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The Mystery of The Box, the Children of John McElmoyle, Sr.

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Antrim, Ireland and York County, South Carolinamap
Surname/tag: McElmoyle, McIlmoil
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Categories: McElmoyle Name Study.

McElmoyle, Unraveling the Riddles

Working to unravel the mystery of all the McElmoyle's in York, SC and their relationship to each other.


The Box

Here's an image.

It is wooden and rectangular, about 16" x 6" x 6" or so. It is hinged at the back and has a rough clip at the front to keep it closed. The top is adorned with carefully written white letters. "J superscript N then McElmoyle". The letters in the name McElmoyle are faded or worn, but they are there. The whole box is battered a bit, dripped with something in spots, dirty and dusty. It spent at least 25 years or so in the attic of a McElmoyle descendant in Greenville, South Carolina. About 80 miles from it's original owners home in York, South Carolina and close to 4000 miles from it's origination point in Antrim County, Northern Ireland.[1]

John McElmoyle carried all of his worldly possessions in this box when he arrived in South Carolina in the late 1700's. Who knows what those original contents were. The contents it held in recent times were an original copy of the Immigration and naturalization records of John McEmoil, Sr.

As Irish inheritance goes, this box would have been inherited by the first son of John, then the first son of that son and so on, on down the line.

But something is amiss...

John McElmoyle, Sr. had five living children proven by his 1811 Will.[2]

The first son would be James, who according to the McElmoyle Family Papers[3] was "single, may have been an invalid" and "deaf and dum". The 1850 Census of York County, South Carolina lists him as living with his brother Daniels' Widow Elizabeth, her new husband John D. Boyd, and his niece Harriet E. McElmoyle. John Getty's must be related to his brother Daniels' daughter Mary Adaline McElmoyle Gettys.[4]

So it seems James would have no heirs to leave the box to.

The next son, Daniel has plenty of heirs. He dies early, his Widow remarries and the children are raised by their step-father. They might have had the box.

Daughter Margaret McElmoyle has no information suggesting she lived and breathed other than her 1812 inheritance from her father.

McELMOYLE SR., JOHN of York District, signed December 11, 1811
Wife: Mary
Sons: James and John, the plantation containing 200 acres.
Son: David, 140 acres on Turkey Creek, purchased from Abraham Livingston.
Daughter: Margaret McElmoile, the lease of 70 acres Indian land purchased from John White.
Son: Daniel
Executors: John McClenchan
Witnesses: Isaac McFaddin, Thos. Faris, Mary Polk
Proven: 22 Apr 1812[5]

John McElmoyle, Jr., "...believed to be the youngest, remained single and is believed buried at Rose Hill Cem. in York, SC as J.C. McElmoyle, died Feb. 2, 1884 aged 84 yrs." This, again, is from the McElmoyle Family Papers. He does not appear to marry and lives with a niece in Census records from 1860 to 1880.

And then there is David, who like his sister Margaret has no information suggesting he lived and breathed other than his 1812 inheritance from his father.

In john Sr.'s Will he divides his land, his livestock, farm implements, Negroes, and even specific pots and kitchen items, but nowhere in his will does he bequeath the box. There is the statement "All the rest of my farming utensils and plantation and all my property not above mentioned, I give and bequeath jointly to my wife and two sons James and John."

So John or James inherited the box and that is how it ended up in the attic of that McElmoyle descendant in Greenville, SC. But...

That McElmoyle Descendants great grand father was, according to the McElmoyle Family Papers, "probably a cousin who may have immigrated at later date. He too is buried at Bethesda...Do not confuse his descendants with Daniel son of John Mc. Senior." How on earth would a descendant of a cousin of the John McElmoyle, Sr. family inherit the box and it's contents?

That is the question.

The Five proven Children of John C. McElmoyle, Sr., Antrim, Ire./York, SC

James McElmoyle
Daniel McElmoyle
Margaret McElmoyle
John C. McElmoyle Jr.
David McElmoyle

1850 Census York, South Carolina

1850 Census Page
Click for larger image.

In the 1850 Census several families live in very close proximity to each other. In the image below we see John Boyd's family, his wife, Daniel McElmoyle's Widow Elizabeth Thompson, James Mcelmoyle, Elizabeth's brother-in-law and Elizabeth and Daniel's daughter Harriet E. McElmoyle. John Getty's must be a grand son of Elizabeth's through her daughter Mary Adaline McElmoyle Gettys.

