Judge Alexander Daniel McConnell

JUDGE ALEXANDER DANIEL McCONNELL was born in Loyalhanna township, Westmoreland county on March 10, 1850. He is one of the two judges of the several jury courts of Westmoreland county, and since September 1, 1873, has resided at Greensburg. 

(I) The founder of the family in the United States was Daniel McConnell, a native of Dumfrieshire, Scotland, born 1710. When yet a young man he came to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, where he married Peggy Kirkpatrick, a young woman of Scotch-Irish parentage. to them wee born four sons and several daughters. the sons were Samuel, David, Hugh and Daniel. The first three of these sons were married to sisters, daughters of Thomas Whiteside, an English gentleman, who came to Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in the eighteenth century, and who there married Margaret Porter. To them were born five daughters and three sons. The three daughters who were intermarried with the three McConnell brothers, as above stated, were named Rebecca, Martha and Violet. Samuel, the oldest of the three McConnell brothers, married Violet, the youngest of the three Whiteside sisters, while Hugh, the Youngest of the brothers married Rebecca, the oldest of the sisters. David McConnell married Martha Whiteside, who in order of birth was the third of the five daughters of Thomas and Margaret (Porter) Whiteside. 

In respect to church connection the McConnells were seceders of the old type, while the Whitesides were Presbyterians. In those days this difference was regarded as a very substantial matter, and the parents of the respective contracting parties, in each case, objected to the marriage on that account, but in each case the marriage took place in spite of such objection. 

(II) David McConnell, second son of Daniel and Peggy (Kirkpatrick) McConnell (I) was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, 1764. He married Martha Whiteside, in 1785, and lived in Lancaster county until 1800, when he came to Westmoreland county. They had a family of twelve children, all of whom lived to maturity and reared families, exceut one, who died in infancy. They nearly all located in western Pennsylvania, where their descendants are still to be found, but many of them are also dispersed throughout almost all of the northern and western states. They have engaged in a great variety of pursuits. Among them are business men, farmers, and mechanics. The various professional pursuits have attracted many of them, and among them are to be found scores of teachers from all the original branches of the family. At this writing (May, 1905) there are now living of David McConnell's lineal descendants four ministers, of whom Rev. Samuel D. McConnell, D. D., LL> D., and Rev. David McConnell Steel, both of New York city, are two; four lawyers, of whom two are judges, and five physicians. Of the families of the four sons of David McConnell, three of them were, for many years, represented in the Eldership of Congruity Presbyterian church. 

(III) The eldest son, Daniel, grandfather of Judge Alexander D. McConnell, was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, April 19, 1794, and when but six years of age he came with his parents to Westmoreland county, where he continued to reside until the time of his death. He married, January 16, 1817, Hannah McBride. She was the daughter of James McBride, son of James McBride, Sr., who had settled on the Loyalhanna creed in what is now known as Loyalhanna township, long prior to the Revolutionary war. Both of these McBrides was ten miles distant from them. Several times they were driven from their lands by the Indians, but they always returned, and the farm hasever since been held in the McBride family, and is now owned by another James McBride, a lineal descendant of the original James McBride. Daniel McConnell was a farmer and resided on his farm in Salem township until his death March 8, 1865. There they reared a family of ten children----three sons and seven daughters. Of these David Kirkpatrick McConnell was, on October 31, 1844, intermarried with Harriet Sloan, third daughter of John Steel Sloan and Jane (Christy) Sloan, of Salem township, Westmoreland county. The Sloan and Christy families were both Scotch-Irish pioneers in Westmoreland county and of the Presbyterian faith. The Christy family located in the neighborhood of New Salem prior to the revolutionary war, and the Sloans near the same place a few years later. If therefore appears that the ancestors of the subject of this sketch, as they are represented in the families of his four grandparents, have all been identified with the history of Westmoreland county for more than a century. David Kirkpatrick McConnell and Harriet (Sloan) McConnell had nine children, five sons and four daughters, all now living except John S., who met death by an accident. David Kirkpatrick McConnell (father of Judge McConnell) died on December 5, 1900, leaving to survive him his widow who still lives on the old homestead in Salem township. Their children are: 

1. James Graham McConnell, of Colorado. 

2. John Sloan McConnell who died in Colorado several years ago, but whose family, consisting of a widow, Hannah (Richards) McConnell, a daughter, wife of Rev. Charles Beatty of Pittsburgh, and a son Robert K. McConnell, who is a member of the Allegheny county bar---now reside in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

