The Unknown Children of Captain Henry Connelly


Joseph Eugene Conley

Henry Connely, sieg, was born May 2d, A.D. 1752

Ann Connely, his wife, was born February 14

Edmund Connely, a son of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born June 2d. A.D. 1775

Thomas Connely, a son of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born 25th of January, A.D. 1777

Peggy Connely, a daughter of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born August 8th, A.D. 1779

David Connely, a son of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born June 24th, A.D. 1781

Rachel Connely, a daughter of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born April 8th, A.D. 1783

John Connely, a son of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born August 8th, A.D. 1785

Henry Connely, Jun, a son of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born December, 1st A.D. 1787

Elizabeth Connely, a daughter of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born April 8th, A.D. 1789

William Connely, a son of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born July 8th, 1791

Joseph Connely, a son of Henry and Ann Connelly, was born July 8th, 1795

Henry Connely, Sen, deceased May the 7th, 1840

{taken from the family bible of Temperance Hitchcock Connelly. Widow of Captain Henry Connelly}

            The above record was originally published in The Founding of Harmanís Station by William Elsey Connelley in 1910. Since that time, a great deal of research has been directed toward the identity of the children and the progeny of Captain Henry and Ann MacGregor Connelly. Some of the families have been documented with a great deal of depth and accuracy. Due to the fact that Edmund, Thomas, Rachel, and John Connelly raised their families in the Johnson/Magoffin/Morgan County area, there is a good deal of census, land, and tax records which both verify and document the record which William Elsey gives in his account of these families. Had he the benefit of the 1850 federal Johnson County Census, William Elsey would also have had a fine account of Peggy, who was the wife of Elijah Cantrell. The establishment of the times and locales which these five children lived has been cemented by the historical records of the annals of Floyd, Johnson, Magoffin, and Morgan Counties.

            But what of David, Henry Jr., Elizabeth, William, and Joseph? Several publications have been issued which attempt to explain what became of these children. From the Connelly Clan of East Kentucky by the Magoffin County Historical Society to many independent books, there have been several conflicting stories as to the lives of these five children. In this publication, I have attempted to take an unbiased and studious view of the available information to discern the true identities and families of these great uncles and great aunt. The following is my reasoning for the placement of these children in The Descendants of Henry Connelly. I hope this answers questions as well as opens a dialogue as to the true place of these children in the family of Captain Henry and Ann MacGregor Connelly.

David Connelly

            On June 24th, 1781 David Connelly was born to the house of Henry Connelly and Ann MacGregor Connelly. There should be no doubt of this fact or itís date. However, over the years there has been some debate as to the actual identity of who David Connelly really was. I had been aware of this discussion for some time but I had given it no serious study. Due to questions put to me by Mrs. Sharon Thasen and Dr. Michael Nestor, I set forth to answer the David Connelly problem. Firstly, that my genealogical record of the Connelly family might be as accurate as possible and secondly, for my own curiosity.

David Conley and Margaret (Peggy) Phillips

            When the Connelly Clan of East Kentucky was published in September of 1984 the issue was brought to the forefront. This report was based on a submission by Jim Smith of Auxier, Kentucky. In the Connelly Clan, the David Connelly who was given as the son of Captain Henry and Ann Connelly married Margaret Phillips on the 21st of October in 1813 in Floyd County, Kentucky. I initially assumed that Margaret must be the second wife of David as he would be 32 years old at the time of the marriage. Another problem I had was that Margaretís sister, Polly Phillips had married a John Conley on June 16th of the same year. The John who married Polly was not a member of Captain Henryís family, as Captain Henryís son, John was married to Leah Joynes at the time and his grandsons named John were not yet born. Given the fact that in times past it was common for children of one family to intermarry children of another common family, I began to wonder if this David and John were brothers. I tried to find the Elijah Phillips (father of Margaret and Polly) family in the 1820 Floyd County census, but Elijah was not there. However, I found a John Phillips in the neighborhood of the elder David Connelly b. 1747. David has been assumed by many to be the brother of Captain Henry. In John Phillips household, there was a man born before 1775. This may or may not be Elijah.

