Leonidas H. McGill, a leading representative of Benton County bar, followed his profession continuously in Bentonville starting in 1887 and in later years was associated in practice with his son, J. T. McGill, under the firm style of McGill & McGill, the list of their clients being an extensive one. He comes of English and French Huguenot ancestry, early representatives of the family settling in Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. He was born in Kentucky, February 22, 1854, and passed a portion of his childhood in Tennessee, leaving that state in the fall of 1861 and going to Titus County, Texas, whence he removed to Gilmer, in Upshur County, that state, where he attended a private high school conducted by Morgan H. Looney, this institution ranking with the best in Texas. In March, 1873, he left the Lone Star state and came to Arkansas, completing his high school course at Bentonville under the same teacher. In 1874 and 1875 he engaged in educational work, acting as assistant to his brother, John T. McGill, who was then a high school teacher, but later spent forty years as a member of the faculty of Vanderbilt University and was a man of high intellectual attainments.
In 1875, Leonidas H. McGill became a law student in the office of Judge S. N. Elliott of Bentonville, with whom he continued until 1876, and in October of that year he was admitted to practice here. He formed a partnership with Judge E. S. McDaniel, with whom he was associated until May, 1880, when he removed to Ozark, Arkansas, and was in the law office of Judge W. W. Mansfield until January, 1881. He then went to Morrillton, Arkansas, where he became a partner of Colonel E. B. Henry, a relationship that was continued until January, 1883, when Mr. McGill returned to Bentonville, continuing to follow his profession here until October of that year, when he became a private secretary to Governor James H. Berry. He filled that position until July, 1884, when he again took up his residence in Bentonville. While at Little Rock he attended law lectures delivered by some of the leading attorneys of the city, including U. M. Rose, Judge Henry C. Caldwell, John M. Moore, W. G. Whipple and Judge Joseph W. Martin, pursuing a night course. In October, 1885, Mr. McGill removed to Clarksville, Arkansas, where he formed a partnership with A. S. McKennon, and was thus associated until July, 1887, when he returned to Bentonville. He again became a partner of Judge E. S. McDaniel, with whom he remained until the elevation of the latter to the bench of the circuit court in 1894, and four years later, or 1898, he associated himself with F. G. Lindsay, a relationship that was maintained until the 1st of April, 1917, when Mr. Lindsay went to Little Rock as attorney for the insurance department of the state. Mr. McGill then formed a partnership with his eldest son, J. T. McGill, and their interests were conducted under the firm style of McGill & McGill. The father was admitted to practice before the supreme court of Arkansas in 1882, and in the United States supreme court in April, 1909. His knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence was comprehensive and exact and the zeal with which he prepared his cases, the careful regard evinced for the interests of his clients, combined with his assiduous and unrelaxing attention to all the details of his cases, brought him a large business and made him very successful in its conduct.
At Bentonville, Arkansas, on the 26th of December, 1881, Mr. McGill was united in marriage to Miss Mit Peel, a daughter of Colonel S. W. Peel, a well known resident of this place, and they became the parents of ten children, six sons and four daughters. all of whom are living [as of this writing] with the exception of a daughter, who met an accidental death when but ten years of age. The sons are: J.T. and L.H., Jr, both of whom are married; Charles B.; Samuel P.; William A.; and James Berry. The daughters are: Elizabeth, who married S.C. Bohart; Catherine, the wife of Bennett Dickson; and Mary. Mr. McGill and his wife were domestic in their tastes, finding their greatest happiness in the midst of their family, and Mrs. McGill never exercised her right of franchise, feeling that her household duties required her undivided attention.
Mr. McGill was a member of the State and American Bar Association and he was a democrat in his political views, interested in the welfare and success of the party, and he was a member of the constitutional convention of 1917-18. Early recognizing the fact that industry and perseverance must constitute an important element in the attainment of success, along those lines he labored for advancement, and wisely and conscientiously utilizing the talents with which nature endowed him, he won a prominent position at the Benton County bar, his upright policy gaining for him the confidence and respect of his colleagues and associates.
Mr. McGill died July 23, 1931, and is buried in the Bentonville Cemetery.
Adapted from the Centennial History of Arkansas, 1922