McComb #244

Northern Ireland flag animationRobert McComb (1712-1794)

Born in Northern Ireland (likely of “Scots-Irish” or “Ulster Scots” heritage).  He may have arrived with (or around the same time as) his father and another brother or brothers.  After a brief soujourn in Delaware and Maryland, he arrived in Pennsylvania by way of Princeton, New Jersey before 1734.

USA flag animationJanet (Nisbet?) (1718-1764)

Probably born in Pennsylvania.

McComb #244


Scottish Origins:

Scotish flag animationThe following account of the origins of the McComb family in Scotland and Northern Ireland appears in A Genealogical Register of the McComb Family in America by P. H. K. McComb (Indianapolis, Indiana: Ohio State Library) 1913:

“McComb in America – Of John McComie, Mor, who died at Crandart, Parish of Glenisla, Forfarshire, Scotland, January 12, 1676, it has been written that: ‘In few districts in Scotland has the memory of a man, who died over two hundred years ago, been kept living so vividly by tradition as that of McComie, Mor, in Glenshee and Glenisla.’

After his death the family separated, the eldest son, Angus, resuming the old name, ‘McThomas,’ went south into Fifeshire, while the youngest son, Donald, retaining the name, McComie, went North to Aberdeenshire.  Not long afterwards descendants of John McComie were found in the great emigration of Scotchmen to the north of Ireland; thence the representatives of the familyy, under the various forms of the name, found their way to America. (Ref. McComber Genealogy, pp. 8, 9, Stackpole; S. A. Deswick, Ancestry of John S. Gustin, pp. 119 to 123.)

The family with which we are immediately concerned here, seems to have been settled in or near Ballymere, Parish of Ballymere, County Antrim, Ireland.  Some of the immigrants still had property interests there as appears from such instruments as the Power of Attorney (see Appendix[1]) signed by John McComb, and admitted to record at Trenton, N. J., November 24, 1746.

History confirms the family tradition of the coming to America of seven brothers McComb, at least, so far as four of these are concerned.  In the first half of the 18th century James McCornb and his brother, John, accompanied by their father, whose name is not given, were among the immigrants from the north of Ireland.  These men were in this country prior to the year 1732.  At the same time, or before, Robert McComb, another brother, arrived, while a fourth, William McComb, was settled on the west side of Derry, Pa., in 1752, according to Egle’s History of Harrisburg; how much earlier he may have arrived in the country does not appear.  At later dares these men were followed by several cousins.

The first census of the U. S. in 1790 enumerated forty-four heads of families and nearly three hundred persons, sixteen years old and upward, bearing the name of McComb in one or other of its forms.  Most of them were in what ie now Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.  Swope says, in The History of Middle Spring Presbyterian Church, that ‘in 1738 the valley between Shippensburg and North Mountain, in the neighborhood of Orrstown, was settled by Herrons, McCombs and Irwins.’  In the records of Franklin County, Pa., originally a part of Cumberland County, and in the lists of taxables the name often appears.

And Dr. Wing, in his history of the churches of Cumberland Valley, refers to the house of refuge near Dublin Gap, in North Mountain, known as ‘the McComb house’.  This substantial log building, with its upper story pierced with rifle ports, was standing up until twenty years ago or later.  Known as McComb Fort.”


The McComb Family in America

Most of the information that follows is also taken from  the Genealogical Register of the McComb Family in America (cited above).

The eariest ancestor of my McComb line in America, whose name is known, is Robert McComb (1712-1794),   His father emigrated from County Antrim with at least two of his sons prior to 1732, by way of Delaware and Maryland.  His sons’ names (birth order unknown) were:

  • James, who came to this country with his wife, daughter, brother (John) and his father.  No name of the wife, daughter or father is known.  After a brief soujourn in Delaware and Maryland he settled at Princeton, New Jersey before 1734.
  • John, who came to this country through  Delaware and Maryland in 1732, passed on to New York and settled at Princeton, New Jersey before 1734.  His wife’s name is unknown.  His children were:
  1. Helena, born before 1734; married Robert Stocton
  2. John, born 11 Sep 1734 and died 27 Feb 1811.  He married Mary Davis, who was born at Newark, New Jersey in 1736 and died in 1803.
  3. Mary, born 11 Jan 1736 and died at Princeton, New Jersey.
  4. James, born 16 Jan 1739 at Princeton, New Jersey and died in 1814 at Waterford.  On 5 Jan 1763 he married Bridget Mott in New York City.
  5. Eleazer McComb (1740-1798), a Delegate from Delaware to the Continental Congress from March 1783 until January 1784. He is my 1st cousin 6x removed.