            Two other signs which links this David Conley to the family of old David Connelly can also be found in his marriage bond. The following is taken from Annals of Floyd County, Kentucky compiled by Charles C. Wells and published in 1995.

           Bond dated 16, Oct. 1813 by David Conley and John Smith for a marriage shortly to be between David Conley and Peggy Phillips.

           This is to certify that I, Alijah V. Phillips and Peggy Phillips, are willing that David Conley should have Peggy Phillips to wife.

           Dated this September 13, 1813

            Firstly, the bond is made with John Smith. There are two possibilities as to this John Smith. John Smith, Sr. was a known acquaintance of the elder David Connelly. He and David testified together concerning the war record of Thomas Lovelady before the Floyd County Fiscal Court on Monday, August the 25th, 1823. This was more probably be the son of John, John Smith, Jr. who would become the brother-in-law of David Conley in February of 1814 when he married Margaretís sister, Nancy Phillips in Floyd County, Kentucky. David Conley signed the bond for this marriage. One thing is certain. The elder David Connelly family, the John Smith family, and the Elijah Phillips families were closely intertwined.

            The second telling sign in this bond is that Margaret is underage. This is seen by the fact that Elijah Phillips gives his consent for his daughterís marriage. It would seem that Peggy Phillips would be under 18 years of age, while it is established that Captain Henryís son David would be 32 at the time of this marriage. While the age difference of at least 14 years was possible, it did pose another question. To determine Peggyís age at the time of the marriage, I consulted the first source available for ascertaining her year of birth, the 1850 Federal Census.

            In 1850, David and Margaret are living in Floyd County, Kentucky. David is 63 years olds and Margaret is 53. This would make Margaretís year of birth, 1797 and Davidís 1787. Here we have concrete proof that this David is not the son of Captain Henry Connelly as he is six years the junior of Captain Henryís David. The David which married Margaret Phillips is in all probability the son of the elder David Connelly of Floyd County, Kentucky. One may ask why I have given so much circumstantial evidence instead of going directly to the 1850 census. The reason I give is that I wanted to present the line of thinking I used to eliminate this David from the children of Captain Henry and to show that I respect the body of work which the Connelly Clan of Eastern Kentucky represents. I do not lightly dismiss any reference in this compilation. Neither do I disrespect the lineage of David Conley and Margaret Phillips. Rather, I hope to strengthen the heritage and respect due the elder David Connelly of Guilford County, North Carolina and Floyd County, Kentucky.

David H. Connelly and Mary Fugate

            The key to unlocking the mystery of David Connelly, son of Henry can be found in Floyd County Deed Book E. Therein contains the following deeds:

Page 8

           David H. Conley to Mathew Codill both of Floyd Co. KY for $350 tract containing 100A on Little Paint Creek adjoining the tract of land on which Henry Conley died and being a survey that said Henry Conley made in his lifetime & which was devised to his heirs & purchased by me (D.H. Conley) from them commencing on the line of the 30A tract to the gap that divides Jinneys Creek from Little Paint on the road that passes from Little Paint to John Rices.

           30 Jan. 1842 David H. Conley

           Att: H.C. Harris          31 Jan 1842          

           Produced and Recorded          Jacob Mayo CFCC

Page 116

           9 Mar 1841 David H. Conley to John Litterell both of Floyd Co. KY for $500 on the Oil Spring of Paint Creek it being a part of a survey patented to John May & David Rose.

           Polly X Conley

Wit: Daniel Litterell            William Blanton            David M. Conley

Produced & Recorded 29 Sep 1841          George W. Mayo DC

Page 117

           9 Mar 1841 David H. Conley to John Litterell for $500 Ė two tracts of land. 1st on Oil Spring Fork of Paint Creek a corner of a former survey made by Henry Connely Jr. containing 100A by survey

           Polly X Conley

Wit: William Blanton            Daniel Litteral            David M. Conley Produced & Recorded 29 Sep 1841          Jacob Mayo CFCC

            According to the deed recorded on page 8, it is clear that this is the son of Captain Henry. The farm being sold is the Connelly home place which has been left to Captain Henryís heirs. David has bought his siblingís shares and is now selling the farm to Mathew Caudill. For the first time we see Davidís middle initial is H. It could be argued that this is Edmundís son, David or Johnís son David H. however, it seems unlikely that either young man would be in a position to buy out his uncles' and or aunts' shares. It is also clear that David has been active in his fatherís real estate transactions. He and the same Daniel Litteral which attested the latter two deeds witnessed Captain Henry's signature when he sold a portion of land to Harston Litterell on October, 1st of 1838.

