McNealus, James Clayton (1850–1921)

By: Bridget Lensing

Type: Biography

Published: March 21, 2017

Updated: July 20, 2018

James Clayton (J. C.) McNealus, journalist, newspaper owner, and state senator, was born on October 15, 1850, in Watertown, New York. He was the son of Irish parents and was a first-generation American. He worked as an apprentice in Albany, New York, for the Albany Argus. In 1874 McNealus moved to Texas, where he began a career of more than forty years in the newspaper business in Dallas. Dallas city directories listed him as the telegraph editor for the Dallas Herald in 1884, and by 1896 he was managing editor of the Dallas Daily Times-Herald. By the 1910s he was owner and editor of the Dallas Democrat. McNealus married Virginia Quitman Goffe about 1895; she had two children, Albert and Helen Goffe, from her previous marriage.

McNealus, a Democrat, was first elected to the Texas Senate in 1910; he served Dallas and Rockwall counties in the Thirty-second through Thirty-seventh legislators from 1911 until his death in 1921. During his time in the Senate he served on numerous committees, and, at various times chaired the Public Printing, Military Affairs, Public Health, Labor, and Internal Improvements committees. McNealus served as Senate president pro tempore in the Thirty-fifth legislature and dean of the Senate in the Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh legislatures. He believed in states’ rights and in limited power for the federal government. He fought diligently for reforms such as prohibition and woman suffrage; however, he was adamant that these reforms were achievable through the state and not the federal government. James Clayton McNealus died of a heart attack on May 18, 1921, in Fort Worth, Texas. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Dallas.

Corsicana Daily Sun, May 24, 1921. “James Clayton McNealus,” Find A Grave Memorial (, accessed March 8, 2017. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: J. C. McNealus (, accessed March 8, 2017. Waco News-Tribune, May 24, 1921.

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Thirty-second Legislature (1911)
  • Thirty-third Legislature (1913-1914)
  • Thirty-fourth Legislature (1915)
  • Thirty-fifth Legislature (1917-1918)
  • Thirty-sixth Legislature (1919-1920)
  • Thirty-seventh Legislature (1921)
  • Senate
Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Bridget Lensing, “McNealus, James Clayton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

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March 21, 2017
July 20, 2018

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