In the pages of this book will be found a fairly complete genealogy of the descendents of James Milton Maginnis for up to eight generations. Generations one through four are basically complete. Much of the work for this book was done prior to 1992, and although several changes and additions in generations five through eight have been made, we apologize that there are undoubtedly many additional changes in the past nine years which are not reflected in this book. The referencing and indexing in the later generations were also problematic to figure out, as additional children were born. It was finally decided to publish the book "as is" rather than attempt to redo all of the current generations of this interesting family.

In addition to recording the direct descendents of James Milton Maginnis, the history of the early days of the family as they were moving west from Ohio and their settlement in Wisconsin is remarkably recorded due to some of the early letters and other documents which have been preserved. The book is a compilation of the records which had been found independently by two of the descendents, Judy Maginnis Kuster, sixth generation from William Randolph Maginnis, and Betty M. Styer, fifth generation from Joshua Frederick Maginnis. These records were then combined into the material in this history-genealogy of the Maginnis/McGinnis family.

It is probable that James Milton Maginnis was descended from those Scotch-Irish emigrants who, according to Charles A. Hanna, Ohio Valley Genealogies, “landed principally at Newcastle and Philadelphia, and thence found their way northward and westward into eastern and middle counties of Pennsylvania. From thence one stream followed the Cumberland and Virginia valleys into Virginia ....”

When we were children we were told by our parents that the Maginnis family was “Scotch-Irish.” In connecting with other descendents all over the country, other distant cousins have been told the same thing. Obviously, our Maginnis/McGinnis ancestors were proud of their “Scotch-Irish” heritage and wanted us to know about the struggles our emigrant ancestors had before coming to America. The meaning of the term Scotch-Irish is then quite pertinent to the history of our branch of the family in America.

There are Irish Maginnis/McGinnis families in America who are not Scotch-Irish. They are probably descended from the Magennises who were, from the twelfth century, the principal territorial lords of Iveagh, County Down, and were in Ireland before our ancestors.

But our Maginnis ancestors, the Scotch-Irish, as they were called when they settled in America, were all originally from Scotland. They had emigrated first from Scotland to Ulster in Ireland, and since they were all Protestants (Presbyterian), they kept pretty much to themselves in Ireland, not mixing with the Irish Catholics around them. Later when they became dissatisfied with Ireland, they moved to America.

An interesting account of the Scotch-Irish story appears in another genealogy (Our Family McFadden) of Scotch-Irish emigrants that found their way to Ohio. The following is taken extensively from this account.

The story of the Scotch-Irish begins near the end of the reign of Elizabeth I in England.  Irish lords in the North of Ireland rose in rebellion against the Queen and she sent Essex to put down the rebellion.  Instead, he neglected his duties and conspired with some of the rebel leaders. After he was called back to England, he was determined to overthrow the Queen and seize the Crown for himself.  Instead he was seized, thrown into the Tower, and beheaded. His successor in Ireland put down the rebellion and the lands of the rebels were forfeited to the Crown.

Elizabeth died in 1603 and King James I became her successor. James I of England is also referred to as James VI of Scotland. Until the time of James I, Northern Ireland was inhabited only by the native Irish people.  During his reign in the 1600’s, large numbers of the Irish people were driven out of their homes and into southern Ireland. The settlement of the Scotch along with English in the forfeited lands in Ulster Ireland is attributed to him. These lands were known as the “Great Plantation.” Between 1610 and 1625, the King took 4,000,000 acres of land forfeited because of the rebellion of the owners in the counties of Londonderry, Donegal, Tyrone, Cavan and Fermanagh and divided it into estates of 2,000 acres or less.

These estates were given to men of known wealth and substance. Those who accepted the grants were bound to live on them, to bring with them English or Scottish settlers, to build for themselves and the settlers fortified places for defense, houses to live in, and churches in which to worship.

The migration from Scotland was tremendous. One estimate is that in a ten-year period between 30,000 and 40,000 Scots had migrated by ship across the thirty miles of sea from Scotland to Ireland.

