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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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!