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McElveens arrive in Bulloch
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Roger Allen

The surname McElveen has Gaelic origins (Mac Giolla Mhin, or ‘one who was gentle’) from the County Down area of Ireland, where it was also spelled Elveen and Kilvenn. In Ireland, the earliest peoples began using last names (patronymics) and often added Mac to their father's name.

In the early colonial period, the people with the McElveen name also spelled their name McElvy, McElvey, McElvin, and McElvein.

The earliest known American McElveen ancestor, William McElveen, was born in 1745 and died in 1806 in Virginia. He married a woman named Margaret (last name unknown).

Their children were William Emanuel Sr., Henry, James, Jane, Margaret Anne, Thomas, John D., and Moses. William Emanuel Sr. (hereafter referred to as WS) married Susannah Harvey. Their children were James E., Rebecca, William Emanuel, John Daniel, Moses Jackson, and Susan Catherine. You’ll notice the same family names appear repeatedly throughout the generations.

WS's son John Daniels (hereafter JD) married Esther M. (or Nettie) Groover, and their children formed much of the Bulloch County McElveen clan. Then there is WSs son Moses (hereafter MJ) who married Mary E. Stevens. They had the following children: Sarah, Margaret Rebecca, Susan Francis, Caroline Esther, Laura Ann, Ida, Mary Jane, James H., and John Daniel Jr.

WS's son James E. married Nancy Stephens, and had the following children: Robert; William Elias; Rebecca, married Peter Henry Strickland, and had Susannah, Elizabeth, Nancy Ann, Cynthia (or Sentha), Ann D., Peter David, Margaret Ann Elizabeth, and William John.

The most well known of the early McElveen’s is WSs son William Emanuel Jr. (hereafter WE), who married Elizabeth "Betsy" Wise and then America Ann Cone. Some believe he eventually took a third wife named Sophronia Wise. According to the book “Dixie Rising” by Peter Applebome, WE married America.

What made this unusual was the fact that she was his former daughter-in-law, having married his son John Daniel; America was widowed when John died shortly after being blinded in a powder explosion at the Augusta Powder works where he was working. Believe it or not, there was said to have been a made-for-TV movie made about his (WE’s) life.

Historical records show that Both William Emanuel Sr. and his son Jr. (or WS and WE) served during the War Between the States in the Third Company of the Seventeenth District Georgia Militia and Company E. of the Fifth Georgia Cavalry of the Confederate Army, where their names are spelled both as McElvin and McElveen. The McElveen family quickly assumed a place of prominence amongst the founding families of Bulloch County and still plays a vital role in Bulloch’s business to this day.


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