Branch 8 Descendancy

As a preface to the presentation of the Branch 8 Chart, it appears necessary to point out the variety of inconsistencies, errors and genealogical conflicts which have emerged during the research of this family line.  Because of that, following the lead of earlier researchers into this ancestry, a time-line approach will help to point up the problems.  Let the reader beware!

Problem Number One

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) states: ROWLEY, John B., b. 1750, Westmoreland Co., PA.  

Other evidence shows that John B. Rowley was born about 1765-1775, and was married to a woman named Eleanor Hagerman, and that he died about 1815.  The elder John Rowley was born, perhaps, before 1747 (to be old enough to father John B.), and died probably between 7 and 10 October 1822.  Quoting from the photocopies of the official estate papers. 

That the said John Rowley left a widow named Margaret who is since intermarried with James Ryans-- and four children, to with Jacob Rowley-- John Rowley-- Ann Rowley intermarried with Stophen Lozier, and Michael Rowley.

That the said Jacob Rowley by deed dated the twentieth of February Eighteen Hundred and thirty hath conveyed his interest in said Land to your petitioner--

That John Rowley hath since died intestate leaving a widow named Eleanor and several children-- viz:

[Then are named Polly intermarried with Peter Rowley; Isaac Rowley; Jane intermarried with Jacob Wiser; Elizabeth intermarried with Anthony O. Bolvin; Nancy intermarried with Henry Frick; Hannah intermarried with John Johnston, Martha yet in her minority, and Cornelius.]

Michael Rowley who is since dead leaving a widow named Margaret and one child in its minority named Joseph.

Problem Number Two

The official court papers are claimed to have been altered, and "Michael Rowley" is actually Joseph Rowley.  There is evidence that names were actually changed in an unofficial document, and that there was a Joseph Rowley who died, leaving a widow Margaret, and child named Joseph.

The official recorded document is as written above.  However, Timothy Peterman submitted a copy of a document he stated he found folded in the court records.  It appears to be a draft copy of the petition presented to the court 2 Dec 1830 regarding the partition of the property of John Roley, which clearly show changes as below:

That the said John Rowley left a widow named Margaret who is since intermarried with James Ryans-- and four children, to with Jacob Rowley-- John Rowley-- Ann Rowley intermarried with Stophen Lozier, and Joseph Michael Rowley.


Joseph Michael Rowley who is since dead leaving a widow named Margaret and one child in its minority named Joseph.   

These are only the changed portions.  There is no explanation for these changes.

A copy of the following document, dated 24 August 1830, was found:

Upon the petition of Henry Brent intermarried with Margaret Roly widow & relict of Joseph Roly setting forth that said Joseph Roly died intestate leaving issue one child Joseph Roly who is a minor under fourteen years of age.  That the said Joseph has some estate coming to him and has no Guardian to take care of his person and estate, and praying the court to appoint John Campbell Esquire the Guardian of said minor.

Whereupon on the 24th of August 1830 the prayer of the petitioner is granted and the said John Campbell Esquire is approved of and appointed Guardian of the person and estate of the said minor Joseph Roly until he shall arrive at the age of fourteen years.  By the Court Randal McLaughlin, Clerk.

A final comment:  it appears entirely possible that this child Joseph/Michael or Michael Joseph could be the offspring of John B. Roley, rather than old John.  He had a son, Joseph, born 5 Oct 1803, who married a Margaret McHenry.  His death preceded that of his mother, Eleanor (Hagerman) Roley.  She died 15 Apr 1857.

Problem Number Three

Whether his name be Michael or Joseph would be meaningless, except for the claim of the existence of another child of old John Roley, also named Michael.  Michael Vance Roley, born 28 May 1816 in Mt. Pleasant Township, Westmoreland County, PA, died 6 November 1893, leaving a sizeable descendancy.  He could obviously not be the Michael Roley, son of old John Roley, who died before 1830.

Descendants have rationalized the court's failure to recognize this minor child (old John died in 1822) because the child would have been with his mother, who would look after his affairs.

