Henry McGill, second son of Arthur, the Pioneer, was born
in Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, at Duncan’s Island, on the
Susquehanna, about A. D. 1792, and was brought to the French Creek
country by his parents in 1794 and his youthful days were passed in
the castle by the great spring. Henry was a manly youth, and grew to be a
man of great strength, easily the champion of his clan; as well as a
peacemaker for outlying districts. His inclinations were for country life,
and at an early age he took an interest in home matters and became the real
manager and director of the farm interests. Neither his father, nor his
elder brother, Arthur, were agriculturists from natural inclination, but
Henry rejoiced in the products of the soil; was king of the cattle range and
the playfellow of the noble equines he always had on his place.
The personality of Henry
McGill was impressive. His large, stalwart form, rounded out in symmetrical,
masculine proportions, was the ideal of strength and force. His features
were strong and expressive and his countenance the mirror of a kindly,
benevolent and happy soul. In his business relations he was prompt and
thorough, and a man of few words. And he was a man of influence and force in
the community, without effort controlling to a large extent the local
policies of his immediate surroundings ; and in the direction of public
affairs, though never holding office in his life - what Henry McGill said,
went. His mental poise was admirable. He could be righteously indignant at
some mean act, but never excited or mad; that were too low a quality to find
a lodging place in his broad, liberal mind.
In his youth, in the
turbulent days of the new settlement, Henry acquired a celebrity which he
did not covet. In those days personal encounters between ambitious youths
were not infrequent, and the elegant manner in which Henry could, and often
did, polish off pernicious bullies gave him great fame. But he did not seek
such contests nor did he allow them to disturb his equanimity. He regarded
them in the light of sport without vengeful thought or purpose.
House and barn raisings,
where whisky was plenty and free, were generally the occasions for such
trials of strength and grit. At a raising in the southwest part of the
township a large crowd of mixed races had assembled and two strong young
men, well matched, engaged in pugilistic battle. They were Henry Minium, of
German derivation, and Andrew Ryan, of Irish descent. Among the onlookers
was one Nicholas Shaeffer, a Dutchman of powerful mold and unquestioned
courage. As the battle raged furiously without any visible advantage on
either side, Henry McGill arrived on the ground and, pushing through the
crowd, looked on a moment and remarked, "d-d tight scutch." Whizz! came a
mighty knockout blow from Schaeffer, which Henry's quick eye detected barely
in time to dodge; followed by others in rapid succession, taxing all his
agility and skill to fend. "Nick, what's the matter with you?" said Henry.
Up went Nick's great open hands as he exclaimed, "Ach, Hennery, is dot you?
for what you say d -n de Dutch?"
"I did not, Nick, I said, D-d
"Mein Gott, Hennery, I'm glat
you did not hurt somedings !"
Henry McGill was widely known
throughout the state by party leaders and prominent men. His associations
were always of the best, and men of national fame were frequent guests at
his house and this son of the forest and the field, whose normal condition
was that of toil, could entertain his distinguished visitors with the ease
and self-possession of a courtier.
Henry at an early date
married CATHERINE CARR, a daughter of David Carr, one of the first settlers
who bought lands from the Holland Land Company. The place is located
directly east of the County Farm and is yet in possession of a descendant of
the House of Carr.
Catherine Carr was the mother
of all of Henry's children. She died in 1849. Several years later Henry
married again. His second wife was a stately dame, with beautiful, brown
eyes and fine presence, and was a grand, good woman. She was the mother of
the late James E. McFarland, of Meadville, Pa. They have been dead for many
years and rest in the Saegerstown cemetery.
ARTHUR, the eldest son, died at
the age of about 17 years.
EUNICE E., the eldest
daughter, was an active, energetic lady. Along about i847 she married
GRIFFITH CARR, a distant relative of her mother.
This Griffith Carr proved to
be much of a man. Before the Mexican War, when emigration to the Pacific
coast became active, he, with others, went to Oregon with a view to setting
up lumber mills in that country, but their machinery was lost on the plains.
The War broke out and he joined the forces under Fremont and marched two
hundred miles down the coast to the taking of San Francisco. Afterwards he
returned to the States as a member of the Military escort for Commodore
Stockton, who had been ordered home. When relieved from this duty he came
home and married Eunice and removed to Illinois. From thence he sent his
wife home, about 1850, and returned to the gold diggings in the Sacramento
valley, where he made his stake and then came home, bought the old Carr
place, made some fine improvements and spent the remainder of his days-one
of the substantial, reliable men of the country. They had several children,
all of whom, but one, were the victims of diphtheria. The surviving child
was Thomas Carr, who owns the old place-has added many acres to it-made fine
improvements and has one of the most beautiful sites in the country.
