Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
McCONNELL, ROBERT SIMPSON - The call of patriotism echoed in many loyal heart during the mighty struggle of the early sixties, and resulted in a chain of hardly contested battles that marked a crimson mourning belt over North and South. Many of the participants in those remarkable campaigns have passed away, but fortunately many are left to us, to be held in venerated honor for what they have undergone. No man endured hardships of the Civil War and came out unscathed, although the enemy's shot and shell may have spared him. Every old soldier, whether living north or south of the Mason and Dixon line, has good and sufficient cause, in physical disabilities, to remember painfully what the Union cost him. One thus bravely and uncomplainingly suffering is Robert Simpson McConnell, and his faithful wife, Edith (Hamilton) McConnell. Captain McDonnell was born in Washington County, December 20, 1794, while his wife was born December 16, 1802. Both spent their lives in Pennsylvania, the father passing away in 1865, and the mother in 1884. During the War of 1812 Captain McDonnell served under the redoubtable General Jackson and participated in all his campaigns.
Robert S. McConnell went to school in Pennsylvania and his first business enterprise was working on a farm. For three years he operated a separator and thrasher in Pennsylvania. Then for three years he bought and sold stock. In 1860 he came to Indiana, living for two years in Attica, Fountain County, where he engaged in a grocery business. From there he came to Decatur, Ill., to work at the carpenter trade, but about 1866, located in Springfield, and engaged in contracting and building, and that city has since continued to be his home. He secured the contract for repairing the governor's mansion under Governor Shelby M. Cullom. In 1863 he enlisted in the Seventy-eighty Indiana Volunteer Infantry, in a sixty-day service. Mr. McConnell was taken prisoner by Gen. Johnson at Uniontown, Ky. After his exchange he went back to Indianapolis, where he was mustered out. For sixteen years he was Deacon and Treasurer of the Seventh Day Adventists Church, and he and his wife are still members of the church.
On February 6, 1862, Mr. McConnell was married to Mary May, born in Indiana, March 29, 1842, a daughter of George and Elizabeth (Van Gundy) May. Her parents operated a hotel at Attica, Ind., for a number of years. Her father died in 1857 and her mother, November 3, 1882. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. McDonnell: Charles W.., who died in Spokane, Wash. March 14, 1907; Frank, a jeweler at 927 South Third Street, Springfield, Ill.; and a daughter who died in infancy. Mr. McConnell has a brother who resides in Allegheny, Pa. In addition to his home at No. 1004 South Pasfield Avenue, Mr. McConnell owns other valuable city realty in which he has invested to a considerable extent, thus proving his confidence in Springfield's future.
In 1874 a teachers' and pupils' collection of pennies was taken up for the purpose of erecting a memorial in the shape of a museum at Boston, to Louis Agassiz, in honor of his birthday, May 28. Young Charles McConnell, not having secured a penny at home, picked up a copper pen on the street and requested that be his donation, which was granted. It was sent to Boston, and was sold for $25.00. A receipt for the amount of the donation, with a photo and autograph of L. Agassiz, was returned to the boy and is in possession of the family now. This pen was sent by the teacher to Dr. Newton Bateman, editor of this State History and then State Superintendent of Public Instruction.