Early Innis Ancestors

Story by Fred Gahimer


Innes was the name applied to the land on which a man named Berowald settled, and throughout the following six centuries, its ownership descended from chief to chief in the lineage of the family Innes, later Innis.  The first to assume Innes as a surname was Walter, grandson of Berowald, about 1226 A.D., and thus he could be considered the progenitor of all the Inneses.
The land of Innes lies from the northern coast of Scotland south between the Rivers Lossie and Spey.  The town of Elgin is on the River Lossie.
Some of the significant events involving the Inneses include:
  • John Innes, Bishop of Moray, rebuilt the beautiful Elgin Cathedral after the “Wolf of Badenoch”, brother of King Robert II, burned it in the mid-15th century.
  • Sir James Innes, 12th chief, was Esquire to James III, and entertained James IV with much pomp at the Castle of Innes in 1490.
  • After Mary Stuart was forced to abdicate her throne in 1567 to her infant son James VI, he, at the age of twelve in 1578 took the sceptor of government, and the following year the Inneses were recognized as a “clan” by the Privy Council.
  • In the early part of the 17th century, Robert Innes of Innermarkie bought a castle, named “Balvenie”.  Robert had a difficult time during the next few years defending himself against his unruly neighbors, but his ability was obviously recognized, for in 1628 he was made a baronet of Nova Scotia.  Balvanie Castle was often the scene of fighting during the 17th century.  In 1635 the district was continuously under attack by the Macgregors and in 1644, after the Battle of Fyvie, the Marquis of Montross marched to Balvenie to allow his men a few days rest out of reach of Argyll’s cavalry.  Five years later a band of Royalists were defeated at Balvenie; 80 were killed and nearly 900 taken as prisoners.  amongst them was probably Sir Walter Innes, the owner of the castle.  In 1658 Balvanie had to be sold to Colonel Sutherland of Kinminity to pay the debts incurred by the Innes family in the Civil War.  The castle was still standing in 1993, and was open to the public.
  • When Charles II was recalled from Holland to assume the throne after Charles I was beheaded, he embarked for Scotland.  On June 23, 1650, he landed at the mouth of the River Spey, on the eastern edge of the Lands of Innes, and was ceremoniously received by Sir Robert, Laird of Innes and 20th chief from Berowald, and his wife, Lady Grizel.  The King then dined at the Innes House, built in 1640-53 by Robert, where, in the presence of the clergy of Moray, he subscribed to the Solemn League and Covenant.
  • In 1690, Father Lewis Innes was the Jacobite Secretary of State for Scotland.
  • By the end of the 18th century, the “seats”, or estates of the separate branches of the family of Innes in Ireland and Scotland exceeded 67.


