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Mini Bios of People of Scots Descent
The Sampson Family


Mr. James R. Sampson, of Wellsboro, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, who is a descendant of the Sampsons of County Tyrone, Ireland, gave a most interesting and instructive address at a "Sampson Re- union" held in the year 1909. This "Re-union" is held annually by the members of the Sampson family whose ancestors lived in Ulster, Ireland.

Address of J. R. Sampson, at Sampson Re-union, held at Smythe Park, Mansfield, Pa. September 3, 1909.

"My friends, it is not my purpose at this time to give you much of a history of the different families of Sampsons, but of the class of men they came from.

In the year 1700 there was a Scotch colony in and about Ulster, and it is a fact that they were a part of the same who came to this county in the year of the Londonderry siege. The colonists wee so successful in their woolen industries that the English manufacturers became alarmed and secured legislation that almost crushed this industry in Ireland. It is said that 20,000 Protestants at that time, because of this, left Ulster for America. Then came the Act of 1704, aiming to compel all to conform, to the Established Church. An act of which Froude says "If they intend to live as freemen, speaking no lies and professing openly the creed of the Reformation they must seek a county where the long arm of the Prelacy was still to short to reach them." During the first half of the eighteenth century Derry, Antrim, Tyrone, Armagh and Down were emptied of Protestant inhabitants who were of more value that all the California gold mines. In 1718 the tide of emigration began to swell into great proportions. By 1727 it averaged over 5,000 a year. There was a famine in 1740, and for some years the number who left Ireland grew to 12,000 a year, but the greatest number leaving in a short period was in 1772, on the eve of the American Revolution when the Irish landlords raised the rents for improvements made by their tenants and evicted thousands who were unable or unwilling to meet the raise. Thirty thousand are said to have crossed over at that time. We have graphic pictures of the emigration fever in Ulster, the crowded ships constantly leaving Belfast, for two months tossing on the Atlantic and the frequent arrival of ships at Philadelphia and Charleston.

For a little while Ulster Protestants sought Boston, others sought other parts of New England. The only New England member of Washington's cabinet, Secretary of War Henry Knox, came from this stock, as did General John Stark, who with the Green Mountain Boys, sixty of them from Londonderry, won many battles.

It is said these Protestant immigrants brought from Ulster to New England the potato. Some of the New Englanders procured a few of these potatoes and planted them in their gardens according to instructions, but pronounced the little balls found on the top of the stalks rather innutritious food. They found in plowing their gardens in the spring that they had boiled the wrong end of the vegetable.

But by far the largest stream of emigration entered the United States at Philadelphia. From 1727 through to the Revolutionary War, many turned aside into New Jersey, but a famous Scotch Irish Quaker Pennsylvania governor directed the main stream west in the state to battle on the frontier with the Indians. They crossed the Allegheny Mountains to the headwaters of the Ohio; they followed its valleys south as far as the mountains extended; they settled West Virginia and west North Carolina, and met there another stream of Ulster immigration coming in from Charleston. They found their way from these main lines aver all the United States. They gave the free school system to New Jersey and Kentucky, and for nearly a century taught (the) most classical schools south of New York. Of the descendants of the Scotch colony in Ulster, probably there are now in America thousands to every one still living in North Ireland.

It is surprising to find how largely the Scotch Irish influence dominated in founding the Presbyterian church in the United States. France bred John Calvin the restorer of Presbyterianism, but the Presbyterianism of the United States was molded largely by the Scotch Irish pioneers. It is true what a modern historian of the Presbyterian church says, that with the first emigration of the Scotch Irish to America came the Presbyterian Church to stay. The man more than any other who was a foundation layer of the Presbyterian church in this country, was Francis Makennie, born in Ulster and educated at Glasgow University. In Maryland on the narrow neck of land between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic - a year or two before Londonderry's siege - he founded the first Presbyterian church in this country in 1729. One of the great movements in the Christian church was that under Whitfield but the leading spirit outside of Whitfield was Gilbert, a tenant from Ulster. His father had come over from Ireland with three minister's sons and became the first great educator of the Presbyterian church, founding the log college out of which grew Princeton College.

Before 1738, the organization of the first Synod, it was found that forty of ninety-four enrolled ministers had come from Ireland or Scotland. Nor was it only the Presbyterian church that profited by this immigration. Probably not more than one-third of the Scotch-Irish element is now allied with the Presbyterian church. By them the Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal and the Disciple churches have been greatly strengthened.

Alexander Campbell, most active in founding the great Disciple church, came himself from Ulster. These early comers were not like many of the later immigrants, they were not poor peasants but most of them fairly well to do, an a large proportion of them well educated. A historian says of them that they were probably the best educated of the English race. They were rugged in their convictions, men set in their ways and sever in their judgments, but they suffered much form their faith, loved God, prized His Bible, clung to the privilege of worshiping together freely, and practiced liberty and equality. They were accustomed to republicanism and representative government in their church system. But their greatest service was that of helping shape the thirteen colonies into an independent republic.