    Eleazer McComb (1740-1798), a Delegate from Delaware to the Continental Congress from March 1783 until January 1784. He is my 1st cousin 6x removed.

    Eleazer, born 11 Aug 1740 and died in 1798 at Wiilmington, Delaware.  He married Lydia Irons, who died in 1798.  Eleazer was a merchant from Dover, Delaware, and he was a delegate from Delaware to the Continental Congress from March 1783 until January 1784.  He moved to Wilmington, Delaware in 1792 and died there in December 1798.

  • Robert McComb, born 1712 and died 3 Apr 1794 in Cross Creek Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  His wife was Janet (Nisbet?).  They resided in Lancaster County, Pennsylvaniam and afterwoards within the bounds of Middle Spring Presbyterian Church in Hopewell Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, of which church he was ordained a ruling elder in 1744.  He was in ths county until at least 1762 and afterwoards removed with his sons, Robert and David, to Washington County, Pennsylvania. [Ref: 1) Family Chart of Robert McComb, 2) Letters of David McComb’s granddaughter, Mrs. Bartlett, in possession of Mrs. F. M. Davis, 145 W. 58th Street, New York City, 3) Bible Record copied by Jas. Dougherty, Bucyrus, Ohio and 4) Nevin’s Churches of the Valley].  Robert and Janet’s children are listed as follows:
  1. Mary, born 27 Dec 1740
  2. James
  3. Allen, born 1 May 1750
  4. Robert, born 7 Dec 1753 and died 18 Mar 1827 in Cross Creek Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  He married Elizabeth McClune (daughter of Gen. ____ McCune), who was born 6 Jun 1760 and died 18 Apr 1835.
  5. William McComb, who married Rebecca Kearsley (see below)
  6. David, born in 1759 and died 18 Dec 1837 in Cross Creek Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  He married Margaret Scott, who died 6 Oct 1846.  David served in the 2nd Battalion, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Militia, in theRevolutionary War, commanded by Col. James Watson.  Their children were: William, James Scott and Robert Nisbet.
  7. Janet, born 5 Apr 1763
  • William, who settled on the west side of Derry, Pennsylvania prior to 1752.  He had sons: James & William.
The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, New York

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, New York

William McComb was born 10 Jan 1757 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and died 10 Feb 1835 at his home in Truro Township, Franklin County, Ohio.  He married Rebecca Kearsley, who born 30 Aug 1762 and died 29 Nov 1848.  William McComb was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and a prisoner on board the British prison ship Jersey[2].  He and his wife settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in which state all their sixteen children were born. They emigrated to Ohio in 1818. They spent their first winter in a house owned by Col. Culberson, at Franklinton, just west of Columbus, and finally settled on a tract of land lying on Big Walnut creek, eight miles east of Columbus. As soon as the seed for a crop was in the ground, a church was built on land dedicated for that and cemetery purposes by William Patterson (husband of the eldest daughter). This church yard was consecrated by the burial therein of the grantor’s own wife, Jane McComb Patterson, the first interment. The church was called “Truro”.

P. H. K. McComb (cited above, pp. 27-28) wrote the following account of William McComb:

“William Mc Comb, son of Robert McComb, enlisted in the company of Captain James McConnell. Cols.  Watts and Morgan, July 20, 1776, from Cumberland County, Penna.  At the fall of Fort Washington, on the Hudson, he was taken prisoner, Nov. 16, 1776.  The following, spring – in March – he was paroled.  While a prisoner he was confined on board the prison ship Jersey.  The Records of Cumberland County, Penna., show that he enlisted a second time, in 1781, in Captain J. Miller’s Company, Sixth Battalion, Cumberland County Militia, James Dunlap. Colonel.  His application for a pension, in 1833, was allowed, as was also the application of his widow, Rebecca McComb, in 1839.

Map of townships and boroughs in Franklin County, Pennsylvania

Map of townships and boroughs in Franklin County, Pennsylvania

When Franklin County, Pa., was erected Mr. McComb found himself within its boundaries, where he resided on lands granted to him in fee, by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by Patent of date May 27, 1789.  This tract lies within Lurgan Tp.

