John McConnell Collection
The John McConnell Collection consists of forty-nine letters written to John McConnell between October 1859 and August 1885 by a variety of correspondents, including his fellow ministers in the Reformed Church in the United States, popularly known as the German Reformed Church, and his brother George McConnell. Of particular interest are discussions of the organization of the German Reformed Church, relations of the German Reformed Church to other Christian denominations, problems in individual churches, and theological questions. George McConnell discussed many personal issues with his brother, including his wife Catharine's mental problems, his son John F.'s alcoholism, and his unhappiness at his son Elias's choice of a wife.
Important Information for Users of the Collection
This collection is open for research.
John McConnell Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.
Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at http://digital.lib.umd.edu/results.jsp?index1=dmKeyword&query1=john+mcconnell in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.
This collection is PROCESSED.
Little is known of John McConnell, the McConnell family, and their correspondents. This sketch is drawn from information in the letters, census records, and city directories. Rev. John McConnell (June 24, 1825 - February 15, 1913) was a pastor in the Reformed Church in the United States, popularly known as the German Reformed Church. He served in the United States Army during the Mexican-American War and was in Mexico from about 1847 until 1849. As of 1859, he was serving as pastor to a congregation in Corydon, Indiana. A dispute in the church prompted McConnell to resign and to accept an offer from his friend, J. L. Swander, to serve two congregations near Salina, Pennsylvania. Leaving his wife Rachel and son [Yeakle Xenophon, born 1853] in Corydon, McConnell went to Pennsylvania. His assumption of the pastorate was complicated by the fact that a Mr. G. A. Albright was already leading one of the two congregations, though without the approval of the classis, the regional governing body of the German Reformed Church. The classis approved McConnell, not Albright, and McConnell served churches in Pennsylvania at least until the 1880s, though he maintained a farm in Corydon until selling the land in 1885.
McConnell corresponded regularly with his brother, George McConnell, who lived in Baltimore. In the 1850s and early 1860s, George pursued a variety of trades, sometimes simultaneously, but still suffered from unemployment and poverty. In 1862, his situation was dire enough that his wife, Catharine, wrote to John asking for assistance. In better times, George ran a lottery, a sash lock business, and a land company, as well as serving as a church sexton, making coats, and working as a messenger at the McKim & Company Bank in Baltimore. In August 1875, he was hired as a night watchman at the National Exchange Bank, where he was still working in 1884. George had two sons: John F., born in 1848, and Elias, born in 1854. John F. was a skilled telegraph operator but had difficulty keeping a job due to his alcoholism, which also caused him to separate from his wife, Jennie Riddle. George was greatly troubled by John F.'s dissipation, which also was a source of conflict between George and his brother John. Elias was more successful, working as a printer and paper merchant. He and his wife Florence produced three grandchildren: George Leo, born in 1880; Katie Florence, born in 1882; and another boy born between 1882 and 1884. Other family members included George and John's sister Lizzie, who died in the early 1880's, and another sister, who died in 1870, leaving a son who was admitted to the Wormelsdorf, Pennsylvania, Orphan's Home. This orphaned son may have been the same Joseph Sharp McConnell who wrote to John from the Baltimore Manual Labor School in 1873.
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The John McConnell Collection consists of forty-nine letters written to John McConnell between October 1859 and August 1885 by a variety of correspondents, including his fellow ministers in the German Reformed Church and his brother George McConnell. Of particular interest are discussions of the organization of the German Reformed Church, relations of the German Reformed Church to other Christian denominations, problems in individual churches, and theological questions. George McConnell discussed many personal issues with his brother, including his wife Catharine's mental problems, his son John F.'s alcoholism, and his unhappiness at his son Elias's choice of a wife.
Custodial History and Acquisition Information
This collection was purchased from manuscript dealer Carmen D. Valentino circa 1999.
Processed by Sarah Heim, January 2002.
The letters were placed in acid-free folders and stored in an acid-free box.
EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Henry Allen, July 2004.
Arrangement of Collection
The collection is organized as one series:
Detailed Description of the Collection
Series 1: Correspondence, 1859-1885 (49 items)
Series I consists of letters sent to Rev. John McConnell from his brother, George McConnell, his sister-in-law Catharine McConnell, his nephew Joseph Sharp McConnell, fellow ministers in the German Reformed Church, doctors, and bankers. Subjects covered in the family correspondence include news of deaths and marriages, as well as George McConnell's troubles with unemployment, delinquent children, and the illness of his wife Catharine. The correspondence with church officials deals with McConnell leaving a church in Corydon, Indiana, and taking up a position in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, with a conflict between McConnell and a minister already in the Greensburg church, and with donations of clothing to McConnell and his family. The business correspondence concerns arrangements for medical procedures and financial transactions. The arrangement is chronological.
|Description||Series||Box / Reel||Folder / Frame|
|Correspondence (Online), October 1859 - September 1869||series 1||box 1||folder 1|
|Correspondence (Online), October 1870 - January 1875||series 1||box 1||folder 2|
|Correspondence (Online), January 1876 - September 1878||series 1||box 1||folder 3|
|Correspondence (Online), July 1880 - August 1885||series 1||box 1||folder 4|
A handwritten autobiography of John McConnell exists in the Bell Township Historic Preservation Society in Salina, Pennsylvania. John McConnell's great-grandson donated a scanned image of a photograph of John McConnell and his wife Rachel, which is available by asking the curator.
For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.
Selected Search Terms
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.
- German Reformed Church -- Archival resources
- McConnell, George -- Correspondence
- McConnell, John, -- Rev. -- Correspondence
Names (Added Entries)
- McConnell, George