McConnells ~ The Early McConnells

© 1994, Randy McConnell

Call 314-635-1557 for permission to reprint


Submitted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 McConnells of Porter Township, Christian County, MO were descended from a line of Lowland Scots, who were banned from owning land by English kings in the 1600s, moved to the northeastern counties of Ireland and headed to America, beginning c. 1717.

The McConnells were part of the heavy, misnamed emigration of "Scotch Irish" to the American frontier in the early 1700s; the correct term is Ulster Scots or Scots-Irish.

Although the specific line grows blurry in the trek from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, the first McConnells probably debarked at New Castle, Delaware, just south of Philadelphia. This early American port on the Delaware River, off Chesapeake Bay, was the arrival point for thousands of Scots-Irish.

They were drawn early to Lancaster and Chester Cos., PA, just outside Philadelphia. An Alexander McConnell was found on the Chester Co. tax rolls by 1723.  This man died in 1729 in Chester Co., leaving no will that would have named his children. Elizabeth McConnell, his apparent wife, served as administrator. From land records, his sons are believed to have been Alexander, Adam, William, James, John and Thomas.

James and Ann McConnell operated a tavern near Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church in Sadsbury Township, Chester Co., and tavern- or innholding became a family occupation until after the McConnells reached southwest Missouri.

The ties to Upper Octorara Church are significant: it was founded in 1720 by the Rev. Adam Boyd, the probable brother of Robert Boyd, according to Pennsylvania Archives records. Robert Boyd was the ancestor of Catherine Boyd McConnell, wife of the Alexander in the line leading to the Ozarks.

McConnells also moved by 1750 into Cumberland Co., PA around the Great Cove.

The McConnells began coming to the area of North Carolina that became Rowan and Iredell counties by the late 1740s. One line, the John branch, descends from brothers John and Andrew, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1740 with mother Agnes and Andrew's wife Jane. They visited kinsman Alexander in Cecil Co., MD, and farmed briefly in Brunswick Co., VA before coming to Rowan Co., NC.

William,[1] who had numerous North Carolina dealings with John McConnell, is believed to have been at least a cousin, but much research work remains to document the line.

Stories persist of three McConnell brothers who came to North Carolina, including John and William — but the third, "Wat" or Walter, went on to Georgia. NC and GA McConnell lines met and mingled again in Maury and Marshall Cos., TN in the 1800s. These stories, however, appear to have intermingled several generations of McConnells.


William and Jane McConnell

The identifiable line that leads to the frontier of southwest Missouri begins with William McConnell and second wife Jane, who were financially comfortable upon arrival in North Carolina.

William McConnell seems to have come to Rowan Co., NC, from Cumberland and Chester Cos., PA, possibly through Augusta Co., VA, and was a close relation of James McConnell.

William and James may have been the sons of Alexander and Elizabeth McConnell of Chester Co.

Augusta Co., VA records show that in 1751/52 William McConnell petitioned for a road to connect nearby properties to the Great Wagon Road, which ran through Augusta Co. to Salisbury, NC and Rowan Co. No further mention of William is found in Augusta. A reference of the same era -- although the year was torn -- showed Elizabeth McConnell, possibly William's first wife, entered a lawsuit there, but it was later dropped because of her death.

Augusta deeds show that a James McConnell[2] bought an Augusta Co. farm in March 1755 and sold it in May 1759.

The period through 1760 included the last great Cherokee wars on the NC frontier amid the French and Indian War. Whites had started the fracas when a VA expedition against the Shawnee had soured, and the settlers' Indian allies — the Cherokees — had lost spirit and headed home, after their horses were killed. When they happened upon and captured wild horses, frontiersmen descended and killed between 14 and 40 men, including prominent Cherokee warriors.

The Cherokee reprised, and the South Carolina Gazette reported that in the planting season of 1759, at least 22 settlers were killed on the upper Yadkin River of NC. The sheriff of Rowan Co. was terrorized in his own cabin, and Daniel Boone, then living in Rowan (now Davie) Co. took his family several times to Ft. Dobbs, 20 miles west of Salisbury, NC for safety. In 1760, Ft. Dobbs itself was attacked, and the Boones moved well north to Culpepper Co., VA. The McConnells later owned farms near Ft. Dobbs, which developed into Statesville, the county seat of modern Iredell Co.

On Nov. 19, 1760, peace came to the NC frontier.

William McConnell is unrecorded in the 1759 Rowan Co. tax list. He appears by April 23 and 24, 1762 when he bought 701 acres in Rowan Co., NC and a town lot in its county seat, Salisbury, from land speculator Hugh Montgomery.[3] By the next January, William gained a license to operate a tavern at the intersection of Salisbury's two main streets along with Peter Johnson (whose family married into the McConnell line in Missouri). The tavern was housed, at least originally, in William's home. With the Great Wagon Road bringing thousands of Ulster Scot, German and Quaker settlers south to NC, SC and GA, William had the chance to meet and profit from a broad cross-section of the new frontier population.

As a tavern- and innkeeper in the seat of Rowan Co., which at the time contained 27 modern NC counties, William became a prominent citizen of the entire western half of the state, owned entire blocks of Salisbury  and appears frequently in the official records. He was particularly close to William Temple Coles, another innkeeper, lawyer and later sheriff of Rowan Co.; Coles became administrator of McConnell's estate when he died in November 1772 with no will.

In 1764, William was named overseer of Salisbury's roads and was allowed to draft local residents to work on them.

James McConnell surfaced as a witness to a land deed in  Salisbury on July 17, 1764 in Rowan Co., NC. By Oct. 12, 1764, James McConnell had died, and William was named as executor of James' will (since lost) in a court case in Rowan Co.

William and Jane sold off their 701-acre farm on Second Creek to Col. John Frohock, a land speculator and county clerk, and they divested most of their town holdings in the 1760s. But William was still operating his tavern in Salisbury in 1771 and had purchased the farm improvements that Robert Bell had made on unregistered property west of Salisbury on Bell's Branch in what became Iredell Co; during this period, the colonial land office was closed, and no one could buy any new lands.

