McConnell ~ John Walter MConnell and Descendants

John Walter McConnell (1829-1907),

his wives and McConnell Cemetery

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April 2006

Randy has generously shared these for publication with the Christian County Mogen Web site.

No data may be reproduced or published without permission of the author.

 

The next link of the Christian County McConnell line is John W. McConnell (July 14, 1829-Oct. 31, 1907), son of Walter McConnell and Mary Elizabeth Parker. John W.'s militia records describe him as 5'11", with black hair, dark eyes and dark complexion.

Little has been passed down about John's early life except that he was born in southern Maury Co., TN near the villages of Southport and Bigbyville. John W.'s son William Alexander told about being born in Tennessee and brought to Missouri in a wagon, says his grandson, G.W. Geil, but the story was that of John W.

Census records indicate that John W.'s oldest brother, Alexander, was the first in the family to come to the Ozarks, arriving by 1842. The rest of the family followed in 1845, likely after the crops were harvested that fall.

Perhaps the greatest enigma is John W.'s middle name: was it Walter, which was his father's name? John's legal documents never use the name, just the initial, but the odds are squarely on Walter.  His brother Alexander named his youngest son John Walter Alexander. And John W.'s son William Alexander named a child John Walter.  The name likely was also held by John W.'s son who died young.

By 1851, John W. had left his father's household and was paying taxes separately on his lone horse, which was assessed at $25.

In January and March 1853, John W. prepared for his marriage by patenting four tracts of state land totalling 240 acres for $300 along the James River in Christian Co., northwest of the site of modern Nixa. Today that property lies at the intersection of Highway 160 and Route AA on the heavily developing Springfield-Nixa corridor.

At age 24, according to John W.'s license in Greene County, MO, he entered into his first marriage with Matilda D. "Edwoods" (Edwards) on Dec. 22, 1853, just two months after the double weddings of brother James H. and sister Catharine Jane.

Matilda, known as "Tildy," was 15, born in Maury Co., TN in 1838, the daughter of the Rev. James Wright and Martha "Patsy" Kenamore Edwards.

The union brought John W. access to power and money in the pioneer society. James Wright Edwards was among the wealthiest farmers of the James River valley, a shoemaker and a prominent minister, and he had close ties dating back decades to families like the McCaffertys, Gooches, Macks, Herndons, Sinks, Howards and Hedgpeths who soon dominated the area north and west of Nixa. Edwards was elected to the Christian Co. Court in 1862, and his close associates from Maury Co. controlled the Greene Co. courthouse and state legislative seats during the Civil War. His brother-in-law, Capt. Stephen Sink, had military control of Ozark Co. during the Civil War.

These ties likely cemented John W.'s relationship with his new father-in-law. His father, Walter McConnell, had been the first cousin of Col. Marcus Boyd, who was perhaps the leading figure in Greene Co. politics through the Civil War, and Marcus' son Sempronious or “Pony” later was a congressman and U.S. ambassador to Siam.

John W. quickly disposed of much of his early patent land. By 1856 John laid claim to 160 acres in Porter Township on tax records. Eighty acres were patent lands on Guin Prairie on the south side of the James River. Contemporaries said the area was virtually treeless, with prairie grass growing as high as a man; the prairie became known as the home of the McConnells, Edwardses and Faughts in the late 1800s.

Another 80 acres lay in the section that included most of the Inman compound southwest of Nixa near the bend in the James River. Altogether, his first farms were valued at $800 in 1856. On them, he grazed two horses, four cows and a mule, worth another $215.

By 1860, John W. was a relatively substantial farmer in the county. He had a 160-acre farm, valued at $1600 -- more than twice the local average -- with 25 acres under cultivation. He raised wheat, corn and wool and ranged three horses, two milk cows, five other cattle, five sheep and 15 swine — livestock worth $310. He produced 150 pounds of butter that year.

 

A ‘quiet and gentle spirit’

Taken as a whole, John W. took the least active role possible in the Civil War, considering the flurry of general orders and conscription, short of desertion to the West.

When the Civil War began, John W., his brother James and in-laws like Jenkin McCafferty were on the side of the Union; the county men voted 800 to 108 against Missouri seceding from the Union. The public instead split more evenly on the emancipation of slaves. No one in the family is known to have owned slaves since his grandparents, Alexander and Catherine Boyd McConnell, when they were living in Iredell Co., NC.

