Nov 12, 2018

Research note (s) Farrell family

John Farrell 1763

Posted: 24 Jan 2018 09:46PM
Classification: Query
Surnames: Farrell, Ferrall

Looking for the family of John Farrell, born in 1763, immigrated to Virginia, United States around 1773 and served in the Virginia Militia, then settled in Kentucky. Possibly immigrated from Kilkenny. Possibly a John Ferrall baptized 15 Aug 1763 in Longford county. I know this isn't much to go on but I have hit a complete dead end. Any help would be appreciated.

Baptism barely possibly refers to our John 1, but note variant spelling and in Longford vice Kilkinney.

Nov 9, 2018

John 1

Caution:  With this the TMR becomes quite personal, a series of reports and speculation on ancestry. It's a family thing I wish to do, and for technical reasons this old and dusty blog is the most convenient way.


John Farrell is our first known ancestor, a Scots-Irish man born in  1763 in Kilkinney, Ireland. From there he disappears from written history until midnight of July 15/16, 1779. He appears then on the Hudson River, some 40 miles north of New York City.  We meet him there as a 16-year-old soldier of the Virginia Continental Line, serving as a drummer to Captain Robert Gamble's  8th Company of the 7th Regiment of Virginia Volunteers.  As a drummer, essentially a signal man,  he would have ranked as a junior staff non-commissioned officer, perhaps just slightly above a corporal.

How he made his way from his Irish birthplace to the  Battle of Stoney Point on the Hudson River  is simply a mystery. Family lore,  plausible but never documented, holds that he arrived in colonial America with 7 brothers. All we know firmly, beyond the obvious Atlantic crossing,  is that John landed here after 1763 and before 1779 as part of the very large 18th Century Scots-Irish immigration.

The most typical of these emigrant families landed at Philadelphia and trekked inland to the east slope of the Appalachians in southern Pennsylvania. Many, perhaps most, sooner or later drifted southward to high lands of Virginia and beyond. Only a relative few settled along the coast,  tidewater country,  where the land and culture already belonged to earlier English colonists, an aristocracy supporting the state-sponsored Anglican church and unwelcoming to the crude Scots-Irish.

It's  probably safe enough to imagine our John as solid member of these hill people or,  as I once heard it said by a prominent journalist in the region,"...a good old Piedmont boy, not no low-country snob." In any case, he was there somewhere, growing from boy to young warrior to Kentucky land owner and direct progenitor of nine generations (and counting) of American Farrells.

John would have been 12 or 13 when the Revolution broke out, 1775/76.  As said above, we don't know exactly where or how he lived  before he  joined the anti-English Virginia army. One hint, however,  points to the Piedmont country of the northern Shenandoah Valley. His rifle company, the 8th  Co. of the Seventh Continental Regiment, was apparently raised on that Virginia frontier by Captain Gamble.

If we care to reasonably speculate more about John, we need a quick review of general history.


The Scots-Irish are,  loosely,  just what the name suggests, a mixture of the two Celtic nationalities.  Importantly they also include a north-English population, also more or less Celtic, who, over the centuries, refused to kneel before the Crown of England and its feudal-system nobility.

The Scots were generally Celtic lowlanders, clans around  the old Hadrian Wall, begun by Roman Legions around 122 A.D to fortify the border between themselves from the untamable  Celts to the north. Unable to conquer them,  Rome chose a Plan B; wall them out, harassing them occasionally in a way reminescent of rattling the zoo cage of a dangerous carnivore.  

 For some 15 centuries more, until the 18th Century, the lowlands were scarred by back-and-forth war. Both alliances and bitter combat flourished among northern English clans and the nearby,  often intermixed,  Scottish tribe and clans. They are often known as the "Lowlanders," recognizing that they  were not quite Scots, beholden to the nobility further north, nor quite English, loyal to the royal fops of far-off London.  It was probably this defiance of distant aristocracy that led to them to become a separate and testy  group, a nation without home.

The Scots-Irish also refused organized religion as it existed in feudal times, declining rule by the Popes of Rome or, after Luther and the Reformation,  Rome's Protestant offshoots, primarily the established Anglican Church and its counterpart, the Irish church.  As Jim Webb has it, they simply refused to follow secular or religious leaders who were not intimately connected to their local or regional clans. Webb, revealingly, calls his history of the Scots-Irish Born Fighting.

