|Death: ||Feb. 8, 1806|
Extracted from: The "Old Northwest" genealogical quarterly, Volume 7
SAMUEL McELVAIN, ONE OF THE FIRST PIONEER SETTLERS OF COLUMBUS, OHIO, IN 1797.
The McElvains of Columbus, Ohio.
By Col. Frank C. Mcelvain, Urbana, Illinois.
Writing from his home at West Point Grove, near Lincoln, Logan County, Illinois, November 30,1856, Col. Andrew McElvain states in a letter to William T. Martin, the early historian of Franklin County, Ohio:
"I emigrated with my father, Samuel McElvain, to Ohio, from Kentucky in the spring of 1797. In the fall or winter of 1797-8 a family by the name of Dixon was the first white family to settle at the forks of the Scioto and Whetstone Rivers, where Franklinton was later established. Lucas Sullivant and his party of surveyors returned to Chillicothe, Ohio, after examining the lands at and near the Forks and returned again early in the spring of 1798. The Armstrongs, Skidmores, Deardurffs, Dunkin, Stokes and Robert Balentine, the McElvains, Hunters, Browns, Cowgills and Benjamin White were all there with Sullivant in the spring of 1798. (For the entire letter of Col. Andrew McElvain see the July number, 1912, Vol. XV, O. N. W. Quarterly.)
Samuel McElvain, the pioneer, was one of the party of surveyors who came north from Kentucky with Lucas Sullivant, who had a commission to survey and lay off the Military lands of the "Virginia Military District," and he, like Sullivant, decided that the soil and other conditions were attractive enough to them to make the forks of the Scioto their permanent home. They later brought their families there.
Samuel McElvain, the pioneer, was, like Lucas Sullivant, Scotch-Irish, the term being one applied to those Scotchmen who went over into Ireland at the time of the Covenanters, but who never inter-married with the native Irish. The reason for not doing so was that the Scotch were Presbyterians of the most exacting type, while the Irish were Roman Catholics, and there were frequent battles between them, some of which resulted fatally. The Scotch, even though born in Ireland, married Scotch and the Irish married Irish.
The subject of this sketch descended by direct line from the Mcllvaines of Grimet, Ayrshire, Scotland, who go by record tradition back to the time of Henry I, 1060, while the first of record is the Baron Gilberto M'Ylvene, 1333, who had a castle in Ayr. The houses and lands of Grimet were very extensive and ran for miles along the Doon in sight of Ailsa Cliff and the Firth of Clyde. Some members of the family have traced without a break back to Alan Mcllvain, 1520, who received his castle at Thomastowne, from his wife, a Kennedy, a neice^of the Earl of Cassilis, the castle being of the medieval type, with turrets, an immense, deep moat and draw bridge. It was erected by a nephew of Robert the Bruce.
Alan Mcllvain was a staff officer under The Bruce. The castle. is now in ruins, although an idea of its massive construction can' still be obtained from parts of the ruins. The estate has reverted to the Earl of Cassilis, although there are members of the family still living in the neighborhood.
The coat of arms used by descendants of the family is that adopted by Sir Patrick Mcllvain, son of Gilbert and grandson of Alan Mcllvain, who was knighted on the battlefield of Lady Corse, where his son John was killed in battle "just before the Brig o' Doon." It is described in Guillam's and Burke^ Heraldry as "Gules: Two cups, covered, or; in chief a star, argent."
Samuel McElvain was born about 1755 in Pennsylvania, either in Cumberland, Lancaster or Chester county, the boundaries changing frequently at that period. His entire life was that of a pioneer, his home being always on the frontier. He first comes into notice as a Soldier of the Revolution on the western boundary of Cumberland county, his home being in Fermanagh township, which later became Mifflin county, and now is in Juniata county. He was one of the first to join the Revolutionary Army and he served under different captains as private, corporal and sergeant and finally became a Second Lieutenant, or what was then termed Ensign, under Captain McAllister, in Colonel James Purdy's regiment.
