Anthony Rogers – A Tory from the Kingdom of the original Tories?

Last week, while celebrating Independence Day, I decided to poke around the American Revolution, learning more about the War and my ancestors’ varied roles in it. I started out by looking some more for the origins of my Loyalist ancestor, Anthony Rogers, and I quickly went off on a very interesting tangent that took me somewhere new to me – Medieval Ireland.

I have always used the term “Loyalist” in searches for Anthony Rogers, because that is the label favored by Loyalists. I have always heard him described as a Loyalist, and that is how I think of him. It is a nice word. But, it finally occurred to me to use the term that was used derisively by the Patriots, “Tory.” I could not believe what I found!

Off the northern coast of Ireland, in County Donegal, there is an island about 3 miles long called Tory Island, and it is inhabited by less than 200 people, a significant portion of whom are named Rogers! [1] No, I am not kidding, dreaming, or hallucinating. The island is largely populated by the remnants of an ancient Donegal clan, whose Gaelic name, Ruarí [2] or MacRuardhri, [3] or O’Ruardhri, [4] or Roarty [5] has been Anglicized to “Rogers,” and sometimes “Rodgers.” But wait! It gets even better. The name “Anthony Rogers” is currently popular there, having been preceded by “Anton Rogers.” [6] The current King of Tory Island is a man named Patsy Dan
Rodgers, or Patsaí Dan Mac Ruaidhrí. [7]

Could my ancestor, Anthony Rogers, be related to these Celts named Rogers who still
primarily speak Gaelic? Could this American Tory’s forefathers have come to America from the place that historian Robin Fox believes to be the genesis of the political term, “Tory?” [8] I dont’t know. But I believe it unlikely that he is related to a number of other New England Rogerses that I have explored: Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower; the New London Descendants of St. John Rogers the martyr; James Rogers who founded Rogers Rangers; the British scholar John Rogers of Boston whose son became president of Harvard University. “Rogers” is one of the most
popular surnames in the British Isles, but if my ancestor is part of the Donegal clan whose name was Anglicized to “Rogers,” then he is not even distantly connected to the other New World Brits named Rogers.

Fox’s meticulous genealogies in the excerpt from his book only go back to 1830, and my ancestor Anthony Rogers was born in the 1730s in the New World. If he is from this people with one leg in the past, it may be difficult to find answers. But for now, I am busying myself searching for any records of 16th, 17th, or early 18th century immigrants from Ireland, especially with any of the Gaelic variations of the Rogers name, and I am trying to educate myself a little bit about the political and social forces at work in Donegal at the time, to determine whether, why, and
how, someone from “the Celtic fringe,” as Fox calls it, might travel, or be sent, to the British colonies in the New World. I have found nothing so far, but that could just be due to my ignorance about where to look.

Before I leave this topic, I want to share Robin Fox’s beautiful words about the name of the island:

tory text 1
tory text 2
tory text 3
tory text 4
tory text 5

[1] The Tory Islanders: A People on the Celtic Fringe, 1978, by Robin Fox,

[2] ibid.


[4] The Book of Irish Families, Great & Small, by Michael C. o’Laughlin,


[6] Fox book. See genealogy charts.


[8] Fox book. Prologue.

[9] ibid.



Tory Island cottage and its inhabitants, c. 1892


Map showing the Irish-speaking areas which have been the object of major studies by scholars over the past century or so.


Did great-great Grandpa Meek run off with a Revival?

My Dad has always said that his great-grandfather on his father’s side abandoned his wife and children and ran off with a traveling revival. That is the family legend. Dad knew his great grandfather’s name to be Charles Wesley Meek, and Dad’s great-grandmother was Martha Ellen Clark Meek.

Charles Wesley Meek and Martha Ellen Clark were both born in Indiana and they had 4 children together between 1870 and 1885, all born in Indiana: Alonzo, 1870; Dad’s grandfather, John Henry Meek born in 1872, [1] ; Frank, 1880; and twins Ora and Cora, 1885. [2] My Dad has mentioned Ora and Cora.

My great-great grandparents were married in Indiana on Sep. 25, 1869 [3]. In 1870, “Wesley” Meek, 25, and “Ellen” Meek, 22,  were living in Decatur County Indiana, next door to Hiram and Polly A. Clark and their children. [4]. I believe Wesley and Ellen to be my newlywed great-great grandparents, and I believe this Clark family to be her parents and siblings.

These are the only facts I have found that I can attribute to my Meek great-great grandparents with any degree of certainty. I have found some other records that may very well be my great-great grandfather, but because many people share the same name, I cannot make any assumptions. I have used each of them as leads to try to find out more, but so far, nothing. He may have taken another wife named Annie and moved to Michigan. He may have been living without his family as a border in Indiana in 1880, but the twins were born five years after 1880. He may have been living in a community of 3 large Meek households in Indiana in 1860. But if that was him, then he later gave an inconsistent age and place of his parents’ birth.

