Monday, June 30, 2014

52 Ancestors, Week 17: Mary Wilson McConnell Nilsen (1893-1986)

This is week 17 of the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge” by Amy Crow from No Story Too Small.  I am a bit behind but intend to catch up.

Ernie & Mary
 My husband’s great uncle, Ernie Nilsen and his wife, Mary, never had any children. Because of that, there are no descendants who would be wondering about Mary’s family. We’ve put together a very nice story about Ernie and Mary in the book The Nilsen Family: From Jönköping to America, but at the time of the printing, no research had been done on Mary’s immediate family.[1]

Well today, I did some poking at and looking for some hint about Mary’s ancestry so her story could be complete.

Mary Wilson McConnell was born 4 Apr 1893 in Tennessee and died 16 Sept 1986 in Los Angeles County, California.[2] That much I know from death indexes in California and the Social Security Death Index. My husband’s aunt, Bernice, is the keeper of many of the Nilsen records and she also knew of Mary’s birthdate, which she probably celebrated with her when living in Southern California.

The start of finding Mary’s parents began with the recent addition to with the “California, County Marriages, 1850-1952” index and images. Many of the Los Angeles County marriages have images to go with the index and I found a copy of Ernie and Mary’s marriage record.
Los Angeles County Marriages, bk 694, p 4, Nilsen-McConnell, 1925

It clearly stated that Ernest Ferdinand Nilsen and Mary Wilson McConnell were married 10 Jun 1925 in Los Angeles by Nels Peterson, the minister at the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant Church.[3] One of the witnesses was Mrs. F. P. McConnell who lived at 5212 Buchanan Street, Los Angeles. Could she be a near relative to Mary?

So now it was time to start poking into the online databases. One of the first records that came up for Mary was the 1924 California Voter Registration, this one for Los Angeles City.  There living at 5212 Buchanan Street were four possible members of the McConnell family: Mrs. Annie L, Frank P, Hoyt W, and Miss Mary Wilson McConnell.[4] 
1924 California Voter Registration, Los Angeles Prec. 943

Frank P. could be the husband of Mrs. F.P. McConnell who was the witness. Could Mrs. Annie L by Mrs. F.P.? More searching to do.

I found Frank, Annie L, and Mary W. in the 1920 census for Los Angeles County but it was in bad condition and very difficult to read. It was the first page of the E.D. and looked like it had been torn and taped together. Needless to say, they were at the top and dark smudges and discoloration from the tape nearly disguises them. They were renters and all were born in Tennessee. This coincides with Mary’s death index record of being born in Tennessee.
1920 Los Angeles County, Calfornia. McConnell is on the first 3 lines.

The next clue as to where in Tennessee to look for the McConnells was Hoyt McConnell’s World War I draft registration.[5] He stated that he had been born in Union City, Tennessee. So had two Tennessee census records for a Frank P. McConnell with wife, Annie for 1910 and 1900.

1910 Davidson Co, Tennessee, Frank McConnell household
 Here is the image for 1910 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Frank was the head of household, Annie L, his wife, children Leonard P and Mary W, and granddaughter, Mildred D. Annie and Frank had been married 25 years and Annie had three children, all of which were living. Frank was a painter.

1900 Davidson Co, Tennessee, Frank McConnell family
In 1900, also in Nashville, Tennessee, the family included Frank P, Annie, Hoyt W, Leonard P, and Mary W.  Here Annie was listed as having four children with three living. So there might be another child that had died before 1900.

I also found the marriage record for Frank P. McConnell and Anna L. Tucker. They got their license in Winchester, which was the county seat for Franklin County, Tennessee, a county located at the southern border of the state. They were married the 22 May 1884.[6] 
Franklin County, Tennessee Marriage record for
Frank P McConnell & Anna L. Tucker, 1884
Finally with all of this information: Frank P. McConnell & Anna L. Tucker and their children:  Hoyt W. McConnell, Leonard P. McConnell, and Mary W. McConnell, I searched the trees at and found an unsourced tree with this family.[7] The tree also included another daughter, Annie Laura McConnell who was born 10 Apr 1890 and died 21 Jun 1890.  Of course the tree had two more children who I believe were actually children of Hoyt.

So here is Mary's family:
  • Parents: Frank P. McConnell, born around 1853 in Tennessee and Anna L. Tucker, born  1860 in Tennessee.  
  • Their Children:  Hoyt W. McConnell, born 16 Aug 1886, died 28 Oct 1935.  Leonard P. McConnell, born 3 Jul 1888, died 1 Apr 1960. Annie Laura McConnell, born 1890, died 1890. Mary Wilson McConnell, born  4 Apr 1893, died 16 Sep 1986.
So it is very nice to now know that Mary Wilson McConnell, wife of Ernest Ferdinand Gedion Nilsen, had family. Her parents and brothers moved to California sometime between 1910 and 1916 when they were found in the California Voter Registration. Frank was not in the 1930 census and had died 19 Dec 1929.[8] Annie passed away in Los Angeles 19 Dec 1934, exactly five years after her husband.[9]

A search on turned up no burial record. Someday, when I can search the Los Angeles Times, I might be able to find funeral notices for Annie and Frank.

[1] Lisa S. Gorrell, The Nilsen Family: From Jönköping to America, Oak Park Press, Martinez, California, 2010.
[2] California Death Index, 1986, Mary Wilson Nilsen, : accessed 30 Jun 2014.  And Social Security Death Index, Sep 1986, Mary Nilsen, : accessed 30 Jun 2014.
[3] California County Marriages, 1850-1952, database & images, (, Los Angeles Co, Bk 601, p 4, Nilsen-McConnell, citing FHL film 2074519.
[4] California, California Voter Registration 1900-1968 (Digital images., Los Angeles Co, Prec No. 943, 1924, no. 317, Miss Mary Wilson McConnell.
[5] "WW I Draft Registration," database and images,, (, Tulsa, Oklahoma, no. 255, Hoyt W. McConnell.
[6] Franklin County, Tennessee, Marriages, 1884, p 11, McConnell-Tucker, images : accessed 30 Jun 2014; citing FHL film 576304, Marriages records, 1884-1905.
[7] “Taylor1” tree owned by geomtay, : accessed 30 Jun 2014. This owner had signed in two days previously.
[8] California Death Index, : accessed 30 Jun 2014, 1929, Frank P. McConnell.
[9] Ibid, Annie L. McConnell, 1934.

Copyright © 2014 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past

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