Francis and Margery (Milliken) Innes emigrated to America from Scotland, and settled in the Tuscarora Valley in the central mountains of Pennsylvania in what became Lack Township in Mifflin County.
After many settlers had come into the valley, the Indians formed an uprising in 1756 and attacked them.  On June 11th or 12th, 1756, Bingham’s Fort, the stockaded home of Samuel Bingham was attacked and burned by a band of Indians led by the Delaware chief. King Beaver. All the occupants of the fort were either killed or captured.
On the day of the attack, John Gray and Francis Innis were returning from Carlisle, where they had gone for salt. As they were descending the Tuscarora Mountain, in a narrow defile, Gray’s horse taking fright at a bear which crossed the road, became unmanageable and threw him off. Innis, anxious to see his wife and family, went on, but Gray was detained for nearly two hours in catching his horse and righting his pack. John Gray’s detention saved him from death or capture. In the meantime, Innis pressed on rapidly toward the fort.
Many of the settlers were killed, and many, including the Innes family, were taken captive.  At that time Francis and Margery had three children, Jane, Nathaniel, and an infant, Mary. Francis was taken away and separated from his family.  As was customary with Indian Captives, Francis had to run a gauntlet of stones, sticks, and clubs by which the Indians tested the mettle of their captives.  Francis passed the gauntlet and was put to hard labor.  However, when the Sabbath came, he refused to work.  The Indians did not understand his religious convictions, and prepared to burn him at the stake.  A French trader happened by, and bargained for Francis’ release for a ransom after Francis promised to work for him until it was repaid.  He thus left with the trader to ply the St. Lawrence to Montreal and back.
Meanwhile, Margery and the children were suffering terribly.  Like Francis, she too had to run the gauntlet, and was stabbed in one of her breasts with a stick, though not fatally.  It was a bitterly cold winter with little food or warmth.  Little Mary’s feet had frozen, and the pain caused her to cry almost constantly despite all efforts of Margery.  The Indians soon tired of the crying, and chopped a hole in the ice of the Monongahela River and pushed little Mary into the hole to drown, while Margery wailed for mercy.  The hunger became so bad that the the Indians, upon hearing that a trader’s boat was approaching on the St. Lawrence River, decided to beg food from the trader.  They took Margery along, thinking that the trader might be more receptive if a white woman did the begging.  Francis was on the boat with the trader, and when he saw Margery, pleaded with the trader to give the Indians anything they wanted in exchange for Margery, and he promised to work until he repaid the ransom.  The Indians agreed, and Francis and Margery were reunited.  The children had been taken into the wilderness by the Indians.
Francis and Margery went with the trader on the boat to Montreal, where Francis continued to work off the ransom.  In February of 1758, they had a son, James, and in May, the ransom was paid, and the trader, true to his word, freed Francis and family to return home.  With the infant, James, in their arms, or carried by Margery papoose-style, they walked southward, following the trail along Lake Champlain, Lake St. George, the Hudson River, to New York City, and then across New Jersey to Philadelphia.  They finally returned to their home in the Tuscarora Valley, and with the other returning settlers, rebuilt their homesteads.  They had no news of the fate of Jane and Nathaniel.
Six years after the first uprising, Pontiac, the great Ottawa chief, began to stir up another war, and bloodshed began again.  When the Indian threat seemed imminent in the valley, the settlers crowded into the small fort there.  One night an Indian approached the fort.  The settlers were frightened and wanted to shoot him, but a trader, Sterrit, wanted to hear what he had to say.  The Indian reminded Sterrit that he was the Indian whom Sterrit had given food when he was hungry, and he had come to repay the favor.  He said that a large Indian war party was approaching, and that they should flee.  They did, and went to the next county, Cumberland,  The Indians came the next night, and finding the fort empty, burned it to the ground, and left a war-club painted red, to signify war, in a path in front of the fort.
The Indian war was finally ended in 1764 when English Col. Henry Bouquet and his army performed a brilliant maneuver which fooled the Indians and led to their total defeat.  As part of the peace agreement, Col. Bouquet demanded that all captives of the Indians be released within 12 days.
Francis traveled to Philadelphia to search among the released captives for his children.  It was hard for the settlers and the children who were captured very young to recognize each other after 8 years apart.  It was Jane who recognized her father, and told him that Nathaniel was among the group also, but that another family had claimed him and was preparing to leave with him.  Francis found the family and challenged their right to Nathaniel, and proved it by a hidden scar on Nathaniel’s body.  The family agreed and Francis’ entire family was together at last, except for little Mary.
It took some time for the youngest captives to become acclimated to civilization, since they had spent most of their lives with the Indians.  Some never did, and escaped to return to the wild.  Nathaniel slowly resumed life with his family, but for several years, he would at certain times of the year run outside and engage in some Indian dance to invoke the spirits for some purpose.  Both he and Jane eventually married and had families.
In addition to Jane, Nathaniel, Mary, and James, Francis and Margery had two more children, Elizabeth and Francis, Jr.  Nothing is known about Elizabeth, so it is assumed that she died at an early age.  All three sons served at least some time in the Revolutionary War, and Francis, Jr. Served through the entire war, including Valley Forge and Yorktown.


