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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Our Miller's and Bradford's Along the Elk

Elk Landing along Elk River
(Courtesy of
New research consistently attests that our Bradford's and Miller's were in the heart of Scots-Irish territory, just adding to the wealth of evidence that they were indeed from Ulster. Here is another example (search previous posts for their ties to the Elk River):

"A southern stronghold of Presbyterianism was in the neighborhood of Newcastle, Delaware. The narrow tongue of land between the upper shore of Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River is shared by Maryland and Delaware. Maryland s portion includes the Elk River and is known as Cecil County. Delaware's portion is called Newcastle County, with Wilmington, its chief city, at the mouth of Christiana Creek. North of these two counties and across the Pennsylvania line are Lancaster and Chester counties (all known as Chester County from 1682 to 1729), extending from the Delaware River to the Susquehanna River. This territory, south a few miles from Philadelphia, became the mecca for Scotch emigrants from Ireland. These emigrants pushed up through Newcastle County to cross the Pennsylvania line, hoping to escape from Maryland and its tithes. Unfortunately at this very time the exact line of the boundary was in dispute between Lord Baltimore and the heirs of William Penn, and many of the settlers flocked in and preempted land in dispute, without obtaining right or title. To add to the confusion the Penn family were in a state of domestic discord, so that their agent James Logan allowed very few grants in any place after the year 1720. An exception was made however in the case of the Scotch Irish, people who, said Logan, "if kindly used, will I believe be orderly, as they have hitherto been, and easily dealt with; they will also, I expect, be a leading example to others. " These grants were made for a settlement which was called Donegal." (Source:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Researching Our Scots-Irish Ancestors

Our ancestors, William Miller and his wife Rebecca Bradford have strong Scots-Irish roots in Northern Ireland ("Ulster") in the late 1600's and early 1700's.  While there are few primary records from this era, a general study of the Scots-Irish has proved invaluable to my research, as these people tended to immigrate to America and settle in groups and in very distinct geographical patterns. I believe further study of Scots-Irish trends will reveal more about our Miller and Bradford ancestors.  Here is a great book that would be of interest to anyone researching Scots-Irish roots:

Researching Scots-Irish Ancestors: The Essential Genealogical Guide to Early Modern Ulster (by William J Roulston).  Barnes and Noble says of this book:
"One of the greatest frustrations for generations of genealogical researchers has been that reliable guidance on sources for perhaps the most critical period in the establishment of their family’s links with Ulster, the period up to 1800, has proved to be so elusive. Not any more. This book can claim to be the first comprehensive guide for family historians searching for ancestors in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Ulster.
"Whether their ancestors are of English, Scottish or Gaelic Irish origin, it will be of enormous value to anyone wishing to conduct research in Ulster prior to 1800. A comprehensive range of sources from the period 1600-1800 are identified and explained in very clear terms. Information on the whereabouts of these records and how they may be accessed is also provided. Equally important, there is guidance on how effectively they might be used.
"The appendices to the book include a full listing of pre-1800 church records for Ulster; a detailed description of nearly 250 collections of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century estate papers; and a summary breakdown of the sources available from this period for each parish in Ulster." (Source:
See more great book choices by doing an online search of "Scots-Irish books" and at:
2.          scotch-irish-heritage-of-american-english-reprint

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stunning News for All Who Love Genealogy!

Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
Here is an exciting article from Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper, from February 5, 2014 (emphasis added):

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will soon have unprecedented free access to family history records, including obituaries.
Earlier this week, announced plans to collaborate with several commercial family history organizations to share records, tools and other resources to allow more people to build, preserve and share their family trees online.
A new part of that agreement was revealed Wednesday night at a media/blogger event in connection with the 2014 RootsTech conference at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Don Anderson, a senior vice president of patron and partner services at FamilySearch, announced that for the general public, free access would be granted for, and in
Spring in SLC
(Source: Same as above)
 LDS Church family history centers worldwide.
An additional announcement was made that FamilySearch will begin working with the larger genealogical community to collect, digitize and index millions of obituaries from the United States, with other nations to follow.  Anderson also said that members of the LDS Church will be granted free subscriptions to (the world edition subscription), (plus subscription) and (plus subscription), accessible from any location. These sites have between three and four times the number of records FamilySearch has, so it's a substantial amount of both records and technology, Anderson said.
Anderson emphasized that access to these commercial sites will not be granted immediately but will be rolled out over the next several months.
Anderson said a world edition subscription to is $399 a year and the other two are in the price range of $120-140 each, which is a significant savings for any family historian.
"I think it's extraordinarily significant for several reasons," Anderson said. "One, in total it saves members of the church millions of dollars. Second, for those on the edge of family history, who maybe in the past couldn't afford or it wasn't a high enough priority to spend $400 a year, this means they can have access to all the resources of those sites for free. Not only will it save money, but it will dramatically broaden the number of individuals involved in family history who otherwise wouldn't have gotten involved or found records at these sites because it wasn't in FamilySearch."
Ben Bennett, vice president of partner services at FamilySearch, said the goal is to provide church members with as many tools as possible to find their families. The negotiation of these deals spanned most of 2013, Bennett said.

