Erie County (PA) Genealogy
Smith Family 2nd Generation - Venango Twp. - Nancy
Contributed by Susan Smith
The information below was written and submitted by Susan Smith. It is based on 20 plus years of research on the Thomas Smith family who settled in Venango Township in 1802. Thomas and his wife, Sarah, had 12 children with 9 of them remaining in the Erie area. Susan hopes that her contribution of detailed information about one of the SMITH families will help other SMITH researchers. Below is the 'story' of one of the children. Any comments or questions about the article or this family should be sent directly to Susan.
#4. Nancy SMITH was born on 29 Sep 1788 in Westmoreland Co., PA; the 3rd child and the oldest daughter of Thomas and Sarah Smith. Nancy died on 18 Aug 1858 in Venango, Erie Co., PA; and is buried in Lowville Cem, Erie Co., PA. By October of 1808, she had married David MCNAIR. When her father, Thomas wrote his will, 16 Oct 1808, he named her as Nancy McNair. David McNair was born in 1774 in Lough-a-Brin, near Castle Bann, Ulster Co. Ireland; died on 14 Apr 1851 in Venango Erie Co. PA; buried in Lowville Cemetery Erie Co. PA.
The family story handed down from his children says his father was Robert McNair, born in Scotland and, skilled in the art of fencing. He drilled cavalrymen in swordmanship in the service of the Crown. Later he was a weaver and woolen manufacturer. David McNair's grandfather, William McNair was a surgeon who practiced in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Ulster. When David was nine years old he ran away from home, and with the aid of friends took a ship at the port of Londonderry-Moville. He landed in Philadelphia and then went to a little settlement of Ulster Presbyterian families.
According to the 1896 History of Erie County, in 1795 Thomas Rees, surveyor for the state and an agent for the Pennsylvania Population Co, employed as assistant surveyors George Moore and David McNair. Also "David McNair chose 800 acres of the Walnut creek flats, at Kearsarge, besides other extensive tracts. He at one time owned some of the most valuable property in the county, including half of what is now South Erie" " The first beer brewery in the city was built in 1815, by Maj. David McNair, on Turnpike street, near where the Erie City mill was afterward erected. He added a distillery in 1823, and in 1827 built a grist mill on State street, south of the Lake Shore R.R., the motive power for all being furnished by the water of Ichabod run." In 1797 the Pennsylvania Population Co. sent Dunning McNair as an agent to Conneaut township. There are no records to substantiate whether these two McNairs were related and whether this is the same David McNair who married Nancy Smith.
During the War of 1812, David McNair, husband of Nancy Smith, helped build Perry's ships and was a volunteer in the army of General William Henry Harrison at Detroit in the winter of 1812-13. The Pennsylvania Archives war record list his pay $20 from the state and bounty for volunteering and serving an additional 15 days after the expiration of a 6 month tour. He also received payments of $60.50 for hauling and $11 for hospital.
Another family story says, "In his last visit to the United States in 1823, General LaFayette came to Erie, Pennsylvania. There was a great outpouring of citizens from northwest Pennsylvania and adjoining New York and Ohio. On the grand stand in places of honor were seated the soldiers of the Republic: the soldiers of the Revolution and of the War of 1812. The time came when the soldiers filed by LaFayette. He grasped the hand of each, having in mind to give a special greeting to the Revolutionary soldiers, who had served under him. When David McNair clasped the hand of LaFayette, LaFayette asked him in what command he served. David McNair desiring that LaFayette understand that he had not served in the Revolutionary Army, and being embarrassed, said, "I was on the other side then," meaning the other side of the Atlantic. LaFayette, not catching his meaning, threw McNair's hand down with a curse. McNair's face blanched to a pallor; he straightened to his full height and with eyes to the front in silence marched ahead. He had helped to build Perry's fleet in Erie harbor and had left his wife and three little ones in his log cabin in the woods of the Pennsylvania frontier to enlist in the war to wrest back the Northwest Territory lost by the surrender to the British at Detroit. David McNair chose to accept a great insult rather than plead for favor."
Nancy McNair was on the membership list of the Middlebrook Church. David contributed "one day of cattle and 2 horses" and cash to the ministers support. Their home in Venango township, on one of the highest spots in the county was called McNair Hill. The property was on the east side of State 89 on Page Road. Their sons were said to be large, broad shouldered, powerful men with black hair and blue eyes and the daughters all very comely, especially Mary Jane who was considered a beauty. Of twelve children, only three remained in Erie county. The rest settled in Kane county Illinois and one went from there to California during the gold rush of 1849-50 and stayed there.