John W. and the others enlisted the first summer of the war in Company B of the Christian Co. Home Guard. Across the state, 15,000 volunteered for service in units that replaced the Missouri State Militia, the formal military wing of state government that deserted to side with the Confederacy.

The Christian Co. Home Guard was called up May 8, 1861. For unexplained reasons, the unit was disbanded on July 27, 1861, or just before the Battle of Wilson's Creek, which saw the Confederates use Christian Co. as a staging area. Most Home Guards were ordered to surrender their arms on Feb. 21, 1862, but the Christian Co. disbanding occurred earlier, perhaps because of the troops' overenthusiastic performance in the Battle of Forsyth on July 23, 1861.

In conjunction with regular Union Army troops, the Christian Co. Home Guards raided Forsyth, a Confederate stronghold that flew the rebel flag. The commander of the Union forces omits any mention of the Home Guards, but a member of the troop recounted that they took 100 suspected Confederate sympathizers as prisoners and marched them to Springfield, arriving July 25, after forcing them to build their own prison camp. Union officers, however, found no offense had occurred and released them on the promise that the prisoners would not aid or abet the rebels. The Christian Co. guardsmen grumbled that the promises were empty, and the Confederate flag soon waved again over Forsyth.

Some of the Christian Co. Home Guard may have balked at the order to disband and guarded the entrances to Springfield during the Battle of Wilson's Creek in August 1861. Others, like Porter Township neighbor John W. Inman who worked as a teamster between Springfield and Rolla, took civilian jobs supporting the regular troops.

In the summer of 1862, Gov. Hamilton Gamble authorized founding of the Enrolled Missouri Militia, and the commanding general ordered every able-bodied man in Missouri subject to military service to report for enrollment. Each was to supply his own horse, gun and ammunition. The companies were organized by neighborhoods, and John W. McConnell, brother James H., brother-in-law George W. Butler and Jenkin McCafferty were enrolled in Company A of the 72nd Regiment on July 18, 1862 and served until Feb. 1, 1863, under Capt. Andrew "Jackson" Ball, son of a preacher the neighbors knew well in Tennessee.

All were recalled — probably drafted — in Sept. 25, 1864, but released on Nov. 14, 1864. John's cousin William A. McConnell -- the son of William C. and Elizabeth Bone McConnell of Maury Co. -- also had migrated to Missouri and served in the last mustering of the 72nd Regiment, from Oct. 8 to Nov. 14, 1864, serving under Capt. Stephen Sink. The troops were in charge of patrolling for rebel activity in Ozark Co.

Here grew firm the already evident roots for 30 years of lawlessness in Christian, Taney, Stone and other Ozarks counties. Eventually, the Enrolled Militia was allowed to draw rations and forage when on duty, but during the first year, the part-time, irregular soldiers were told to live off the disloyal population. Historians of the era say the order was widely abused as individual soldiers were allowed to identify and raid households that they labeled as rebel sympathizers without due process. Some never quit, and the era of bushwhackers and later the Bald Knobbers began. The Enrolled Militia was later issued uniforms and called into action against Gen. Sterling Price in Missouri before the soldiers laid down their arms in March 1865.

John enrolled in the 15th Regiment of the Missouri Militia in 1866 as part of the effort to control the strife that tore the state asunder after the war.

The war years and their aftermath were difficult for John and Matilda. They lost two children, John W. Jr. and Mary, and sometime after April 1866, Matilda's mother Patsy Kenamore Edwards died and was buried just south of the McConnell home in Edwards Cemetery.

The war, however, also left a lasting mark on John W.'s political leanings. In Maury Co., the family had been closely associated with President James Knox Polk who lived there, his plantation and his brand of Jacksonian Democratic politics.  After the war, John W. became a Republican, as were most of his family and neighbors who fought on the Union side; he named his last son for a Republican president-elect. Christian Co. has maintained that allegiance to the present day.

 

The post-war years

John's land dealings were numerous in the years following his military service. Deed records show that James W. Edwards and his second wife, Susan, sold John W. 80 acres northwest of Nixa on Aug. 25, 1867 for $200; the land was part of James W.'s original 640-acre land purchase in Missouri. Edwards in the years after the war began distributing land to children from his first marriage.

Land assessments indicate that by 1872, John W. owned 240 acres around Porter Township, and this total may have represented the height of his land ownership. He bought, sold and traded land almost as regularly as tenant farmers changed landlords.

In 1876, he owned 160 acres around his original Guin Prairie holdings. Total tax bill: $11.34. The 1876 census shows that besides livestock, John W. raised wheat, corn, cane for molasses and tobacco, which totaled 200 pounds in storage. By 1885, the total was 200 acres, although it may have been more because the Missouri State Archives' microfilmed record is virtually indecipherable. In 1889, he held 80 acres that included the original site of McConnell Cemetery.

In 1899 his holdings included 40 acres of the original property southwest of Nixa near the Inmans as well as 40 acres that included the cemetery; he had sold his last patent land to his father-in-law.

John W. ran a moderate number of stock on the farms. County records for 1892 show he was raising two horses, a mule, four cows, four sheep and seven hogs. His nephew, John A., by comparison, was ranging eight horses, six mules, 12 cows, 14 sheep and 16 hogs -- and was considered a highly successful local farmer, featured in the local paper.

 

McConnell Cemetery

- John W.'s lasting legacy to the community

John W. left his mark on the township by donating the first acre of land for McConnell Cemetery and the old Faught School nearby.  Although the cemetery had existed for almost 20 years, he made arrangements to sell the one-acre burial grounds to the Christian Co. Court -- which then included neighbor and family friend Levi C. Faught -- for $1 in October 1887 and filed the paperwork the following March.

The cemetery began with the death of John's brother James Holland McConnell in May 1868. His wife, Mary McCafferty, was interred there in 1878; James Wright McConnell's 2-year-old son John Jr. followed in 1881 while James Holland's son James Franklin, 27, was buried on the site in 1884.

The original plot was simply on James' farm, probably near his pioneer cabin, but the graveyard rapidly grew to meet community needs. It and the older Payne Cemetery just to the northeast, along with Delaware Cemetery, served most of the families just west of Nixa, although small family plots also existed, such as the Bledsoe, Stephenson and Ginger cemeteries down the road.

McConnell Cemetery did not charge for a lot and depended on donations and volunteers for maintenance and expansion; the local spring "clean up" day for the cemetery was advertised in local newspapers.

The cemetery became an important source of family history for the Inmans and McConnells, as well as "cousin clans" such as the McCaffertys, Popes and Faughts. Virtually everyone interred in the well-maintained cemetery is a cousin of some degree or closer relation, and a walking tour with an elderly relative can yield a family genealogy.

McConnell Cemetery for 80 years had no chapel or meeting hall, and the current building reportedly is the former "Buzzard Roost" School, moved to the site sometime between World War II and the Korean War. It serves today as an active church.

In establishing McConnell Cemetery, however, John W. inadvertently contributed to the neglect that eventually consumed the likely burial site for his first wife, children and parents.

In 1878, John W. and his second wife Rebecca Jane Pope arranged to sell his home and remaining tract of 1853 patent land to Charles Nightwine; the family would move to a house on its holdings further south. The deed, however, exempts a "family burying ground on such land," which remained in the McConnell family.

The burial site almost certainly was the final resting place for John's father Walter McConnell, mother Mary Elizabeth Parker, spinster sister Pamela, his first wife Matilda Edwards McConnell and his children John Walter Jr. and Mary, who died as toddlers. All except Matilda died before James H. McConnell and the founding of McConnell Cemetery.

This original McConnell family cemetery had faded from the public memory by the 20th century.

The deed's provisions were unknown when arrangements were made in the 1990s to move the bodies of several adults, children and apparent slaves from the old Edwards Cemetery, which was threatened by development, to McConnell Cemetery. It was assumed that Matilda Edwards McConnell was likely interred in her family's graveyard, where an owner had destroyed the stones, and the new stone in McConnell Cemetery cites her. Matilda instead likely was buried almost directly north of Edwards Cemetery on John W.'s original farm.

As events transpired, Charles Nightwine could not make the payments on John W.'s farm, and he took possession of it again. John W. later sold it to his father-in-law Leroy W. Pope, but the cemetery is still legally owned by John W.'s descendants.

