Biography of Emmett W. McConnell
Scott County, VA Biographies

EMMETT W. McCONNELL was born in Scott County, Virginia, near Nickelsville, March 17, 1868. His parents were George W. McConnell and Nancy Berilla Greear. He is descended from George McConnell Sr., the progenitor of the McConnell family in this section. In his boyhood he attended the public schools at Glade Hollow schoolhouse, near his home In 1886, his father sold his farm on Valley Creek and removed with his family to the State of Kansas, where young McConnell spent a portion of his young manhood.

Young McConnell chose for his life work a rather unique field in which to operate — that of originator, producer, and builder of scenographic spectacles and extravaganzas — a field in which he has achieved great success. Through his connection with world fairs and expositions, he has become an international figure, holding important concessions at expositions both in the United States and Europe. He is the creator and owner of many widely known scenographic spectacles. He began his career with the historical cyclorama of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, exhibited at the Spring Palace, Fort Worth, Texas, in 1890—91. He next produced the volcano of Kilauea of Hawaii for the World's Fair at Chicago, in 1893. The realistic reproduction of this volcano gave him an international reputation and his spectacles became an almost indispensable part of an exposition, no matter where held.

His spectacle of the battle between the Merrimac and Monitor, exhibited at the Jamestown Exposition, was invented and made at the request of Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. The British naval review spectacle, shown at the Shakespearian Exposition in London in 1910, was produced for Lady Randolph Churchill, wife of Lord Churchill and mother of Winston Churchill, the lord high admiral of the British Navy, at the time of the coronation of George V. Mr. McConnell was awarded a gold medal for this spectacle. At the Hunting Exposition in Vienna, Austria, under the auspices of Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, and under the personal direction of the Duke of Furstenberg, he produced the Battle of Lissa, the first naval engagement between ironclad ships in Europe. He was awarded a gold medal of the first order for this achievement.

Mr. McConnell. in building Philippine, Hawalian, and Samoan villages, imported great cargos of natives, their beasts of burden, their wares, and implements of their daily toil.

He is now (1932) making prepatdtions to reproduce King Solomon’s Temple and the Battle of Chateau Thierry for the Century of Progress Exposition, to be held in Chicago in 1933.
He has had part in the following expositions:
Spring Palace, Fort Worth, Texas, 1890—91.
Chicago World’s Fair, 1893.
Midwinter Fair, San Francisco, 1894.
Tr-State Exposition, Tacoma, Washington, 1804.
Cotton States Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia, 1895.
Tennessee Centennial Exposition, Nashville, Tennessee, 1897.
Trans-Mississippi Exposition, Omaha, Nebraska, 1897-98.
Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, 1901.
South Carolina and West Indian Exposition, Charleston, South Carolina, 1902.
Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis, Missouri, 1904.
Jamestown Exposition, Norfolk, Virginia, 1907.
Seattle Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1900.
British-Japanese Exposition, London, 1910.
Hunting Exposition, Vienna, Austria, 1910.
Panama -Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, 1915.
Bronx International Exposition, 1918.
Sesquf-Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1926.
Century of Progress, Chicago, Illinois, (in preparation), 1933.

The following is a list of some of the scenographic spectacles he has exhibited at various expositions:

Historical cyclorama of the Battle of Missionary Ridge; volcano of Kilauca; Hawaiian, Samoan, Fijian, Tahitian, and Solomon Islands villages; historical cyclonama; palace of illusions; Battle of Gettysburg; chute the chutes; old plantation; Hobson sinking the Merrimac; the Moorish palace; Philippine villages; the Johnstown flood; Jerusalem on the day of the crucifixion; Second Battle of Manassas; spectatorium, New York to the North Pole; the Galveston flood; Battle Abbey; marine "Shouspiel"; creation of the world; Battle of Lissa; mountain scenic railway; fighting the flames spectacle; Congress of the American Indians; King Solomon's Temple; the Battle of Chaueau Thierry.

History of Scott County, Virginia
By: Robert M. Addington
Privately Printed 1932

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