County records suggest William died in the fall of 1772: on Nov. 4, the county court cited his farm home in a road order; on Nov. 6, the court granted letters of administration on William's estate to William Temple Coles. Coles filed an inventory of William's estate in early 1773, but the distribution has not survived; the guardianship of his minor son John is extant.

No record of William and Jane's marriage has been found. She may have been Jane Dobbins Carruth, the sister-in-law of Walter Carruth, a native of Ireland who moved through Lancaster Co., PA, Augusta Co., VA and eventually Rowan Co., NC before he died in 1769. Jane had been married in PA to Walter's brother Alexander who died in 1739 in Lancaster Co.

If so, William was married first to a wife unknown, who was the mother of his oldest sons, and then Jane, who became the mother of at least three younger sons including Alexander. Jane was likely the sister of John Dobbins Sr. of Rowan and Iredell Cos., who lived beside her sons in the area of Rockey and Hunting Creeks in the late 1700s. Jane was still alive in 1781 when her son John returned from military service; if she was the mother of the older Carruth children, she was still living in 1786.


Probable children of William and Jane McConnell

William appeared to have at least five sons, and the family has been described as large, although only one daughter has been verified.

By his first wife, William likely had:

Archibald (born by 1740) appeared in Rowan records by December 1761 when he bought land along Walnut Branch. He received a 1783 state land grant of 400 acres on Little Dutchman's Creek. He later was named a constable in the area, but was replaced in 1787.

At that point Archibald left the county for KY, where Archibald is listed in Bourbon Co. in 1791 along with son Samuel McConnell. Archibald's descendants later moved to Clark Co., KY and then to Maury and Marshall Cos., TN. There they intermingled with their cousins from NC, and his son Archibald Jr. married a descendant of Christopher Houston from Iredell Co.

Phillip McConnell (1738-1778)  came to Rowan Co. by 1763 when he was cited in numerous court records, married Sarah McClelland[4], served in the Revolutionary War and died in the war in early 1778. He had a single son, William, who migrated to and died in Macon Co., NC.

William Jr. (1742-1812) bought nine acres on Gallows Branch in Salisbury with William Temple Coles as witness. This property became the site of the modern-day Rowan County Courthouse. By 1776, William lived in his father's old home, overlooking the historic Great Wagon Road from VA, but he soon moved to farmland along Little Dutchman's Creek with his brothers.

In the 1790 census, William's household had three white males over age 16, two younger males and four white females.

William Jr. had at least four identified children: James; Jane (m. James Houston); Elizabeth; William; and Alexander (d. 1811, m. Rebecca McClelland).

By his second wife, Jane, William Sr. had:

  • Alexander (about 1756/7-1798), see below.
  • John (about 1760-1822)  married Mary Dobbins, daughter of John Dobbins Sr. and possibly his first cousin. John, Alexander, William Jr. and Archibald lived in the neighborhood of Little Dutchman, Hunting and Rocky creeks along the South Yadkin River.

John was a minor when William Sr. died, and silversmith and land speculator David Woodson, a neighbor, and James Brandon became his guardians and continued so until at least May 1790, although John came of age around 1780. He served in the Revolutionary War until 1781, when he came back to his mother's home.

In 1790, John's household included only himself as a male over age 16, two younger males and four white females along with a slave. One of the females could have been his mother. After John's death, Mary moved to Pleasant Valley, Caldwell Co., KY, where most of her children lived.

  • Capt. James (1760-December 1830, Carroll Co., TN), who married Elizabeth Butler, the daughter of Regulator leader William Butler of northern Iredell on April 5, 1785. James moved to Logan Co., KY and then Maury Co., TN, where he married to Nancy Davis on May 9, 1826.
  • · Esther (1760s-Sept. 2, 1842, Iredell NC) married neighbor James Holmes of northeast Iredell, in early 1790, at the home of her brother Alexander.  They had at least four sons, Alexander, Archibald, James and Robert, and two daughters, Esther and at least one unknown. They were founding members of Presbyterian churches in northern Iredell and are buried there. 

Alexander McConnell and Catharine Boyd

Alexander was an ancient family name -- and possibly the name of his mother's first husband, Alexander Carruth. The choice of a prior spouse as a namesake was common on the frontier.

In the first mention of this Alexander McConnell, he was assessed as a poll (at least age 16) in the tax lists for 1772, or just after his father died; his listing places him in what became Iredell Co. just east of Statesville, where his father lived along Bell's Branch. In 1778, he was assessed for property worth 682 pounds in then-Rowan Co., but later Iredell Co.,  NC. Both listings place his birth around 1757. The same 1778 tax list notes his older half-brother William, who had slightly less taxable property.

Alexander did not fight in the Revolution, but made supplies available for "the continental line," according to payment vouchers for companies mustered out of the Salisbury District of North Carolina. The continental line was the new nation's regular army, as opposed to the state militias.

Legal records of Rowan County persistently mention William, Alexander, Archibald and later John as neighbors and in common entries  — and all but Archibald are shown as such in the 1790 census. Archibald had moved to Bourbon Co., KY c. 1787.

In 1778 Alexander already owned property, perhaps an inheritance from his father, because he had been taxed on land that year (only the value has survived) and his acreage was adjacent to a 1780 state grant for Nathan Todd on Little Dutchman's Creek.

Alexander married Catharine Boyd (c. 1761-1826/30) on Feb. 18, 1782 in Iredell Co., N.C. with her brother John Boyd as bondsman and County Clerk Adlai Osborn as witness for the license.

Alexander on Nov. 4, 1784 received a state grant of 670 acres, at a cost of 310 shillings, on the south side of Little Dutchman's Creek in a fork of the Yadkin River; this grant probably included his earlier land grants. His neighbors there were Nathan Todd, Robert Holmes, Richard Fleming and David Woodson, the guardian of Alexander's brother John.

He and Catharine inherited more Iredell Co. land, about 200 acres along Trumpet Creek, when her father Robert Boyd died in 1793 near Nashville.

