Joseph H. McGee was born in Clermont county, Ohio, July 6, 1821. His grandfather, Peter McGee, in company with seven brothers, emigrated from Ireland to the United States prior to the Revolutionary War, and settled in New Jersey. Peter McGee was a major under Washington and participated in the celebrated battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, at which place he now lies buried. Charles McGee, the father of our subject, was born near Monmouth, where he lived until 1815, when he removed to Ohio and settled in, Clermont county. The family lived in the Buckeye State until 1837, Joseph then being in his sixteenth year, when they migrated to Missouri and settled in Daviess county.
Young McGee was a tailor by trade, having served a six years apprenticeship in Cincinnati; he located in Gallatin and engaged in that business until burned out by the Mormons during the difficulties which finally culminated in their expulsion from the county. After the Mormon War he worked at his trade and taught school alternately until 1850, in which year he joined the throng who made the trip to California during the memorable gold excitement, and returned in 1852. In 1856 he was elected county clerk, served the full term of six years, and was reelected in 1862 without opposition. He was among the first to offer his services to his country and was commissioned captain of his company in 1862, and was promoted from that position to major in 1863. In 1866 he was once more elected county clerk, but resigned to accept the office of State register of lands, which position he held two years, and was renominated in 1870, but defeated, with the rest of the ticket, at the election. He also held the position of common pleas judge one term, and was four years circuit clerk.
Major McGee is a gentlemen of genial characteristics, an easy conversationalist and sociable and companionable to a high degree. He is a man of good thinking powers and strong convictions, not easily swerved from what he believes to be right. Politically, he believed in and advocated the principles of Democracy until the breaking out of the late war, when he affiliated with the Republican party, and has since been an earnest and ardent defender of that political faith.