Guide to the Papers of Margaret Townsend Scully, 1789-1953

Digital Research Library, University Library System

Summary Information

Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Papers of Margaret Townsend Scully
Margaret Townsend Scully, 1881-1953
Collection Number
Date [inclusive]
2.75 cubic feet (6 boxes)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Margaret Townsend Scully was a published poet, local historian and active participant in many civic, cultural, and social organizations in Pittsburgh. A member of prominent early Pittsburgh families, Scully compiled genealogical research and manuscripts on these families. This collection includes personal papers, photographs, genealogical research notes, newsclippings, correspondence, published materials and original manuscript material from the Scully family and related families.
Sponsor Note
This finding aid has been encoded as a part of the Historic Pittsburgh project, a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Funding for this portion of the project has been donated by the Hillman Foundation.

Preferred Citation

Papers of Margaret Townsend Scully, 1789-1952, MSS #34, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania.

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Biographical Sketch of Margaret Townsend Scully (1881-1953)

Margaret Townsend Scully was the great-granddaughter of Denis Sullivan Scully, who first came to Pittsburgh in 1805 with his older brother, John. The brothers had emigrated from Cork County, Ireland, and settled in Pittsburgh after spending some time in Ohio. Both brothers became leaders in Pittsburgh's early industry and their decendants become prominent in local business, politics, and philanthropy.

Denis Sullivan and his older brother, John, left Cork, Ireland around 1803 for New York. Upon arrival, the brothers added Scully to their name for reasons which remain unclear. After coming to Pittsburgh in 1805, John Sullivan Scully (-1837) settled in Chartiers Township (Pa.) and his family remained there for several generations. His grandson, John Sullivan Scully II, became president of the Diamond National Bank and his great grandson, Cornelius D. Scully, served as mayor of Pittsburgh from 1938 to 1946. Denis Sullivan Scully (1782-1853) settled in Pittsburgh and married Ann O'Hara (1796-1875), sister of General James O'Hara, in 1815. In 1816, Scully and O'Hara opened the Hermitage Furnace, an iron-works in Ligonier which only remained open for one year. Despite this unsuccessful business venture, Denis Scully worked as a lawyer and continued working with James O'Hara. He helped to manage O'Hara's Pittsburgh glass-works in 1818 and, after the death of James O'Hara in 1819, served as executor to his will. He and Ann O'Hara Scully had six children: William O'Hara, James O'Hara, John Desmond, Kate Desmond, Charles B., and Harmer Denny. Denis S. Scully's second son, James O'Hara Scully (1816-1859), had a more successful experience in the iron industry than his father. He worked as a partner with James Wood and Company and Knapp, Scully and Company, two Pittsburgh iron mills. In 1851, James O'Hara Scully married Margaret Jackson Townsend (1828-1861), a member of a prominent Beaver County (Pa.) Family.

The Townsend family had migrated to Pennsylvania from England before the Revolutionary War and settled in Philadelphia. Robert Townsend (1790-1867) moved to Pittsburgh in 1816 and started a wire manufacturing business. In 1828 he moved the operation to New Brighton, Beaver County, (Pa.) and operated the firm of R. Townsend and Company with his son, William Penn Townsend. In 1852, the firm began to manufacture iron rivets and changed its name to the Juniata Wire and Rivet Mills; the company also operated under the name of W. P. Townsend and Company and C.C. and E.P. Townsend and Company. The company continued to operate for over a century and was managed by several of Robert Townsend's descendants.

James O'Hara and Margaret Townsend Scully had three sons: Henry Rees, George T. and James Wood. Henry Rees Scully (1852-1932), the father of Margaret Townsend Scully, entered the banking business soon after he graduated from the Western University of Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh) in 1872. He was associated with the Mechanics Bank and spent the majority of his career with the Dollar Savings Bank of Pittsburgh. After retiring from the Dollar Savings Bank, Henry Rees Scully served on the vestry of the Calvary Episcopal Church and was active with the Church Pension Fund of Pittsburgh and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. His wife, Mary Morrow Murtland Scully (1853-1932), was an artist whose paintings were exhibited at the Carnegie Museum and several other museums throughout the country. Henry Rees and Mary Morrow Murtland Scully's children include: Margaret Townsend, Arthur Murtland, Rees Townsend, Janet McLean and Donald Cadwalader. All three of their sons served during World War I. After the War, Arthur Scully built a successful law practice in Pittsburgh; Rees Scully worked as an engineer and, like his mother, became an artist; and Donald Cadwalader Scully worked with the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and was vice-president of the Joseph Woodwell Company.

