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100 Years Ago

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Feature Article on McGinnis. Topic: CIVIL WAR & PEOPLE
Written by Jim Sayre in May, 2000


Mr. McGinnis, W. Magginnis, Walter McGinnis, Walker McGinnis, Walker Magginnes — the same fellow, but the name depending on the source you read — was highly honored for his supreme sacrifice in the Civil War by Washington Township residents a century ago, as noted by this local newspaper clipping:

LOCKINGTON: The G.A.R. flag staff was raised at the cemetery on last Monday in the presence of more than a hundred people. The staff is 50 feet high, surmounted by a canteen and bayonet. There is a large new flag to be used on memorial and other holidays. On the same evening the remains of Mr. McGinnis, who died in the south in the service of his country, was re-interred near the flagstaff. His body had been brought home in a metallic coffin and buried in the old Cecil burying ground in Washington (township). A part of the ceremonies consisted of singing by the school children, prayer by Rev. Holmes, and an address by Rev. Parlette (Sidney Daily News, May 25, 1900).

The "old Cecil burying ground" even then had fallen on bad times. "... many graves have been removed from this cemetery," according to Adams and Mozley (Memorial Records of Shelby County, Ohio, 1819-1975, p. 575). "Some of the tombstones are being used around the farm buildings...many people are buried here who worked on the Miami and Erie Canal." The cemetery is located in "...a wooded area near the old Miami and Erie Canal, about 850 feet west of the intersection of Fair and Miami Conservancy Roads" (Adams and Mozely, p. 527).

His new resting place, also in Washington Township, appears to be the still active Beechwood or old Mellinger Cemetery on the outskirts of Lockington. The cemetery records him as "McGinnis, Walter, Co. B, 50th Ohio Inf. (no dates)" (Adams and Mozley).

But, don’t look for this name on the marble tablets honoring the Civil War dead in Sidney’s downtown Monumental Building. The listing there reads "W. Magginnis." The army unit, however, matches: 50th Reg. OVI. Sutton’s local history agrees with the stone tablet inscription — W. Magginnis (History of Shelby County, Ohio, by Sutton, 1883, p. 332).

Ohio’s official listing of Civil War soldiers comes up with still another version, this time with a new first name: Walker McGinnis. He is listed as a "private, age 20, entered service Aug. 1, 1862, served 3 years, died Aug. 31, 1864, in hospital at Marietta, Ga., of wounds" (Roster of Ohio Soldiers, 1861-66, Vol. 12, 50th Reg.).

The 1860 federal census makes a poor final spelling authority on this veteran’s name, producing a listing in Washington Township of Walker Magginnes, yet another version. "Magginnes," 17, farm hand, appears in the census with his father and two siblings, Agnes and Francis (See 1860 Ohio Census).

Whatever the spelling of his name, this honored Civil War veteran received his deserved respect and appreciation in that Lockington ceremony just 100 years ago. Mr. McGinnis or Magginnis or Magginnes (W., Walter, or Walker) will be among the many Shelby County military people honored in various local Memorial Day services this month.

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