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The McGills
McGill, Andrew Ryan, Cont’d.— Gleanings From Minnesota History—Capt. Henry A. Castle in National Tribune—Proceedings in Memoriam of the Senate


We make the following excerpts from the "Lives of the Governors of Minnesota," written by Gen. J. H. Baker in 1906 and 1907, for the Minnesota Historical Society:

ANDREW RYAN McGILL—Tenth Governor—

* * * * *

But the tocsin of war roused his patriotic heart, and we find him deserting the school room and enlisting as a private in Captain Asgrim K. Skar’s Company "D" of the Ninth Minnesota Regiment, August 19, 1862, at the age of twenty-two. He was elected first sergeant. His service was on the frontier against the Sioux Indians in their memorable outbreak. He was posted at St. Peter and was present as a guard at the hanging of the condemned Sioux at Mankato, December 26, 1862, where the writer, who was in command at that most extraordinary execution first knew young McGill.

He served with fidelity for one year and was discharged for serious disability August i8, 1863, and none too soon, for only nursing and care for weeks and months brought him back to health, but not to a degree to make it advisable for him to re-enlist, which was to him then, and afterwards, a great regret.

* * * * *

Andrew R. McGill was inaugurated as Governor January 5, 1887. A careful examination of his inaugural address and the regular biennial address January 9, 1889, exhibit the character and purposes of the man in an exalted light. With unfaltering resolution he intelligently maintained his principles. The record shows great accomplishments.

* * * * *

Governor McGill's administration was characterized by faithful and meritorious work in many other directions. He urged the simplification of the tax laws, the abolishment of contract prison labor and the establishment of that noble institution, the Soldiers' Home. These all stand to his favor and credit. The wisdom of these measures is more apparent as time advances and their repeal has never been attempted. He advocated greater supervision of railroads, as to transportation, freight and passenger rates, and was the first Governor to recommend the abolishing of the issuance of free passes.

His friends may well be proud of his fearless and manly records, and the judgment of posterity will crown his name with honor. No odor of jobbery, nor fumes of the political pit rise against him ; no private or public scandal ever raised a whisper against his good name.

* * * * *

In 1898 and again in 1903 he was elected State Senator for the 37th Senatorial District. His legislative career was marked by a close application to duty and a conscientious exercise of his senatorial prerogatives. He was the pronounced enemy of all vicious legislation, and the friend of all needful reforms. He was the spokesman of the old soldier on the floor of the Senate. It was chiefly through his influence that the noble monument was erected to the Minnesota soldiers who fell at Vicksburg.

He participated influentially in the movement to organize Acker Post 21, G. A. R., and always took an active interest in its proceedings.

* * * * *

He took a profound interest in the public schools and had served as President of the St. Paul Board of Education.

Governor McGill was justly esteemed as a citizen and a man. His affections bound him to his country and to his friends and family-always kind and considerate of friend or foe, with a personal deportment beyond the reach of criticism, his constant civilities won upon all. Anger and resentment were unknown to him in his conduct of life. He was always, and at all times, and above all, a gentleman. He was truly the gentleman in politics.

Modest by nature he was truly indifferent to publicity and notoriety. Above all, he possessed a spotless character; and character, like gold coin, passes current among all men and in all countries. His private life was pure and sweet and his friendship a benediction.

* * * * *

Governor McGill died suddenly on the morning of October 31, 1905, at his residence, No. 2203 Scudder avenue, St. Anthony Park, with scarcely a

premonition of his end. An affection of the heart with which he had suffered for years was the cause of his death. His wish that he might be at home when the end came was gratified.

By order of the Governor of the State, the flags on both the old and new Capitols were drooped at half-mast, and the Governor’s office was appropriately draped in black. His funeral rites were very simple, in strict accordance with his own often expressed wish. There were no public services, and the Rev. S. G. Smith, pastor of the People’s church, officiated at the family residence.

Four men who had been Governors of Minnesota were among the honorary pallbearers, namely:

Horace Austin, L. F. Hubbard, S. R. Van Sant and John A. Johnson. Members of the Acker Post G. A. R., attended in a body, as did also the Post-office employes.


(From The National Tribune, March 15, 1906.)

