Children of Ann McKinney and '40 Acres' McLaughlin
William McLaughlin (1853-1914)

William McLaughlin was the second son of James "40 Acres" McLaughlin and his wife, Ann McKinney to be so named. The first William was born and died in Ireland during the potato famine. Two other McLaughlin children born in Ireland also died.

As for this Skaneateles-born William McLaughlin, I found no mention of him in "The History of the McLaughlin Family," which is strange because he was the central figure in one of the most tragic and bizarre stories in the family's American experience. Eventually this story had a happy twist, at least in the newspaper telling, but unfortunately the tale is like an iceberg – most of it lies well below the surface. For what is known, read "William McLaughlin was lost for 19 years" (below).

There also seems to be confusion over two Williams McLaughlins who were about the same age. The other one was born in Ireland and was the son Cornelius McLaughlin who returned to Ireland and left the teenaged William in the care of his brother, James "40 Acres" McLaughlin. This William McLaughlin is mentioned in the book about the McLaughlin family.

The family tree that follows, such as it is, belongs to the forgotten William McLaughlin. By 1880, according to that year's census, this William was married to Anna Conroy (1854-1942) and at that time had two children.

A complete list of their children is an educated guess, based on St. Mary's Cemetery Records, the 1880 census and a newspaper account of William McLaughlin's 20-year disappearance. The newspaper account and the cemetery date for the death of the fourth McLaughlin child (in a five-year period) do not agree, nor does the age of William McLaughlin, who, according to the newspaper story, was born in 1860 (again reflecting confusion between the two Williams who grew up in the home of James "40 Acres" McLaughlin.)

Anna and William McLaughlin had a tragic life, losing four of their six children within four years. This series of tragedies was offered as an explanation for William McLaughlin's state of mind when he abruptly deserted his family.

However, no story of his disappearance accounts for the children who survived, or that Anna McLaughlin was pregnant with her seventh child at the time. Shortly after her husband's disappearance, she left Skaneateles and moved to Fulton, New York.

After William was found by his brother, James McLaughlin Jr., he and his wife were reunited and lived in Fulton. After his death in 1914, she moved to Syracuse.

Their children:

James McLaughlin (1876-1930)

Ellen Louise McLaughlin (1879-1883)
Mary Ellen McLaughlin (1883-1883)
Louise Marie McLaughlin (1884-1888)
Sara Elizabeth McLaughlin (1886-1887)
Genevieve McLaughlin (1888-1907)

Skaneateles Free Press, April 26, 1907
Miss Genevieve McLaughlin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William McLaughlin of Fulton, died in Philadelphia, Pa., Wednesday, aged 19 years. She had recently submitted to an operation for appendicitis, while recovering from a severe attack of typhoid fever and failed to rally from the procedure.

Her parents were former residents of this village. She spent some time in Philadelphia visiting relatives. The remains are expected to arrive in town this evening.

Funeral services will be held at St. Mary's Church in this village tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock. Interment in St. Mary's Cemetery.

She was buried in a plot with other children of William and Anna Conroy
McLaughlin, and eventually was joined by the remains of her parents.

William McLaughlin (1891- ). The Fulton Patriot (June 17, 1915) reported that William McLaughlin, formerly of Fulton, was living in Cleveland, Ohio, and had visited his old home town and also gone to Syracuse to spend time with his mother.

John McLaughlin Sr. (1854-1934)

John McLaughlin was a partner in the McLaughlin Brothers teasel firm. He also was mayor of Skaneateles in 1903. He and James McLaughlin Jr. and Dennis McLaughlin arranged for the installation of electrical power at the Glenside Woolen Mills in Skaneateles Falls. Dennis was the engineer in charge at Glenside. At the same time John McLaughlin arranged for installation of transmittal lines to supply electrical power to the village of Skaneateles, which led to the formation of the Skaneateles Municipal Power Company.

