Sorting Out the John Perry's of Monroe County, VA (WV)

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Sorting Out the John Perry's of Monroe County, VA (WV)

Post by PerryResearch on Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:17 am

I have worked on this family for several years and sometimes I fill like I'm going in circles. My ancestor Joseph Perry was born in Greenbrier (present day Monroe County WV), VA 1782/3. He was the son of John Perry Jr. That is the easy stuff. The problem is when we get into researching the information that is attributed to John Sr & Jr that causes the confusion. I will list what information I have and others can contribute to a discussion to sort things out.

First up is John Perry Jr. Henry Clay Ragland's History of Logan County (WV) states that four brothers, sons of John Perry, who was "from the North of Ireland", came to Logan County along with three sisters. Thankfully, a mention is made of each one of them.

John Jr's first child was reportedly born in 1775 so he must of been born in the 1750's or before. The 1810 Census (the only one with John on it) gives his age as 45+. That doesn't help us much though. The Passengers and Immigrants Index lists a John Perry b.1758 arriving in Maryland in 1774, possibly with another John, no age given (other John unconfirmed). It seems that John Sr & Jr lived near or with Joseph Perry of Frederick and later Washington County, MD after reaching America and shortly before moving into the Blueridge Mountains.

References online mention John Jr was in the Revoltionary War. The following is what I have on the three known Virginia John's of the war. The DAR Patriot Index lists a John Perry b.1758 d.1820 (Pvt VA) married to Elizabeth McClung. Also, in Rev. War pension files we see only two John's of Virginia. They were John Perry, Cornet and John Perry of the VA Continental Line. One was born abt 1751 and died 1835. He enlisted in Charles City County, VA and moved to Kentucky sometime after the war. He states that he "had no son and but one daughter who was married and living in Virginia". His wife, who was ten years his junior, and his daughter's names were not given. The other John had two sons named Charles M and Pierce Perry. No dates or other information for this John was given, though he did apparently die in or before 1830. Neither of these two John's mentioned in pension records appear to be connected to our family. I have always been curious as to where from the information on the John in the DAR Patriot Index comes. The birth year 1758 seems correct since two records mention a John born in 1758, but it isn't like John is a rare name, quite the opposite! I wonder why only Elizabeth McClung is mentioned since we know John married a second time in 1798 to Jane Nelson (Greenbrier Co, WV marriage registry). Also, is the death date an approximate or exact date? If he died in 1820, it was before the census takers came around. Jane is listed head of household (only one there) in 1820 and she appears again for the last time in 1830 (both times in Peterstown District, Monroe, VA). On that census, it lists Jane as born between 1760 and 1770. Since John appears in 1810 and not in 1820 (Jane instead), we can be relatively sure that he died sometime in that decade.

It's also worth mentioning that the War of 1812 had two John Perry's of Virginia. One enlisted in 1812 (Corp) along with his brother or cousin Thomas W Perry (Pvt). Thomas was wounded and John died of illness in 1813. Another John (Pvt) enlisted in 1813 and was discharged at the end of the year. I haven't found further information on either of those John's to determine who they were.

As I mentioned above, John Jr had seven children. Ragland, family tradition, census records, & several vital records support this. Mary Ann 1775 married William Hinchman, John (Jack) III 1778/9 married Elizabeth Dixon, Joseph 1782/3 married Isabella Sharkey Nelson, Henry 1786 married Jane Busby, 2m Elizabeth S West, Sarah Elizabeth 1789 married Isaac Stollings, Florence 1791 married Samuel Canterbury Jr, & James G 1793 married Rachel Roach. Elizabeth McClung Perry must have died between 1793 and 1798 because John married Jane Nelson 23 May 1798 Greenbrier County, VA. John and Jane apparently had no issue together. It's unknown if Jane had children from a previous marriage or not. She last appears on the 1830 census and nothing more is known.

Several tax records list John Perry Sr and Jr in Greenbrier County, VA (1782, 96, Monroe in 1799). The 1782 record only lists one of them so it is probably John Sr. Also, a 1796 court record lists a John Perry, but we have no way of knowing which one.