            In the deeds recorded on pages 116 and 117, we see further evidence of David H.ís family. Two names stand out, Polly Conley who co-signs with David indicating that she is his wife as well as David M. Conley who witnesses David H. and Pollyís signatures. By her signature, we know that Davidís wifeís name is Polly. This could encourage the argument that this is Edmundís son David who married Polly Howes. However, the signature of David M. Conley clarifies the picture immeasurably. As David H. attested the transactions of his father, Captain Henry Connelly, he has chosen his son, David M. to attest to his.

            The first record many will see of David M. Conley is his marriage bond with Mahala Roberson filed April 14th, 1834 in the Floyd County Court. David was underage and he is listed as the son of and given consent by David Connelly. By the record of the 1850 census, we know that David was born in Virginia in 1817. He cannot be the son of any other David than David H. Connelly. This is the same David whose sale of the Captain Henry Connelly farm has now been recorded in Deed Book E. in the Floyd County Court Records.

            The next issue is who is Polly Connelly?

            In 1808 Richard Davis died in Russell County, Virginia. When presented with this statement, I initially scoffed at it. I am direct descendant of Richard Davis through his son Elias and I felt I that I knew the whole story of the Davis family in East Kentucky. Upon study, however, I found that I knew very little concerning Richard Davis. His death has been long hidden by a misrepresentation of Richardís life span by historians. Whether by C. Mitchell Hall in his Jenny Wiley Country series of East Kentucky histories or by William C. Kosee in his Early Families of Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky, it became common belief that Richard Davis lived in excess of 100 years of age. I now believe that the elder Richard Davis became confused with his grandson, Richard R. Davis, son of James Davis. I have searched all records at my disposal from the 1810 Floyd County tax records to the 1850 Johnson County Census along with the land and marriage consent files and I can find no record of the elder Richard Davis in East Kentucky. Dr. Michael Nestor brought to my attention that Richardís will was probated in the Russell County Court in 1808. The will is recorded in Russell County Virginia, Will Book 2, page 218. At the probate of the will, David Connelly was named administrator of the estate. The same year David Connelly married Mary (Polly) Fugate Davis the widow of Richard in Russell County, Virginia. In 1810 David Connelly is found on the Russell County, Virginia tax roll where his is assessed taxes on four horses.

            The fact that Davis children were intertwined with the Connelly family is obvious on several occasions, none more obvious than the Bible of Elias Davis. In this record, Elias states that he had a half-brother David Conley. This would be David M. Conley. James Davis was also involved in the affairs of the Connelly family. On August 23rd, 1824 James Davis along with Captain Henry, Henry Jr., and John Litteral are commissioned to survey a road between Edmund Connellyís farm and Davisís mill. On December 14th, 1822 James Davis sold a piece of land on Abbot to Henry Connelly. On February 12th, 1821, James signed the marriage bond for Thomas Connellyís daughter Frances to Benjamin Salyer. Alfred Davis married Captain Henryís granddaughter, Nancy Cantrell.

            Therefore on the basis of the record of Elias Davis' family bible information along with the Russell County Virginia marriage record compounded by a great deal of circumstantial evidence linking the Davis children to the Connelly family that I feel for certainty that Polly Connelly is Mary (Polly) Fugate the widow of Richard Davis.

Henry Connelly, Jr.

            In The Founding of Harman's Station, William Elsey Connelley wrote, "I knew him well. He lived on the East Branch of the State-road Fork of Licking River, in Magoffin County, Kentucky. His farm lay above that of Jilson Prater, father of Jeff Prater, now a wealthy banker of Salyersville."