EX-GOV. McGILL

Death of a Minnesota Comrade Whose Life Was One of Good Works.

By Captain Henry A. Castle.

(Formerly Auditor of the Treasury for the Post-office Department).

Few members of the Grand Army of the Republic have the disposition and the opportunity to practice all its principles on so extended a scale and with such beneficial results as may be truthfully recorded of a distinguished ex-soldier, who is now sincerely mourned by his comrades and fellow-citizens of Minnesota.

Andrew Ryan McGill, First Sergeant, Company D, 9th Minnesota, State Senator, Postmaster of St. Paul and ex-Governor of Minnesota, died suddenly Oct. 31st, 1905, at his residence in St. Paul, at the age of 65 years.

Andrew R. McGill was born in Pennsylvania of Revolutionary ancestry, February 19, 1840. He grew up in that state, came to Minnesota in 1861, and settled at St. Peter, Nicollet county. Here he served in a number of capacities, being Superintendent of Schools and Clerk of Courts. He studied law and was admitted to the bar, but other activities prevented the career he had mapped out for himself in that honorable profession. He was for a considerable period editor of the St. Peter Tribune.

When Horace Austin became Governor of Minnesota in 1870, he made Mr. McGill his private secretary. In I873 he was appointed Insurance Commissioner, in which position he served till 1886, when he was himself nominated and elected Governor of the State.

Governor McGill's previous experience admirably equipped him for the position. His administration of the Executive Office was independent and able, commanding respect at the time and approved by impartial history.

Retiring from the Executive Chair in 1889, Gov. McGill embarked in active business enterprises.

But he was not left in retirement. He was elected to the State Senate in 1898 and re-elected in 1902 without opposition either at the primaries or at the polls. His legislative career of seven years was marked by a close application to duty, a full appreciation of his relations to the State and his constituents and a conscientious exercise of his senatorial prerogatives.

In 1899, during his term as Senator, Gov. McGill was appointed Postmaster of St. Paul. After serving four years he was reappointed and occupied the dual offices of Senator and Postmaster at the time of his death.

It is a significant tribute to his worth, that both President McKinley and President Roosevelt issued special orders suspending in his case the executive regulation which prohibits the holding of a State and a Federal office at the same time.

When he was 21 years old, Andrew McGill enlisted August 19, 1862, as a private in Company D, 9th Minnesota, for three years, or during the war. The terrible Indian outbreak on the Upper Minnesota River occurred within three or four days, and the company returned to St. Peter, where it served as a garrison during the Autumn and Winter of 1862-3. He was actively engaged during the early days of the Indian War in the work of rescuing wounded settlers and driving off the prowling bands of savages who infested the region between St. Peter and New Ulm. It was a dangerous duty, exposed to assault and ambush, often performed at night, while the horizon was lighted by the flames of burning farm houses.

As First Sergeant of his company, all the detailed labors usually performed by others fell on him as the quickest learner and most willing worker, where all were new to the complicated service. For a long period, although ranking as an "enlisted man" he was Acting Adjutant of the Military Post at St. Peter, his Captain having been placed in command. Here his work was of the hardest, but it was so well performed that it was found impossible to replace him by any Commissioned Officer available.

The exposure of camp life, combined with overwork, brought young McGill down with a serious illness. This illness was long continued and left effects from which he always suffered. For a considerable period his recovery seemed impossible and his restoration to health was so slow that it became manifest that he must leave the service. Accordingly, he reluctantly accepted a discharge from the Army August 18, 1863, and it was a life-long subject of regret that he was not privileged to be with his regiment in the campaigns and battles which followed and which included some of the most decisive of the war.

On April 8th, 1870, Gov. McGill, who was then private secretary to Gov. Horace Austin, and resided at St. Paul, participated in the movement to organize Acker Post 21, Department of Minnesota, G. A. R. He became a charter member, and his active interest is attested by the fact that he was Chairman of the first committee appointed. The principal officers chosen to guide the new enterprise were: Henry A. Castle, Commander; Hiram A. Kimball, Senior Vice Commander; True S. White, Junior Vice Commander; Mark D. Flower, Adjutant; A. R. McGill, Quartermaster.