However, there is an undated document that appears to be a petition prepared for the widow for presentation to the court:

To the Honorable the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, now composing an orphans court in and for said County--

The petition of Margaret Roley widow of John Roley late of Mount Pleasant Township in said County deceased--

Humbly sheweth That your petitioners Husband lately died intestate, leaving a minor child named Michael Roley who is now somewhat more than six years of age, & has no guardian to take care of his person and Estate-- Your petitioner therefore prays your Honours to appoint some proper person or persons as guardian or guardians over the person & Estate of said child.  And she will pray o.s.

                                                                                         Margaret    X    Roley
in presence of
W. B. Alexander

In Book 10C, p. 259 under John Roley, deceased, is found the following:

Upon the petition of Margaret Roley widow of John Rowley (sic) late of Mountpleasant township in said county deceased setting forth that her husband lately deceased late leaving a minor child named Michael Roley who is now somewhat more than six years of age and has no guardian to take care of his person or estate and praying this Court to appoint some proper person or persons as Guardian or Guardians over the person & estate of said child The Court  do appoint Jacob Stoffer of Mountpleasant township Guardian over the person & estate of said minor child until he shall attain the age of fourteen years.

On 29 May 1830, the following is found:

At an orphans court held at Greensburgh in and for Westmoreland County on the Twenty-ninth day of May in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred & thirty.  Before John Young Esquire President and his associates, Justices of the said Court.

No. 47.  John Roley decd.  On the petition of Michael Roley minor son above the age of fourteen years of John Roley late of Mount pleasant Township deceased.  Setting forth that he hath no guardian to take care of his person and estate and praying the Court to appoint Jacob Stouffer for said purposes.  The said Michael Roley appearing in court and choosing Jacob Stouffer.  The Court appoint the said Jacob Stouffer Guardian over the person & estate of said Michael, during his minority.

These documents appear to establish pretty well not only the relationship but confirms the approximate birth date of Michael Vance Roley as being about 1816 (per descendants it is 28 May 1816).

What it does NOT do is explain two possible sons of old John Roley, both named Michael.  The court clerk has not found an estate for a Michael Roley, with a widow Margaret, and minor son, Joseph.  As shown above, there was a Joseph Roly who died leaving a widow Margaret and minor son, Joseph.  And, since those unofficial papers show the name Joseph on the partition document originally, before being changed to Michael, there is a definite inconsistency here.  

One explanation could be that Joseph/Michael's name was actually that:  Michael Joseph Roley. In that case, he could have used the name Joseph during his lifetime, but legally, they thought his legal name should be used.  This is pure conjecture.  If that were so, we still have the problem of two Michaels existing in the same family.  Since we found that John B. Roley was deceased in 1815, but listed as a deceased child in the partition document, Michael Joseph could also have been deceased prior to the birth of Michael Vance Roley, and that his naming was in honor of the earlier Michael.

One might argue, then, about the guardianship petition presented by Henry Brent for young Joseph Roly.  If Michael Joseph Roley died, say, in 1816, just before the birth of Michael Vance Roley, his child could still be a minor at the time Henry Brent presented the petition.

Problem Number Four

Not already discussed was the possible existence of two Margaret Roleys, both spouses of old John.  If John B. Roley was born 1865-1875, and Michael Vance Roley was born in 1816, we have a time span of forty to fifty years.  We need a second one of child-bearing age to be the mother of Michael Vance Roley, and another, Robert Roley, not heretofore mentioned.  

There are descendants, who have presented reference data connecting a Robert Roley to this family.  Robert Roley was born 14 March 1812 in Chestnut Ridge, Westmoreland County, PA, and died in 1870.  He is claimed to be from the second marriage of old John, and an older brother of Michael Vance Roley.

There has been no explanation why there was not a guardianship petition presented for Robert, who would have been ten years old at the time of old John's death, and age eighteen, at the time of the land partition document.

