An American Family History

Robert Looney

  also spelled Luna, Lune, Luney, and Lunie  
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 1692 on the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man is in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland.

His wife was named Elizabeth.

Thomas Looney (1718, married Jane Harmon),
Robert Looney, Jr. (1721, married Margaret Rhea, daughter of Matthew Rhea),
Daniel Looney (1723 , married Jane Evans),
Adam Looney (1725, married Hannah Wright),
Samuel Looney (1727),
Louisa Looney (1728, married John Shelby),
Absalom Looney (1729, married Margaret Moore),
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 Bowen).

In 1724, the Looneys came to America. They settled in Philadelphia and later moved to 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." (from 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.

Robert died on September 14, 1769 in Virginia. His wife, Elizabeth, and son, Joseph, were the executors of his estate.

Augusta County, Virginia was formed in 1738 from Orange County and was vast territory including West Virginia and Kentucky.
1770 - southern part became Botetourt.
1776 - parts became Monongalia, Ohio, and Yohogania.
1778 - area west of Ohio River became Illinois County.
- northeastern part became Rockingham.
- southwestern part was combined with part of Botetourt to form Rockbridge
1788 - northern part combined with part of Hardy to become Pendleton.
1790 - western part was combined with parts of Botetourt and Greenbrier to form Bath.
Virginia county formation was complex and some of the above counties were further divided or disbanded.

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.



A tithable was a person for whom a head tax was to be paid. The definition varies over time and place, but generally included members of the potentially productive labor force.
A poll tax is a tax levied on every poll. The definition of a poll also varied, but was generally a man of legal age.

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!

Guilford County, North Carolina was organized in 1771 from parts of Rowan and Orange Counties.

In the name of God amen
September the fourteenth one thousand seven hundred and sixty-nine [1769]
I Robert Looney ....
As for the worldly Estate that it has pleased God to Bless me with I give and bequeath in manner and form the following.
I leave my well beloved wife Elizabeth Luney and my beloved son Joseph Luney to be my sole Executors.
Next I leave to my beloved grandson John Luney one shilling sterling.
All the remainder of my Bodily Estate after my funeral charges and Lawful Debts are paid I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Elizabeth Luney to Live on and use as she pleaseth During her natural Life and then to descend to my beloved son Joseph at her death the rest of my children having already got all that I allow to them of my estate.
Robert (RL) Luney (Seal) 
Signed Sealed and Pronounced in Presence of us
John Smith (His Mark)
James Crow 
Elinor Crow (Her Mark)
John Burton (His Mark)

from Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, Volume 1 by Lyman Chalkley

May, 1765

Looney vs. Looney

Chancery. Col. John Smith deposes that
in 1753 or 1754 Robert Looney sent for his son, Absalom, to come from Blue Stone to James River with his family. That before he came in Robert Looney proposed to his son Daniel that he would give him (Daniel) the land over the Creek for his land in the Draft to settle his son Absalom on, to which Daniel agreed, and when Absalom came in he settled on the land and Daniel Looney took possession of the land over the Creek. That some time afterwards Daniel Looney made the said Absalom a title to the same. That Daniel never got any title from his father that the deponent knows of, though he often afterwards heard the said Robert Looney acknowledge the bargain, and that when the said Robert Looney made over his other lands to his sons, he excepted and reserved the land over the Creek for his son Daniel.

Col. John Buchanan deposes:
Of the original agreement he knows nothing, but that in 1755 Daniel Looney was in possession of the land over the creek, and that Robert often told deponent he had given his son Daniel the land over the creek in lieu of the land in the draft whereon Absalom Looney then lived, and that Daniel Looney repeatedly told deponent the same thing. That when Daniel was on his death bed he sent for deponent, and, among other things, it was mentioned that the land whereon he then lived was his, and the said Daniel then desired that after his death it might descend to his daughter, which his father, Robert Looney, said nothing against, though he was present.

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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