Children of Nancy Smith and David McNair:
1) Sally H MCNAIR born 7 Jul. 1809 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died 3 Nov. 1878 in Lindina Juneau Co. WI (Lindina is now Mauston). She married William Reuben ROGERS abt 1836 in Erie county PA. William was born 27 May 1811 in Scotland, died 9 May 1886 in Mauston Juneau Co. WI. They are buried in Mauston Cemetery. Sally and William Rogers were in Racine Co., Wis., by the spring of 1837, Walworth Co., WI by 1843 and in Kane Co. IL by 1848. They moved to a farm in Mauston, Wisconsin by 1859. Children of Sally H MCNAIR and William Reuben ROGERS:
2) Eleanor MCNAIR was born 1811 Venango, Erie Co., died 22 Feb. 1846 Greenfield Erie Co. PA. She married James WILSON about 1835-38. James born 14 Mar 1800, died 24 Sept. 1865 Erie PA. Both are buried in Lowville Cemetery Erie PA. James was the brother-in-law of Eleanors aunt Hannah Smith Wilson. They lived on a farm in Greenfield Erie Co PA. The 1850 census shows James, his mother and all the children but John who is listed with Nancy and David McNair, Eleanors parents. Children of Eleanor MCNAIR and James WILSON:
3) Nancy MCNAIR born 14 Sept. 1812 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died 6 Mar 1888 IL. She married Samuel PLATT 24 Mar 1834 Venango, Erie Co. PA. Samuel was born 28 Aug. 1805 in Chautauqua Co. NY, died 13 Apr. 1850. Both are buried in Blackberry Cemetery Elburn Kane Co. IL. His parents were Nehemiah and Anna Platt. His sister Sophia married James Whitehill of Greenfield township. Nancy and Samuel arrived in Kane Co. IL Sept. 30, 1836 in a party with James Smith, Nancys uncle, and family. They homesteaded 324 acres in Blackberry township. Samuel was a well-educated man. His brother-in-law, Dr. Samuel McNair, talked of living in Sams home, surrounded by books belonging to this man of many accomplishments. He lived on a farm in New York state until the age of 20. He was Justice of the Peace, a school director and trustee. After Samuel died, Nancy conducted the farm with the help of Aaron Whitney, son of Aaron and Electa (Leach) Whitney, of Mina Township, Chautauqua Co, N.Y Children of Nancy MCNAIR and Samuel PLATT:
4) Robert MCNAIR Dr. born 27 Nov. 1814 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died 19 Jan 1901 Batavia Kane Co. IL. He married Mary Ann LAKIN 18 Feb. 1844. Robert went Kane Co. in 1837 on the first line boat run from Buffalo to Chicago. He took up a government farm claim in Blackberry Township. After farming for several years, he left because of poor health and returned home to Erie and began the study of medicine in Buffalo. He practiced his profession at Venango, Erie Co. PA for about seven years. In 1860 he went to Boston, Wisconsin. In 1862 he settled in Kane Co. practicing medicine in Maple Park. During his last year, Dr. McNair lived with his son, Dr. O.P. McNair of Elburn. Robert McNair was proud of the fact that he was a relative of Capt. John Paul Jones. He was a personal friend of Horace Greelys. Children of Robert MCNAIR Dr. and Mary Ann LAKIN:
5) Thomas MCNAIR born 6 May 1817 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died 5 May 1891 Kane Co IL. He married Sarah COCHRAN 8 Mar 1845 in Erie Co. PA. Sarah was born 9 Apr. 1825 in Erie Co. PA, died 27 Dec. 1896 IL. In early life he assisted his parents on the farm. He went to Kane Co. IL in 1837, by land, with wagon and teams, in company with a cousin, William Wilson or John C Smith, to Blackberry Township. In 1845 he returned to Erie Pa, married Sarah Cochran and returned to Kane Co. the same year. He added to his original purchase of 100 acres until in 1885 he owned 300 acres. It was a stock and grain farm, with a dairy. In he 1886 took a trip west with his son Fink. The original home of Thomas McNair built in 1839 is still occupied Children of Thomas MCNAIR and Sarah COCHRAN:
6) William MCNAIR born 7 Nov. 1818 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died 22 Aug. 1876 IL. He married Eunice MOSS/MORSE born in NY. William was a sailor before going to Kane Co about 1843/44 where he was a farmer. He volunteered for the 8th Illinois Cavalry Company I, in the Civil War, at the age of 44. The champion boxer of the regiment, he taught boxing to the soldiers when "all was quiet on the Potomac." Children of William MCNAIR and Eunice MOSS\ MORSE:
