By Richard Gwynallen

Mary Sloan
(circa 1745 – 1774)
Relationship to Fawn: 6th and 7th great grandmother

Fawn has the interesting experience of having one woman, Mary Sloan, as her 6th and 7th great grandmother. How that came to pass we shall see.

The Sloan clan enters our family tree when Mary Sloan married James Milligan in the province of Ulster Province, probably County Antrim, in Ireland around 1762. I have no immigration records, but Sloan and Milligan family members have a tradition that Mary and James immigrated with James’ father Andrew in 1765, arriving in Pennsylvania, then moving to North Carolina. The basis for this date is that in a newspaper article in the Statesville Landmark (North Carolina) in 1880, McCammie Milligan stated that an apple tree was still living on the old hold place after 115 years and it was planted by his great-grandfather, Andrew Milligan. With such firm proof, how could one doubt the date?

We are descended from two daughters of Mary and James, Hannah and Mary Margaret. Hannah married Moses Boyd in North Carolina about 1790. They were the grandparents of Nancy Angeline Boyd, who married John Murdock in 1867. John was introduced in the story, “John Franklin Murdock – Another mid-19th Century North Carolina Life”. In that line, Mary Sloan is Fawn’s 6th great grandmother.

Mary Margaret married William Witherspoon about 1785 in North Carolina. They were the grandparents of John Murdock who married Nancy Angeline Boyd in 1867. In that line, Mary Sloan is Fawn’s 7th great grandmother.

There are differences of opinion as to whether Mary Sloan is a much younger sister of Fergus Sloan or is his daughter. Fergus was born in 1724 in Ulster. He married Ann Elizabeth Robinson in about 1747 in Ireland. Given Mary’s date of birth and general agreement that she married in Ireland and emigrated many years after Fergus, I am inclined to see Mary as Fergus’ much younger sister; still, many have her listed as his daughter. Fergus’ parents were George Sloan and Mary Campbell. Fergus and Ann are thought to have immigrated first to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, then moved into the Iredell, North Carolina area in 1750 or 1751. Fergus died in Lincoln County, North Carolina in 1812.

On 15 March 1755, Fergus purchased 640 acres of land on Buffalo Branch from John Oliphant, a land speculator, who had received the grant from Lord Granville two years prior. Ramsey, in his book, Carolina Cradle, described Fergus as being in the Salisbury District as early as 1750 but landless and itinerant.

There were other Ulster Scots Presbyterians from Pennsylvania scattered within ten miles of Fergus Sloan, so some may have accompanied him from Pennsylvania. About the year 1765 Fergus Sloan donated the ground for Fourth Creek Presbyterian Church (now the First Presbyterian Church of Statesville) for the “use and benefit of the Presbyterian Society, commonly called the Fourth Creek Congregation Society,”. . . “with the privilege of the spring,” and helped to hew the logs for the church building.

Sketch of first 4th Creek Congregation church

Sketch of first 4th Creek Congregation church

Map of 4th Creek Congregation

Map of 4th Creek Congregation

If you click on the link below you can view a map that depicts landowners in the Fourth Creek Congregation, Iredell County, North Carolina. Notes at the bottom of the map give directions to the center of the congregation. One of the notes reads, “At the “Meeting House’ Statesville was located in 1790. The Court House of Iredell County, N. Ca.”

This map was published in 1847, based on an original 1773 map by William Sharpe.

According to a Daughters of the American Revolution record, during the Revolutionary War, Fergus Sloan served with the Salisbury District North Carolina militia as a private.

In 1789 about 50 acres of his land were purchased for the Town of Statesville for 12 shillings an acre. The knoll behind the Fourth Creek Church was the site of the first log courthouse which opened in 1790. This was a hastily built log courthouse erected to open in time for the June Session of the County Court in 1790. In August 1790 lots were sold on Broad and Center Streets, with the courthouse at their intersection, and on Meeting, Front and Tradd Streets.