In 1779 he married Margaret Elizabeth, daughter of Colonel James Purdy, from whom he purchased a farm on Lost Creek, near MifHintown, and where his first four children were born.
About 1790 he moved to Kentucky, traveling down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh or Wheeling and locating north of Paris in Bourbon county, where he purchased a farm with John Mcllvain, a distant relative. There he was an intimate friend of Andrew Jackson, Daniel Boone, the first Benjamin Harrison, who was his neighbor, the Logans, Hunters and others. In 1794, when the new county of Harrison was formed from Bourbon, Samuel McElvain, Benjamin Harrison and others were selected as the first county magistrates, as related in the history of those counties. In 1791 he served as sergeant in Captain Brown's mounted company for defense against the Wiaw Indians in Kentucky.
As related by Col. Andrew McElvain in his letter, the McElvains came north to the forks of the Scioto in 1797, stopping over the dead of winter at Chillicothe. When they arrived at the forks, it is related that they were forced to make barricades of their wagons for protection from Indians, until they could put up their pioneer shacks, nails, window glass, hinges and hardware being unknown at the time.
Samuel McElvain is frequently spoken of in the early history of Franklin county, but his death occurred February 3, 1806, and the record of his estate settlement is on file at the court house at Columbus.
He never saw the fruits of his labors in the virgin field, and his remains lie on the bank of the river in the old Sullivant graveyard, along with the first Joseph Vance and other pioneers of Columbus—a place which I regret to say the municipality has neglected terribly. Only recently has this God's Acre, the church yard of the First Presbyterian Church of Franklinton, been enclosed, and vandals were permitted to drive their wagons among the headstones, to remove them at will for door-steps and to permit the place to grow up with weeds and shrubbery. Truly, shocking tribute from a great city to its founders.
Margaret Elizabeth Purdy, wife of Samuel McElvain, lived to see her sons and daughters grow up and have children. She was born in Pennsylvania, October, 1761, and died at Columbus, Ohio, April 24, 1840.
Although Samuel and Elizabeth McElvain had a family of twelve sons and daughters and their sons and daughters nearly all had large families, it is remarkable that the only descendants known by the name now living in Columbus are Miss Margaret McElvain, for years principal of the Bellows Avenue School and her brother, Mr. Joseph McElvain. It is also remarkable that of some two hundred descendants, there are probably not more than four boys of the last generation.
Samuel McElvain and his wife, Elizabeth Purdy, had the following sons and daughters:
1. Judge William McELVAiN, born in Pennsylvania, September 26, 1780, died at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, August 31, 1843. He was married to Rebecca Riddell, April 11, 1810, by the Rev. James Hoge, and they had children—(1) Amanda (Sells); (2) Louise (Sites); (3) Elizabeth; (4) Martha (Clark); (5) Rebecca; (6) Carolina (Slusser) and (7) Cynthia (Taylor). He served as a private in Captain Joseph Vance's company of Dragoons, war of 1812. He was a justice of the peace for Clinton township in 1811, purchaser of town lots at the first sale for the new city of Columbus in 1812, county commissioner in 1815, associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas, 1829-1831 and 1837-1843, when he died. He was also one of the contractors for the dam across the Scioto river and the locks for the canal, with his brother, Col. Andrew McElvain and his brothers-in-law, Benjamin Sells and Peter Sells, parents of the Sells of circus fame. He was an original member of the Presbyterian congregation, an official of the new lunatic asylum at the laying of the corner stone and a director of the city schools.