Comrade McGill remained a faithful and exemplary member of Acker Post until his death, a period of more than thirty-five years. He thoroughly believed in the principles of our noble order, and embraced all the numerous opportunities afforded by the exalted public positions held by him to exemplify those principles in practical beneficent acts.

In his inaugural message as Governor of Minnesota in 1887, he strongly urged the establishment of a State Home for disabled and destitute veterans. He gave valuable assistance to the Committee of the G. A. R., which drafted the law, being specially interested in the "family relief" feature. He did all an Executive could properly do to secure its passage by the Legislature and he promptly approved it when finally enacted.

Governor McGill appointed from his wide circle of acquaintances among the comrades the first seven trustees of the Minnesota Soldiers' Home in April, 1887. During the official term and ever afterwards he showed an affectionate interest in this model institution, visiting it often, rejoicing in its success, and recurring with pride to the fact that it was established during his administration.

As Postmaster he cheerfully gave that preference in employment or promotion which the law permits to worthy and efficient ex-soldiers. As State Senator he was the recognized champion of all reasonable demands made by or in behalf of the veteran defenders of the Republic. The following are some of his achievements in that line during a single session, that of last winter : He introduced and had passed the bill which made an appropriation for a monument to the Minnesota soldiers who fought at Vicksburg. He secured the passage of the bill providing a separate home at Minnehaha for the widows of soldiers. He proposed and warmly supported the measure which assigned, free of rent, the splendid quarters in the old Capitol building, now occupied by the St. Paul Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic and their affiliated societies and other ex-soldier organizations. The same law makes similar provision for Posts throughout the State in available portions of City or County buildings.

In grateful recognition of the last mentioned service, a reception and banquet had been arranged for Nov. 17th, and its program announced before Senator McGill's unexpected and untimely decease. He was to have been one of the honored guests on that occasion. To him, to others who ably cooperated with him in procuring for the veterans this appropriate and most acceptable concession, the reception was tendered. The others were present, but his seat was vacant, and the occasion became in effect a memorial service to Comrade McGill. We may cherish the fond belief that his glorified spirit hovered near, rejoicing in the benefaction commemorated and modestly accepting a share in the spontaneous tribute.


 

EXTRACT FROM THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE STATE.

March 15th, 1907.

MEMORIAL SERVICES - A. R. McGILL.

The hour having arrived for the memorial services in memory of the late Andrew R. McGill, addresses were made by Messrs. Hackney, Wilson, Thorpe, Fitzpatrick and Dunn.

Mr. Hackney offered the following preamble and resolution:

During the interim between the Legislative sessions of 1905 and 1907, and while a member of the Senate of this State from the 37th Senatorial District, the Hon. Andrew R. McGill was stricken with death.

He took up his residence in this State very early in its history, and during his long residence occupied many positions of great trust and great honor, including that of the Governorship of the State.

In every position in which he served, whether by appointment or chosen thereto by the people, he fully met all its requirements. He never disappointed his friends nor betrayed the confidence reposed in him. His integrity and sincerity of purpose no one ever questioned. He had the unbounded confidence of his colleagues in the Senate.

While loyal and devoted in his personal friendships, he would not allow them in matters of important legislation to override his judgment and sense of duty. When confronted by difficult problems his strong, common sense and intuition to deal justly always enabled him correctly to solve them. His example, both in public and private life, was beneficial and helpful to all who knew or came in contact with him.

In his untimely death this State lost one of its most honorable, useful and best beloved citizens.

Therefore, be it resolved by this Senate, That the foregoing brief and imperfect statement of the life and virtues of our deceased brother and friend be spread upon the records of this body, and an engrossed copy thereof be forwarded by the Secretary to the widow of the deceased, and to each Senator who was a member of the Senate during the thirty-fourth session of the Legislature of Minnesota.

