Friday, July 18, 2014

Allen line: William McCoy 1753-1813, pastor and spinning wheel maker

If I were to keep a list of my most interesting ancestors, William McCoy would go on that list.  Maybe it's because he made spinning wheels to supplement his income. Maybe it's because he fought in the Revolutionary War.  Maybe it's because he was a pastor, and a pioneer.  Maybe it's because this is one ancestor that we know for sure used a flatboat and the Ohio River as a means of transportation.  There is much more to learn about him, but this post will tell a little of his story. .

William McCoy was born March 31, 1753 (some sources say 1754), most likely in Virginia.  His parents were James Thomas McCoy from Ireland and Ann Bruce from Scotland. It is most likely that the McCoys were from Scotland, also, but they had been in Ireland for at least two generations before James Thomas came to America.  We don't know if James had siblings but it is likely that he did.

As for William, most on line sites will tell you he was born in Fayette County, Pa.  However, this area was not settled at that time, and in History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania by Franklin Ellis, it states that his father's land warrant there bears a date of June 14, 1769 and was surveyed September 23, 1769.  This tract was called "Flint Hill" and covered 305 acres.  There was a second tract of 223 acres surveyed to him the same date in September.  William would have been about 16, then, when the family moved to Fayette County.  James and Ann had moved their family to frontier Pennsylvania after the French and Indian War, but before the Revolutionary War. It was still a dangerous enough place because of the Indians that the first log cabin they built as a home was reconstructed as a stronger "Fort McCoy", where families from the area could gather for protection against Indians, and the McCoys then built another log cabin for their home.  This area was under attack at intervals during the time period leading up to, and during the Revolutionary War.

We know that William was a private in the Pennsylvania Militia during the Revolutionary War, so he would have been called out on various alarms and patrols.  He was a private in Captain Andrew Swearingen's Company, under Colonel David Williamson, in Washington County, Pa.  He had married Elizabeth Royse (sometimes spelled Rice) about 1776, so it appears that the young family may have already been heading west.  Many of William's fellow militia members participated in some horrible Indian massacres in 1781-1782 in "Ohio Country."  William's name is not noted on compiled lists of participants, but the list may be incomplete.  We will never know, probably, but we have to accept the possibility that he went, and the certainty that he would have heard about it when the troops returned.

The McCoy family was on the move again about 1788, in the flatboat trip down the Ohio.  Their son Rice was supposedly born near Cincinnati, Ohio, and was one of the first white children born there, if tradition is to be believed. However, the McCoy's kept traveling (I wonder how many days Elizabeth was permitted to recover before the trip began again?) and eventually settled in Jefferson County, Kentucky, and later moved to Shelby County, Kentucky.  By this time the McCoy family included William, James, Sarah, John, Isaac, Lydia, and Rice. William would marry in Shelby County. 

One of the driving passions of William's life was his devotion to his Lord Jesus Christ.  His father's family was Baptist, so it is natural that he also became a Baptist. I have been unable to locate anything regarding his religious training, which was likely minimal, or when he became a pastor. However, we know that beginning in the early 1800's William was frequently crossing the Ohio River into Clark County, Indiana, and preaching in cabins there.  By 1809, he moved to Clark County and became the pastor of Silver Creek Baptist Church there. He still helped support the family by making spinning wheels. Because of Indian troubles, he again moved to a farm near Charlestown, where he died on September 1, 1813 and is buried in Silver Creek Cemetery near his original Indiana home. Elizabeth lived, likely with family, until 1834, and was unfortunately alive to know that several of her family, children and grandchildren, died in the 1833 cholera epidemic. 

Our line of descent is:
William McCoy-Elizabeth Royce
James McCoy-Nancy Lane
Vincent McCoy-Eleanor Jackson
Nancy McCoy-George Allen
Edward Allen-Edith Knott
Richard/Edith/Vernon/Tessora/Nancy Corinne Allen
Their children, grand children, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren