George Washington Donnell is one of my great grandfathers and I have done some work on his line. I have gathered quite a bit of evidence that his father was Reuben Donnell. First of all, his death certificate states this. Census data for 1850, 1860, and 1870 also support this. Father and son are very closely linked throughout the family's migrations from Tennessee, to Mississippi, and on to Texas. There are also secondary sources that discuss this family. As for the link from Reuben to John, and on back, there are many researchers working on these lines who are convinced of this connection. I have recently begun collecting evidence on this and just yesterday received a copy of the will of John Donnell, Sr. of Madison Co., Tennessee that mentions Reuben as a son.
As far as the O'Donnell original name, I too was told this as a child by my father. I have since learned that this was quite common in Scotch Irish families. Many McDonnells became O'Donnells when they moved from Scotland to Ireland and subsequently dropped the "O" after coming to America generations later.
I would be happy to send you copies of what I have. Please e-mail me separately.
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