Robert McGill, the fourth son
of Arthur, the Pioneer, was born at the McGill Settlement in the French
Creek country about 1798. The date of his birth precedes the founding of
Alden’s Mills, Crawford county, Woodcock township (all names applicable to
the same place), and nearly thirty years before there was any Saegerstown.
The locality was doubtless included at that time in Mead township, Allegheny
It was here that Robert spent
his youthful days and was a lively participant in the wild frolics of the
logging days of the valley, where brain and brawn, mingled with toil and
temerity, brought forth an order of men inferior to none on the face of the
earth. Tales of the escapades of these old men when they were young, could
they be recounted as they were told half a century ago would be a rich
contribution to the family lore, and in all these stories of the boys, the
name of Robert McGill appears as a central point from which radiated bright
rays of jovial mirth and irrepressible fun.
Long after he left the land
of his birth for western shores, the mention of his name would extort from
old associates sparkling reminiscences of his good-natured manners and
mirth-provoking wit. His name was not forgotten as long as his
contemporaries and coadjutors in manly sportive ways were above the sod.
About 1825, Robert married
Susan Alexander of the Brokenstraw county, on the Allegheny. She was born in
the state of New York in 1802. The Alexanders were prominent in Western
Pennsylvania, and their name is conspicuous in the early history of Erie,
Crawford and Warren counties.
Soon after his marriage
Robert built a home on the ancestral patent near the village of Saegerstown,
where he resided until after the death of his father, when he disposed of
his interests in the old place and removed to Edinboro, in Erie county, then
known as Washington, where he remained not to exceed two years, when the
family took up their residence in Erie.
It was about 1843 when, with
his wife and six children, he settled at or near La Porte, Ind., and
thenceforth his established habitation was in Northwestern Indiana.
In 1850 Robert crossed the
plains for California. Starting out with a well organized and equipped
company, their prospects seemed good for a successful expedition, but they
met with the usual troubles that beset the emigrant on that long and
tortuous trail, and he arrived on the golden sands of the Sacrament alone
and his rifle and frying pan were the only remnants of his well appointed
He was six years in
California, but whether successful in accumulating much wealth, I am not
informed, but it was reported of him that he was in good circumstances,
highly respected by the peo
ple among whom he lived, and
much beloved by every one on account of his happy, jovial disposition and
the strict integrity that characterized all his dealings with his fellowmen.
Robert died at Hebron, Ind.,
in February, 1878; Susan died in September, 1871. Robert and Susan McGill
had seven children-three sons and four daughters.
Margaret, the eldest, was
born near Saegerstown, Pa., February, 1826. She was married in Indiana to S.
B. Kinney, June, 1861, and is living in Valparaiso, Ind., with her youngest
son, H. B. Kinney, who is County Treasurer of Porter county. Her eldest son,
Robert, lives at Hebron, Ind., and is engaged in the manufacture of tile.
Henry, the eldest son, was
born near Saegerstown, Pa., October, 1827. He was married to Eliza Norton in
1867; died at La Porte, Ind., January, 1905. Mrs. McGill still lives at the
above named place. They had one son, David McGill, who lives in La Porte.
Charles Archibald McGill,
second son of Robert, was born near Saegerstown, Pa., June, 1829, was
married to Mary F. Brownley at Hebron, Ind., in June, 1863. They have two
children living, a daughter at home with her parents at Hebron, and J. H.
McGill (James Henry), who lives at Valparaiso, Ind.; is married and has four
children, to-wit: Charles S., Rachel, Robert and Frances. J. H., aforesaid
son of Charles A., is President of the Crescent company of Valparaiso,
manufacturers of electrical specialties. He is mentioned as an enterprising
business man. I am indebted to his courtesy for valuable information.
Mary Ellen McGill, daughter
of Robert, was born at Edinboro, Pa., in February, i834; was married in 1858
to David Bryant; both deceased. They left one child-Nettie (Applegate)
Bryant-Mary E, died at Hebron, Ind., January, 1903.
Susanna McGill, daughter of
Robert, was born at Erie, Pa., July, 1836; was twice married; September,
1855, to James Oliver-no issue-second marriage, January, 1862, to Hugh
Fickle. They had three sons-David, Charles and John. David Fickle, son of
Susanna, has three children: Oliver, Mary and Hugh. Another son has two:
Syril and Katherine. Susanna died January, 1903, on the same day that her
sister, Mary Ellen, died.
James McFarland McGill was
born at Erie, Pa., June 28, 1842. He was married May 18, 1869, to Kate
Starr. They have one son and two daughters living, and their present
residence is Washington, D. C. The son, Rual Starr McGill, is in business in
Chicago. Phoebe is married to Barnard and has two children-Catherine and
job. Flora is the youngest and is a vocalist of some celebrity.
James McFarland McGill was,
no doubt, named after James E. McFarland, late of Meadville, Pa., a noted
journalist, politician and banker of former years, who was an intimate
friend and associate of Robert McGill.
At the breaking out of the
War of the Rebellion, James M. was in school at Valparaiso, Ind. He enlisted
in Company -, 5th Regiment, Indiana Cavalry, and was appointed Orderly
Sergeant of the company, and was afterwards promoted to First Lieutenant,
and in April, 1864, was made Captain, in which capacity he served until
mustered out August 11, 1865.
From a school boy of nineteen
to a captain of cavalry is a military record of which he and his friends may
well be proud, especially when we consider the strenuous times and the
bloody whirlpool of battle from which promotion and rank were
wrested by valor and worth.
It was no holiday excursion that led through the battle of Franklin, where
seven Confederate generals were killed in the fight, nor were they feeble
blows that were struck on the desperate field of Nashville, nor on the hills
at Knoxville, Tenn., where the boy lieutenant rode to victory and promotion,
and carried away as trophies his commission and "a scratch." Twenty-one
great engagements are placed to the credit of the Valparaiso schoolboy from
1861 to 1865.
Jane McGill, the youngest
daughter of Robert, was born at La Porte, Ind., April, 1844. She died at
Hebron, Ind., in 1888, unmarried.
Robert McGill has passed
away, and nearly all of his children have followed, but his contributions to
the light and life and happiness of those around him will not perish from
off the face of the earth, but, transmitted through other generations, will
MARGARET, THE DAUGHTER OF ARTHUR.
Margaret McGill, daughter of
Arthur the Pioneer, first saw the light in his famous castle by the big
spring, May 9, 1800. The date of her marriage to John McCloskey is not given
in any of the family archives that have come under my observation. She was
the mother of twelve children, and a mother to be revered, one whose memory
was a benefaction to her children and made her sons brighter and better men.
No mother was ever more true to her trust of care than was "Aunt Peggy." She
died at Venango, Pa., April 1, 1867, and all who knew her wept, for a
saintly vision had gone out from before them. She was a woman entirely
destitute of society fads, the whole devotion of her soul being centered
upon her family brood, and on them she lavished the richest treasures of her
great loving heart.
John McCloskey was born at
Greensburgh, Westmorland county, Pa., March 19, 1799, and died at Venango,
May 29, 1881, aged eighty-two years. Their residence for more than forty
years was in Saegerstown, where all their children were born, and John was
Postmaster for many years.
The McGills and McCloskeys
were acquainted before they ever came to the French Creek country. Whether
their associations extended beyond the sea, I am unable to say, but would be
very willing to be convinced that they did, and that they came down together
from the Caledonian hills to the Antrim land three hundred years ago.
The McCloskeys passed through
Northumberland on the Celtic trail from the seaboard to the limit of
population while the McGills were at Duncan's Island on the Susquehanna.
They (the McCloskeys) settled in Westmoreland county, when it was against
the law for white men to go any further West, and the McCloskeys of our next
preceding generation were born there and were natives of Westmoreland. They
were visited by Arthur and Patrick in 1792, when on their exploring
expedition to the French Creek country, before John McCloskey was born, and
some kind of communication and intercourse was maintained in after years,
resulting in the coming of John and Michael McCloskey to Crawford county,
and the marriage of John to Margaret, the daughter of Arthur McGill, and the
marriage of Michael to Maria, the daughter of Patrick McGill.
The descendants of John and
Margaret McCloskey are as follows :
Mary McCloskey (-) ; born at
Saegerstown, Pa., June 6, 1823. Died at Venango, Pa., Dec. 21, 1873. Mary
was married, but left no children.
Catherine McCloskey; born at
Saegerstown, Pa., Nov. 2, 1824. Died July 10, 1825.
Arthur McCloskey; born at
Saegerstown, Feb. 2, 1826. Died at Venango, Pa., March 15, 1905.
Arthur was one of the best
liked men of his day. His bright, sunny disposition and humorous ways
attracted men to him, and he was always the popular center of every
gathering in which he participated. He was a small man, and yet an athlete;
muscles hard as iron, and sinews like steel.
He engaged in the boot and
shoe business at Venango at an early date and continued in the same without
change of occupation or place during his lifetime. His wife was Maria
Sherred, a daughter of one of the oldest and most respectable families of
the community, and their marriage relations were most happy. They had three
sons, all of them bright, intelligent, quick-witted boys. They are now men,
gone from the old home, making their tracks through the world by no devious
It was not long after the
death of Arthur that Maria died. If Arthur McCloskey had an enemy on earth,
I never heard of him.
Michael McCloskey; born at
Saegerstown, Pa., July 24, 1827. Died same place, June i6, 1897.
Michael was a man of
adventurous disposition and saw much of the world in his time. He was a
tanner and courier and went into the leather business. In i849 he went to
California, by way of the Isthmus, and passed through some startling
adventures. Some years later he returned and with a partner bought a tannery
at Venango, Pa.
This he operated until the
large establishments absorbed everything when he closed out and went into
the oil country, where he operated for a time.
He married in Michigan and
finally went South in the employ of the Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, then
under the management of some of his wife's kindred.
Mrs. McCloskey sickened and
died in New Mexico, leaving no children. Michael, some time after the death
of his wife, broken in health and spirits, though with means ample for his
wants, returned to the old home to die. He was buried with his kindred in
the family lot in the Venango cemetery.
Charles McCloskey ; born at
Saegerstown, March 2, 1829. Died at Valparaiso, Ind., Dec. 16, 1878,
unmarried. (These three brothers, Arthur, Michael and Charles, all so near
my own age, were among my most intimate playmates and associates in early
Henry McCloskey; born Oct. 29,
1830. Died in September, 1846, at Saegerstown, Pa.
unmarried; born at Saegerstown, Pa., Dec. 19, 1832. Died at Venango, Pa.,
May 7, 1878.
Emeline McCloskey; born at
Saegerstown, Pa., Oct. 8, 1834. Died same place, Aug. 23, 1836.
Nancy Ann McCloskey; born
Aug. 20, 1836, at Saegerstown, Pa. Died May 17, 1866, at Venango, Pa.,
John Newton McCloskey; born
at Saegerstown, Pa., March 17, 1839 (St. Patrick's Day). Attended the State
Normal School at Edinboro, Pa., read law, and was admitted to practice in
the courts of Crawford county, where he has acquired wealth and distinction.
John Newton is a good companionable man and pleasant associate, but a fierce
antagonist in forensic strife. He is at present traveling in Europe for the
benefit of his health. (Since returned.)
He has twice married. The
first wife was the mother of three children, of whom I know but little. I
have met one son, John, who graduated at Allegheny college, read law and was
admitted to the bar, but afterwards engaged in mercantile pursuits at
Pittsburg. Of the others, I am not informed.
The present Mrs. McCloskey is
a lady of fine presence, refinement and culture, and is the mother of one
son, Ray, at home.
Nehemiah McCloskey; born at
Saegerstown, Pa., Dec. 27, 1841. Died at Meadville, Pa., October, 1889.
Oliver McCloskey ; born at
Saegerstown, Pa., April 17, 1843. Died same place, June 6, 1847.
There are details in the
lives of those seven sons of John and Margaret McCloskey that, could they be
recalled, would prove of surpassing interest, but time has so obliterated
the score that they must remain untold.
There were three other
daughters of Arthur the Pioneer, who were married and had children. I never
saw them; have been unable to locate them or their posterity. Extensive
inquiries have proved ineffectual, and their story must remain untold. I
have done the best that I can by our cousins, and the books are closed.