From the 1885 History of Steuben County, Indiana

pages 428-430


George W. McConnell, M. D.  In writing the biographies of Steuben's pioneers, we have tried to place before our readers the simple record of those most worthy of representation, and we believe that Steuben County has never had a citizen more deserving of this honor than the old pioneer whose name stands at the head of this sketch.  He comes of pure Celtic stock, his great-grand-father, Robert McConnell, being a native of County Antrim, Ireland, born in 1695, whose ancestors went from Scotland to the Green Isle in the sixteenth century.  Robert McConnell and wife immigrated to the American colonies early in the eighteenth century, and settled in Franklin County, Penn., where he died in 1770.  In that county was born James McConnell, the grandfather of George W., in 1745, where he grew to manhood and married a Miss McConnell, to whom were born six sons and six daughters, one of whom is living-- Mrs. Judge Denny, of Lagrange County, Ind.  On the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, he raised a company of patriots, and Aug. 16, 1776, left his native county as Captain of his company, and served throughout that struggle for independence.  He was placed at Kings Bridge at the head of the island, where New York City now stands.  After the war closed, he returned to Franklin County, Pa., where he was a Justice of the Peace for several years, County Commissioner in 1788, a member of the State Legislature from 1804 to 1806, and an Elder of the Rocky Spring Presbyterian Church for many years.  He died in 1809, and he and his father, Robert, are buried in Rocky Spring graveyard, near Chambersburg, Penn.  His brother, John McConnell, was also a Captain in the Revolutionary war, and served from first to last in that struggle against tryanny, participating in the battles of Paoli and Brandywine and a number of others.  The father of the subject of this sketch was James McConnell, who was born in Franklin County, Penn., Oct. 9, 1784, being the third son in a family of twelve children.  His youth was passed in his native county, and in May, 1808, he was married, near Winchester, Va., to Elizabeth Luckey, who was born at that point April 5, 1785, daughter of Joseph Luckey.  Of the above marriage, twelve children were born, viz.: Mary J., James, Rebecca, Joseph, George W., William, Caroline, Robert, Eliza A., and three died in infancy.  The grandfather of Mrs. McConnell and great-grandfather of our subject, Hugh Luckey, removed from Londonderry, Ireland, and settled at Fag's Manor, Chester Co., Pa., about the same time of Robert McConnell's immigration to Franklin County, Pa.  His family, consisted of four sons and one daughter-- William, Joseph, Isaac, George and Elizabeth.  The latter married Rev. James Dunlap, the second President of Jefferson College, Cannonsburg, Pa. William and Joseph each raised a company of which they were appointed Captains and served throughout the Revolutionary war.  Isaac enlisted as a private and was killed at the battle of Brandywine.  Joseph was a Quartermaster under Washington as well as Captain.  George Luckey entered Princeton College from which he graduated and afterward became an eminent Presbyterian divine, settling near Baltimore, Md.  He was a classmate of Dr. John McMillan, the founder of Jefferson College, Aaron Burr and Luthar Martin.  James McConnell was a very fine scholar and excelled as a linguist.  After graduating he studied law, at same time taught a classical school at Mercersburg, Penn., during which time he prepared James Buchanan for college, who became President of the United States in 1857.  He entered upon the practice of law at Morefield, Va., which he followed but a short time; but, as duty called him, he studied theology and entered the Presbyterian ministry, being licensed to preach at Richmond, Va.  His health soon failing he again took up teaching and taught at the following places:  Morefield, Va.; Lovingston, Va.; Brownsville, Penn.; New Glasgow, Va.; New London, Va.; and Chester, S. C.  At the latter place, his continued failing health compelled him to quit teaching, whereupon he returned to Pennsylvania and settled on a farm in Greene County.  His brothers Robert, William, Alexander and Joseph were soldiers in the war of 1812.  Robert and Alexander settled in Morgan County, Ohio, and laid out the town McConnellsville, in that county.  James McConnell died Oct. 7, 1840, near Mansfield, Ohio, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Andrews, whom he was visiting at the time.  His wife survived him many years, dying at Waynesburg. Pa., Sept. 6, 1863.  The subject of this sketch was the fifth in the family, and was born in Lovingston, Nelson Co., Va., March 16, 1816.  He received a good literary and scientific education, and in 1836 came out to the "Vermont settlement," Steuben Co., Ind.  He studied medicine with his brother James, and, in the spring of 1838, began practicing on Jackson Prairie, moving to Angola the following year, where he continued practice until his brother's death, Oct. 9, 1844 when he retired from the profession.  He was married near West Alexander, Penn., Aug. 13, 1846, to Miss Eliza Bonar, daughter of Barnet Bonar, who was born in Pennsylvania, Jan. 14, 1778, and Jane Bonar, nee Donahey, born in Ireland, Dec. 13, 1782.  Barnet Bonar was an Elder of the Presbyterian church for over fifty years, and died Feb. 1, 1870, on the farm where his birth occurred ninety-two years previously, his wife having died Dec. 10, 1869.  Mrs. McConnell was born in Washington County, Penn., April 22, 1828, and has had the following children:  James, William B., Joseph, Robert, George W., Alexander, John L., Thomas C., Samuel, Elizabeth J., Mary A. and Sarah M. McConnell.  Of those, Robert, Samuel and Sarah M. died in infancy, Joseph in his eighth year, Mary A. in her ninth, and John L. was accidentally drowned in the lake when in his eighteenth year.  Mrs. McConnell is kind and sympathetic in her nature, feeling deeply for the sufferings of others, and bearing her own with gentle fortitude.  Firm in her attachments and friendships, she cannot understand what wealth or position has to do with either.  To her, all humanity is molded alike and she knows no other guide for her relations toward her neighbor than that laid down in the divine law.  Generous and hospitable to a fault, she has ever wielded a power for good in her sphere of life.  Christianlike and charitable, she loves to minister to God's poor, and has never sent away a homeless waif hungry from her door.  Throughout her life she has always been an industrious, faithful wife, and a fond, loving mother.  Dr. McConnell was Sheriff of Steuben County from 1847 to 1849, and  was elected to a seat in the State Legislature for the winter of 1851-'2 at which session the statutes were revised under the new Constitution of Indiana.  He has been engaged principally in farming and dealing in real estate.  He was one of the organizers of the first select school of Angola, and, with others, was instrumental in having the present school building erected, for which he contributed generously.  The citizens of Steuben know well the prominent part taken by Dr. McConnell in having the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw Railroad come through Angola, as well as all other public improvements which have added to the wealth and prosperity of the county.  Politically a Democrat; he was always a firm upholder of the Union.  He was at Fort Wayne when the first shot was fired on the nation's flag at Sumter, attended a war meeting in that city, returned to Angola and called a similar meeting, and ever after took an active part in raising volunteers for the defense of the Stars and Stripes.  He went into the Forty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, of which he was Quartermaster, and remained with his regiment until his private business and sickness in his family compelled his returning home.  He and his wife are members of the Presbyterian church, and have always been earnest advocates of temperance.  We can safely say that Steuben County owes as much to George W. McConnell for its present prosperity as to any citizen it has ever had, and we have been told by Angola's best citizens that Steuben has been known throughout Indiana and bordering States more through his name and efforts for the county's welfare than those of all other citizens combined.  In adversity, many have deserted him, but for all time to come he will be remembered as a man of active business enterprise, unbounded public and private liberality, and imbued with every principle calculated to benefit the county of which he has so long been a worthy citizen.


Submitted by Kim Davoli