In the 1790 federal census — the first — Alexander, Catharine and a female of unknown age (daughter Anne) were in a northern Iredell County, N.C. household near the Yadkin River along with three males under age 16 and a slave. (Most of the early McConnells were minor slaveholders.)

Iredell County probate documents show Alexander fathered at least seven children by Catharine: Anne (1783/4), Walter (1784), Robert Boyd or Bowman (1787), William (1789), Elizabeth, John (1794), and Mary Ann "Polly" (1798).

Alexander died on Aug. 9, 1798, a relatively young man and prosperous farmer, likely in his early 40s. According to Oct. 12, 1798 court minutes, four men set aside the farm's "corn, wheat and barley, seven head of hogs (and) one beef" to last widow Catharine and the children for one year.

On Aug. 3, 1800, the Iredell County Court of Pleas granted guardianship of the minor heirs to Hugh Andrews, Catharine and John McConnell, the brother of Alexander.

In the 1800 census, Catharine is shown as the head of the household.  The farm totaled 820 acres with several outbuildings and one slave.

In August 1807, Alexander's heirs and their guardians petitioned the court to divide the land, and this process would continue through 1821. Walter seems to have migrated first, selling his share of 81 acres on the south side of Dutchman's Creek for $243 to uncle James Holmes on Dec. 14, 1807, or after Walter had moved to Williamson Co., TN (before Maury existed).

Holmes also bought 80 acres from Alexander's daughter Anne and her husband on Dec. 26, 1811. The 1815 tax list shows 570 acres remaining in the heirs' names; on Sept. 4, 1821, with William McConnell acting as attorney, the heirs completed the sale of 420 acres to the same Holmes along Dutchman's Creek. The disposition of the inherited Boyd land on Trumpet Creek is unknown.


Catherine McConnell and Samuel Wasson

Catharine after 1800 remarried to Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Wasson, son of Joseph Wasson of Iredell, probably around 1803 when he was named guardian of her minor children. (Early Iredell marriage records were destroyed by an early county official who wanted to create more filing space.)

Samuel (1750-1825) and first wife Catherine Epson Abel had at least four sons: John Franklin Wasson (Dec. 21, 1778-Nov. 29, 1856, Lawrence Co., AL) who married Margaret Bone of Iredell Co.; Josiah Wasson (Oct. 24, 1780-May 9, 1849, Lawrence Co., AL) who married Artemicia Bone; Abel Wasson (July 10, 1783-Jan. 19, 1839, Maury Co., TN) who married Hannah Hill; and Abner Wasson, who married Elizabeth Quarles and Sarah Houpt and moved to Lawrence Co., TN.

After the turn of the century, Samuel Wasson began selling off his Iredell Co. holdings, and he and Catharine moved to Williamson Co. south of Nashville, near her Boyd kin, possibly via Sumner and Wilson Cos., TN. The Wasson Tennessee holdings also included land that appears to have overlapped into Rutherford and Giles counties. They eventually settled in southern Maury Co. near the community of Bigbyville.

Samuel was in evident failing health in 1823 when power of attorney was given to his wife's nephew, Robert B. Edmondson, in Giles Co., TN and witnessed by James Green McCafferty[5] and William Edmondson, Catherine's brother-in-law.

Samuel died Dec. 19, 1825 in Maury County.

One of his sons and William C. McConnell, his stepson, inventoried the estate, and on March 11, 1826, bequests went to Catharine, son Abel and the heirs of son Abner.[6] John Franklin Wasson and William McConnell served as executors. The will also freed Wasson's slave Harry and gave him land. Although these families were small slaveholders, wills of the era show that the slaves were integral parts of the families, and they were either emancipated or released with white family guardianship after the owner's death.

Shortly after her husband's passing and before the 1830 census, Catharine reportedly died; the burial site for her and Samuel Wasson is unknown.


The Boyds

Catharine Boyd McConnell's paternal line came from Ireland and first appeared in America when her great-grandfather Robert Boyd (1678-1743) settled in Sadsbury Township, Chester Co., PA (near Philadelphia) in the 1720s, near a settlement of McConnells in Upper Octorara. He may have been among three brothers, who came over at that time.

Records show Robert was literate, but wife Jennett signed with her mark.

Tax records for Sadsbury Township, Chester Co., indicate Robert entered the rolls in 1729 for a 500-acre tract, but other documents show the family lived there earlier; according to deed records, the purchase took place in 1726.

Robert and Jennett had at least three sons, John, Robert Jr. and James, and perhaps William. True to the role of the Ulster Scots in the northern Ireland textile industry, a 1736 deed of land to son John shows Robert Sr. was a tailor.

In that deed, John is cited as the second son while Robert Jr. signed as a witness. James Boyd, the eldest, is cited in later legal documents.

The Boyds were known in the councils of state, and the Pennsylvania Archives includes correspondence to Thomas Penn about complaints the "three Boyds" had lodged against John Carnahan, the local magistrate. The 1733/34 letters refer to the Rev. Adam Boyd and to "the old man Robert Boyd," who was accused of trying to "rake up dirt" on local officials.

Robert Sr. and Jennett are buried in Upper Octorara Church Cemetery in Chester Co.  Robert's monument still stands there, but Jennet's grave is only indicated by a space between the grave of Robert and that of his son, John (1705-Sept. 21, 1750).


John and Lettice Boyd

Son John appeared on the local tax lists from 1734 to 1749, but little else of note emerges from the official record. After his death, his brother William Boyd and son-in-law William Beatty were appointed guardians of John's minor children. The large number of appraisers suggest a large estate for John, although records include nothing more than the 200-acre deed of land from his father in 1736.

John and his wife Lettice (LNU- last name unknown) had at least eight children, according to probate records: Robert II, Frances (m. William Beatty); Anne (m. John Sharp, relocated to Augusta Co., VA); Lettice; James (d. before 1763, s.p.); Joseph (d. before 1763, s.p.), Andrew and Rebecca, who was born posthumously. Widow Lettice was still living in 1753, but she appears to have died before the family farm was sold.  The children kept the land in Chester Co. until Sept. 7, 1763, when it was sold to Samuel McClelland, a local man.


