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The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Michael Angelo McGinnis

McGinnis founded Medford's first newspaper, the Medford Monitor, in 1885.*


Census date: July 10, 1860
Name: Danl McGinnis
Residence: Greenville, Outagamie County, Wisconsin
Occupation: Farmer
Household:
Danl McGinnis, 35, born Ireland
Ann McGinnis, 28, wife, born Ireland
Thomas McGinnis, 7, born Wisconsin
Mich McGinnis, 5, born Wisconsin
Danl McGinnis, 4, born Wisconsin
Hannah McGinnis, 1, born Wisconsin
United States Census


Census date: July 26, 1870
Name: Daniel McGinnis
Residence: Greenville, Outagamie County, Wisconsin
Occupation: Farmer
Household:
Daniel McGinnis, 50, born Ireland
Ann McGinnis, 39, wife, born W. Canada
Thomas McGinnis, 14, son, born Wisconsin
Michael McGinnis, 13, son, born Wisconsin
Daniel McGinnis, 10, son, born Wisconsin
Hannah McGinnis, 9, daughter, born Wisconsin
United States Census


F. W. Lee has been engaged as principal of Washington school and Mr. M. A. McGinnis as principal of Jefferson school.
Oconto County Reporter, August 31, 1878


Census date: June 5, 1880
Name: M. A. McGinnis
Residence: Oconto, Oconto County, Wisconsin
Occupation: School Teacher
Age: 24
Birth location: Wisconsin, father born Ireland, mother Canada
United States Census


M. A. McGINNIS, assistant teacher at the high school, Oconto, is a native of Outagamie County. He attended school at Appleton and Menasha, and began teaching in 1872; came to Oconto in 1876, and been engaged in the same school for the past four years.
History of Northern Wisconsin, Oconto County, 1881
 


M. A. McGinnis, Menominee County, appointed a notary public January 19, 1883.
Journal of the Senate of the State of Michigan, 1883, page 1184


    [The county superintendent of schools] appointed as reporters Prof. M. A. McGinnis for the Sentinel and F. Hutchins for the Times. . . .
   
The subject of orthography was ably discussed by Prof. McGinnis, his remarks being highly pleasing, interesting and profitable.
    "The Dependence of Eminence Upon Labor," a lecture by Prof. McGinnis, was conceded by all to be one of great merit. It will appear in the next issue of this paper.
Excerpts, "Teacher's Institute," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 9, 1885, page 3


    We are under obligation to Prof. McGinnis for the report of the Teacher's Institute.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 10, 1885, page 3


    M. A. McGinnis and others paid the Schumpf ledge in Willow Springs precinct a visit last Tuesday. Mr. M. is of the opinion that a well-defined ledge of considerable size exists, but how rich the quartz is must be determined by a practical test.
"Mining News," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 23, 1885, page 2


    R. G. Scroggs, Jr., proposes to commence the publication of the Medford Mirror in a short time.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 23, 1885, page 3


    The Medford Mirror, a new paper in our neighboring town, will make its appearance soon with R. G. Scroggs in charge.
    M. A. McGinnis has examined the Schumpf mine and declares the same to be a quartz ledge of considerable extent. He gives as his reasons several geological facts, the strongest of which is the dissimilarity of the walls that enclose the quartz.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 24, 1885, page 3


    R. G. Scroggs, Jr., not having put in appearance as yet, M. A. McGinnis of this place will attempt the feat of establishing a newspaper at Medford, to be called the Journal. We wish Mr. M. success, but nevertheless cannot help predicting that he will soon find out that Rogue River Valley already has all the newspapers it can sustain for some years to come.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, January 30, 1885, page 3


    The Medford Journal is to be the name of the new paper, instead of the Mirror, and the publisher will be Prof. McGinnis. Mr. Scroggs, who intended to launch the Mirror, failed to come to time, and Mr. McGinnis was waiting for the opportunity and at once stepped to the fore. He expects to receive his office outfit next week, and will issue the first number of the Journal as soon as it can be printed.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, January 30, 1885, page 3


    The Medford Journal will appear next week.
    Mr. McGinnis will soon commence the publication of a paper at Medford. We do not agree with the Times in the certainty of its proving a failure. Mr. McGinnis is a gentleman of ability and we think is eminently qualified to make a success of his new enterprise and we think the Medford people understand themselves in starting a paper and we have no doubt it will succeed. Simply because some ill-natured and selfish person hopes to see it fail is not going to kill it. Success to the new enterprise.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 31, 1885, page 3


    M. A. McGinnis has ordered the press and material for his new paper at Medford from Portland and expects to issue the initial number in a short time. We learn that Henry Mensor will act as foreman.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 6, 1885, page 3


    A note from Prof. McGinnis states that the Medford Journal will not be issued before Friday, the 20th inst. It will take that long to get things in shape.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 7, 1885, page 3


    Prof. McGinnis and family moved to Medford this week where they will make their future home.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 7, 1885, page 3


    The press and material of the proposed Medford Journal arrived last Tuesday.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 13, 1885, page 3


    M. A. McGinnis, who intends to commence the publication of the Medford Journal in a short time, left Jacksonville for his new home a few days ago. Success to him.
"Personal Mention," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 13, 1885, page 3


    The material for the Medford Journal was on the wrecked freight train, it is reported. Prof. McGinnis intended to have the first issue out by next Friday, but it will most likely be delayed by this accident.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, February 13, 1885, page 3



    The press and material for the Medford Journal have arrived and the publisher expects to have the first issue out next Friday.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 14, 1885, page 3


    The new paper for Medford will be in operation in a few days, the material having been ordered.
"Oregon," Morning Oregonian, Portland, February 16, 1885, page 1


    The Medford Monitor is expected to make its appearance this week.
"Here and There," Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 20, 1885, page 3


Another Richmond.
    The Medford Monitor has made its appearance and the world still moves. Its editor, who is a carpetbagger fresh from the cranberry marshes of Wisconsin, Atlas-like seems to have taken the whole of Jackson County upon his shoulders. He evidently thinks that his mission is the demolition of Jacksonville and her business people, judging from the manner in which he slurs and misrepresents them. This exhibition of temper is not only uncalled for, but at the same time, shows his lack of good breeding. His economy with the truth would do honor to [humorist] Eli Perkins or some other veteran prevaricator. If the Times should attack Medford and its people in the same style, they would certainly take exceptions thereto; and rightly, too. Honorable competition is legitimate and admissible under all circumstances, but slandering and belittling one's rivals is detestable and of no avail. The Monitor can never benefit Medford by slurring and lying about Jacksonville. Let it keep that prominently in view.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, February 27, 1885, page 3


    Brother Nickell essays to extinguish the Medford Monitor by an outburst of sarcasm and misrepresentation, in which he calls the editor a carpetbagger. Chawles, haven't you forgotten that it has only been a few years since you came across the California line with your carpetbag to take charge of the paper that you now claim has the largest circulation of any south of Portland? Why not estimate our neighbor's chances by what you claim to have accomplished yourself? You have run the "only Democratic paper" so successfully in your own interests that you have but few friends left in your party, and you ought to be generous enough to give the Monitor a chance with your "immense" success to cheer him on.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 28, 1885, page 3


    The initial number of the Medford Monitor made its appearance Friday of last week. It launches out boldly on the great sea of journalism, advocating the local interests of Medford, and the general interests of this part of the state. It lays down a broad platform in its editorial column in which the desire to advance the interests of humanity is its predominating purpose. We could not gather any indication of its political complexion and therefore infer that the Monitor will be independent in politics. The first number, although issued under great disadvantages, is a very creditable one, and we cordially extend a [hand] to Brother McGinnis and wish him unbounded success in his new field of labor.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 28, 1885, page 3


    Brother McGinnis is making a red-hot paper out of the Medford Monitor.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 14, 1885, page 3


    Someone, who is either a ranting maniac or in the last stages of delirium tremens, delivered himself of a sickly mess of nonsense in the last issue of an insignificant little sheet published in Medford, attempting to fashion it after Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The fellow who would thus deliberately and publicly write himself an ass should not be at large and is a fit subject for the insane asylum. We recommend that the county court look after him at once before he performs another like abortion.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, April 3, 1885, page 2


    Brother McGinnis is making the Monitor an interesting paper and is driving the quill with the skill of a man who had come with his "carpetbag" to stay. That's the kind of citizens this country wants.
    Brother McGinnis has launched out in fiction, giving his first production "The Modern Rip Van Winkle" to the public in his last edition. His characters are taken from real life, the plot is laid in this valley, and the story ends with a moral. Go ahead, Bro. M., for if you can find literary inspiration in that subject your success in the newspaper line is assured.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 4, 1885, page 3


    M. A. McGinnis, editor of the Medford Monitor, called this week and says times are about average in his section.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 2, 1885, page 3


