The 1812 Immigrants from Ballyleese, Ireland, to Washington County, Pennsylvania

Note: There are numerous variants of the spelling of the surname. McIlravy and McElravy appear to be the most commonly used variants by descendants of these immigrants today. Also, Because of the re-use of many of the same given names in each of the branches of the family, I've tried to differentiate by the use of the birth and death years with the given names of the immigrants, vis., Hugh (1791-1879).               George J. Farris


In researching the 1812 McElravy immigrant group I had, in the past, concentrated on my direct ancestor, Hugh McIlravy (1791-1879). Others of his descendants, as well as myself, have researched this branch quite a bit. Descendants of Daniel McElravy (1798-1860) have also researched that branch. One branch of the William McElravy (1804-1859) family has been documented in the History of Western Pennsylvania . 1  However, until recently, little research appears to have been done on the other probable members of the 1812 McElravy immigrant group.

Hoping to add to our knowledge of the family, we have recently further researched John (1797-1876), Robert (1807-1859), George (1811-1891), Jane (~1786-1874) and Nancy McIlravy Hill (1805-1866). For the benefit of other McElravy researchers who may wish to pursue these lines, in the biographical summaries linked below, I've put together a summary of the information that we currently have about each of them - plus summaries for Hugh (1791-1879), Daniel (1798-1860), and William (1804-1859). For William, we've researched some additional records to broaden the base of the above referenced article to include all of his children and their families. For each of these summaries, I've tried to identify all of the children and grandchildren of the immigrants - but have not tried to document all known descendants beyond that point. Some additional descendant information is included where it was readily available.


The lists of Irish ship passenger arrivals published in the New York newspaper The Shamrock or Hibernian Chronicle (published 1810-1817) includes, in the issue of June 20, 1812, the family of a John McIlreavy arriving on the Brig Mary. The Marine List, in the same issue, lists vessels "Arrived since our last [issue]" at New York, including the Mary, from Colerain, under Captain Boggs. 2  There has been some confusion of the SHIP Mary with the BRIG Mary. These appear to have been two different sailing vessels, of different class, that were active at the same time. The SHIP Mary, under Captain Wallington, arrived at Philadelphia on 8 July 1812 from Londonderry. The report of the arrival of the latter at Philadelphia included a report of that ship being one of the four vessels that had been boarded in Moville Bay by the crew of the British schooner Barbara on May 22 - with a number of the passengers being forcibly impressed into the British Navy. But that was NOT the vessel on which the John McIlreavy family traveled.

From various biographies  3   4  referring to the immigrants and their children - plus later correspondence  5  it appears that the group arrived in New York from Balyleese, Ireland (on the outskirts of Port Stewart - then in County Antrim, now in County Londonderry; see map) before June 20, 1812 (one biography lists the date specifically as June 17, 1812) and journeyed to Strabane Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania. There have been no records found that document exactly when they arrived in Pennsylvania or where they bought the land on which they settled.

The published biographies state that Hugh C. McElravy was the father of some of the immigrants and that he died in Washington County, Pennsylvania. This is confirmed by the Washington County tax valuation lists for Strabane Township where the estate of a Hugh McElrevy, including 210 acres of land, valued at $2100, appears for the tax years 1817/1818, 1818/1819, and 1819/1820. (From the microfilm files of the Citizens Library, Washington, Pennsylvania.) From these documents and from details in the will of Robert it can be stated that, of the immigrants, Hugh (1791-1879), Daniel (1798-1860), Robert (1807-1859), and Nancy McElravy Hill (1805-1866) were siblings and were children of the above Hugh C. McElravy who died in about 1817.

The brief statement about the family in the History of Western Pennsylvania (probably based on oral history) lists the father of all the immigrants as Hugh - but confuses the Hugh C. McElravy who died in Washington County, Pennsylvania, about 1817 with his son Hugh (1791-1879). This reference (page 506) lists the children as Hugh, Daniel, Robert, Jennie (Jane), Nancy, John, and William. It does not list George, who was associated with John and William in Washington County, Pennsylvania - and was a brother of Jane according to her obituary in Cadiz, Harrison County, Ohio, where she died in 1874. However, not all of these individuals could have been siblings. So the immigrant group included parts of at least two families.

It appears from the passenger list reference that a John McElravy must have been the father of some of the immigrants. The summary biography of John (1797-1876) that is linked below shows why we believe that he was a son of that older John McElravy - who was born before 1780 and died after 1830 based on the 1830 Washington County, Pennsylvania census. It also appears probable that George - and, therefore, his sister Jane - and William (1804-1859) were children of the above older John McElravy. The death of a John McIlravey of North Strabane Township, was reported in the Washington Examiner issue of June 28, 1845.

A key document in sorting out the two families is the will of Robert (1807-1859). Since Robert and his wife had no children of their own, Robert left a large part of his estate to close relatives of himself and his wife. He specifically listed Hugh and Daniel as his brothers and Nancy Hill as his sister - but made no mention of John, William, George, or Jane. This leads to the conclusion that the latter were probably cousins rather than siblings of Robert.

