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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: McMynn, John Gibson 1824 - 1900


soldier, educator, b. Palatine Ridge, Montgomery County, N.Y. He graduated from Williams (Mass.) College (1848), and in the same year moved to Wisconsin, settling in Southport (now Kenosha), where he was principal of the North Ward School, and was instrumental in organizing the first public school system in Wisconsin. From 1853 to 1857 he lived in Racine where he helped organize the public school system, served as superintendent of public instruction, and was principal of the Racine high school. In 1858 he toured Europe, studying education systems. He returned to Racine in 1859, and in 1861 was called to the presidency of Minnesota's first normal school at Winona. This position was terminated by the outbreak of the Civil War, during which McMynn served as major (1861-1862), lieutenant colonel (1862-1863), and colonel (1863) with the 10th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He resigned his commission in 1863 and returned to Wisconsin. In 1864 he was elected state superintendent of public instruction to replace Josiah L. Pickard (q.v.), and served in this capacity from Oct., 1864, to Jan., 1868. Following the war, he made his home in Racine, and from 1868 to 1875 was employed by the J. I. Case Co. In 1875 he returned to his educational activities, established Racine Academy, and headed this institution (1875-1882). He retired in 1882 and spent the remainder of his life in Madison. McMynn was a regent of the Univ. of Wisconsin (1857-1863, 1864-1868 [ex officio] 1868-1870, 1880-1889). He was also president (1865-1866) and vice-president (1887-1888) of the regents. He was an organizer of the Wisconsin State Teachers' Association, and served as its president (1853), and was editor of the Wisconsin journal of Education (1856-1857). W. C. Whitford, Historical Sketch of Ethic. in Wis. (Madison, 1876); Racine Daily Journal, Nov. 28, 1891; Milwaukee journal, June 5, 1900; WPA field notes; J. G. McMynn Papers.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the McMynn Genealogy for details.

View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
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