James Steel 1741-1823

Old Castle Blayney

John Woolf Jordan, LL.D. (1840-1921) was the Editor for the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, General Registar of the Sons of the Revolution, and Registrar of Pennsylvania Society. In one of his many historical references, Colonial And Revolutionary Families Of Pennsylvania, (originally published 1911) he gives the following account of James Steel, the immigrant ancestor. (http://books.google.com/books?id=arAfWBsvO1gC&pg=PA733)

Steelboys Storming Belfast Barracks

JAMES STEEL, the immigrant ancestor, was born at “Castle Blaney”, near Carrick Macross, Ireland, about 1741. After the “Steel-Boy” insurrection (1771), on account of the unsettled and intolerable conditions in Ireland, he came to America, landing at Philadelphia, and coming as far west as that Scotch-Irish hive in Cumberland, now Franklin county, Pennsylvania, where, doubtless, he had friends who had preceded him. He did not long remain there but resumed his journey west, finally, in 1772, settling on land in Sewickley Manor, now Mount Pleasant township, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. This was just before the formation of that county. The land of which he became possessed was obtained by purchase from the Penns, and was of an extent that was considered a very large holding for that date. It is now the heart of the Connellsville coking coal region and exceedingly valuable, Four hundred Fifty acres of the original purchase have been handed down through successive generations and are now owned by a great-grandson, Joseph W. Steel.

Steelboys and Paxtonboys

Here James Steel built his home and reared his family, amid the alarms of war and the dangers of a forest, filled with wild creatures and foes still more to he feared,–the Indians. True to the instincts of his race and urged on by personal conviction, when it became necessary to choose between loyalty to the mother or his adopted country, James Steel did not hesitate nor vascillate. He took the oath of allegiance, required of all foreign born citizens, March 28, 1778, before Hugh Martin. a justice of the county, and enlisted in the Mount Pleasant Association. He served in the campaign of the Jerseys, as did his two brothers-in-law, Robert and Andrew Donaldson, both of whom were killed in battle. The entire military service of James Steel covered a continuous period of three years, during which he bore with fortitude the shock of battle, the weariness of forced marches and the suffering of the poorly equipped, half-fed soldier, of that great war, which gave birth to a nation.

James Steel 1741-1823

James Steel married (first) Elizabeth McMasters, the daughter of a neighboring farmer.(1) She bore him a son and a daughter. The son, Joseph Steel, married Barbara Blystone, of Mt. Pleasant township, and moved to Franklin township, and is buried at the Old Tent (United Presbyterian) graveyard. The daughter, Jane, became the wife of William Hunter, of Mount Pleasant township, and moved to Perrysville, Richland county, Ohio, where many of their descendants now live.

Steel’s Monument Cemetery

Steel married (second), about the close of the Revolutionary war, Elizabeth Donaldson, of “East of the Mountains,” who is said to have been his cousin, who bore him Elizabeth, James and John Steel. Elizabeth, born September 25, 1785, married Alexander Hamilton, lived at what was then called “Irishtown” on the Clay Pike, west of Ruffsdale, on the farm now partly owned by Franklin Null, and is buried in the Middle Presbyterian grave-yard in Mount Pleasant township. She left, surviving her, a large family, some of whom moved to Geneseo, Illinois, and later to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. James, born on the day of the adoption of the United States Constitution, September 17, 1787, married Martha McCutcheon, a daughter of James and Peggy (Finney) McCutcheon, lived in Franklin township, Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, and is buried at Poke-Run Presbyterian grave-yard. John, we will mention later.

Steel’s Monument Cemetery

[Several descendants of James Steel are buried at Steel’s Monument Cemetery, which is located just northwest of Hanna’s Town.]

James Steel, the founder, died September 10, 1823, after a full and honorable life of eighty-two years. He is buried at the Middle Presbyterian Church, Mount Pleasant township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
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More Info:

1. Other sources say she was from where Hecla is now located. (e.g. at the Findagrave Link below–“During the early years of the Revolutionary War he married Elizabeth McMaster, a sister of James McMaster who lived where Hecla is now located. By her he had two children, Jane and Joseph. After her death [in 1783], he married, about 1784, Elizabeth Donaldson, said to have been his cousin — a sister of Robert and Andrew Donaldson of Franklin County, PA [around Chambersburg, on I-30]. By her he had three children, Elizabeth, James and John.”). There is a Hecla, PA 68 miles northwest of Valley Forge, and an unincorporated Hecla just 5 miles southwest of Sewickley Manor, which seems more probable.

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About jayhack2012

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This entry was posted in Character Studies, UK-Ireland-North, Ulster Land War, US Revolution, US-PA-West and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to James Steel 1741-1823

  1. Bob says:

    Do u have info re. any Steels living near Hannastown PA in 1780-83? thanks

    • jayhack2012 says:

      Yes! Under US Steels. Judge John B. Steel, Rev. Captain John Steel (not yet published, but there is already a lot available). I also have a story with a positive interpretation of the John Steel/Susanna Geiger story, called “American Exceptionalism.” Any chance you are cousins through Edward and Walter Steel?

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