A modern historian has written, it is no longer sufficient to enumerate only Puritan and Quaker in the building of our nation, it is now recognized that the Scotch-Irish of Ulster contributed not less that any of these to the make up of the young nation. Scotch-Irish have been the backbone of the new nationality, by them independence was first advocated. Just a little before the Declaration of Independence was adopted, the Scotch-Irish of North Carolina in convention at Charlotte had adopted the Mecklenburg Declaration. It read "We do hereby dissolve the political bonds which have connected us with the mother county and hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people, are, and of right ought to be a sovereign and self-governing association under the control of no power other than that of our God and the general government." The Declaration of Independence itself, as we have it today is in the hand- writing of a Scotch-Irishman, Charles Thompson, the Secretary of Congress, was first printed by another, Captain Dunlap, and was first publicly read to the people by another, Captain Nixon.

There were none who furnished more soldiers in proportion to their numbers than the Ulstermen. It was Patrick Henry, leading his fellow Scotch-Irish in Virginia in the Revolutionary War who said, "Give me Liberty or give me death." They gave New York her first Governor, George Clinton, who served twenty-one years. Irish blood is credited to eight presidents: Jackson, Polk, Taylor, Buchanan, Johnson, Harrison, Arthur and McKinley. Now, my friends, such is the history of the men who came from Ulster Scotch-Irish."

Another tribute to the Scots of Ulster, as well as the Scots of Scotland, is from the address given by the late Ambassador Whitelaw Reid before the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution of "The Scot and Ulster Scot in America." Ambassador Reid inferred in this address that these two branches of Scots "deserve more credit for the making of America than any other race of people - that there would have been no United States without them." The first general impression that the Scots and Irish Scots really made America was, of course wrong, but it was the result of the way in which Mr. Whitelaw Reid emphasized the importance of this particular race in the great crisis in the history of this country. (From Daily News, Chicago, Ill.)

Lord Roseberry, who was in the chair, followed Ambassador Reid in an address in which he remarked that in his opinion the Ulster branch of to Scottish race was the toughest, the most dominant and the most irresistible race that at present existed in the world. (From Daily News, Chicago, Ill.)

George Bancroft of New England has stated that: ". . the first voice raised publicly in America to dissolve all connection with Great Britain came not form the Puritans of New England or the Dutch of New York, or the Planters of Virginia, but from the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and when the Declaration of Independence came it summed up the conclusions to which the Scots and Ulster Scots had been leading for years."

There are several families of these Scotch-Irish settlers in Ulster by the name of Sampson. They scattered through the counties of Tyrone and Londonderry, while many of the younger elements of these Sampsons emigrated to America.

My information concerning these families was gained by the courtesy and kindness of one family living in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, whose given names are Martha, William and George. Martha and George live at "Limehill," Pomeroy, and William at "The Diamond," Pomeroy.

By means of quite an extensive correspondence with this family of Sampsons, I learned the tradition handed down form their great- great-grandfather was as follows:

Four brothers of the name of Sampson, settled in Ballyloughlin near Cookstown, County Tyrone. Where these brothers came from cannot be learned. Their names were James, Ralph, George and Thomas.

James, who was the younger of the four, was the head of this branch now living in Pomeroy. Little in know of Ralph, or practically nothing. I discovered a will in a list of wills sent me from Dublin and had it copied. He writes himself as of Derryloran, Ballyloughlin. His wife was Mary _____ and the will was made in 1792. The children mentioned are Robert, John, Eleanor, who married Thomas Dreining, William, Ralph, Mary, who married John Adams, James Thomas and George.

The records in the old church at Cookstown were burned when the church was destroyed by fire a few years ago, and some of the descendants of these Sampsons living in Philadelphia, America, who made a pilgrimage to Cookstown to look up the records of their ancestors, were much disappointed in finding nothing to reward their efforts.

Some one of the Sampson family with whom I have corresponded in Ireland made mention of the warm friendship existing between a family of the name of Adams and the Sampsons. Ralph's daughter, Mary, married John Adams, while another account mentions a John Sampson as marrying Mary Adams. This John, with his wife, eventually came to America and settled in Pittsburgh, Pa. I am fully convinced that this John Sampson, who married Mary Adams, was also a son of Ralph, and that these marriages occurred very near together, as is frequently the case where a brother and a sister of one family are united by marriage to a brother and sister of another family. If this inference of mine should chance to be correct (and the dates will also allow of it), then the four brothers, John who married Mary Adams, William, Thomas and James, all of whom came to America and settled in Western Pennsylvania, were sons of Ralph Sampson of "Derryloran," Ballyloughlin, County Tyrone, Ireland. The history of these four brothers will be found under "Sampsons in Pennsylvania and Ohio."


 

 


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