MARY, the second daughter,
married WILLIAM GLENN, a carpenter and contractor of Meadville, Pa. Mr.
Glenn was a successful business man and commanded the unstinted confidence
and respect of his fellowmen. He has been dead for several years, but Mary
is still living and is now over eighty-three years old.
They had quite a family, but
I am not in possession of their record. Mrs. Glenn has a home, Chautauqua
Lake, N. Y., where she spends the summer season, passing the winters in
Florida. Her old age is gliding pleasantly away, and no one deserves a
peaceful, happy ending better than Mary Glenn. (Mary died at Chautauqua
since writing the above.)
SARAH CATHARINE, my gentle
playmate in childhood, died a few years ago. She was unmarried.
DAVID, the second son,
remained on the place for some time after his father's death, when the
growing infirmities of age and the importunities of his affectionate
daughters admonished him that his days of labor were past and induced him to
move into town where his wife owns a nice home on the S. E. corner of Broad
street and Euclid avenue.
David married MARY FLOYD, of
Saegerstown, and they had twins, but no other children. The twins are ANNIE
and ELIZABETH. Annie married WAYNE PATTERSON, a merchant and farmer, who has
a fine place in Hayfield, just across the river, but his business house is
in the town and they reside with the old folks. Lizzie after teaching
several terms in the Saegerstown High School, married GRANT MOOK, a veteran
electrician and station agent on the Erie. Mr. Mook built himself a
beautiful house on Main street, where they live happy, and have three boys.
David is a good man-has many
estimable qualities of head and heart and is highly esteemed by his
NANCY, the fourth daughter, died
when quite young.
HENRY McGILL, the third son
of Henry, in some respects resembles his father. He is of the same model and
cast of countenance and is openhearted and generous to a fault. He left home
when scarcely grown to manhood and never returned permanently. He married
away, and I never saw his wife. She died a few years ago and left one son
and three daughters if I am not misinformed.
HOSMER, the son, lives in
Rockdale - is married and has children. One daughter married her cousin,
Thomas Carr, of whom mention has been made-they have children. P. O.
address, Route I, Saegerstown, Pa. Another daughter married George Moyer;
they live at Cambridge Springs, and the third daughter is also married.
Henry lives at the Fountain
House, which he owns.
Since writing the above, Henry
died, July 30, 1909.
PENELOPE, the youngest
daughter of Henry, Sr., was fair to look upon in her youthful days. She was
of stately form and attractive presence. She was unmarried and remained at
the old home until after the death of her sister Sarah, when she went to
live with her niece, Mrs. Mook, and soon after died.
JOSIAH, the youngest son,
after his father's death, remained on the place with his two married
sisters, and it is a fact that the routine of the house was unbroken, and
its hospitality unabated until after Sarah and Penelope died. This sad event
left Josiah bereft, for he himself had remained unmarried, but he finally
turned over the management of the large place to Patterson and Mook,
procured and fitted up to his taste a smaller domain in Hayfield, a mile or
two away, where any curious traveler may find a genuine full-blooded McGill.
Monarch of all he surveys and lord of the fowl and the brute.
JOHN McGILL, third son of
Arthur, the Pioneer.
John McGill, third son of
Arthur, was born in Northumberland County, Pa., April 9th, I794, and was
brought to the French Creek country the same year a babe in arms. He,
therefore, ranks with the first original settlers in the valley, having a
habitation in Arthur's Castle by the big spring from the day it was erected.
He did not, however, remain long, but at the age of fourteen years went to
Erie an apprentice to the business he afterwards followed all his life. He
never returned to the valley permanently, and as a matter of fact his
temporary visits to the old home were infrequent and only occurred at long
intervals, and he and his family became practically strangers to the Clan
McGill. He was in Erie during the active operations at that place in the War
John McGill was married Oct.
28, 1819, to MARY DAVITT, at Mercer, Pa., and thenceforth made that place
his home. He was an upright man of much intellectual force and was prominent
in local affairs, frequently appearing in the front ranks in matters
pertaining to church and state. He was well known throughout the
Commonwealth and was at one time a member of the Presidential Electoral
College from Pennsylvania.
I met him in 1882, after the
death of his wife, whom I never saw. He was then about 88 years of age, and
he moved about with that easy dignity that is so becoming to advanced years.
