Mined in Scotland, Forged in Ulster
Exported world wide — as the saying goes. Today’s post traces the path of our Carnahan ancestors from Scotland and Northern Ireland to Pennsylvania. The earliest links need confirmation, so I must stress the provisional nature of the Scottish material. Still, the links seem pretty solid so far. I’ll begin with James Carnahan, b. 1643 in Auchencairn, a nice small town in Kirkcudbright, Scotland.
James married Marian Carnaghan and they moved to Ligoniel, county Antrim, Ireland.
Their son, James Carnahan (1692-1780) married Margaret Janny (1694-1722) and their son, James Alexander Carnahan (1719-1790), married Hannah Power (1722-1838). They lived in Randalstown, Ireland
until they emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1770. Now we’re on very firm ground, source wise. Once in America, their son, David Carnahan (1747-1824) married Agnes McGahey (1757-1804) and they had a various children, among whom numbered our ancestor, William Carnahan (1780-1835), who married Massey Cain of New Hampshire (1797-?).
According to Thomas Cushing’s History of Allegheny County, during the Revolutionary War,
“David Carnahan served in the light artillery, in those days known as the ‘Flying Artillery’ and was present at the battle of Brandywine and other engagements. An older brother, James, was a midshipman in the British Navy. Tradition has it that a private interview was once held between these brothers, during the war, permitted by an American officer on one side and a British office on the other.”
Cushing goes on to explain that, after the war,
David came to Allegheny county (then Washington county) and purchased 400 acres of land called “The Experiment” which was located three and a half miles south of Pittsburgh on the waters of Saw-Mill Run.”
The farm was later divided between three sons, William, Joseph, and Alexander. In 1878 the last surviving brother, Alexander, turned it into the town of Banksville, named after his second wife’s family. Now Banksville is a suburb of Pittsburgh.
Like most of his contemporaries, David Carnahan was as religious as he was hardworking. He was one of the first trustees of the Associate Reformed Congregation of Saw Mill Run, which later became the Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church. You can read all about it here.
He and Agnes were probably buried in the cemetery there, although no marker has survived. That’s it for today’s family history installment. Come back next week for more…
I leave you with what Teddy Roosevelt, writing before the notion of political correctness, had to say about the Scotch-Irish contribution to this country:
“It is doubtful if we fully realize the part played by this stern and virile people. They formed the kernal of the American stock who were the pioneers of of our People in the march westwards. They were bold and hardy people who pushed beyond the settled regions of America and plunged into the wilderness as the leaders of the white advance. The Presbyterians were the first and last set of immigrants to do this; all others have merely followed in the wake of their predecessors”.
Got to love those fighting Presbyterians!