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McDill, James W.



  • Existence: 1834-1894


James Wilson McDill was born in Monroe, Ohio, on March 4, 1834. He graduated from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1853, and spent the following year teaching school in Kossuth, Iowa. McDill returned to Ohio to study law in the office of Galloway and Mathews. He was subsequently admitted to the bar in 1856. Moving back to Iowa, McDill settled in Afton, Union County. There he established his legal practice and became active in the community. He was elected superintendent of schools for Union County in 1859 and the following year he became a county judge. When Iowa's Governor Grimes was elected to the Senate, McDill accompanied him to Washington, D.C., where he became a clerk. From 1862 to 1865, McDill worked as a clerk in the Treasury Office where much of his time was spent in the Division of War Claims.

After briefly practicing law in Washington, D.C., James McDill returned to Afton, Iowa. In 1868, he was elected as the first circuit judge and then in 1871, he became the district judge of the third judicial district. In 1873, McDill once again found himself in Washington, D.C., this time as a Republican Congressman. He served in the 43rd and 44th Congresses , refusing renomination in 1876. Back in Iowa, he resumed his legal practice. From 1878 to 1881, he was a member of the Board of Railroad Commissioners of the State of Iowa. Judge McDill was appointed and subsequently elected to fill the vacancy left in the U.S. Senate when Samuel J. Kirkwood was appointed to the Cabinet in 1881.

When McDill once again returned to Iowa, he moved to Creston, which had become the county seat. He spent his final years as a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission. It was while traveling on Commission business that he fell ill. Judge James Wilson McDill died on January 13, 1894, at the age of fifty-nine.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

James W. McDill Papers

Identifier: MsC0204

U.S. Representative and Senator from Iowa, member of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and judge. Diaries, memoirs, correspondence, speeches, and other material relating to his life and career.

Dates: 1850-1894