REWARD OF INDUSTRY
    It is with genuine pleasure that we copy the following from the Monitor, of Medford, Oregon:
    "Notice is hereby given that M. A. McGinnis and Wilfred Lewis have, this 24th day of April, 1885, formed a copartnership under the firm name of McGinnis & Lewis, for the purpose of carrying on the publication of the Medford Monitor, and the execution of job work.
    "We will soon open a job office, material for the same being already ordered, and will also favor our readers with more valuable local and editorial news, as we will print both sides of our paper at home.
    "Mr. Lewis is one of the very best job printers on this coast, and he will have exclusive control and management of the mechanical department of the paper and all job work.
    "M. A. McGinnis will be editor-in-chief, will keep the books and do the soliciting."
    Under the former proprietorship, Mr. Lewis grew up in The Ledger office. He is known in Warren as a young man of more than usual executive ability and mechanical ingenuity.
    His knowledge of the printing business is extensive and varied, and is of such a character as to make the executive department of the Monitor a success. We trust that he may still continue to advance as his capabilities are more fully tested. We wish the Monitor long life and prosperity.
The Ledger, Warren, Pennsylvania, May 8, 1885, page 4


    The firm of McGinnis & Lewis as publisher of the Medford Monitor has been dissolved, the former continuing the business alone.
    The man drowned in Klamath River last week was a tramp printer that worked in the Medford Monitor office a few days before the accident.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, May 30, 1885, page 3


    The citizens of Medford will also celebrate the Fourth in fine style and propose having a good time. Hon. L. Bilyeu of Eugene City will deliver the oration, and M. A. McGinnis of the Monitor is the Reader. An excellent programme of exercises is furnished.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 20, 1885, page 3


    Hon. L. Bilyeu, of Eugene City, will deliver the 4th of July oration at Medford. Mr. McGinnis, of the Monitor, will read the Declaration of Independence.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, June 26, 1885, page 3



    Brother McGinnis of the Medford Monitor is making it a lively local paper, and if Medford don't make a great city it won't be his fault.
    Our Medford neighbors are having a lively time among themselves, one would judge from the way they are airing their grievances in the Monitor.
    The Medford Monitor criticizes our county court at length in a recent issue, and intimates that there is a collusion between the judge and commissioners to favor Jacksonville and Central Point. The Sentinel has had a critical eye on the county court, and it has failed to observe any cause for the Monitor's indirect accusation.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 25, 1885, page 3


A Card.
    In the Medford Monitor of the 21st inst. the following charges was made:
    "While Kenney ran the harness and saddlery shop of Jacksonville, Helms managed to run the one here, by keeping the prices higher than at Jacksonville. The object was simply to drive the farmers who desired to trade here to Jacksonville, or some other place, and by so doing to corral the business and injure Medford." We desire to say that the above charges are false in every particular. Our books will show that the prices were the same.
KENNEY & HELMS
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, August 28, 1885, page 3


    Brother McGinnis of the Medford Monitor was made happy last Thursday by the arrival of a new boy baby at his house. Unlike the cranberry marshes of Wisconsin "crops never fail in Oregon" and he can now recommend our climate to his friends back East.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 12, 1885, page 3


    Brother McGinnis of the Monitor has added a job department to his printing office at Medford and seems to be flourishing generally.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, September 26, 1885, page 3


O.&C. Officials Visit Medford.
From the Monitor.
    A special train bearing Receiver Koehler, Superintendent Brandt and Vice-President W. W. Bretherton arrived in Medford Tuesday morning for the purpose of visiting the Medford Reduction Works, under the management of Mr. George H. Chick. The object of the visit was to learn the capacity of the mill and to offer encouragement to the stockholders and miners in the way of switches at different points on the road, and reduced freight rates on the ore.
    Mr. Chick has practically demonstrated to the stockholders that he can reduce rebellious ores and extract the precious metals, if any, from them. Sufficient paying ore to run a ten-stamp mill is ready. Let us have the stamps. We hope the citizens of Medford who have means will not allow this opportunity to slip by. It is an industry of all others that needs encouragement and support, at least until it is placed upon a paying basis.
Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 20, 1885, page 7


    The Medford Monitor is now in charge of George Stockton, M. A. McGinnis having gone back East.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 9, 1886, page 3


    George Stockton is in charge of the Medford Monitor during the absence of M. A. McGinnis.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, January 23, 1886, page 3


    M. A. McGinnis, editor of the Medford Monitor, has returned from his trip to the East.
    The Medford Monitor last week finds fault with our postmaster for changing stage time so that the trip could be made in daylight, there being no mail as no railroad connections were made. With the condition of the roads and no mails or trains the people on this end of the route have no objection to the change.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 6, 1886, page 3


    The report in the Medford Monitor that thirty tons of the tailings from the old quartz mill on Wagner Creek had yielded $1200 at the Medford Reduction Works was entirely erroneous.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, February 12, 1886, page 3


    The report in the Medford Monitor that thirty tons of the tailings from the old quartz mill on Wagner Creek had yielded $1200 at the Medford reduction works was entirely erroneous.--Tidings.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, February 13, 1886, page 3


NEEDS A BALANCE WHEEL.
    The Medford Monitor stated some time ago that thirty tons of tailings from the old quartz mill on Wagner Creek yielded $1200 at the reduction works. By the proprietors of the mine, the Tidings was informed that this statement was erroneous, and it said so--simply that and nothing more. The engineer of the Monitor, evidently suffering with a sore head or a disordered imagination, takes this as an insult, and in about a half-column of froth and "swash" charges the Tidings with slurring the Medford quartz mill, "belittling Medford as an enterprising center," and calling him a liar. It is surprising that, while the fit was upon him, he didn't convict the Tidings of high treason against the United States of America, and sentence it to annihilation at once. From the ridiculous he descends to contemptibility when he hints darkly that "it is rather dangerous to tell a brother editor that he lies knowingly and willfully." Possibly it might be serious in his case. If he is wrought into such a fever by simply being told that he has made an "erroneous" statement, the chances are that it would throw him into convulsions that might prove fatal. Nevertheless, should occasion require it, the Tidings will not hesitate to perform this "dangerous" duty.
    The yield of the rock in question is a matter of some public interest in this neighborhood, and the report that it was about $40 a ton naturally excited much comment. When Messrs. Walsh & Bragdon found that it did not reach one-tenth that figure, the public was entitled to know it, and the idea that the simple statement in the Tidings was intended to injury any enterprise, any place or any man is too preposterous for anyone of ordinary common sense to conceive. The facts are simply these. The manager of the reduction works tested a small quantity of the reduced ore before Mr. Walsh at the mill, and the result pointed to a yield of from $35 to $40 per ton. The Monitor man was informed of this and figured out that thirty tons would yield $1200. He stated that thirty tons had yielded that sum. The fact is, the quantity of rock was less than twenty tons, and the returns received by Walsh & Bragdon were less per ton than one-tenth what the Monitor stated. The Tidings is not disposed to be misrepresented even by the Monitor, and if that paper, or any moving spirit behind it, wishes to pursue this matter further, we have a good stock of facts in store which may be pertinently used.
Ashland Tidings, February 26, 1886, page 2


    The Medford Monitor made its appearance last Monday. It is a twenty-eight column paper, and has a good display of home advertising patronage, showing the business men of Medford to be wide awake. The paper is to be independent politically, and the first number started out briskly to "boom the town." The Tidings welcomes the new associate in the local journalistic field with good wishes for its future. Mr. M. A. McGinnis is the editor and publisher of the Monitor. Its day of publication is Friday.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, February 27, 1885, page 3


    A Medford correspondent of the Times says: "A change in the management of the 'long felt want' in the newspaper line is anticipated by many."
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, January 8, 1886, page 3


    Chick should take the little man of the Monitor on his knee and explain to him the difference between quartz rock and tailings.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, March 12, 1886, page 3


    Brother McGinnis of the Medford Monitor was present at the necktie party
[i.e., the execution of Lewis O'Neil in Jacksonville] on Friday of last week. He has just returned from a visit East, but while he acknowledged that there are more people in that section he is willing to remain here for reasons too numerous to mention.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, March 20, 1886, page 3


    The Jacksonville and Medford papers have had considerable to say lately about the fellow they call the meanest man in Oregon, whose name is a half-brother to Grindstone, and who with his wife owns a half section of the best of land near Medford. They say he was sent by a sick neighbor to get some brandy for medicinal purposes and went into a saloon and represented that there was a poor sick woman in his neighborhood who wanted some brandy and had no money to pay for it. The saloonkeeper, after consulting his partner, concluded to send the woman a bottle of their fine peach brandy. But instead of giving the brandy donated by the saloonkeeper, he gave the sick woman some water with a little brandy in it from a beer bottle.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, March 26, 1886, page 3


    Geo. Chick, Sup't. of the Medford Reduction Works, brought suit today against C. C. and J. F. Ragsdale for the sum of $20,000. This is a small sum, considering the offense, even if Mr. Chick succeeds in compelling Messrs. Ragsdale to pay the full amount.--Monitor.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, April 3, 1886, page 3


