HON. JOHN McGILL.
Hon. John McGill, of Laramie, was one of the well known pioneer settlers of Wyoming familiar with every phase of frontier life. He was for a long period a well known cattleman of southern Wyoming but afterward lived retired, enjoying the fruits of his former toil until death claimed him, March 15, 1918.
He was born in Lennoxshire, Scotland, July 16, 1846, a son of Quintin and Jessie (Allen ) McGill. who were natives of the land of hills and heather, where they spent their entire lives, the father devoting his attention to the iron working trade. They passed away in Scotland at an advanced age after rearing a family of eight children.
John McGill, who was the eldest of that family, pursued his education in the public schools of Scotland and remained a resident of that country until he reached the age of twenty years, when, attracted by the opportunities of the new-world, he crossed the Atlantic to Canada, where he was employed in various lines of business at several points in Canada until 1868. In May of that year he crossed the border into the United States and made his way westward to Cheyenne, Wyoming, since which time he was a resident of this state. For a time he was in the employ of Sprague, Davis & Company, engaged in the manufacture of ties for the Union Pacific Railroad Company, and he continued in that line of work for about ten years. At the end of that time he established a ranch on the Big Laramie and turned his attention to stock raising, including cattle and sheep, in which business he continued successfully until he sold out in 1915. In the meantime he had become one of the leading cattlemen of his section of the state, having large herds, and his business affairs were wisely and successfully conducted. As the years went on his financial resources increased as the result of close application and the intelligent direction of his labors and investments and thus he came into possession of a handsome competence that enabled him to retire. He removed to Laramie and purchased property, and there he then made his home. He was a director of the Albany County National Bank and all his investments were most judiciously placed.
On August 25, 1875, in Laramie, Wyoming. Mr. McGill was united in marriage to Helen Patrick Owens, who passed away November 23, 1902, leaving four children. Thomas A., who resides in Albany county, is very successfully conducting a cattle ranch. He married Nora Rose Dodge and has three children, Mary Helen, Eva Agnes and Owens Dodge, the last born in May, 1917. The second in the family, Margaret Owens, is now Mrs. William Irvine. Her husband being a successful ranchman of Albany county. Jessie A. is the widow of Oscar C. Soward, of Laramie, and has two children, Hortense Helen and Ida Margaret. Helen Owens, who completes this family, resides at home. On December 6, 1905, in Laramie, Mr. McGill was again married, his second union being with Mrs. Fannie M. Settele, widow of Louis P. .Settele and a daughter of James Marsh, who was the first lessee of the Wyoming state penitentiary. The demise of Mrs. Fannie M. McGill occurred February 25, 1910, and she left two children, Frances Elizabeth and John Ouintin. The present Mrs. McGill previous to her marriage on October 14. 1014. was Miss Emma Bear, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Bear, of Fulton, Illinois.
In politics Mr. McGill maintained an independent course. His value as a citizen was widely recognized and again and again he was called upon to serve in positions of public honor and trust. He was a member of the last territorial council and for six terms he represented his district in the state senate, being a member of the first state senate after Wyoming"s admission into the Union. He gave careful consideration to the vital questions which came up for settlement and left the impress of his individuality for good upon many measures which had to do with the welfare and progress of the state. He served as president of the senate one term and was a member of the constitutional convention. For twelve years he filled the office of county commissioner and exercised his right of franchise in that connection for the benefit of his county in ways that have been most resultant and beneficial. Up to the time of his death he served as tax commissioner. His religious faith was that of the Presbyterian church and he was a Mason having attained high rank in the Scottish Rite, belonging to the consistory. He was also a member of the Mystic Shrine and his life was a most faithful exposition of the teachings and purposes of the craft. As one of the pioneer settlers of Wyoming, Mr. McGill was widely known. He left home when a young man of twenty years without capital and became one of the prosperous residents of his adopted state. There was no phase of the pioneer development of this section of the state with which he was not familiar and his reminiscences of the early days were interesting, covering the period when Wyoming was largely an open range and the cattlemen still rode at will over the country. He lived to witness remarkable changes as the years passed and he profited by conditions, wisely using his time, talents and opportunities until he became one of the well-to-do men of Laramie, honored and respected by all who knew him by reason of an upright life.
With Mr. McGill, who passed to the great beyond March 15. 1918, there went to his reward one of those men whose life history was part of the history of his state and community. He not only wrought for himself, but he labored for the benefit of others and he left his impress for good upon the annals of his commonwealth. He died in Denver. Colorado, while undergoing a surgical operation and his death was a shock to his family which is hard for them to bear. Expressive of the high esteem in which Mr. McGill was generally held is an editorial which appeared one day after his demise. March 16, 1918, in the Laramie Republican and which is appended to this sketch in full. The Laramie Republican writes of Mr. McGill's achievements and virtues as a citizen as follows:
"The death of Hon. John McGill has removed one of Wyoming's foremost citizens. During almost half a century he has been a conspicuous figure in the public life of the state. Born in Scotland and descending from sturdy stock of that rugged country, he was a man of iron. Sickness rarely troubled him and the doctors" found him a poor customer. When he decided to change his residence to America his first choice was the old and forbidding climate of Nova Scotia. Later he decided to take up his residence in Wyoming, settling at Tie Siding, where he swung the axe and worked in the timber. From this employment he turned to ranching, taking up land some forty miles north of Laramie, and there he raised his family, giving much of his time and his energy to matters pertaining to the public welfare.
"As a private citizen his life was incorruptible. He was a good husband and a kind father. His neighbors profited by his example and precept. He aided them in their private affairs and in the transaction of their public business. In turn, they called upon him to represent them in various official positions. He served them as member of the legislature in several sessions. He was a county commissioner and as such stood for economy and the wiping out of the county debt. During his service on the county board taxation was kept low and the people got value for every dollar expended.
"Perhaps John McGill's greatest work was done in the legislature, where he served both in the house and senate. As senator he conducted Albany county's side of the controversy over the location of the agricultural college and never yielded an inch of the rights that he believed belonged to our people. On one occasion the representatives of Fremont county carried the bill for the location of the college at Lander clear through the house and it was up for consideration in the senate when Mr. McGill moved its indefinite postponement at an opportune time and it was killed.
"Mr. McGill was the author of the anti-gambling law and was always found in keen opposition to vice and immorality.
"In the early years of his residence in Wyoming he was an ardent supporter of the republican party, but in the later years of his life became estranged from that party and accepted office at the hands of the democratic administration, being first appointed to the position of state tax commissioner by Governor Joseph M. Carey in 1911. He was reappointed by Governor Kendrick in 1915 and was holding the position at the time of his death. He was an advocate of equality in taxation and at all times used his official power to bring about a level rate of taxation among all the counties.
"His life work was the stock business, in which he was eminently successful in the management of both cattle and sheep. He had the faculty of making wise investment of his surplus and was largely interested in the Albany County National Bank and the First State Bank of this city. He leaves an ample fortune to his heirs and the priceless legacy of a sterling character."