Robert Boyd II

Robert II (c. 1730-Sept. 8, 1793) appears to have participated in the French and Indian War as a captain with his own company. The Officers and Soldiers, Province of Pennsylvania contains five references to Capt. Robert Boyd, including his service in the garrison at Ft. Augusta. This Capt. Boyd commanded troops that included his brother-in-law, John Sharp.

Before leaving Pennsylvania for Rowan/Iredell Co., NC, Robert II married Anne (LNU) whose parents lived in Maryland, likely Cecil Co., and began their family, including Catharine, who was born around 1761 in Pennsylvania. Besides his joint holdings with his siblings, Robert and Anne also owned a tract in Sadsbury Township that they released to John Boggs of Will Town Township on Oct. 22, 1762.

Robert II and Anne remained in Iredell until after the Revolution before heading west, leaving Catharine behind with her new husband, Alexander McConnell. The family moved first to Lincoln Co., KY, where daughter Sarah was married, and then just north of Nashville to what is now Madison, TN. Robert also owned land in Sumner Co., TN, just east of Nashville. Robert and Anne belonged to the Spring Hill Church, and Robert was buried in the church cemetery, as instructed in his will, after he died in 1793.

Among the children:

John (Aug. 3, 1758-Dec. 2, 1814) married Anne Bone, daughter of James of Iredell, and eventually settled in Coles Co., IL after owning land in Sumner County, TN and KY.

William first lived in the Madison, TN home of his parents, but lost the land thanks to a defective title. He moved to Triune, Williamson Co., TN. His son, Col. Marcus Boyd, moved to Greene Co., MO and fathered, among others, the acclaimed attorney and Congressman Sempronious H. "Pony" Boyd who also represented Bald Knobbers in their 1886 trial. Both Pony and his son served as American ambassadors to Thailand, then known as Siam.

Mary married John Boyd, probably a cousin, and lived in Sumner Co.

Sarah "Sally" (1760-after 1824) married Peter Blair and settled in Sumner Co., TN.

Lettice (c. 1756-1799/1800) married Robert Chambers and moved to Georgia. Her eldest son was Gen. Joseph Boyd Chambers, and her descendants today include a family of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.

Frances married William Edmondson and lived in Arrington, Williamson Co., TN. This branch of the Boyd family seems to have maintained the closest contact with Catharine Boyd McConnell Wasson and her offspring; whether those ties continued in Missouri is undocumented.

In the 1840s, William Edmondson's sons — Robert Boyd and Thomas — moved to Greene County, MO, just east of Springfield and northeast of the McConnell settlement in Christian Co. This move coincided with Walter McConnell's relocation to Christian Co. Although Robert B. Edmondson's family moved on after his death, Thomas' children farmed and received considerable education for the day. Through marriage, their cousins included Samuel, Flavius and Sam Freeman, prominent lawyers and businessmen of modern Springfield in the 20th century.



Walter and Mary Elizabeth

"Polly" Parker McConnell

The full name of Walter (1784-1854), the son of Alexander and Catharine Boyd McConnell, is unknown but several possibilities exist.

Walter may have been his middle name — and Alexander his first, although it may have been rarely used from his youth to avoid confusion with his father. Mail to the Springfield post office in 1845, probably from Tennessee, was addressed to L.W. McConnell, as in "L-ex-an-der Walter." This mail may have been intended, however, for Walter's son, Alexander.

A letter held at the Columbia, Maury Co., TN post office in September 1842 was addressed to W.M. McConnell.

When Walter died in 1854, entries in the Greene County probate court files were under the name of William, as in William Walter McConnell. His brother, however, was William C. McConnell. These Greene County entries, which are not complete, may have been clerical errors, confusing the work of lawyer-son William S. on the probate case.

Walter's military bounty application does show that he signed his name with a period after the given name, but he used no middle initial. Some suggestions exist in the names of descendants that his full name was Walter Scott McConnell, but he was not named for the famous novelist, who was born in 1771 and was only in his early teens at Walter’s birth.


The family in Tennessee

Probably in late 1805, with his mother and stepfather Samuel Wasson and numerous other relatives, Walter ventured from North Carolina into Middle Tennessee. The records suggest that the family's Parker neighbors also sold their 151-acre Iredell farm on May 20, 1806, although they likely had lived in Davidson and Williamson Cos., TN earlier.

McConnell researcher Sarah Love Trigg of Nashville, a descendant of Walter's brother William, surmised that the families moved there as part of a grand relocation involving their NC ties to the Knox, Bone and Polk families, including future President James Knox Polk. Other families with North Carolina McConnell ties included Snow, Peek, Houston, Butler, McClelland and Armstrong.

On June 29, 1807, Walter married Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Parker (1787-January 1860), the daughter of Jeremiah and Milly Robey Parker, in Williamson Co., which then included Maury and Giles counties. She later recalled the "ordained minister" was the Rev. Garrett, but she could not remember his first name. She was referring to one of the minister-brothers, the Revs. Lewis and Greenberry Garrett of Williamson Co.

On Sept. 25, 1809, Walter bought a 94 1/3-acre farm from James Andrews[7] for $102 on Big Harpeth Creek next to John Parks Jr. and a Buchanan. Witnessing the transaction were John Hardeman and John McCutchen.[8]

The 1810 Williamson Co. census has been destroyed, but the 1810 Iredell Co., NC census shows a Walter and wife had two children, a boy and a girl whose identities are unknown. (This man could have been his reported cousin Walter, son of John McConnell, who may have had a first wife before marrying Patsy Peoples in 1814 and settling in Guilford County, NC.) At best, the daughter was Elizabeth T.; no trace of a son has been found whose age corresponds to the North Carolina data. If "our" Walter is shown in Iredell, he and Mary Elizabeth had moved back to Iredell from TN.

Williamson Co. land records show that Walter sold 50 acres there in October 1813 to James Caruthers with his Parker father- and brother-in-law as witnesses. Walter and his in-laws then appear to have moved south, Walter to southern Maury Co. and Jeremiah and Zachariah Parker to Pulaski, the new Giles Co. seat, by 1814.

Walter and the Parkers settled in an area that was opened to settlement in 1806 under an Indian cession treaty. This area was originally — and much remained — in Maury (pronounced Murray) Co.; but part was made into Giles Co. later and, when lines were redrawn in 1836, part became Marshall Co.

The territory for Walter's stake was south of Nashville and the early Cumberland settlements, and Walter's residence is verified in 1820, 1829, 1836 and 1840 in Maury Co. Eldest child Elizabeth Tennessee appears to have been born in Maury or Iredell around 1810, and son John W.'s obituary cited "Murray" Co., TN as his birthplace in 1829. The closest major city today is Columbia, and the General Motors Saturn plant is located at Spring Hill, Maury Co. The county, up through the Depression years, was distinctive for its champion mules and Columbia's famous Mule Day Festival. But its more recent wealth came from phosphates, which were mined extensively after the Civil War. Even today the county is among the richest in TN, with substantial, well-kept homes.

According to his veteran's land bounty application, Walter fought in the Creek War. He mustered at Huntsville, AL on Dec. 20, 1813 (spending that Christmas under arms) for 60 days and was discharged Feb. 18, 1814 in Fayetteville, Lincoln Co., TN. The National Archives and Tennessee records indicate he served under Capt. Matthew Johnson of Giles Co. and Col. Nicholas Perkins in the 1st Regiment of the Alabama (then Mississippi) territorial militia, although on occasion, the unit is shown as the 1st Tennessee.

Most of the militiamen for the Creek War, fought simultaneously with the War of 1812, were drawn from Middle Tennessee. Weary of attacks by the Creek Indians, Gov. Willie Blount of Tennessee called out 3,500 volunteers and, under the command of Gen. Andrew Jackson, they routed the Creeks from their territory in the Indian country of eastern Alabama (Mississippi Territory then).

At the end of the war, Walter and Polly's son Alexander was born in 1814 and daughter Permelia followed in 1817.

The settlers at the time were most concerned about the competing claims of North Carolina grantholders for the former federal territory and, along with Walter, petitioned the Tennessee Legislature for help in 1820. Tennessee had been an extension of North Carolina before 1794, and the Carolina legislature felt no compunction about making land grants in that territory before or afterward. Confusion over early land titles was commonplace and already had cost Uncle William Boyd his home in Madison, TN.

The 1830 census shows Walter across the border, south in Giles Co. The family likely moved into a house on Dry Creek near Salem (Methodist) Church and Cemetery to help take care of the holdings of Polly McConnell's aging Parker parents, who were in their late 60s. McConnell's spinster sister Mary Ann died in 1827 and is buried in the Campbellsville Cemetery in northern Giles Co. The Parkers' son, Zachariah, lived nearby, and slaves helped take care of the property as well. The move to Dry Creek also coincided with the death of Polly's sister Malinda, or "Linnie," Parker Brown who left five small children in the custody of their Parker grandparents by 1830.

The 1830 census also contains several unexplained discrepancies including a teenage McConnell son or other male who later disappears, just as in 1810 census.

In 1840, Walter had returned to Maury Co., close to his brother William C., a tanner and the first resident of Southport, TN. The census also shows one son or male in his 20s. While son Alexander was that age, he almost certainly was not in the household because he was married at least by 1837; his wife and child are not listed in the household. Another son or male, in his late teens, also is listed, but not identified in later information.

As many as three McConnell sons are unaccounted for.


To Greene (Christian) Co., MO

No McConnells are cited in the 1840 Greene Co. census, which included much of southwest Missouri. A John McConnell, however, was mentioned in tax records for 1835.

Walter was still in Maury Co. as late as 1841 because he is shown making purchases of tools, a book, a team of oxen and a brown horse from the estate of his late father-in-law, Jeremiah Parker. The last mention of him found in Maury Co. came in late 1842, when he had mail to pick up at the Columbia, TN post office — perhaps from Alexander in Missouri. In early 1845 -- the year in which Walter took most of his family west -- Walter still owned land in northern Giles Co.

The obituary of Walter's daughter Mary Ann indicates the family moved in 1845 to Greene/Christian Co., about eight miles south of Springfield, apparently following the trail of son Alexander.

Census records indicate that Alexander's second child was born in Missouri as early as 1842, and Alexander was assessed taxes on a horse and two cows in Greene County in 1843. The newspapers of the time show general delivery mail waiting for family members at the Springfield post office by 1845. Federal land office records and county deeds show a grant to Alexander in 1848, but Walter and the rest of the family likely rented or "squatted," as did thousands of other early Ozarks settlers; they held deeds that were long unregistered on private sales. Deed records also may have been filed during the early years of Christian Co., where the courthouse burned in 1865 and all records were lost.

The move by Walter and his family was a natural for Maury Countians at the time: virtually every founding family of Greene/Christian Co. came from Maury or Giles Cos., including the Campbells, Headlees, Rountrees, Youngs and others.

By the time the McConnells arrived, most of the James River bottom land had been claimed, and the McConnells settled on Guin Prairie south of Springfield and the James River — which was considered less desirable because it had no ready water supply, although the soil was among the best in southwest Missouri. At the time, Springfield had been founded only 15 years earlier.

Walter had at least eight children who reached adulthood and came to Missouri: Elizabeth Tennessee, Alexander, Pamela/Permelia, William Shakespeare, Catharine Jane, John Walter, James Holland, and Mary Ann. All were born in Tennessee. On balance, the children were extraordinarily late to marry for the times; on the other hand, the scarce population meant there wasn't much chance or choices in mating.

