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James McGuinness and His Troubles with the Indians

by Patricia Anne (McGuinness) DuLong and John P. DuLong

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James Hubert McGuinness

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 1861–1865 (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):


State of Michigan
Washtenaw County } as

James McGinness of the Township of Scio Washtenaw County and State of Michigan formerly of Musselshell Montana Territory being duly Sworn deposes and says, that on or about the 25th day of August AD 1867 he was employed by Captain Haight then running a Steamer in the employ of the United States Government on the Missouri River from St. Louis to Fort Benton Said Steamer being freighter with Government supplies for Camp Cook & other points on the River and the water being shallow.  Said Steamer could not proceed further up the River than Fort Hawley, and the Captain being desirous of giving notice of the same to the proper offices at Camp Cook and also to deliver the United States mail; that at the solicitation of said Capt. Haight he the said James McGuiness undertook to carry the mail & notify the proper officers as aforesaid and on the way met a party of Government Troops with a train & delivered the mail and notified them of the detention of the Steamer & that on his return to Fort Hawley he was attacked by a party of Yellowstone Sioux Indians.  That they took from him his horse and outfit together with his clothing & provisions leaving him destitute and being so exposed for five or six days, & in imminent peril of his life he managed to reach Fort Hawley; And that for said labor & Exposure to danger there is yet due to him on said contract the sum of one hundred Dollars $100.00 and for the loss of his horse saddle & outfit not less than three hundred Dollars $300.00.

Amount due on Contract      $100.00
Horse & Saddle & c.           $300.00
                                            $400.00

Sworn and Subscribed
to before me this 5th day of   {   James McGinnis
July AD 1870

Peter Tuite
Notary Public
Washtenaw County
Michigan

Claimant P.O. Address Dexter Washtenaw Co. Mich.     B51

 


State of Michigan
Washtenaw County } as

James McGuiness a resident of the Township of Scio Washtenaw County and State of Michigan "formerly a resident of Musseshele [sic] Montana Territory"being duly Sworn deposes and Says, that at the Messeshele in Montana Territory some time from the first to the twentieth day of September AD 1867 a party of Crow Indians Came to his premises set his Dwelling House on fire and burned the same with all its contents valued at least at twenty five hundred Dollars $2500.00.  Leaving him without a House or Place of Shelter from the approaching Winter storms and destroying all supplies laid in for the Winter use, which had the same not been destroyed would have been a source of profit to him at least double the amount set forth in this affidavit.   James McGinness

Sworn & Subscribed to
before me this 24th day    {
of June AD 1870

Peter Tuite
Notary Public
Washtenaw County Michigan

Claimants P. O. Address Dexter Washtenaw Co. Mich.     B51

 


George Clendina Jr. of Washington, District of Columbia being duly sworn before as fol:- That on or about the 25th day of August 1867 he saw foregoing James McGinniss while passing down the Missouri River after discharging his Government business in the neighborhood of Grand Island near Fort Hawley Montana.  And that he resided with the said McGinness afterwards till the summer of 1868, it being corroborated [sic] by Crow Indians with whom the Yellowstone Sioux Indians were there at Peace.

Geo. Clendina Jr.

Subscribed and Sworn to before me this 20th day of August me this 20th day of August A.D. 1870

Jos. T. R. Plant J. P. {seal}

 


I
do hereby certify that I have examined into the circumstances connected with the claims of James McGinniss for compensation for damages arising from the depredations of the Yellowstone Sioux tribe of Indians committed on or about the 25th of August 1867 at or near Fort Hawley Big Horn Co. Montana and am satisfied his claim is just and recommend it to the favorable consideration of the Department.

I do further certify that I am satisfied that the prices charged for the articles enumerated in his affidavit here to annexed are reasonable and not above the market value at the date & place of said loss.

A. S. Reed
U.S. Indian agent

 


I
do hereby certify that I have examined into the circumstances connected with the claim of James McGinniss, for compensation for damages arising from the depredation of the Crow tribe of Indians committed on or about the 10th of Sept. 1867 at or near Muscleshell, Big Horn Co Montana, and am satisfied his claim is just and recommend it to the favorable consideration of the Departments.

I do further certify that I am satisfied that the prices charged for the property enumerated, in his affidavit here to annexed, are reasonable and not about the market value, at the date and place of said loss.

A. S. Reed
U.S. Indian agent

 


State of Michigan
Washtenaw County } ss

On this twentieth day of February AD 1872, before me a Notary Public in and for the County and State aforesaid, personally appeared James McGinness, whom I certify to be respectable and entitled to credit, who's being by me first duly Sworn according to the law upon his oath Says that he is the Identical James McGinness whose claim against the United States for property destroyed in the territory of Montana in the year AD 1867 by the Indians, is now before Congress.  And he States the following reasons among others for not having presented his claim to the Indian Bureau at Washington at an earlier day than he did present it.--

First.  That he was at the time of his losses about two hundred miles beyond mail communications & beyond the borders of civilization.