James was born in February 1758 while his parents were in Montreal, Canada, and Francis was working off the ransom the French trader had paid for he and his wife to the Indians.  Except for the brief period that the settlers had to go to the next county (Cumberland) to escape Pontiac’s Indian uprising, James spent the rest of his life in the Tuscarora Valley of Pennsylvania.
James obtained his education in the township schools.  In 1778, the Lack Township assessor declared James a “Freeman” (bachelor) and he thus owed a tax of one pound, ten shillings, quite a sum in those days.  James lost no time in marrying, at age 21, Ann Arbuckle, daughter of William Arbuckle, a nearby family who was the tax assessor in 1768, and had settled in the valley with a warrant for 100 acres dated Feb. 4, 1755.
In 1779, James was settled on 75 acres, with a horse for sure footed labor or transportation, and one cow for milk.  For Ann Innis, married life began on an uncertain note.  The Revolutionary War raged in the East, and periodic calls for James’ militia unit drew him away from home on several occasions.
Farming must have been a bit tough for James to handle in 1780.  There was the Militia duty, and the birth of his first child, a son, who they named for the infant’s grandfather, Francis.  James’ farm land had decreased to 50 acres, on which he had just one horse.  But soon there were more family needs, and more mouths to feed.  1782 brought James’ and Ann’s second son, William, into the world.  The farm was expanding again, with 99 acres, a horse, and two cows.  By 1785, a year after the birth of Elizabeth, their first daughter, the Innis farm covered 100 acres, and depended on two horses and cows.  In the next few years, James made no attempt to increase his acreage, and it appears he was sharing some of his father’s land, probably because of concern about the aging Francis’ abilities to handle the responsibilities alone.  On Jan. 2, 1795, Francis deeded a portion of his land to James, amounting to 233 acres, 63 perches.
By 1790, James was the father of two more sons, Samuel, in 1786, and James, in 1789.  At two-year intervals, Ann added four more sons to the family:  John, 1792;  Alexander, 1794; Nathaniel, 1796; and Joseph, 1798.  The last child, Ann, was born in 1801.
By 1801, James’ widowed mother, Margery, was living with his family of eight sons and two daughters.
The year 1801 also marked the organization of McCoysville’s United Presbyterian Church, of which James was ordained as one of the first Elders.  He was a Democrat in politics.
Sometime in the next few years, the family was grieved by the death of their wife and mother, Ann Arbuckle Innis.  Her grave, presuming she was interred in the Presbyterian cemetery that had been established in a corner of the farm, was marked, at most, by a smooth stone.  There are several such chunks of native rock standing to the right of James’ tombstone, which could be Francis, Margery, Ann, and perhaps Ann’s parents.  No epitaph was engraved, but we must conclude that they are buried there.  After their struggles to win this land from the wilderness and the Indians, would their families have the heart to bury them anywhere else?
After Ann’s death, James married Isabella Oliver, who had come from her native Ireland before 1790, on May 8, 1806.  The children born to this marriage were:  Sarah, Mary, Isabella, Robert, Jane, Ebenezer, and Nancy.
By about 1818, James family began to disperse.  The older sons went to Brown County, Ohio, the rest by the first wife to Rush County, Indiana.  In 1820, only Samuel, Joseph, and Ann of James’ older children remained at home with his second family.
His 68 years were becoming too much of a burden for James.  “Being in a frail Steat of body but of sound mind and Memory”, on April 11, 1826, he made his last will and testament, dictating it to an unidentified writer, but signing it with his own shaking hand.  Despite the care of Doctor Joseph Kelly, he died at home on Oct. 21, 1826.  Grave clothes were purchased from Joseph Laird, and his body was laid to rest in the cemetery on the edge of the farm, on the road to McCoysville.  A slab of white marble was placed to mark James’ grave bearing these words:
memory of
who departed this life Oct. 1826
Aged 75 years (an error)
His parents being taken captive by the
French and Indians at Bingham Fort,
he was born in Montreal
He served two terms in the Revolutionary War.
After peace was declared was brought back
by his parents and there resided until his
death and died a believer in Christ.”
The will was presented for probate on Nov. 22, 1826.  The following is a summary of the will:
To his wife, Isabella, he gave her choice of “one horse creature”, two cows, and six sheep, her choice of one bed and bedding, one table and table furniture, his bureau, and their house for her and the children’s use, or for her exclusive use if they should leave her.  She also was to have for her exclusive use yearly twenty bushels of wheat, ten bushels of rye or Indian corn, one hundred-weight each of beef and of pork, at all times pasturage and forage for her “creatures”, half a bushel of flaxseed sown on good ground, and to have wood and water from the place as needed.
Next, James gave to sons Francis and William, $25 each; to Nathaniel, $20; to James, John, Alexander, and Joseph, $50 each; to Elizabeth, $5; to Anne, $20; to son Samuel, “…a decent Mintenance of food and clothing During his natural life from off the place whereon I now live”; to daughters Sarah, Isabella, Jane, and Nancy, $200 each; to Robert and Ebenezer, all the remainder of the estate, real and personal, to be equally divided between them.
Robert and Ebenezer were to pay and perform all the above bequests out of the real estate, in the following manner: one year after the youngest child became of age, they were to pay their half-brothers and sisters, and at the end of another year, to pay their sisters Sarah, Isabella, Jane, and Nancy each $50, and so on yearly until they had paid each of them the sum of $200.  If land “continued to fall in value” so that Robert and Ebenezer might have desired to leave, then they were to go equal shares with their full-sisters.  James allowed for a sale of his movable properties to pay any debts.  He suggested that if any of the stock could be spared, the family might attempt to farm the place, but if not, then it must be rented out, its produce to go to support the family.  He added that, if the produce and circumstances permitted , the younger children should receive an education equal to that had by the older ones, without lessening their shares in the estate.
There was no time lost before the sale of surplus livestock and grain from James’ farm.  The bill of the vendue, held Nov. 16, 1826, shows receipts totaling $512.78, for the following items:  2 sows, 9 hogs, 8 calves, 5 heifers, 8 cows, 1 bull, 4 steers, 1 mare, 1 horse, 3 colts, 200 bushels of wheat, and 60 bushels of corn.  When other monies had come in, and debts and administration costs paid, the balance remaining in the accounts of the estate on Jan. 23, 1828 was $302.18, subject to distribution to heirs according to law.
By 1830, all the older children of James and Ann Innis had left their home except Samuel.  Five of his half-brothers and -sisters also remained with their mother, Isabella, to maintain the family farm.  About 1840, if the directives of James’ will were properly carried out, Robert and Ebenezer should have begun the cash distributions.
On Mar. 2. 1831, the land of the ancestral farm, and the surrounding Tuscarora Valley, was included in the founding of a new county, called “Juniata”, taken from the eastern part of Mifflin County.
In Sep. 1850, the census of Beale Township of Juniata County shows that Robert and Ebenezer had continued to live on the farm, valued at $7000, under Robert’s management, with their wives and children.  Ebenezer must have maintained the larger of the two homes, since Samuel, Isabella, and Nancy lived with him.
The year 1851 must have been a strain on Isabella’s emotions, as illnesses claimed the lives of three of her children, Robert, Isabella, and Jane, and Ebenezer’s wife, Ann.  The following year Robert’s widow, Jane, died also.
As a result of a new law in 1855, Isabella received a veteran’s widow’s compensation in the form of a warrant for 160 acres on Dec. 24, 1857, and on Dec. 10, 1858, Ebenezer warranted 60 acres in his own right.  The family farm, in later years, consisted of about 230 acres, so we must assume that a large measure of land that had belonged to James before his death had been sold in the meantime.
In 1859, Ebenezer built a new house on the Innis farm.  It was the third house known on the property, the first was a log cabin situated northeast of the present house, by a good spring of water;  the second stood to the right of the present one, closer to the road to the west, and was a long, narrow, shed-like building.
Isabella Innis outlived her son, Ebenezer, his wife and young son Robert and his wife, and stepson Samuel, while she shared the home with her family until death also claimed her on Dec.  17, 1864 at age 86.  She was buried in the family plot, by the road to McCoysville, with a well-carved tombstone to mark the spot.


