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Ephraim McCartney & Ann Sanford's
Family History

Pennsylvania 1772


[by Dr. David McCartney]
In the summer of 1984 I sat down with my father's mother [Jessie Walberga (Graehling) McCartney] to visit as I often did. Our conversation soon lead to family history and family stories which interested me. During this particular visit Jessie showed me hundreds of family photos. I was impressed by her recall of the people in all of the photos and soon realized this information would be lost forever after her death. Believing in the significance of preserving family history, I spent the next week with Jessie sifting through her family photos recording the names of the individuals in the photos on the back of the originals. I later had the original photos copied along with the information she provided and placed them into a new photo album. What was amazing to me was not only did she have hundreds of old family photos, but she also had her father's [George W. Graehling] family photo album and his father's [Henry Graehling] family photo album intact. Jessie though, had only a couple of photos of her husband Merle McCartney's father. Coincidently, a distant Graehling relative residing in Park Ridge, IL contacted me that same summer and had already spent several years researching the Graehling family line. I shared the Graehling photos with her for the book she was soon to publish. 

The most important outcome during my visits with Jessie that summer, occurred when I questioned her about her recall of her husband Merle McCartney's family. To my astonishment and similar to the lack of McCartney family photos, she knew very little about her husband's family. I could not question my grandfather Merle as he had passed away six years earlier. Jessie recounted:

"Merle's father, Isaac Elsworth McCartney, was orphaned in Tipton, IA at the age of two along with two older brothers, ages five and seven. Their father [Isaac R.] was killed in the Civil War and their mother [Mary Ochiltree] died of an illness the year before. Following the death of the parents, Isaac E. was taken to Polo, IL where he was raised by a family named Coppenhaver. Isaac E.'s brother William had been sickly as a child, and died of an illness a few years after the death of the parents while living with a foster family in Iowa. The oldest brother Robert, grew up in Iowa with the same foster family as William, and later as a young man moved to Windom Minnesota where he raised a large family of his own."

That was it! That was the extent of the information Jessie knew about her husband's family. The problem wasn't her memory, but rather the fact that very little McCartney family history had been passed down from generation to generation due to the early death of Isaac Elsworth's parents and their children's young age at the time.

This lack of information on my paternal line did not dissuade me, but instead, lead to further investigation. I began by contacting the National Archives in Washington D.C. to obtain the military papers of my gg-grandfather, Isaac R. McCartney. Contrary to what my grandmother had told me, Isaac R.'s military papers indicated he was not killed in battle, but had been injured and/or wounded during the course of duty, became sick with chronic diarrhea [a common affliction of Civil War soldiers], and was sent home to a small town named Wilton Junction, IA, not Tipton, where he soon died [Wilton and Tipton are located only a few miles apart]. I decided the next logical step in my research was to make a trip to Wilton, a three-hour drive from where I lived, to locate Isaac R.'s cemetery plot. I had no idea which cemetery, but assumed I would be able to locate Isaac R.'s grave since Wilton was a small town. When I arrived in Wilton early in the morning, I was eager to locate Isaac R.'s plot. I immediately stopped at a local store and asked for directions to the city cemetery. In a few minutes I found myself wandering through a rather large cemetery [Oakdale], and to my amazement, walked directly to Isaac R.'s stone, his wife Mary's stone and their son William's stone in the older section. Finding their stones I had anticipated. What I did not anticipate though, was finding three boards placed as markers in the shape of headstones in Isaac R.'s plot with no names. I also noticed flowers had recently been placed at the head of one of the stones. Evidently someone residing locally, perhaps a relative, was maintaining the plot. A few years later I had the opportunity of meeting that person/relative [Etta Belle Winsell Lord]. Several yards away I found another McCartney plot [Jacob] and another McCartney plot [George W.]. As I walked the entire cemetery later in the afternoon, I located another but more recent McCartney plot [Fred] closer to the main entrance of the cemetery. I had no idea who these additional McCartneys were, but believed them to be related, and later discovered this assumption to be correct. And thus, my research began in earnest. This website is a summary of twenty-five years of research.

[sons]-Jason-Hayden-Kevin
[researcher]-David McCartney (1952- )
[father]-Vernon McCartney (1927-2012 )
[grandfather]-Merle McCartney (1893-1978)
[g-grandfather]-Isaac Elsworth McCartney (1861-1934)
[gg-grandfather]-Isaac R. McCartney (1832-1863)
[ggg-grandfather]-Robert Isaac McCartney (1791-1837)
[gggg-grandfather]-Ephraim McCartney (1772-1825)
[ggggg-grandfather] McCartney (from Ireland)

And now, the rest of the story . . . .