Tax records indicate Walter was taxed on one horse, four cows and a pocket watch in 1851, but no real estate. But the 1850 Greene County census shows he had real estate holdings worth $600, and the agricultural schedules show he farmed 90 acres, 24 of them cultivated, with three horses, two mules, three milk cows, two oxen, six other cows, 33 sheep and 40 pigs. That year he had harvested 120 bushels of wheat, 640 bushels of corn, 65 pounds of wool, 10 pounds of beans, 40 pounds of Irish potatoes, 50 pounds of sweet potatoes and 200 pounds of butter. He had engaged in home manufacturing — soap, smithery, etc. — worth $100 and slaughtered livestock worth $45.

The average farm in the township then was 87.5 acres, valued at $369, indicating that Walter's farm was considered quite valuable; his holdings were considerable for the area.

An 1850 act of Congress extended 40 acres of public land to War of 1812/Creek War militiamen, and Walter was issued warrant No. 59,643 for such property on June 1, 1852. Then-Congressman and later Gov. John S. Phelps served as Walter's attorney when he applied for the veteran's benefit on Dec. 28, 1851. A handwritten note, on congressional stationery from John S. Phelps, survives in National Archives files. Walter died with the warrant unused, according to a 1901 lawsuit filed 50 years later by a grandson.

But when Mary applied for a widow's veterans land bounty — one of the few legal documents left from her life — she said the warrant had been "legally disposed of and cannot now be returned."

Mary applied for her land bounty on June 2, 1855, and the U.S. commissioner of pensions issued warrant No. 71,163 for 120 acres on May 3, 1856. Son William S. McConnell of Cassville served as her attorney, while vouching for her application were son James H. McConnell and the Rev. James W. Edwards, the father-in-law of son John W. McConnell. No disposition of this warrant has been found.

The pension documents suggest Walter could read and write (with a highly legible, flowing script), but Mary signed with her mark even though her father Jeremiah Parker had been a schoolteacher and tutor for well-to-do children in Virginia and Tennessee.

With no cemeteries or death certificates available and the war and courthouse arson soon to devastate county records, explaining the disappearance of much of the clan is difficult. Walter died March 11, 1854, according to an affidavit filed by his wife. Walter's probate file, under the name of William, contains only two court entries, both for March 11, 1854: one for $3 from soon-to-be son-in-law Jack (John W.) Faught may have been grave-digging expenses; the other came to $26.83 from Sharpensteen and VanFleet, perhaps undertakers or coffin makers.

According to Missouri's scant and semi-accurate mortality records, Walter's wife "Mary E.," a native Virginian, died in January 1860 at age 70, still living in Porter Township. According to the 1901 court filing on the unused federal land warrant, "Elizabeth" died in 1855. Her bounty, however, wasn't approved until 1856, and her National Archives file contains no mention of her death.

Probate records indicate no disposition of property after the deaths of Walter and Polly, whose farm probably had been divided before between sons John and James H.

The most likely burial sites are on the original Walter McConnell farm or the extensive farm owned by son John Walter. He  sold land in 1878,  and the deed refers to a family cemetery that preceded McConnell Cemetery in Nixa -- northeast of the current site of that burial ground. The land lies on Guin Prairie, one mile northwest of modern Nixa.


Siblings, family of Walter McConnell

The records show that Walter was joined in Maury, Williamson and Giles counties by all his brothers and sisters except Elizabeth, his mother, stepfather, stepbrothers Wasson, great-uncle and Revolutionary War officer Andrew Boyd and his Edmondson cousins, not counting possibly several distant McConnell cousins, emigres from Georgia and Kentucky.

In 1820, other McConnells heading households in the immediate area included Samuel, who was over age 45; Archibald, age 18 to 26 from Kentucky; another Samuel, over 45; James, over 45 with at least 11 others in his household; and William, age 26 to 45. All were family names in North Carolina. A James McConnell was divorced from wife Polly in 1821 in Maury County, and the court permitted her to raise their two children, Andrew Jackson and Charlotte Matilda, under her maiden name, Powell.

One of the Samuels almost certainly was Samuel Wilson McConnell, the son of Benjamin McConnell of the family's "John" branch in North Carolina. "Wilson" is known to have moved to Tennessee along with his father, brother Latta and sister Charity, who married Reese Davidson. Benjamin died in Bedford County, to the east of Maury and Giles, in 1820.

The other Samuel, over age 45, was the son of Archibald McConnell of Iredell Co. and KY.

By 1840, also living near Walter in Marshall Co. were Archibald, in his 40s with seven children; Emanuel, a well-known Revolutionary War veteran from Georgia, born in Port Tobacco, MD, in his 80s; Jeremiah, in his 30s; and John A., in his 40s.


William C. (Coles or Carruth) McConnell (1789-May 1872)

By 1840 Walter's brother William lived in Maury Co., TN, near Southport and Bigbyville. Histories of Southport say he was the first resident there in the 1830s. He had married Elizabeth Bone (1795-1871) of Iredell Co.,  the daughter of  William IV (1744-July 7, 1828) and Elizabeth Potts Bone.

The Bones had three daughters who married into the McConnell-Wasson clan, including Margaret (June 11, 1786-Nov. 29, 1856) who married John Franklin Wasson and Artemicia (Feb. 29, 1785-Oct. 2, 1844) who married Josiah Wasson. All these families also relocated to Maury and Marshall counties although some later went a short distance south to Lawrence Co., AL and TN.

Besides work as a cabinet maker and tanyard operator, William McConnell was a preacher. His only congregation of record was Bethel Christian Church in Bigbyville; the church was organized in 1835 by William Spraggins Gooch and remained active into the 20th century.

William C. and Elizabeth Bone McConnell had six children: Mary Ann (1820/22-1849); John Boyd (1825-March 9, 1911); Elizabeth (1827); William Alexander (1830); Curtis Bone (1832/3); and Crihfield or Crutchfield "Crif" Bone (1838-before 1865). Most of this family sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War, unlike Walter's children. Crif died in an Indianapolis Union prison camp.  Although Maury Co. like Christian Co., MO, voted overwhelmingly against secession in 1861, Middle Tennessee sentiment swung sharply toward the Confederacy when President Lincoln authorized armed action against the South.