2. Martha McELVAiN, born in Pennsylvania, November 1, 1782, married Samuel King, of Columbus, born November 7, 1777, January 8, 1800. Children—Elizabeth, born September 6, 1801, married Jehial Fiske, October 16, 1823; Magdalena, born April 20, 1803, married David Reese, February 9, 1826; Thurzza, born March 21, 1805, married Abraham Reese October 12, 1825; Samuel, born October 1, 1807, married Nancy Doherty, April 25, 1836; Robert, born November 27, 1809, married Sarah Ann Anderson, April 24, 1836; William, born April 19, 1812, married Mary Ann Eastwood, June 28, 1831. Deaths—Samuel King died March 27, 1846, Martha-McElvain-King died April 3, 1846, Magdalene-King-Reese died February 10, 1839, William King died November 20, 1881.
3. Col. James McEuvAiN, born in Pennsylvania, December 28, 1784, married Margaret Lisle, November 10, 1808 and was killed by Black Hawk Indians near Wiota, Wis., (Fort Hamilton), June 14, 1832. Margaret Lisle was born May 20, 1790 and died July 24, 1847.
Col. James McElvain is given that title presumably in connection with his Indian fighting, although he was not killed in battle, but while looking after some corn in a field near Fort Hamilton, from which place he and five other soldiers had come. Two of the party escaped. He had moved from Columbus to Vincennes, Ind., and had been attracted to the lead fields at the outbreak of the Black Hawk war. His son, Lieutenant Joseph McElvain, was killed at Albuquerque, New Mexico, just before riding into battle against a band of Indians, July 10, 1847. This young man was a graduate from West Point in the class with U. S. Grant, and had previously distinguished himself in command of his troop of U. S. Dragoons. The sons and daughters of Col. James and Margaret Lisle McElvain were: (1) Nancy, married John Powell, has descendants at Arthur, Ill.; (2) John Lisle, married Frances Smith; (3) Samuel Purdy, (former Commissioner of the Poor for Franklin county) married Levonia Risley, and his sons and daughters are the last to live in Columbus, of this name. (4) Lieutenant Joseph; (5) William and (6) Agnes. Col. James McElvain, named for his grandfather, Col. James Purdy, was a soldier of fhe war of 1812 in Captain Vance's company, is frequently mentioned in the early history of Franklin county and his tragic death is given several pages in the Wisconsin historical collections and Frank E. Stevens' History of the Black Hawk War.
Murder Of James Mcelvain.
Prom History of the Black Hawk War, by Frank E. Stevens, Dixon, 111.,
1903, page 181:
"No sooner had the men (Dodge's troops) reached Fort Defiance than one David, an express, arrived with news of the murder that day (June 14, 1832) of Spafford, Searles, Spencer, Mcllwaine and an Englishman nicknamed John Bull at Spafford's Farm, six miles southeast of Fort Hamilton. Captain Hood at once despatched an express to Dodge at Dodgeville and ordered Lieutenant Bracken with a detachment to Fort Hamilton which was reached late that night. The following morning, under guidance of Bennet Hillion, a survivor of the party which had been attacked, Bracken took the detachment over to Spafford's farm and buried the dead men who as usual, had been shockingly mutilated.
From Wisconsin Historical Collections, Vol. II, page 343:
"The mounted men had just arrived at Fort Defiance when the sad intelligence arrived by David Gilbert as express, that five men had been killed at Spafford's farm on the Pecatonica, six miles southeast of Fort Hamilton. A dispatch was immediately sent to Colonel Dodge and all the men at the fort that could be mounted were soon in readiness to proceed to the scene of the murder under the guidance of Bennet Hillion, who was one of the party which had been attacked and had almost miraculously escaped, after a chase of fifteen miles and after having swam the Pecatonica five times during the chase. He at length arrived at Fort Hamilton in full lope, an hour by the sun. The first thing that presented itself at the scene of the murder was the headless body of the unfortunate Spafford, who it seems from Hillion's statement was killed at the first fire of the Indians and was found near where the attack was made. Except where shot and the decapitation, there were no mutilations of the body. We found the missing head on the bank of the river some hundred yards from the body, with pretty much all the hair taken off. This was of a fine glossy appearance, hence the reason for taking it all. The bodies of McElvaine and Searles and an Englishman called Johnny Bull were found upon the opposite bank of the river, most shockingly mangled and mutilated. The body of Spencer, who was supposed to have been killed at the same time, could nowhere be found. The other four bodies were brought together and buried in one common grave, presenting a most appalling spectacle, such as only men of nerve could have witnessed with any degree of composure. After burying these unfortunate friends, who had fallen victims through their anxiety to raise a crop of corn, we continued our search for Spencer.—Burnett's Memoirs, June 14, 1832.