The lack of cemeteries, as well as schools and churches, had been among the principal concerns of early settlers as the country expanded westward. Without cemeteries, pioneers were forced to bury loved ones in groves of trees or corners of fields to protect graves from damage.

 

The Popes

The loss of the family burying ground erased any record of Matilda Edwards McConnell, including her date of death, if she had a stone. She likely died in childbirth c. 1873, when seven earlier children had weakened her constitution.

Men with small children did not tarry long after their wives died on the frontier, and John was remarried to 17-year-old neighbor Rebecca Jane "Becky" Pope (May 1857-1934) on May 7, 1874 by Justice of the Peace James Garrison.

Rebecca Jane was the daughter of Leroy William Pope (Nov. 4, 1821-Feb. 19, 1899) and Amanda Jane Stowe (December 1824), who moved their family from Tennessee to Greene Co. in the late 1840s. John W. had lived near her parents north of the site of Nixa since before Rebecca was born.

The Popes came from the rugged mountain country of Roane Co., TN, just west of Knoxville. Leroy was the son of the Rev. William Edward Pope (1799-1866) and his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Hodge (1799-1827). The Popes had lived in America for six generations before Leroy was born. They reportedly were cousins of President George Washington, whose great-grandmother was Anne Pope who married John Washington, the original family emigrant.

Unlike John W. McConnell, the Rev. William Edward Pope struggled to raise his four children alone almost to adulthood before he remarried to Elizabeth J. Baldwin.

Leroy Pope, a farmer, was an imposing man, 6-feet tall when that height was unusual for Americans. On Nov. 21, 1844, he married Amanda or Lamanda[1] Jane Stowe (or Stow), the daughter of Samuel Stowe and Elizabeth Littleton of Roane Co.

Leroy left his family behind and moved with Amanda's kin to Greene Co. after his first daughter, Nancy Ann, was born. Census records suggest that Leroy and Amanda headed west in the late 1840s, likely in a wagon train that included Amanda's sister Elizabeth and her husband William P. Bowman of Roane Co., who are living adjacent to the Popes in the 1850 Greene Co. census.[2] They settled adjacent to two sons of John and Sarah Stephenson from Roane Co. -- Matthew and Elizabeth Baker Stephenson and William and Melinda Brazeale Stephenson.

After 1850, Amanda's parents -- Samuel Stowe (1800-1854) and Elizabeth Littleton (1804-1890) -- and siblings moved to the area that became Clever; Samuel died there in 1854 and was among the first burials at Mt. Carmel Cemetery. Amanda's brother Samuel H. Stowe raised a large family there, her niece married the well-to-do mayor of Billings in 1889, and cousin John lived between Nixa and Clever until he died in 1901. Amanda’s uncle Solomon Stowe and his wife, Paralee Lane, moved to Clay Township, Greene Co., and her cousins drifted into Christian Co.

Rebecca was the sixth of at least 10 children born to Leroy and Amanda: Nancy Ann, Melvina, Mary Elizabeth, John William, Samuel H. (likely Houston), Matthew H., James Joseph, Sarah and Louisa.

In February 1866 Nancy Ann (Nov. 22, 1846-Nov. 25, 1866) married the Rev. John Calloway Winn, son of Larkin Winn and Sophronia Looney who lived on the national battlefield during the war, but she died nine months later, possibly in childbirth. She is buried at Payne Cemetery.

Mary Elizabeth (April 24, 1847-Dec. 29, 1924) in 1867 married Joseph W.K. Inmon who became a Baldknobber and turned state's evidence for the trial that resulted in death sentences for the gang leaders. Joseph deserted her for another woman, and they divorced, but had seven children. Elizabeth died of "senility" while living in Springfield.

Samuel H. (March 18, 1855-Sept. 22, 1926) married into the extended Kenamore clan by taking Malinda Evaline McCafferty (Jan. 1, 1848-Sept. 17, 1922), daughter of William Green McCafferty and Nancy Kenamore, as his bride. They are buried at McConnell Cemetery.

John William (Aug. 26, 1852-April 4, 1924) married Nancy Ann Brown and moved to Stone Co., where he died in Crane. James Joseph Pope (Feb. 26, 1864-Oct. 22, 1914) married Sarah Ida Beverage (April 1, 1870-July 1938), daughter of Thomas Edison Beverage and Sarah M. Bledsoe, and they are buried at McConnell Cemetery.

