Colonel Hercules Mooney

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NORTHERN NEW YORK Genealogical and family history of northern New York: a record of the achievements of her people in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation. New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1910. page 703



The Mooneys are of ancient Irish origin and the name is derived from the Celtic word Maoin, signifying wealth. Their ancestry can be traced backward to Enghan (Owen) son of Feig, of the ninety-third generation on the O'Gorman pedigree. It is said that an ancient Irish monarch gave to his nephew, OMaoinagh, (meaning Mooney's descendant) who was a great-grandson of Enghan, the name of Feara Maoinaigh, anglicized Fermanagh. The chief seat of the family in Ireland was at Ballaghmooney, in King's county. (Note: King's County was renamed in 1920, it is now County Offaly.)

Map of King's County, (Offaly) Ireland

The Beekmantown Mooneys mentioned below are descended from Colonel Hercules Mooney, who was an officer of distinction in the French and Indian War, and the struggle for national independence. He was an educated Irish Protestant who, prior to his emigration, is said to have been employed as a tutor in the family of a nobleman.

New Hampshire

Arriving at Dover, New Hampshire, in 1733, he immediately made himself useful as a schoolmaster, and the greater part of his life was devoted to that honorable calling. The records of Dover state that he was engaged to teach school in that part of town which is now Somersworth, and he resided within the limits of the old "Cocheco parish," near "Barbadoes," a locality near the present boundary line near Dover and Madbury, for the settling off of which as a separate parish he was one of the petitioners in 1743.

French & Indian War

Removing to Durham in 1750-51, he taught there until 1756, and in the following year began his military career as a captain in Colonel Maserve's regiment, which he accompanied to Crown Point. A part of this regiment, including Captain Mooney's company, was ordered to reinforce Colonel Monroe at Fort William Henry, and when that stronghold, owing to lack of ammunition, was forced to capitulate, the French General Montcalm extended to its brave defenders the honors of war, the terms stipulating that they should retain their private baggage, march under escort of the French to Fort Edward and refrain from serving against the French for a period of eighteen months. The Indians, enraged at the terms granted the garrison by Montcalm, fell upon them as they marched out unarmed, and the New Hampshire troops, who were in the rear, suffered most severely, eighty out of the two hundred being killed or captured. Captain Mooney and his son, Benjamin, lost all their private baggage, and were afterward partially recompensed by the provincial government. In April 1758, Captain Mooney recruited forty men from Durham and vicinity, and in 1761 petitioned for an "allowance for the care of getting home his son Jonathan," who while serving at Crown Point had contracted a fever and was removed to Albany, where he had smallpox.

Fort Crown Point, New York - 1760

In 1762 Captain Mooney was chosen an assessor in Durham, and in 1765 was elected a selectman. The same year he signed a petition for the division of the town into two parishes, which resulted in the incorporation of the parish of Lee in 1766, and as the major portion of his farm was located in the new parish he continued to reside there for nearly twenty years, teaching school and taking an active part in public affairs.

Lee, New Hampshire

American Revolution

For many years he served as a selectman and representative to the legislature, and was a member of the fifth provincial congress at Exeter in 1775. The breaking out of the revolutionary war found him an enthusiastic patriot, ready for the strife, and on March 14, 1776, he was commissioned major in Colonel David Gilman's regiment, which was stationed at Newcastle or vicinity.

Fort William and Mary, now Fort Constitution, Newcastle, New Hampshire

September 20, 1776, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the continental battalion then being raised in New Hampshire. This regiment was under Pierce Long, and stationed at Newcastle until ordered by General Ward to march to Ticonderoga, New York, in February 1777. Upon the approach of the British army under General Burgoyne, Ticonderoga was evacuated July 6, 1777, and the New Hampshire troops were ordered to help cover the retreat, during which a few were killed and about one hundred men wounded. During this retreat Lieutenant-Colonel Hercules Mooney lost his horse, most of his clothes, and all his camp equipage to a very considerable value, and was allowed partial compensation. From May 23, 1778, to August 12, 1778, he was a member of the committee of safety, and again from December 23, 1778, to March 10, 1779. On June 23, 1779, he was appointed colonel of a regiment ordered for continental service in Rhode Island. The regiment was raised in June, and remained in service until the month of January, 1780.

Stafford County, NH

Upon his retirement from the army, he returned to the farm and schoolroom. For nine years, from 1776, he was a justice of the peace for Strafford county, and removing to Holderness in 1785 he subsequently served in the same capacity for Grafton county. Having been one of the original grantees of Holderness, he took an active part in opening it to settlers, and during its infancy devoted much of his time to its civic affairs, serving as a selectman and representing the district in the state legislature for the year 1786-87-89-90. A recent biographer states that "Colonel Mooney was one of those men whom circumstances develop into leaders almost instantly when the exigencies of the case demand them, and that his record, together with his sons as schoolmasters, officer in the Seven Years' and revolutionary wars, and in civil positions was a remarkable one." His death occurred in Holderness in April 1800.

Trinity Church, Holderness, NH

Like the mythical hero whose name he bore he was a tower of strength, standing forth pre-eminently in the history of his time, and considering the fact that his mental faculties were fully in keeping with his superior physical capacity, his record will always be a source of pride to the people of the Granite State.