Some of these Scots who went to Ireland at the time of the “Great Plantation” may have been our ancestors. Or perhaps our Scot ancestors left Scotland and went to Ireland a few years later, during or after the persecution in Scotland of the Presbyterians in the seventeenth century struggles with the kings. Under the influence of John Calvin and the leadership of John Knox, the Scots turned away from the familiar church organization, the episcopacy, which placed power in the hands of the bishops and members of the hierarchy who had absolute control over the churches and the members of the congregations.  Presbyterians of that day believed that Christ was Lord of the Universe. He was Lord over both church and state. Knox saw the church as part of the national life and developed a system of church organization which gave the lay workers a real place in the church, and this importance is a key to understanding the independence which is so much a part of the character of the Scotch-Irish.

In 1592, King James VI agreed to an act of Parliament abolishing all “acts contrary to the true religion.” Thus the Church of Scotland was born. This Reformed Church then was the national church and no changes could be made in the organization of the form of worship without consulting both the general assembly and the Scottish Parliament. 

The Presbyterian organization in Scotland made it difficult for a king who wanted absolute power to control the church and the people. In 1637, Charles I of England, who was also the King of Scotland, decided to force changes in the Church of Scotland. These changes were strongly resisted by the Presbyterians, thousands of whom signed the “National Covenant,” stating they would support the Reformed Church rather than the King’s.  The people who signed the National Covenant were called “Covenanters.” They were severely persecuted and thousands were massacred or banished for their faith.  Perhaps our ancestors were among those who fled Scotland and went to Ireland at that time.

At any rate, the Scots who went to Ulster filled with expectations for a better life in Ireland were often disappointed. In 1641, the Catholics, bitter over the settlement in their land, rose against them and estimates are that as many as 12,000 Scots died. When leases ran out, the rents were raised by the landlords, taxes to support the established Church of England were increased, laws were passed which prevented them from selling their products and which interfered with the practice of their religion, particularly in regard to the legality of marriages. One hundred years after the first settlements, the Ulster Scots began to emigrate to America, again with high hope.

Most of the Scotch-Irish who came to the colonies settled first in Pennsylvania. Some of them moved west and south into Virginia, the Carolinas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. When the Indian lands were opened for settlement, many moved to western Pennsylvania. Then, when a large area of public lands in eastern Ohio was opened for settlement in 1800, many moved into Ohio as our Maginnis family did.

The Scotch-Irish, wherever they settled brought with them their strong religious faith, their sense of personal independence, their belief in the importance of education and their belief in their right to stand up against injustice and to fight for freedom.

In various census records, James Milton Maginnis’ occupation throughout his life is listed as tailor and carpenter. He was also a soldier and a farmer. As his sons grew up and prepared to leave home they had an earnest desire to gain an education, or become involved in a business. The desire to farm did not appear to be strong in any of them. William Randolph wanted to study law and did for a time. Before his death, he became a teacher and farmer in WI.  His brother, James Milton Jr, became a teacher and then went into the ministry. Joshua Frederick who was younger went into the building business and became a plasterer in a time when a great deal of building was going on as the new state of Wisconsin was being settled.

Speculation about Joseph’s occupation referred to in a letter as “on the lower trade” produced much wondering, research, and many questions for librarians. Finally in the map library of the Library of Congress, another patron overheard the question of the librarian (who had never heard the term before), and knew the answer. Reading several books and articles on the subject confirmed his explanation.  The “lower trade” mentioned in the letter referred to river trade on the Ohio River below the falls at Louisville KY. Joseph apparently followed the occupation of the river trade below the falls at Louisville. A review of the occupations of the descendents of James Milton Maginnis born before 1900 reveals a great variety of occupations, including banker, bookkeeper, dentist, judge, lawyer, minister, teacher, as well as several farmers.

In view of the fact that all the children of James and Honor Matilda Barns Maginnis except Joshua died at an early age, they accomplished much in their short lives.   James Jr. had taught school and educated himself to become a Methodist-Episcopal minister in Ohio. He died at the age of 36. John died 19 May 1849 at the age of 27. Little is known of his life.  Joseph died in St. Louis, MO 1 Feb 1850 at the age of 35. He had accumulated property in Ohio which he left to his brother William Randolph who named his first son Joseph. William Randolph died at the age of 37 after having accumulated an estate which was left in trust to his son, Joseph. Joseph received the legacy from his guardian and step-father, Marcus Barden, when he attained the age of 21. The daughters, Minerva and Ermina both died at a young age leaving young children. Joshua died 1 Mar 1906 in Beatrice NE at the age of 76. James Maginnis Sr. survived all of his children except Joshua, dying at the age of 85 in Adams Co WI.