Sarah "Sallie" Pope (May 2, 1868-Nov. 17, 1928) married Benjamin Franklin McCafferty after the death of his first wife, John W. McConnell's daughter Frances Emma. They are buried at McConnell Cemetery. Louisa was the youngest child, born in 1872 and still living in 1880, but her whereabouts is unknown.

No burial sites have been found for two other siblings: Melvina married 1) James Daniel Huston Mayabb in 1882 and 2) Jacob Costlow in 1891; and Matthew H.  married Susan C. Slay in 1880 and Mollie Ewing in 1886.

By 1876, the state census shows John and Rebecca, living with George W. McConnell, his nephew, along with his children. The young George was likely working as a field hand on John's properties.

 

The final days of John W. McConnell

When John W. died in 1907, the Ozark newspaper referred to his "quiet and gentle spirit," which was reflected in a remarkably stable and methodical life in the tumultuous world of Christian Co. that lasted from before the Civil War until almost the end of his life.

The cause of death is unknown, but John W. died a slow, lingering death, according to his front-page obituary in the Christian County Republican. "It was a long agony of doting children and friends," the newspaper said, "a fearful struggle to keep the grim monster Death back, but all in vain, for day by day he grew weaker and paler, and, amid it all, so cheerful and patient."

At age 78, John W. died on the morning of Oct. 31, 1907 at his home four miles southwest of Nixa. The funeral services were held in the family home at 1 p.m. the next day by the Rev. Peter Roberts.

Afterward, John W. was laid to rest in the cemetery he dedicated for his family and friends. A special monument now marks the graves of John W. and Rebecca Jane, noting his contribution to the Porter Township community.

In 1900, John and Rebecca Jane owned the home in which they lived, but it was mortgaged. The local newspaper had carried mentions of his new home not long before he died. If signs of his death came well in advance, they may account for his sale of 160 acres west of his main farm to his Young family relations, which paid off the notes and cleared up title to the main family stake.

No probate records have been fund, but the years after John W.'s death were marked by myriad land sales by the McConnell heirs. At the time of his death, John's holdings had been trimmed to 80 acres and two houses. The property appears to have been divided among nine heirs because John W. left no will: wife Rebecca, seven living sons and daughters, and possibly Commodore McCafferty, his grandson and lone child of the late Frances McConnell McCafferty. Rebecca, however, may have had two shares as the widow. The land transactions found son Robert, for example, selling 4 1/9 acres in 1908 and Rebecca selling 17 7/9 acres in 1910, both to Jim Wright, who owned 40 acres adjacent to the western half of his father's land. Harrison bought off another fragment in the same section from Rebecca and the heirs.

As of 1910, only Harrison and Robert remained with Becky in the home, and Harrison was described as head of household while Robert was a "farm laborer." On Feb. 14, 1910, Harrison had purchased 22 2/9 acres of the old home place, including the house, from Rebecca and the other heirs; they lived there with Robert during the years before World War I.

In the 1920s, Harrison and Robert were living east, not west, of Nixa, and Becky had moved into town, where she suffered from cancer on her face. She is buried beside John W.

 

(To reach the old McConnell home place, go to the second road east of the McConnell Cemetery turnoff on Missouri 14 and turn south. One mile south is a four-way intersection. Go one-fourth mile further. The old McConnell place is the 80 acres that lies equally along both sides of the road south to the next intersection.)

 

 

Children of John W.

and Matilda D. Edwards McConnell

 

Modern reminiscences about John W. recall three children by Matilda, his first wife, but they actually had six, including four who grew to adulthood. As a young farming couple, John W. and Matilda were particularly unfortunate as parents. Two children died as toddlers during the years of the war and shortly thereafter.

 

James Wright McConnell

(March 10, 1855-May 17, 1936)

On Oct. 24, 1878, Jim Wright McConnell married his cousin Mary Frances "Fannie" McCafferty (June 6, 1858-April 26, 1943), the daughter of William G. and Nancy Kenamore McCafferty. His grandmother, Patsy Kenamore Edwards, was the sister of Fannie's mother.

Jim Wright, a successful farmer, became a Porter Township justice of the peace for decades and conducted the marriage ceremonies of dozens of relatives and neighbors during his tenure.  With the broad powers assigned to JPs in those days of weak law enforcement, he also had the opportunity to send a goodly number of kin to the county jail or worse.

