From the 1885 History of Steuben County, Indiana

pages 432-433



Dr. James McConnell, deceased. -- Among the men who took an active and prominent part in the early history of Steuben County few are more worthy of mention than Dr. James McConnell.  He was born in Morefield, Va., Sept. 17, 1810, and was the second in the family of James and Elizabeth McConnell.  He received his education at Lovingston, New Glasgow and New London, Va., under his father's watchful care, and soon after entered the office of Dr. Lamb, of Brownsville, Fayette Co., Pa., completing his medical studies with Dr. Porter, formerly Professor of Anatomy in Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.  He began practice at Brownsville, Pa., and about 1833 moved to McConnellsville, Ohio, and in May, 1835, came to Lima, Lagrange Co., Ind.  The territory of which Steuben County, Ind., now consists was then a part of Lagrange County, and it will thus be seen that he was identified with Steuben County from the very commencement of his career in Indiana.  He remained at Lima until Nov. 1, 1836, when he moved to the "Vermont settlement," now Orland, where he continued the extensive practice he had enjoyed in Lima.  He was the first physician of Steuben County, and a man of fine education and undoubted ability.  In April, 1837, he was elected Clerk and Recorder of Steuben County for the term of seven years, and located his office in the log cabin of John Stayner, on Jackson Prairie, removing to Angola in the fall of 1837, where the county-seat had been located and a frame office erected for his occupancy.  While practicing medicine in Steuben County he was called to attend all the more difficult and important cases which arose, one of which deserves, from the singular circumstances of its origin, a more detailed account.  A young man named Munson was in the woods hunting, and started some deer.  While maneuvering to get a shot at them, he put down his loaded and cocked rifle, holding the barrel with his hand and letting the butt rest on the ground.  As it happened, the butt came squarely down on a large rattlesnake, which young Munson, intent on the deer, did not see.  The snake lashed its tail, which, striking the trigger of the gun, caused its discharge, the bullet passing through Munson's neck.  The surprised snake hastened to escape, leaving Munson bleeding from his very dangerous wound.  Dr. McConnell was hastily summoned, and by his skillful treatment of the wound saved Munson's life.  He was married in Angola in January, 1841, to Mrs. Julia Whittaker, sister of Judge Thomas Gale, one of the pioneers of Angola.  In 1843 Dr. McConnell resigned his office, and began practice as an attorney, but death cut short his labors, he dying Oct. 9, 1844.  Most of the old settlers remember him as a man of integrity and true worth; energetic, obliging and capable; possessed of the finer attributes of manhood, and endowed with a strong, logical brain.  Although first settling in Lima, he was from the beginning intimately associated with the early, sturdy pioneers of "Old Steuben," of whom their descendants may well feel proud.  Dr. James McConnell, though dead over forty years, is still spoken of in words of kindness and honor.



Submitted by Kim Davoli