7) David MCNAIR born 14 Jul. 1819 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died in California before 1887. He married Margaret WARD in 1847 in Kane Co. IL. David was on the Kane Co. tax rolls in 1848. He went to California for the gold rush in 1850. His family is listed on the 1850 Census in Kane Co. with the family of William and Sally Rogers, David's sister. Later he lived in Trinity Center California working in the mining industry We dont know if his family ever joined him in California. On the 1860 Census Kane Co. IL, daughter Fayette, 12 years, is listed with Mrs. Nancy Dewey, a cousin. Fayette stayed in Kane Co. married and died there. Children of David MCNAIR and Margaret WARD:
8) Hannah MCNAIR born 24 Feb. 1821 in Venango, Erie Co. PA. She married George P MILLER about 1838 in Erie Co. PA. George born 13 Sept. 1813 in NY, died 18 May 1892. IL. They are buried in Kaneville Cemetery Kane Co. IL. George and Hannah went to Kane Co. IL from Erie Co. PA before 1847. They had a farm in Kaneville famous for its fruit Children of Hannah MCNAIR and George P MILLER:
9) Samuel MCNAIR Dr. born 8 Feb. 1823 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died 30 Jun. 1898 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Co. MI. He married Anne OSBURN 24 Nov. 1856 in Kane Co. IL. Anne born 15 Dec. 1831 in Ripley Chautauqua Co. NY, died 11 Jan 1909 in Kane Co. IL. They are buried in Blackberry Cemetery Elburn Kane Co. IL. She was the daughter of Platt S. and Mary Ann (Platt) Osborne of Chautauqua Co. NY. Samuel was 21 in 1844 when he went, by sailing vessel on the Great Lakes and by team from Chicago, to Kane county and the home of his brother-in-law, Samuel Platt. What he earned from breaking prairie and other labors, he invested in government land in Kaneville township. In 1856, upon his marriage, he made the first home of his own in Kaneville. He had begun to read medicine in 1850, and in the following year, he attended lectures in Aurora. He would do most reading evenings, writing an outline of the same, and the next day commit it to memory as he followed the plow or rested his team at the end of the furrow. In 1852-53 he was a student in the Cincinnati Medical Institute. In 1856 he entered Rush Medical College receiving his medical degree in 1859. He was the second MD in Blackberry. His office & residence was over McNair & Lewis Drug Store. He was the coroner for 2 years, on the school board 6 years. And helped establish the mill in Elburn. Samuel ran a mercantile business for 20 yrs. And owned 427 acres of farmland and 14 town lots. Children of Samuel MCNAIR Dr. and Anne OSBURN:
10) John Smith MCNAIR born 20 Feb. 1826 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died 12 Sep. 1890 in Corry Erie Co. PA. He is buried in Lowville Cemetery Erie Co. PA. John married Jane BENTON, daughter of Gilbert Benton and Jemima Seavey, 30 Apr. 1856 in Kaneville Kane Co. IL. Jane born in 1832 in Allegheny NY, died in 1902 in Chicago IL. She is buried in Kaneville Cemetery, Kane Co. IL. John was visiting in Kane Co. prior to his 1856 marriage to Jane. He may have accompanied his cousin Thomas Smith and some of Thomas brothers there. Thomas married Janes sister Eliza in 1857. John and Jane returned to Erie Co. after their marriage. When Johns mother died in 1858, he took over the McNair homestead, remaining there most of his life. Jane and John must have divorced sometime in the early 1860's. Jane married Hiram Doty Oct 30, 1866 in Kane Co IL.. Children of John Smith MCNAIR and Jane BENTON:
11) Mary Jane MCNAIR born 2 Sep. 1827, died 25 Jul. 1876 Venango, Erie Co. PA. She married Wareham B WILLIAMS, a doctor in 1849 in Erie Co. PA. Wareham born in 1823, died 19 Jun. 1883. Both are buried in Lowville Cemetery Erie Co. PA. They lived in Wattsburg Erie Co.
12) Harvey MCNAIR born in 1829 in Venango, Erie Co. PA, died in 1893 in Batavia Kane Co. IL. He married Permelia ACRES 21 Jul. 1852 in Batavia Kane Co. IL. Permelia born in 1831 in NY, died in 1852 in Kane Co. IL. He then married her sister Mary Ann ACRES 1 Mar 1856 in IL. Mary Ann born 24 Nov. 1834 in NY. Harvey went to Kane Co. in 1843. He was in the mercantile business and a farmer. During the Civil War he enlisted 12 Sept. 1861 in the 8th ILL Cavalry. Children of Harvey MCNAIR and Permelia ACRES: Mary Dollie MCNAIR died as an infant in Kane Co. IL. Children of Harvey MCNAIR and Mary Ann ACRES: Jed F MCNAIR born on 8 Dec. 1856, died 17 June 1928 IL. He married Mary A Smith, born 1864, died 1928. They lived in Batavia IL
This page originally posted November 2, 2001.
Last updated on Tuesday, February 15, 2016 .
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