3. Alexander Daniel McConnell (V) of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. 

4. Sarah McConnell Reynolds of Arkansas, wife of Hon. J. E. Reynolds. 

5. Melissa McConnell Foster, wife of James W. Foster, of Salem township, Westmoreland county. 

6. Mary McConnell Buchanan, widow of D. M. Buchanan, of Salem township, Westmoreland county. 

7. Katherine McConnell Sterling, wife of James M. Sterling, of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. 

8. David Ellsworth McConnell, of Salem township, and 

9. Robert Henry McConnell, of Victor, Colorado. 

(V) Judge McConnell was educated in the public schools of Loyalhanna and Salem townships, New Salem Academy, and Washington and Jefferson College. For several years he was the assistant of H. M. Jones, superintendent of public schools of Westmoreland county. He located in Greensburg, in September, 1873, as a teacher in the public schools, and soon thereafter was elected principal of these schools, and continued to serve in that capacity until June 1, 1876. On motion of Senator Edgar Cowan, August, 1877, admitted to practice in the several courts of Westmoreland county, and has continuously since that time devoted himself exclusively to the law. He was prepared for admission to the bar in the office of the late Judge James A. Hunter. In politics he has always been a Republican. He was chairman of the Republican county committee in 1878. In the following year he was nominated as a candidate for the legislature, but at that time the county was overwhelmingly Democratic, and a reduction of the amount of the Democratic majority was the full measure of his success. He received the nomination of his party in Westmoreland county for congress in 1882, but the rule of rotation that year threw the nomination in the district to Fayette county. He was nominated for judge of the court of common pleas in 1889. The Republican party, however, met defeat that year as it did for several years thereafter. A law was enacted in 1895, allotting two judges to the tenth judicial district, and Governor Hastings, on practically unanimous endorsement of the;l Westmoreland county bar, appointed him, on June 17, 1895, to the new position thereby created. He received the Republican nomination, and in November of the same year was elected for a full term of ten years by a majority of abut three thousand. He was, on April 15, 1905, without opposition, nominated to succeed himself by the Republican party and on July 3, following, he was endorsed by the Democratic county committee and his name directed to be also placed on the Democratic ticket as the candidate of that party. During his term of office many important questions have been presented for solution, notably among these was a recent question pertaining to the law governing the approval of the contract for the erection of the new court house, now in course of construction. The correctness of the decision rendered by him in that matter, was stubbornly contested but it was unanimously approved by both the superior and the supreme courts of the state. Westminster College conferred on Judge McConnell, June 18, 1902, the degree of LL. D., an honor which has, in the last century, only been conferred on four other members of the Westmoreland county bar, viz. : Justice Coulter, Hon. Edgar Cowan, Hon. H. P. Laird and Hon. James A,. Logan. Judge McConnell is a regular attendant of the First Presbyterian church of Greensburg. He is one of the trustees of the Morrison Underwood fund which by its donor was devoted to certain educational purposes. He is also a director of the Westmoreland Hospital, located at Greensburg. He is a member of the Masonic society, and of the Scotch-Irish society of Philadelphia. He was intermarried, March 24, 1876, with Ella J. Turney, eldest daughter of Adam J. and Emma (Eyster) Turney, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. 

Adam J. Turney was grandson of Rev. John William Weber, a pioneer Reformed minister, who established numerous churches in western Pennsylvania, among which is the church on the corner of Smithfield street and Sixth avenue, in the city of Pittsburgh. 

Emma (Eyster) Turney is the daughter of Rev. Michael Eyster, a Lutheran minister, who died, while yet a young man, in Greensburg. Judge McConnell and wife are the parents of five children, four sons and one daughter. Kirk, the eldest son, is a graduate of Washington and Jefferson College, and is now a student at law. Turney, the second son, is a clerk in the bank of the Barclay Trust Company of Greensburg, while Alexander, Emma and Robert are yet in school. They were all born in Greensburg. Judge McConnell believes that his position requires him to administer the law as it is, rather than as he might desire it to be, and that it forbids the use of it as a personal instrument wherewith to reward friends or punish enemies, that in the facts of every case is to be found the law of that case, and that no amount of patient labor expended on the proper ascertainment of the facts, or of research, in the accurate ascertainment of the law, can be any greater that what is due to every case great of small. He believes too that the epigram of president Roosevelt should be unflinchingly applied in a court of justice, viz. : that "every man shall have a square deal, no less, no more." That faith he has carried into act on the bench, and both political parties by renominating him have given approval of his course. 

Source: Pages 13 thur 16 History of Westmoreland County, Volume II, Pennsylvania by John N. Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906. 
Transcribed May 2, 1999 by Marilynn Wienke for the Westmoreland County History Project 
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)

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