James Gillespie Birney, born about 1767, in County Cavan, Ireland, came to America when he was 16 years old. He came to Danville via Philadelphia, Pittsburg and Maysville. He arrived here in 1788 and opened a store on Main Street, then established other stores, and a bagging and rope factory.
During the War of 1812, Birney supplied rope for armies in the West and South. He was considered to be the wealthiest man south of the Kentucky River at that time, according to an article in The Kentucky Advocate.
He owned a brick house on Third Street where Chase Bank drive-in and parking is now located. He helped establish Trinity Episcopal Church.
Irish family trees
Birney married Martha (Maria) Reed, daughter of John Reed and Lettice (Elizabeth) Wilcox.
They had two children, James G. Birney, born in 1792 in Danville, and Anna Reed Birney, born in 1793.
James G. became a strong abolitionist even though his father owned slaves. He married Agatha McDowell, daughter of William McDowell, who was the son of Judge Samuel McDowell.
After publishing an abolitionist newspaper, Birney and his wife were forced to leave Danville. They went north to Cincinnati, then to New York. He was educated at Princeton and practiced law in Alabama and Cincinnati.
Anna marrried Judge John Jay Marshall of Woodford County, who later became a circuit court judge in Louisville.
Several of the Birney descendants became high ranking officers during the Civil War; some were judges, and others were politicians, lawyers and teachers.
Samuel and his son, Dr. Ephraim McDowell, are descended from immigrant Ephraim McDowell, who was born in Northern Ireland although his parents were Scots.
Samuel's wife Mary McClung also was born in 1735 in Ireland.
Samuel was a judge in Mercer County. His sons, Ephraim and John, were medical doctors. Ephraim remained in Danville and performed the first successful abdominal surgery in the world on Dec. 25, 1809, at his home.
Ephraim married Sarah Hart Shelby, daughter of Kentucky's first governor Isaac Shelby.
The McDowell women married men who became governors, professors and distinguished military officers.
Descendants of immigrant Robert Mitchell, born 1670 in Londonderry, Ireland, settled in what is now Boyle County. The town of Mitchellsburg was named for the family.
James Mitchell Sr., son of Robert, married Margaret Amey Caldwell, who was born in Donegal, Ireland, and died in Kentucky.
The Mitchells were related by marriage to the Shipleys, Hanks, Lincolns and Thompsons.
Several of the Mitchell descendants continue to live in the Mitchellsburg and Brumfield communities.
John Caldwell, immigrant ancestor of the Caldwell family in Boyle County, was born in 1683 in County Donegal, Ireland. They first settled in Virginia and Pennsylvania before heading to the wilderness of Kentucky.
Robert, son of John and Margarette Phillips Caldwell, established Caldwell's Station on Town Fork of Salt River between Perryville and Lebanon roads. The old Caldwell Church was organized with the help of the family and others who lived in the area.
Robert, along with Samuel McDowell, represented Concord (Danville) Presbyterian Church at the first Presbyterian Conference in July 1785 at Cane Run Meeting House near Harrodsburg.
Crabtree, who has been researching the Caldwell family history, said it was the influence of the Caldwells and other families who came to Danville from Virginia, to get Dr. David Rice to come to the Danville area as pastor of the Presbyterian congregation.
Rice was pastor from 1767 to 1771 in the Cub Creek, Va., area, and came to Danville after his son-in-law James Mitchell settled here.
Willis Green, son of Irish immigrant Robert Green of Antrim County in Northern Ireland, was a member of the Constitutional Convention held in Danville. He was a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Willis also was a member of the Political Club; served in the Revolutionary War and was clerk in District Court in Danville.
He and his wife, Sarah Reed, built Waveland, which still stands on Waveland Drive. Their children included: John, a lawyer, state legislator for seven terms and elder in the Presbyterian Church; Lewis W., a Presbyterian minister, president of Centre College and medical doctor; Leticia, Elizabeth and Martha, who were mothers of doctors, bankers and college professors.
Note: The sketch of Birney came from the Web site: www.ohiohistorycentral.org/. The photo of Dr. Ephraim McDowell is from Web site: www.mcdowellhouse.com/history1.html