My name is Vicki Turner-Goodwin, but I write as Sojourner McConnell. That seems innocent enough and I have shared the reason for my pen name before, so I shall do it again on a larger scale here.
My grandmother was a massive influence in my life. She was a supremely intelligent woman that believed in women’s rights back in the earliest days of women stepping out into the workforce. Of course, I had met her brothers and sisters, strong strapping Scottish looking men. With reddish tints to their hair, they were all tall rangy men. They had booming voices and they loved to laugh. My grandmother was Annie Kate McConnell Dunning. She had married young and had two children a son, Arthur Benjamin Dunning Jr. and a daughter, Anne Katherine Dunning. Anne is my mother. My grandmother, “Mama Kate” as we called her would regale us with stories of being a highly valuable member of the girls’ basketball team of her high school. It so impressed me that she was athletic and a star of sorts at her school. I also knew her mother, Readie Delilah Nichols McConnell. The thing about Mama McConnell was her ability to outlive every one of her children and remain a sweet docile yet independent woman until the age of 103.
Mama Kate as we called her would regale us with stories of being a highly valuable member of the girls’ basketball team of her high school. It so impressed me that she was athletic and a star of sorts at her school. I also knew her mother, Readie Delilah Nichols McConnell. The thing about Mama McConnell was her ability to outlive every one of her children and remain a sweet docile yet independent woman until the age of 103.
This article is going to be about her husband and my search for his family. Charles T. (Doc) McConnell was a boarder in Readie’s mother’s boarding house in the early 1900’s. Readie was a teenager and Doc was a handsome young man about fifteen years older than her. She was smitten and nothing would do but that they marry. He came to see the light by 1910. She loved him so much and always shared how much she loved him with us freely. It was a testament to her love that she never looked at another man after he passed away, leaving her a young widow with a house full of seven children. She told my sister a long time ago, she never felt that way about a man after Doc died. So she spent the next almost seventy years alone. Sadly due to his home burning taking all her possessions and photos with her, I only have photos of her in her 90’s. I have no photos of Doc, but I do have a photo of his father, the Judge, Joseph A.P. and his brother Kindred Balatka McConnell and KB’s lovely wife Lillie May Alexander McConnell.
I found out some amazing details on the McConnell family as they lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. They moved as a group and the majority of the McConnells ended up in Cullman County Alabama. That city is about forty miles north of where Kate and Readie lived. They lived in Mount Olive on the outskirts of Birmingham. The rest were in the Atlanta Georgia area. Doc’s father, Joseph Archibald P. McConnell was a judge and a liquor store owner in the Atlanta area. Now as we go back farther up the tree we find that the family began in the Americas in the South Carolina area. There was Joseph’s father, James, who was born in 1795.
His father before him, Joseph McConnell, was born in Scotland and was the first McConnell in this line to immigrate to America. He married Mary McCurdy from Ireland and they had seven children. Joseph’s Father Samuel McConnell who married Eliza Russell is as far back as I can go. I will, of course, keep pecking away, hoping a little information comes forward. I have to form a solid connection, that last thread, may not be accurate. I just have to keep checking dates, links and more links.
The name McConnell comes from a very unique source. The name associated with McConnell is actually a misspelling. I quote from www.mcconnell.com.
The surname McConnell is the closest pronunciation to the original Gaelic name, “MacDhomnhuill.” The “Dh” in the Gaelic pronunciation was like a hard C so McConnell is not far from the original Gaelic pronunciation. Early English documents usually refer to the MacDonalds as McConnells. McConnell is one of the more common of spelling variations of the original surname, which also include MacDonald, McDonald, McDaniel, and McDonnell and a huge number of variations of these names. Most variations of the original Gaelic name rely on translating “Mac” as “son of” and “Dhomnnhuill” as Donald into English. The differences that resulted after the translation to English did not exist when the MacDhomnhuills all spoke Gaelic.
This is how I find my days being spent when I am having a NaNo virus. I am supposed to be writing my novel, and here I am researching away on a totally different, but fascinating subject. All this is due to my daughter getting her DNA results from 23andme. From the moment she got her results, I was off. I am having such a wonderful time researching and looking at photos, wedding dates, and links, always one more link. Now if only I can find out one single thread to the mystery that is called, Albert Nichols, born August 28,
I am having such a wonderful time researching and looking at photos, wedding dates, and links, always one more link. Now if only I can find out one single thread to the mystery that is called, Albert Nichols, born August 28, 1855, and died January 1898 at the age of 42. Oh, these little mysteries that make research fun!
Now you know why I use the pen name, McConnell. Sojourner? Oh, that one is easy, I love to take journeys with my characters, I am basically a traveler at heart. Have fun reading and writing and beware the NaNo Virus that pulls you away from the word count.