Happy 200th Birthday to William Henry McConnell, Grand Rapids Pioneer.
He was born on November 12, 1818, in Newbury, Berkshire, England, to William & Sarah D. McConnell.
His family immigrated in his teen years, and he grew up in Danville NY.
By 1842, he was living in Mount Morris, New York, and married Eunice Hopkins in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on July 11, 1842, when he was 23 years old. The wedding was at Central Reformed Church, officiated by H.E. Waring.
His daughter Mary H. McConnell was born in May 1843 in New York.
His wife Eunice passed away on June 10, 1846 in Grand Rapids, at the age of 26. They had been married 3 years.
By 1848, he was serving as Village Trustee and was in the hardware wholesale business. He later claimed to have built the first business building made of brick in Grand Rapids.
McConnell married Margaret R Sommers in New York on September 3, 1849, when he was 30 years old. The wedding was at Oliver St. Church, and officiated by Rev C.G. Sommers (her father). It was noted in the New York Post.
In the 1850s, he owned a dry-goods store and a metal factory, with inventory of tin, copper, and iron.
His daughter Sarah Skelding McConnell was born on June 9, 1851, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His daughter Eliza S McConnell was born in June 1853.
W.H. McConnell had two brothers who were also well-known in Grand Rapids. One was John McConnell, who was a partner in the hardware business and owned a prominent home on the corner of S. Division Ave and Wealthy St (where the Roman Catholic Diocese building stands in 2018). Another brother was Daniel McConnell, who had a prominent career in the military and as a capitalist.
In the 1860s, McConnell was on the board of (Park) Congregational Church and instrumental in launching the construction of the church building that still stands today.
In the 1860s, his daughter Sarah went to Vassar college in New York.
In the 1870s, his daughter Sarah married Robert Corson, a Scottish immigrant and sales executive at Berkey & Gay Furniture. They had two sons (one in the photo with grandma Margaret, below) and a daughter.
By 1880, McConnell lived in in the city but also owned a small 30-acre farm in Caledonia, Michigan. In October 1887, at age 68, McConnell had a Going Out of Business Auction of his fabrication business.
William Henry McConnell died on February 10, 1888 when he was 69 years old, of "Brain Fever." His funeral was mostly for family and held at his daughter's house on Madison Ave. (which is now The Parsonage Inn), where William and his wife had been living in their retirement. He was buried in Fulton Cemetery.
After his death, his wife and daughters carried on with his real estate business, frequently taking clients to court to avoid being taken advantage of.
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