03/19/1857 – 04/05/1925
Hon. Monroe McClurg was born in Carroll County, Miss., March 19, 1857. His paternal great-grandfather, William McClurg, was a native of Scotland, his maternal grandfather was a native of Ireland. A great-great-uncle, James McClurg, was a member of the convention that framed the Constitution of the United States, taking the place of Patrick Henry, who, with Edmond Randolph, George Mason and George Wythe, all of Virginia, declined to sign the constitution proposed, while their colleagues George Washington, John Blair, and James Madison signed it. His grandfather, William, came to Mississippi from South Carolina in 1820 and settled in Hinds County, near Clinton, where his father, Yancey Crawford, was born, October 15, 1828. His father was names in honor of his mother’s people, who were closely related to William L. Yancey, the great Alabama orator and statesman and to the Crawford’s, a distinguished family of politicians, lawyers and statesmen of Georgia.
His father was mustered into the Confederate service at Jackson, Miss., 15th February, 1862, and belonged for a while to Co. A, 28th Miss., regiment, J.T. McBee, captain Stark, colonel. He was then transferred to Co. G, 1st Reg. of State reserve forces, J.C. Dennis, colonel, in which he was second lieutenant. He was promoted to the rank of captain just before the close of the war in 1865. The mother of the subject of this sketch, Susan M. Cain, youngest daughter of Patrick Cain, died in August, 1874. In the winter of 1875, his father married Miss Artimisha Bagley, of Panola County, Miss. To the first marriage were born James, who died young; Myles and Monroe, twins, the former dying young; Mary, the wife of J.S. Tillman, a farmer in Carroll County; Martha, wife of J.B. Harrell of Oklahoma City; William Herman, who died at the age of 24 years; John and Hubbard, twins, the former, a druggist at Vaiden, of which town he has been twelve years Mayor, the latter a merchant, at Ruleville, Miss.; Minnie, wife of T.A. Winborn, employee of the I.C.R.R. at Canton, Miss.; Katherine Belle, a daughter by the second union, married Thomas Williams, a farmer in Carroll County, and died a year later.
Monroe McClurg married Miss Ida Blanche Williams, the second daughter of A.B. and Mary E. Williams, at Vaiden, December 5, 1881. Three children were born of this union, Mrs Susie Mai Richardson, wife of Mr. Bonner Richardson; Mrs. Ada Maude McConnico, wife of Mr. S.E. McConnico, Jr., and Monroe, Jr., all of Greenwood, Miss. Mr.McClurg also resides at Greenwood, Miss., and is senior member of the law firm, McClurg, Gardner & Whitington.
He is a member of the Presbyterian Church; was a delegate at large from Mississippi to the inter-national Sunday school convention in Chicago in 1888; is a Past Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and represented the order four years in the Sovereign Grand Lodge. His most important work in that order was the organization of a plan for building a Widows and Orphans’ Home and the writing of a history of the order in Mississippi for the Grand Lodge of the World. He established, and published for two years at Vaiden, a newspaper called The Nucleus, now known as the Carroll News.
After completing his high-school course at Louisville, Winston County, Miss., Mr. McClurg became at the same time deputy sheriff, deputy circuit clerk, deputy chancery clerk and deputy assessor of Carroll County, which positions he held until September, 1877. He then entered the law department of the University of Mississippi, from which institution he was graduated in June, 1878, in the first class taught by Prof. Edward Mayes. He was admitted to the bar at Vaiden, in November, 1878, by Chancellor R.W. Williamson. His first law partner was Hon. George Anderson, who afterward removed to Vicksburg and represented Warren County in the Legislature, and resigned to become circuit judge of the Ninth Circuit Court district. His next partnership was with Hon. Thos. H. Somerville, beginning in 1880 and ending with Mr. Somerville’s election as Professor of Law in the University of Mississippi, in 1897. For seventeen years this firm was in almost every important case in the County.
In 1890 he was elected as a delegate from Carroll County to the Constitutional Convention, and was next to the youngest member of that body; was appointed on the committee on franchise, election and apportionment, and on printing. He supported and signed the constitution finally adopted by the convention.
He was elected to the Legislature in 1896 from Carroll County and was appointed chairman of the committee on education; a member of the judiciary and other committees. He nominated Hon. Hernando D. Money for the United States Senate, to succeed Senator J.Z. George. In December, 1896, he moved to Greenwood and formed a partnership with Hon. S.R. Coleman and practiced law there until January, 1900.
Mr. McClurg was elected Attorney General of the State in 1899, and was installed along with the “Longino Administration,” January 15, 1900. He was a member of the commission that purchased 14,000 acres of land in Sunflower County for a State penitentiary farm, and, with the commission, examined the land and thereafter passed upon the abstracts and titles to the same. He was a member of the State House Commission and drew the contracts for building the new State Capitol, and was the adviser of the commission and attended its meetings. His name appears on the tablet at the entrance of the building. He was a member of the penitentiary Board of Control, of the Board of Election Commissioners, of the Board of Public Contracts, of the State Board of Public Education and of some other minor boards and commissions, He examined and passed upon the legality of nearly 1,000 charters, and more than 500 applications to have taxes, erroneously collected, refunded, and about 50 applications for certificates of exemption from taxation.