J. M. Hackney:

Mr. President, Andrew R. McGill was born in Crawford county, Pennsylvania, February 19, 1840. In 1859 he went to Kentucky, where he secured a position as teacher. In 1861 Mr. McGill returned North and on June 10, 1861, arrived in Minnesota. In 1862 he enlisted in Company D, Ninth Minnesota Volunteers, and became First Sergeant of his company. The following year he was discharged on account of failing health, and soon after was elected County Superintendent of Public Schools for Nicollet county, and filled the position for two terms. From 1865 to 1866 he edited the St. Peter Tribune, which he continued to publish for a number of years afterward. He was also elected clerk of the District Court of Nicollet county, which position he held for four years, devoting much of his time to the study of law under the direction of Hon. Horace Austin, by whom he was admitted to the bar in 1868. Two years later judge Austin became Governor of this State, and Mr. McGill was appointed his private secretary. In 1873 he was chosen for the office of Insurance Commissioner for the State, and discharged the duties of the office for thirteen years with great efficiency, his reports being accepted as among the most valuable issued on that subject.

In 1886 Mr. McGill was nominated for the office of Governor by the Republicans. It was a critical time for his party; the temperance question cut a large figure, and the Republican party had declared in favor of local option and high license. This was sufficient to array all Prohibitionists against the party and enlist all friends of the saloon against the Republican ticket.

Governor McGill was a man of unassailable character and conducted his campaign upon a dignified plan. He was elected, and the records of his term of office show much accomplished. Of the important measures enacted during his term of office were the high license law, the railroad laws relating to transportation, storage, wheat grading, watering of railroad stock, etc. Other significant measures were also passed during his administration. Amendments simplifying the tax laws, regulating the control of the liquor traffic, establishing the Soldiers' Home and the Bureau of Labor Statistics were passed. The State Reformatory was established and other measures of importance were undertaken during his administration. On his retirement from office at the end of his two years' term, he organized the St. Paul and Minneapolis Trust Company, of which he was President. In 1897 he was elected State Senator from the 37th District, which now I have the honor to represent, and served that district in this body for eight years: Upon recommendation of United States Senator C. K. Davis he was appointed by President McKinley, in 1900, as Postmaster of St. Paul, and four years later was reappointed to the same position by President Roosevelt.

Mr. McGill was a resident of St. Anthony Park, St. Paul, when he died. I did not have the honor of knowing him as did his colleagues on this floor, and for that reason I shall leave to others who sat with him in this body the duty of speaking more fully concerning him. As one of his constituents while he was Senator, I knew him well. He was nearly always on the right side of every important question. The people of the 37th district always felt that they had a Senator they could trust. It is a significant fact to point to, that in this age, when so many men holding public offices are falling by the wayside or are having the finger of suspicion pointed at them, that in all the years that Mr. McGill served the State of Minnesota in different capacities, no one ever heard of his integrity being questioned.

He was honest, capable and conscientious in everything he undertook. I consider it an honor to be able to occupy the seat he so ably filled while a member of this body.

Mr. President, I move the adoption of the resolution as read.

George P. Wilson:

Mr. President, to those who knew Senator McGill well, both in public and private life, no encomium or eulogy is necessary. They will ever fondly cherish his memory. His colleagues in the Senate not only honored and respected him, but greatly beloved him. Hs was a man of great personal dignity, but always extremely courteous. All his colleagues, present here today, will bear witness to the fact that he always treated his fellow members with the utmost consideration and frankness.

During the last session in which he served as a member of this body, he was not an active nor aggressive member. While he had the outward appearance of being in excellent health, it was not so. He disclosed to some of his colleagues that his heart action was so weak that he had to be extremely cautious. I think it is fitting that we should pause here today and lay upon the grave of our deceased brother and friend a wreath of our personal affection and love.

L. O. Thorpe:

Mr. President, when we set aside a few minutes to let some of the memories we have of a departed friend pass in review, it is not necessary that they should be sad and sorrowful. It may, on the contrary, as in this case, be inspiring and beneficial; recollections tending to make us both individually and collectively, as a state, thankful for the faithful services rendered, and the example in honesty will strengthen our purpose to do right. I cannot think of Andrew R. McGill in any other way. We remember that the stirring political events of 1886 brought him prominently before the people as the Republican candidate for Governor. I remember the excitement and scheming for political advantage among the different factions struggling for supremacy at that time. He was apparently little concerned and always calm, dignified, going about his duty in a manner that commanded respect and admiration. He did not cater to the base elements in politics. Would that we could always say the same truthfully about our public men. His administration was admitted, even by the opposition, to be clean and businesslike. He, nevertheless, suffered the humiliation of being denied the usual renomination from his party. Parties, like men, have their sins of omission and commission to account for, and one of the dark spots on the Republican party in this State was its treatment of Governor McGill.

