About one eighth of U.S. McConnells are Somerled descendants. Somerled died
in 1164 at Renfrew Scotland and at the time of his death he had driven the Vikings out of Western Scotland
and Northern Ireland. His lands were inherited by his sons who formed the MacDonald, MacAllister and
MacDougal Clans. Clan Chiefs of these clans have very similar DNA which can be traced back to Somerled. MacDonald/McDonald Clan chieftains,
with the exception of the Earl of Antrim, are genetic descendants of Somerled and their
DNA is shown on the page labeled R1A on the Clan Donald USA DNA website. Currently ten McConnell men of the total participants are in this group.
In the U.S., most Somerled are descendants
of Alexander McConnell who died at Octorara Creek in Chester County, PA in 1729 or his close relatives. Descendants of early McConnells in
North Carolina-- William McConnell (d. 1812 in Iredell Co., NC) and James Archibald McConnell (d. 1799 in Bourbon Co., KY) are believed to have
started in Chester County, PA and later migrated south.
The DNA of the North Carolina McConnells is almost an exact match of the DNA of the Alexander McConnell descendants, and there is a lot
of evidence for a migration south from Chester County, PA.
These McConnells tended to have large families and since they were in the U.S. at early dates, there are a lot of descendants.
Descendants of this group of McConnells founded McConnellsburg, PA in Fulton County, PA and were among the early pioneers of Kentucky.
Robert Patterson, the founder of Lexington, KY and Cincinnati, Ohio, was a descendant of R1A McConnells through his mother and he did
much of his explorations accompanied by his McConnell cousins. William "Tanner" McConnell, a descendant of the McConnells who founded McConnellsburg,
commanded the fort at Lexington during the Revolutionary War period of Kentucky history.
2. The Leinster Modal Group-- McConnells from the Province of Leinster.
This group gets its name from known links to the Province of Leinster
in Ireland. This group has also been called the Irish Sea Group. The McConnells/McDonnells/MacDonalds (remember
they all had the same name in Gaelic) have a long tradition of being gallowglass soldiers-- mercenaries. They
fought for the Irish Lords in the northern counties of Ireland in the 1300s through the 1600s, especially in the Province
of Leinster. It is believed this line links back to the Clan Chiefs through an early female line. There are
many accounts of gallowglass captains marrying into the Irish Lord's family and often became landed regional Lords themselves.
There is a Leinster/Beaty/Byrne's DNA Project for person's who fit this DNA profile. There are currently eight
men who are classified as members of this group, along with some possible members who need additional test results.
In the U.S., this group appears to have a lot of descendants who settled in the Philadelphia/Lancaster County
area of Pennsylvania in the 1700s and in the early 1800s many were in the Beaver-Mercer county areas and in Trumbull
County, Ohio. A large group of these McConnells are descendants of Alexander McConnell, who settled in Washington County, PA.
Many of this group are descended from the very large family of William McConnell and Mary Magdalena Barnhisel.
The descendants of the William McConnell - Sarah Carter family in Wayne County, Ohio are also members of this group, these include McConnells
who were related to the founders of the Firestone Tire Company.
3. The Franklin County McConnells-- Members of The Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype and some R1A McConnells.
Recently we have the DNA for a number of Franklin County, PA McConnells from descendants of Robert Mcconnell, (d. 1777) Francis McConnell, (d. 1769), and Captain William McConnell (d. 1770). DNA results showed that there were two genetically different sets of McConnells who were in Franklin County, PA in the 1700s. The DNA for Robert and Francis showed they were related, and probably brothers, and their DNA was classified as part of the Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype group. Based on historical evidence, James Mcconnell of Peters Twp (d. 1776) was probably also their brother as well as Donald McConnell (d. 1776) who was closely associated with Robert McConnell.
The second group of McConnells in Franklin County, PA includes Captain William McConnell (d. 1770) who was found to be an R1A McConnell, who could be related to the Alexander McConnell (d. 1729) who died at Octorara Creek. William's brother Alexander McConnell (d. 1792), who lived in Hamilton Twp, Franklin Co., AP would have had the same DNA. Jane McConnell (d. 1756), their sister and the mother of Robert Patterson, the explorer who founded Lexington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio was also a member of this family.
