Peter McGinnis, 1834

Contact: Janet Schwarze




----Source: 1918 History of Clark Co., Wisconsin



PETER MCGINNIS, a notable pioneer of Clark County, now deceased, was born on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, in St. Lawrence County, N. Y., June 29, 1834, and was there educated and trained to agricultural pursuits in early manhood he made two trips to California, but returned pursuits. In early man to St. Lawrence County. In June, 1854, he was there married, in Wading parish, to Julia Welsh--a union that proved most fortunate and happy.


For several years Mr. McGinnis farmed his father's homestead, but later bought one of his own, which he operated until 1869, when he sought his fortune in the West, coming to Wisconsin and locating in La Crosse County. There he farmed for three years, and then, in 1872, came to Clark County, taking a homestead of 120 acres in Sherwood Forest, the tract being wild and heavily timbered. Building a small log house, he moved into it with his family, he and his wife having then ten children--Jennie, Catharine, Mary, Margaret, Patrick, Louise, Francis, Agnes, Ella and William. Two more children, Lillian and Leah, were later born in the little log house, which must have had its capacity sorely taxed. Mr. and Mrs. McGinnis had to surmount many obstacles and endure the privations incident to pioneer life, and at times were almost discouraged, but they persevered and worked together, looking forward to the dawn of a brighter period. They grubbed and broke their land, and were cheered as they saw the cultivated area gradually increase. The primitive buildings were in time replaced with more modern and commodious structures, including a fine farm residence and good barns and outbuildings. The goal of prosperity had been reached, and they were numbered among the well-to-do and most highly respected people in the county.


After remaining on the farm until 1904, Mr. McGinnis removed to the village of Neillsville to enjoy the fruits of his labors, but on April 22, that same spring, his good wife died, leaving him alone and saddened by the consciousness that, after all, the best part of his life lay behind him in the years that were brightened by her loving companionship. She had been a most faithful wife and loving mother, and had she lived until June they would have celebrated their golden wedding together. Thereafter, Mr. McGinnis resided with his children, the last six years of his life being spent at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Cathren Welsh, where he died Aug. 26, 1914, sincerely mourned. His name and that of his wife will long be preserved as those of two of the most noble pioneers of Clark County.


Mr. McGinnis was a public spirited man, always ready to help any and every good cause. He helped to build the school, and was on its board for many years. He also served as chairman of the town board, and was town treasurer for several years. In politics he was a firm Democrat, and for a number of years was the only voter of his party in the township.



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