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 FamilySearchLabs.org, 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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Sunbury & Mt. Carmel newspapers

Well, a few Inter-Library Loans arrived today. The Halifax Bicentennial, however, has not arrived yet and I am beginning to wonder if perhaps it is really non-circulating. Which would not be good, because the State Library is the only library in the state that has it, and going there right now just isn’t possible.

So, what did arrive today? Newspapers from the Sunbury Daily and Mount Carmel Item, 1931. I had decided to look up the obituary of Sarah W. Kulp in other area newspapers, since I’d only checked the local paper before and there might be something else mentioned elsewhere that I needed to know.

Well, there wasn’t much, but it was nonetheless an interesting read…especially about her brother’s involvement in Prohibition. Had not heard that before.

Sunbury Daily: Monday, February 23, 1931, page 3

Mrs. Sarah Kulp of Shamokin Dies

Mrs. Sarah Washington Detwiler Kulp, 64 years old, of Shamokin, widow of the late Congressman Monroe Henry Kulp, died suddenly Sunday at Atlantic City where she had gone to spend a few days.

Mrs. Kulp is believed to have been the only woman who ever was the president of a traction company. After her husband’s death in 1911 she took over the active management of the Shamokin-Edgewood Railway Company, now defunct, a line which served Edgewood, one of the three communities her husband had founded. The other two are Fairview and Kulpmont.

She was known throughout Northumberland County for her activities, which took up much of her time until very recently when she decided to take things easier. Her husband at his death left a considerable fortune which he had accumulated in various enterprises, which had included the building of a railroad, real estate development and the management of a lumber company left to him by his father.

The couple had no children. Mrs. Kulp is survived by her brother, former State Senator W.C. McConnell, who some years ago was prohibition administrator in Philadelphia in the early days of prohibition. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

Mount Carmel Item: Monday, February 23, 1931, page 7

Mrs. Monroe H. Kulp is Dead

Word was received at Shamokin of the death of Mrs. Sarah W. D. Kulp, 64, widow of Congressman Monroe Henry Kulp and head of the Shamokin-Edgewood Trolley Company for a number of years. She died yesterday at Atlantic City where she was spending several days.

The late Congressman was one of the best known men this county ever knew. He was one of the founders of Kulpmont and the Episcopal church there was named as memorial to him.

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As a note: For some reason, both articles say that she was 64, but actually she was 68, as most records say she was born in March of 1862.

Updates & miscellaneous

Well, I did call the author of the article mentioned in my last entry, but he said it would be better if we talked in person (suggested the library), and I informed him that it wouldn’t be immediately possible, car trouble, but I am going to call again soon as I am back on the road earlier than expected!

I had a few searching tasks in mind at the cemetery today, so I headed over there looking for various burials in block 23, didn’t find anything; but I did take a photo of the view from the rear of the cemetery, it is atop the hill and you can see a great deal of the town from there. Pardon the photo quality–it was my camera phone and I couldn’t keep it still, the height was rather dizzying I have to say! 🙂

Looking north, on the steps near Block 23 (rear of cemetery)

Looking north, on the steps near Block 23 (rear of cemetery)

The courthouse trip I mentioned earlier I now have scheduled for the end of the month. However, I still do not trust the car for long trips so I have arranged to have a friend drive me there. He is often very busy with work, etc., so something may come up then, but so far next week is what we have planned.

More news: Recently I emailed a church by the name of Christ Lutheran in–where do you suppose?–Barto. This town, in Berks County in the area of Washington Township and Bally (formerly Goshenhoppen in the 18th C or thereabouts), was the home of Darlington R. Kulp around the 1850’s and 60’s. Census records say it was actually Washington Township, but an 1876 map indicates that Barto was part of the township, so in other words we’re talking about the same general area. It is, by the way, on the border with Montgomery County and just a few miles north of Pottstown in that county, where Darlington was raised. Directly across the border is Niantic, where his parents were buried. His eldest son, Monroe Henry, was born in Barto, October 23, 1858.

In fact, several of Darlington’s children were born in the Washington Township area, excepting Chester Grant who was born in Schultzville, Chester County; Howard, Gilbert, and the twins (who, sadly, died in infancy in 1869), who were all born in Shamokin. I’ve never been able to find much information on the Berks County connection, so when I heard about the Christ Lutheran Church located so near to where they lived, I immediately decided to find out how long ago it had been founded. Of course, D.R. Kulp’s short biographies from Bell’s and Floyd’s indicate that he belonged to the German Reformed Church before he moved to Shamokin, but then, I figured that if it had existed back then and was so nearby, they probably wouldn’t have minded. It was a very rural area and in those days people often had to wait for a traveling priest to come by, so if there was even a Lutheran church anywhere in the area, I highly believe they would have attended there. (And perhaps the bios are wrong.)

So, I found the email address for Christ Lutheran Church on their webpage, located here, and sent them a message asking when the church was founded. Someone by the name of Melissa replied and said that it had actually been founded in 1836, but she didn’t think they had any records from the 1850’s to the 1860’s, just the later years of the 19th century and afterward. However, she said that if she ever found out anything about it, or talked to anyone who might remember what became of them, she would let me know.

So the question is, was the church located in Barto at that time? Or was it originally located elsewhere? The Berks County PAGenWeb and PAGenWeb Archives pages have comprehensive lists of Berks County churches, but I did not see anything about the Christ Lutheran Church there. Confusing.

So, we’ll see what develops in the next couple of days. I hope the Sunbury trip will turn out well; but I think I am sure to find something there. I have a long, detailed, (and now organized!) list made up, and I am fairly confident at least some of the tasks will yield useful information.

Oh, and there’s the ILL deliveries today. Am still waiting for the Halifax Bicentennial.

