Too Many Samuel McCunes

Due to the fact that many early families named their children over direct ancestors, there are often names that reappear over and over again in the families. This can create some real challenges when drawing up the family lines correctly and mistakes become all too common. Unfortunately, many of these errors have been published and accepted as true, leaving pitfalls for the unwary genealogist. A case in point is the lineage of Samuel McCune who married Eleanor Sharp, daughter of Alexander and Margaret.

The Biographical Annals of Franklin County is a well-known resource for Cumberland researchers, but it needs to be used with discretion. In the case of Samuel, this is particularly neccesary as there were multiple Samuel McCunes in the area and they are often confused. Here's the entry as it appears it the Annals:
Eleanor married Samuel McCune, son of Samuel and Hannah (Brady) McCune, and had issue: Isabella married George Allen; Mary married Alfred Moore, and had Harry, Edgar, William, Alice, Clara, and Rosalfa. Eleanor married Henry Spriggs; Samuel married Mary Ellen Maclay, daughter of David and Eleanor (Herron) Maclay, and had David Maclay, John Theodore and James Albert; Alexander S. married married Mary Walker, and had Minnie, Ettie and Eleanor; John; Bethsheba married John T. Green, and had Elizabeth, William Elder, Oliver M., and Annette; and Margaret (born Oct. 7, 1811 - died May 23, 1877) married Feb. 9, 1832, Samuel Wherry (born July 22 1804 - died Sept. 2, 1861) and had Alexander Sharp, Margaret Jane, Eleanor Sharp, John, Samuel McCune, Robert Sterrett and William Elder.
The children of Eleanor and Samuel are correct, but the parents of Samuel are wrong. Since this family attended Middle Spring Presbyterian and many of them are buried there, it becomes relatively easy to check the dates of those mentioned to determine whether this line of descent is actually possible.
Hannah Brady was born in 1776 and married Samuel McCune in 1793. Samuel was born in 1770. Though Hannah and Samuel had a son named Samuel, he was not born until 1814. This doesn't appear to be a problem until we look at the children that are attributed to this marriage as shown above. Of these, one of the easiest to check is their son Samuel who married Mary Ellen Maclay as both of them are buried at Middle Spring. From Samuel's stone, we have a birth date of 1819, at which point Hannah and Samuel's son Samuel was only 5 years old!
Eleanor Sharp, daughter of Alexander and Margaret was born in 1792 and died in 1835. She married Samuel McCune in 1810, so obviously, she could not have married the Samuel who was the son of Samuel and Hannah since he wasn't born until 1814. There is however a Samuel who does fit. He was the son of John McCune and Bethsheba Sterrett and was born in 1790. Once we put the children in their proper order based on their christening dates, we show them as follows:
  • 1. Margaret MCCUNE,   b. 07 Oct 1811,   d. 23 May 1877
  • 2. Bethsheba MCCUNE,   c. 13 Apr 1813, Middle Spring Presbyterian, Cumberland Co., PA 
  • 3. John MCCUNE, c. 4/9/1816, Middle Spring Presbyterian, Cumberland Co., PA
  • 4. Alexander Sharpe MCCUNE,   c. 08 Apr 1817, Middle Spring Presbyterian, Cumberland Co., PA 
  • 5. Samuel Elder MCCUNE,   b. 02 Oct 1819,   d. 17 Sep 1860
  • 6. Eleanor Jane MCCUNE,   c. 09 Apr 1822, Middle Spring Presbyterian, Cumberland Co., PA 
  • 7. Isabella MCCUNE,   c. 11 Apr 1826, Middle Spring Presbyterian, Cumberland Co., PA 
  • 8. Mary MCCUNE,   c. 14 Apr 1829, Middle Spring Presbyterian, Cumberland Co., PA
At this point, a pattern becomes apparent as Samuel and Eleanor followed common naming structures for their children. Their first born daughter was named Margaret after her mother, their second daughter was named Bethsheba after his mother, first born son was named John after his father, second born son was named Alexander after her father.
Sometimes, the answers are not readily seen when it comes to family trees, but with additional research from more reliable records, the real answers can be determined.