Alexander Innis was born on Tuesday, Sep. 2, 1794, the seventh child and sixth son of James and Ann Innis.  He resided on the family’s Tuscarora Valley, Pennsylvania, farm until he was about 21, during which he must have been a bright and eager pupil, probably in the local schools.  He joined his brothers in their western migration, but paused in southern Ohio to become one of Brown County’s pioneer school teachers in his early twenties.
One of his schools was on the Pangburn Farm about 1820; another on the William Wall place, taught probably in 1819.  The first schools were held in deserted cabins; but in a few years, most neighborhoods built houses for school purposes, though of rude character.
On July 30, 1818, Alexander married Christiana Kirkpatrick at the home of her father, Andrew Kirkpatrick, in Wilmington, Ohio.
Alexander sought a place in Rush County, Indiana, wanting “good ground that had no ‘drift’ in the trees”.  They moved there from Ohio by wagon, Christiana walking a great deal and carrying their first child, James, because the jolting of the wagon made him sick.  Alexander didn’t have their house finished, so they had to live in the wagon temporarily.  Christiana’s parents had given them a team of two bred mares, two bred sheep, a bred cow, and sows for their wedding present.  They were well prepared for married life.  They settled in Anderson Township, Rush County, Indiana, near Milroy.
They raised seven children:  James, Elizabeth, Andrew, William Wilson, Ellen (or Eleanor), John, and Lucinda.  Alexander is said to have provided each of his children with parcels of land at the time of their marriages.
Alexander and family attended the Bethesda and Richland United Presbyterian Churches in the 1830’s, where he was clerk of the Sessions at times.  He was Elder of the Springhill church in 1830.  He and Christiana became charter members of the Milroy United Presbyterian Church on Oct. 15, 1835.  Alexander made his living by farming until death claimed him, at age 85, on June 9, 1879.
Isabella Farlow recalled, “My great-grandmother, Christiana, came to live with us at the place where my brother, John Frazier, now lives.  On her 83rd birthday all the relatives gathered in the celebration.  It was the most wonderful occasion I had ever experienced.  On her 84th birthday, her grandson Robert Innis brought his family and spent the day.  On her 85th birthday her final illness set in, and she lingered until April.  The Bible in which Alexander had written very concise obituaries was at our house while Christiana lived (for six years).”
Christiana’s death came on April 27, 1886, like Alexander, at the age of 85.  She and Alexander are buried in the Milroy Cemetery with a fine, arched monument, with her father, Andrew Kirkpatrick, buried nearby.

