Thursday, September 29, 2011

EmigranThursday - Robert Curry

Revolutionary War Soldiers buried in Cross Creek Cemetery

Welcome to this week’s EmigranThursday which features Robert Curry of Washington County, Pennsylvania. Biographical information about him appeared on pages 729-730 of the History of Washington County Pennsylvania by Boyd Cumrine, published in 1882. Additional research was completed on Ancestry and Internment.com.

Robert Curry was a native of Scotland, who emigrated to America in 1782. On his voyage across the Atlantic he had for a fellow-passenger Isabella MacKenzie, who had left the Highlands of Scotland to find another home across the sea. From strangers they became acquaintances, and upon arrival in this country they were married. They came at once to the Monongahela country, and lived for a time at Fort Pitt [Pittsburgh - AEE]. Mr. Curry was a cooper. Thinking to improve the prospects of himself and his family. they removed in 1790 to Wheeling, Va. [now West Virginia - AEE], settling near the fort then located there. Eventually they removed to Cross Creek Village, where they lived for many more years, he dying June 25, 1838, aged eighty-four years and she living until March 28, 1856 when she died at the great age of ninety-eight years. There children were eight daughters and four sons. ...

Unfortunately, there were not enough clues in the biography to locate Robert or Isabella in the Scottish Records. The family does appear in the 1800, 1810, 1820 and 1830 censuses for Chartiers Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Isabella (b. 1757, Scotland) is in the 1850 census as head of household living with three of her children Daniel (49), Mary (52) and Elizabeth (45), all born in Pennsylvania.

A listing for the Cross Creek Cemetery at Internment.net states: Curry, Robert, d. 25 Jun 1838, age: 84yr, Soldier of the Revolution, Born in Scotland, Was pressed aboard a British man-of-war. In August 1782 saw the naval engagement between the French/British of Dominica when Adm DeGrasse was taken, date of birth is shown as 1754 on memorial stone was a veteran of the American "

I could not find anything easily to confirm this information. An index on Ancestry indicates that Robert and his son Robert were volunteers during the War of 1812. Also on Ancestry is an entry from the Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards collection which indicates that Robert Curry, Sr, saw action in the Indian Wars in 1782. It does seem clear that the informant for the Cross Creek Township section of the county history probably misremembered the year of Curry's arrival in the United States. It seems unlikely that Robert Curry could have sailed to America, crossed the mountains to Fort Pitt and had time to help out in the Indian Wars.

If Robert Curry and Isabella McKenzie came in 1782, as the biography indicates, they would have been among the first emigrants to cross the Atlantic after the conclusion of the American Revolution. While this wasn't as unusual as some sources suggest, especially since trade re-started almost as soon as the shooting stopped, emigration numbers from all of Europe were much reduced between 1776 and 1820. However, if Robert and Isabella sailed a decade earlier in 1772, they would have been part of stream of emigrants so large that it completely panicked the government and the Scottish elite. They began to tally who was leaving and you can read about it in Voyagers to the West by Bernard Bailyn. It's one of my favorite books.

image from Pennsylvania USGenWeb

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