Statesville map

The village around the courthouse grew slowly, with a population of only 215 in 1850. Other forms of development did occur. Roads were shifted to pass the county seat, and it became a stopping place for stagecoaches, with a few taverns to take care of the travelers. In 1801 the first post office was established. In 1820 a new brick courthouse on the square took the place of the old log one.

Though I have nothing in Fergus’ own hand or transcribed from his telling, there are a variety of stories told about him. These are a couple:

According to Dr. P F. Laugenour, in his “A History of Iredell County”:

“THE FIRST STILL set up anywhere in North Carolina, according to tradition, was set up and operated by Fergus Sloan near the spring north of Stockton street, about 200 yards east of Tradd street, not far from his residence which, as near as can be ascertained at this day, stood on the knoll west of the ravine that runs down from the spring. It is said that Mr. Sloan brought that still from the old country and that he sent a wagon to Philadelphia to bring it here to perform service for our ancestors in producing, what was considered among those early settlers, one of the indispensables to life and comfort in a frontier country.”

According to Minnie Hampton Eliason in her 1915 “Fort Dobbs, Historical Sketch” referring to a day in 1758 or 1759:

“Today there are fifteen or twenty men, old and young, going out to Moses Potts’ place on a foraging expedition. One of the first things Fergus Sloan sees when they reach the place is a young horse of his that had been turned loose. He converts the rope he has brought to bind fodder into a halter an puts it on the horse.

“Hardly have the men gotten to work before they are attacked by the Indians and seven are killed before they have a chance to defend themselves; the others are fleeing for their lives toward Fort Dobbs, the Indians in hot pursuit, across the creek and up the steep banks of a ravine . . . .

“The Indians’ war whoops make Fergus Sloan’s horse unmanageable and it runs down the other side of the creek through a muddy bottom. William Morrison, familiarly known as “Smith Billy,” is running after him with an Indian well-nigh at his heels. Fergus Sloan has now gotten his horse under control and stops him every little bit to point his unloaded gun at the Indian, who falls back, letting Billy Morrison come up, though not near enough to mount, for Fergus has to move on or they’ll both be tomahawked.”

Fergus Sloan seemed to live happily in the area with his children and grandchildren until about 1801 when he suddenly left home and friends and was never heard from again. Some say it was due to a court case he brought and lost, his departure representing his displeasure with the community.

Origins of the Surname Sloan

The surname Sloan, widespread in Scotland and Northern Ireland, is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic personal name “Sluaghadhan”, leader of a military expedition, derived from “sluaghadh”, expedition or raid. References to the name go back to circa 966 when The Chronicles of the Picts (inhabitants of North East Scotland) tell us that one Sluagadach went forth to Rome. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maelpatrick O’Sluaghadhaigh, or O’Sluaghaidh, which was dated 1015, in the Annals of the Four Masters, during the reign of Malachy 11, High King of Ireland, 1014 – 1019.

In the process of Anglicization “Sluaghadh(an)” has acquired many variant forms including: Sloan, Sloane, Slo(y)ne, Slowan, Sloyan, Slowey and Slo(e)y. The latter two examples are more specifically from “O’Sluaghaidh”, descendant of Sluaghadh. References to these forms of the name appear in annals of Ireland prior to the year 1200, but are very infrequent until the 17th Century. Among the earliest recorded name bearers in Scotland are William Slowane, who held a tenement near Dalkeith, Midlothian, in 1504, and John Sloane, who had legal possession of land in the parish of Traquair, Peeblesshire, in 1565. The 1659 Petty’s “Census” of all Ireland lists Slowan as one of the most numerous names in the barony of Newry, County Down. The census in February 1769, shows that the marriage of Ann Sloan to Samuel Spencer was recorded at Lisburn, County Antrim.  A Coat of Arms granted to a Sloan family depicts a red lion rampant, crowned with a gold antique crown, on a silver shield, the Crest being an eagle displayed proper.