My Uncle, Don Meek also did a lot of research looking for his great grandfather, and he participated in a DNA project involving the surname “Meek.” Still grieving his death, I have not gone back over his research to follow up on anything he may have discovered. I did recently contact the DNA project and advise them of Don’s passing, and they informed me that his DNA did not match any of the other groups of Meeks in their project, and specifically, it did not match the ancestor that Don believed most likely to be his.

My family bears the Meek surname that we inherited from Charles Wesley Meek, but his branch is the shortest In my family tree and he is the most elusive of my ancestors. I don’t know where he came from, nor where he went when he disappeared. As for the family legend, I have been skeptical ever since I learned that it is a common genealogy joke- every family has a legend of an ancestor who ran off with a traveling salvation show. (They also say that everybody has an ancestor who jumped ship off of a German freighter, and I have one of those too!) I have considered many possibilities for Charles Wesley Meek- murdered, tragic accident and body never found, insanity, amnesia, bigamy, secret life of crime, another identity. Who knows. How would they know he left with the revival anyway if he just disappeared?

This week, while researching a different issue, I learned something that shed new light on this legend and on my family mystery. I learned that the holiness movement geared up in the United States with Methodists in the mid-19th century, and a holiness revival took place in 1865-1880, especially in Indiana. The revival consisted of traveling camp meetings that were extremely popular, attracting tens of thousands of people to a single meeting. Eventually, the holiness movement took on a life of its own. It split the Methodists into several denominations, gave birth to a whole slew of new holiness denominations, and it was the genesis of the Pentecostal movement. It was a big deal in American Protestantism, and Indiana was the epicenter. A German immigrant in Indianapolis walked away from his job one morning to join the Holiness movement, and he teamed up with a friend who claimed a similar calling from God. The immigrant was asked by his Bishop to travel to Chile, which he and others did. This German immigrant and his friends were responsible for an ensuing revival in that Country. All of this tells me a couple of things. First, it shows me that Wesley and Ellen Meek lived in a place and time where the family legend could be true. Second, it could explain why so many families have such a legend.

I shall get to the bottom of this mystery.

[1] Florida State Census 1935, John Henry Meek

[2] 1900 Federal Census shows “Ellen” Jones and her second husband named Jones, and the 4 Meek “step” children ages 29, 27, 20, and 15

[3] Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941

[4] 1870 Federal Census, Decatur County, Indiana

Where did the name ‘Cone’ in my family tree come from?

Last week a friend/ cousin asked me a question in the “Knight Family Connections” Facebook page. She asked me if I knew where the name “Cone” in our family tree came from. It got me to go poking around, and I found the wonderful and surprising answer. At least, I found the most likely answer anybody has, and it is wonderful and surprising.

I spent some time researching the ancestry of my 5th great grandfather, William Cone (b. 1745 Haddam, Middlesex, Ct. d. 1816 Ivanhoe, Bulloch, Georgia.) He is a celebrated Revolutionary War Captain, and an ancestor of my grandmother, Aileen Knight Haberman. I have been curious about his birthplace for a couple of reasons. First, I had seen some conflicting information. Most sources said that he was born in Connecticut, but I had seen some indication that he might have hailed from North Carolina like his wife, Keziah Barber. I wanted to straighten that out. Second, because he was connected to my Knight family and he fought with a Georgia regiment in the Revolution, I thought of him as a Georgian. Virtually all of my ancestors in the Knight/ Speir branch of my family come from Georgia pioneers who come from Carolina pioneers who come from Virginia pioneers. In other words, they are Southerners from day one. It seemed strange to see “Connecticut” in the midst of them.

It didn’t take long to find the best answer anybody has found so far. Very early in my search, I discovered “Some Account of the Cone Family in America Principally of the Descendants of Daniel Cone who Settled in Haddam Connecticut in 1662” by William Whitney Cone, 1903. My 5th great grandfather was indeed born in Haddam, Ct., and my ancestor Daniel Cone was one of the original settlers of Haddam in 1662. Page 118 of the 1903 book lists Aaron Cone, baptized Feb 2, 1734, a grandson of Daniel Cone. Daniel was the first of this Cone line in America. After Aaron’s name the book states, “Son William moved to Virginia,” and that son is most likely my 5th Great Grandfather. In the Library of Congress version of this book (but not the Google Play version) there is a handwritten note in pencil on p.118 under the information about Aaron’s son William moving to Virginia. It says, “see page 483 (6481.)” Then, on page 483 of the book, we find that my 5th ggf, William Cone is 6481. His entry contains all of the information we know to be true of him, including that his daughter, Sarah, married William Knight. They are my 4th great grandparents, the parents of William Cone Knight, who is the father of Aaron W. Knight, who is the father of my Great Granddad Joe Knight.

