Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I am Irish And I am Wearing The Green Today, But Pinch Me Anyway!

Ah, St. Patrick's Day, the day everyone is Irish, whether they've got green blood running through their veins or not. I am definitely Irish, and very proud of it, thanks to my father's Fortune, McCreary and Stoney ancestors.

John Fortune and his wife, Anne and their family of seven children immigrated from Newry, Ireland to Charleston, SC, arriving in Charleston aboard the ship Britannia on August 23, 1767.

John Fortune was born about 1725. He brought his family here on the promise of free land and the chance at a new life. The record shows the family received 650 acres in the Camden District of South Carolina, on the headwaters of Jackson's Creek, much of which was later established as the Town of Winnsboro, in Fairfield County.

At the time, that part of South Carolina was known as the backcountry, a wild and largely unpopulated wilderness. The majority of immigrants to the backcountry between 1750 and 1775 were Scots-Irish who came down the "Great Wagon Road" from Pennsylvania and Virginia.

John and Anne's daughter, Mary was born in 1746 and was 21 years old when she arrived in America. As an adult, she received 100 acres of bounty land in her own name. By 1768, Mary was married to Robert McCreary, Sr. and had sold her land to move to the Barnwell District of South Carolina to raise their family, including son Robert Jr., my 6th great Grandfather.

Robert McCreary, Sr. was also Irish, the son of John and Agness Kennedy McCreary of Groomsport, in Bangor Parish, County Down, Ireland. Robert Sr. first appears in the records of South Carolina in 1764, when he petitioned the South Carolina Council for land near Chester, South Carolina. It is not know how he arrived in South Carolina, but I suspect he was also one of the thousands of Scots-Irish who made the trek down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania. Robert supplied livestock to the Americans in the Revolutionary War.

The Fortune story is a fascinating one, filled with intrigue, betrayal, divided loyalties, tragedy and heartbreak, but theirs is also the story of determination and survival. I am sure my extremely stubborn streak probably comes from my Irish ancestors. Three sons fought for the British in the American Revolution, which caused a bitter split in the family.

The Stoney family is just as colorful. The Stoney family immigrated to Tipperary, Ireland from England in the 1600s. Captain John Stoney was born in Tipperary in 1749and married Elizabeth Caulfield, although it is not known if they were married before he arrived in South Carolina.

In 1773, Captain John left Ireland and sailed in his own ship to Hilton Head Island, in the Beaufort District of South Carolina, smack dab in the Lowcountry. The ship was a privateer named "The Saucy Jack", and was used by the Americans in the Revolutionary War. It was later confiscated by the French government and was the subject of a highly debated spoliation claim concerning the Louisiana Purchase.

It is said that every Stoney in the United States is descended from John Stoney and his wife Elizabeth. It must be true, I've never met one yet whose paper pedigree didn't match John's lineage.

It is an honor to carry the blood of the Irish in me and today, I salute my Irish ancestors AND the men and women they married: John and Anne Fortune, Robert and Mary Fortune McCreary, Robert McCreary, Jr. and Ann Elizabeth Harley, Rebecca McCreary and James Robert Moseley, James Robert Moseley, Jr. and Emma Felder, James Felder Moseley and Julia Craft, and James Felder Moseley, Jr. and Caralie Stoney (my paternal grandparents); Captain Jack and Elizabeth Caulfield, George Stoney and Catherine Jenkins, James Stoney and Mary Clara Reed, Edward Bullard Stoney and Julianna Cora Rhodes, and Cornelius and Caralie Douglas Medlock Stoney.

Erin Go Bragh!

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