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THOMAS IRVINE, the last known child of record of Thommas Irvine of Knocknastacon, co. Fermanagh, and Jane Sproule of Carraghulteen, co. Tyrone, both in Ulster Prov., Ireland, was born in 1774-5. His tombstone in mound View cemetery in Mt. Vernon states his demise as " July 4, 1851. In the 77th Year of is Life ".
A 9th child, Angelina, has left the notation that he was born " near the borough of Enniskillen ", and as all the communities listed on page 24 lie within a 10 mile radius of Enniskillen this was correct though not specific. Angelina also notes that Thomas immigrated to America on 16th may, 1797, and came to Mt. Vernon to reside on 15 march, 1811. No references to parentage or birthplace, brothers or sisters, early life or reasons for departing from Ireland. Her father’s neglect to favor his posterity with these bits of information has lead to a considerable expenditure of energy in attempting to unravel what so easily might have been supplied. Happily the Know Co, Ohio 1850 Census reveals the ages of Thomas and his child- and furnishes a worthwhile check on Angelina’s notes concerning the birth dates of the children.
1850 Census – Monroe Twp.,
Knox Co., Ohio.
And the listing of "Residence" found in the files of the Research Dept Dublin Castle reveals the undoubted place of birth as Knocknastacon, co. Fermanagh.
Scrounging through the years for the missing facts were a grand-daughter, 2 grand-nieces, and 3 great great grand-sons, each coming up with varied tales to contradict much misinformation – the supplying much spice with their gleanings. A scent of the true trail was not discovered until 1957 when a 4 times great grand-niece - on a 3rd trip to co. Fermanagh for whatever was to be found – while casually strolling through a deserted cemetery in Five Mile Town chanced to notice and old headstone bearing the name "William Irvine", and adjacent to the name a decipherable Coat-of-Arms of the "House of Drum". Recalling an identical design she had seen when visiting the home in Irvine, Penn. Of Callender Irvine, 1st son of Gen’l William, she preceded with such diligent search that the findings recounted on pages 23-24-25 are worth reviewing.
It is hardly to be questioned that Gen’l William’s influence must have been the guiding light that attracted so many of the Family to western Pennsylvania and Ohio. The older brother Dr. Robert in 1786-7, and Thomas in 1811, a William and wife Mary in Berlin Center (unidentified), as well as the General’s own brothers James, Capt. Andrew, Dr. Mathew, and Thomas – and several other unidentified of the name.
A peculiar confusion also exists relatives to confirming the notations found in the Pictorial Family Register left by James Clarke Irvine (a grandson) that "a Dr. Robert and a Rev. Samuel came to America with my grandfather". Dr. Robert has been reported – as having been the first physician in Shenango Valley (pg. 37) – but the conundrum concerning a Reverend Samuel remains unsolved. A great granddaughter (Mary nee van Arnstadt Giles) scoffed at the mere thought of ‘a Reverend’ is an Irvine. The above grandson wrote "he went south and was lost to the family". A man using the Irwin spelling is listed as owner of 3 slaves in the Penns. Census of 1781 – recorded by the occasion of a March 1, 1780 adoption of an "Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery". A re-take in 1791 reveals no such name – and whoever this was may well have ‘gone south’ with numbers of others who were reluctant to manumit their slaves. Perhaps he found little percentage in preaching to the early western Penn. Pioneers. A Sam. Irwin is found in the 1790 Court Records as one who passed an examination for the bar – who had been a Colonel in the Penn. Revolutionary Forces. Obviously another individual. The claim remains among descendents of Dr. Robert that a brother Thomas did accompany the Doctor to Mt. Vernon, and a second brother – James. The latter is described as " a petulant and ill-0tempered man who regarded manual labor beneath his dignity, and as an Irvine restricted his activities to the supervisory level". Such a James would appear more likely to have been the son of Dr. Robert, born in Sharon, married Austa , moved to Richland Co., had 4 sons – 2 fighting for the North during the Civil War and 2 for the South. (The great grand-father to Dr. Elizabeth Reed.)
As to Thomas, the musings related under Martha (pg. 32) on probable generalities in early life are worth review. Among the handed down family lore is some spice additions. One recounts that as a young man Thomas was sent off to a south Ireland school. Word drifted back home that he was about to be married to an Irish girl – to which the family response was to dispatch sturdy retainers with orders to bring him home – and he was forthwith married to a Scotch lass. (Again – early Scotch transplants did not regard themselves nor their children as Irish – whom they derogated to their proper place as potato diggers.) Along a similar line is the tale, recited with great unction by Great Aunt Martha Elizabeth Irvine, concerning the reason and manner of Thomas’ departure from Ireland. For its pure imaginativeness the tale has great charm – after an exciting buildup describing him as being an adventurous and hot-headed character, repeatedly in conflict with his family and their neighbors and several times with the law "Thomas was importantly and seriously involved in the Robert Emmett Rebellion back in Ireland. Emmett was caught, tried, and duly hung as the instigator of civil war to gain his selfish ends. Thomas was an outlawed and hunted man, but in previous escapades had befriended several Irish sailors. Through their efforts Thomas’ plight was made known to American sailors and Thomas was nailed up in a hogshead of sugar – unceremoniously rolled aboard ship and stowed away. His new found friends released him when the ship was well out to sea and Thomas worked his way to America".