Figure of the Week

John Ridout McGregor

Born 1829 - Died 1900

John Ridout McGregor (1829-1900) was the son of Alrick Mortimer McGregor (born 1810) of Prince George’s County, Maryland.  John married his first cousin, Mary Eliza McGregor (1831-1916).  In the mid-1850s, John R. McGregor was operating a “Paint and Oil Store” in Washington, DC.  Here he sold such items as window glass, camphene, spirit gas, sperm, solar, and lard oil lamps, clocks, brushes, ornaments, girandoles, window shades, etc.  He and Mary Eliza moved to Stafford County, Virginia in 1858 and Mary’s father purchased for them Concord, a farm on Aquia Creek.  War erupted shortly thereafter and John served briefly as a lieutenant in the Stafford Guards, Capt. Bruce’s company of the 47th Virginia Infantry.  Considerable circumstantial evidence suggests that he may have been part of the Confederate Secret Service.  In 1865, John R. McGregor was appointed one of three commissioners tasked “to Reorganize Counties under the Restored Government of Virginia.”  The other two commissioners were Joseph B. Ficklen and John H. Skinker.  This was an interesting combination given McGregor’s  Confederate leanings.  J. B. Ficklen, while claiming to have been a Unionist, seems to have played both sides of the controversy.  John H. Skinker was a devout supporter of the Union.  One obituary said of John R. McGregor, “He served gallantly in the Confederate army, and after the war was for some years employed in the Treasury  Department at Washington.”  Another obituary stated that John worked at the Treasury Department “till the advent of President Hayes.  When he lost his position, he returned, and has resided here to the date of his death.”  When John left his job at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, he was given an old wooden banjo clock that remains in the family.