Samuel M. Donnell was a prominent citizen of Newark, Delaware, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Donnell was the son of Andrew, a farmer, and Rosa (Mathewson) Donnell. While little biographical information exists, a Delaware directory from 1882 lists Donnell's occupation as farmer. According to an 1884 directory, his occupation had changed to real estate. By 1888, Donnell was advertising his services in the Delaware directory as a notary public, real estate agent, general collection broker, insurance agent, and loan negotiator. The advertisement also stated that Donnell's offices were located opposite Delaware College. Between 1888 and 1914, Donnell acted as an insurance agent for Fire Association of Philadelphia and the Royal Insurance Company of Liverpool, England.
Donnell married Mary Bedford Cooch, the daughter of Levi G. Cooch and Sarah Conant Wilkins. They had no children. Widely active in the affairs of the Newark community, Donnell served as president of the town council in 1885, as commissioner on the town council in 1887, as secretary of Hiram Lodge #25 in 1882, and served numerous terms as town mayor. Samuel Donnell owned many properties within the city of Newark, including his farm, located just off Main Street and New London Road. Donnell also purchased a parcel of land from the estate of Albert G. Lewis and conveyed it to the Board of Education. The tract is now occupied by the Christina School District.
Cooch, Frances A. Little Known History of Newark, Delaware and its Environs. Newark, Del.: The Press of Kells, 1936.
Hanby, Egbert G. and Jas. L. Vallandigham, Jr. Newark, Delaware: Past and Present. Newark, Del.: Delaware Ledger Print, 1982.
Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Delaware: 1609-1888 , Vol. 2. Philadelphia: L.J. Richards & Co., 1888.
The Delaware State Directory . Wilmington, Del.: Jenkins & Atkinson, 1882, 1884, and 1888.
The account books of Samuel M. Donnell span the dates 1852 until 1880 and encompass both Donnell's real estate concerns and his farming and household interests in Newark, Delaware. Divided into four volumes, three of the volumes include numerous accounts. Volume 1 contains accounts for the sale of houses in Montgomery, Alabama, as well as a list of deposits and withdrawals for Donnell's account at the National Bank of Newark. Volume 2 consists of a cash book for Donnell's household expenditures. Volume 3 includes Donnell's accounts for employees for both his farm and his household, in addition to an account Donnell held with Lorenza Long. Volume 4 serves as a form of address book for individuals who owe interest on loans made by Donnell. It is obvious from these volumes that Donnell was a man of substantial income who interacted with a large number of individuals who impacted early Newark history. The list of citizens includes Joseph Hossinger, John Lewis, A. Lowber, S.W. Wilson, members of the Cooch family, C.W. Blandy, David Choate, and A.J. Lilley.