David Gilbert communicated the melancholy information that on that day (June 14, 1832) Spafford, Spencer, Bennet Million, Mcllwaine and an Englishman named John Bull, had been surprised by Indians while at work in a cornfield on a farm owned by Spafford and Spencer, about six miles southeast of Fort Hamilton, now Wiota, and that all the party had been murdered except Hillion, who had by his fleetness of foot, made his escape. On our arrival there the first object that presented itself was the headless body of Spafford who had died facing his foes. Cool as he was brave, he at once saw from the number and position of the Indians that flight was useless. Seizing his rifle he calmly awaited their approach and his unerring aim sent one of his foes to eternity. Then like the lion at bay. he died covered with a hundred wounds. While the Indians were thus partially checked by Spafford, the others fled under cover of a ravine which appears to have been an ancient bed of the Pecatonica, to the river. On reaching the shore, McElvain and John Bull attempted to escape across it and were shot in the water. Their bodies were taken out of the river by us; they had been scalped and horribly mutilated. (By Lieutenant Bracken.)
The company then proceeded to the farm and found the murdered men as described by Lieutenant Bracken, with the exception of the headless body of Spafford, which had no wounds upon it as I recollect. The position of the body when found indicated that he had been running as the rest of his comrades, when he was shot. Whether he killed an Indian'before he himself was shot, I think no one can tell. Hillion crossed the river at the same place and the same time that McElvain crossed it. (Editor—The Indians had respect for one who had exhibited great bravery as an enemy.
Vol. VI, page 404:
Devise went to Wiota and joined a militia company under William S. Hamilton and assisted in building a block house called Fort Hamilton. While they were forted there occurred the Massacre of Spafford's Farm in which Omri Spafford, James McElwain, Abraham Searles and a man called John Bull were killed by Indians. They were attacked in a corn field. Spafford would not run, but stood at bay and was killed in the field. Francis Spencer, who owned a part of the field, escaped through the field, as did also another of the party. The other men swam the river and were shot, as it seems, while trying to get up the farther bank. When the body of John Bull had been fished out of the stream, his watch had not yet stopped. Spencer was found some days later under the floor of an old stable or hog pen, nearly crazed with fright.
Note.—Wiota, or Fort Hamilton, is in the lead mining country which includes the district from Galena, Illinois, north into Wisconsin, and Wiota is only a few miles from the Illinois line. These men, like many others, had gone there in the hope of mending their fortunes by prospecting and had apparently done a little farming on the side in order to keep their pack animals during the winter, as well as to get corn to exchange for food during the winter. The James McElwaine mentioned was James McElvain, second son of Samuel McElvain, who, with his family were pioneer settlers of Franklinton, and a brother of Col. Andrew McElvain, mentioned in Martin's history. James McElvain moved from Columbus to Vincennes, Ind., and while there joined those who had been attracted north by news of the finding of lead mines. While he was gone, his family went to live with the family of Mrs. McElvain's father, Mr. Powell, in Vermillion County, Illinois, but after the tragic death of Colonel McElvain, they all returned to Indiana. Later a son of James, Lieutenant Joseph McElvain, U. S. Army, also met a tragic death, being accidentally killed in battle during the Mexican War, at Albuquerque, New Mex;co. The above account is the first authentic account of the death of James McElvain that the family have ever been able to secure, and the first time the exact location was ever known.
