An American Family History

The Sullivan County Looney Family

A blockhouse or garrison house is a small, isolated fort. The typical blockhouse was two stories with the second story overhanging the first. It had small openings to allow residents to shoot attackers without being exposed.

The French and Indian War lasted from 1754 to 1763 and was the North American phase of the Seven Years' War.

Robert Looney was born about 1674.

He married Elizabeth Llewellen.

Thomas Looney (1718, married Jane Harmon),
Robert Looney, Jr. (1721, married Margaret Rhea),
Daniel Looney (1723 , married Jane Evans),
Adam Looney (1725, married Hannah Wright),
Samuel Looney (1727),
Louisa Looney (1728, married Captain John Shelby),
Absalom Looney (1729),
Lucy Jane Looney (1730, married Stephen Holston),
John Looney (1732 married Esther Renfro),
Peter Looney (1734, married Margaret),
David Looney (1735, married Mary McClellan),
Joseph Looney (1740, married Jean (Jane) Bowen).

In 1724, the Looneys came to America. They settled in Philadelphia and later moved to colonial Maryland

About 1740, they settled on Looney's Mill Creek in what is now Botetourt County, Virginia. Robert was granted 250 acres on the James River and and Looney's Creek in July, 1742. His land was not far from Natural Bridge in what was Augusta County in 1738. They ran the first ferry crossing on the James River with an inn and a grist mill. The crossing was on the Great Wagon Road.

When Grubb passed through in 1753 things had changed. Not only did Looney operate a ferry at Cherry Tree Botton (Buchanan, Va.), there was grain enough for Mrs. Looney to bake bread for the Moravians. Looney's decision to move to Cherry Tree Bottom may have been influenced in part by a 1749 flood that lifted the bed in which his wife and two of their children slept, and carried it about "until they woke up."(Digging up Bones)

In 1755, during the French and Indian War, a fort was built near the Looney home. It was named Fort Looney and was at the junction of Looney Creek and the James River.

In 1783, John received a warrant for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

Sullivan County is in far northeast corner of Tennessee between North Carolina and Virginia and was originally part of those states. It was formed in 1779 when it was divided from Washington County.

Watagua Pioneer Neighbors

Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.
The Great Wagon Road was the most important Colonial American route for settlers of the mountainous backcountry. It went from Philadelphia to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. One fork went to the Tennessee Valley and Knoxville and the other to the Piedmont Region of North Carolina.



There were two Peter Looneys. One, who changed his name to Peter Luna was the son of Peter. The other Peter was the son of Absalom.

Both Peter Looneys made a trip in 1779-80 to Big Salt Lick, or French Lick (now Nashville) on Cumberland River. One went by boat with Capt. John Donelson; the other followed a completely different route by land with Capt. James Robertson.

East Tennessee is part of Appalachia. At the end of the French and Indian War, colonists began drifting into the area. In 1769, they first settled along the Watauga River. During the Revolution, the Overmountain Men defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The State of Franklin was formed in the 1780s, but never admitted to the Union.

David Looney was born 1735 in Augusta (now Rockbridge) County, Virginia.

He married Mary McClellan.

Robert Looney (1752),
Joseph Looney (1755)
Anna Looney (1758, married John Vaughn),
Mary Looney (1761, married Jeremiah Taylor),
Sarah Looney (1764, married Samuel Gregg),
Julia Looney (1767, married Abraham McClellan),
Janie Looney (1770, married Samuel Caruthers),
David Looney, Jr. (1777),
Abraham Looney (1780).

They lived on Muddy Creek, two miles above the Holston River. David built a blockhouse.

In the 1778 Washington County court records

Ord. take the depo. of David Looney and Jas. McCain on behalf of Peter Huffman, defdt. in a suit with William Cocke, on a cavit.

In 1780, he was appointed to be a justice of the peace in Sullivan County, Tennessee.

In 1783, 1784, and 1789 David received warrants for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

David died on May 1, 1810 in Blountsville, Sullivan County

  David, Michael, Peter, John, Samuel, Benjamin and Robert Looney signed the 1777 petition of men living on the north Holston River complaining about the division of Fincastle County. They felt the line was not equitable and the court house was too far away.  

Robert Looney (1721) married Margaret Rhea. Margaret was Joseph Rhea's (1715) sister.

Their children included:
John Looney (1744, married Elizabeth Renfro),
Moses Looney (1745, married Sarah Holston),
Benjamin Looney (1748, married Mary Johnson),
Samuel Looney (1751), and
Mary Looney Grimes (1756).

In 1783, Benjamin received a warrant for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

After Robert's death, Margaret married Stephen Renfro.


Samuel Looney (1725). His wife was named Ann.

Samuel Looney, Looney, Jr.
Moses Looney.

In 1779 the Washington County, Virginia Court heard the motion of Anne Loony administration is granted her on the Estate of Samuel Loony deceased . ..


Absalom Looney (1729) married Margaret (maybe Moore)

Michael Looney married Temperance Cross the daughter of William Cross.


Moses Looney was born about 1745.

He was a captain in the militia as early as 1774.

Sullivan county Records show that in February, 1780, the county court met at the house of Moses Looney.

A commission was presented, appointing as Justices of the Peace Isaac Shelby, David Looney, William Christie, (Christian?) John Dunham, William Wallace, and Samuel Smith; John Rhea was appointed Clerk; Nathaniel Clark, Sheriff till court in course. (from The Annals of Tennessee by James Gettys McGready Ramsey)

In 1781, Moses was captured by indigenous people.

In 1783 and 1788, Moses received several warrants for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

  Benjamin Looney (1748) had at least one son Isam Looney. Isam married Anna Greenway.  

Samuel Looney (1751) was one of the earliest settlers of the Holston Settlements. He had a large tract of land located on the Holston, one mile below the mouth of Beaver Creek.

His wife was named Ann.

Nancy and Samuel's children included:
Moses Looney (1775),
Samuel Looney (1776), and
Sarah Looney (1777).

Samuel, Sr. was killed by indigenous warriors.

There were two Beaver Creeks in early Washington County, Virginia. One (also called Shallow Creek) flowed through Bristol and emptied into the South Fork of the Holston River in Tennessee. The other was a south branch of the North Fork of the Holston River in current Smyth County.

The Holston River flows from Kingsport to Knoxville.
map by Kmusser
Watagua Pioneer Neighbors


Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watagua Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2018
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