The estate records of Jane Dawson, the sister of Captain John McConnell's wife Mary Dawson, helped clearly identify the names and locations of Captain John McConnell's children in the year 1860 when the will was administered. With this information we have solid proof of the descendants of Captain John McConnell of Franklin County, PA. By tracing the descendants, John Dawson McConnell was located, a living direct descendant of Captain John McConnell. He provided a DNA sample that proved that Captain John McConnell (the son of Robert Mcconnell, (d. 1777) was related to two descendants of Francis McConnell (d. 1769) in Franklin County PA (they were descendants of Francis McConnell's (d. 1769) sons John (d. 1825) and Robert (d. 1805)). The brothers Robert (d. 1777) and Francis (d. 1769) were related as shown by DNA and they were probably also brothers of James Mcconnell (d. 1776) of Peters Twp, Franklin Co., PA. Another member of this family was Donald McConnell, who is buried at the Rocky Springs Church Cemetery. All of these McConnells are likely the son of a Robert Alexander Mcconnell (d. 1749). These McConnells were the ancestors of most of the McConnell pioneers who settled in Fayette County, Kentucky. A book about these McConnells of Fayette County, Kentucky has been written by Mary Piatt. The towns of McConnelsville, Ohio and McConnell, Illinois were named for descendants of Robert McConnell (d. 1777) (they were descendants of Robert's grandson Captain James McConnell, who was an attorney and Revolutionary Captain in Letterkenny Twp, Franklin County, PA). Another branch of these McConnells with closely matching DNA were immigrants from Ireland and early pioneers of Ohio starting with William McConnell (d. 1840 in Carroll Co., OH) . The history of these McConnells is detailed in a book about the "McConnel and McConnell Families" by Ralph E. Lawrence. If you wish to see detailed proof regarding the descendants of Captain John McConnell, you should look up notes for Mary Dawson and her father-in-law Robert McConnell (d. 1777) on this website.
Other R1B McConnells with a large number of descendants include...
4. The McConnells from early New York, descendants of Matthew McConnell (d. 1817), a sergeant in the Revolutionary War. McConnellsville, New York, came from land obtained by Matthew's Revolutionary War service. These McConnells were early settlers in Morgan County, Illinois, and were a prominent, wealthy family in Illinois.
5. Descendants of Guian McConnell (d. 1817), who started out in Pennsylvania, and whose descendants were New York McConnells and who later settled in Ohio and Minnesota.
6 Descendants of John McConnell (d. 1839) who married Abigail Herron. There are a huge number of descendants who were early settlers in Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa.
7. Descendants of John McConell (d. bef 1850) married to Virginia Cromwell. He was an Irish immigrant and early settler in Sullivan County, Indiana. The DNA for this group is unique and connects with ancient clans in Ireland.
8. Descendants of Phillip McConnell (d. 1778) in North Carolina. Phillip was killed in action in the Revolutionary War. People expected he would be related to other North Carolina McConnells, but his DNA was completely different. Descendants include Joseph McConnell, who was a Korean War fighter pilot ace, who died serving his country testing aircraft. Joseph McConnell is the person McConnell Air Force Base is named after and he is the subject of the movie called "The McConnell Story." There are three McConnells I know who are descendants of Phillip and have tested their DNA. They all have exactly the same markers, with no variations, in their DNA, which is unusual after many generations.
9. Descendants of James McConnell (d. Nov 1764) at Tyrone Twp, Cumberland Co., PA. Colleen Eagan has written a book regarding this large family tree. Descendants were pioneers who settled in Kentucky, especially Bourbon Co. Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana. Many descendants lump these McConnells with those of Alexander McConnell (d. 1729) but DNA has shown these are McConnells with a completely different ancestry that originates in Ireland.
Questions, queries and additional information are welcome.