Ephraim McCartney was born September 20, 1772 in Lancaster Co., PA. His father emigrated from Ireland. According to family recollection though, the McCartney family was not Irish but rather Scotch.:

"People were always surprised that being McCartney's, we were none of us Catholic. I never knew any of the family that were away back, they claimed not to be Irish, but Scotch and that's probably the reason we were all Methodists and most of us still are." (Etta Belle Winsell Lord)

The origin of the McCartney name is in fact Scottish. In reality, Etta Belle's statement coupled with the fact that Ephraim's father emigrated from Ireland, implies we were of "Scotch-Irish" descent. The terms "Irish", "Scotch-Irish" and "Scotch" are frequently used interchangeably, and often used erroneously. The distinction between the terms has implications not only for where people originated, but also in terms of what location/country they likely emigrated from. Where one originated and where one emigrated from were not necessarily one in the same:

Scottish immigrants to America included three distinct groups: Highlanders, Lowlanders, and Scotch-Irish (or Ulster Scots). Highlanders came from the north of Scotland, where the land is rugged and the people fierce. The clannish Highlanders wore kilts and spoke Gaelic. Lowlanders came from southern Scotland, which had been much more influenced by English language and culture. The Scotch-Irish were originally from the lowlands but had been sent to Northern Ireland (Ulster) by English rulers who hoped to establish a Protestant stronghold in that Catholic land. The Ulster Scots kept to themselves though, mingling very little with their Catholic neighbors and preserving their Scottish identity. (Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life, 1998)

The early immigration of the Scotch and Scotch-Irish to America occurred in the 18th century. Assuming Ephraim's father was between the ages of 18-21 at the time of Ephraim's birth in 1772, it is possible Ephraim's father emigrated in one of the later waves from Ulster between 1751-1772 prior to the American Revolutionary War:

Approximately two-hundred thousand people, primarily of Scottish descent and Presbyterian faith, left Ulster, and sailed for America in five major waves between 1717 and 1775. During the fifth and final wave from 1771 to 1775, twenty-five thousand people emigrated from Ulster. This was primarily motivated by the eviction of many families from the county Antrim, when the leases on the estate of the Marquis of Donegal expired and the settlers could not comply with rack-renting demands. (The Ulster-Scots: The Great Migration, by Larry D. Smith)

It is also probable that Ephraim's father's port-of-call was Philadelphia prior to settling in Lancaster Co., PA:

From about 1715 to 1775, a great number of people for various reasons emigrated to America from the north of Ireland, and quite a large part of these landed at Philadelphia, Pa., and at New Castle Del. From these points they spread north and west into and beyond what is now Lancaster County. (History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Everts & Peck: Philadelphia, 1883, pg. 667)

During the course of the American Revolution (1775-1783), England feared, and with good cause, the possible impact Scottish immigrants might have on the outcome of the war. Some of the well-known Scottish and Scotch-Irish immigrants who played leading roles in the outcome of the war included Patrick Henry, John Stark, Henry Knox and John Paul Jones. This does not preclude those Scottish and Scotch-Irish immigrants though, of lesser known identity, for which you will read about later in this article:

Scotch-Irish Americans, with their anti-English stance, were quite ready to join the rebel cause in the American Revolution. Scottish Americans from the Highlands and Lowlands, however, tended to side with the British crown. Fearing that the Scots would side with the rebels, the English prohibited Scottish emigration to America beginning in 1775. The damage was already done, however, and the Scotch-Irish (and some Scottish) Americans contributed significantly to the downfall of the British. (Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life, 1998)

Seven years after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War (1790), Ephraim married Ann Sanford in Mifflin Co., PA. Ann was born about 1767, also in Mifflin Co. Ann’s father was Abraham Sanford. Ephraim and Ann had ten or eleven children, eight of whom, six boys and two girls lived to adulthood. The oldest boy was Robert Isaac McCartney. The focal point of this website centers around Robert Isaac, his wife (Lydia) and their children.

Ephraim McCartney died at the age of 52 in Washington Co., PA, September 9, 1825, and his wife Ann, at the age of 86, in the same county, in the early part of January 1853.


by Dr. David McCartney © 2009 [last update -- May 2, 2014]
(dm083052@yahoo.com)