DAR Grave Marker for Hercule Mooney

Colonel Mooney's first wife, whom he married prior to 1738, was Elizabeth Evans, born January 19, 1716, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Evans of Dover. Her father was born February 2, 1687, and was killed by the Indians September 15, 1725. Colonel Mooney's second wife was Mary, daughter of Lieutenant Joseph Jones.


His children were: Benjamin, Elizabeth, Jonathan, John, Susanna. The two last-named were probably of his second marriage, and there is some evidence that he also had a son Obadiah. Early in the 19th century, Stephen, Obadiah, and John Mooney, who were brothers, come from New Hampshire to Clinton County, New York, and purchased farms in Beekmantown. Stephen later removed to Champlain township. They were undoubtedly descendants, and probably grandsons of Colonel Hercules Mooney.

Heads of Families 1790 New Hampshire[1]
Head Town M u 16 M 16+ F Page
John MooneyHolderness31236
Jonathan MooneyEaton31290
Joseph MooneyNew Durham12194
Benjamin MooneyNew Durham12194

(I) Obadiah Mooney, born in New Hampshire about the year 1795, is said to have come from the vicinity of Concord, and that his father was a judge, but no record of him can be found in that vicinity. Obadiah Mooney went first to South Hero Islet, Vermont, and thence to Beekmantown, settling on a farm at Point Au-Roche. He became a prosperous tiller of the soil and resided there until his death, which occurred May 8, 1870, at the age of seventy-five years. In his later years, he acted with the Republican party in politics, and his citizenship was of a type well worthy of emulation by future generations. He married Nancy Conner, and she lived to be eighty-six years old. Children: Alson, Benjamin F., Charles, Electa, Nathan H., Eleanor. With the exception of the eldest, all were born in Beekmantown.

(II) Captain Nathan H., third son and fifth child of Obadiah and Nancy (Conner) Mooney, was born at Beekmantown, May 28, 1839. He was educated in the public schools and at the Plattsburgh Academy, and when seventeen years old engaged in business as a general produce dealer. The succession of the slave states, which, precipitated the Civil War in the spring of 1861, aroused his patriotism, and enrolling himself as a private among the defenders of the Union on October 16, 1861, he was, three months later, commissioned 1st Lieutenant of Company H, 96th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry. His regiment was quartered in Washington, District of Columbia, until April 1, 1862, when it was ordered to join General McClellan's army at Fortress Monroe, and he immediately entered into active service in the field, participating in the siege of Yorktown, the battle of Willamsburgh and several other engagements. On May 20, 1862, his health failed and receiving an honorable discharge on account of physical disability the following September 4, he returned to his home in Beekmantown. Recovering his health during the coming winter he re-enlisted in March, 1863, and was commissioned captain of Company A, 16th New York Cavalry, which was assigned to the first battalion and ordered to the Army of the Potomac. After participating in the battle of Fredericksburg he was detailed to the second battalion at Alexandria, Virginia, and in the fall of 1863 was ordered to Centerville, same state, for the purpose of preventing further depredations by Colonel Mosby's Rangers. In January, 1864, the second battalion under the command of Captain Mooney, was detailed to report to General R. O. Tyer at Fairfax Court House, and on April 16, the captain started for Washington, thirty miles away, accompanied by an orderly, William Carney. He had proceded but a short distance when he was captured by the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry and placed in the custody of a guard named Davis. At the first favorable opportunity he made a determined effort to escape by knocking his guard down, and would have succeeded but for the timely arrival of other Confederate soldiers. In a fit of anger Davis swore vengeance and after telling his prisoner to say his prayers he aimed his musket directly at his heart and pulled the trigger. The weapon misfired, however, and the captain was saved from further harm through the kindly interference of the other guards. He was in Libby Prison, Richmond, and at Danville, Macon, Savannah, Charleston and Charlotte, altogether about eleven months. While a prisoner in the last-named place he was, on September 18, 1864, under fire of the guns of the Union army, which hurled one hundred and eighty shells into the city. In October he was removed to Columbia, South Carolina, and November 3, he, with one other prisoner escaped, but found it advisable to return. On the 28th of the same month he availed himself of another opportunity for regaining his freedom, traveling through the enemy's country twenty-seven nights and hiding days, during which time he was provided with food by the colored people. After traveling three hundred and fifty miles, and when within twenty miles of the Federal lines, he was recaptured, sent back to Columbia, and in the latter part of January, 1865, was again taken to Charlotte. But to remain quietly in the hands of the enemy was not in keeping with his energetic character, and while at Charlotte he made his escape for the third time, but was captured by the aid of bloodhounds. He was finally paroled, sent to Wilmington, North Carolina, thence to Annapolis, Maryland, and in August, 1865, was honorably discharged from the service with three months' additional pay.

Captain Mooney returned to the peaceful seclusion of his country home in Beekmantown, where he has ever since resided, and for the past thirty-five years has been engaged in the produce business. In 1881 he was elected sheriff of Clinton county and retained that office for the full term of three years. Politically he is a Republican. He is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and active in the interests of that great order, and also of the Patrons of Husbandry. He married, October 28, 1868, Elizabeth E., born in Chazy, N.Y., daughter of John and Lavina (Aldrich) Dunn. Child: W. Grant Mooney, born Oct. 27, 1869; married Annie Marsh; children: Elizabeth and Marsh.

~Transcribed by Coralynn Brown

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