            Although I have the greatest respect and appreciation for the history set forth by William Elsey Connelley, he was confused in this statement. Upon a survey of the 1850 census records, there is no Henry Connelly aged 62-63 which would be Henry Connelly, Jr. However, there is a Henry Conley age 55 living in Floyd County in 1850 along with his wife, Nancy, sons David and James, and daughter, Susannah. The next farm listed in the census records is that of Jilson Prater. This is undoubtedly the Henry Connelly known by William Elsey. This Henry is the son of Edmund and Lydia Joynes Connelly.

            According to Reginald Connelly, a descendant of Henry Jr., Henry's family moved the frontier of Wisconsin shortly after Captain Henry's death. This family has produced documentation of the Connelly family in Wisconsin. The most telling is Henry's wife, Sarah's pension application for Henry Jr.'s service in the War of 1812. There are facts included therein such as the company was recruited by Rhodes Meade which have been confirmed by local history and could not be known unless this were the widow of Henry Jr. In my report I have included the family and facts of Henry Jr. which were passed on to me by Jerry Conley. These were given to him by the descendants of Henry and Sarah Phillips Connelly.

Elizabeth Connelly

            Elizabeth did not come to East Kentucky with the Connelly family. While some researchers have claimed that she did, marriage and census records prove other wise. The first time I was put on the trail of Elizabeth Connelly was several years ago when I was contacted by Jean Whatley of Alabama. She led me to D.A.R. records which indicated that Elizabeth was the wife of Aaron Tate of Virginia. While I was confident that the records provided were accurate I had no idea what became of the family other than the direct lineage to Jean Whatley.

            In August of 2001, while searching for the family of Elizabeth and Aaron, I came upon the web-site of Mr. Charles H. Miller. Not only did he confirm the information provided by Jean Whatley, he graciously offered me a lineage of Elizabeth and Aaron's family which contain over 460 individuals.

            Elizabeth Connelly's nickname was Becky. She married Aaron Tate in 1810 in Russell County, Virginia. Due to the facts concerning David H. and Polly Fugate, this fit together to illustrate that the Connelly family had a presence in Russell County shortly after the turn of the 19th century.

William Connelly

            Like Elizabeth, several researchers have tried to place William Connelly with a family in the mid-1800's in East Kentucky. Some have used this information to discredit William Elsey's narrative which states that William drowned in the Big Sandy River.

            The final comment concerning William Connelly can be found in the minutes of the Floyd County Fiscal Court dated Monday, 17th of August, 1818:

            Henry Conley, Sr. is appointed administrator of the estate of William Conley, deceased. Henry Conley, Jr., Thomas Conley, and John Rice securities.

            John Fitzpatrick, William Remy, Elexious Howes, and John Hitchcock are to appraise the estate.

Joseph Connelly

            In the Connelly Clan of Eastern Kentucky, Joseph Connelly is said to have married Susanna Jones. There is a record for this marriage on May 22nd, 1827 in Floyd County, Kentucky. It is uncertain that this Joseph is the son of Captain Henry Connelly. This Joseph left Floyd County and is residing in Greenup County in 1850. In the 1850 census, his is listed as being 52 years old. This would make his birth year, 1798. We know, however, that Captain Henry's son Joseph was born in 1795. Another questionable fact is that there are land records of this Joseph owning property on Middle Creek in Floyd County. This is area of the elder David Connelly's family.

            In the 1820 census, Captain Henry's Joseph is not listed as a head of a household. The only Joseph listed is the son of David Connelly who is living beside his brother, John in Floyd County. Joseph is not living with Captain Henry and Ann as they are the only two individuals in their household. It is possible that Joseph could be living on one of his brothers' farms as there are undefined males of Joseph's age in the homes of John and David Connelly. At this point I cannot state what became of Joseph.

            The three most likely scenarios are these:

            Joseph died young.

            Joseph stayed in Virginia as did Elizabeth and David.

            The Joseph in the Connelly Clan of East Kentucky is the son of Captain Henry and there is an explanation for the discrepancy in his age in the 1850 census.

            One thing that genealogy has taught me, however. The most likely scenarios usually have nothing to do with the course of history.

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