He appeared before the Supreme Court in more than 360 criminal appeals and in more than 40 civil suits in which the State or a political subdivision thereof was interested. More than 75 per cent of these cases were affirmed, a record not before made. In the circuit and chancery courts of Hinds County and in the Federal courts at Jackson he appeared in many important cases for the State. He filed written briefs in more than 350 cases. Among the most important of them are the following:
Dinkins’ Case, 77 Miss., 874; Arnold’s Case, Ibid., 463; The Judiciary Amendments, Ibid., 543; Lena Wilkinson’s Case, Ibid., 705; Straight’s Case, Ibid., 693; Allen vs. Leflore County, 78 Miss., 671; Woodberry vs. McClurg, Ibid., 831; The State vs. Cotton Oil Company, 79 Miss., 203; Caffey’s Case, 78 Miss., 645; Holt’s Case, Ibid., 631; Auditor Cole vs. Humphreys, Ibid., 163; The Mississippi Railroad Commission vs. The Gulf and Ship Island Railroad Company, Ibid., 750; Kirby’s Case, Ibid., 175; Klyce’s Case, Ibid., 450; Seymour’s Case, Ibid., 134; The Industrial Institute and College Case, 81 Miss., 174; Hayden’s Case, Ibid., 291; Conrad’s Case, 80 Miss., 229; Eaton’s Case, Ibid., 588.
He delivered more than 300 written opinions, besides many given daily to State officers and State institutions. Some of the more important are:
To the Governor, advising him that a pardon signed by Governor McLaurin and left with his secretary to be delivered to a convict was effective if accepted; defining “vacancy in office,” and advising the governor to recall his writ of election issued to the newly created eleventh circuit court district to elect a district attorney (Brewer).
To the State Treasurer, advising that he could not pay “Alcorn Money,” nor the bonds issued to retire it, without special legislation.
To the Secretary of State, advising that charter fees should be fixed by the maximum of authorized capital; that foreign corporations doing business in this State must file a copy of charter and pay the fee fixed by law. These two opinions brought many thousands of dollars into the treasury.
To the Auditor of Public Accounts, advising what factories were exempted from taxation; that mutual insurance companies must report to his office (this caused many fraudulent organizations to go out of business); not to pay the “Wineman Claim,” because a forgery had been committed in passing the law under which it was claimed.
To the State Land Commissioner, advising with reference to leasing of the public lands and to prevent depredations, and as to handling of escheated estates. By a suit in the Hinds County chancery court, he recovered 80 acres of land containing the quarry from which the stone was taken to build the old State House and turned the land over to the Land Commissioner, Hon. E.H. Hall.
To the State Revenue Agent, advising that the term of County treasurers ran from the first Monday in January to the first Monday of the next and that commissions should be so computed; also, with reference to solvent credits not returned to assessors, not being protected by approval of the assessment roll; advising how back taxes to the amount of more than a million dollars collected should be distributed.
To the Superintendent of Education, defining “exchange, introduction and permanent supply of school books,” and advising that it meant dealings with the patron and not the school book dealer.
To the Railroad Commission, advising that it had power to order necessary spur-tracks put in; that it had jurisdiction to regulate switch charges independently of inter-state commerce; in the Southern and Mobile and Ohio Railroad merger, that the Southern must become a domestic corporation in the State; that the Commission had jurisdiction over steamboats plying the Mississippi river as to intra-state freight; defining interstate commerce and advising the powers of the commission with reference thereto.
To the State Board of Health, that it had no power to regulate street car service.
To Public Institutions, advising the Industrial Institute and College; that is appropriations were available only through the State Treasury; and the Agricultural and Mechanical College, and the Deaf and Dumb Institute that their trustees had no power to sell their lands, and advising the use of appropriation and insurance money in rebuilding the latter institution after its destruction by fire.
To the Warden of the Penitentiary, advising that the County should bear the expenses of responding to a writ of habeas corpus as testificandum for a convicted witness.
Some opinions of importance were given to district attorneys. Among them, one to Hon. J.W. Barron, advising as to the duties of that office and expressing doubt as to whether he should receive a fee to prosecute in a justice of the peace court in his district.
To the Boards of Supervisors many opinions of importance, such as advising them that they had the power to furnish County officers with typewriting machines, stamps and stationery, and that circuit and chancery judges had authority to make allowance for clerical help to their clerks in term time. Every opinion that he gave that was tested in the courts was held to be correct.
During the first two years of his term Mr. McClurg had no assistant. The last year that he held the office he had one, as provided by the Legislature of 1902. He appointed Hon. Walter L. Easterling who resigned in June, when he appointed Hon. Wm. Williamson. The new codification of the statute laws of the State, now being prepared by a commission appointed by Governor Vardaman, namely; Chief Justice Albert H. Whitfield, Judge W.H. Hardy and Hon. Thomas C. Catchings, was recommended by Mr. McClurg in his report to the Legislature and adopted by that body. Some other recommendations of minor importance were also adopted by the Legislature.