Anyone insisting on an oversimplified explanation of these ancestors of ours can safely use the term "anti-authority."


Back to our John 1 of Kilkinney.  "Farrell" has been a native Irish Roman Catholic name for some 11 centuries. It often occurs among the war-like revolutionaries opposing English colonization, English theft of Irish property, and anyone's Protestant faith.  But John 1 was almost surely a Protestant (if he was anything at all), and probably a Calvinist of one stripe or a other.  So how did he become a Protestant and a father of Protestants?

The simple answer, and I think probably correct one, is simple: Lust.

Now, if you propose to copulate, the first requirement is proximity to a counterpart. That imperative was satisfied by the migration of ten of thousands of the Scots-Irish across the narrow Irish Sea, settling near the native Catholic Irish of, mostly, Ulster.

On one soft spring evening a svelte immigrant lass espies a handsome young Irish stalwart of the Farrell clan. In the immortal way of the human female she plots to win his notice.  A slightly revealing bodice and a twitch of the hips as she passes him  by on her way to the village well will do it. She succeeds. Jaw agape, he will have her and no other even though she comes with a price. He leaps from his horse, approaches, and whispers in her ear. She smiles.

"Aye Sir, but ye must abandon Rome if ye would hope to enter here."

He asks himself what the Hell the Pope has done for him lately. A  Protestant Farrell line begins.

We don't know when this -- or something with the same result -- happened. It could have been John's father, grandfather, or earlier,  likely during the centuries of  heavy Scots-Irish presence in Ireland. My personal guess would be somewhere around the 1650s.


A few years after the Revolution our John 1 married Cristina Pursley and sired several children.  One was William who married Mariah Hayes and fathered my great-great grandfather Richard who fought for the Confederacy in the War Between the States. Among Richard's heirs were John  R. Farrell who died young, never having seen his son, John Ray, my grandfather. John Ray and his wife, Emma Allie Clark,  were parents of my dad, Ottis R. Farrell.

 Geography: Our direct-line family lived in Virginia, then near Boonsboro, Kentucky (1783 until about 1835), then Monroe County, Missouri until about 1930, then northwest Iowa until the 1960s and 1970. At present it is scattered through Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. One might want to say we arrived and lived in this nation as hillbillies and are only recently emerging as somewhat civilized city folks. I personally would not strongly contest that viewpoint.

John 1 was awarded two small land grants near Boonsboro in the spring of 1783, his reward for three years of military service. He died about 1824. Most of his children, including William, migrated to Monroe County, Missouri in the early 1830s along with most others of that region, fleeing hard economic times.

(The last couple-three paragraphs were dashed off, and I hope to flesh them out before long. This all remains a draft and a work in progress.)

(place holder -- temporary -- showing William as John's son.)

Husband: William FARRELL
Birth date: March 3, 1796
Birthplace: Madison County, KY
Death date: October 1, 1874
Place of death: Monroe County, MO
Father: John FARRELL
Mother: Christina Pursley (her surname, long unknown to us, was added by jf about 2014)

Marriage date: Abt. 1820
Marriage place: Kentucky

Wife: Mariah HAYES
Birth date: 1803
Birthplace: Oldham County, KY
Death date: January 14, 1872
Place of death: Monroe County, MO
Father: Unknown
Mother: Unknown



Aug 4, 2018

I'm recycling here non-personal parts of a  letter to a life-long friend. He's recently retired as a philosophy professor and has just agreed to reactivate himself to teach a course in Western
civilization.  The first part is a comment on American schooling, sometimes referred to as "education."  The second answers a question he asked me, basically about how guys like Paul Manafort get so damned rich.

 For whatever it may be worth.


You're going to teach Western Civ?  Wow. Just like (a semi-goofy old college instructor of ours) :)

I agree it should be fun. The bonus will be a fresh and intimate glimpse of how well your k-12 schools are doing in creating culturally literate high school graduates before they decree them ready for college. I really look forward to hearing your take on that subject.

