Civil War Blog

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Capt. John K. McGann

Posted By on August 17, 2012

A biography of Capt. John K. McGann appeared in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, published in 1894:

Capt. John K. McGann, retired farmer and real estate dealer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 28 May 1835.  Edward McGann, his grandfather, was born and passed his life in Ireland; he was a wool carder and spinner.  Edward McGann Jr., father of Captain McGann, was born in Kildare County, Ireland.  He received his education in his native county, and worked in the woolen mill with his father until he became of age, when he left Ireland for America.  He made the voyage in a sailing vessel, accompanied by his young wife.  They landed in Philadelphia, where he found work at his trade for one year.  At the end of the year, Mr. McGann removed to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and for fourteen years was employed in the woolen mills of N. K. Zook.  He next removed to Dauphin County, locating in Lykens Valley, where for four years he carried on the business of carding and weaving on his own account.  He then removed to Armstrong Valley with his family, and worked for six months at his trade as a journeyman for his former employer, at Lancaster County, and he finally settled at Harrisburg, where he died 3 March 1870.  His wife, Bridget [Kelly] McGann died in the same city about 1884.  They were married in Ireland.  They had seven children:  John K. McGann; Catharine McGann, wife of C. McCarty, of Harrisburg; William C. McGann, of Harrisburg, in the employ of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company; Susan McGann, wife of John O’Leary, hotel keeper in Harrisburg; James McGann, deceased; Mary McGann, widow of Alexander Boyle, Harrisburg; and Margaret A. McGann, deceased.  Mr. McGann was a Democrat, a prominent man, and quite popular.

John K. McGann attended the public schools of Lancaster County, and also the Academy at Strasburg.  In his younger days he worked in the mills with his father.  After the removal of the family to the Lykens Valley, he worked four years as a farm hand among the neighboring farmers.  Then for two years and six months he was clerk and teamster for Jacob Buch, in Lykens Valley, and subsequently drove team for Mr. Buch to and from Pottersville.  For several years after this Mr. McGann was engaged in huckstering.  He taught school in Miller’s School House for four months, after which he was for seven months clerk in a store in Mahantongo Valley, then taught again four months in Jackson Township.  Then he was clerk for six months in Powell’s Valley, then taught four months at Jacksonville.  In 1858, Mr. McGann spent nine months in Harrisburg, in the employ of the Northern Central Railroad Company, as clerk; he then taught still another four months at Fisherville.  He had fourteen acres of land which he farmed between other engagements.

On 19 August 1862, Mr. McGann enlisted in Company H, 130th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers (130th Pennsylvania Infantry), as 1st Lieutenant under Captain Hoofacker and Col. H. J. Zinn.  The Captain being on sick leave, McGann comanded the company.  He participated in the battles of South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chencellorsville.  Being wounded at Fredericksburg, he was for a few days in the field hospital.He was discharged from the service 20 May 1862, and returned home.  He continued teaching school, cultivating his farm, and working for other farmers.  Upon the ordering of the draft, 24 February 1864, Captain McGann formed a company fo 42 men and joined Company E, 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  he was promised the command of the company, but failed to obtain it.  He fought in the battles of Cripple Creek, and throughout the campaign of general Sherman. On 16 October 1864, he was made private secretary of Gen. Kilpatrick, with whom he remained until the close of the war.  He received his discharge oat Lexington, North Carolina, 20 July 1865.  After returning home, Capt. McGann continued teaching and farming.  He bought more land and has now eight-five acres, which he has highly improved.  He retired from active farming, and since 1876 has dealt in real estate, settled up estates, etc.

Capt. McGann was married in Jackson Township in 1857, to Miss Elspy Fetterhoff, daughter of Colonel G. Fetterhoff and May [Zimmerman] Fetterhoff, born in Jackson Township, 28 April 1835.  They have three children:  (1) Isaac H. McGann, Lutheran pastor, of Union County, Pennsylvania, was educated at the State Normal School, at Millersville, and the Missionary Institute, in Snyder County, was ordained to the ministry in 1885, married Annie Mattis, and has three children – Maud McGann, Laura McGann, and  Evaline McGann; (2) Ellen McGann, married in 1882 to James F. Gerberich, who was born in Jackson Township, the son of Amos Gerberich and Julia A. [Keiter] Gerberich, attended school in Jackson Township, was six years Turnkey at Harrisburg Lockup, farms the homestead of his wife’s father, and has three children – J. D. Cameron Gerberich, Annie Gertrude Gerberich, and Esther Gerberich; and (3) Annie E. McGann, teacher in Jackson Township, educated in the high school in Harrisburg, and graduate of Berrysburg, and Millersville State Normal School has been teaching three years.

Captain McGann is a Republican.  He was clerk in the County Commissioners’ Office, County Auditor, Assessor and Tax Collector;  he was also for several years Justice of the Peace.  He was Captain of a volunteer company formed before the Civil War.  He is a member, and is Chaplain, and has been Commander of R. B. Miller Post, No. 392, G.A.R.  He is one of the most widely known and most popular men of the county.  He is esteemed for his virtues, and beloved for his his god will and kindness to all.

A Veterans’ File Card was located at the Pennsylvania Archives:

At the time of Capt. McGann’s enrollment in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, he indicated that he was born in Philadelphia, was residing in Harrisburg, and was working as a teacher.  His physical description was that he had hazel eyes, fair complexion, and dark hair.  He stood 5 foot, 6 inches tall, and was 29 years old.

A Pension Index Card was located in the on-line resources of Ancestry.com:

The Pension Index Card notes a date of pension application prior to 1890, possibly confirming the information that his wound received at Fredericksburg, may have aggravated his physical condition to the point where he was eligible under the more strict rules.  When the 1890 Census was taken, John K. McGann reported that he was disabled because his rheumatism was caused by the wound he received in the war.

In 1900, John K. McGann was living in Jackson Township and gave his occupation as landlord.

Capt. John K. McGann died on 21 July 1909 and is buried in Fetterhoff’s Cemetery, Halifax, Dauphin County.

The Civil War Research Project is seeking additional information about John K. McGann.  Readers are invited to contribute by adding comments to this post or by sending information via e-mail (click here).

Pennsylvania Veterans’ File Cards are from the Pennsylvania ArchivesPension Index Cards are from Ancestry.com and reference pension application files available at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


One Response to “Capt. John K. McGann”

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