from Boyle Genealogy: John Boyle of Virginia and Kentucky by John Boyle
This family came from the Isle of Man. Tradition relates that an ancestor accompanied Marlborough in the Flanders campaign.
They were pioneers in Southwest Virginia—Looney Gap in Clinch mountain being named after them. In 1756, on Reed's creek, Robert Looney was killed by the Indians. On June 25, of that year, Peter Looney was captured by the savages near Fort Vause, on the headwaters of Roanoke river, about ten miles from the present site of Christiansburg, but escaped. "In 1771 Absalom Looney settled in Abb's valley, Fayette county, and from him that valley received its name." May 3, 1774, the court (of Fincastle county, which then included all West and Southwest Virginia) ordered a list of tithables in Captains Looney's, Shelby's, Cocke's, Campbell's, and other military companies.
In 1779, upon re-survey, a part of what had been included in Washington county, Virginia, was found to lie in North Carolina, and the House of Commons of that colony formed it into Sullivan county, afterwards included in Tennessee. In February, 1780, that county was formally organized at the house of Captain Moses Looney, on the Holston. He was captured that year by the Indians, who spared his life, and in August, made him a messenger of peace.
David Looney, with three others of the family, participated in the memorable victory at King's mountain, three of them being officers.
In 1783, a memorial was presented to Congress of the "Freemen inhabiting the country westward of the Alleghaney or Appalacian mountains and southward of the Ouasito" (Indian name of Cumberland mountains), setting out their environment "by vast wilds of barren and inaccessible mountains" that they had maintained their settlements during the war, and were the aboriginal inhabitants—and as freemen, claiming the natural rights of American citizens, asking authority for local self government. Among the memorialists was David Looney, born in 1735.He was a delegate from Sullivan county to the convention which attempted to form the state of Franklin. He was a member of the first Tennessee legislature from that county, and was buried at Jonesboro. His wife was Mary McClellan of Virginia, born 1741.
Their son, Abraham Looney, was born September 18, 1780, married in that county, May 19, 1803, Elizabeth Gammon, born there September 19, 1786. Her father was Richard Gammon, born 1750, a member of the convention that formed the state of Tennessee, as well as of the first legislature of that state. Her mother was Sarah Gamble, born 1750, at Richmond, Virginia, where her family had long resided.
Abraham Looney possessed much influence and considerable wealth. He was a banker and latterly a large iron producer in Middle Tennessee. They first lived in Sullivan county, where their eight elder children were born, and afterwards at Columbia, Maury county.
I—Polly Looney, b. June 10, 1804.
II—Sally Gammon Looney, b. Aug. 16, 1806.
III— David Looney, b. May 12, 1808.IV— Richard G. Looney, b. Dec. 20, 1809; m. Jan., 1832, Eliza T. Carruthers.
V—Jane M. Looney, b. Feb. 16, 1812; m. Feb. 9, 1832, Parry W. Porter. They left several children.
VI—Elizabeth A. Looney, b. Jan. 12, 1814; m. Apr. 15, 1838,
Dr. A. F. Bracken.
VII—A. Lavraiset Looney, b. Oct. 26, 1816.
VIII—George Gammon Looney, b. Sept. 5, 1818; d. 1847.
IX—Abraham McClellan Looney, b. Dec. 19, 1820; d. Dec. 30, 1904.
X—Joseph William Looney, b. Sept. 11, 1822; m. Nov. 30,
1848, Mary E. Lacey.
XI—Robert Fain Looney, b. Aug. 5, 1824; d. Memphis, Nov. 19, 1899.
XII—Leonora Adelaide Looney, b. Aug. 25, 1830.
I—Polly Looney, daughter of Abraham Looney, married, December 13, 1818, Matthew Rhea. They lived at Somerville, Tennessee, and left several children. One son, Lieutenant Matthew Rhea, fell in the battle of Belmont, in Missouri, opposite Columbus, Kentucky, where he gallantly carried the sword of his grandfather, bearing this honorable inscription: "Presented by Gen. Greene to Matthew Rhea, the last man to retreat from the battle of Guilford Courthouse." Wounded, he sank to his knees, his surrounding foes demanding his surrender. Waving the old relic, with his expiring gasp he exclaimed: "I shall never surrender the sword of my grandfather to a Yankee!" At that epochal moment, who could have remembered that the illustrious donor was born in Rhode Island!