'FamilySearch has been doing this for a long time, but we can't do it alone. We don't have every record. These other sites have invested significantly in other technologies, he said."
For full story and pictures, see:

Three cheers to the FamilySearch for making this amazing opportunity possible!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Elizabeth Town, New Jersey

New-found graves in Elizabeth, new Jersey
This link below is a quick 1 page read by Janet Cook. It's a great summary of where the Scots-Irish came to when they left Northern Ireland. It fits so very well with what we know about our Miller and Bradford ancestors. I could not copy the information, so here is the link:

The 1684 entry mentions New Jersey, and records confirm that Rebecca's uncle, her father Samuel's brother, James, settled there for awhile [ bold added]:

James Bradford Sr.
b:1716 Ireland d: d.12-14-1789 Strabane, Twp, Washington Co, PA
JAMES BRADFORD SR and wife Janet migrated from Ireland about 1740. They first located at Elizabeth, New Jersey. Later moved to Peach Bottom, Cecil County, Maryland. In 1785 they crossed the mountains and located on the rich hills between Washington and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Their children all lived in the same neighborhood, either preceding or accompanying them.

Tombstone in Chartiers Presbyterian Church: In Memory of James Bradford Who Departed this Life Decd the 14 1789 Aged 73

wife. Jane/Jennet/Janet [Gibson] b: Ireland

Remember, James was the father of David Bradford, the leader of the Whiskey Rebellion and subject of the last 3 posts. 

Did Samuel Bradford (James brother and Rebecca's  father) follow this same route to America? Did he immigrate with his brother or did he leave northern Ireland and come to America separately, taking the Newcastle County, Delaware route, also mentioned in the link above? 

Either way, both brothers ended up in nearby Cecil County, Maryland, and then eventually moved very near each other in western Pennsylvania. Perhaps more research into the records of Elizabeth, New Jersey will turn up new information about our Bradford ancestors.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our Famous Cousin - Part 3

Home of David Bradford in the town of Washington,
Washington County, PA 
Let's look a little more closely at one event briefly mentioned in the last post. Reminder: The "Bradford" in the following except is David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Rebellion and our Rebecca's cousin (their father's being brothers, Samuel and James Bradford).  

We learned that in 1794 there were a "series of meetings at Bradford's home to consider the problem of the easterners knowing what was happening almost before it happened. As a result of these meetings, the mail from Pittsburg to Philadelphia was robbed on July 26th and taken to the Blackhorse Tavern in Canonsburg to be examined."

Who attended these meetings? Why were they so desperate as to be willing to rob the US Mail? And what of the mysterious Blackhorse Tavern? Did it really exist?

From the Monongahela Valley History, Section 5, we read:

"The rebels next move was the most disastrous. They conspired to rob the
mail because they wanted to find out what the dispatches going from
Pittsburgh to Harrisburg and Philadelphia said about them. The plot was
devised at the Canonsburg Tavern of Henry Westbay, called the Black Horse
Tavern, and was carried out by William Bradford, cousin of David Bradford,
and William Mitchell, hired by David Hamilton.

"They waylaid the mail carrier about 22 miles east of Pittsburgh near the
present Route 51, took only the letters they were interested in, tied the
carrier so that they would have time to get away. The mail was taken to
Benjamin Parkison/Parkinson and then to Col. Canon and David Bradford in
Canonsburg. Although there was to be a meeting at Parkinson's Ferry in 17
days, Bradford became so incensed by the content of the letters that the
militia was commmanded to meet at the Mingo Church and proceed to Braddocks
Field to march on Pittsburgh." (For more information on the outcome, see previous post).