Margaret Townsend Scully was a published poet, local historian, and active participant in many civic, cultural and social organizations. During World War I, Margaret Townsend Scully was active in the American Red Cross and as president of the Junior Auxiliary of the Pittsburgh Anti-Suffrage Organization helped to direct classes on Red Cross work and relief. She was a graduate of the Thurston Preparatory School, a private girls school located in Pittsburgh's East End, and was later active in the Thurston-Gleim Social Service League. In 1936, she published a collection of poems entitled White Rose of Essex, which was illustrated by her mother, Mary Morrow Murtland Scully. She devoted several years to researching the history and genealogy of the Scully family and other related families. These families include: the Brereton family, Cadwalader family, the Croghan and Schenley family, the Denny family, the Jackson family, the O'Hara family, the O'Harra family (distant relatives of the O'Hara family), the Murtland family, and the Townsend family. After a trip to Ireland in 1939, Margaret Townsend Scully concentrated her research on the family's history in Ireland before emigrating to Pittsburgh. She also spent many years working on a biography of her ancestor, General James O'Hara, the first Quartermaster General to the United States and early Pittsburgh industrialist. She never completed his biography but was continually devoted to promoting his importance to the history of Western Pennsylvania. In 1940, Margaret Townsend Scully, with support from Brigadier General Russell C. Langdon, successfully campaigned to have an Army transport vessel named after James O'Hara. The ship, General O'Hara, was christened that same year in Tacoma, Washington. Her interest in local history and genealogy often brought her to the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, where she was a member for over twenty years and served as a trustee from 1948 until her death in 1953. She also served as chairman of the women's auxiliary to the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. In addition to these activities, Margaret Townsend Scully was also a vice chairman to the Western Pennsylvania Hospital (Pittsburgh, Pa.), member of the Twentieth Century Club, and member of the Daughters of the American Pioneers. She and many of the Scully family members were dedicated and contributing members of the Calvary Episcopal Church of Shadyside (Pittsburgh, Pa.).

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Scope and Content Notes

These papers include genealogical research notes, newspaper clippings, correspondence, published materials, and original manuscript material from the Scullys and other related families. The personal papers of Margaret Townsend Scully primarily relate to her genealogical work, but do include some letters and newspaper clippings regarding her work in benevolent and cultural organizations. Extensive genealogical research material includes comprehensive biographical information compiled for the biography of General James O'Hara, materials relating to the Irish ancestry of the Scully family, and several newspaper clippings regarding more contemporary members of Margaret Townsend Scully's family. The original manuscript material is not comprehensive, but includes interesting early correspondence (1789-1951) and other materials relating to a range of topics. These papers would be helpful to those researching early Pittsburgh families and Irish migration, early and mid-twentieth century women's organizations and social life as represented by Margaret Townsend Scully and many of her relatives included in this collection, and genealogical information on the families represented.

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The Margaret Townsend Scully Papers are housed in five archival boxes and arranged alphabetically by folder title.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Digital Research Library, University Library System Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Summer, 1999

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or publish, please contact the curator of the Archives.

Acquisition Information

These materials came in one accession, 1951.

Acc# 1951x Gift of Margaret Townsend Scully, (Papers).

Processing Information

This collection was processed by R. Balliet on April 13, 1995.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Jennifer Marshall on July 6, 1999.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • United States -- Army -- Transportation
  • American Red Cross
  • Calvary Episcopal Church (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Pittsburgh Anti-Suffrage Organization
  • St. Andrews Church (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Alumni Association of the Pittsburgh School of Design

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Genealogy
  • Beaver County (Pa.) -- Commerce
  • Beaver County (Pa.) -- Social life and customs
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Commerce
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Religion
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Social life and customs

Personal Name(s)

  • Scully, Margaret Townsend, -- 1891-1953
  • Langdon, Russell C., -- 1872-1970
  • O'Hara, James, -- 1752-1819
  • Schenley, Mary Croghan, -- 1827-1903
  • Scully, Denis Sullivan, -- 1782-1853.
  • Townsend, Robert B., -- 1790-1867
  • Croghan, William II
  • Denny, Harmar
  • Denny, Harmar Denny, Jr.
  • Gaul, Harvey
  • Mann, Alexander
  • Scaife, Lauriston L.
  • Scully, Arthur
  • Scully, Henry Rees, -- 1852-1932
  • Scully, Mary Morrow Murtland, -- 1853-1932
  • Brereton Family
  • Cadwalader Family
  • Childers Family
  • Croghan Family
  • Denny Family
  • O'Hara Family
  • Scully Family
  • Townsend Family