    The Medford Monitor temporarily suspended publication last week, McGinnis having arrived at the end of his string. A. L. Johnson has bought the paper, it is reported, and intends to have it issued on time next week. He has moved the office to his building on Front Street.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, June 25, 1886, page 3


    The Medford Monitor suspended last week, and since then we learn that the plant has passed into the hands of A. L. Johnson, who will continue its publication at the old place. Mr. McGinnis will commence teaching school again, so we are informed.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, June 26, 1886, page 3


    M. A. McGinnis, late editor of the Medford Monitor, left for Nebraska last Sunday night, and numerous creditors are now asking what his next address will be.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 3, 1886, page 3


    The Sentinel says McGinnis, late publisher of the Medford Monitor, left a number of unpaid debts behind him when he started for the East last week.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, July 9, 1886, page 3


    SOLE PROPRIETOR.--The partnership existing between John Noland and Wm. Ulrich, proprietors of the Railroad Exchange, was dissolved June 30. Mr. Noland has filed his bonds according to law and taken out license for six months. Mr. Noland is a genial, whole-souled gentleman, always has a good word for everybody. He is straightforward in all his dealings, and his guests and patrons can rely on fair and honest treatment in every particular.--Monitor.
Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, July 10, 1886, page 3


    The Monitor came out on time last week, under the editorship of A. L. Johnson.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, July 16, 1886, page 3


    The Board of Trustees of Medford have donated $100 towards the starting of a brass band in their town. The Monitor is kicking and thinks they should expend the money in road work or fire apparatus.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, July 23, 1886, page 3


    M. A. McGinnis, formerly of the Medford Monitor, is now a partner in the Julesburg (Col.) Gazette.
"Local Items," Oregon Sentinel, Jacksonville, August 14, 1886, page 3


    The Medford Monitor has been enlarged to an eight-column paper.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, September 3, 1886, page 3


    The Monitor says the cartridges which "Dr. Carver" used in breaking the glass balls at the circus were loaded with fine shot, instead of a single ball.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, September 17, 1886, page 3


    Medford is soon to have a brick church edifice. Messrs. A. Childers and son have contracted with the proper authorities to furnish 60,000 bricks for the building. The building will be for the use of the Baptist Church of this place.--Monitor.
"Brevities," Ashland Tidings, September 24, 1886, page 3


    Says the Medford Monitor: We are pleased to announce that negotiations are pending for the establishment of a bank at this place with ample capital. Our safe [A. L. Johnson's safe], now in use, will be exchanged for a massive time lock steel chest for the use of the bank.
    Says the Monitor of last Saturday: "Mr. W. A. Bodine was in town last Saturday, circulating a petition to the county court praying for the opening of a county road from the farm of James Bigham to this place. The petition received the signatures of nearly every citizen to whom it was presented. It is understood that there will be no remonstrance, and only a few persons whose lands it touches will claim a light damage."
"Here and There," Ashland Tidings, December 24, 1886, page 3


    Miss Melle Wrisley, of Medford, was in Ashland Tuesday. She is now a compositor in the Monitor office.
"Personal," Ashland Tidings, December 24, 1886, page 3

    JACKSONVILLE, Dec. 30.--A. L. Johnson, proprietor of the Medford bank and publisher of the Medford Monitor, made an assignment today. His liabilities are placed at $3500.
"Failure at Medford," Morning Oregonian, Portland, December 31, 1886, page 1


    Wonder why the editor of the defunct Monitor remains so closely housed up?
"Correspondence," Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, February 18, 1887, page 3


    There has been some little talk of reviving the Medford Monitor.
"Correspondence," Rogue River Courier, Grants Pass, February 21, 1887, page 3


    The first meeting of the [Julesburg, Colorado] town officers after incorporation was held January 3rd, 1887. The following constituted the municipal government: Mayor, Peter Peterson; trustees, D. S. Redford, M. A. McGinnis, E. M. Hungerford, E. T. Shamp and H. M. Doing.
Frank Hall, History of the State of Colorado, 1895, page 240


Green Goods Men Arrested.
    Neosho, Mo., June 12.--G. R. Bell, T. A. Robins and M. A. McGinnis were arrested here last night charged with attempting to sell green goods [counterfeit money] and for using the mails for fraudulent purposes. Bell seems to be the leader of the gang and represented himself to be an agent of the government to dispose of canceled United States greenbacks.
Ottawa Daily Republic, Kansas, June 12, 1896, page 1


Bound Over to the Grand Jury.
    Fort Scott, Jan., Aug. 3.--The preliminary hearings of Henry Wells, T. Hobson and William Brown of Girard and George A. Moore of Pittsburg, who were arrested last week charged with using the mails to circulate counterfeit money, and who are accused of being accomplices of J. R. Bell, alias J. R. Schwarz, the leader of the gigantic political swindle which was unearthed by the post office officials at Neosho, have been held before United States Commissioner Mosher and bound over to the grand jury. During the hearing it was shown that Bell, the leader, represented himself as the agent of the American Knights of the Mystic Number, whose purpose it was to distribute money for campaign purposes, instructing the defendants what class of people were the easiest "suckers." Bell in a letter introduced in evidence wrote:
    "From a political standpoint, I think the populists make the best subjects, yet every silver man is liable to fall. Rich and well-to-do ladies are often easily captured."
    The secret service men are still on the case, and it is likely that arrests will be made.
Galveston Daily News, August 5, 1896, page 7


OPERATORS OF MYSTIC NUMBER.
The Swindlers Are Fined and Sent to the Penitentiary.
    Springfield, Mo., Oct. 19.--In the federal court here before Judge Phillips, the "Mystic Number" swindler, G. R. Bell, alias James T. Schwartz, and his four accomplices, Henry T. Wells, Michael McGinnis, Thomas A. Robbins and Thomas Hobson pleaded guilty to the charges of using the United States mails for fraudulent purposes and were sentenced, Schwartz, Wells and McGinnis being sentenced to two years in the penitentiary and to pay fines of $1,000 each. The others were fined $1,000 each and sentenced to six months in the county jail.
    These were the swindlers who represented to farmers that they were in league with the treasury department and in a position to give out treasury notes to those who became members of their organization. Several farmers paid big fees to become members of the "mystic numbers."
Newark Daily Advocate, Ohio, October 19, 1896, page 1


Census date: June 5, 1900
Name: Michael A. McGinnis
Residence: Lafayette Street, Neosho, Newton County, Missouri
Occupation: Math Teacher
Birth location: Wisconsin, father born Ireland, mother French Canadian
Household members:
Michael A. McGinnis, 45, born Nov. 1854
Mary E. McGinnis, 41, born June 1858
Wm. Les McGinnis, son, 14, born Sept. 1885 in Oregon
R. Everett McGinnis, son, 11, born Dec. 1888 in Colorado
United States Census


    The Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations by Which the Roots of Equations of All Degrees Can Be Expressed in Terms of Their Co-Efficients. By M. A. McGinnis. It is refreshing to meet what appears to be an actual advance in higher mathematics. Much of the work done in college algebra seems to possess little value beyond mental discipline. But here is a movement forward, perhaps almost a revolution, for general theorems are advanced by which all equations find their solution. These theorems are based upon well-understood propositions of geometry pertaining to areas, and their demonstration is rigidly exact. From these, general equations of the various degrees are built up, while their method of solution becomes the reversal of the process. By this principle methods are developed for the solution of problems up to the fifth degree. Perhaps the greatest value of this new method lies in the close relation which it brings between geometry and algebra as universal arithmetic. Following the common methods, most students fail to gain any conception of relationship. (The Mathematical Book Company, Kansas City, Missouri.)    L.R.F.G.
The School Journal, December 8, 1900, page 612


GENIUS IN MATHEMATICS.
A Missouri Professor Has Discovered A New Principle in Equations.