He was tall, straight, self-possessed and gentlemanly. He rode with me from
Venango to Saegerstown, down the most beautiful stretch of the French Creek
valley. He recognized points of interest and noted the transformation of
scenery caused by the disappearing forests, and conversed with delightful
intelligence of the great changes that had taken place in the valley since
his boyhood days.
Mrs. McGill died Jan. 9,
1882, after 63 years of wedded life, aged 82 years. John McGill died April
9th, 1886, aged precisely 92 years. They rest in the cemetery at Mercer, Pa.
Mr. and Mrs. McGill raised a
family of ten children, all of whom grew to maturity and played their part
as best they could in the great drama of life. They were as follows:
MARY JANE, the eldest, born
at Mercer, Pa., July 29, 1820. She was married to D. W. Findley, July 5,
1842. Died at Mercer, Pa., May ii, 1907. She was the mother of five
JAMES DAVITT McGILL, born at
Mercer, Pa., Jan. 18, 1822. Married same place, IMELDA PATTERSON, Nov. 12,
1845. They had four children-one survives.
James D. died at Saegerstown,
Pa., April 15, I859; buried in Mercer cemetery.
James D. McGill was the only
member of the family with whom I was intimately acquainted. He was an
active, energetic businessman. About I850-I he came to Saegerstown and
opened up a dry goods and grocery store, the first successful competitor
with the old regime. He made business hum, and always relieved the
strenuosity of trade with a continuous flow of humor and good natured jest
that made traffic a delightful pastime. People learned to like him and
appreciated his genius for fun. He was very popular and became widely known.
Traveling men from New York to Chicago would rush their routes to secure a
few hours with "Jim," to replenish their stock of fading jests with
something new and fresh. As a keen, original humorist he had few equals, and
the recollection of his rare talents in the line of sportive repartee is
greatly enhanced by the fact that he never descended to the low vulgar jests
so common among would-be wits. His thoughts were pure and his language
chaste, and his keen satire so blended with genuine hearty good-will that it
left no scars.
It is sad, indeed, that one
so gifted should be taken away so soon. He died at the age of thirty-seven
ELLEN, the second daughter, was
born at Mercer, Pa., Oct. 25th, 1823; married Eliab Asper,
April 30, 1846. Died at
Pittsburg, Pa., May 6th, 1850, leaving two children.
ARTHUR, born at Mercer, Pa.,
Nov. 6, 1825; married MARY COOK. Died at New Orleans, La., August 8, 1859.
Left one child.
Arthur was a printer and had
been for several years foreman in the office of the Pittsburg Post. There
was something tragic about his death, the particulars of which I never
JOHN DAVITT McGILL, born at
Mercer, Jan. 31, 1827. Died Oct. 26, 1869, Columbia, Tenn. Unmarried.
John was a lawyer, went South
before the War; served as a Lieutenant in the Confederate Army. After the
War he returned North and was for a time at Oil City, Pa., where he held the
position of City Clerk. A great calamitous fire and flood swept down Oil
Creek, carrying death and destruction on its lurid bosom. A lady was
discovered on a pile of drift surrounded by flood and flame, floating on to
certain death; none dared to go to her relief ! McGill came up, seized a
paddle, sprang into a boat and dashed throught the fiery billows to the
rescue, and he brought her out of the sea of burning oil unharmed. For this
act of heroism he received great commendation from the public and the press.
He soon after returned South, and died as above stated.
CHARLES McGILL, the fourth
son of John, born at Mercer, Pa., Oct. 18, 1829; married ELIZABETH SERGEANT,
May 26, 1859. Died at
Mercer, Pa., Jan. 17, 1861. No
CHRISTIANA McGILL, born at
Mercer, Pa., Sept. 26, 1831; married MICHAEL ZAHNISER, Sept. 26, 1854, and
they have one child. Their residence is at Sharon, Pa. I am indebted to Mr.
Zabniser for a few statistics relating to the family of John McGill. I have
never met Mr. Zabniser, but am assured from reliable sources that he is a
thorough business man of character and standing; a Gold Democrat with silver
lining and a wealthy banker.
REBECCA McGILL, born at
Mercer, Pa., Sept. 8, 1833; married Rev. R. McWatty, Dec. 28, 1856. Their
home is in Pittsburg, and they have children.
FRANCES McGILL, born at
Mercer, Pa., May 25th, 1839; married James S. Porter, Dec. 17, 1861. Died at
Sharon, Pa., Sept. 8, 1900, leaving five children.
LAMONT DUNWIDDIE McGILL, born
at Mercer, Pa., Oct. 10, 1841. Is not married and lives at Cochranton, Pa.