According to the 1850 census, preacher William headed the only McConnell household left in Maury County. In 1860, he was still residing there at age 71, with wife Elizabeth and son Curtis B. (1834) at home. William -- the first settler in Southport -- became well-to-do by neighborhood standards. In 1850, he owned seven young adult slaves. Wife Elizabeth died in May 1871 and William followed in late May 1872, leaving most of his sizable estate to son Curtis. That sparked a bitter lawsuit by son John B., and Curtis soon moved to Illinois.

John B. and family — wife Priscilla Ann Gibson (1829), Louisa E. (1849), Tharisa (1854) and Mary A. (1857) — lived on his father's farm. The third son, Crihfield, is not shown in the Tennessee census, but he fought with Co. B from Maury Co. of the 9th TN Cavalry Battalion for the South in the Civil War before dying in the prison camp.

A fourth son, William Alexander (1830), came to Porter Township,  Christian Co., MO in the late 1850s, married Sylvia Elizabeth Sloan -- the daughter of the late Edward and Mahala Sloan from South Carolina -- in 1858 and set up house on a Porter Township farm by 1860. William soon left for Cassville where he kept hotel for his cousin William S. McConnell and worked as a druggist, but he also served in a Union Army unit from Christian Co. He remarried to Betty Forrester Brown after Sylvia's death and lived in Stone Co., MO. In 1881, he was director of a school district east of Hurley known as Walnut Grove.

William Alexander and Sylvia had at least two children: John Harvey Alexander (Jan. 20, 1860, Christian Co.-Sept. 3, 1919) and Mahala Elizabeth.

William C. McConnell's daughter Elizabeth married Joseph Dugger in 1849 and moved to Crete County, IL, in a wagon train headed by William W. Dugger.

Oldest daughter Mary Ann married Thomas Bailey Dugger (1817-September 1852) of the Bigbyville-Stiversville area, another son of David and Catherine Bailey Dugger. Though Mary Ann died in her late 20s, she and Thomas had eight children: Elizabeth Catherine (Jan. 17, 1838-Feb. 7, 1891); John David (1840); William Alexander (1842); Franklin Josiah (1844-before 1872), Mary Ann Farris (Nov. 30, 1842-Aug. 18, 1924); Thomas Shadrack (1846); Margaret Houston (1847/8); and George Finis (1849).

After Mary Ann's death, Thomas Dugger remarried almost immediately to Susannah Hickman, daughter of John Hickman. They had a child, Ann Eliza (Dec. 28, 1850-Aug. 6, 1936). After Thomas died in September 1852, Susannah remarried to Wiley Foster later that year.

With both parents dead, little Mary Ann Farris Dugger was living with grandfather William McConnell in 1860, but she married Alonzo Hill in January 1865, and her son T.F. Hill was born that November in Stiversville. Oldest sister Elizabeth, who went by Catharine, married William Nathaniel Murphy (Dec. 12, 1835) and had four sons and two daughters; part of the Murphy family, which was related to the Macks, migrated to Greene and Christian Cos., MO.

Two of the Thomas Dugger sons — John David and William Alexander — were living in Missouri in 1872 when their grandfather died; John David married a Boatwright, and William Alexander married Eliza Jane Thurman, daughter of John Riley Thurman of Maury/Giles Cos.

Three more orphaned Dugger children went to Illinois with their uncle and aunt, Joseph and Elizabeth McConnell Dugger: Thomas Shadrack, who married three times; Margaret Houston, who married Richard Westbrook; and George, who married Lizzie Thurman, another daughter of John Riley Thurman.

The final child of Mary Ann McConnell and Thomas Dugger — Franklin Josiah, named for a Wasson step-uncle — died before 1872.

Thomas Dugger's child by Susannah Hickman — Ann Eliza — married William Alfonso Compton and died in Giles Co., TN.


Other siblings of Walter and William

Among the other children of Alexander and Catharine Boyd McConnell:

Anne McConnell (1783/4)  married 1) Jeremiah Johnston around 1807 and, after he died, 2) James Bell of Cabarrus Co. around 1810. Both marriages took place in North Carolina.

By Johnston, Anne had two daughters, Elvira who married McDonald Small in Maury Co. in 1836, and Elizabeth Serena, who married John Watson Kilpatrick. After her marriage to Bell, the couple moved to Cabarrus Co., NC and, on Dec. 26, 1811, they sold Anne's inheritance from Alexander — 80 acres on the southside of Dutchman's Creek — to uncle James Holmes.

James and Anne Bell had returned to Iredell Co. by 1821, when brother William sold off the remaining land of the Alexander McConnell bequest. But the couple soon moved to Maury Co., TN, where James died in 1825. Among the buyers at the July 23, 1825 estate sale were Anne, brother William C. McConnell and the man who would become the great-grandfather of many Christian Countians, William Kenamore, as well as the ancestor of the Christian Co. McCaffertys, James Green McCafferty.

When Anne died after 1825 is unknown, but she is shown as a widow with four daughters or other females in the household in 1830 in Maury Co.

Robert Boyd or Bowman McConnell (March 22, 1787-March 30, 1855) married Margaret Rosborough (Oct. 9, 1797-Sept. 15, 1847), the daughter of Joseph and Ruth Patton Rosborough, on July 16, 1812 in Maury Co.

Robert had come west by Jan. 21, 1811 when he was cited as a buyer in the estate sale of Ephraim Andrews of Williamson Co., TN. Andrews possibly was kin to James Andrews, who sold a farm to Walter McConnell, and to Hugh Andrews, the co-guardian of Alexander McConnell's children.

Robert and Margaret moved to Posey Co. in extreme southwestern Indiana on the Ohio River by 1820, and  they had 12 children. Robert and Margaret in 1845 moved to Oskaloosa, Mahaska Co., IA, where they died.

Among the children:

— Jehiel (July 1, 1814-Jan. 22, 1878) joined the Mormons soon after the move to Iowa and had six wives:  Nancy Barrett, Margaret Ervin, Elizabeth Gustin, Hannah Hicks, Mary Webb and Esther Elizabeth Smith. Jehiel left behind Margaret Ervin and two children in Iowa, taking four children from his first marriage with him to Utah, where as a bigamist he took four more wives. This family became intertwined with the leading figures in the Mormon Church before a bitter split occurred, which has been captured in a recent book.