We see 3 names in that paragraph of interest to us genealogically speaking. First, as mentioned already, is Rebecca's cousin, David, but who is David's cousin that is mentioned, a William Bradford? He is none other than Rebecca's own brother, who was a 15-year-old teenager at this time.

They had all grown up together as children in Cecil County, Maryland. As adults, several of the families eventually headed west and settled very near to each other in Fayette County and adjoining Washington County, in southwestern Pennsylvania, living only about 45 miles apart. Rebecca and her husband, William Miller, along with her mother and siblings, lived in the Dunbar/Connellsville area of Fayette County, and David, several other siblings and his parents settled near the town of Washington in Washington County, PA. Canonsburg was only a few miles north of Washington. William must have been close to his older cousin David, who in turn must have trusted the young William to help carry out the robbery of the U.S. mail!

In fact, both of there faces are immortalized on 500 hand-made Whiskey Rebellion Commemorative plates! (see below)

Whiskey Rebellion Commemorative Plaque
Concerning Benjamin Parkinson, on November 14, 1794, his distillery was seized (History of Washington County, Crumrine,  p. 883) for non-payment of taxes. Not surprisingly, Ben took an active part in the Rebellion, because acquainted with it's leader, David Bradford and his young cousin William, and in later years, William would marry Ben's daughter, Margaret Parkinson on November 18, 1800.

And finally, the Black Horse Tavern was indeed the stuff of legend, as the rebels met there to make their plans within its walls of secrecy. Some sources identify the tavern as the birthplace of the Whiskey Rebellion. According to the newspaper, the Beaver County Times, in a May 27, 1976 article that included comments from  local historian, James "Doc" Herron, it is also where the stolen mail was read: "In a backroom of the inn, in the dead of night, Bradford and six others opened and were infuriated by five critical letters addressed by Pittsburghers" (see source #1 below).  Was David's young cousin and our Rebecca's brother, William Bradford, one of "the six?" 

I believe he was. From a previous post we read “William Bradford, a relative of the writer, had procured the pouch near Greensburg and brought it to Canonsburg for inspection. What a tale this old "Black-horse" [Tavern] could unfold if to its crumbling walls speech were possible. After my graduation at Washington College in 1850 I taught a select school in Aberdeen , Ohio , opposite Maysville , Ky. , and boarded for a time in the family of Benjamin Bradford; a son of this same William Bradford and one of the wealthy and most highly respected citizens of the town. His fatherthis notorious William Bradford, was a large landowner in Braden CountyOhio, and was esteemed quite rich for those times, lived in Kentucky, and loaned his money in Ohio . I occasionally saw him, an old man "leaning upon the top of his staff." At that time I had learned but little of the Whiskey Insurrection, knew nothing of the history of the Black Horse tavern, the interception of the mail, and was not aware that I was in the company of one of the men who dared to "holdup" Uncle Sam's mail coach, carry off the pouch to Canonsburg and rifle the bag. Had I known these things he would immediately have become an object of greater interest to me that he was. As old Dungee of Canonsburg seemed to be afraid even in his old age to confess that he had ever been a slave, so I suppose that William Bradford would have hesitated to make any free utterance as to what he knew of the "Black Horse" tavern, and his illegal handling of the mail. Away with the old "Black Horse" then to make room for a modern structure which shall never be the haunt of men who neither fear God nor regard men. D. G. Bradford.” (see Post entitled "Rebecca's Brother, William Bradford, And His Involvement in The Whiskey Rebellion").

The Black Horse Tavern, Canonsburg, PA
It is most interesting to note that our ancestors took such a prominent role in a little known, but very influential part of American history. "Although the Whiskey Rebellion did mark the supremacy of the federal government, it also made the citizens of the states wary of this power. The question of states rights versus the powers of the federal government was not to be fully resolved until after the Civil War" (see source #2 below).  I'm not sure this question has altogether been settled even to this day! 

Your comments are most welcome!