In the latter part of the year 1793, or the first of 1794, William McComb removed to Washington County, Penna, where his father and brothers, Robert and David, had already established themselves.  Here he located within the bounds of Upper Buffalo Church, in Hopewell Tp., some eight or ten miles northwest of the town of Washington.

When this congregation was incorporated, in 1804, William McComb was elected a member of the first Board of Trustees.  A colleague was Matthew Morrow.  David McComb, probably William’s brother, was ordained a Ruling Elder in Upper Buffalo Church in 1831.

Upper Buffalo Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, Pennsylvania (c. 1756, National Register of Historic Places), photo credit: kangal3632

Upper Buffalo Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, Pennsylvania (c. 1756, National Register of Historic Places), photo credit: kangal3632

The move to Washington County did not mitigate the “western fever,” and in 1818 or 1819, William McComb set out for Ohio, with his family and those of his married sons and daughters.  They floated down the Ohio from Wheeling to the mouth of the Scioto, in a keel boar.  Pushing their craft up this stream as far as Chillicothe, where low water compelled them to abandon the boat, they made their way across the country to a place called Franklinton, on the Scioto, opposite Columbus.

There they passed the winter.  Eventually land was secured in Truro Tp., along Big Walnut Creek, eight or ten miles east of Columbus, where settlement was made and the opening of farms begun.  William McComb bought land of William Thompson in 1820.

As soon as seed for a crop was in the ground, steps were taken to establish a church, and in 1820 Rev. James Hoge, D. D., of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbus, effected the organization of Truro Church, consisting chiefly of the McComb, Patterson, Taylor, Long and Chester families.  William Paterson donated two acres of ground for a church and a busying ground, and his own wife, Jane McComb, was the first to be buried there.  She died Nov. 9, 1821.  The successive pastors of this church, which at one time ranked among the strong churches of the Presbytery, were Rev_ Messrs. Matthew Taylor, Abner Leonard, Elias Vanderrnan, John M. Fulton, J. D. Smith, John Arthur, John Scott, Andrew Barr, W. Maynard.

In  this Truro cemetery rest the mortal remains of William McComb and his wife, Rebecca Kearsley, and many of their descendants of several generations.  For two years before his death, William McComb was totally blind, but continued to walk to the church, led by his wife.”

[Ref: 1) Records of Pension Bureau, File 7413; Rev. War, 2) Penna. Archives, 5th Series, Vol. 6, p. 450, 3) Hist. “Presbytery of Washington,” p. 273-4, 4) Letters in possession of P. H. K. McComb, g.s. of William, 5) Hist. of Franklin County, Ohio and 6) Inscriptions on tombstones in Truro churchyard, Franklin County, Ohio, for dates, etc.]

P. H. K. McComb records the names of fifteen children (birth order uncertain) for William McComb and Rebecca Kearsley: 1) Jane, who married Wiliam Patterson, 2) Cathrine (died in infancy), 3) Thomas, who married Ann McCormick, 4)Jonathan, who married Lucretia H. Beeler, 5) Eliza, who married William Forbes, 6) Maria, who married Samuel Morrow, 7) Martha, who married Adam Turner, 8) John, who married Charlotte Chambers, 9) William, who married (1st) Elizabeth Ramsey and (2nd) Unknown, 100 Samuel, who married (1st) Elizabeth Turner, (2nd) Anne W. Gibson and (3rd) N. J. Gyer, 11) Margaret, who married John Turner, 12) Rebecca, who married William Turner, 13) David (1802-1840), 14) Robert Cooper, who married Ann S. Kemper and 15) Sarah McComb, born July 1807 and died 4 Jan 1846 (see below).

Sarah McComb married her cousin,  Robert Cooper Henderson, on 15 Oct 1829.  Robert Cooper Henderson was born 9 Feb 1784 in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania and died 24 Mar 1858 in Columbus, Ohio.  He was named for his uncle, (Dr.) Robert Cooper (1732-1805), who was the husband of Elizabeth Kearsley.  (Dr.) Robert Cooper was pastor of the Middle Spring Presbyterian Church (Cumberland County, Pennsylvania) from 1765-1797[3]Robert Cooper Henderson is the son of Margaret Kearsley (Elizabeth’s sister) and Matthew Henderson, discussed under the heading of Jonathan Kearsley (1718-1782) and Jane (1720-1801).

At this point, the McComb and Henderson lines merge with the Kearsley lineage, where it is continued under that heading until the point where the Kearsley line merges with the line of Thomas Watkins (1629-1689).


[1] I do not have access to this Appendix, since I have not had access to the entire McComb volume, but only certain excerpted pages available to me.

[2] HMS Jersey was a 60-gun fourth rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 14 Jun 1736. She is perhaps most noted for her service as a prison ship during the American Revolutionary War. One of the most gruesome chapters in the story of America’s struggle for independence from Britain occurred in the waters near New York Harbor, near the current location of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. From 1776-83, the British forces occupying New York City used abandoned or decommissioned warships anchored just offshore to hold those soldiers, sailors and private citizens they had captured in battle or arrested on land or at sea (many for refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the British Crown). Some 11,000 prisoners died aboard the prison ships over the course of the war, many from disease or malnutrition. Many of these were inmates of the notorious HMS Jersey, which earned the nickname “Hell” for its inhumane conditions and the obscenely high death rate of its prisoners. The remains of those that died aboard the prison ships were reinterred in Fort Greene Park after the 1808 burial vault near the Brooklyn Navy Yard had collapsed. In 1908, one hundred years after the burial ceremony, the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument was dedicated.

Historical marker at Middle Spring Presbyterian Church (Cumberland County, Pennsylvania)

Historical marker at Middle Spring Presbyterian Church (Cumberland County, Pennsylvania)

[3] From The Centennial Memorial of the Presbytery of Carlisle, A Series of Papers, Historical and Biographical, Relating to the Origin and Growth of Prebyterianism in the Central and Eastern Part of Southern Pennsylvania (1889), p. 46-47: ”Robert Cooper was born in Ireland about 1732. His father died when he was a child. At the age of nine he came with his mother and two sisters to America and settled in Lancaster County, Pa. The family had very little means. He, like many others, was greatly indebted to the energy, industry and economy of an excellent mother in obtaining an education, whose physical and mental qualities he is said to have inherited. He was ever mindful of the self-denying efforts and struggles of his mother for his comfort and advancement, and manifested his appreciation and gratitude for the same by the most affectionate filial attention as long as she lived. He prepared for college under Rev. John Roan, pastor of the New Side congregations of Paxton and Derry and Mt Joy, entered Princeton College and graduated September 1763. He studied theology with Mr. Roan and Dr. George Duffield, of Carlisle, was licensed to preach by Presbytery of Donegal, February 22, 1765, ordained and installed pastor of Middle Spring, November 21, 1765. His pastoral relation with this church was dissolved, on account of impaired health and depression of mind, April 12, 1797, and he died April 12, 1805. His remains were interred in the lower graveyard of Middle Spring Church. Dr. Cooper was an able, instructive and edifying preacher, a diligent, laborious and successful pastor, and continued in the work of the ministry with great fidelity, usefulness and success for a period of over thirty-one years. He had a good library for his day, a part of which had been selected and purchased in Scotland for him by Dr. Witherspoon. He was a well-read theologian and noted for being a competent theological instructor. Among those who resorted to him for theological instruction were a number, of students who afterwards attained to distinction in the church, such as Dr. John McKnight, Dr. Joshua Williams, Dr. Francis Herron, Dr. Matthew Brown, Dr. David McConaughy, Rev. Samuel Wilson and others. His church greatly increased under his ministry. He was moderator of the United Synod of Philadelphia and New York in 1775, and was a member of the committee to prepare rules for the government of the Assembly in 1785. Dr. Samuel Miller, in his life of Dr. Rogers, in speaking of this committee, said of Dr. Cooper, that he was a man of remarkably sound mind, and a divine of great judiciousness, piety and worth. He was regular in his attendance at Presbytery, and took a lively interest in all the movements of the church at large. He was eminently patriotic, and on December 24, 1776, was regularly commissioned as chaplain in the Revolutionary Army, which commission he resigned January 25, 1777. Mr. Cooper was married to Elizabeth Kearsley, of Carlisle, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. One son died in infancy. The other son, John, had charge of Hopewell Academy. His oldest daughter, Jane, married Samuel Nicholson, died early in life, leaving one daughter. His second daughter, Elizabeth, married Rev. Isaac Grier, the father of Robert C. Grier, of the Supreme Court of the United States, and of Rev. Isaac Grier, of Mifflinburg, Pa., of John C. Grier, of Peoria, Illinois, and of General Wm. N. Grier, of the U. S. Army. Rev. J. Grier Hibben, now pastor of Falling Spring Church, Chambersburg, Pa., is a great-grand-son of Dr. Robert Cooper”.



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