4. Gen. John Mcelvain, born in Pennsylvania, December 27, 1787 and died at Columbus, July 31, 1858, was married to Lydia Havens, February 4, 1816, she having been born in 1798 and died in 1854. They had children: (1) Eliza, married (Clark); (2) John Purdy, died in South America; (3) Allan, died young; (4) Lydia, married Dr. Latham of Indianapolis; (5) Mary, married (Kelsey), of Columbus, and (6) Anna, married Frank Doherty of Columbus. She died 1909; he died previously. General McElvain was much better known as "Colonel John." He was first mentioned as a third lieutenant of the 26th U. S. Infantry, advertising for deserters at Columbus, Ohio; was in the battle of Fort Erie, August 15, 1814, where he was brevetted for conspicuous bravery and later became one of the two first Colonels of the Ohio Militia. He was a second lieutenant and a brevet colonel when he resigned from the regular army. Lee's history cf Columbus, Ohio, states that he was made Adjutant General of Ohio under Governor Trimble, in May 1822. He was made sheriff of Franklin county, Ohio in 1819 and again in 1821 and still later in 1827. He was appointed Indian agent at Piqua, Ohio, in 1829. He was a director of the Ohio Penitentiary in 1840-1841. In 1831 he erected a steam saw mill, the first in Columbus. He was one of the clerks of the United States Court 1830-1850 and State Librarian, 1818-1820. He and others laid out McElvain's addition in Columbus, in 1832.
5. Robert Mcelvain, born in Pennsylvania, May 31, 1787, died in infancy, or is not of record.
6. Col. Andrew Mcelvain, born in Bourbon county, Ky., September 8, 1791, was accidentally killed by a team of oxen at his farm, West Point Grove, near Lincoln, Illinois, May 9, 1861. Married first, Martha (Patsy) Hunter, daughter of John Hunter, at Columbus, Ohio, May 16, 1814. They had two sons, (1) Joseph Vance McElvain, married Emily Bockin, at Columbus, and whose only daughter, Mrs. Emily Dewitt, lives in Columbus, and (2) Samuel McElvain, married Lydia Hill at Columbus, who has a son, William, living at Terre Haute, Ind. "Patsy" McElvain died at Clinton, Ind., while the family were on the way to visit Col. James McElvain, at Vincennes, Ind., in 1820.
Andrew McElvain married Jane Hunter, born at Franklinton, March 10, 1801 and alleged to be the first white female child born in Franklin county, cousin of "Patsy" Hunter and a daughter of Joseph Hunter, Esq., at Columbus, Ohio, April 22, 1825, by James Hoge. Their children were: (1) William Shaw, (unmarried) died of Cholera near Jeffersonville, Mo., 1849; (2) John Havens, married Margaret Walker, descendants at Lincoln, Ill.; (3) Swayne Risley, died at Wyandotte (Kansas City) Kansas, 1851, unmarried; (4) Robert Purdy, died in California; (5) Charles Hunter (father of the writer) married Mary Elizabeth Whitesell, died at Lincoln, Ill., 1873; (6) Jane, died 1909 at Wichita, Kansas; (7) Richard Montgomery, lives in Topeka, Kansas; (8) Matilda Magath Bell, died at Wichita, Kansas, 1913; (9) Andrew McGath, lives at Wichita, Kansas.