(Good morning, Class. I'd like to begin with a brief discussion of John Locke and his place in the Enlightenment. {You privately judge the number and intensity of dead-blank stares and adjust your pedagogical approach accordingly.}).


I wish I were more confident in the generality of my fellow citizens' propensity to follow and at least hazily understand the Manafort trial. I'm sure I crossed paths with him in the Reagan years, though I have no specific memory of it.  He would have been one of hundreds of young, smart, attractive, personable hustlers with democracy on his lips and and a lust for personal riches and power in his heart. He found his glory until he broke the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shall not get caught.

These guys follow a step-by-step process. Ingratiate yourself with politicians and their staff, beginning with the low (congressmen, e.g.) and proceeding to the high (senior senators, cabinet departments, White House aspirants, e.g.). Prove you can raise money and win elections for your clients, primarily by deft manipulation of public opinion.

At the maturity of your career you will have actual influence in the highest places. Ka-ching.  You may be involved in the movement of trillions (yes, "T") of dollars around the world. It's in trade deals, military aid, economic assistance laws and executive decisions. By diverting only the tiniest fractions of 1 per cent to yourself in fees and purported expenses, you are wallowing in millions of personal wealth.

Note that last week the prosecution alleged that Manafort garnered about $60 million from Ukraine lobbying deals. He's in trouble so far not for the actual work, but for income tax questions. (Personal belief: Sure he cheated. I'd  amazed if he didn't.) Now, a few-year  income of $60 million to most of us is a number beyond belief, but to governments and the "capitalist" firms who depend on them it is pocket change.

Consider a small example. I am making it up, but it is wholly realistic:  A  large Ukrainian ocean-shipping firm is seeking more favorable treatment in its use of ports and harbor facilities in the United States. The concessions hinge on decisions by U.S. federal agencies, perhaps the Department of Commerce. The company forecasts an extra $10 million annual income if it gets the breaks. To pay Manafort $2 million for trying to pressure Commerce and $5 million more as a success bonus could be quite a reasonable business decision. And that's just one comparatively minor deal.

It's a golden cess pool. It grows in parallel with the amount of money and power we -- little guys like you and me -- meekly cede to government.

Jul 22, 2018

The Marble Urinal Conspiracies

I don't remember peeing in the actual White House. Besides,  any relief I sought there would have been mundanely in the servants' wing, the press room facilities, during the AP days when I  (rarely)  attended Ron Nessen's briefings.

A different story existed across the alley in the garish old rococo Executive Office Building, built by an architectural Timothy Leary in the 1870s and 80s.  I did a bit of business there as a low-rank political operative in the Reagan years. We swilled coffee during  business hours, and fancy beer and wine flowed freely enough late in the day.

A man's bladder has its requirements, and the American taxpayers of the late 19th Century ensured his need would be met in grand and glorious style. Those flamboyantly grained marble pissoirs were two feet wide and tall enough to make a coffin for a short man. No where else in my life have I actually giggled shaking out the last drops.

I almost always made up little fantasies about my pissing predecessors. Did Teddy Roosevelt dangle his big stick there while conferring quietly with an adjacent William McKinley about which Cuban hill to immortalize? Did his cousin  Franklin sidle up next to Cordell Hull and, sotto voice,  plot ways to goad Tojo into attacking Pearl Harbor?

They certainly could have, validating a life-long suspicion that our masters will  always find ways to to secretly scheme to piss away our fortunes and our lives. And how better than companionably unzipped, shoulder to shoulder, at the upper end of the Washington, D.C. sewer system? No secretary with her shorthand pad. No recorders. No snoopy little aides with pals in the press corps.

All this comes to mind as we open another chapter in our largely aspirational quest for the oxymoronical "open government."

The internet apps wizards say they have found a way to make official government email both private and self-destroying. They mean they have at long last emulated Mr. Orwell's memory hole. It is now the libertarian Winston Smith clandestinely battling the Inner Party. Of course people like you and I root for Winston, but probably to little avail.

For instance, if you see Presidents Trump and Putin heading for the same Helsinki privy, rest assured that they can privately plot to organize your world according to their own  secret designs. There will be no leaks.