He attended school but, as a teenager, census records do not indicate Jim Wright could read or write. He was required to take an examination to become a justice of the peace. Each township without an incorporated town or city was entitled to two justices. These officials conducted marriages, drew up wills and deeds, made arrests to preserve peace and protect property and heard civil cases on neighborhood conflicts.

At the turn of the century, Jim Wright had taken in the aunt of both his wife and himself, Margaret Kenamore Craig, the daughter of William Kenamore and Mary Johnson who had divorced young and never remarried.

Jim Wright was the most prosperous of John's children and, with Fannie, had at least eight children, perhaps nine:

— John W. McConnell (1879-1881) was buried in McConnell Cemetery.

— Cora McConnell (Feb. 1884-1967) married 1) Henry T. Wade, (July 1, 1881-July 14, 1959), the stepson of her great-uncle J.W. Faught, on March 24, 1901; and 2) her cousin Elvert B. "Pot" Gooch (1885-1954), the farmer son of longtime neighbors John and Elizabeth Gooch, on March 13, 1910 with Rev. Peter W. Roberts officiating. John Gooch, too, was a Kenamore descendant.  Pot and Cora moved in with his parents next to Rebecca Pope McConnell's home.

— Lucy McConnell (March 16, 1886-Jan. 23, 1969) never married and lies in McConnell Cemetery.

—          Artie May McConnell (Oct. 26, 1888-Nov. 20, 1976) married farmer William David Inman  (March 10, 1890-Aug. 4, 1939), son of John Wesley Inman and Nancy Lavanda Wilson, on Dec. 5, 1909 and settled on that family's compound southwest of Nixa before moving to Springfield.

—          Seymour Franklin McConnell (Oct. 24, 1890-July 11, 1988) married cousin Lucretia "Crete" Gooch (Oct. 11, 1895-Sept. 25, 1989) on Nov. 22, 1913 before Rev. Peter Roberts.  Seymour and Lucretia are interred at McConnell Cemetery.

—          Myrtle Ellen McConnell (Feb. 7, 1893-Aug. 21, 1986) married Lionel Gordon Keltner (March 26, 1893-Aug. 13, 1966) – the son of James Casville Keltner and Minnie Abigail West.

—          — Dora E. (May 25, 1895-Feb. 16, 1979) married Leslie Moore (Dec. 31, 1893-June 23, 1977), a native of Battlefield, on Dec. 24, 1914. Both former teachers are buried in McConnell Cemetery; Leslie also worked as a building contractor. The couple was active in the Nixa Church of Christ, where Leslie was an elder.

—          Hobart McConnell (Feb. 16, 1898-Jan. 19, 1979), married Lydia Inman (Nov. 7, 1904-Feb. 25, 1981), daughter of John Grandison Inman and Cora Frazier, on July 5, 1924.

—          — Wilbern McConnell (d. 1906), apparently an infant buried at McConnell Cemetery, almost certainly is the son of Jim Wright.

 

The lost children of John W. and Matilda Edwards McConnell

• Mary V.  (1856-?) was identified as John and Matilda's 3-year-old daughter in the 1860 census. The disappearance of Mary and her brother, plus the fading memory of a grown daughter, helps explain the otherwise strange, 12-year gap between Jim Wright and William Alexander.  Mary may have lived until the 1870 census, which actually shows her sister Francis Emma as two daughters named Francis and Emma.

• John W. Jr. (1858-?) was identified as the couple's 2-year-old son in the 1860 census, but is not listed for 1870.

 

Francis Emma McConnell McCafferty

(Feb. 2, 1865-Sept. 27, 1886)

Frances Emma died as an extremely young adult and passed from the family memory, but she did continue the McConnell bloodline.

On March 27, 1884, Frances married her cousin Benjamin F. McCafferty before Justice of the Peace George W. Nokes.  Benjamin, or B.F. (July 15, 1861-June 14, 1919), was the youngest son of William Green and Nancy Kenamore McCafferty and the brother-in-law of Frances' oldest brother, Jim Wright. Frances died in 1886, likely in childbirth, and is buried in McConnell Cemetery.  But the couple first had one son, Commodore, on March 23, 1885.