How much he suffered without complaining and how much this unusual and uncalled-for action tended to shorten his days, I will leave those who value their duties and privileges as American citizens, and are cognizant of their rectitude in private and public life to imagine. Although for the time being apparently discredited by his party, he became more popular and has ever since been held in higher esteem than ever before. His neighbors selected him to represent them in this Senate. His valuable services to his district and the State are recognized by all. We, his associates, learned to know him as kind, careful and deliberate. Without pretending to be brilliant or a leader, he became such by force of character, and his good judgment is reflected in many of our most beneficent laws on the statute books to-day. The influence of such men cannot be estimated. We have the benefit of their work and their example. Men die and are laid away in the resting place prepared for the body and the soul goes to its reward, but the good done while among us will not die. It is with pleasant recollections and gratitude for having had him among us that I place this humble tribute to his memory. May we have many such safe and consistent guides as A. R. McGill.

P. Fitzpatrick :

Mr. President, while I did not know the late Governor McGill as long or as intimately as some of the other members of this Senate knew him, it was my privilege to serve with him during five sessions of the Legislature, and to observe him from day to day in the performance of his official duties as a lawmaker. He occupied many positions of trust in the State and in the nation which required varied talents of a high order in their filling. When a young man, at a time when hopes are bright and life seems worth living, he risked his life and gave his services to the nation in the days of its direct necessity. He enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens and of the people of this State in a marked degree, and he repaid that confidence by bringing to the discharge of his duties a keen and discriminating intelligence, unswerving fidelity to the trusts reposed in him, rare integrity and the courage of honest convictions.

If I may trust the accuracy of my somewhat limited observations and the soundness of my judgment on such matters, I should say that our dead friend and former fellow-Senator was a man who performed more than he promised-a man of few words, but lucid thoughts clearly expressed-one who went directly to the point at issue without unnecessary circumlocation or apologies, yet having a ready wit and a keen sense of humor on occasions. He was a brave soldier and a good citizen, a model public officer and an honest man. It may not be inappropriate for me on this occasion in this chamber, the scene of his later public activities, and in the presence of his former associates who honored and respected him, in the presence of friends who loved and mourn him, to say what we said on a former occasion and many times repeated, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

W. W. Dunn :

Mr. President, in the death of Senator Andrew R. McGill the State of Minnesota lost one of its useful and distinguished officials and one of its quiet, unpretentious and modest citizens-a gentle, courteous and lovable gentleman, a man "not too great or good for human nature's daily food."

My acquaintance with him before becoming his colleague in the Senate was very limited and of such a nature as to give me no opportunity to obtain an insight into his character. I must confess that up to that time I was inclined to harbor a feeling of prejudice against him-not because of any specific act or word of his, but because of his prominence in public life, and the exalted positions held by him, I had the feeling that he would outclass and overshadow me to such an extent that he could never descend to the humble plane of life that I expected to occupy, so that in reality in the fullest sense he could be my colleague and companion.

A little incident occurred shortly before the opening of the session that gave me an insight into his character and immediately changed my feelings, so that from that time on he had my highest regard and deepest affection. I was called to the telephone one day and a peculiarly soft and pleasant voice informed me that Senator McGill was at the phone. He said: "I hope you will not think me presumptuous, but when I selected my seat to-day in the Senate Chamber I thought of you, and it occurred to me that you might not know of the practice of choosing seats in the Senate, so I took the liberty of selecting a seat for you near to me, subject to your approval." Simple as was this act-almost too trifling to mention on such an occasion as this-it at once changed the thread of my thoughts and feelings, and demonstrated to me that his was a kindly, thoughtful nature, willing and ready to do the simple things that go to make up a useful daily life-one of the essentials without which no true greatness can endure.

It is my hope that he has taken with him into eternal rest the same regard and respect for me that I have and forever shall retain for him.

(Mr. Durment seconded the adoption of the resolution as read, and the motion was unanimously carried by a rising vote of the Senate).


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