Jesse Boyd and Lucinda Innis

Story by Fred Gahimer

Jesse was the son of Capt. John Boyd and Maria Veder, and was born in Rushville in 1830. In 1852, he married Lucinda Innis, daughter of Alexander and Christiana Innis. Lucinda’s parents gave them 40 acres of one corner of their farm north of Milroy as a wedding gift because they wanted her to live close to them. There Jesse built their home.

For more information about Jesse’s younger years, see this story. For more information about Lucinda’s younger years, see this story.

They had nine children: William Marshall, Hervey Alexander, Laura Ellen, John Franklin, Emma Irene, James Sidney, Charles Elbert, Christi Anna, and Frederick Burton.

Jesse was a carriage and buggy builder by trade, and constructed his shop on their home place. When the children grew older, he wanted them to have an education, so he bought a small farm for the boys, and built himself a large factory. In the 1879 Rush County Atlas, Jesse is shown owning 34 acres on the southeast corner of Rushville, south of the Big Flat Rock River, and east of State Road 52. Jesse was at least successful enough to give his children a chance to go to school. Two of his sons stayed in the factory with him, later building automobiles.

Jesse once perfected a double-shovel corn plow, which is believed to have been the first such device of its kind used. He secured a patent on it, but failed to protect one of the basic principles of his invention, the arch supporting the plows. An enterprising manufacturer of agricultural implements recognized the weakness of the original patent, and put out a plow which covered the principle, and made a fortune which might have otherwise gone to Jesse.

Lucinda attended the American Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, where it rained, and she got a cold. According to her daughter, Anna, that began her final illness. She died on March 4, 1884 at age 49.

Jesse died June 29, 1911, at Rushville. Jesse and Lucinda are buried in the southeast corner of Section 4 of East Hill Cemetery in Rushville with many of their children, including Emma Irene (Boyd) Gruell.