John McLaughlin and Elizabeth "Libby" Kerwin (1857-1939) were married December 11, 1878. They had two sons:

Frank J. McLaughlin (1880-1960) married Mabel Slattery (1884-1967). He grew up in Skaneateles, attended Skaneateles schools and with his brother, John, started in the teasel business in 1924. Though there were several teasel growers in Skaneateles, all of whom sooner or later went out of business here as machinery replaced the teasels, the McLaughlins were the last to go, adding their name to the industry which once flourished here and which lent a new significance to the name of Skaneateles as being one of the few places in the world where teasels were successfully grown as a commercial proposition.

Finally, in 1954, the McLaughlins joined other teasel marketers who quit the business, finding no further market for their product.

Frank McLaughlin had another business. From 1907until 1933 he and Leslie Barber operated a mail boat and passenger service on Skaneateles Lake. Their boat carried 50 passengers and plied between Skaneateles and the Glen Haven Hotel and Sanitarium, a famous health resort of the time.

Frank McLaughlin married Mabel Slattery McLaughlin, who was born in Auburn, but her family moved to Skaneateles when she was a toddler. For 27 years she was organist at St. Mary’s of the Lake Church. She also was a member of the Skaneateles Garden Club. She and Frank McLaughlin had four children:

Virginia E. McLaughlin (1910-1957) worked in the Treasury Department in Washington, DC.

Mabel McLaughlin (1912-2000) married Dr. Paul Brandly (d. 1979). Born in Skaneateles, she was a graduate of Syracuse University and a retired Navy WAVE veteran who for several years lived in Washington, DC, where she was a medical librarian for the Veterans Administration. She and her husband also lived in The Bahamas and Kenya, Africa.

Gladys McLaughlin (1916-1967) married Ernest Pitman (1915-1992). (Her obituary, below). Pitman married Karoline Spring (1915-1991) after the death of his first wife. Children:

David O. Pitman
Eric Pitman married Janice Sumida
Christopher Pitman
Monica Slattery Pitman married ??Atkins, Robert Hambrecht
Jonathan Spring
Wallace Spring
Deborah Spring Dammer

Vincent F. McLaughlin (1915- ) married Mrs. Warren Hoaglund in 1961


John J. McLaughlin Jr. (1882-1961) married Twila Haynes (1891-1941). They had one son:

John Haynes McLaughlin (1920-2008) married Patricia Scott. John Haynes McLaughlin was born in Cortland, NY, but grew up in Skaneateles and graduated from Skaneateles High School. He then graduated from Central City Business School in Syracuse and served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. After leaving the service, he attended Syracuse University and graduated from Fredonia State University. He earned his master’s degree from Syracuse and did further graduate work at Teachers College, Columbia University.

He taught in Fulton, NY, and then served as an assistant principal there. He was a principal in New City, NY, for more than 20 years. Later he taught at Hawthorne College in New Hampshire for 25 years. John and his wife, Patricia, also ran an antiques business. They had two daughters:

Kathleen McLaughlin (1951- ) m. L. K. Stewart (1953- ); Raymond, NH.
Carolyn McLaughlin (1952- ) m. Francis Pelkey (1949- ); Bowie, MD.
Jared H. Pelkey (1975- )
Staria Pelkey (1976- )
Apryl Pelkey (1982- )
Margaret McLaughlin (1859-1910)

Margaret married Dr. Dennis J. McLaughlin (1857-1909). They moved to Philadelphia, where Dennis J. McLaughlin was born.

His father was Hugh McLaughlin, who was born in Ireland about 1830 and emigrated to Philadelphia with his wife, Catherine. Their son, Dennis J. McLaughlin, became a doctor, practicing for awhile in Skaneateles Falls, New York, where he lived with James "40 Acres" McLaughlin and his family, which included Margaret McLaughlin.

Margaret and Dr. Dennis J. McLaughlin had seven children. Their first born, Daniel, also became a doctor, but died in 1906, at the age of 25. His father died just three years later, and nine months after that Margaret passed away. (Obituaries follow.)