    When William G. Horner, of Bath, England, an obscure school teacher, in 1819 made known to the world his method of solving numerical equations of any degree, the discovery was viewed with suspicion by nearly all the algebraists of Great Britain. The Royal Society of Great Britain "had the luck," so Prof. Augustus De Morgan says in his "Budget of Paradoxes," to accept Horner's celebrated paper containing the method which is far on the way to become universal, but they refused the paper in which Horner developed his views of this and other subjects. It took more than 20 years for Horner's method to get a foothold in the University of Cambridge. The professors and tutors in that stronghold of mathematical learning never used it till students coming in from the most progressive preparatory schools employed it in their solutions of cubic equations, and at first they were criticized because it was out of the usual line of work, although it was ten times as simple as the methods of approximation then in vogue, says the Kansas City Star.
    All attempts to solve a general equation of the fifth degree have proved ineffectual, and one noted analyst, Abel, has demonstrated to his own satisfaction, at least, that the solution is impossible. Equations are divided into two classes, numerical and literal, and a general equation of whatever degree is an equation whose coefficients as well as the absolute term are literal.
    In the history of mathematics it took a long time to obtain a general solution of an equation of the third degree, and after repeated efforts and many failures the general solution of an equation of the fourth degree was effected by several different mathematicians, and here general solutions have been at a standstill more than 200 years. Horner's method was such an improvement over all former methods that as soon as it became known it took high rank and is the simplest yet discovered.
    Recently a new discoverer has appeared, and he handles numerical equations with an ease and precision that relegate Horner's method to the department of ancient history. This author is Prof. M. A. McGinnis, of Neosho, Mo. In a book of 195 pages Prof. McGinnis presents his system. The key to the discovery consists of certain definite relations that the coefficients of the unknown quantity bear to the roots of the equation. Analysis had discovered certain laws governing the coefficients when the coefficient power of the unknown quantity is unity. By working with the sum of the squares of the roots Prof. McGinnis shows that certain relations subsist when the sum of the squares of the products of the roots are taken two and two, and so on for higher degrees. The author lays down five fundamental theorems which he has discovered, and by the application of these and some other principles he has succeeded in solving numerical equations in the briefest manner ever presented. Abel demonstrated that the general solution of an equation of the fifth degree, according to the methods employed in the solution of lower equations, was impossible, which means that the modes of attack hitherto resorted to would not work. The complications were so great that they could not be unraveled. Prof. McGinnis does not work at equations according to the usual methods presented by mathematicians, but he goes at the subject from another point of attack altogether. By discovering new laws, not hitherto suspected, that enter into the structure of equations, and that the coefficients bear a constant relation to all the roots of the equation, he deduces the principles that were unknown. These being admitted, he then proceeds to solve general equations both of the fifth and sixth degrees, and the beauty of the method is that it solves all numeral equations by processes almost arithmetical.
Marble Rock Journal, Marble Rock, Iowa, December 20, 1900, page 4


GERMAN SYSTEM
ALBERTUS MAGNUS COLLEGE FOLLOW EUROPEAN SYSTEM.
    The school year of Albertus Magnus College is divided into summer and winter semesters, as is the case in the great German universities. Each semester is divided into three terms. The first term of the winter semester is called Michaelmas and ends on All Hallow's Eve. The second term, called Martimas, ends on the Saturday before Christmas. The third is known as the Epiphany term, so called after the feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6. It is also called the "Hilary Term," as in English universities, after St. Hilary's Day, Jan. 14.
    After the Epiphany term there is a short vacation known as the "Valentine Interim," after which the summer semester begins. This semester is divided into the "Aquinas," "Paschal" and "Marquez" terms, the last ending on the Saturday before the "Feast of the Visitation," which comes this year on June 28.
    The Albertus Magnus College has secured Mr. M. A. McGinnis of Neosho, Mo. to take charge of the mathematical department. Mr. McGinnis is one of the greatest living mathematicians, and has discovered methods of solving equations hitherto insoluble. He has also simplified the solution of other equations. Mr. McGinnis will have charge of the mathematical department, and civil and mechanical engineering. He will make a specialty of postgraduate work. It is the expectation of the college management that Mr. McGinnis will conduct a mathematical institute next summer to be attended by college professors and civil and mechanical engineers.
The Wichita Beacon, January 2, 1901, page 6


A Catholic Mathematician
    The Albertus Magnus College at Wichita, Kans., says the Pittsburg Observer has secured the services of Michael Angelo McGinnis as principal of its mathematical and engineering department.
    Prof. McGinnis has risen into worldwide prominence by his remarkable discoveries in the higher mathematics, having succeeded in solving many problems and making many achievements which have baffled all the efforts of generations of great mathematicians. His volume on "The Universal Solution for Equations of All Degrees," published simultaneously in the United States and Europe last year, is only the first of a series of volumes embodying these wonderful discoveries. This book has made a sensation the world over, and the whole world of science is waiting breathlessly for those that are to follow it.
    Prof. McGinnis, who is a practical Catholic, was born in Wisconsin of Irish and Anglo-Canadian parentage. He is a descendant on the mother's side of Baron John Napier, the inventor of logarithms, and is a grand-nephew on the father's side of Michael Cunningham, professor of mathematics in the University of Athens, in Greece.
The Catholic Advance, Wichita, Kansas, May 4, 1901, page 5


New Wichita University.
    The Albertus Magnus University of Wichita was yesterday issued articles of incorporation by the State Charter Board. No capital stock is named. The incorporators are Merwin Marie Snell, Michael Angelo McGinnis, George Reverdy Klinkard, Henry Appy and T. Spencer Sprague, all of Wichita.
Topeka Daily Capital, June 16, 1901, page 5


    The Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations by Which the Roots of Equations of All Degrees Can Be Expressed in Terms of Their Coefficients. By M. A. McGinnis. 8vo. Cloth, 194 pages. Price $2.00. Kansas City: The Mathematical Book Co.
    We cannot praise this book very highly for the merit it possesses, since the really meritorious part of the book deals with matter quite irrelevant to what the work professes to discuss, and to solve, viz., the solution of the general equation of the fifth and other degrees. The book contains some ingenious methods of solving certain numerical equations, but because of these methods it should have received a more modest title.                                            B. F. F.
The American Mathematical Monthly, February 1903, page 55


COLLEGE PROFESSOR IS SENT TO PENITENTIARY
CONVICTED AT KANSAS CITY OF FORGERY
Michael Angelo McGinnis, Author of a Standard Work on Mathematics,
Must Face Cell Bars for Ten Years
By Associated Press.
    KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 3.--Michael Angelo McGinnis, a former college professor and author of a standard work on mathematics, was convicted of forgery in the criminal court here yesterday and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary. McGinnis and a confederate forged a deed to a city lot and sold the property for $300.
    McGinnis for three years was principal of the high school at Oconto, Wis. In 1884 he established a newspaper at Medford, Ore. Later he published a paper at Julesburg, Colo. and held important positions in Logan County, Colo.
Descendant of John Napier
    He is a direct descendant of John Napier, inventor of logarithms. While publishing a newspaper in Newton County, Mo. he was sent to the penitentiary for misuse of the mails.
    While in the penitentiary he wrote the book which made him famous with mathematicians throughout the world. He called it "Algebra the Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations."
    After his release from prison the book was published simultaneously in America and England.
Los Angeles Herald, May 4, 1906, page 2



Former College Professor a Forger.
    Kansas City, May 3--Michael Angelo McGinnis, a former college professor and author of a standard work on mathematics, was convicted of forgery in the criminal court here yesterday and sentenced to 10 years in the penitentiary. McGinnis and a confederate forged a deed to a city lot and sold the property for $300.
Auburn Journal, New York, May 4, 1906, page 1


COLORADO NEWSPAPER MAN SENT TO PRISON
    Kansas City, Mo., May 2.--Michael Angelo McGinnis, a former college professor and author of a standard work on mathematics, has been convicted of forgery and sentenced to 10 years in the state penitentiary. McGinnis was for three years principal of the high school at Oconto, Wisconsin. In 1884 he established a newspaper at Medford, Oregon. Later he published a paper at Julesburg, Colorado, and held important political positions in Logan County. This is not his first experience in the penitentiary.
Fort Collins Weekly Courier, Colorado, May 9, 1906, page 1


Edited First Paper in Medford.
Kansas City Times, May 3d.
    Michael Angelo McGinnis, a former college professor and a mathematician, was found guilty of forgery yesterday by a jury in the criminal court. His punishment was fixed at ten years in the penitentiary. McGinnis and Daniel P. Hoover forged a deed to a lot owned by Mrs. Pascal Cassidy and sold the land for $300. Hoover was tried for his part in the transaction and was sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary.
    McGinnis was born on a farm near Appleton, Wis. He is a direct descendant of John Napier, inventor of logarithms. McGinnis was three years principal of the Oconto high school in Wisconsin. Then he moved to Medford, Oregon, and published a newspaper there during Cleveland's first administration. From there he moved to Julesburg, Col., and published the Gazette. He was the first county clerk and registrar of deeds of Logan County, Colorado.
    McGinnis then came to Missouri and published the Newton County Democrat. From that county he was sent to the penitentiary for two years for misuse of the mails. While in the penitentiary he wrote the book that made him famous with mathematicians throughout the world. He called it "Algebra, the Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations." After his release the book was published simultaneously in Kansas City and London, and a flattering notice of it, written by J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of public schools, appeared in The Star in August, 1900. The following year McGinnis was appointed principal of the mathematical department of Albertus Magnus College at Wichita, Kas.
    Whisky was his undoing.
    The paper which McGinnis conducted [in Medford] was called the Monitor, and, after existing precariously for a couple of years, suspended publication. McGinnis was a brilliant and caustic writer, but was rather erratic, as his subsequent career would show.
Medford Mail, May 11, 1906, page 1