  • Charities -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Church buildings -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Irish Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Suffrage -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Women -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Women -- Suffrage -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Women in charitable work -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Canals -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Quartermasters -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Weddings -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

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Collection Inventory

Personal Papers 

Scope and Content Notes

The personal papers of Margaret Townsend Scully include general material and correspondence. The general material (1916-1953) includes newspaper clippings and other materials related to her work with the Pittsburgh Anti-Suffrage Organization and the American Red Cross during World War I. These materials also include receipts of travel expenditures during her trip to Ireland in 1939, articles relating to the release of her collection of poems, White Rose of Essex, various programs to Pittsburgh cultural events, and an inventory of Scully family glassware lent by Margaret Townsend Scully to an unknown borrower. The correspondence of Margaret Townsend Scully primarily includes requests for information for her genealogical research and other letters regarding family histories. Other correspondence includes letters regarding her work with the American Red Cross, the loan of several David Gilmore Blythe paintings by the Scully family to the Carnegie Museum (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and the Whitney Museum of Art (New York, NY), and extensive correspondence between Margaret Townsend Scully and Brigadier General Russell C. Langdon regarding the naming of the U.S. transport vessel, General O'Hara.

General Material 1916-1953 11
 1919-1939 2
 1940-1950 3
Research Diaries c. 1939 4

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Genealogical Materials 

Scope and Content Notes

The genealogical materials do not include dates, being that most of the papers are Margaret Townsend Scully's personal notes. The most comprehensive papers included are those relating to the O'Hara, Scully, and Townsend families. Some correspondence remains with all of these materials rather than being included in Margaret Townsend Scully's personal papers because they contain detailed information relevant to her research.


The genealogical materials are arranged alphabetically by family name.

Brereton Family 5

The Brereton family materials are extremely limited and primarily document World War II General Lewis Hyde Brereton.

Cadwalader Family 6

The Cadwalader family materials are also limited but do include some correspondence and family trees. They are related to the Scully family through the Townsend family.

Croghan/Schenley Family 7

The Croghan and Schenley families, a relation of the O'Hara family, includes more extensive materials, primarily newspaper clippings.

Denny Family 8

The papers related to the Denny family, also a relation of the O'Hara family, are limited, but do include election materials from the campaigns of Harmar Denny Denny, Jr..

Jackson Family 9

The Jackson family materials are also limited and primarily include research notes and newspaper clippings. The Jackson family is a relation to the Townsend family.

O'Hara Family 2

Scope and Content Notes

The O'Hara family materials provide the most extensive collection of biographical information, research notes, and newspaper clippings. The general family history includes information on Catherine O'Hara, Mary Carson O'Hara, Theodore O'Hara, William O'Hara and materials relating to their early Irish ancestry. Materials relating to the research and writing of the James O'Hara biography is included within these family materials. This material includes extensive notes on general research compiled for the book and the working draft of the biography. In addition to these papers there is limited information regarding the O'Harra family, a distant relation of the Irish ancestry of the O'Hara family.

General Material 1
C-W 2
Irish Ancestry 3
O'Hara, James 
General Material 4-5
Working Draft of Biography 
Part 1 6
Part 2 7
Part 3 8
 Part 4 31
Miscellaneous Notes 2
O'Harra Family 3
Murtland Family 4
Scully Family 

Scope and Content Notes

The majority of Scully family materials were compiled during Margaret Townsend Scully's trip to Ireland in 1939 and include the research notes on her early Irish ancestry and biographical information regarding her great-grandfather, Denis Sullivan Scully. Biographical information, primarily newspaper clippings, is also included on many of Margaret Townsend Scully's siblings and their children. Research notes on the Scully ancestry in and around Pittsburgh primarily relate to Denis and John Sullivan Scully after their arrival and include information relating to possible reasons why "Scully" was added to their name.

A-D 5
H-W 6
Irish Ancestry 7
Irish Ancestry 8
Notebooks 41
Pittsburgh Ancestry 2
Townsend Family 

Scope and Content Notes

The Townsend family materials include an extensive amount of general information that consists of newspaper clippings and research notes. This material relates to Townsend family members who settled and stayed in the Philadelphia region and those who migrated to Western Pennsylvania, including Robert Townsend, with historical information regarding his wire and rivet manufacturing business. These papers also include information regarding the English ancestry of the Townsend family.

General Material 3
General Material 4
English Ancestry 5
Miscellaneous Families 6

Miscellaneous family materials include information on distant relatives or families related by marriage, including the Bissel, Childers, Crane, McLean, Rankin, Wolfe, and Woodwell families.

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Original Materials 

Scope and Content Notes

The original manuscript material includes correspondence, legal documents, programs and invitations, and other sundry items.


The original manuscript material is arranged alphabetically by family name.

Cadwalader Family 1796-1811 7

There are limited materials for the Cadwalader family, which include only a few letters. The Cadwalader correspondence includes a letter from Lambert Cadwalader (1796), a representative of New Jersey in the Continental Congress, regarding financial matters and a letter from M. Cadwalader (1811) regarding the Harrisburg and Presque Isle Company.

Croghan/Schenley Family 1822-1844 8

Correspondence from the Croghan and Schenley families includes letters from William Croghan II to his father and to his son, William Croghan III. Two letters of Mary Croghan Schenley include one to her father and a one to Elizabeth O'Hara Denny with detailed descriptions of her experiences in Demerara, a British territory in North Guyana, where she was living with her husband, Captain Edward W.H. Schenley, in 1844.

Denny Family c. 1827-1849 9

The Denny family correspondence includes letters to Harmer Denny regarding canal construction and maintenance and the planning of streets and thoroughfares.

Jackson Family 1851-1869 10

Only one letter is included for the Jackson family and that is from a relative in Ireland writing to a cousin in the United States (1869).

 O'Hara Family 1789-1856 11

The O'Hara family original material includes correspondence regarding loans and business transactions, receipts, and the wills of James O'Hara (1819) and Mary Carson O'Hara (1832).

Scully Family 

Scope and Content Notes

The Scully family original material is the most comprehensive and includes correspondence, legal documents, programs and invitations, and other miscellaneous materials. The correspondence includes several letters from Denis S. Scully regarding land settlement and rent collection in Pittsburgh, the resignation letter of Henry Rees Scully to the Dollar Bank of Pittsburgh (1901) and later correspondence with Calvary Episcopal Church during his service with the vestry, the Church Pension Fund, and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Also included are several letters from Arthur Scully to his parents during his service in World War I. Other papers of Henry Rees Scully are also included, consisting of two report cards from the Western University of Pennsylvania (1836-1838) and the 1865 preamble and resolution of the Pittsburgh Temperance League. Other materials include an 1851 petition to open the Select School for Young Ladies in Lawrenceville (Pittsburgh,Pa.) and meeting minutes of the Alumnae Association of the Pittsburgh School of Design (1913). The Scully family legal documents include the wills of Charles B. Scully (1874) and Anne Scully (1877). A large volume of wedding invitations and miscellaneous programs from the Scully's other family members and friends are also included.

 1836-1924 12
Legal Documents 1874-1888 13
Programs and Invitations 
 1889-1951 51
 n.d. 2
Townsend Family 1825-1862 3

The Townsend family original materials primarily include both the incoming and outgoing letters of Robert B. Townsend relating to family and business matters.

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Scrapbooks and Clippings 

Scope and Content Notes

The scrapbooks and clippings primarily relate more to local history than family genealogy, except for an early scrapbook (1853-1919) that includes a collection of clippings regarding family news. This scrapbook also includes early articles on healthcare and various remedies for disease. The clippings of church events primarily relate to the Calvary Episcopal Church of Shadyside and include articles on the retirement of Bishop Alexander Mann (1942), the death of Dr. Harvey Gaul (1945), music director at Calvary Church, and Dr. Lauriston L. Scaife, rector of Calvary Church and later bishop of Western New York (c1948). Other clippings include obituaries and articles relating to general Pittsburgh history and local homes and buildings. These include many articles on mansions and other homes of early prominent Pittsburgh families and their demolition in the 1940s and 1950s.

Church Events 1932-1951 4
Irish History 1930-1939 5
Obituaries 1947-1951 6
History 1861-c. 1952 7
Homes and Buildings 1939-1951 8
 n.d. 6

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Miscellaneous 1

General miscellaneous material includes various newspaper clippings and the published memoirs of Sabina T. McDonnell (c1846).

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