Here's a little more on Elizabeth McClung. Online listings state that she was the daughter of John and Rebecca Stuart McClung, but research has proven this false. I have been unable to locate any mention of her beyond the DAR Patriot Index and unsourced online family trees. All nearby Elizabeth McClung's have been accounted for that I can tell. She and John were probably married in Northern Ireland or shortly after John Jr came to America (Maryland). One note online mentioned she was a McClarey, not a McClung, but without sources. I have found no marriage records for a John Perry and Elizabeth McClung or McClarey in Maryland or County Down, Ireland. Further research is needed on Elizabeth.

I will post information on John Perry Sr in the next post.


Last edited by PerryResearch on Mon May 16, 2011 3:20 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Sorting Out the John Perry's of Monroe County, VA (WV)

Post by PerryResearch on Mon May 16, 2011 3:16 am

Next is info on John Perry Sr.

Shortly after writing the article on John Perry Jr, I discovered additional information on John Sr & Jr that required more research before writing this article. Some of it may answer the question about why the DAR records list only Elizabeth McClung as John Jr's wife and not also Jane Nelson. Opinions will be appreciated.

John Perry Sr was probably born abt 1734/5 in Moira, County Down, Northern Ireland. At the least he was born by 1739. Some online listings incorrectly give his birth date as 1723, but that was a different John (from New England). He has also been confused with three John's of Maryland born in 1721, 1729, and 1737. John was the son of Swift Perry I, a "gentleman" of Dromore in Northern Ireland. He is mentioned in 1750 as a grandson of James Perry of Perrymount and son of Swift Perry and again in James Perry's will written in 1753 and probated in 1756. By this time, John was probably married. Online listings often give the name Elizabeth as his wife, yet I have found no records listing any marriage for him in Ireland. John was well educated and it is said that he was a school teacher, like his uncle Adam.

John probably came to America in 1774 with his son John Jr. Two records list a John Perry with no birth year arriving in Maryland in 1774, but this could be index listings for John Jr. The first time John is mentioned in America is when his uncle Joseph Perry names him in his will in 1777; "I leave to my nephew John Perry 100 pounds". The probate in 1795 shows that John received his inheritance, possibly abt 1777, around the time he moved across the Mountains into what is now Monroe County, WV. Family members joining him there included his brother Swift Perry II (with cousin Anne Perry) and cousins Alice Charlton, Abigail Bracken, Daniel & Eleanor Perry, James Knox, and Robert Knox to name a few (between 1760's & 80's).

John appears in personal property tax records in Greenbrier County, VA (WV) starting in 1782 until 1799 when he is last mentioned in the tax records of the newly formed Monroe County. He is possibly listed in land records in 1800, 1801, and 1813 along the Greenbrier River. Though some confusion exists about which John these land records mention. Additional research should give us an answer. The 1801 and 1813 records are for the same property.

The number of children and wives for John Perry Sr is a difficult thing to determine. He appears to have been married two or three times and possibly had children named John, Delilah, Thomas, Elizabeth, Robert, Jane, Nancy, and maybe Anne. As of now I am leaning towards three marriages for John. The first would have been around 1755/56. This fits the timeframe for the birth of John Perry Jr. If the 1810 census for John Sr was his children and not a relative's, then he would have been married a second time since the time between them and John Jr is too spread out. Lastly, I now believe the John Perry that married Jane Nelson was John Perry Sr. I know this one will draw some arguments from other researchers, but please read on before dismissing this theory. Discussing this will help us sort this out.

The first wife of John Perry Sr was probably of similar age to John making her a little over 20 years old when John Jr was born. Other possible children from this first marriage were Thomas (another article for the Thomas story coming up) and the mysterious Delilah who married Thomas Nickell, son of Thomas and died around 1784 after having one or two children. A large gap between these children and the next known child suggests John Sr's first wife died in the mid-1760's or at least their later children went unrecorded.

The second wife is based on a few things. First, the 1810 census lists one male and three females born in the 1780's and 90's. Secondly, some of the about mentioned children were known born in the 1780's. Thirdly, an important marriage record with a letter written by John Perry Sr!