HE'S MISSOURI CONVICT
A MATHEMATICAL GENIUS AND HAS SOLVED WONDERFUL PROBLEMS.
STORY OF MICHAEL A. McGINNIS
Was Born on a Farm Near Appleton, Wis., Fifty Years Ago--
Now Serving Second Sentence in the State's Prison.
    In the Missouri penitentiary, under sentence for the second time, is a genius for figures--a man known for his works to mathematicians the world over, writes the Kansas City correspondent of the New York World. This man is Prof. Michael Angelo McGinnis. The statement that he is a genius has for its authority Prof. J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of the schools of Jackson County, himself an author of mathematical works of national reputation. That is what Prof. Greenwood says of the prisoner:
    "McGinnis is a very remarkable man, who has let liquor get the best of him. He is a mathematical genius. He has evolved a theory, a solution of numerical equations, that excels that discovered by W. G. Horner, of Bath, England, in 1819, which has been followed by all the universities.
    "Now he has evolved a theory by which he can solve literal equations as far as the sixth degree. If he can solve literal equations above the fourth degree he has made a discovery for the world. In mathematics there is no theory for the solution of literal equations above the fourth degree. I am greatly interested in McGinnis because he is well grounded in mathematics and has a peculiar capacity for investigation and discovery. I will look into his new theory. I hope it will stand the test."
    Mr. McGinnis was born on a farm near Appleton, Wis., fifty years ago. He is a direct descendant of John Napier, inventor of logarithms. McGinnis was three years principal of the Oconto (Wis.) high school. Then he moved to Medford, Ore., where he published a newspaper. From there he moved to Julesburg, Colo., where he later held a county office.
    After McGinnis came to Missouri he published the Newton County Democrat. From that county he was sent to the penitentiary for misuse of the mails. While in the penitentiary he wrote the book that made him famous with mathematicians throughout the world, "Algebra, the Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations." The book was published simultaneously in Kansas City and London after his release. The following year McGinnis was appointed principal of the mathematical department of the Albertus Magnus College, at Wichita, Kas.
    Whisky has been the undoing of Prof. McGinnis. Under the influence of drink he has been the tool of other men. He is now under sentence of ten years in the penitentiary for forging a deed. He is being held in the county jail here to testify against the men who got him into the trouble. In his cell he figures and figures hour after hour. It is a perpetual delight and recreation for him. He recently announced his discovery in regard to literal equations, which famous mathematicians have declared impossible. Dr. Greenwood, who has seen his work, believes McGinnis has found the key.
    McGinnis is absolutely without funds. It was this note which took Dr. Greenwood to the county jail:
    "Dear Professor--Will you kindly mail me some manuscript paper, upon which I may write out for you a synopsis of my mathematical investigations during the last year? I am out of paper and have no money to buy any at present. Something unexpected may happen to me, and if it does, what I have done you are at liberty to use for the benefit of humanity. My investigations cover literal equations from the third to the sixth degree, inclusive.--M. A. McGinnis."
    Prof. Greenwood made haste to furnish McGinnis with all the paper and pencils he will need for a long time. He has also furnished McGinnis with reading matter.
Sedalia Weekly Democrat, Missouri, May 24, 1907, page 6


McGinnis, Mathematician in Prison,
Offers His Discovery for His Freedom
    Jefferson City, Mo., Aug. 22.--In Missouri's great prison house in this city, the largest penitentiary in the world, containing convicts from every state in the American union and thirteen foreign countries besides, there is a prisoner whom the guards say has no sense--a thin, frail man of more than 50 years, slightly stooped, whose beetling brows are always drawn together above a pair of steel-gray eyes with focus fixed upon some object far away. He is wholly unfitted for the ordinary labors of prison life and is employed at odd jobs about the state binder twine plant. None of the convict labor manufacturing concerns is willing to accept him at the state's wage of 60 cents a day.
    This useless man, with the prison pallor in his face and the strange light in his eyes, who can hardly perform the simplest duties of prison life, is known as No. 9030 in the Missouri penitentiary, but abroad men of science are grappling with his theories of mathematics.
    His name is M. A. McGinnis. Dr. J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of the Kansas City schools and himself a mathematician, says:
    "I first became acquainted with McGinnis some eight or ten years ago through his algebraic solutions of numerical equations of the higher degrees. In handling such numerical equations he is the most skillful algebraist that I have ever read of."
    McGinnis has evolved a theory for the solution of numerical equations which is said to go beyond anything previously devised. But he has gone further in the solitude of his prison cell, and now announces that he has discovered a formula for the solution of literal equations as far as the twelfth degree. Mathematicians have declared that it was impossible to do what McGinnis says he can do.
    But McGinnis does not regard this discovery as his great achievement. He claims to have perfected a solution of numerical equations by logarithms.
    So thoroughly in earnest is the prisoner and so fully is he convinced of the correctness of his theory that he is willing to stake all his hopes of freedom upon its acceptance by the world of mathematics. He is an old man and has served only eighteen months of a ten-year sentence, but he asks that Gov.  Folk of Missouri submit his theory of the logarithmic solution of equations to a jury of mathematicians of national reputation.
    If the jury shall fail to sustain his theory McGinnis says that he is willing to serve the remainder of his sentence, which, considering his age and frail health, means death in prison. But if the jury of mathematicians shall sustain his views, the asks that the governor sign his pardon upon the ground that he has made a discovery of such value to civilization as to cancel the debt which society now holds against him.
    Gov. Folk is himself an algebraist, and, although the fact is known to but few, algebra for years has been his favorite method of mental recreation and relaxation, and he finds it much more interesting and mentally invigorating than chess, for instance. Gov. Folk is now giving some of his spare time to the McGinnis theories, but has not yet announced a conclusion as to their value.
    McGinnis was formerly a professor of mathematics in a Kansas college. A few years ago he published simultaneously in the United States and Great Britain a mathematical work entitled "Algebra, the Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations."
    Whisky has been the downfall of McGinnis. When under the influence of intoxicants he is easily influenced, and while in that condition a few years ago he was drawn into a real estate transaction in which a forged deed came to light, and for his connection with the matter he is now serving a ten-year sentence.
    "I never tasted intoxicating liquor or entered a saloon until I was 36," said McGinnis, "but when I had been at work for nearly seven years upon a great mathematical problem I began to lose sleep, and, finding the problem with me day and night, I went to a physician and told him I could not get the problem out of my mind and was afraid of insanity. He prescribed whisky--and here I am."
    McGinnis was born in Appleton, Wis., and before he took up mathematics as a life work he was a newspaper publisher in the West, having at one time owned several small newspapers in Colorado. He has a wife and one son. The son is a printer by trade and supports his mother by his labor in a country printing office in this state.
Washington Post, August 23, 1908, page 71


Census date: April 25, 1910
Name: Mike McGinnis, 54, married 34 years
Residence: Missouri State Penitentiary
Occupation: Shoemaker
Birth location: Wisconsin, parents born in Ireland
United States Census


Census date: April 25, 1910
Name: Mary E. McGinnis, widow [!]
Residence: College Street, Neosho, Newton County, Missouri
Occupation: Artist, Tatting
Birth location: Wisconsin
Household members:
Mary E. McGinnis, 51, 2 children, one living
Margaret Mullane, 48, sister, single, dressmaker, born in Wisconsin
R. E. McGinnis, 21, son, single, railroad newsboy, born in Colorado
United States Census


CONVICT IS A WONDER
Has Made Discoveries in Mathematics and Hopes to Be Released
    Kansas City, Aug. 8.--Asserting that he has made mathematical discoveries which will have a sweeping influence on that science, Michael Angelo McGinnis, serving ten years for forgery in the Missouri penitentiary, has offered to demonstrate his discovery to any committee of mathematicians Governor Herbert S. Hadley may designate, if a pardon will be his just reward for success, it was learned today.
    His communication was sent to the governor through Dr. D. G. Simpson of Clarksburg, Mo. Dr. Simpson says the discovery made by McGinnis is the reduction of the general equation of the tenth degree to an equation one degree lower. Among the discoveries claimed by McGinnis are:
    First, that for the general solution of an equation containing literal coefficients, there also lies a general logarithmic solution for its corresponding numerical equation, thus establishing a general method for solving numerical equations by logarithms; second, that he has found the exact relation of the diameter of a circle to its circumference.
    Since the time of Euclid, the relation has been supposed to be 3.1416 plus. McGinnis says he knows just what the "plus" is. He says he has discovered the exact root of all numbers and that "imperfect squares" will be no more.
    McGinnis is a descendant of John Napier, inventor of logarithms, he says.
    "I have known McGinnis for years," said Professor  Greenwood, superintendent of public schools  of Kansas City. "He taught mathematics in a college at Wichita, Kan., also in southern Missouri. A book of his on algebra written, I am told, during a former term in prison, is a marvelous work. But for his use of intoxicating liquor, this man would be an international authority.
    "Mathematicians so far never have been able to solve literal equations above the fourth degree. McGinnis says he can work them in the tenth. European mathematicians say they have proved it impossible to work them above the fourth degree."
Ogden Standard, Utah, August 8, 1910, page 1