Colonel Andrew McElvain, writer of the letter quoted in Martin's History, etc., is frequently mentioned in the early history of Columbus, and was identified with its interests from early boyhood. He was a trumpeter in Captain Jacob Reeb's company in the war of 1812, before he became of age, mail carrier before that, partner in the construction of the Scioto dam and locks, builder of a mill on Alum creek, sheriff of Franklin county, 1833-37, Captain of the Riflemen Corps at the reception of Governor Clinton, Colonel on the staff of one of the governors, Director of the Ohio Penitentiary, 1842-44, land investor, his name covering pages of the realty records of Columbus in the early days, politician and a candidate for the nomination for Governor, hotel-keeper, etc. After an unfortunate campaign for the governorship, Andrew McElvain moved to Upper Sandusky, which was then just beginning, and he was the first postmaster there. He ran the first hotel at that place and organized while there a company of infantry for service in the Mexican war, the officers being Andrew McElvain, Captain; Moses H. Kirby, First Lieutenant; Christian Huber, Second Lieutenant; Thomas Officer, Ensign; and Purdy McElvain, First Sergeant. In 1848 he joined the gold hunters who were attracted by tales of California and went to the wonderful Mecca, going by water to Kansas City and thence overland. At St. Joseph and Leavenworth a number of caravans united for protection against Indians and Colonel McElvain was elected "Captain." The parties separated at the eastern border of California. Colonel McElvain and son, who were left with the oxen, got lost and nearly died of starvation before they were found. However, he retrieved his lost fortune, came back and removed to a large farm which he bought at Lincoln, Illinois, in Logan county, where he became a friend of Abraham Lincoln, and where he died. His wife, Jane Hunter McElvain, died the year following his own death, November 11, 1862, aged 61 years, and is buried beside him at Lincoln, Ill.
7. Col. Joseph Mcelvain, born in Kentucky in 1794, died at Worthington, Ohio, February 7, 1859. Married first, Catharine Dalzell, at Columbus, November 28, 1825. She was born March 20, 1803 and died April 28, 1829 and had one son, Decatur, who died young. Colonel McElvain married, second, Salome Russell, September 16, 1834 and had (1) Anne (Eldridge) late of Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and (2) Sarah F. (Carter) living at Washington, D. C. Colonel Joseph McElvain received his title by being at the head of a regiment of the early Ohio militia, having succeeded Captain Joseph Vance as Captain of the troop of Dragoons, and Colonel McDowell, as colonel of the regiment. He was in turn farmer, merchant, hotel-keeper and public officer, having been treasurer of Franklin county four years, in 1841-45, and superintendent of the county infirmary in 1851, a number of years previous to his death.
8. Margaret Mcelvain, born in Kentucky, October 17, 1796, married William Hunter, November 25, 1817, and had the following children: (1) Samuel, died young; William Hunter, married Miss Doremus; (3) Isabella (Hollinshead); (4) Margaret (Keller); (5) Katherine Whisner-Baker; (6) Matilda, died young. Many of their descendants live in Columbus.
9. Col. Purdy Mcelvain is given that title by the History of Wyandot county, Ohio, where he was Indian Agent for a number of years at the early settlement of that place. His home was at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he died in April, 1848. He was one of the first white children born at Franklinton, his birth occurring in 1800. He married Levonia Risley, May 25, 1820, by Eli C. King, a coincidence being that his nephew, Samuel Purdy McElvain, married a niece and namesake of Purdy McElvain's wife, wooed and won while on a visit at Upper Sandusky. Purdy' McElvain is frequently spoken of in the early history of Columbus. His marriage was in Columbus. He had one son, George, who married Priscilla A. Elliott, at Columbus, and a daughter, Matilda.
10. Matilda Mcelvain, born April 16, 1804, in Franklinton, married Arthur O'Harra, Jr., October 17, 1822, and died March 30, 1875. Mr. O'Harra was born October 19, 1802, and died Dec. 25, 1864. They had two daughters, (1) Belle (Lesbig) and (2) Elizabeth (Hunter).
David Mcelvain And Cynthia Or Agnes Mcelvain, are mentioned as children of Samuel and Elizabeth McElvain, but they probably died in early infancy.
SAMUEL MCELVAIN ENSIGN CUMBERLAND CO MILITIA REV WAR 1753 - 1806
Note: Replacement Memorial Marker - Not At Original Plot Location And Should Face West Rather Than South
Old Franklinton Cemetery
Created by: Gary W. Royer
Record added: Oct 31, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 12228335