A pattern of name spelling has been evident in the family. Although James Milton Maginnis, the father, signed his name either “Maginnis” or “MaGinnis,” and several of the letters written to him by his son James Jr. are addressed to James “Maginnis,” James Jr. consistently signed his name “McGinnis” and his children spelled their last name “McGinnis,” which has carried through to this day along some branches.

William Randolph, Joseph’s father, sometimes spelled his name “McGinnis,” but William Randolph died when his son was only three, and Joseph had contact with the only other Maginnis relative in Wisconsin, his grandfather, James, who consistently spelled his name “Maginnis” or “MaGinnis”; therefore he and his family continued to spell the name in that way.

According to Clifford, grandson of Joshua, in their line the name was usually spelled “Maginnis” until his father, Lewis Adelbert’s oldest daughter, Leona, changed the spelling of her name to “McGinnis” and all of her siblings followed suit, much against the wishes of Joshua “Maginnis,” their grandfather, and Del her father. 

It is not known why family members chose to make changes in the name. Early researchers, John F. Meginness Origin and History of the Magennis Family in 1891, and Richard Linn, Pedigree of the Magennis (Guinness) Family in 1897, indicate that their lines come from the County Down in Ireland. The “Mc” spelling indicates a Scottish origin.

Much of the research on this family was done by the two compilers separately visiting the places in which the families lived, and seeking the original records, in the court houses, libraries, cemeteries, and other archives. Correspondence with known members of the families led to other families. The State Historical Society of Wisconsin was helpful, as was the National Archives in Washington D.C.

A series of letters written between 1843 and 1857 by James Milton Maginnis and his sons William and James Jr. have been preserved. Much of what is known of the Maginnis/McGinnis family from this era comes from correspondence between James Jr. in Ohio and his brother William Randolph in Dover, OH, and later in Wisconsin, and his father James Sr. in Wisconsin. The high level of education of the Maginnis/McGinnis family of the mid-l800s, as well as the kind of people they were, is evident throughout these letters.  The original letters are in the possession of Robert McGinnis of San Diego, California, and excerpts from those letters occur throughout this book. The letters are included in full in the Appendix.

Many of the birth, marriage and death dates for the Maginnis/McGinnis family were found written in James Maginnis Sr’s own hand in the middle of a Bible he gave to his grandson, Joseph Maginnis and his wife Nettie Payne on 1 Jan 1883, a few months before the death of James. The Bible is in the possession of Inez Buzzell, a grand-daughter of Joseph and Nettie.  Other Bibles which added to or corroborated information already found were those of the families of Joshua Maginnis, John McGinnis, Peter U. Holm, Orin Baker, and William Webb.

The format of the book is the Record or Modified Register Plan which is used in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. It has a distinctive format, although minor variations will occur. The first person in the chart, the progenitor of the line, is given the Number 1.  The children of the progenitor are assigned small Roman numerals to establish order and Arabic numerals to establish overall placement in the family. Children who are continued later in the report are identified by a “+” mark to the left of their Arabic numeral.

The first paragraph of each report includes the vital information concerning the individual followed by text material concerning his or her history. A paragraph follows with the vital information concerning the spouse, sometimes followed by text material concerning that person.  This is followed by the children of the marriage. Dates given in bold type indicate that they are based on primary evidence or preponderance of secondary evidence. Dates in regular type indicate secondary evidence but with some question of reliability. Question marks indicate dates from unreliable evidence or estimates.

Superscript numbers  following a given name denote the generation. Any other superscript numbers denote footnotes. A number followed by two letters (21Ma) in footnotes indicates the location of the documentation in the files of compiler, BMS.

The Index includes names which are in the direct blood line, their husbands and wives, and children who have been adopted. It also includes parents of husbands and wives of persons in the blood line, or children of second marriages to husbands and wives not in the blood line when they are known. Female persons are indexed primarily under their last-known surname, with cross references from maiden name and names from earlier marriages.

We wish to express our appreciation to all those who helped with this project. The people in the court houses and libraries and other archives were most helpful, as were those who sent letters containing information about themselves and their immediate families, and their family pictures.  Without them the scope of this book would not have been possible.

Judith Maginnis Kuster

Betty M. Styer