James McGuinness and His Troubles with the Indians
by Patricia Anne (McGuinness) DuLong and John P. DuLong
James Hubert McGuinness (born 19 October 1841 and died 26 June 1918) was the son of John McGuinness and Margaret Glennon. He would become the closest thing to a cowboy among our ancestors. [Please note that in this report you will see that McGuinness is spelled in a wild variety of ways. We have tried to follow the original spelling in the documents we used. Please understand that in the past people were much more creative when it came to spelling.]
According to family tradition, as related by Uncle Louis Joseph McGuinness, James paid for a bounty replacement to avoid the draft twice during the Civil War. His family were Democrats and opposed to the war. They viewed the war as a Republican war brought on by the election of Mr. Lincoln. The Republicans called these people "Copper Heads." It was not unusual for an Irish-American Catholics to oppose the Civil War (Klement 1984). Despite the glorious efforts of the Irish Brigade at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and other battles, most of the Irish were unenthusiastic about the war and many resisted the draft. In New York City, it was mostly the Irish who were involved in worst draft riot during the war! The Irish viewed the emancipation of the Black slaves as only meaning more competition in the labor market. The Irish-Americans also tended to be Democrats rather than Republicans who were not only in favor of abolitionism, but also prohibition and more likely to be inclined to anti-Catholic Know-Nothingism.
What is curious is that Patricia found a record for a James McGinniss [sic] in the Records of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War 18611865 (Turner 1905, ??? [Need page number]). It states that he enlisted in Co. I, 1st Michigan Calvary, 17 February 1865 at Benton, for 1year, age 25, and discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 20 June 1865. This was an exciting find since the age and name was about right. She wrote away for his military and pension record from the National Archives. There was no pension record, but there was a detailed military record (National Archives and Record Administration 1865). What is confusing on his military record is that it consistently says that he was born in Ireland and not Michigan and he signed his name with an "X," while our James was literate. The physical description on the military papers says that he was five feet eight inches, with brown hair and blue eyes. However, we do not know if this matches our James's physical description. Lastly, this James enlisted in Berrien County, Michigan, while our James lived in Washtenaw County. Therefore, I suspect that this James might not be our ancestor. Great Aunt Mary (McGuinness) Conklin, the daughter of James, said that he never served and that he and his brother Patrick went West to avoid the war. Clearly, James lived to a ripe old age and never joined the Grand Army Republican veterans group (though not all Civil War veterans did join). The intriguing thing about this James McGinniss is that, despite only serving a few months, he made it out to Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, with his unit and was discharged in Kansas at the end of the war. Our James was also living in the West at the same time. Further research is required to clarify if our James ever served in the 1st Michigan Calvary.
In the family there is a story that when James and his brother Patrick were out West the Indians ran them off their land. The family stories also said that James tried to get reparation for the goods the Indians took, but he was never successful.
In 1989, while on a business trip to the Washington, D.C. John visited the National Archives. There he found the paperwork that had been submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the restitution of property taken by the Indians and petitions sent to the U. S. Congress (National Archives and Record Administration 1874; U. S. House of Representatives 1872, 1882; U. S. Senate 1881).
These documents reveal an interesting tale. It appears that James was employed by Captain Haight on a steamer from St. Louis, Missouri, up the Missouri River to Fort Benton and Camp Cook in Montana. Around 25 August 1867, James was returning from delivering the U.S. mail when he was attacked by a party of Yellowstone Sioux Indians. He was left without clothing or provisions for five days. In this primitive condition he managed to walk back to Fort Hawley. Then, one month later, between 1-20 September 1867, a party of Crow Indians came to his house and burned it with all his supplies. But let us have the documents speak for themselves. The following transcriptions are based on documents found at the National Archives (National Archives and Record Administration 1874):
Clearly, James had business sense for running a store, he just did not pick the best location for his enterprise. Apparently his store was a trading post for the Indians and he sold goods to the enlisted men at the military posts around Musselshell, Montana.
James brother Patrick, and possibly his brother Thomas, were out West around the same time. It is not clear when they went out. However, we know that Patrick made out an affidavit for James stating that he saw the Indians put the trading post to flames, therefore, he must have been with him in Montana in 1867 (Affidavit of Patrick McGuiness made 28 June 1870 in National Archives and Record Administration 1874). Patrick had returned by 1868 when he married Julia OHara. James did not return to Michigan until after 1869.