Although John (1797-1876) and Hugh (1791-1879) were cousins rather than brothers, they do appear to have arrived in the United States together - since, in February, 1820, they filed a joint declaration of intent to become U.S. citizens in the Washington County Common Pleas Court - both stating that they landed in the United States in June, 1812.


While tax records for McElravys exist for as early as 1817, there are no land transfer records for the early 1800s and the earliest census records that have been found involving McElravys in Washington County are 1830. The neighbors in the census listings help provide some perspective as to where the McElravys lived. In particular, they are listed near the Crawfords. Since the Crawfords show up in the early surveys recorded in Washington County, we know where they were located - and can assume that the McElravys were located in the same area. This places their original location in the current North Strabane Township, east of Little Chartiers Creek, east of Canonsburg, near the Peters Township and Nottingham Township lines. (see map) Later, those who remained in that area also lived in Chartiers and Mount Pleasant Townships.


The first of the immigrants to leave Washington County, PA was apparently Hugh (1791-1879). In January, 1821, he married Eleanor Quigley in Washington County. They had one child, John, born in Pennsylvania - but in 1823 they bought land in Archer Township, Harrison County, Ohio, and moved there before their second son, William Q. was born in 1823. In 1828, Daniel (1798-1860) also bought land in Archer Township, Harrison County, Ohio. Both of these families were in the 1830 census in Harrison County (Daniel in Green Township, Hugh in Archer Township). Also, Robert (1807-1859) bought a lot in the town of New Rumley in Harrison County, Ohio, in 1831, and married Harriet Atkinson there in 1832. They moved on to Tuscarawas County, Ohio, shortly after that. Nancy and William Quigley Hill were in the Nottingham Township, Washington County census in 1830 and moved to Coshocton County, Ohio in 1837 - and on to Clay County IL before 1850, then to Effingham County, IL in about 1851.

John (1797-1876) remained in Pennsylvania at least through 1845 - but was in Holmes County, Ohio in 1850 and in Fulton County, Indiana before 1858. George was in Washington Co. Pennsylvania in the 1840 and 1850 census and was in Cadiz Township, Harrison County in 1860. Jane was in Harrison County, Ohio, by 1860 - at which time she was living with the two youngest, unmarried children of Hugh (1791-1879) on his farm in Archer Township. Hugh had moved to Tuscarawas County, OH, and remarried (to Harriet, the widow of his brother Robert) earlier that year. William remained in Pennsylvania (in various places in Washington, Beaver, and Allegheny Counties) where he died in 1859.

Children of John McElravy (d. 1845):
JOHN MCELRAVY (1797-1876) Biographical Summary

GEORGE MCELRAVY (1811 - 1891) Biographical Summary

WILLIAM MCELRAVY (1804 - 1859) Biographical Summary

JANE MCELRAVY (~1786 - 1874) Biographical Summary

Children of Hugh C. McElravy (d. ~1817):
ROBERT MCELRAVY (1807-1859) Biographical Summary

HUGH MCILRAVY (1791-1879) Biographical Summary

NANCY MCILRAVY HILL (1805-1866) Biographical Summary

DANIEL MCELRAVY (1798-1860) Biographical Summary


I've taken this approach for making some of the information that has been collected - as well as speculations regarding the Mc*lravy relationships conveniently available to others who may be researching these families. I don't pretend that it is complete. There are many records (such as deed records in Ohio and Indiana) that would compliment what has been found so far that I have not been able to access in the limited time available for this hobby. The late Lloyd Darrow, who was a McElravy family researcher for decades, provided insight and background information - as well as the encouragement to continue the search. Sue Sohn has provided a great deal of help in researching all of the Mc*lravy lines. Duane McElravay has provided additional information on some of the William McElravy descendants and Gene & Rosalie Hill have provided additional information regarding descendants of Nancy McIlravy Hill. I've also called on volunteer genealogy researchers in several localities to look up specific records for me.

Comments, corrections, and possible additions to this summary can be directed to me via email.



George J. Farris, PhD, is a descendant of Hugh McIlravy (1791-1879) and Eleanor Quigley through their only daughter, Nancy Jane. Nancy Jane McIlravy was born in Harrison County Ohio, in 1832 and married Robert M. Creighton in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1866. The Creightons lived in Henry and Knox Counties, Illinois, until 1881 then in Adams County, Iowa. Nancy died in 1913 and is buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Adams County. Her brother, David McIlravy is also buried there - as is their step-mother, Harriett (Atkinson) McIlravy. William M. Creighton, one of the children of Robert and Nancy (McIlravy) Creighton, was the grandfather of George Farris - who grew up in Iowa and now lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is currently co-owner and President of Internet Business Images, LLC. His business activities sometimes interfere with his genealogy hobby.

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