Problem Number Five

This problem has to do with two men named Isaac Roley, both of whom apparently married women named Barbara.  They both happen to have a son named William Henry, born about 1871.  There is a very obvious error where the one born in 1859 has seven children by the time he was twenty, one supposedly born when he was five years old!

8-4.052 Isaac Roley, b. Banks, Indiana Co., PA 22 Jan 1835, d. 5 Sep 1915, and married Barbara Myers. Their children:

Harvey, b. abt 1870
Joseph, b. 29 Dec 1866
William Henry, b. ca 1871

8-5.092 Isaac Roley, b. Grant, Indiana Co., PA, Sep. 1859, and married Barbara (-------). Their children:

George W., b. 1864 !!
Ezra, b. Banks, PA, 1869 !!
William Henry, b. Banks, PA, ca 1871
Levi Sherman, b. Banks, PA, 1873
Milla A., b. 1877
Harry R., b. Banks, PA 1879

The two townships are close to each other, and it appears the family of the second should be part of the family of the first, and that is the way it will be treated in this chart. The family group sheet on which the second appeared actually showed the birth and death of the individual in Sep 1859.  Finally, the Civil War pension file fails to list Isaac among the children of John Roley.  The listing had also omitted another child who died young.

Problem Number Six

Previous researchers discovered an error in published data in the Armstrong Co., PA , Her People, Past and Present, Chicago, J. H. Beers & Co., 1914 on pages 763 and 764.

The biography of Thomas J. Rowley, b. 26 Nov. 1875, #8-5.003,  describes his ancestry as, "son of John Rowley, and a grandson of Jacob Rowley." Jacob's wife's name is given as "Polly." Jacob's children are given as, "John, Jacob, Ellen, Nancy, and Martha.

"That data is very much at odds with any other data on three Jacob Rowleys who are known to exist in the late 1700's and early 1800's:

1.  Jacob, b. ca 1770, the son of "old" John, b. bef 1747, #8-2.001..

2. Jacob, b. 1821, son of Jacob, b. ca 1770, #8-3.005.

3. Jacob, b. 1826, son of Peter, b. 1804, #8-4.002.  He would be a grandson of Jacob, b. ca 1770.

Other evidence strong points to Peter Rowley, b. 1804, #8-3.001, as the grandfather of Thomas J. Rowley (not Jacob).  John, b. 1831, son of Peter, #8-4.001,  is accurately identified in the article.  Both wives and the children are correctly named.  However, the five children cited in the first paragraph as children of Jacob are exactly the same names as Peter's children.


Problem Number Seven

It has been claimed that the children of old John Roley from his first wife used the surname Rowley, whereas those from the second wife used the name Roley.  It is not known whether the family of the second wife CONSISTENTLY used the name Roley.  The following is the result of one study made of the descendants from the first family:

1810 PA Armstrong County, Kittanning Township Census


1820 PA Armstrong County, Plum Creek Township Census

Eloner (widow) ROLEY

1830 PA Armstrong County, Plum Creek Township Census

Cornelious ROLEY
George ROLEY
Joseph ROLEY
Elnor (widow) ROLEY

1840 PA Armstrong County, Kittanning Township Census

Samuel ROLEY

1840 PA Armstrong County, Plum Creek Township Census


1850 PA Armstrong County, Manor Township Census

Samuel ROLEY
Joseph ROLEY

1850 PA Armstrong County, Plum Creek Township Census

Jacob ROWLEY Jr.
Dolly (widow) ROWLEY
Eleanor (widow) ROWLEY

And, so it went-- with some even spelling the name ROLLY.  As shown in some of the court documents above transcribed, there was at least one document that used both spellings within it, and three spellings were actually used:  Rowley, Roley, and Roly.  I believe it was more the way a particular clerk thought it ought to be spelled.


With all the problems and inconsistencies, it is with serious reservations that all will be presented as descendants of the earliest John Roley.  The spelling will be R-O-L-E-Y, unless it appears the descendants started spelling the name as R-O-W-L-E-Y.