CONVICT DECLARES HE CAN SQUARE CIRCLE
    Kansas City, August 8.--Declaring that he is able to square the circle and has made other mathematical discoveries which will have a sweeping influence on that science, Michael Angelo McGinnis, who is serving a ten-year sentence for forgery in the Missouri penitentiary, has offered to demonstrate his discovery to any committee of mathematicians Governor Hadley may designate if a pardon will be considered his just reward for success. His communication was sent to the governor through Dr. D. J. Simpson, of Clarksburg, Mo.
    Dr. Simpson says the great discovery made by McGinnis is the reduction of the general equation of the tenth degree to an equation one degree lower.
    McGinnis claims that for the general solution of an equation containing the literal coefficients there exists a general logarithmic solution for its corresponding numerical equation, thus establishing a general method of solving numerical equations by logarithms.
    He says he has found the exact ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference. Since the time of Euclid the ratio has been supposed to be 3.1416 plus. McGinnis says he knows just what the "plus" is. He says he has discovered the exact root of all numbers, and that "imperfect squares" will be no more.
    McGinnis says in his communication to the Governor:
Makes Offer to Governor.
    "So confident am I that I am right in what I claim, and fully realizing that my claims are of such a character as to be almost unbelievable, I will pay the railroad expenses of any three known mathematicians in Missouri to Jefferson City and return, to pass judgment upon my proofs so that they may submit their findings to your excellency."
    McGinnis is a descendant of John M. Napier, inventor of logarithms, who died in 1617.
    "If McGinnis insists that he has discovered a method for the reduction of the general equation of the tenth degree to the ninth and on down to one of the known equations by which it then could be worked out, his statement is worthy of the closest investigation. If he can do this thing, hitherto believed impossible, he has made a name for himself as great or greater than any mathematician, living or dead. His name will live forever."
    So said Professor J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of the Kansas City Public Schools, last night.
Was Teacher of Mathematics.
    "I have known McGinnis for years," continued Professor Greenwood. "He taught mathematics in a college at Wichita, Kansas, also in Southern Missouri. His book entitled Algebra, the Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations, written, I am told, during a former term in prison, is a marvelous work. He had one of the best methods for solving numerical equations known today. There is not a mathematician in Europe or America who is this man's equal in solving numerical equations. But for drink, he would be an international authority today.
    "Mathematicians so far never have been able to solve literal equations above the fourth degree. McGinnis says he can work them in the tenth by a system of reduction to a known equation. European mathematicians claim they have proved it impossible to work above the fourth degree, but I disagree with them. I believe that some day it will be done. It took a long time for the old fellows to solve the first degree, still longer before they could work in the second and third and a much longer time before they got to working in the fourth degree. Perhaps McGinnis has accomplished what he claims. I believe he can do the thing, if any man can."
Times Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, August 9, 1910, page 2


EDUCATORS DOUBT FINDING
OF WAY TO SQUARE THE CIRCLE
Mathematicians Agree as to Improbability
of McGinnis Assertion That the Famous Problem Is Solved.
PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS
    Interest has been aroused among mathematicians by discoveries claimed to have been made in mathematics by Michael Angelo McGinnis, who is an inmate of the Missouri state penitentiary.
    The most interesting assertion made by Mr. McGinnis is that the exact ratio between the circumference and the diameter of the circle has at last been found.
    This would be very remarkable, if true, for attempts have been going on for at least 4000 years to find such a result. This is the famous problem usually stated as "squaring the circle."
    When asked for an opinion on these statements, William F. Osgood, professor of mathematics in Harvard University, said that so far as he can judge from the newspaper account these so-called discoveries have no value, but are only one more futile attempt to disprove results fully verified long ago.
    Dean Burton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that he considered that there was nothing new in the McGinnis "discovery," and seemed to doubt that the exact ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference had been determined, as is claimed.
    George W. Evans, headmaster of the Charlestown high school, and author of a series of mathematical textbooks, says that despite the claim that McGinnis makes of having found the exact ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference, it seems exceedingly improbable to him that the man has accomplished anything. There have been a great number of methods devised to accomplish this end, Mr. Evans states, but all of them have been worthless.
    Several officers of the engineering department at the Charlestown navy yard were asked for an opinion on the subject, and all were positive that the McGinnis proposition must contain some flaw, and that it is not possible to find the exact ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference. They characterized much of the McGinnis statement as a meaningless jumble of words.
Christian Science Monitor, Boston, Massachusetts, August 24, 1910, page 4


    Of little value is A. Otto's Das grösste Problem der Rechenkunst gelöst, Berlin, 1894, which proceeds by the method of trial and error. Along the same line is a booklet published in 1900 in London, from the pen of M. A. McGinnis of Neosho in Missouri, under the title: The Universal Solution of Numerical and Literal Equations. The author gives numerical approximations by the method of trial and error which are often ingenious, but the book as a whole discloses a complete misunderstanding of the question at issue in the algebraic solution of equations.
Florian Cajori, "A History of the Arithmetical Methods of Approximation to the Roots of Numerical Equations of One Unknown Quantity," Colorado College Publication, No. 7, October 1910, page 281


SCHOLAR WINS A PAROLE
Special to the Washington Post.
   
Jefferson City, Mo., Dec. 31.--On the pleas of scholars throughout the country, and especially that of J. M. Greenwood, former president of the National Educational Association and now superintendent of the Kansas City schools, Gov. Hadley has announced that he will grant a parole to Michael Angelo McGinnis, a mathematician and scholar, who is serving ten years for forgery.
    McGinnis was sent to prison from Kansas City for forging a deed, realizing $400. He has a wife and son in Neosho, Mo. Scholars all over the country are anxious to have McGinnis released so he can demonstrate and solve the problems in algebra he claims he can.
Washington Post, January 1, 1913, page 1



WONDER OUT ON PAROLE
Greatest Mathematician in World Released from Prison
    Jefferson City, Mo., Jan. 7.--Michael Angelo McGinnis, whose ability as a mathematician has attracted wide attention among educators of the United States and Europe, was released today from the state penitentiary on parole today after serving six years of a ten-year sentence for forgery.
    McGinnis, who was educated at Appleton, Wis., was for three years principal of a high school at Oconto, Wis. Later he published newspapers in Medford, Oregon, and Julesburg, Colorado.
    Dr. J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of the Kansas City, Mo., schools and an authority on mathematics, said there is not a man in Europe or America who is McGinnis' equal in solving numerical equations.
Evening Standard, Ogden, Utah, January 7, 1913, page 1


MATHEMATICAL WONDER GETS OUT OF PENITENTIARY
Michael Angelo McGinnis Paroled After Serving Six Years at Jefferson City.
SENTENCED FOR FORGERY
Dr. Greenwood Says None Is His Equal in Solving Numerical Equations.

By Associated Press.
    JEFFERSON CITY, Jan. 7.--Michael Angelo McGinnis, whose ability as a mathematician has attracted wide attention among educators of the United States and Europe, was released from the state penitentiary on parole today, after serving six years of a 10-year sentence for forgery.
    McGinnis, who was educated at Appleton, Wis., was for three years principal of a high school at Oconto, Wis. Later he published newspapers in Medford, Ore. and Julesburg, Colo.
    Dr. J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of the Kansas City schools and an authority on mathematics, said there is not a man in Europe or America who is McGinnis' equal in solving numerical equations.
Wrote Textbook in Prison.
    McGinnis says he is a direct descendant of John Napier, inventor of logarithms.
    After McGinnis came to Missouri he published the Newton County Democrat. From that county he was sent to the penitentiary for misuse of the mails. While in the penitentiary he wrote the book that made him famous with mathematicians throughout the world, "Algebra, the Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations." The book was published simultaneously in Kansas City and London after his release. The following year McGinnis was appointed principal of the mathematical department of Albertus Magnus College at Wichita, Kan.
    McGinnis was sentenced from Kansas City for forging a deed, realizing $400. He has a wife and son in Neosho, Mo. He is 59 years old. Scholars everywhere have been eager to have McGinnis released so he may demonstrate the problems he says he can solve.
    McGinnis wrote to Gov. Hadley in 1910, offering to square the circle and declaring he had discovered the exact root of all numbers.
Offered Solutions for Pardon.
    The prisoner offered to demonstrate for an absolute pardon from Gov. Folk in 1907 the following:
    "A general solution of the equation literal of the fifth degree.
    "That all even-degree equations can be depressed one degree, and that all odd-degree equations can be depressed two degrees.
    "A general logarithmic solution for numerical equations up to and including the sixth degree, with proof that numerical equations of all degrees can be solved by logarithms and eliminating "Descartes' rule of signs," the Newton, Lagrange and Horner's methods of approximation and the difficult 'Sturm method.'"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri, January 7, 1913, page 15


MATHEMATICIAN AT M.S.U. AMUSED AT CONVICT'S CLAIMS
Prof. Hedrick Says Statements of McGinnis, Paroled by Hadley, are Absurd.
DOESN'T DOUBT SINCERITY
No One Can Play According to Rules and Do Things Prisoner Says He Can, He Thinks.