Benjamin remarried on June 29, 1889 to Sarah "Sallie" Pope -- the sister of Rebecca Jane Pope McConnell -- and they gave Commodore at least 10 half-brothers and -sisters: Nancy, Pearl (Oct. 18, 1891-March 24, 1922, m. M.R. Forgey), William L. (m. Nora Ann Aven), Grace V. (m. Henry Oberlander), Osha W. (March 18, 1904-March 2, 1987, m. Opal Plank), Emery S. “Dick” (May 18, 1900-March 19, 1924), Jessie C. (m. Jack Broaddus), Mabel (m. William Jones), Kermit (May 11, 1907-July 14, 1980, m. Linnie M. Bain) and Verl. All including Commodore at age 25 were still living in the home in 1910.

In fact an old story on Commodore, known as "Commie," indicates he was somewhat socially naive. B.F. McCafferty by the early 1900s was a landowner in the area southwest of Nixa where John W. and Jim Wright McConnell lived alongside the Inman family compound. (B.F. bought his farm from Jim Wright McConnell in 1906.)

Robert Inman told the story of how Commie asked if he could attend a picnic on the James River, and B.F. agreed; Commie was 21 by then and needed to socialize in the community. When Commie saddled his horse, his father gave him a quarter for spending money, but added, "Don't forget your raisin.'" Once the picnic was over, Commie returned with a bag in hand — full of raisins.

Commie never married — "all he knowed was work," Robert said — and he died at the age of 40 on Oct. 19, 1925. He is buried in McConnell Cemetery along with his parents, stepmother and several of his half-brothers and -sisters and their children.

 

William Alexander McConnell

(March 11, 1867-May 5, 1952)

(separate section)

 

Joseph Frank McConnell

(April 7, 1871-Jan. 7, 1956)

Frank married Mary Slay (Feb. 6, 1876-July 13, 1945), the daughter of George Washington Slay and Margaret V. Bledsoe, on Feb. 22, 1894 before his brother JP Jim Wright McConnell.

Frank ranks as the family hell-raiser — his name appears repeatedly on old Christian County Circuit Court criminal records from the 1890s through 1917, particularly 1917. Most of the incidents, however, appear to stem from drinking, general rowdiness and gambling. A typical example occurred in 1899 when he and a Rhea neighbor were forced to pay $25 fines, a considerable sum then, for gambling violations; in a related incident, contempt of court proceedings against cousin Charley, who was involved in the same game, were dropped. Frank later, though, served a prison term for forgery.

Mary eventually divorced Frank and married Henry T. Wade, the first husband of Cora McConnell Gooch. Frank's tangles with the law may have had little relation to the marriage's failure: the Slays had a reputation of their own. According to Stephensons and Maynards: Ancestors of Nora Ann Maynard Hart (unpublished manuscript), "It is said that when the Slays went to town (Nixa) on Saturday, everyone else went home — that meant EVERYONE."

Nevertheless, Frank, his cousins Valmore, Roscoe and Charley and half-brothers Robert, Harrison and Ed had more than their share of brushes with the law in Christian County.

Gambling debts and general aversion to work may explain why Frank sold off his land holdings gradually, including his inheritance from his father. But as late as 1908, Frank owned a 40-acre tract inside the Nixa city limits, near the main town intersection.

Frank sought unusual court action to dispose of his grandfather Walter's military bounty land warrant in 1901. Frank asked to be appointed administrator of Walter's estate — John W. had resigned — to sell off the warrant good for 40 acres of public land, dated June 1, 1852. The more intriguing aspect, however, is the listing of Walter's heirs and next of kin as of 1901. Included were his son John W.; grandsons J.A. McConnell, G.W. McConnell, Mon (Franklin Monroe) Faught, Homer Edwards, Cal McCafferty and Bud McConnell; granddaughters Elizabeth Faught, Cynthia Pendleton, Elizabeth Sellars, Bell McCauley and Mary Young, all of Nixa; and grandson Shakespeare McConnell, Clay Co., Texas (near Wichita Falls), and granddaughter Maud McCollin (actually McCollum), South Dakota.

As Frank aged, even by the 1920s, he is said to have moderated his excesses. Homeless, he lived for a considerable time with his daughter May and her husband near Nixa and Republic. After her mother Mary died in 1945, May opened her home to not only her blind father, but her stepfather, Henry Wade, too. Frank died at May's home in January 1956.