Mr. McClurg has been engaged in several cases of considerable importance since going back into private practice. One very interesting case is that of the Board of Trade of the City of Meridian against the Alabama & Vicksburg Railroad Company, in which he is leading counsel for the Board of Trade. The suit involves a large reduction of tariffs on grain and grain products between Meridian and Vicksburg. He secured from the Railroad Commission an order making the reduction. The railroad company then enjoined the commission from the enforcement of the order. The injunction was dissolved by the chancery court of Hinds County and an appeal taken to the Supreme Court where the case is now pending.
He was admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, January 12, 1903, when he presented to that court the demurrer of Mississippi to the original bill of complaint filed against her by Louisiana. After resigning the office of Attorney General, Governor Longino retained him to assist Gen. Williams, his successor, in this case. This employment was relinquished when the Legislature failed to make an appropriation to pay the fees and costs of defending the suit. Later, Governor Vardaman employed him in the case again.
He drew the charter of incorporation of the Mississippi Division of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans and represented that organization in securing an acceptable conveyance from Mrs. Varina Jefferson Davis to “Beauvoir,” the last home of the President of the Southern Confederacy, for a soldier’s home.
Mr. McClurg resigned the office of Attorney-General, February 4, 1903, when it was almost certain that he would have no opposition for reelection. He declined to become a candidate for Governor of the State, when it was generally conceded that his prospects for the election were good. Governor Longino at once appointed Mr. McClurg’s assistant, Hon. Wm. Williams, Attorney General to fill the unexpired term, and General Williams, appointed for his assistant Hon. James N. Flowers, of Carroll, a former partner in the law firm of Somerville, McClurg and Flowers.
Before Mr. McClurg left Jackson, the State officers, assistants, clerks and employees gathered in the Governor’s office and presented to him a cane suitably engraved, as a token of their friendship and esteem. The Governor, Judge Calhoon, General Williams, Railroad Commissioners A.Q. May, Superintendent H.L. Whitfield, Secretary of State J.W. Power, Auditor W.Q. Cole, Revenue Agent Wirt Adams, and others made short speeches. The surprise to Mr. McClurg was complete.
The Board of Supervisors of his County, Leflore, have appointed him on the building committee, charged with erecting a new $100,000.00 courthouse in the city of Greenwood. – Editor
Bibliography: Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society. Edited by Franklin L. Riley, Secretary, Vol. VIII. Oxford, Mississippi. Printed for the Society, 1904. pp. 293-300
At 18 years, he was made deputy sheriff, deputy chancery and circuit court clerk and deputy assessor of Carroll county and by age 20 (in 1877), he had money for his law course
1878 – graduated with L.L.B.
degree. A member of Judge Mayer’s first class – admitted to the bar in November
of this year. According to Goodspeed, he began business in Vaiden in 1879 and
immediately formed a partnership with George Anderson and began to practice.
1896 – formed a partnership with S.R. Coleman for 3 years at Greenwood, MS
1900-1903 – Attorney General of Mississippi
1903 – Head of partnership – McClurg, Gardner and Whittington
Now he entered a more
mature phase of his career, and it was during these next few years that he won
his reputation as a great lawyer. Jan
12, 1903 – admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court –
presented a demurrer of State of
It was Mr. McClurg who drew the charter of incorporation of the Mississippi Division of U.S.C.V. and who handled the conveyance of Beauvoir.
He has served consistently as alderman and as mayor ex-officio in Vaiden; in the legislature (1896); while he was attorney general he examined the land and passed on abstracts and titles for fourteen thousand acres in Sunflower county for a state penitentiary farm; closely-connected with building the new state house; he sat on the penitentiary board of control, board of election commissioners, board of public contracts, of state education…he delivered more than 300 written opinions, besides many from day to day; appeared before the State supreme court in three hundred and fifty criminal appeals --- When he resigned it was almost certain there would be no opposition to his re-election. He refused to run for governor, though his prospects were good. The spontaneity of his co-workers’ good will was touching and convincing.
Who’s Who in Mississippi
Member of Masons, Odd Fellows, Elks, American Bar
Association, Conference of
Commissioned as judge for the Fourth District
In memoriam tribute paid him at the 1925 State Bar Meeting at Laurel
Member of Franchise, Apportionment and Elections Committee of the Constitutional Convention of 1890
His 2nd wife, Helen, was president of the Mississippi Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and was active in many functions in the State.
Monroe McClurg and 2nd wife Helen Webb Drane McClurg are buried at the IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) Cemetery in Greenwood, MS. Monroe’s 1st wife, Ida Blanche Williams McClurg, is buried in the Vaiden Cemetery in Vaiden, MS. At his death, Monroe was 68 years 0 months 17 days old.