When he came home he sought assistance from Peter Tuite, Notary Public, and a relative of his Aunt Ann (McGuinness) Tuite, to help him apply for the restitution of his property lost to the Indian raids in Montana. However, by the time the Indian agent in Montana was able to verify James's claims (six months by overland mail), the three years statute of limitations had run out (Letter from E. S. Parker, Commissioner, to the Hon. Austin Blair, U. S. House of Representatives Michigan, Republican, dated 2 February 1871, Washington, DC, in National Archives and Record Service 1874). James then had to have a congressman submit a special bill to the House of Representatives in Washington, D. C., to get an extension on the statute of limitations for his special circumstances. The following actions relating to James's claim can be found in the paperwork at the National Archives:
Why two additional bills were created after the successful passing of the first bill in 1872 is unclear? Perhaps James had submitted the paperwork to the wrong committee in the first place. All these actions were futile since none of these bills were ever approved by the Senate. The first successfully passed bill was apparently left to die by the Senate in the 42nd Congress, 2nd Session (U. S. Senate 1881). According to family tradition, this was because James was a Democrat and the Senate was controlled by Republicans at that time.
James eventually went into business with Peter Tuite. He bought an interest in Peter Tuite & Co., a store dealing in dry goods, boots, shoes, and groceries, in 1871 (Dexter Area Sesquicentennial, Inc. 1974). They remained partners until 1875 when Peter Tuite left. The store then became known as James McGuiness & Co., and later McGuiness & Bros.,when his brother Christopher J. McGuinness joined him by 1877 (Polk 1877, ??? [Need page number]). Although James had no fear of Indian raids back in Michigan, he still had to face competitors. James married Emma Palmer about 1879 in Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan. He opened stores in Eaton Rapids and Albion, Michigan, which both didn't do as well as he had hoped and sold them, according to his daughter Mary (McGuinness) Conklin . At his wifes urging, he eventually returned to farming in Hastings Township, Barry County, Michigan, around 1885 to finish raising his family in a more stable environment (Barry County Abstract Office 1950). James then went back to selling nursery stock (trees and plants) for a Kalamazoo Nursery Company. He sold the farm on 13 February 1913. James then retired to Detroit about 1915 so he and Emma could be close to their daughters, who were teachers in the Detroit Public Schools.
Barry County Abstract Office, Hastings Michigan. 1950. Abstract of Title, Northeast One Quarter of Section Fourteen, Town Three North, Range Nine West (11 January).
Conklin, Mary. 1985. Interview with Patricia A. DuLong on tape (8 March).
Dexter Area Sesquicentennial, Inc. 1974. 18241974: A Trail Through Time, 150 Years, A Brief History of the Dexter Area. Dexter, MI: Dexter Area Sesquicentennial Committee.
History of Washtenaw County, Michigan. 1881. 2 vols. Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co. See vol. 2, p. 862.
Klement, Frank L. 1984. "Catholics as Copperheads During the Civil War." The Catholic Historical Review 80 (January): 36-57.
National Archives and Record Administration. 1865. Civil War Military Record for James McGinnis, Co. I, 1st Michigan Cavalry, Union.
National Archives and Record Administration. 1874. "McGinnis, James HR [bill no.] 2752" [folder]. U. S. House of Representatives, 43rd Congress, Accompanying Papers File Mas-McG, Record Group 233, Box no. 27. [This folder contains the heart of James's case and includes letters and other documentation to support his case for Indian reparations.]
Polk, R. L. 1877. Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1877. Detroit: R. L. Polk.
Turner, George H. 1905. Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865 [First Cavalry]. Lansing, MI: Michigan Adjutant-Generals Department, Ihling Bros. & Everard.
U. S. Congress. 2000. Biographical Directory of the United States of Congress, 1774-Present. Available at http://bioguide.congress.gov (7 August).
U. S. House of Representatives. 1872. Journal of the House of Representatives. 2nd Session, 42nd Congress. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. See vol. 1501, pp. 269 and 956, vol. 1593, p. 686, and vol. 1671, p. 253.
__________. 1882. Digested Summary and Alphabetical Lists of Private Claims, 42-46 Congress. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. See pp. 433-434.
U. S. Senate. 1881. The Miscellaneous Documents of the Senate of the United States, 1880-1881. 3 vols. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. See vol. 2, p. 37.
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