Magill Letter, 1838
An American Adventure
Letter by John Magill, 1759-1842, to nephew Caleb, son of David Magill. From Weldon Wayne Rogers, Greener Pastures, From the Tidewater to Texas and Beyond, Marietta, Georgia, 1996, p. 156-157

Four generation descendant chart from William Magill to Caleb Magill

Sept. 12, 1838

Dear Nephew Caleb,

I received your letter some twelve months ago but, not having it at hand, I do not exactly recall the date the letter informed me of the death of your father. I presume it was the only one you sent me. I ought to apologize for not writing you sooner. I am frequently in distress of mind and from a blamable neglect of duty I often neglect to answer letters immediately when I receive them; and after a while forget them. I now let you know that through the goodness of God we are all in a tolerable state of health for which we ought to be thankful. I have not received any information from you and any of your brothers and sisters since I received your letter from Mr. John Elliot informed that you lived in this neighborhood.

I have nothing to write that can be very interesting to you as you are not acquainted with any persons here nor I with any in your neighborhood. As for my family, I had the misfortune to lose my best friend five years ago last November on the 14th of the month. I have one son living in Clinton County, Indiana named Matthew E. Magill, one other in the same county named Cyrus Magill. One in Park County named Samuel P. Magill. One living with me named John Allen Magill who is practicing physic on the Thompsonian plan and is very successful. One daughter Margaret S. Magill and one named Tennyann.

My grandfather, William Magill, migrated from Ireland in the year of 1727 with three sons named James, William and John, who was my father, and five daughters, to wit: Jane who married William Dickson, he died and she married a McKee; Sarah married William Berry; Betty married James Berry, later John Jones; Esther who married Hugh Campbell; Ann who married Robert Fowler.

My uncle James had three sons: William, Alexander and James. My uncle William had seven sons, to wit: Samuel, William, James, Robert, John, Hugh, and Charles, three last named by a second wife. My father had six sons, James, Samuel, John, David, and Hugh. [Editor's note: oldest son William, 1750-1813, omitted.]

I have been particular so that you may know if you meet with any persons of the name of Magill you can tell whether they are your relation. I have seen several from Ireland that are no kin of mine. They spell their name McGill. They are generally native Irish and Roman Catholic. I recollect to have seen my grandfather's certificate from Ireland dated 1725. It was spelled Magill and all his descendants spell their names the same way. Any who do not are not of our kindred.

Our forefathers were Scotch, lived in Scotland and were Protestants. The time of persecution in England and Scotland in the reign of King James of England, they with many others, emigrated to Ireland which gave them the name Scotch-Irish which name they are frequently called to this day. I never knew of any of father's relations coming to America only one family which was John Magill. He settled in Winchester, Virginia about the year 1775. He was a lawyer and had two sons, Archibald Magill who was a major in the army at the time of the Revolution. The other, Charles Magill, was a lawyer and either he or one of his sons, is at this time, president or cashier in the Valley Bank of Virginia.

There has been more sickness and is at this time in our neighborhood than I ever knew at one time and I believe it is general throughout the state of Kentucky. As for religion in this country, there is a great many professors to different denominations. There is Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Campbellites, Two Seeds alias Carkorites and Shakers. I have heard lately of two Mormons preaching about sixteen miles from here. Crops of wheat are good this summer. Corn crop is sorry though this state. I wish you could write every good opportunity. Give my respects to all your brothers and sisters and all inquiring friends. The day before yesterday I received a letter from my sister, Elizabeth Frame, living in Ohio State, Preble County. She is 83 years old last March. The only sister I have living. All my brothers are dead and yet I am spared on the goodness of God. May we all be prepared through the goodness of God and the sanctifying influence of holy spirit for an endless and happy eternity is the prayer of your affectionate uncle who lacks only one month and eight days of being 79 years old.

John Magill

Caleb Magill & brothers
Sept. 18, 1838