— Betsy Cyrene (April 17, 1817-June 1836) married Isaiah Wilkinson on Dec. 10, 1835. She was born and died in Cynthiana, IN.

— Polly Louise (March 29, 1819-Sept. 5, 1843) who married William Overton on Feb. 27, 1840.

— Eliza Jane (Feb. 16, 1821-Sept. 11, 1843) who married John J. Ball on June 11, 1840.

— Alexander Franklin (Jan. 26, 1823-Aug. 1863) married Eliza Carter in December 1843, and they had nine children: Robert (1846, killed in the Battle of Vicksburg); Kane (1847); George O. (1849); James (1857); John; Osa; Flora; Azora; and Benjamin F. Alexander, who died in Jasper Co., IA of illness contracted in the Army in the Civil War.

— Nancy Katherine (Sept. 20, 1824) married Jacob Moon on June 20, 1847. Nancy and sister Matilda went with their husbands on ox teams to California in the Gold Rush. Nancy's husband became mentally ill soon after arriving.

— Matilda Caroline (Oct. 28, 1826-Nov. 16, 1852) married Moses Davis on Dec. 10, 1840. She died giving birth on the way to California and was buried "alongside the road wrapped in a blanket."

— John Quincy (Jan. 11, 1829-Oct. 29, 1912) married Nancy Wentz in 1852 and, later, Virginian Lucretia Jane Dilley (1835). John Quincy took over the Robert McConnell home place near Oskaloosa. He had two children by his first marriage, Martha C. (1853) and Nancy J. (1855), and five by his second union: Ossa (1857), Wiley (1857/8), Quincy (1858), Walter (1862), Frank (1866) and Etta M.

— Ruth Ann (May 15, 1831-Feb. 13, 1845).

— Robert Henry (Sept. 13, 1833-March 30, 1864) married Malinda Knight (Dec. 17, 1827-August 1856), daughter of George and Armilia Hiatt Knight, on Aug. 20, 1851, and he married second to a Mary from Kentucky.

By the first marriage, Robert H. had two children: Homer, a prominent farmer of Dallas Co., IA, and Louisa (1856) who married William Henry Hutchens on Oct. 31, 1883 and died in childbirth. Robert H. fathered two sons, one named Jesse (1860), in the second union, but the two families drifted apart. Homer's daughter Mabel drove with her brother Harry to California in 1915 to visit an exposition and dropped by to meet her half-uncles. "We should never have gone to see them," she wrote. "They were a mess."

— Margaret (June 3, 1836-Aug. 14, 1921) married John Quincy Haven and moved to Kansas. Their son, John Haven, wrote a family journal that has preserved the fates of this far-flung family.

— Martha Cerelda (Oct. 12, 1838-Nov. 2, 1843).

Elizabeth, the daughter of Alexander and Catherine Boyd McConnell who apparently died before 1821 because neither she nor children are not listed on the deed for the sale of her father's home place.

John B. McConnell (Aug. 29, 1794-May 6, 1878) married Lucinda McCrary (July 7, 1800-March 15, 1860), daughter of John and Ruth Wasson McCrary, on Dec. 23, 1817, probably in Maury Co. The relationship of these Wassons to Catherine's second husband is unknown.

John and Lucinda moved with his brother Robert to Cynthiana, Posey Co., IN, where the family is listed in the 1820 census. The brothers lived on neighboring farms. John and Lucinda had 10 children: James (Jan. 28, 1819-April 26, 1880, m. Paulina); Alexander Rufus (Dec. 7, 1821-March 3, 1903, m. Mary Rogers); Marinda Katherine (1824-1897, m. William F. Lowe); Ann E. (Sept. 29, 1827-March 15, 1896, m. George W. Lowe); Miner (1828-April 23, 1853); Green (1830); Robert G. (May 2, 1832-Feb. 20, 1918, m. Arrow Wilkinson); John Q. (1836-March 16, 1862, m. Mary A. McReynolds); and Mary Ruth (1838, m. James H. Long).

John M. was still living in Smith Township, Posey County in 1850 along with sons Alexander and James C., after brother Robert had moved to Iowa.

Mary Ann "Polly" McConnell (1798-September 1827) is buried in Campbellsville Cemetery, Giles Co., TN, in one of the oldest graves in the tiny village. She never married. The stone is weathered and pock-marked, but still standing.[9]

[1] In an early area reference, a William McConnell received a 434-acre Granville grant in Anson Co., NC on March 31, 1753 on the north side of Allison's Creek. This William McConnell, however, lived in Peter's Township, Cumberland Co., PA and apparently never occupied the tract. This William gave control of the property to his local Old Tryon Co., NC attorney, John Wilson, and it was sold off in 1765 and 1769.

[2] The relationship of James and William McConnell to Elizabeth McConnell of Augusta Co. is unknown. She brought suit in Augusta Co. Court, but it was dropped because of her death.

[3] Rowan Deed Book 4:709-712.

[4] Although the name Phillip does not survive in the known McConnell line, McClellands later married into the family. A Rebeckah (b. c. 1780) married Alexander McConnell, son of William Jr.

[5] James Green and Mary McCafferty's daughter, Mary Emily, married James H. McConnell, Catherine's grandson via son Walter.

[6] Abel Wasson was living in Lawrence Co., TN in 1830 with a wife, three apparent sons above age 10 and four daughters above age 5. (TN Census, p. 288) Abner Wasson, apparently Jr., born 1820 in TN, was living in Carroll Co., AR in 1850 at HH# 514 with wife Hannah, 25, MO, and children Artamissa, 5, Hodge, 3, and William, 3 months, all born AR.

[7] The co-guardian of Walter and his siblings was Hugh Andrews of Iredell Co., NC. Any relationship to James Andrews is yet unknown.

[8] Williamson Co. Deed Book B, p. 280.

Read 30664 times