CAPTAIN JOHN CONNELLY TOOK THE FIRST BURKE COUNTY CENSUS IN 1790. HE ALSO COMMANDED A REGIMENT AT THE BATTLE OF KINGS MOUNTAIN. ACCORDING TO THE 1790 CENSUS. BURKE COUNTY WAS DIVIDED INTO THIRTEEN COMPANIES OR MILITIA. THE SECOND COMPANY CONSISTED OF SEVENTY -EIGHT HEADS OF HOUSEHOLD AND WAS COMMANDED BY CAPTAIN JOHN CONNELLLY.
SOURCES: NANCY ALEXANDER, HERE WILL I DWELL. 1956; CONNELLY GENEALOGICAL PAPERS COMPILED BY ANNE ABERNATHY CONNELLY; INTERVIEW WITH PAUL GILES: PAPERS COMPILED BY PAUL GILES; EDWARD W. PHIFER JR., BURKE: THE HISTORY OF A NORTH CAROLINA COUNTY; AND COL. T.G. WALTON, SKETCHES OF THE PIONEERS IN BURKE COUNTY HISTORY.
John Connelly was an officer in the North Carolina Militia and served as a Captain in the American Revolutionary War. He commanded a company of cavalry that traveled from Rowan County, North Carolina, with General Rutherford to the Cherokee Nation, a trip that may not have been of considerable distance as he maintained his home and raised his family near the frontier bordering the Indian Nation. The service of John Connelly in the Revolutionary War entitled his widow to a Pension. The documents filed by her in 1844 refer to her husband as both John Connelly and John Conley. The Pension Declaration of John Connelly of July 3, 1844 states that the residence of John Conley and Jane Conley was in Burke County North Carolina and that John Connelly died on July 16, 1826, facts consistent with other reliable records.
Captain John Connelly had three brothers who also lived in America: William Connelly, Hugh Connelly and James Connelly. The story of four Connelly brothers who came from Ireland and settled in North Carolina has been told to each generation of this family. Although not totally documented, reliable records reveal that these four brothers were the sons of Bryan O'Connelly, an Irish Immigrant, who settled in North Carolina in the 1760's and died there in 1795. The name of Bryan Connelly is listed in the tax records of Rowan County, North Carolina in 1770 and these records further note that three maile Adults above the age of twenty-one were residing with him. In 1770, the western section of Rowan County included an area which is now Burke County. The family name was changed from O'Connelly to Connelly after Bryan O'Connelly settled in North Carolina.
William Connelly, one of the sons of Bryan Connelly, and a brother of Captain John Conley, purchased the homeplace of Bryan Connelly from the other heirs in 1796. This land was sold in 1797 by William Connelly to Groves Bowman, the husband of Mary Conley. These records of the transfer of the real estate of Bryan Connelly among his heirs further support the documentation by respected genealogists of that area that Bryan O'Connelly, an Irish immigrant, was the father of John Conley and the grandfather of John Wesley Conley. Also, family records of William Connelly, document that Caleb Bowman was a descendant of Groves Bowman, William Conley, and John Conley. Other family records document that Mary Conley, born in 1776, and the daughter of John Connelly and Jane Ballew Connelly, married Groves Bowman in 1796. The oldest son of Captain John Conley, William (born in 1774), continued to use the name Connelly; however, many of his descendants, including Pickens, used the name Conley. William Lewis Connelly of Connelly's Springs did not use the name Conley, although he was a brother of Pickens Conley.
Any reference to the ancestors of John Wesley Conley would be incomplete without recognition of the extraordinary qualities of his mother, Jane Ballew Conley. She had eleven children, four of whom were born near the time of the American War of Independence, and all lived to be adults; she maintained a home near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and in an area not far from the frontier and the Cherokee Nation. The settlers in that area were required to fight both the British and the Indians. She resided in the North Carolina back country while her husband was often absent in service with the Militia, a fact which would not endear her to either the Indians or the British. In 1781, the British troops led by general Cornwallis, following defeat at King's Mountain, marched into the western counties of North Carolina near the Catawba River. His troops moved into this area prior to turning east to engage in the battle at Guilford's Courthouse in March of 1781, where the British enjoyed initial victory followed by heavy losses. With three small children in the home, crops in the field, restless Indians to the west, British troops approaching from the south and east, and a husband engaged in battles in various areas of North Carolina, Jane Conley's thoughts of a country free from British taxation would have been replaced by prayers and hopes for survival. In the Spring of 1781, Jane Conley most likely failed to notice the majestic beauty of the fertile valleys bordering the Catawba River not far from the Ble ridge Mountains. Colonial troops, aided by North Carolina Militia, drove the British into southern Virginia where they surrendered later that year at Yorktown. Following the War, Captain John
Conley, although he remained in the local Militia, was at home frequently enough to assist Jane in adding eight additional children to the three who had survived the hardships of War. Their fourth child and the first to be born following the War was John Wesley Conley. Jane Conley's devotion to family, strength of character, and willingness to engage in hard work are attributes which Conley women have possessed for several generations. Her accomplishments appear to be even more remarkable in view of the fact that she was illiterate as evidenced by her application for a Revolutionary War pension signed by her mark, "X".
More About John Connelly: Date born 2: August 01, 1744, IRE/PENNSYLVANIA.164 Burial: Unknown, Methodist Church Cemetery near Sevier and North Cove in McDowell County North Carolina. Died 2: July 16, 1826, BURKE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA.164 Fact 1: Capt. in Amer.Rev. War.165 Fact 2: July 03, 1844, Pension Declaration.165
More About John Connelly and Jane Ballew: Marriage 1: August 1772, Rowan County, North Carolina.165 Marriage 2: August 1773, ROWAN CO., N.C..166