Special to the Post-Dispatch.
    COLUMBIA, Mo., Jan. 9.--Michael Angelo McGinnis' claim to distinction as a mathematical prodigy is derided by Earle Raymond Hedrick, professor of mathematics at the University of Missouri. McGinnis was paroled by Gov. Hadley Tuesday from the State Penitentiary, after serving six years of a 10-year sentence for forgery.
    Prof. Hedrick has read with much interest the statements attributed to McGinnis, who once when seeking a pardon from Gov. Folk offered to perform three problems which have baffled mathematicians for centuries. McGinnis has also said that he can trisect any rectilineal angle, a feat which is not so simple as it may sound to the uninitiated, and that he can solve Fermat's theorem, long a puzzle for savants.
    When asked by a Post-Dispatch correspondent what he thought of McGinnis' purported feats in mathematics, Prof. Hedrick said:
    "It is almost a mathematical certainty that, out of every 1000 men, there is one who will someday discover perpetual motion, another who will be sure that he has solved the problem of trisecting the angle, and a third who will solve, to his own satisfaction, the problem of duplicating a cube.
Trisection of No Significance.
    "The trisection of an angle has no practical significance, for in actual practice any carpenter can trisect an angle with his ordinary tools. But to do it scientifically, with compass and ruler, and demonstrate absolutely correctness, is another matter. The duplication of a cube is another matter of no practical value. Yet like all puzzles, these things attract certain persons.
    "The man who says he can do these things is generally sincere, but his statement is just as absurd as if, knowing the word 'ja,' meaning 'yes,' he should declare that he could speak German.
    "If the man had solved Fermat's theorem, he would be rich. There is a prize of about $40,000 in real money awaiting the man who can solve the theorem, or who can prove wherein the theorem fails. The solution of the fifth-degree equation, another feat which McGinnis is said to claim, is a thing that cannot be done without violating the rules of the game.
    "If you and I were playing poker, and I should draw five aces, you would say I had had one ace up my sleeve or that I had stacked the deck. It's the same way about this trisection of the angle and fifth-degree equation. A man can't play according to the rules of the game and do those things. Of course, he might trisect the angle by a machine, and claim to have proved a solution.
    "A Paris mathematical publisher told me that every year he received, on an average, three proofs of the trisection of the angle. Dr. Cole of Columbia University, when professor of mathematics at Ann Arbor, received a letter from a man who said he had a solution of the problem. When Dr. Cole did not reply, the man wrote again, threatening to 'expose' him. Dr. Cole answered with a card, on which he wrote, 'Lydia Pinkham's Pills for Pale People.' The man did not write him again.
    "These solutions by 'mathematical geniuses' of problems which scholars cannot solve are all hocus-pocus."
When McGinnis Offered.
    The mathematical feats which McGinnis offered to perform for Gov. Folk in 1907 in return for a pardon were the following:
    A general solution of the equation literal of the fifth degree.
    Proof that all even-degree equations can be depressed one degree, and that all odd-degree equations can be depressed two degrees.
    A general logarithmic solution for numerical equations up to and including the sixth degree, with proof that numerical equations of all degrees can be solved by logarithms and eliminating Descartes' "rule of signs," the Newton, Lagrange and Horner's methods of approximation and the difficult "Sturm method."
    Folk decided he would keep house without this interesting information, and left the question of clemency for McGinnis to Gov. Hadley.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Missouri, January 9, 1913, page 16



OUT OF PRISON
Wizard of Figures Freed from Penitentiary.
GREAT MATHEMATICIAN
Made New Laws for Solving the Numerical Equations.
    Jefferson City, Mo., Jan. 25.--Michael Angelo McGinnis, whose bewildering achievements in the field of mathematics have attracted widespread attention among educators in the United States and Europe, has been paroled from the Missouri penitentiary by Gov. Hadley. McGinnis was serving a ten years' sentence for forgery. Drink led him to prison. Among the names of those who petitioned Gov. Hadley for the analyst's release were prominent educators.
    McGinnis declared he had found the exact ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference, the long-sought formula for "squaring a circle." Since the time of Euclid the ratio has been supposed to be 3.1416 plus. McGinnis asserts that he knows what the plus is. He says he has discovered the exact root of all numbers and that imperfect squares will be no more.
    Prof. J. M. Greenwood, superintendent of public schools in Kansas City, believes there is not a man in Europe or America today who is McGinnis' equal in solving numerical equations.
    "I formed Mr. McGinnis' acquaintance some years ago through his work as an algebraist," said Prof. Greenwood. "He came to my office and I gave him algebraic problems to solve above the fourth degree. The problems were numerical. That is, the coefficients of the unknown quantity or quantities were unknown. So far, no analyst, and by this I mean a mathematician, has been able to solve a literal equation above the fourth degree. In 1819 William G. Horner of Bath, England, discovered and published what is known as "Horner's Method of Solving Numerical Equations of Any Degree." McGinnis claims to have solved literal equations above the fourth degree, even up to the tenth degree. The difference between
A NUMERICAL SOLUTION
of an equation and a literal solution is that the numerical is good only for that special case while a literal solution is good for all equations of the degree. The literal equation is universally true numerically for one particular case only.
    "In my experience I have never known a man who can solve numerical equations of high degree with the facility that Mr. McGinnis can solve them. We know a good deal about how numerical equations are formed and the relations the coefficients sustain to the roots of the values of the unknown quantities, and it is in this particular corner of equations that Mr. McGinnis claims that he has made original discoveries."
    The Rev. H. A. Geisert of Jefferson City, a mathematician of high repute, is of the opinion that Mr. McGinnis has solved Fermat's fifth theorem.
    McGinnis claims to have solved the "trisection of any plane angle," a problem considered impossible of solution. He asserts that he made all the estimates and figures in the construction of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis in less than three weeks--an astounding feat. [The Eads Bridge was built in 1874, while McGinnis was still teaching school in Wisconsin.]
    McGinnis is the author of Algebra, the Universal Solution of Numerical and Literal Equations, which was published simultaneously in Kansas City and London a few years ago. It attracted much attention and is in demand as a textbook. McGinnis does not work at equations according to the usual methods presented by mathematicians, but he goes at the subject from another point of attack altogether. By discovering new laws not hitherto suspected that enter into the structure of equations and that coefficients bear a constant relation to all the roots of the equation he deduces principles that were unknown.
    Mr. McGinnis had made persistent appeals to Gov. Hadley and Gov. Folk for a parole, based on his mathematical ability. But he was regularly refused on the ground that he must demonstrate that he was entitled to a parole on other grounds. Once he wrote to the Legislature submitting a plan whereby $100,000 a year might be saved by adopting textbooks he had written while in prison.
    McGinnis says, awake or sleeping, he lives in a world of figures. They constantly march in squadrons and platoons, a moving army , across the screen of his mind.
    "I can think of nothing else," he said recently. "Awake or sleeping, figures run in my head. At the age of 15 I had learned all there was to know in a public school about arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Today there is no textbook on the subject to which I might turn for learning."
    McGinnis was born on a farm near Appleton, Wis., fifty-six years ago. He is said to be a direct descendant of John Napier, the inventor of logarithms. He has had a varied experience as an educator and newspaper publisher in different parts of the country, but whisky always has been his undoing. He has a wife and son living at Neosho, Mo.
The Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica, February 4, 1913, page 13



BY THE WAY
    Michael Angelo McGinnis, mathematician and also, alas! forger, has been paroled from the Missouri penitentiary by Governor Hadley. He was serving a ten years' sentence. His attainments in the higher mathematics are declared to be such that his liberty is called for in the interests of science. One educator says: "I have never known a man who can solve numerical equations of high degree with the facility displayed by Mr. McGinnis."
The Outlook, February 8, 1913, page 328