Skaneateles Press, November 12, 1909
Dr. Dennis J. McLaughlin, formerly of Skaneateles, died at his home, 1622 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, Thursday morning, November 11, 1909, after a long illness, aged 52 years.

Dr. McLaughlin was a native of Philadelphia and came to Skaneateles to practice medicine at thirty-one years of age. He married Miss Margaret McLaughlin, daughter of James McLaughlin of this town. He resided for a time on Railroad Street in this village, removing from here to Skaneateles Falls about twenty years ago, where he practiced several years. Eight years ago he returned to Philadelphia, where he built up a good practice. During his residence in Skaneateles, Dr. McLaughlin made many friends, who will regret to learn of his death in the prime of life.

Skaneateles Free Press, August 9, 1910
Mrs. Margaret McLaughlin, widow of Dr. Dennis J. McLaughlin, died Saturday, August 6, 1910, at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Philadelphia, of cancer in the 52d year of her age.

Mrs. McLaughlin was the only daughter of James and Ann McLaughlin and was born on Jordan Street, in this village, November 4, 1858. She was married to Dr. Dennis J. McLaughlin of Philadelphia about 30 years ago. They resided several years at Skaneateles Falls, but some years ago removed to Philadelphia. Her oldest son, Dr. Charles McLaughlin, died a few years ago and her husband died about a year ago.

Skaneateles Press, December 11, 1906
A telegram received in town Friday announced the death the day previous of Dr. D. Charles McLaughlin, son of Dr. and Mrs. D. J. McLaughlin, in Philadelphia. Deceased was a native of this village (Skaneateles), and spent the greater part of his life in this place and at Skaneateles Falls. He was a bright boy and graduated from Skaneateles High School in June 1898.

Removing with his parents to Philadelphia he studied medicine,, winning a scholarship in the University of Pennsylvania, from which institution he graduated in June 1905 since which time he had been practicing his profession in Philadelphia.

Deceased was in his 25th year, and besides his parents is survived by two brothers and four sisters. The funeral services were held at the home of his parents in Philadelphia yesterday.

The Philadelphia Ledger of Friday contains the following concerning the death of Dr. McLaughlin:

“As a martyr to his profession, Dr. Daniel Charles McLaughlin, a young resident physician at the Philadelphia Hospital, died yesterday at that institution of tuberculosis, contracted by overwork and constant exposure to the disease by contact with the patients under his care."

Children of Margaret and Dr. Dennis J. McLaughlin:

Dr. Daniel Charles McLaughlin (1881-1906)

Anna McLaughlin (1885- )

Louisa McLaughlin (1888- )

Mary McLaughlin (1892- )

Margaret McLaughlin (1892- )

Hugh Dennis McLaughlin (1895- ) m. Florence Hartley. They had six children:

Myrtle McLaughlin (1918- ) m. ?? Rippenger
Lorraine McLaughlin (1924- ) m. ?? Crossin
Bernice McLaughlin (1925- ) m. ?? Pierce
Florence McLaughlin (1926- ) m. ?? McCarthy
Joan McLaughlin (1931- ) m. ?? Coleman
Hugh Dennis McLaughlin Jr. (1935-2011, obituary below) m. Lucy Flacco.
Annamarie McLaughlin m. William G. Klingenberg, Somerdale, NJ
Thomas McLaughlin m. Helen ??, Geneva, IL
Michael McLaughlin m. Elizabeth ??, Basking Ridge, NJ

James McLaughlin (1897- )


Subject of the following obituary is a grandson of Margaret and Dr. Dennis J. McLaughlin. Among his survivors are five grandchildren not included in the family tree above.

Courier-Post (NJ), June 27, 2011
Colonel Hugh D. McLaughlin Jr. (Retired), age 75, of Somerdale, passed away Saturday, June 25, 2011 at Saint Mary's Catholic Home, Cherry Hill, NJ.

Hugh was the Environmental Safety Manager and Chemist for Elf Atochem. Retired Colonel US Army (1958-1995) and US Military Academy at West Point Recruiter. He was a member of the NJ School Board Assoc., RCIA, American Chemical Society, Boy Scouts of America, and the American Society of Metals. Hugh was the holder of 4 US Patents.

Beloved husband of Lucy (nee Flacco) McLaughlin. Devoted father of Annamarie Klingenberg of Somerdale, Thomas (Helen) McLaughlin of Geneva, Illinois, and Michael (Elizabeth) McLaughlin of Basking Ridge, NJ.

Grandfather of Thomas Jr., Paige, Angela, Joseph, and Megan. Brother of Bernice Pierce, Florence McCarthy, Joan Coleman, and the late Myrtle Rippenger and Lorraine Crossin.


This story was completely unexpected, involving a McLaughlin whose name was missing from most lists of family members. I found it accidentally while looking on a truly remarkable website, www.fultonhistory.com, for stories about a different William McLaughlin.

This is one of several fascinating tales I have found on the pages of old newspapers in an era when reporters freely exercised dramatic license to add flair to stories that often were short on facts, long on unanswered questions and read like dime store novels. Yet I have no doubt this story is essentially true. Unfortunately, I have found no subsequent story that might have filled the many holes that exist in the newspaper account that follows.

Syracuse Post-Standard, February 23, 1910
William McLaughlin, who disappeared nineteen years ago, when he was foreman of the Glenside Woolen Mills at Glenside, four miles from Skaneateles village, was was found recently by his brother, James McLaughlin, at Gold, a hamlet in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania, left Skaneateles yesterday after a visit with his brothers to live in Fulton.

The story of McLaughlin’s disappearance while heartbroken over the deaths of his children, his loss of memory after leaving Skaneateles, his wanderings and seclusion for many years on the highest range of the Allegheny mountains and the long search by his brother, which was finally successful, is the principal topic of conversation in Skaneateles.

Most of the village residents remembered the man’s disappearance. From time to time persons came back from trips in this country and abroad with stories of having seen William McLaughlin. The stories were all investigated by James McLaughlin, who was determined to find his brother. All of them proved without foundation.

This did not discourage him. He enlisted the postal authorities in his aid, and it was finally through the postmaster of the little town in Pennsylvania that the man was located.

The McLaughlin family is one of the wealthiest and best known in Skaneateles. They own the Glenside Woolen Mills that employs hundreds of men, a teasel factory in the village and a similar factory in Leeds, England.

William McLaughlin was 30 years old and had four children. The family occupied one of the beautiful residences of Skaneateles in 1891. He was an expert mechanic and had been in charge of the woolen mills owned by his father, James McLaughlin Sr., for three years. Late in that year, his oldest child was stricken with diphtheria. She died after the other babies had contracted the disease. The deaths of the boy and girl followed, and finally the youngest, Arthur, 3 years old, who used to toddle down every noon to the factory to walk home with his father, was laid in a grave beside the others in the village cemetery.

Mrs. McLaughlin awoke one morning after the funeral of her last child to find her husband gone. A search for him was begun in the village. This was unsuccessful and finally his picture and description were sent out to every police headquarters in the United States and Canada.

After a few months had passed and nothing had been heard from the missing man, James began his long search. He traveled all over the country, asking at every city the police, postmaster, anybody who would be likely to know if they had seen or ever met a man of the name of William McLaughlin who answered the description he gave them. The answer was invariably no.

He went to England where most of the relatives of the family live and where the principal property of the family, the Leeds factory, is located. It was his idea that possibly the missing brother in a fit of mental aberration, had crossed the ocean and gone back to his old home. His investigation was as fruitless there as it had been in this country. Despite all these failures, the Skaneateles man never gave up hope and always said he was sure that some day the news would come to him that the wanderer had been found.

The word came to him a little over two weeks ago. It was on a postal from Henry Everett, postmaster at Gold, Potter county, Pa. It said there was a mechanic and carpenter living in the hamlet who answered the description of the missing man. James McLaughlin packed his trunks at once and accompanied by his wife went to Gold. There a joyful reunion took place. The brother consented to return to his old home and told them the story of his wanderings. These may never been known because James McLaughlin will say nothing about them, neither will his brother. All the former will say is:

"The story of William McLaughlin’s absence from home for 19 years rivals fiction.”

