Yesterday I posted about Pennsylvania’s Irish Roots, and the early immigration of Irish Catholics to Pennsylvania. It would be negligent to leave out the the immigration of the Scots-Irish to Pennsylvania, who came in great numbers also in the 1700’s.
There is a delightful book on archive.org you can download to read or view on your computer containing the history of the Scots-Irish and their impact on both PA and national events. My favorite part of the book is an address given by then former Pennsylvania Chief Justice Daniel Agnew, entitled The Scots-Irish of Pennsylvania. He traces the early migration of the Scot-Irish through out Pennsylvania and highlights famous Scots-Irish descendents. Perhaps you remember The Whiskey Rebellion of 1791-1794? Here’s Agnew’s telling of it:
“The event which brought the Scotch-Irish in western Pennsylvania into greatest notoriety was the whisky insurrection of 1794. As a people all had known from experience or tradition the hardships of the excise duty. Among Irishmen of all persuasions, the killing of an exciseman was considered as scarcely a crime. Even the assembly of Pennsylvania, by a resolution of June 22, 1791, declared the collection of revenue by excise duty subversive of peace, liberty, and the rights of the citizen, and a violation of the fundamental rights of the government. At that early day whisky was the only article commanding cash. The person who may be said to have been the leader in this so-called ** rebellion ” was David Bradford, a lawyer of Washington, Pennsylvania. He was finally compelled to flee at the coming of Washington, Hamilton, and the militia, leaving his papers in the hands of James Allison, Esquire ; who afterward settled in Beaver, and became its leading and honored lawyer.
At his death his descendants thought no benefit would arise from their publication, and the contents of the unopened box remain unknown. Perhaps much valuable matter has thus failed to see the light ; yet, on the other hand, much unnecessary harm has been saved.
Judge H. H. Breckenridge attended the meetings of the insurgents, but for the purpose, as was alleged, of preventing extreme measures. He was however strongly opposed to the excise law, and expressed the opinion that the danger lay in the western men swarming over the Susquehanna instead of being repressed. This is seen in his letter to Tench Cox, Esquire, of August 8, 1794. Secretary Hamilton, however, excused him, on the plea suggested by Mr. Ross, of his properly intended purpose.
Among the memorable events of the insurrection was the burning of the house of General John Nevelle, the United States inspector and collector of the revenue for western Pennsylvania.
This insurrection, not justified, but in some measure extenuated, “by the severity of the excise law, is a striking evidence of the indomitable character of the Scotch-Irish, and of their courage when any measure, believed by them to be hostile to liberty and good government, is attempted to be forced upon them. Indeed, it required the militia of three states, Pennsylvania, Virginia and New Jersey, under the command of President Washington in person, accompanied by Secretary Hamilton, to subdue their determined opposition. My grandfather. Major Richard Howell, then governor of New Jersey, commanded the contingent of that state, camping at McNairs, near the present town of Wilkinsburg.”
Chief Justice Agnew also shared the names of many families of Scots-Irish who lived in various regions of Pennsylvania. Here are some excerpts of the speech just showing of the surnames included in the history:
“In the early settlement of the province, the Scotch-Irish were found in the eastern counties in Chester and along the Maryland line, and in Northampton, Lancaster and Northumberland, then filling all the eastern part of the province. Their advent into Northampton was very early, and chiefly in Allen township. Among them are Boyds, Browns, Craigs, Walkers,- Kings and McNairs, Hays, Latimore, Wilson, Young, Gibson, Riddle, Armstrong and Gray. Another collocation, known as the ‘hunter settlement,’ located near the mouth of Martin’s creek.”
“In that part of York, now Adams county, we have the McPhersons, McLellands, Campbells, Allisons, Wilsons, Morrisons, Stewarts, Worrells, George Cahoon, George and William Galloway, Andreas Lycon, David Huddleson, James and Thomas Parker, Owen McKeeb, William White, John McClure, Richard Kirkpatrick, James Murray, John Scott, John Cowan, Simon Girtee, John Killough, James Blair, Moses Moore, Andrew and Arthur Dunlap, Andrew and Alexander McCartie, David Lewis, Felix Doyle, Robert Baker, John Armstrong and John Potts. At Big Cove were found Andrew Donaldson, John McClelland, Charles Stewart, James Downey, John McMean, Robert Kendall, Samuel Brown, Roger Murphy, Robert Smith, William Dickey, William Milliron, William Cowall, James Campbell, William Carroll, John Martin, John Morrison, John McCallin, James and John Wilson.”
“Among the early Scotch-Irish settlers about Lewistown and west-ward, were the McClays, McNitts, Milliken, Liirkins, Wilson, Bratton, and Stockpole. Farther on and nearer Standing Stone (now Huntington), were Elliott, Hayne, Cluggage, McMurtrie, Anderson, McGuire, McPlevey, McCormick, Donnelly and others. Still westward were the Caldwells, Tussey, Ricketts, Bell, Travis, Dean, Donaldson, Mitchell and many others.”
“In Meginises Biographical Annals [is mentioned many families], among them are the Armstrongs, Antes, Aliens, Bradys, Brysons, l^airds, Crawfords, Campbells, Camerons, Davidsons, Dougals, Elliotts, Fricks, Flemings, Griers, Gambles, Grenoughs, Irwins, Jourdans, McClays, McCormicks, Stewarts, Taggarts, and others.”
“In Westmoreland and Allegheny many became eminent, such as- Alexander Addison, H. H. Breckenridge, James Ross, John Wood, Colonel Gibson, James O’Hara and others. If any one would see the Scotch-Irish in form and feature let him view them in the portraits of their descendants as seen in the history of Washington county. For example, the portraits of William McLain, Robert Stewart, S. N. Proudfit, Walter Craig, William Smith, Parker Reed, John S. Barr, William Lee, and Samuel Barnard. Personally they were hard visaged, angular, square shouldered, stalwart, and generally large men; rough in exterior, strong minded, religious and even severe in disposition.”
“Warren county, on the New York state line, also furnished a large contingent, who settled on the Conewango and Brokenstraw as early as 1795. Here we discover the names of Miles, Russell, Frew, Marsh, and Jones. Then James Morrison, followed by Barfiett, Faulkner, Wilson, Smith, and others. When came the McKenzies, Andrews, Kirks, Kinnear, and Quay.”
In addition Agnew mentions several notable names: George Woods, locally famous for being kidnapped by Indians; Robert Fulton, inventor of the steam boat; and John C. Calhoun, U.S. Senator from South Carolina, whose family originated in PA.
I hope you enjoy this history of the Scots-Irish as much as I did!