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Update 09/02/08: Schultzville, Chester County? Oh, please. Turns out it was Berks County, and yes, in the Washington Township area. Don’t trust those obituaries!

They are here!!

It was about 4:14 when I called the library about those ILLs; had called earlier and they said they would call me if anything came in today’s delivery, but that was two hours earlier and I wasn’t ready to accept the fact that it was another week…and nothing from Harrisburg.

So I called again, and what do I hear but–yes, the microfilm has arrived! They tried to call, but they called my other cell phone which I don’t use much anymore and which is on mute. (Didn’t I give them the new number a few weeks ago…? Well, whatever.)

I was out of this house by 4:40 and arriving at the library only a few minutes later. And there they were–two lovely boxes of microfilm tied together with a rubber band, and they were the right dates and newspapers too! 🙂 Everything perfect, no trouble with anything whatsoever! And the discoveries, the discoveries! So beautiful…and so sad.

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Halifax, Poughkeepsie, and Planning the Book

I searched the PA State Library’s online catalog again today, this time for Halifax. The search turned up a lot of miscellany including flood insurance studies and “assessment of agricultural nutrient point source discharges from tile drains, spring and overland runoff from two farms, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.” There were church records, but they did not seem to include any Episcopalian records; however there was also a history book about the Halifax area bicentennial, 1794-1994. 128 pages, maps, photos–maybe just what I need. The subject location was listed as Halifax Township; looked this up on the internet and apparently the Halifax borough is part of a larger area known as Halifax Township. So, this book also covers the general area–i.e., like the Greater Shamokin Centennial.

However…it said the location of the book was the PHMC (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission) Library, and it was non-circulating. In other words, no ILLs. But I went back to the PA State Library home page, and it said only genealogical books were non-circulating. Halifax Bicentennial was not listed as genealogy. Therefore, I decided to give it a try anyway (one of them had to be wrong), and I called the Shamokin library to request an ILL for the book. Librarian had to look up the ISBN, so I had to call back later and she said she found it, and it’s only in one library in the state. (!) However, they will send for it. Now, it just so happens today is Thursday, and all ILL requests go out on Thursday. But I guess today’s batch is already sent out, because this request won’t go out till next Thursday. Well, at least it’s getting done. If I can get a hold of this book, it could be an important find. Would mention things like cemetery names, church names, school names…maybe even specifics on the Marsh or McConnell family.

Now for the book. Once my research is complete, I am going to compile what I’ve learned into a detailed narrative of the history of the Kulp and McConnell families in Pennsylvania. However, I’ve recently decided to get started on the book much sooner than I’d originally planned. Later, I’ll be able to write a second, more complete book, as I expect to get into a substantial collection of information sometime within the year, which will add considerably to my store of data. Right now, though, things are still developing, and I think it would be a good idea for me to get the word out in this area before the major information comes in. After all, I’ve already gathered much more information than is generally known about these families, certainly enough to publish a book about. So, why not start now?

Last evening I started off with a chapter outline of how I think the book should go. This, of course, will likely change in the course of the writing, but, while going over it, it became clear to me that there’s one important time period which is especially vague to me. I know considerably little about Monroe H. Kulp’s early years in Shamokin–late 1870’s to late 1880’s. Of course, there are plenty of other time periods that need work, but I decided it was time for me to focus on this one. I narrowed the subject down to his college days, an area which I think has good research potential. In the late 1870’s, he enrolled at the State Normal School in Lebanon, Ohio, which was primarily a teacher’s college but presumably he attended one of their additional departments. Contrary to what the biographies say, the official name of the school was at that time the National Normal University, but I think it’s the same place as State Normal School. Some of their old records are now kept at Ohio’s Warren County Historical Society. In fact, I emailed them a while ago about this, but was given a hard time…tried to get them to explain exactly what type of records the collection included, i.e., what was the scope and content, but although two different people wrote back to me all they could say was to remind me that their fee was $10 an hour. (Which I knew.) Wrote again to repeat and clarify my question; did not receive an answer. I think I will have to call them.

MHK also graduated from the Eastman Business College at Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York, in 1881. Some online searching led me to the New York State Library’s catalog, and they have a collection of records from the school, as well as some student photographs, but…they don’t do genealogical searches and the collections definitely don’t circulate. As for me going to Albany…well, you can figure it out. I went to the Albany County Rootsweb message board and asked, just in case, if someone can do a look-up or knows of a good low-fee professional genealogist, but this is a bit of a long shot.

I did find a few interior photos of various sections of the school, at Earlyofficemuseum.com. If you’re interested, follow this link, because you won’t catch me violating their copyright warning:

People who use material from this web site without giving proper credit are below green slime on the evolutionary scale.

Her hometown

Well, something has just come up and I will be making a trip to Dauphin County sometime later this month. It’s not research-related, and I won’t have a great deal of time while there, but the town of Halifax is on the way and I may be able to see the area, take photos. Halifax was the hometown of Sarah McConnell, who would later marry the city lawyer, William C. Detweiler, and, seven years after his death, Monroe H. Kulp. A small, rural town along the Susquehanna River, a few miles north of Harrisburg, Halifax was her home throughout the 1860’s and 70’s, where after her parents died she was raised by her grandparents, the devoutly Episcopalian John and Eliza/Elizabeth Marsh, who were innkeepers.

This will be an important trip for me; looks like there are a lot of important things are happening with my research lately! Great deal of progress being made. I am also looking into the possibility of finding cemetery records…a map of Halifax from the 1870’s says there was a cemetery in the area, but I am not finding any information about it online. However, the map is of a land ownership type and shows the property owned by John Marsh, so I know approximately where the homestead/inn was once located.

Although this won’t complete all of my research projects in Dauphin County, it will certainly be something to record here. Check in often for updates!