Thursday, March 17, 2011

Finding my Irish Roots

Merttie Lee Powers in Eastern Kentucky
My Irish roots, where should I start? First of all, I love Ireland, never been there, but I love the pictures I see, it has a pull on me. I love Celtic Music {Enya, Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder, Riverdance.} I’m listening to Enya as I write this. I always look for my Irish roots. I think we look for what we feel we look like, and I always felt, and was told I looked Irish, with my red hair, green eyes and light skin. My mom and her sisters always look for the Native American in our family tree, as they all have dark hair, dark eyes {except one that has green} and high cheekbones, and they were told their grandma’s great grandma was Native American married to an Irish man {which would be James Huston},but so far it is our brick wall. We were also told we had Irish in our blood. My mom has dark hair and eyes, my dad has blond hair and green eyes, I was their first born with red hair, where did it come from? My first place to look was my grandparents, but didn’t find it there, then I looked at 4 of my great grandparents that had red hair {I was told it use to be, it was white when I knew them}. The first one was on my mom’s side, Merttie Lee Powers Long, from Eastern Kentucky. She had long auburn red hair and brown eyes.Well, Powers is usually listed as an Irish name. I never went to the Powers reunions as they stopped having them before I was born, but knew a lot of them had red hair from being in school with them. We have a brick wall with our Powers family. The furthest back we can get is Jeremiah Powers who was born 1801 in Kentucky, his family probably came from Virginia or North Carolina before that. He grew up in Bath Co., KY., he married Leah McCarty {Irish or Scottish surname} in 1823 in Bath Co., KY. They raised 9 sons in Bath and Morgan Co., KY., their oldest son Thomas Powers married the neighbor girl, Cynthia Anna Wells, in 1845, in Bath. Cynthia had a grandma named Elizabeth Burk Parker. Burk is an Irish surname, but that’s all I know about Elizabeth. Thomas Powers was killed in the civil war and Cynthia was left a widow with 7 children to raise. She raised them by herself, in Morgan and Menifee Co., KY. Thomas and Cynthia’s son was James Powers who married Emily Frisby. I believe the Frisby family was English, but I found an Irish heritage in this family, Emily’s grandmother was Sally Day Frisby and Sally’s parents were Reuben Day and Martha Prunty. The Prunty’s can be traced to County Down in Ireland. So I am now going to go to the first one in the Prunty family, he was my 7th great grandfather, Barnabus Prunty, he died about 1751 in County Down, Ireland, age 33, 10 years after the  Irish Great Frost. His son, James Prunty, my 6th great grandfather was born 1743 in Ireland. James grew up in County Down and married Mary about 1763. He then came to Colonial Virginia by 1776. He was in the Revolutionary War in Virginia. Mary must have died before June 26, 1794 because he then married Martha Turner on June 26, 1794 in Franklin Co., VA. His daughter, Martha “Patsy” Prunty then married Reuben Day and they had Sally Day Frisby who I talked about above.

Merttie Lee Powers

Merttie Lee Powers, age 15.

 Great grandma Long:  Prunty. Then I have the ones not traced back : Powers, Burk, and McCarty.

On my dad’s side, I heard that my great grandpa Davis had red hair and that my grandpa Davis was not happy about my hair, as he didn’t get along with his father, James Kemper Sherman Davis. I have a picture of James and he had red hair and light eyes {probably green}.All my Davis cousins born before me had blond or light brown hair and light eyes. All my Dad’s siblings had blond hair, except his oldest sister who had light brown. My great grandpa died before I was born and my grandpa Davis died when I was 3. My dad didn’t know any of his family history, but we found out James Davis wife was a Wilcox, and all her family on her dad’s side traced to Colonial New England. James Davis, we were able to trace back to my 4th great grandparents, Nathaniel and Margaret Murley Davis in Jennings county, Indiana in 1820. Murley is the Irish name and we think it traces back to Cornelius Murley who was in colonial Chester Co., Pennsylvania and then in the Shenandoah Valley of colonial Augusta Co., Virginia when he was listed in the Pennsylvania Gazette as a runaway Irish servant of  William Noble on July 8, 1742. Cornelius joined the Augusta Co., VA. colonial military in 1742. His wife was named Austas. Cornelius, his wife and his son, Daniel Murley were killed in an Indian raid. Daniel was married to Judith. They had a son, Daniel, who went to Greenbrier Co., West Virginia and married Margaret. Daniel left a will and my Margaret Murley Davis is not in it, but he died by 1781 and Margaret “Peggy” was born about 1781, so was possible Margaret was pregnant when Daniel died. Margaret then married William Scones and shows up in Cumberland Co., KY. As does her son, William Murley and so does Margaret “Peggy”. She shows up with her husband, Nathaniel Davis. Maybe this is not Margaret “Peggy” Murley Davis’s family, but it is an uncommon name, and is the only ones in that area.
Great Grandpa Davis: Murley