John Boyd family 1850 Census, click for larger image.

Two doors down is John Uranus McElmoyle's family. He is the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Thompson McElmoyle. living with him are his wife Sarah and his daughter Martha.

John U. McElmoyle family 1850 Census, click for larger image.

Next door to John U. is Daniel E. D. McElmoyle and his wife Mary Currier and their children Leonidas and Daniel.

Daniel McElmoyle family 1850 census, click for larger image.

Then a few houses down is the John Chambers family (Daughter Mary S. is not listed here as she is already married to other Daniel McElmoyle). Johns wife Margaret, John Kuykendal (peddler), daughter Elizabeth, son John C., daughter Sarah M., daughter Laura O. and john Chambers, Jr., 20 years younger than the head of house, a Physician.

John Chambers family 1850 Census, click for larger image.

This shows all of john Sr.'s descendants, who have a play for the box and the probable cousin's, wife's family who ended up with the box all living very close to each other.

Possible Link between the Families?

The niece who lived with John McElmoyle, Jr. was named Jane McCormick. She also lived with a Joseph McElmoyle in the 1850 Census. The 1850 Census is barely legible. The census taker has two check marks in the column for where born beside Joseph and Janes names indicating they were married within the year and attended school within the year. But the check-marks are actually in those columns.

Jane lives with John McElmoyle, jr. in both the 1860 and 1870 Census. Since John never married and has no heirs he leaves everything to his niece Jane. When Jane dies in 1907 her will names a cousin as her heir and her cousins husband as her executor. The cousin? Well of course this cousin is the daughter of the Daniel who is not connected to John McElmoyle Sr.'s family but possibly a cousin of John McElmoyle, Sr, again from the McElmoyle Family Papers.

Possible Provenance:

Box handed down to John Jr.
Box handed down to Jane McCormick
Box handed down to Nancy Margaret McElmoyle Gaulden

Another possible Provenance:

Box handed down to Margaret Mcelmoyle ?
Box handed down to Jane McCormick
Box handed down to Nancy Margaret McElmoyle Gaulden

If James and John Jr., had no Children, Daniel had children but none named Jane McCormick, how would the box be handed down to this female niece? Did Margaret, of whom we have no information or David, of whom we have no information, either have a child with the name McCormick?

Who was Joseph Mcelmoyle from the 1850 Census?

Margaret Mcelmoyle

David Mcelmoyle

The original McElmoyle immigrants to South Carolina

We have met John McElmoyle, Sr. who immigrated to South Carolina, through Charleston in 1796, with the rest of his family, all born in Ireland (according to Census records and all the family papers) following along later.

Who are the other McElmoyles who came to South Carolina from Ireland who could be siblings of John, Sr.?

William McElmoyle

William McElmoyle of Charleston, South Carolina, or Anderson, South Carolina or both?


  1. McElmoyle Family Papers, p.1,No Author, 1978, NCR, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenberg County, Charlotte, North Carolina. Personal copy in the files of M. Gaulden
  2. McElmoyle, john (Sr.), Vol.1, 1770-1815, p. 466, Indexes to the county wills of South Carolina. York County Wills, p. 9, Mid-Continent Public Library, [1] South Carolina - Probate records - Indexes[2]
  3. McElmoyle Family Papers, No Author, 1978, NCR, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenberg County, Charlotte, North Carolina. Personal copy in the files of M. Gaulden
  4. "United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch ([3] : accessed 10 November 2015), James Mcelmoyl in household of John D Boyd, York county, York, South Carolina, United States; citing family 1496, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  5. McElmoyle, john (Sr.), Vol.1, 1770-1815, p. 466, Indexes to the county wills of South Carolina. York County Wills, p. 9, Mid-Continent Public Library, [4] South Carolina - Probate records - Indexes[5]


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