Wife number two would have been born between 1750 and 1760 to have mothered these children. The years of birth for their children seem to have been between 1780 and 1795. The 1810 Monroe County Census lists John Sr with a wife and 1 male 16-26, 1 female 10-16, & 2 females 16-26. If they were John's children, what were their names? The male was possibly named Robert and one of the females Nancy. The other two females are unknown as of now. The information on Nancy comes from a story stating that she married her cousin Joseph W K Newton in the mid-1810's and died after possibly having a couple children. I haven't confirmed this info and the belief that she was John Sr's child is circumstancial at best. The info on Robert comes from a marriage bond in 1807, but was this Robert John's son, a brother (A Robert Perry born 1754 arrived in Maryland in 1774, like John, from Ireland or England. Was this a younger brother, son, or cousin to John?), or less likely, the unrelated Robert E Perry that lived in nearby Kanawha County after passing through Monroe County?

An Elizabeth "Betsy" Ross, Jane Keller, and Anne Elliott have also been connected to John Perry Sr. Betsy was probably born abt 1780 and married William Ross in Greenbrier Co., VA (WV) in 1804. William and brother Joseph were possibly children of a Charles Ross that lived in the area for a short time. Joseph moved to Ohio and Charles southward. Information on William is hard to come by. A William Ross living near a James Elliott on the 1820 Fleming County, KY census fits the family, but is it the right William? The James Elliott nearby is believed to be the same one who married Anne Perry, reported daughter of John Perry Sr or Daniel Perry, but I'm not certain of that yet. Another possibility is that this Betsy was the daughter of John Jr since his Elizabeth wasn't married until she was 31 which was a little out of the ordinary. Could she have married William Ross even though she would have been only 14, he died and she remarried some years later? Of course, but further research is needed to see. Right now, I'm leaning towards this Elizabeth being a different one from John Jr's. As far as Anne goes, she is usually connected to Daniel Perry, probably due to the belief she and husband James Elliott moved to Fleming Co., KY along with Daniel Perry and his children. That is the only connection known to me since she is not mentioned in any bible records I know of from the family.

Next up is Jane Keller nee Perry. This is where it gets interesting and I don't know why or how she has been overlooked so many times by researchers. I have seen her listed in online family trees as Nancy Jane and a daughter of Daniel Perry with no source information. Her marriage bond and letter written by her father gives us some tantalizing clues to the family and raises several questions!

"April 8 in Anno 1807

Sir: After my compliments, Be Pleas'd to let the Bearer hereof Philip Keller have a Bill of Licence in Marriage between said bearere and Jane, my daughter. Your complaisance will much oblige your very humble servant

- JOHN PERRY, Senior

(Witness) Conrat Kellor."

The marriage bond was filed on 11 April 1807 with Phillip Keller and Robert Perry paying the fees.

The two documents tell us several things. Jane was the daughter of John Perry Sr, not Daniel Perry; Jane married Philip Keller, son of Conrad Keller; a Robert Perry was closely connected to the family; and John Perry Sr had better handwriting than most clerks. I know that last one wasn't important, but it's very true. I guess it does show us he was well educated!

A John Perry is listed in land records, mentioned above, owning land bordering Conrad Keller. This land is conveyed to Philip Keller in 1813, probably as a dowry. This would have been done by the father of the bride and it is the main reason I believe Jane Nelson married John Perry Sr as his third wife. The record is as follows:

"On Sept. 21, 1813, John Perry, Sr. and Jane, his wife, conveyed to Phillip Kellor 210 acres on the south side of Greenbrier, adjoing Conrad Keller, Sam'l Gwinn, Sr., Wm. Graham, and heirs of Robert Young."

I'm aware of the possibility that both John's married a Jane, but when you think of the DAR record for John Perry Jr not mentioning a second wife it makes you wonder. Besides, that record mentioned Elizabeth McClung lived until 1822 and remember that a John Perry and Jane Nelson married in 1798 so they are different John's. Certainly some things still need sorted out and discussed on this subject. Jane Nelson Perry lived until sometime after 1830. She and John didn't have children together, but perhaps some of those on the 1810 census were hers from a previous marriage.

If the John listed in the 1813 land record is John Sr, this is the last we see of him as, like John Jr, he is not on the 1820 census (Jane Nelson Perry was though). John seems to have become a farmer in his later years and lived around Swoop's Knob near Wolf Creek and Second Creek. His son John Jr lived nearby, was also well educated, and reportedly wrote an arithmetic used by schools in Virginia and North Carolina.

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