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McCool Name Study - Venango Co PA Line

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Surnames/tags: McCool McCoole
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This profile is part of the McCool Name Study.
This category is part of the McCool Name Study

This is one of several research areas of the McCool Name Study.

A large number of McCool descendants have lived in Venango Co PA since about 1800. All or most are believed to descend from George Plummer McCool Sr (abt.1765-abt.1815). AncestryDNA testing suggests that they most/all are related to each other (although matches could be on different lines). We have three matching Y-DNA tests on this line that may also link it to County Londonderry, but it is definitely NOT related to the Toberhead McCool line.


History of Venango County, PA

After Pennsylvania became a state in 1776, parts of the previous non-county areas in western PA began to split into new and reconfigured counties. The area that is now Venango County was first Westmoreland County, then Allegheny. Venango was formed on 12 Mar 1800 from parts of Allegheny Co and Lycoming Co. Venango had three border adjustments before arriving at its current borders in 1866[1].

Early McCools in Venango

The first confirmed McCool in Venango Co PA is George McCool, believed to be George Plummer McCool Sr (abt.1765-abt.1815). After Scrubgrass Township was established in March 1806, George McCool was a pioneer in one of the earliest settled areas of the county. "George McCool. - Two hundred and one acres...surveyed May 20, 1807, by virtue of settlement and improvement."[2]

A George McCool, presumably the same George, is listed in the 1800 US Census[3] in neighboring Armstrong (also formed in March 1800). It's unclear if George relocated to Venango Co by 1807, or if perhaps the borders between the new Armstrong and Venango Counties weren't yet well understood at the time of the 1800 Census. George is included in the 1810 US Census[4] in Venango County.

George probably had about 8 children, many of whose descendants live in the Venango area (and surrounding counties) to this day.

Venango County pre-1850 Census Records

Prior to 1850, US Census records only named the head of the household - and then gave counts of household members within various age ranges. Many McCools had the same name, so we can't generally assume that, for example, an 1820 John McCool is the same person as an 1840 John McCool.

DNA Testing

As of March 2022, we're tracking AncestryDNA tests from more than 75 people who are believed to be descendants of George. However, verifiable relationships are difficult to prove using autosomal DNA testing among residents who've lived in the same area for so long. Many of them likely match on non-McCool lines in addition to (or instead of) McCool.

Y-DNA Testing

As of Mar 2022, we have four matching McCool-surname Y-DNA tests that all show an estimated haplogroup of I-P37. Two of the men tested at Y-37 and two at Y-67. We could really use at least one Big Y-700 test from a male McCool descendant from the Venango group.

Only two of the four tested men (a Y-37 and a Y-67) have provided their ancestry:

  • The Y-37 McCool states that he descends from George's son Alexander; his AncestryDNA matches support (but can't fully prove) that. That would mean that his ancestors came to PA from Ireland prior to 1800.
  • The Y-67 McCool is believed to descend from a George McCool (c1824 County Londonderry or County Donegal - 1910 Huntingdon Co PA). That George's grandfather may have also been named George - and had been born in either county in Ireland about 1760. According to the 1900 US Census, his family arrived in the US about 1847.

This indicates that their common ancestor was born in Ireland.

  • The other two matching McCools haven't provided their ancestry. Based on their genetic distances (GD), it seems slightly more likely that they're part of the Venango Co Line.


  1. "Historical US Counties" - https://www.randymajors.org/maps
  2. "History of Venango County, Pennsylvania : its past and present, including its aboriginal history, the French and British occupation of the country, its early settlement and subsequent growth, a description of its historic and interesting localities, its rich oil deposits and their development, sketches of its cities, boroughs, townships, and villages, neighborhood and family history, portraits and biographies of pioneers and representative citizens, statistics, etc., etc.. Chicago, Ill.: Brown, Runk & Co., 1890."
  3. "United States Census, 1800," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRW-F5M : accessed 1 February 2021), George McCool, Buffalo, Armstrong, Pennsylvania, United States; citing p. 202, NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 35; FHL microfilm 363,338.
  4. "United States Census, 1810," database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XH2N-N7F : accessed 1 February 2021), George McCool, Venango, Pennsylvania, United States; citing p. 501, NARA microfilm publication M252 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 53; FHL microfilm 193,679.

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