MS-022: The Papers of David McConaughy, 1823-1902

(4 boxes, 1.08 cubic feet) 

Inclusive Dates: 1823-1902

Processed by: Jaclyn Campbell
June 2001

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF

Provenance: Donated by the McConaughy family, 1932


DavidMcConaughy, born in 1823, was the grandson of Irish immigrants who settled in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1712.  His father died when he was a child and he was raised by his mother.  He attended Gettysburg College from ca. 1836 until 1838 when he transferred to Washington College (presently known as Washington and Jefferson College) where he graduated in 1840.  He transferred because, at the time, his uncle, also named David McConaughy and a former Presbyterian minister in Gettysburg, was the President of the college.  McConaughy thence studied law under Moses McClean and became an attorney in Adams County in 1845. 

He formed a company of scouts at the beginning of the Civil War called the Adams Rifles of which he was the captain.  Less than two weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg, McConaughy desired to form a national cemetery for the war victims of the Battle of Gettysburg to be located on the Battlefield.  He began to purchase lots of the battlefield for this memorial and asked veterans of the battle to contribute financially.  In late August of 1869, McConaughy organized a reunion of the soldiers who fought at Gettysburg to recount their experiences and locate specific historic sites on the battlefield. 

McConaughy served as a state senator for Adams and Franklin Counties after the Civil War.  During this time, he commissioned the painting of a picture of the Battle of Gettysburg done by P. F. Rothermel.  This painting, The Battle of Gettysburg, was originally housed in Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, but was later moved to the Capitol Building in Harrisburg

McConaughy was also instrumental in establishing the nearby Evergreen Cemetery, where he was buried upon his death in 1902. 

Series Description

The McConaughy collection is arranged into four series.  Series I: History of the Battle, Series II: McConaughy Family History, Series III: Correspondence Regarding the Soldiers' Reunion of August 1869, and Series IV: Establishment of a National Ceremony.

Scope and Content Notes:

The McConaughy collection is composed primarily of correspondence and contains information about the history of the battle, the McConaughy Family History, correspondence regarding the Soldiers’ Reunion of August 1869, and the establishment of the National Cemetery and all administrative matters required therein. 

Reports of General George M. Meade is included in this collection, as well as correspondence from General Robert E. Lee and General George M. Meade in regards to the Soldier’s Reunion of 1869 and correspondence from General U.S. Grant regarding his election to Honorary Director of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association. 

For additional information concerning the Adams Rifles, see also Civil War Vertical Files 1 and 2.

Link to Full Finding Aid - PDF

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