple settled in Westmoreland County on their arrival in this country, but afterward with their family moved to Hickory Creek, near Mt. Jackson, North Beaver township. Robert Hopper took up a claim in North Beaver township and began clearing two hundred acres of virgin forest land. He built as his residence a double log-house, with a chimney in the middle, which structure stood for years as a landmark. By trade he was an Irish weaver and to his old age retained his skill and knowledge of the art. He reared a large family of children, who were Robert; William; John; and James. Both he and his good wife lived to an advanced age. John Hopper, the son of Robert, and father-in-law of Mr. McGinnis, inherited a portion of the home estate, and followed farming all of his life, clearing a goodly portion of his property himself. Through steady industry and thrifty methods, he became a very successful and well-known citizen. After a time, he sold his large place, which is now known as the L. L. Robinson farm, and bought the smaller tract, known at the time as the Joseph Henry Place. In this home of his last years his wife and family still reside. He departed this life Oct. 15, 1878. His wife was a daughter of James and Elizabeth (Monroe) Hamilton. James Hamilton was born in Westmoreland County, and settled years ago on the farm in North Beaver township, where Robert Gibson now lives. Mr. Hamilton lived to the age of seventy-two, and his wife attained fifty-six years. Their children were: Thomas; Annie, who became the mother-in-law of the subject of this account; David; John; Shepard; and Jane. The children of John Hopper and his wife were: Elizabeth; Margaret; Maria; Addie, subject's wife; Mary; and Amanda.

John M. McGinnis is not only a representative man in the community, but he wields a great amount of influence among his many friends. In political views, he is an earnest Republican. Since youth he has been a consistent member of the United Presbyterian Church. He has held the office of supervisor as well as others of lesser importance. He is a man of broad information and well-rounded character, for he has traveled widely, and carried on business in many distant parts of the United States. Descended from a line of rugged and upright ancestry of which any man might well feel proud, he is preeminently a citizen of the class which gives stability and strength to the community, the State and the Nation.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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