MsC 204

  Manuscript Register


Collection Dates: 1850 -- 1894
.75 linear ft.

This document describes a collection of materials held by the
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Phone: 319-335-5921
Fax: 319-335-5900

Posted to Internet: [Date:November 1998

Acquisition Note: The papers of James W. McDill were given to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1965, by Mrs. Narcissa L. Palmer, Mrs. Jessie M. Page, and Mrs. Ruth E. Scullen with an additional gift in 1998, by Phyllis Mapes.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections:  The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Biographical Note

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.

Scope and Contents

The papers of James Wilson McDill date from 1850 to 1894 and are comprised of 0.75 linear feet of manuscripts arranged alphabetically by folder title. Included are diaries, memoirs, correspondence, speeches, and other material relating to his life and career. The diaries date from his college days to the years he spent on the Interstate Commerce Commission, with large gaps in between. While most of the correspondence is between family members, there are some letters relating to his career. Biographical and autobiographical material about McDill is also included.

Box 1

Article about fiction by James W. McDill. Holograph draft

"Argument of James W. McDill upon the Reduction of Passenger Rates in Iowa to Two Cents per Mile"

Bereavement statements in honor of James W. McDill, 1894

College diary, 1850 -- 1854

Correspondence, 1882 -- 1894


1854, 1875, 1885 -- 1887

1888 -- 1892


Interstate Commerce Commission Holograph report, 1887

Journal of James W. McDill

 Box 2

Journal of James W. McDill. Transcriptions of portions of the journal, 1891 -- 1893

"The Making of Iowa" by James W. McDill. Iowa Historical Record, vol. 7, #4 (Oct. 1891) pp. 162 -- 169

Recollections of his grandfather by James W. McDill. Holograph draft

Registry of correspondence, 1893

"Representative Men IV. James Wilson McDill" by S.R. Davis. The Midland Monthly, vol 1, #4 (Apr. 1894) pp. 383 -- 392

Speeches by James W. McDill, 1874 -- 1882

return to inventory
Go to top of page
Return to Inventory
of Page