I have saved the most interesting for last. Just where did the name Cone come from? Well, there are other Cones, but in this line, it all starts with Daniel in 1657. He is mentioned in a correspondence from the Governor of Connecticut in that year, but before that, Daniel Cone does not exist. He had to have come from somewhere, but William Whitney Cone, in 1903, could find no record of the name Daniel Cone in the American Colonies, nor in other lands before 1657. The name Daniel Cone does not appear on any ship’s passenger list. It is as if he simply materialized in 1657 out of thin air.

I am not about to tell you that I descended from aliens from outer space. The truth, as usual, is much more plausible, and thus, much more interesting. Most Cone family researchers believe that Daniel Cone was born in Edinburg, Scotland in 1626, served in the Scottish Army, and came to America in November of 1651 aboard the ‘John and Sarah’ with other Scottish prisoners of war captured by Cromwell in the battles of Dunbar (1650) and Worcester (1651) and shipped to the colonies as indentured servants. A passenger listed as Daniel Machoe was one of the prisoners of war aboard the ‘John and Sarah’ when it sailed from Gravesend, England to Charles Town, MA, via Barbados, and this brave Scotsman was most likely the man who emerged as Daniel Cone when his indenture was complete.

There is always more to discover, and this attempt to tell the Cone story feels like changing the wheel on a moving car. Even as I write this I am discovering that another descendant has published a book in 2010 called “A Man Named Daniel: The Remarkable Life of Daniel Cone.” The author, Joseph Cone, is a graduate of Yale and the University of Oregon and is a faculty member at Oregon State University. This is his third book. He claims that Daniel, as a prisoner of war, was indentured to the most prominent Puritan family of early New England, the Winthrops, and that Daniel is mentioned in a number of primary source documents that prove Daniel’s history in New England and in his native Scotland. I look forward to learning more about this slice of history- Britain’s, America’s, and my family’s history.

Getting Started

The Coming of the Loyalists, by Henry Sandham

The Coming of the Loyalists, by Henry Sandham

Well, my family history website is off to a good start. I am going to try to put a little something on most of the pages before I announce it to the family and give them the link, so that they will have something to look at when they visit.

I am going to use this page as a genealogy blog. This week, in addition to the exciting work of getting this site going, I have worked on a couple of things. I will describe one here and save the other for another post.

I have spent quite a bit of time this week searching for the parents of my 5th great grandfather Anthony Rogers, b. 1731 Simsbury, Hartford, CT, d. 1794 North Esk, New Brunswick, Canada. Anthony Rogers was a British Loyalist in the American Revolution, and in 1782 he relocated to Canada with at least one son, Edward Rogers, leaving his wife Zilpha Holcombe Rogers and his eldest son James Rogers behind. Edward had a son Anthony, who had a son George, who had a daughter Alice, who was the mother of my grandfather, John Rogers “Jack” Haberman. There is a lot of information available in the US about Zilpha Holcombe’s family, and there is a lot of information about Anthony Rogers in Canada. But I want to find out where Anthony came from, and what happened to Zilpha. Some of the information in Canada states that she died in Ct in 1776, but I find that suspicious. Other information states that she was too ill to travel so Anthony had to leave her behind, and leave James to care for her. I don’t know whether that is fact or just a nice legend. What I know for a fact is that Anthony went to Canada from New York and Zilpha was not with him.

I recently discovered that there was a Rogers on the Mayflower, but a little poking around revealed that it is unlikely that my Anthony descended from him. Drat! I would love to inform my mother that she won the grand prize of genealogical research in the United States, that being Mayflower lineage, and that she is connected through her father, a naturalized American citizen from Canada, who hails from a community of British Loyalists who left the colonies during the American Revolution. The irony would be absolutely delicious!

But I am most motivated to find out who Anthony’s parents were, however they got here, so when the Mayflower connection proved unlikely, I looked elsewhere, namely, in Connecticut. There is a Rogers family of New London, Connecticut that looked promising. Their clan contains a lot of the same given names that my Canada clan bears: George, Edward, John. The Rogerses of the Mayflower do not. This family is descended from St. John Rogers the Martyr of England, and, for better or worse, they founded the religious sect, the Rogerenes in New England.

This week, I found a book, “James Rogers of New London, Ct: And His Descendants” by James Swift Rogers. 1902. I went all through this book and there was not a single Anthony Rogers, and certainly not my Anthony Rogers.

So, I have reached a dead end. But that just makes the challenge all the more exciting. My ancestor Anthony Rogers, Loyalist, had parents, and I will find them.