George McDougall, 1806-1818

Portrait of George McDougall

The Adjutant General of the Michigan Territory

 

29 September 1806 - 1 August 1818

 

George McDougall was the son of Lieutenant. George McDougall of the Royal American Regiment, a native of Scotland, who was at Detroit during Pontiac's siege. A few years after this event, he obtained title to Hog Island (Belle Isle) and thereby started a controversy which is still of interest to the people of Detroit. He died at Carleton Island, April 8, 1780. In 1763, he had married at Detroit, Mary Frances Navarre, daughter of Robert Navarre and Mary Lootman dit Barrios. Their son, George, the subject of the present sketch, was born at Detroit, Oct. 13, 1766. He became a lawyer, but in addition to his legal practice he held various offices and engaged in diverse activities. He was a man of eccentric temperament, so much so that he seems to have been regarded by his contemporaries as somewhat abnormal mentally. In 1810, he was foreman of the grand jury which presented Governor Hull and Judges Witherell and Woodward for tyrannical conduct. At a subsequent date, he was disbarred by the judges for his conduct before them, and the prohibition was removed only after he had made a humble apology to the court. Notwithstanding his quarrelsome disposition, McDougall was popular with the French element of Detroit whose language he spoke as fluently as he spoke English. In his later years, prosperity forsook him and he obtained an appointment as lighthouse keeper at Fort Gratiot on the St. Clair River. This position he retained until his death, about the year 1840.

 

McDougall was a man of historical tastes, and preserved until his death a collection of papers pertaining to early Detroit which were subsequently utilized by Francis Parkman in writing his Conspiracy of Pontiac. McDougall died a bachelor. Information adapted from Denissen, op. Cit.; Robt. B. Ross, Early Bench and Bar of Detroit (Detroit, 1907), 142-P4; Mich. Pio. Colls., XXXVI, 210-11; and mss. in Burton Hist. Coll.