John D. McGill was the proprietor of the “Georgetown Courier”, which ran from 1865 to 1876.
McGill’s son, J. Nota McGill, was the District of Columbia Register of Wills, an officer of the Union Trust Company, a patent attorney, a lecturer at Georgetown University, and a president of the Cathedral Heights Citizens Association.
John D. McGill
John D. McGill, born in Ireland, circa 1829, spent his early years in Boston, where he became a printer; in 1858 he was an inspector at the U.S. Customs House in Boston.
Circa 1859 McGill received an appointment as a clerk of the Second Auditor of the Treasury Department, and moved his family to 18 Gay Street, Georgetown. McGill issued the first number of the Georgetown Courier, a four-page Democratic weekly, on November 18, 1865. (1858 Boston directory, p.466; directory of Washington, 1864) (George P. Rowell and Company’s American Newspaper Directory, 1872)
In the year leading up to the February 25, 1867 Georgetown elections––the first in the District of Columbia to include black voters––and in the run-up to the national elections of 1868, McGill made his objection to black suffrage clear, hailing the Democratic banner as the “White Man’s Flag”, and proclaiming that, as in 1776, it was once again necessary to “throw off the yoke, this time to rid ourselves of the Black incubus”. (Georgetown Courier, February 24, June 2, November 24, 1866; January 12, 1867; September 5, October 3, 1868)
Back-to back Republican victories in 1867 and 1868 go a long way toward explaining the Georgetown Courier’s warm embrace of the District of Columbia Organic Act (February 21, 1871), which required the surrender of Georgetown’s city charter, but denied Republicans and free blacks the fruit of their electoral victories. The editor of the Courier was ecstatic. “The change of government for the District has long been greatly needed… The people owe a debt of public gratitude to the originators of the measure… to the unflagging spirit of A.R. Shepherd much of the salutary change is owing… he should be the first governor of the Territory“; “everybody expects the most happy results from the operation of this law”. (Georgetown Courier, February 18 and 25, 1871)
In the closing days of the Johnson administration in 1869, McGill had been nominated to be collector of customs for Georgetown; in 1871 McGill applied again for the job to the Grant administration. When Georgetown surrendered its municipal charter in 1871, McGill rejoiced, but without the revenue from the council printing contracts the Courier became unprofitable; its last issue appeared on May 6, 1876. (Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States, March 5, 1869-March 3, 1871, Volume 16, p.417; John Y. Simon, ed., Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Vol.21: November 1, 1870-May 31, 1871, p.199)
From 1873 to 1877 McGill lived in the house he owned at 59 Fayette Street (1408 35th Street), but at the time of his in 1880, McGill resided at the former Foxall-McKenney house called Spring Hill, where Foxhall Village is today. (The “Green Springs” mentioned in his obituary is Green Spring Schuetzen Park, a beer garden which operated in the former Foxall foundry after the Civil War).
J. Nota McGill
John Nota McGill (1867-1915), the son of the editor of the Georgetown Courier, was the District of Columbia Register of Wills, an officer of the Union Trust Company, a patent attorney, a lecturer at Georgetown University, and a president of the Cathedral Heights Citizens Association. (“New School Dedicated––Addresses and Music Mark Ceremonies at John Eaton Edifice”, Washington Post, November 24, 1910, p.16; “Death of J. Nota M’Gill”, Washington Post, October 17, 1915, p.19)
J. Nota McGill’s house, West Oaks––listed in the city directory as being at the “west end of Woodley Lane”––was in block 7 of Fairview Heights, on the west side of Idaho Avenue. Its original address, 3212 Idaho Avenue, appears to correspond to the modern 3200 Idaho Avenue.
(“Fairview Heights––Waters, Elkanah N., et ux., to J. Nota McGill, $10, lot 3, block 7”, “Real Estate Transfers”, Washington Post, April 4, 1900, p.11; “Fairview Heights”, Washington Post, November 17, 1900, p.2; 1903 Boyd’s Directory of Washington)
“Mr. J. Nota McGill, formerly register of wills, has taken out a permit for the erection of a two-story and attic frame dwelling at what is given as 3212 Idaho avenue. The property will be located in the subdivision known as Fairview Heights.” (“Affairs In Georgetown”, Evening Star, August 10, 1900, p.12)
“J. Nota McGill, two-story and attic frame dwelling, 3212 Idaho Avenue; 44 by 56 feet; hot water heat; cots, $12,500.” (“Real Estate Market”, Washington Post, August 12, 1900, p.15)
Mary J. McGill
John D. McGill’s widow, born in Massachusetts of Irish parents, circa 1841, was a member of the Catholic Indian Missionary Association, and died in 1917 at “Loingill”, Haymarket, Virginia. (Washington Herald, July 3, 1917, p.8)
Frances Maloy McGill
“McGill, Fanny Maloy––On Friday, April 5, 1957, at her residence, Ormond Beach, Fla., Fanny Maloy McGill, early resident of Friendship, D.C., wife of the late J. Nota McGill, former Register of Wills, District of Columbia.” Interment, Holy Rood Cemetery. (“Died”, Washington Post and Times Herald, April 8, 1957, p.B2)
The McGill graves are in Holy Rood Cemetery, Section 32, lot 286, in a plot bought by J.D. McGill, of 727 18th Street, in 1872.
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