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John L. McKinnon Biography


This biography is from "Memorial and biographical record; an illustrated compendium of biography, containing a compendium of local biography, including biographical sketches of prominent old settlers and representative citizens of South Dakota..." Published by G. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1899. Pages 956, 959

JOHN L. McKINNON is an honored resident of Greenland township, McCook county, where he is living, retired from active business, in one of the most beautiful homes in this section of the county. He is one of the oldest settlers of the county, formerly being one of its successful farmers, and is now passing the evening of his life enjoying the fruits of his labors. 

In tracing the life of the subject of this sketch, we find that he was born in Edinburgh Castle, Scotland, of Scotch parentage, his father being an officer in the British army. He was reared in Glasgow and attended the common schools until eleven years of age, and then was bound for six years to learn the carpenter's trade. At the age of eighteen years, he started the battle of life for himself, working in the ship yards at Glasgow. From there he went to Liverpool, and after plying his trade in that city for eight years he set sail, in 1866, for America and found his next employment in the city of Chicago. There he worked at stair building for five years, and then moved his family to a farm in Wisconsin while he continued to ply his trade in Minneapolis, spending a part of his time with his family and a part in Minneapolis. 

In 1877 he moved his family to Greenland township, McCook county, Dakota, where he filed the first claims in the county, they being to the northwest quarter of section 28 and the southwest of 21. He came to Dakota with cattle, horses and a carload of farm machinery for his sons to use in the operation of the farm while he went to Sioux Falls and put up a sash and door factory, but the floods in the spring of 1881 swept his building away, with all of his tools and furniture. In the fall of 1880 his sons went to Sioux Falls for provisions, and while there the blizzard of October of that year swept over the greater part of South Dakota, and during those three days and nights of storm his wife was at home on the farm alone. After the destruction of his factory, Mr. McKinnon turned his attention to farming and the improvement of his surroundings. Being the first to settle in the county, he selected what he considers the best land in the county, and he has proven his judgment by raising, from year to year, crops that are above the average in this section of the state. Besides this, he is a carpenter, and all of the buildings on the place, being the product of his own workmanship, are substantial, convenient in their arrangement and very handsomely finished. Politically our subject was formerly a Republican, but he has since joined the ranks of the Populist party and has held the office of justice of the peace for eight years, being repeatedly re-elected. He is a temperance man, but opposes the policies of prohibition and equal suffrage. Religiously, he and his wife are both members of the Presbyterian church, and socially he affiliates with the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Mr. McKinnon has now rented his farm and is spending his declining years in retirement. 

Shortly before coming to America, the subject of our sketch was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Morton, a Scotch lady, and their wedded life has been blessed to them by the advent of a family of six children, upon whom they have seen fit to bestow the following names: Lachlain, Jeane, Thomas, John, Donald and James. Donald was killed, in 1891, by falling from a scaffold, but all the rest are living and married and away from home.