Happy 250th Birthday Captain John!

Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, “Time flies, but leaves it’s shadow behind.” April 15, 2020 marks the 250th birthday of our common ancestor Captain John McCollough who was born on this date in 1770. His birth location is somewhat of a mystery. In the 1880 Federal Census, most of his surviving children said he was born in Pennsylvania. Several believed he was born in Virginia. History complicates the matter because in 1770 (and not until after the Revolution), western Pennsylvania was claimed by both Virginia and Pennsylvania. But that’s a story for another time…

The April 15, 1770 birth date is inscribed on Captain John’s tombstone in the Hilltop Cemetery in Chicora. This tombstone was placed at Hilltop in 1914 when John and Elizabeth’s remains were reinterred from the nearby White Oak Cemetery. John’s original tombstone is believed to be the marble insert in the McCollough Monument on nearby Oak Road in Chicora. We suspect the April 15 date must also be carved into his original tombstone that is now hidden from view.

John’s birth date is also recorded in his account book, but in another person’s handwriting. In an old script someone wrote in Captain John McCollough’s account book, In the year 1770 Apr 15 John McCollough was born in Virginia by Holstons river. Dad and I called

The mystery note in John’s account book. Who wrote it? Was it written in John’s account book after he died or before? What evidence did the writer have that John was born by the Holston River in Virginia?

this one of the “mystery notes” in John’s account book. Dad took several genealogy research trips to the Holston River area in Virginia. He found documents relating to other McColloch families there, but nothing related to our family. In recent years, we found convincing evidence that suggests that John was born in Lancaster or Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Based on a careful reconstruction of early records and the earliest land records, we now know exactly where John was raised by his German grandparents in Westmoreland County.

John grew up during an amazing time in America’s history. He witnessed the Revolutionary War as a young boy. His father, John McCollough senior, likely served. Three of his Fiscus uncles were veterans of the War. His grandfather Gerhardt and Uncle John Fiscus signed an oath of allegiance to the new country. The formation of the new United States must have been of special significance to John. He and his bride were married on July 4, 1797, the 21st birthday of the new country.

Captain John and Elizabeth’s tombstone at the Hilltop (McCollough) Cemetery at Kepple’s Corners, Chicora, Pennsylvania.

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