Frank and Mary Slay McConnell had three children:

— Alva (Dec. 29, 1894-May 9, 1931), who died single and carried on his father's tradition about Nixa from World War I until his death. Alva served in World War I American expeditionary forces.

— McKinley (Sept. 17, 1896-September 1963). This son is little remembered; in Frank's 1956 obituary, he is listed as Kent McConnell of Kansas City, KS.

— May (Feb. 9, 1899-May 8, 1982), also known as "Billy" when young, who married Foley E. Gregg (Jan. 14, 1897-Jan. 18, 1968), whose family had moved from Polk Co. to Nixa.

The entire family except Kent is interred at McConnell Cemetery. Despite the divorce, Mary Slay lies beside her first husband.

 

Children of John W. McConnell

and Rebecca Jane Pope

 

Synthia Ann McConnell Beverage

(May 19, 1875-Dec. 27, 1952)

Ann married farmer John Thomas Beverage (Feb. 7, 1873-Jan. 5, 1940), the son of Thomas and Sarah M. Bledsoe Beverage, on Aug. 18, 1894.

The Beverage (or Beveredge) family, originally from Wayne Co., TN, had settled near the McConnells at least as early as 1863. John's mother Sarah was the daughter of John and Mary Bacon Bledsoe, who owned the property next to McConnell Cemetery and moved to the area from Carroll Co., AR at the same time as the Beverages. Another of the Beverage children, Sarah Ida, married Ann's uncle James Joseph Pope, the brother of Rebecca Jane Pope McConnell.

Ann and John lived west of McConnell Cemetery.

Among Synthia Ann and John's children were Harvey Jonas (March 16, 1896-April 21, 1969, m. Mary McMullins and Lillian Parmenter) and Walter Lloyd (June 19, 1902-May 29, 1952, m. June).

Synthia Ann (shown as “Ann May”), Thomas, Lloyd and infant son Leonard (July 3-Aug. 7, 1898) are buried at McConnell Cemetery.

 

Robert Leroy McConnell

(Oct. 1, 1878-May 25, 1965)

Bob -- named Leroy for his grandfather -- worked as a bachelor farmer on his and neighbors' land in the community, with a short exception.

He married Martha Jane Maynard Faught (1879-1965), the second wife and widow of Zachariah Faught, on March 11, 1925. Faught had been the Porter Township road overseer and deputy constable of Nixa; he was the son of Levi Carl (L.C.) Faught, a justice of the peace, and nephew of John W. "Jack" and Mary Ann Faught, Bob's uncle and aunt.

Bob's union was short-lived with Jane Faught, who had nine children by her first husband. Bob moved Jane and his step-children -- Dova (Cook Hazel), Dora (Fitzpatrick), Florence, Homer, Blanche, Blon, Cletus, Burl and Clarabelle (Wright) Faught -- to Bradleyville, MO before the couple separated and most of the family returned to Nixa.

Bob was known in the community as "Penchie."

In an ironic touch, he and Jane ended up in the same Nixa nursing home before their deaths.

 

Edward Scott McConnell

(Oct. 28, 1886-Oct. 4, 1933)

Ed served in World War I in Europe and died single.   He died in an auto accident near Brookline.

 

Benjamin Harrison McConnell

(Dec. 3, 1888-November 1966)

John W.'s last child, Benjamin Harrison, known as "Bunch," was named after the incoming U.S. president, a Republican who had been elected just the month before — an election confirmed by the Electoral College in December 1888.

Like Bob, Harrison was residing at Bilyeu Nursing Home in Nixa at the time of his death. Both brothers were remembered as farmers and hired hands in the community in their old age and as rounders in their youth. Harrison was known as "Bunch" around Nixa. He never married.

John's children by his first marriage appear to have lost most contact with his second family, except Ann, particularly after his death in 1907. Although Bob and Harrison survived until modern times, they were little known to their relatives in Greene Co.

All three brothers by the second marriage are buried in the cemetery bearing the family name; Harrison and Ed share the same plot.

 



[1] She is shown as Manda J. or Lemanda or even Mary in census records. She had a niece -- the daughter of the Bowmans -- named Lamanda Jane.

[2] Christian Co. was not organized until early 1859, so residents are found in the 1850 Greene Co. census.

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