This is a fairly complete compilation of the McIlroys of our family and their relations for the past two hundred fifty years. The effort began with three photos of headstones in the Raymond, OH cemetery and a question of grandmother McIlroy’s maiden name.
Jody Streng of Marysville, OH, a ggg-granddaughter of James S McIlroy and Edward M McElroy of Burnet, TX, a gg-grandson of James S, have provided considerable information and many family photos. I have been fortunate connecting with several experienced researchers who have spent many years on the McIlroy, Hubbard, Heminger and other related families. I make no claim that the tree is complete or without error (my typing is atrocious). Family trees are always a work in progress. New finds bring additions and corrections. Only sketchy data is provided on relations later than 1930. This McIlroy tree now has a population of over 3,300 relations. There would be many more if all of the identified relations had been included. Those that are included are central to our heritage or they caught my interest.
A large trove of McIlroy family data has been collected and compiled by Suzanne Drysdale Rising, a descendant of Capt. James Merriman McIlroy, son of James S. We owe a great deal to her efforts. The data is on file in the Marysville, OH Public Library entitled "James S McIlroy of Ohio and some of his Descendants". I refer to this data as the "book of James". She also furnished excerpts from earlier research by Alfred Shane, "John McIlroy of Pennsylvania and some of his Descendants". This work connects James S to his father, Samuel and his McIlroy cousins that trekked the Oregon trail west by wagon train in 1864. Research on the McIlroys that moved west is being continued by Nikki Dettmar of Seattle, WA. Nikki has a complete copy of Shane’s work and has provided additional information and images. A copy of Al Shane's work is also on file at the Jefferson Co. Historical Library in Steubenville, OH.
I have added data from many Federal census images, draft registrations, death certificates, various on-line family trees and contacts with researchers of associated families. This is in addition to information from other descendants of James S McIlroy. I have often referenced other on-line databases that connect to "relations of relations".
McIlroy / McElroy: I had always assumed our ancestors came to America during the 1840-1860 potato famines in Ireland or possibly the earlier "clearances" in Scotland. To my surprise, I found a number of McElroys & McIlroys throughout Pennsylvania in the early 1700’s.
There are many stories in the On-line family forums expounding the myths of the McIlroy/McElroy family origins. My preferred version is from the 1901 book by the Rev. John M. McElroy, "The Scotch-Irish McElroys in America A.D. 1717 – A.D. 1900". It covers not only the roots of the name, but also gives a glimpse of the history that brought our folks to America two and a half centuries ago. Unfortunately, the James S McIlroy line, as we have identified it, is not included among the 24 families addressed in the book. It does, however, describe a family of McElroys in Cumberland County, PA that matches the locales and time periods of ours. It also notes the family of Adam McElroy that connects to the family of John Daugherty and Mary McFadden, as does our family story. These families were of Scotch lineage. They immigrated to Ireland at the behest of the English Crown. They adamantly remained Scotch in heritage and protestant in religion. Due to cultural, religious and economic pressures, they later moved to America.
Our lore, from the "book of John" says that John McIlroy came alone, from Edinburgh, Scotland to New York, in 1748. He stayed in New York about two years before moving to Tyrone Township in Cumberland Co., PA. There he raised his family and spent the rest of his life. John had five sons (we have no records of his wife or daughters). We have some documentation on the death of the third son, Samuel, and the presence of his brothers, John and George, at the sale of his belongings in Jefferson Co., OH.
My findings indicate that John likely started his family in Northern Ireland and immigrated to America after 1760. My best guess is that our family of McIlroys came from County Down, Ireland a few years before the Revolutionary War, following other McIlroy relations from County Down that first began arriving before 1730. Those relations were noted by Rev. John McIlroy, in his book, as the "Kentucky" McIlroys.
Many folks, most of Scotch-Irish descent, were poised in western Pennsylvania awaiting the "opening" of the Ohio territory. Our family was among them. By 1795, John’s third son, Samuel, was married and living in Washington Co., PA. Between 1808 and 1814, Samuel moved his family across the Ohio River, about 20 miles west of Steubenville, in Jefferson Co., OH near the current Harrison Co. line.
His son, James Samuel McIlroy, married Cassandra Baker in 1816 Harrison Co., OH and began his family in North Township of that county. With their young family, they moved west, arriving in Union Co., OH in 1837 or 1838.
Beginning with James S and his wife Cassie, we have members of at least five McIlroy generations buried in the Raymond cemetery in Liberty Township of Union Co., OH.
The documented spelling of the family name seems to have depended on who held the pen. It appears that our direct line (John, Samuel, James, Zachariah) always used an "I". We have signatures of James S, his son, Zachariah, and later McIlroys, all with an "I", as are their tombstones. Though many of the early census listings and the local Histories spelled the name "McElroy", the family members consistently signed "McIlroy". The first Zachariah McIlroy used a lower case "i".
As I understand it, both spellings were used in Scotland and Ireland, but the prevalent Scottish spelling of the name was "McILROY". The data in the "Book of John" notes that some of our relations started using an "E" three or four generations after John came to America. That reference would be to the descendants of John W, brother of James S, who moved to Washington Territory in 1864.
Three of four sons of James S stayed in OH. The other son and all seven daughters moved west to IN, IA, MO and KS. Some married before the move and some married on the "frontier". Six of the children lived in the area of Waterloo, IA for some period between 1856 and 1921.
Zachariah, eldest son of James McIlroy, had five sons and three daughters. The family tombstones in the Raymond cemetery all spell the name with an "I". Of those children, only Jacob moved west.
For five generations, members of our family lived in or near Liberty Township in Union Co., OH. About 1885, in his early thirties, Jacob Fay McIlroy, sold his farm and moved the family to Grenola, Kansas, then to Oklahoma Indian Territory, then on to Oregon and finally to Idaho. Descendants currently live in OR, WY, AZ & CA.
About five years before James S McIlroy moved from Harrison Co. to Union Co., Robert McElroy made the same move and settled in York Township just north of Liberty Township. We believe he was a cousin of James, but have not verified the relationship. Robert was born in Washington Co., PA and his father, John was born in Ireland. I believe this John was the brother of Samuel and uncle of James S.
Edward S McIlroy, youngest son of John Marion and grandson of Zachariah, moved south to the TX and LA oil fields around 1915. He became Edward S McElroy. The best explanation his son received was that "He [Edward S] couldn’t make a decent "I". Chances are some functionary listed him on a tax roll or pay roll as McElroy, and he felt no urgency to correct it. My father, Leonard B, and his brother, Joseph, came south to TX in the 1920’s. They began using an "E" since they too worked in the oil fields and spelled the name the same as their uncle, Edward. Leonard, though he used "McElroy" in daily life, had the birth certificates of his children registered as "McIlroy", a gesture, no doubt, to his Ohio roots. Those same roots made him feel that every 15 year old boy, even in the east Texas oil fields, should learn to plow behind a horse.