Posted By:Ian McConnell
Subject:Re: McConnell family, Passaic
Post Date:February 05, 2013 at 15:00:13
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Forum:New Jersey Genealogy Forum
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Hello Carolyn,

I didn't receive a notification of your message, so I've just noticed it this evening.

You have done a power of work, most of which I can confirm.

The Netherlands death of Peter McConnell, however, is a red herring, as there is no Peter (that I'm aware of) that would match the required age profile.

I had noted Myrtle's death at Barnegat, but, I too cannot find either a marriage or a maiden name.

Your census returns are correct. Walter died in Glasgow in 1892, aged 2.

Mary Copeland's maiden name was Ritchie. Her husband, James, died in 1879.

You're correct also about Michael McConnell, going to Canada before the family, where he ran a butcher's stall at James Street market in Hamilton, Ontario.

The mis-indexing of the Canadian census as "McCannell" rather than "McConnell" I only discovered late last year.

Ann Adam's maiden name was Ann Ritchie, Catherine's sister.

You're also correct in noticing that George is missing by 1891, and that is an ongoing mystery. He actually died in 1927 in Vermont State Hospital for the Insane, where his marital status is "separated". Where he was between 1891 and 1927 is, at present, unknown.

I just loved your wording about Michael McConnell, "He must have done something pretty bad", as indeed he had.....

This was my genealogical "WOW!" moment, as following a dispute with his landlord, Nelson Mills, who was trying to evict the McConnells, Michael stabbed him several times, and a few days later, poor Mr. Mills succumbed to his injuries.

He was found guilty of murder, and was the first person to be hanged in Barton Street jail in Hamilton.

Another first was that, his defence lawyer entered a defence of insanity, but it was rejected.

One of his defence witnesses was Dr. Joseph Workman, who was regarded as the father of Canadian psychiatry, and he attested that a previous head injury (most likely a fractured skull), was in his opinion responsible for his behaviour.

The case was reported widely throughout North America, and there was day-by-day reporting of the trial in the local newspaper, the Hamilton Spectator.

In a strange twist, the Hamilton Spectator is still being published today, and a few weeks ago, they ran a story on my investigations into the murder.

Although the discovery of his fate was quite shocking (as was the detail reported minute-by-minute of his execution and demeanour prior to his last breath), the wealth of family history uncovered was quite amazing, and was a great insight into how they lived.

The odd thing (or perhaps, understandably, not), was that Michael was my g-g-grandfather, yet nobody in my family knew about the murder, and I presume that other possible living branches, like the New Jersey group are also unaware.

So, Carolyn, thank you for your efforts, and perhaps someone may be still be able to identify the Passaic McConnells.