In Search of George McConnell: Butler County to Dauphin?

A few days ago, I started again on the hunt through the 1850 census for George Washington McConnell, father of Sarah W. Kulp. Although a county biography (of her brother) says both parents were Dauphin County natives, I have long suspected this was incorrect. Her mother, Sarah Marsh was, certainly, but I can’t find barely a shred of info on McConnell and he’s definitely not in the 1850 census for Dauphin.

In the 1860 census, and in tax lists from the same area, he used the name George W. McConnell as I expected, but two sources refer to him by his middle name. Sarah W. McConnell’s first husband’s obituary lists her as “the daughter of the late Washington McConnell,” and when she remarried, her marriage license listed her parents as “W & Sarah McConnell.” So, I thought I might look for this name instead in the 1850 census.

I had actually found one Washington McConnell in that census for PA before, but the dates were very much off. He was listed as being born about 1836, and in the 1860 census for Dauphin County George W. McConnell’s birthdate was entered as 1828. What’s more, this Washington McConnell also was living with someone–a brother, perhaps?–by the name of George McConnell, who was born in 1826. That was a bit closer, but I obviously couldn’t be certain of it and didn’t really think it was likely. However, sometimes the other names in a household can tell you if you’ve found the right person, since you’ll often recognize family names among the other members. For example, I was once looking for a member of the Detweiler family, Charles, in one of the 20th C censuses, and couldn’t find him in PA where the rest of his family was. I then located someone by the same name in Ohio who was married to a Leila, but since it was an entirely different state I couldn’t verify it–until I saw that he had a son by the name of Parke Detweiler. Parke was Charles Detweiler’s mother’s maiden name. Later, thanks to, I found Charles’ death certificate, which confirmed the relationship. (OH, unlike PA, makes its death certificates available online.)

So, since there was both a George McConnell and a Washington McConnell in the family, could it be possible that one of them was the person I was looking for? Possible, but not certain. Washington in those days was a more common first name than Parke, definitely.

This, by the way, was in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, a town called North Slipperyrock. Well, when I did a search on Ancestry for Washington McConnell, you won’t believe what I found.

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Carnival of Genealogy, Look-ups and other news

I’d like to inform readers and genealogists of the Northumberland County area that I am now offering look-ups of genealogical materials at my local library (small fee). Please see the Look-ups page of this site for details.

Also, the next Carnival of Genealogy is August 1, and I am planning to write a blog article for this event. Carnival of Genealogy is a semi-monthly program where various genealogy-related blog articles are presented at a single site. You can read the most recent issue of Carnival of Genealogy and learn more about the next one at 100 Years in America, where it was last hosted.

I am sorry to report that the webhost for the photo gallery is not working right today. The gallery is still online but may load like the proverbial January molasses, so if you’re a member or planning to register as one, hang in there. I’m not sure when it will be working properly again, but it shouldn’t take long.

Val, the Historical Researcher…and Activist?

Well, no, but today I did do my part for the genealogy and research community of Pennsylvania, by writing to the governor and two area legislators, regarding the system in place in the state’s vital records department.

Most genealogists probably know all of the rigamarole which must be put up with in order to get one’s hands on a simple vital record in Pennsylvania, such as a death certificate. The vital records division requires that you provide them with so much information just for them to do the search, that a lot of researchers realize: “Why, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be looking for this record!” Further, you have to be a direct relation to be “eligible” to request the record in the first place. As regular readers of this blog may know, I am not related to any of the families I’m researching–I simply have a profound interest in their past. They were well-known, influential and respected in this area, back in the day, and I am committed to understanding the truth of their story. Simple, right? Yet, the vital records regulations (which are there in the interest of privacy, supposedly), keep such records as death certificates, post-1906, off-limits to me and many another researcher like myself. But consider this: What is the harm, when we are talking about records nearly and over a hundred years old? No information about living individuals there, most likely. The vital records division simply designed their regulations with no consideration at all of historians, genealogists, researchers, and the like. It’s inefficient, to say the least.

So, today I sent out copies of my letter to Pennsylvania politicians, stating my reasons for disagreement with the system. There is a Pennsylvania General Assembly bill which will be voted on soon to change the regulations of the vital records division. To learn more about the issue, visit this site on the subject.

Tree moving to GenCircles

As of today, the family tree is now residing at GenCircles (the link on the My Files page will now take you there). The WorldConnect tree is still up, but only as a secondary site.

Sorry for the poor organization of data on GenCircles; I’m using Legacy and it doesn’t import well unto GenCircles which is designed for Family Tree Legends.