Source #1:,5860390

Source #2:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Our Famous Cousin - Part Two

George Washington reviews the troops near Fort Cumberland, Maryland, before their
march to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania.
As a follow-up to the last post introducing Rebecca's cousin, the famous (or infamous!) David Bradford, here is a little more detailed history about the Whiskey Rebellion. To put this in perspective as far as our ancestors are concerned, by this time William, Rebecca and their family were already living in Fayette County in southwestern Pennsylvania for some 12 years. Rebecca's paternal uncle, James Bradford, and his family (including David) had also left Cecil County, Maryland and moved to next-door Washington County near Canonsburg. These relatives lived only about 40 miles from each other. David grew up to become a highly educated and influential citizen and played one of the major roles in the Whiskey Rebellion. No doubt these two cousins and their families stayed in contact. In fact, in our next post we will review the part Rebecca's brother played in this affair!  For now, here is more information about how David Bradford, our cousin from just a few generations back, was involved:

“On July 18 or 19th at a meeting at Mingo Creek Meeting house, David Bradford, a successful attorney, businessman and Deputy Attorney General assumed leadership of the rebels (some claim he did so because he was blackmailed and "forced" to take an active role). Shortly there after occurred series of meetings at Bradford's home to consider the problem of the easterners knowing what was happening almost before it happened. As a result of these meetings, the mail from Pittsburg to Philadelphia was robbed on July 26th and taken to the Blackhorse Tavern in Canonsburg to be examined.

“Because of the knowledge gained from the mail, Bradford and his group sent a letter to the local militias requesting a gathering on Aug 1, 1794 on Braddock's field to begin a possible four day military excursion. Five to seven thousand troops gathered at Braddock's field, eight miles from Pittsburg, on the first. Brackenridge convinced leaders to warn Pittsburg to banish all obnoxious characters within eight days or face destruction The farmers and militia marched through Pittsburg in protest with no problems or damage done. The lack of problems during the march was influenced by the 379 residents of Pittsburg supplied the "invading army" with food and whiskey. The "army", as many of the easterners termed it, crossed the Monongahela and torched Kirkpatrick's barn near Mt. Washington as they were leaving the city.

“By August 7, 1794, George Washington began mobilizing 12,950 troops from eastern Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey under Gen. Harry Lee, the Governor of Virginia and father of Robert E. Lee.

“Amnesty was offered to those involved in the various acts of defiance by a presidential commission on August 21, 1794. The required number of signatures was not obtained, in part, because that many felt that by signing they would be admitting guilt. The terms required that the leaders openly declare their submission to the laws in general, and the excise law in particular. A member of the President's commission, by the name of General William Irvine, sent a note to Washington after examining the facts in western Pennsylvania in which he stated "I do not mean now either to condemn of justify the proceedings here, but I may safely venture to say, that people on the west of the mountains labor under hardships, if not grievances that are not known, or at least not understood, in other parts of the United States, in more instances than the excise; but in this particular it can be demonstrated that they labor under particular hardships, for instance, carrying a man to Philadelphia or York to be tried for crimes, real or supposed, or on litigations respecting property, perhaps under the value or forty shillings: THIS IS INTOLERABLE."

At the urging of Hamilton, George Washington determined that troops would be needed to put down the, so called, insurrection. The troops, largely from New Jerseyarrived in Carlisle Pennsylvaniain late September 1794. Washington and his troops arrived in Bedford, Pennsylvania on October 19th. By early and mid November the "Watermelon Army" began rounding up suspects in western Pennsylvania. These people, suspects and witnesses together, many of the barefoot and lacking winter clothing, were then marched to Philadelphia to stand trial. David Bradford, one of the leaders of the insurrection, escaped and fled to a location near what is today called St. Francisville, LA (about one hundred miles from New Orleans) where he built [his] second home and moved his family. Most of the army began the trek home on November 19th with the suspects and their guards following six days later. It is often rumored that the remaining troops spent the winter on the campus of Washington Academy, now known as Washington and Jefferson College. The school closed down during this short time, in part, because a number of the students and the trustees of the college were known sympathizers with the rebels.

“Secretary of State Edmund Randolph asked by President Washington to defend himself in relation to a letter from the French Minister to the French Government which analyzed the causes of the Whiskey Rebellion. The dispatch apparently implied that Randolph was the source of the information. Because the letter refereed to the repressive means that the U.S. Government was using to put down the rebellion and the referral to Washington as a puppet of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington was noticeable upset. Randolph was offended by the accusations and immediately resigned from his position (the letter may have been fairly truthful). These factors were reasons enough for the people of Western Pennsylvania to be unhappy with the new United States government.