Second.  That his business & business relations required that he should remain there for about two years after Said losses and that he could not sooner leave his business in that locality without suffering Still greater precurinary loss in the way of employment.  Although it would have been very great advantage to him if he could have received remuneration for his losses at that time.  Still there was at that time and place an opportunity open before him for future employment which seemed to be for his interest to remain there for the time being.

Third.  That he did not at that time know nor had he any reason to Suppose or believe that it was necessary the he Should present his claim to the government within any limited time for adjustment but Supposed that he could present it at any time without being Subject to any loss or Prejudice by loss of time.

Fourth.  That as Soon as he did return to his home where he could get advice & counsel as to the Method and course that it was necessary for him to pursue in the Matter, he immediately began to take measures to have his claim brought before the Indian Bureau for adjustment.  And that upon corresponding with the Department about the Subject, he was informed that it would be necessary for him to procure the certification of the Indian agent nearest to the place of his losses, and that upon receiving such information he immediately wrote to Mr. Reed the Indian agent at Fort Browning with a statement of his claim, and a request that the Said Agent would examine in the same and attach his certificate thereto, if found correct and return it by mail to this affiant [sic] as Soon as possible, but that it was four or five months before he got returns from Said Agent.  And that he forwarded his claim to Washington as Soon as it was possible after he got certificate of Said Agent. (which Said certificate is attached to Said claim)[.]  Soon after which he was informed for the first time and to his Surprise, that it was to [sic] late to have his claim Adjusted by the Commissioner of the Indian Bureau in Consequence of a Statute of Limitations.

Fifth.  That although he very much needed the pay or remuneration for his Said Losses immediately yet to have left his business and returned to the State at that time as it would have been necessary for him to have done in order to have presented it to the Department at Washington at an earlier day would have Subjected him to a very great expense & inconvenience as well as the loss of the opportunity then open before him of earning more money than he could else where.

Subscribed & Sworn
to before me this                   {     James McGinness
twelfth day of February
AD 1872 & I do hereby certify that I have [no] interest either directly or indirectly in the prosecution of this claim

Peter Tuite
Notary Public
Washtenaw County Michigan

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 O’Hara. 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:

Mr. Austin Blair introduced, during the 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, "A Bill (H. R. 1383) for the Relief for James McGinnies" to the Committee of Claims on 5 February 1872 (U. S. House of Representatives 1872, vol. 1501, p. 269). 
Mr. William Pierce Frye, U. S. House of Represnetatives, Maine, Republican, of the Claims Committee, 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, re-read H. R. 1383 on 24 May 1872 for the third time.  It was then voted on and passed the committee (U. S. House of Representatives 1872, vol. 1501, p. 956).   
H. R. 1383 was apparently passed in the U. S. House of Representatives during the 42nd Congress, 2nd Session (U. S. House of Representatives 1882, p. 433).  This was confirmed in a letter from A. D. Crane to Hon. Zachariah Chandler, U. S. Senate, Michigan, Republican, dated 2 February 1873, Dexter, Michigan, stating that: "I beg leave to direct your attention to a Bill for the Relief of James McGinness which I am informed passed the House of Representatives at the last session, and is now pending before the Committee of Claims in the Senate."  (National Archives and Record Administration 1874).
Mr. Henry Waldron, U. S. House of Representatives, Michigan, Republican, introduced, during the 43rd Congress, 1st Session, "A Bill (H. R. 1507) for Relief of James McGuinness" to the Committee on Indian Affairs on 30 March 1874 (U. S. House of Representatives 1872, vol. 1593, p. 686).  No record is found of the outcome of this bill.  It probably did not make it out of committee. 
Mr. Waldron again introduced, during the 44th Congress, 1st Session, "A Bill (H. R. 2752) for the Relief of James McGinnies" to the Committee on Indian Affairs on 24 January 1876 (U. S. House of Representatives 1872, vol. 1671, p. 253).  Again, this bill apparently did not make it out of committee. 

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.

References

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.  1824–1974: 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-General’s 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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This page, and all contents, are Copyright 1999 by Patricia A. (McGuinness) DuLong, Berkley, MI.   Created 1 July 2000.   Last modified 8 August  2000.  This web site is best viewed with your display set to 800 by 600 pixels, at least 256 colors, and using Netscape 4.x or better.  Some of the graphics on this page are copyright 1998, 1999 by Amanda Fisher and are used here in compliance with her terms.