A WIZARD OF MATHEMATICS OR JUST A FAKER?
    Wizard or faker, Michael Angelo McGinnis, who was recently paroled from the Missouri Penitentiary, is believed by many prominent educators to be the mathematical prodigy of the age.
    McGinnis was paroled in the custody of Prof. J. M. Greenwood of Kansas City, Mo. He is working on an alleged new discovery in mathematics he made while in the penitentiary. His pretensions have been denied by different mathematicians, one of them declaring that he is a colossal charlatan. Prof. Greenwood believes the man is a genius and has helped him on every possible occasion.
    McGinnis was born in Greenville, Wis., fifty-nine years ago. He attended the public schools until he was 15 years old, and astonished his instructors by his remarkable mathematical feats. He was principal of the Jefferson High School at Oconto, Wis., and later professor of mathematics in a college in Wichita, Kan. He has published numerous mathematical books, among them one entitled "Algebra." He was also a newspaper publisher and owned papers in Sterling and Julesburg, Col.
    It has been asserted that McGinnis has mastered the problem of the trisection of any rectilinear angle, which has been thought impossible of solution. This is one of the many mathematical achievements credited to him.
    He was committed to prison June 24, 1907, from Jackson County, Missouri, having been convicted of complicity in the forgery of a deed. Several months after his incarceration he made the following proposition to Gov. Folk:
    "For an absolute pardon," he said, "I will demonstrate a general solution of the literal equation of the fifth degree.
    "Demonstrate that all even degree equations can be depressed one degree and that all odd degree equations can be depressed two degrees.
    "Demonstrate a general logarithmic solution for numerical equations up to and including the sixth degree; with proof that numerical equations of all degrees can be solved by logarithms; eliminating Descarte's rule of signs, the various methods of approximation, and the difficult Sturm method."
    His application for a pardon attracted the attention of mathematicians from all over the United States. Scores wrote to Gov. Folk urging him to parole McGinnis. To prove his solutions were genuine McGinnis wanted a congress of mathematicians appointed to examine him.
    McGinnis was 53 years old when he was convicted. Six years of prison life have left their mark on him. He is a bent and broken old man. He has a wife who lives with her sister at Neosho, Mo. She is a frail little woman and has a strong belief in the genius of her husband.
    "Prof. Greenwood has certainly been a friend of my husband," she said. "He will now have an opportunity to work on his new discovery with his mind free. I do not understand, but I know that whatever it is, he will solve it."
    Many people in Neosho knew McGinnis. He was regarded as an agreeable, easy-going man, who would give you what you wanted for the asking if he had it. He was considered somewhat visionary and was always calculating on some new problem.
    It is said that he once caused a good deal of strife between the pupils and teachers in the high school at Neosho. A number of students had difficulty with the higher mathematical problems. They would come to him and he would solve them orally and then teach them quick methods of solution. The teachers did not like this and commanded the students to work their solutions according to the old methods. The students rebelled and there was a little war until McGinnis was appealed to. He settled the matter by refusing the students aid, somewhat reluctantly, for he seemed to take delight in the confusion.
New York Sun, February 23, 1913, page 46


McGinnis, Michael Angelo.
   
Proof of Fermat's theorem, and McGinnis' theorem of derivative equations in an absolute proof of Fermat's theorem; reduction of the general equation of the fifth degree to an equation of the fourth degree; and supplementary theorems, by Michael Angelo McGinnis. Meadowdale, Wash., L. C. Hjorth & Sons (1913) xi, 34 p. 18½cm. $2.00
©Mar. 11, 1913; 2c. Mar. 24, 1913; A343592; M. A. McGinnis, Kansas City, Mo. (13-6754)
Catalogue of Copyright Entries for the Year 1913, Library of Congress, page 1668


Noted Mathematician Dies in Poverty; Twice a Convict
    KANSAS CITY, Mo., Oct. 16.--Michaelangelo McGinnis, mathematician of international fame, died here today, a charity patient in a hospital. McGinnis wrote a book on algebra while confined in the Missouri Penitentiary for misuse of the mails. After his release the book was published in this country and England and attracted the attention of educators all over the world. He is said to have refused offers from the larger universities. He became a professor of mathematics in a Wichita (Kas.) college, and a few years later was sent to the penitentiary again for forging a deed. He served six years of a ten-year sentence and then was paroled by Governor Hadley.
Indianapolis Star, October 16, 1914, page 16


M. A. McGinnis Dead.
    Kansas City, Oct. 15.--Michael Angelo McGinnis, mathematician, whose ability gained him international fame, died at a hospital here yesterday. McGinnis, admitted by the higher authorities to be a genius at solving numerical or literal equations, spent the last two months of his life as a charity patient.
    While in the Missouri penitentiary at Jefferson City, where he was sent after his conviction for misuse of the mails when publishing a newspaper in Newton County, McGinnis wrote a book on algebra. After his release the book was published in this country and in London and attracted the attention of educators all over the world.
    McGinnis, refusing offers to connect himself with large institutions of learning, accepted a position as professor of mathematics in the Albertus Magnus College, Wichita, Kans. A few years later he was sent to the Missouri penitentiary for the second time, having been found guilty of forging a deed.
    He served six years of a ten-year sentence and applied for a pardon, offering to demonstrate that he had "discovered the fourth dimension and the exact ration of a circle's circumference to its diameter." Governor Hadley granted a parole to McGinnis after his exceptional ability had been testified to by several leading educators.
Neosho Daily News, Neosho, Missouri, October 16, 1914, page 3


    Michael Angelo McGinnis, who died in Kansas City, Mo., yesterday, at the age of 57, was a descendant of John Napier, inventor of logarithms. He was born in Appleton, Wis., and before he was 30 years old he was for three years the principal of the Oconto (Wis.) High School. Later he published a newspaper in Medford, Ore. Then he went to Missouri and published the Newton County Democrat. He was sent later to the penitentiary for misuse of the mails, and while confined in his cell wrote a book called Algebra, the Universal Equations. The book made him famous with mathematicians throughout the world. It evolved a theory by which literal equations could be solved as far as the sixth degree. Copies of it were published simultaneously in Kansas City and London after his release from the penitentiary. The following year he became a professor in Albertus Magnus College at Wichita, Kan.
Utica Herald-Dispatch, New York, October 16, 1914, page 6


WROTE ALGEBRA IN PRISON THAT AMAZED WORLD
McGinnis Evolved Text Book That Dealt with Equations
While Confined in Missouri Penitentiary for Misuse of Mails
PAROLED ON PROMISE TO SOLVE BIG PROBLEMS
    New York, Nov. 13.--Michael Angelo McGinnis, mathematician, who asserted he was a direct descendant of John Napier, inventor of logarithms, died recently at the General Hospital in Kansas City. This man, admitted by the highest authorities in the country to be a genius at solving numerical and literal equations, spent the last two months of his life a charity patient.
    McGinnis was born on a farm near Appleton, Wis. Educated in the public schools, he became principal of the high school in Oconto, Wis., when 21. He held that position three years, then went to Medford, Ore., where he edited a newspaper during Cleveland's administration. From there he went to Julesburg, Col., where he became owner of the Julesburg Gazette. He was the first county clerk and registrar of deeds of Logan County, Colorado.
GAINED WORLD-WIDE FAME.
    McGinnis then moved to Missouri and bought the controlling interest in the Newton County Democrat. From that county he was sent to the state penitentiary for two years, charged with misuse of the mails. A prisoner at Jefferson City, in his spare time he wrote a book called "Algebra, the Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations." The work at once attracted the attention of the greatest educators and mathematicians of the United States and Europe, and was published simultaneously in Kansas City and London. Released from the state penitentiary, the author of a book universally discussed, McGinnis was immediately offered the chair of mathematics at four or five well-known American universities. He preferred to stay close to his home, however, and the following year accepted the position of principal of the mathematics department of the Albertus Magnus College at Wichita, Kas.
    Whisky proved his undoing. Six years later he was found guilty of forgery in the criminal court in Kansas City, sentenced with a companion to ten years in the penitentiary for forging a deed, the realization of which netted him $400. Steadfastly protesting his innocence, he left again for Jefferson City, for ten years more a ward of the state.
PAROLED TO LAWYER.
    After serving six years of his second term in the penitentiary, McGinnis made to Governor Herbert Hadley the most remarkable petition for a parole ever handed to a state's governor. "Offer as a prize my freedom from the Missouri Penitentiary and I will demonstrate to you that I have discovered the fourth dimension, and the exact ration of a circle's diameter to its circumference," he said. The governor referred the petition to the pardon board, and after investigation into the case and numerous conferences with the late Prof. J. M. Greenwood, then superintendent of schools of Kansas City, McGinnis was paroled to P. J. Monaghan, a Kansas City lawyer. "There is not a man in Europe or America today who is this man's equal in solving numerical equations," said Professor Greenwood in his letter to Governor Hadley, approving the release.
The Pittsburgh Press, November 13, 1914, page 14



    MICHAEL A. McGINNIS, who was the author of a book in which he claimed (falsely, of course) to have devised a universal solution for both numerical and literal equations, died recently in Kansas City. It is claimed by many who knew him intimately that, but for strong drink and dishonest business methods, he might have made a noteworthy record as a mathematician.
"Notes and News," The American Mathematical Monthly, February 1915, page 74


Death certificate of Michael Angelo McGinnis. "Tabes dorsalis," the cause of death, is a neurologic form of tertiary syphilis.



Last revised October 20, 2016
*For more complete names of persons identified by initials, see the Index.