“Because of their unwillingness to submit to the federalist principles of a strong central government, we may thank the independent people west of the mountains for our present day democratic society. Thomas Jefferson resigned his post of Secretary of State in 1793, in part, in protest because George Washington was agreeing too much with Hamilton and the Federalists. He [Jefferson] may have been a fellow member of the Virginia House of Burgess with David Bradford of Washington and it is thought that this insurrection may have been strongly influenced by Jefferson and his friends.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Our Famous Cousin - Part One

We haven't talked about Rebecca's cousin, the infamous David Bradford, leader of the Whiskey Rebellion in quite awhile.  David and Rebecca were cousins through their fathers, Samuel Bradford [Rebecca's father], and James Bradford [David's father]. Here are excerpts from Wikipedia about David and the Rebellion.

David Bradford (1762–1808) was a successful lawyer and deputy attorney-general for Washington County, Pennsylvania in the late 18th century. He was infamous for his association with the Whiskey Rebellion, and his fictionalized escape to the Spanish-owned territory of West Florida (modern-day Louisiana) with soldiers at his tail. He was later pardoned by President John Adams for his actions. Today, his family's home in Washington, Pennsylvania is a national landmark and museum.
Throughout the early 18th century, what is now Washington County was claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. It wasn't until March 28, 1781 the drawing of the Mason-Dixon Line officially gave this land to Pennsylvania. Washington County was erected out of Westmoreland County at that time, and Washington, the county seat, was laid out by David Hoge later that same year. The following year, 1782, David Bradford, who was born in Maryland about 1760, came to town. Court records indicate that in April 1782 he was the sixth attorney to be admitted to the Washington County Bar Association. A brilliant young lawyer, he quickly established a very successful practice, and by 1783 he had been appointed deputy attorney-general for Washington County.
David Bradford had important family connections in town. One of his sisters, Agnes, had married John McDowell, a prominent local attorney; another sister, Jane, had married Col. James Allison, a lawyer who had settled in the Chartiers Valley in 1774. Both McDowell and Allison were elders in the Rev. John McMillan's Chartiers Church, and they also were among the first trustees of both Canonsburg and Washington Academies. David Bradford joined his brothers-in-law as a trustee of Washington College (now Washington & Jefferson College), and was appointed a member of the building committee. He was instrumental in building McMillan Hall at Washington College, which is one of the oldest surviving educational buildings in the nation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]
Bradford also became active in political affairs, and by 1791 he was becoming more and more absorbed in the escalating protest over a whiskey tax which had been levied by the federal government that year, and the general treatment of Western Pennsylvanians by the East. (

Here is a very brief summary about the Whiskey Rebellion:
The Whiskey Rebellion, or Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during thepresidency of George Washington. Farmers who used their leftover grain and corn in the form of whiskey as a medium of exchange were forced to pay a new tax. The tax was a part of treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton's program to increase central government power, in particular to fund his policy of assuming the war debt of those states which had failed to pay. The farmers who resisted, many war veterans, contended that they were fighting for the principles of theAmerican Revolution, in particular against taxation without local representation, while the Federal government maintained the taxes were the legal expression of the taxation powers of Congress.
Throughout counties in Western Pennsylvania, protesters used violence and intimidation to prevent federal officials from collecting the tax. Resistance came to a climax in July 1794, when a U.S. marshal arrived in western Pennsylvania to serve writs to distillers who had not paid the excise. The alarm was raised, and more than 500 armed men attacked the fortified home of tax inspector General John Neville. Washington responded by sending peace commissioners to western Pennsylvania to negotiate with the rebels, while at the same time calling on governors to send a militia force to enforce the tax. With 13,000 militia provided by the governors of VirginiaMarylandNew Jersey, and PennsylvaniaWashington rode at the head of an army to suppress the insurgency. The rebels all went home before the arrival of the army, and there was no confrontation. About 20 men were arrested, but all were later acquitted or pardoned.
The Whiskey Rebellion demonstrated that the new national government had the willingness and ability to suppress violent resistance to its laws. The whiskey excise remained difficult to collect, however. The events contributed to the formation of political parties in the United States, a process already underway. The whiskey tax was repealed after Thomas Jefferson'sRepublican Party, which opposed Hamilton's Federalist Party, came to power in 1801. (

We'll spend at least a couple more blogs on the fascinating part of our American history and this fascinating ancestor. Till then, wouldn't it be fantastic if we could all meet up here someday (see below!). Check out the link: