Family Stories

History of Marion County – McElroy Family

This history of Marion County, Kentucky, I know very well.  In the summer between my senior year of high school and first semester at college I worked at our local public library – in Marion County.  Having spent many, many hours there in the previous several years, going through census records – micro fiche – no books at that time! – and pouring over the county histories and family histories for records of my family – I was very familiar with the library, and excited when I was hired!  One of my tasks, other than shelving books, checking out customers, etc., was to type an extra copy of this history by W. T. Knott!  There are perhaps 100 pages.  We did not have copy machines (1975) so if you wanted an extra copy it was typed!  I was fascinated with the book – so loved every moment of my typing assignment!

The first part I will share with you is about the author – and his genealogy.  This is the third of three parts.

from The History of Marion County by W. T. Knott

The Author

Part 3

Genealogy of the McElroy Family

The genealogy of the McElroy family is meager, but interesting.  The first now known of the name were contemporaneous with John Knox of Scotland, and they were the ancestors of the McElroys of Marion and Washington Counties.  They have kept the tradition that their ancestors were active participants in the establishment of the “Solemn League and Covenant” of 1636.  Being opposed in their desire to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences and being denied all offices of trust and all privileges, they became very bitter in their opposition to the British government.  Consequently, early in the eighteenth century, they sought homes in the American colonies, settling for the most part in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and the Carolinas.

From the best information at hand, it was about 1730 when James McElroy and Sarah McCue (or McHugh), his wife, first located in New Jersey.  They afterward removed to Pennsylvania and finally to Virginia, locating in (now) Campbell County, in 1760.  All of their children were boys:  John, Archy, Hugh, Samuel and James.  The father was a farmer, whose principal crop was tobacco, which, for the want of money, was common currency in Virginia in those days.  The father and his sons were ever ready to respond to frequent calls to arms on account of the French and Indian Wars and the greater war of the Revolution.  They were in many battles in Virginia and campaigns on the Pennsylvania border.  Samuel and several of his brothers were present at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

John and Archy, sons of James McElroy, removed to South Carolina, and were the progenitors of the McElroys in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and some of the southern counties of Kentucky.  Three of the sons of James married three sisters, who were daughters of John Irvine.  Hugh married Esther, Samuel married Mary, and James married Margaret Irvine.  These women were daughters of a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian minister.

Hugh McElroy and John Irvine, his brother-in-law, with their families, removed from Campbell County, Virginia, to Kentucky in 1787.  McElroy settled in Nelson (now Washington) County, and Irvine in Lincoln (now Boyle) County, near Danville.  In 1789, September 4, Samuel and James, with their wives, followed Hugh to the “wilderness of Kentucky,” and settled in Nelson (now Marion) County, near Lebanon.

Of these Samuel (the great-grandfather of William T. Knott) and his wife, Mary Irvine, had issue as follows:  Sarah, born 1767, married Alexander Handley; John, born 1769, married (first) Miss Copeland, (second) Mrs. Simpson; James, born 1770, died young; Hugh, born 1772, married Miss Gilkie: Margaret, born 1773, married James Wilson; Abram, born 1774, died young; William, born 1776, married (first) Keturah Cleland, (second) Mary Kirk; Samuel, born 1777, married (first) Mary Briggs, (second) Jane B. Grundy; Mary, born 1778, married William McColgan; James, born 1780, married Esther Simpson; Abram, born 1780, married Miss Redford (James and Abram were twins); Elizabeth, born 178-, married George Wilson; and Nancy, born 178-.

The children of William McElroy (1776) and Keturah Cleland, his wife, were:  Maria Irvine McElroy, born 1805, who married Joseph P. Knott, October 10, 1822 (parents of William T. Knott); Eliza, born 1807, married (first) Isaac Everhart, (second) T. P. Gibbs, (third) Isaac Withrow; Philip E., born 1809, married Lydia Gibbs; Harriet Paulina, born 1811, married A. S. Mays; Margaret, born 1814, married Samuel T. Ray.  The children of William McElroy and his second wife, Mary Kirk, were:  Paul Irvine, married Sue McElroy; Robert Lapsley, married Lizzie Hughes; Cecil Scott, married Fannie Brown; Lucy Ann, married Samuel T. Ray (after the death of his first wife, who was her half sister); William T., married Eliza Cassidy; James Franklin, married Mary Chapman; Samuel Rice, married Belle Reed; Keturah, married Dr. George Hubbard, and Sarah, who died young.

James Proctor Knott, son of Joseph Percy and Maria (Irvine) Knott, and brother of William T. Knott – the principal subject of the foregoing sketch – was born in Marion County, Kentucky, August 28, 1830.  After receiving a common school education, he was professor of natural science in the Lebanon Seminary; practiced law in Lebanon; removed to Missouri, where he practiced law; was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1860; was elected to the Missouri Legislature; was attorney-general of that state during the Civil War; returned to Lebanon and was a member of Congress from that district for twelve years, 1867-71 and 1875-83; was governor of Kentucky, 1883-1887; and is now dean of the faculty of the law department of Centre College at Danville, Kentucky.

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