The village residents have learned, however, that the former mill former had many adventures and that he had traveled and had been seen in many parts of the country with his memory gone and the past an absolute blank to him before fate brought him to the part of the Alleghenies that is called “The roof of the world.” Here he became another “Charley Steele” for in Gold, which has a population of 200 people, he got work as a carpenter. He worked there for 15 years, but no one ever learned his past. The man’s memory came back to him, but he decided that it would be best to let the folks at home think he was dead because he thought his return would do no good.

His brother convinced him of the mistake and when the three arrived in Skaneateles two weeks ago there was a hearty greeting for William McLaughlin from his old friends. His wife was waiting for him, too. Their meeting was one of the affecting scenes of his return. They are now living together again at No. 213 West Second street, Fulton.


This strange tale became even stranger, in my mind, at least, when I came across William McLaughlin's obituary in the Syracuse Journal of Friday, October 23, 1914:

McLaughlin Buried at Skaneateles
The funeral of William McLaughlin, aged 61, formerly of Skaneateles, but recently of Fulton, who died yesterday at the Hornell Hospital at Hornell, where he was engaged in the contracting business, will be held from the undertaking parlors of Meagher & Mooney at Skaneateles at a time to be announced later.

Mr. McLaughlin had been ill three weeks. Besides his widow, Mrs. Anna Conroy McLaughlin of Fulton, he leaves two sons, William and James, and four brothers – John and Cornelius of Skaneateles, Dennis of this city [Syracuse] and Hugh McLaughlin of Missouri.


What jumps out is that William McLaughlin and his wife, Anna Conroy, had other children, two of whom are mentioned in the obituary, though they were (I think) conspicuously absent in the 1910 story about their father's return.

In all, William and Ann McLaughlin had seven children. Whether Mrs. McLaughlin was pregnant with the seventh child when her husband disappeared is an unanswered question. But for sure son James and a daughter, Genevieve, were alive when their father left. Son William supposedly was born in 1891, the year his father left. Perhaps his wife's pregnancy hadn't yet been discovered. Still, the couple had at least two children at home when William McLaughlin deserted his family.

As far as I can tell, their four children who died were all daughters – Ellen, Mary, Louise and Sara. (Genevieve would die at age 19 in 1907, three years before her father's return.)

The 1910 newspaper article says William and Ann McLaughlin also lost a boy named Arthur, but the only Arthur McLaughlin I have found so far with Skaneateles connections was William's nephew, the son of Dennis McLaughlin. It's possible William also had a son named Arthur who died at the age of three, but his name is not listed among those buried in the family plot.

Another slight complication: daughter Genevieve was three years old in 1891. So unless Genevieve and Arthur were twins ...

Contrary to what was reported in the newspaper article, it's extremely unlikely that Mrs. James McLaughlin Jr. accompanied her husband to Pennsylvania to find the missing brother. By 1910, James McLaughlin Jr. and his wife, the former Mary Jane O'Neil, had been separated for many years. She, in fact, had been declared incompetent and was subject of a long, unpleasant legal battle over the terms of a separation agreement her husband had signed.

The idea attributed to James McLaughlin Jr. in the 1910 article that his brother might have gone to England also seems incredibly far-fetched. The Skaneateles Press seemed to mention the comings and goings of every resident in the late 1800s; I've seen nothing about William McLaughlin traveling to England on company business, though others in the family made the trip a few times.

Also, I can't help but wonder how William's wife and sons felt. They had moved from Skaneateles to Fulton before 1900. At that point, Mrs. McLaughlin and everyone who knew her (with the possible exception of her brother-in-law James) considered her a widow. She apparently lived an active, independent life afterward, which makes me think her reunion with her long-lost husband was awkward and strained, to say the least. Their reunion in Fulton lasted four years before William McLaughlin died.