John Nevin McConnell

JOHN NEVIN McCONNELL, for some years the enterprising representative of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, at Greensburg, Pennsylvania, was born June 22, 1876, at Salina, Westmoreland county, the son of Yeakle Xenophon and Rachel (Yockey) McConnell. This McConnell family came from the north of Ireland, but were of Scotch descent. The paternal ancestor in this country married a pure Celt, and settled in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was a professor of Hebrew in an institute of learning that was active in the work of the Reformed church. Jacob Shearer, of Germany, was the maternal ancestor. His wife was Christina De Hoff, from Alsace, a French province. They settled in York county, Pennsylvania, near the Maryland line.

Samuel McConnell, son of the paternal ancestor in the United States, was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His wife was Catherine (Shearer) McConnell, the daughter of Jacob and Christina Shearer. She was a native of York county, Pennsylvania. Among their children was: Rev. John McConnell, born in York county, Pennsylvania, June 24, 1823, is still living, and is the grandfather of John Nevin McConnell. In March, 1847, as a volunteer member of Company "D," from the District of Columbia, Maryland, in the Mexican war service, he sailed from Baltimore for Vera Cruz in May, returning in August, 1848, when he was licensed to preach by the Westmoreland classis of the Reformed church at Ligonier, Pennsylvania, November 10, 1853 and was ordained to the ministry by Miami classis at Dayton, Ohio, July 25, 1855. He remained active in the work until a few years ago, since which time he has lived a retired life. Rachel (Humberton) McConnell, wife of Rev. John McConnell, was born in Frostburg, Maryland, August, 1827. Her father was born in Maryland, but his father came from France, while the mother came from England. Her mother (nee Lohr) was born in Maryland, in 1795. The Lohrs came from Germany to Maryland.

Yeakle Xenophon McConnell, father of John Nevin McConnell, was born at Frostburg, Allegheny county, Maryland, June 4, 1853, coming to Westmoreland county in the early "seventies." He spent some time in the west, principally at Corydon, Indiana. When about sixteen years of age he began teaching school. From 1890 to 1893 he served as deputy sheriff of Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, under Lucian Clawson. At present he is employed by the Keystone Coal Company, at Salina, Pennsylvania. Politically he is a stanch Democrat, and in religious faith an adherent to the creed of the Reformed church. Rachel (Yockey) McConnell, mother of John N. McConnell, was born at Salina, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, May 17, 1855. Her father, Simon Peter Yockey, was born at Perrysville, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, February, 1820. His parents, Christopher and Mary (Bash) Yockey came direct from Germany to Westmoreland county. Mr. McConnell's maternal grandmother, Eliza K. Yockey, whose maiden name was Whitesell, was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, about 1822. Her parents, John and Mary K. (Clawson) Whitesell, were born in the same county. Mary K. Clawson's parents came direct from Holland to Westmoreland county. Her ancestors played an important part in the early history of this county, fighting Indians, and fled from what is now Bell township to Hannastown for protection. Some were scalped and tortured in various ways. The family were of the German Reformed church.

J. Nevin McConnell received his education in the common schools of Westmoreland county, and in his youthful days was not a stranger to hard manual labor. Having an ambition to accomplish more in life's conflict than seemed possible in the role he was then following, he by hard study at night time in a few years became competent to fill a higher sphere, and in 1900 associated himself with the well known Equitable Life Assurance Company, whose business he managed at Greensburg up until 1906. In the early part of 1905 he became interested in coal lands and fire clay deposits, developing and marketing the same. Like most of his ancestors he is a member of the Reformed church, and during 1904 was the superintendent of its Sunday school. He is a member of the F. and A. M., Shidle Lodge, No. 601, at Irwin, Pennsylvania. He married, October 26, 1898, Gertrude M. Wise, daughter of Simon and Amanda (Blank) Wise. She received her education from the Greensburg high schools and Greensburg Seminary. She passed from the scenes of earth March 7, 1903. Her ancestors were prominently connected with Revolutionary and Civil war events. Among these are Major John I. Krebs (Revolutionary) and Captain George A. Krebs (Civil war). Her paternal grandfather was William Wise, a native of Westmoreland county, born 1812. His wife, Lydia Wise, was born in the same county in 1813. Their parents settled in this county soon after coming from Germany. Her maternal grandfather was Henry Blank, born in Westmoreland county, in 1829, and now living at Greensburg, Pennsylvania. His wife was Louise Krebs, (now spelled Cribbs) born in Westmoreland county, about 1833, and still survives. The ancestors on both sides, with a few exceptions, came from Germany and those who were not Germans came from France and Holland. To Mr. and Mrs McConnell was born one son, Glenn Withrow, born at Irwin, Pennsylvania, December 12, 1900.

Source: Page(s) 79-80, History of Westmoreland County, Volume II, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed May 2007 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (

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