James Kemper Sherman Davis

My Grandma Davis’s mom was Goldie Morris Day, but her real surname was Chaney, I have written on this blog about that family. Goldie had light red hair, I believe, and light eyes,I don’t remember her. Her mother was Elizabeth Kinnaman, and that family has been traced to Scotland. Her father was David Henry Chaney and his grandma was Sarah Jackson Chaney, an Irish/English Quaker. Sarah’s grandfather was Samuel Jackson who came from County Antrim, Ireland to Chester Co., Pennsylvania. The family moved to North Carolina in the 1750’s and were in Surry Co., North Carolina in the 1770’s. Samuel had John Jackson who married Phoebe Beals {an English Quaker} and they moved on to Clinton and Highland Co., Ohio; they had Sarah, who was disowned for marrying out of Quaker faith to Edward Chaney. David Henry Chaney also had a 6x great grandfather, William Clarke, an Irish Quaker who came from Dublin, Ireland to Salem, New Jersey by 1677 and married his second wife in the Salem monthly meeting. His first wife is unknown, and was the mother of our ancestor. He then moved to Sussex Co., Delaware and lived on the Delaware Bay. He served as justice of the Peace in Lewes.
Great grandma Day: Jackson, Clarke

Andrew and Goldie Morris {Chaney} Day

My grandma, Violet Rivers Long, had a grandma named Phebe Johnson Simms. The Johnson {Johnston} has been traced to Scotland, and Simms is a Scottish surname. Violet’s father, Joe Rivers, had red hair and brown eyes and his mother was Emily Hardin Sullivan. I believe Sullivan is an Irish name, but can only trace them back to Hardin and Green Co., KY. Campbell and Farris are two Scottish surnames in this family. Joe had a GG grandma named Jane Mann. It is believed her grandfather was Scotch-Irish and came from Ireland to colonial Augusta Co., VA., Violet was told that her mother's great grandmother was Native American married to an Irish man. Well, Violet's GG grandfather was James Huston, his wife is our brick wall. His daughter, Matilda Huston Johnson was born 1812 in Montgomery Co., Ohio. Huston is a Scottish surname but some of them moved to Ireland.
Great grandpa Rivers: Mann, Sullivan, Huston

Joseph Hardin Rivers

My husband has 4 Irish families in his lineage, most of his ancestors were German, Swiss, or Scottish, but he has 2 Irish Quaker families: Burk and Beard. They all came to colonial America. James Burk, his 7 x great grandfather, came from Ulster, Ireland and married in a Quaker monthly meeting in Chester Co., PA. to a Scottish girl, Jane Bane.He died 1783 in Surry Co., North Carolina. His 6 x great grandparents, John and Martha Beard, Irish quakers, came from Londonderry, North Ireland to colonial South Carolina and then on to North Carolina where they died in Randolph Co., North Carolina, most of their children moved on to Indiana. John and Susan Linn, his 6 x great grandparents, came from Ireland to colonial Pennsylvania. Most of their children moved to Indiana. William Dungan, his 9 x great grandfather, was born in Celbridge, Co.Kildare , Ireland and died in London, England, his son, Reverend Thomas Dungan came to colonial Newport, Rhode Island.He then moved to Bucks Co., PA. and helped found and was first preacher of  Pennepack Baptist Church in Cold Springs, Buck Co., PA. I have read that Pennepack was the first Baptist Church in Pennsylvania in 1682.

What an honor to be awarded  by a fellow blogger!  I am honored to be given the One Lovely Blog award by Alanna who authors the blog Confessions of a Gene-a-holic
Thank-you, Alanna.
So for my part of the award:
Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted the award and their blog link.

Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered.

Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for the award.

Here are the blogs I've chosen:


  1. Thanks for acknowledging with the Lovely Blog award. I appreciate that!

  2. You are welcome. I still have so much to learn about blogging.