Ross Family


ROSS. The Ross family, represented in Armstrong county from the days of the early settlements, has had distinguished connection with the development and history of this region. Judge George Ross, a large number of whose descendants continue to reside in the county, came here in 1800, and in his capacity of deputy state surveyor had considerable part in fixing the lines of early land purchases, etc. Rosston, in Manor township, takes its name from the family.

John Ross, the earliest ancestor of the Rosses in America, was born in Scotland in 1685. His father, also named John, removed from that country with his wife and family of five children in 1689, to the city of Derry, Ireland; the next year he took part in the battle of the Boyne. His son John, who was four years old when the family moved from Scotland, left Ireland in 1706 to escape the British pressgangs capturing young men for the army. He took passage in the ship "Northern Light," which was wrecked off the shoals of Cape May about the first of August, and he saved nothing but his clothes. Traveling up the Jersey shore, opposite New Castle, Del., he pledged his silver knee buckles for his ferriage across the Delaware river. There he came into Pennsylvania, staying with William Miller, to whom he had letters from Ireland. Here he taught school for two years, on the point of Infearion (or Lough Kinamon), now called Avondale, until he received a remittance from Ireland which enabled him to purchase the farm called Ross Common, in Londongrove township, Chester Co., Pa., from Josephine and Catherine Hedg, the first settlers, in 1798. A part of the first building he erected is still standing. He married Margaret Small, of New London (now Franklin) township, in 1722, and their family consisted of two sons and four daughters: (I) Thomas, the eldest, married and settled on the Allegheny river about eight miles from Pittsburgh (now Aspinwall, Allegheny county), where some of the family still reside. When he first settled there he was driven out by the Indians, returning to Carlisle until 1782, when he went back, and this time he was allowed to remain in peace. (2) Margaret married a Mr. McKitchen and went to South Carolina. (3) Mary married a Hutchison and went to North Carolina. (4) Sallie married James Moss and settled in Washington county, fourteen miles from Pittsburgh. (5) Jane married Rev. Mr. John McMillan and settled on Turtle Creek, in Allegheny county, about six miles from Pittsburgh. (6) John was the youngest son.

John Ross, youngest son of John and Margaret (Small) Ross was born in 1747, and in 1774 married Margaret Young, who was born in 1751, the youngest daughter of Samuel Young, of New Castle Del. They became the parents of four sons and four daughters, namely: Samuel, the eldest, born in 1775, married Margaret Brown, of Philadelphia, in 1793; George is mentioned below; Elizabeth married John Cunningham of New London, Jan. 6, 1800; John married Susan Harp, of Wilmington, Del., in 1812, and moved to western Pennsylvania; Margaret married John Patterson, of Wilmington, Del.,; Anne married Rev. Robert Graham in 1810; Amelia died unmarried in her twenty-third year; Washington, born Aug. 24, 1792, was married May 10, 1821, to Margaret Cochran of Cochranville, Chester county, born Jan. 6, 1795 (he died Jan. 22, 1862, she on Jan. 24, 1883). The father of this family died Feb. 16, 1830, aged eighty-three years, the mother Oct. 24, 1808, aged fifty-seven. He was a cousin of George Ross, signer of the Declaration of Independence, who was representing Lancaster county in the Continental Congress which adopted same.

Samuel Young, father of Mrs. Margaret (Young) Ross, came to this country from Dublin, Ireland, about 1680. He married Jane Kincade, of New Castle county, Del., and they had five children, namely; (I) Jane, the eldest daughter, was married about 1764-68 to Stephen Cochran, by whom she had three sons and three daughters: Samuel married Rebecca McMahon, of Delaware, and (second) Hannah Slaymaker, of Lancaster county, Pa., and had three sons and one daughter; James married Jane Hamilton, of Lititz, Lancaster, Co., and left three sons; Robert, never married; Jane (eldest daughter) married Colonel Armstrong, and lived and died near Cochranville; Elizabeth and Ann each married a Slaymaker, of Lancaster, Pa., and left families, the former one son and one daughter, the latter three sons, Samuel, Stephen and Henry. (2) Sarah, the second daughter, married Joseph Singleton, and had three sons and two daughters, the sons, Samuel, Steven and Young, all becoming sea captains, and the daughters all marrying sea captains. Jane became the wife of Captain Warden and Betsy married Captain Gaul, both of whom were in Steven Girard�s employ. (3) Rebecca married William Wilson and had one son and four daughters. (4) Elizabeth married a Mr. Wiley and died three months afterward. (5) Margaret married John Ross.

George Ross, son of John and Margaret (Young) Ross, was born March 4, 1778, in Chester county, Pa., where he passed his early life. In 1800 he removed to Armstrong county, where he acted as deputy State surveyor, as such surveying and laying out Kittanning in 1803. He passed the remainder of his life in the county, becoming one of its prominent, influential and highly respected citizens. In 1805, he was elected associate judge of the county and continued to serve creditably in that capacity until his death, which occurred in 1849, when he was in his seventy-second year. As early as 1807 he came to what is now the southwestern part of Manor township. He was first assessed in Kittanning township, in 1808, with 100 acres valued at $4 an acre, and for some time he and his family lived in one of the cabins near Fort Green. After William Green and his sons moved (prior to 1804) to the west side of the river, Judge Ross was the first permanent white settler in that part of the Manor. Within a few years, in 1809, he erected the first stone house in his part of the county, the place afterward owned and occupied by his son, Washington, the latter�s widow still living there. In 1807 he purchased Ross� island, opposite the mouth of Crooked creek, in Manor township, from William Green, paying one hundred dollars for it. What is thought to be the largest panther ever killed in this county was shot on this island. Judge Ross was at one time one of the largest landowners in the county, having over seven hundred acres. In 1820 he was assessed with a saw and grist mill, erected probably in 1819, at what was known as Ross� Mills, on the right bank of Crooked creek, almost 200 rods above its mouth. The settlers within a radius of from twenty to thirty miles brought their grists to his plant. When the Ross Mill post office was established June 16, 1843, his son George Ross became postmaster. Judge Ross was an active member of Appleby Manor Presbyterian Church and influential in this connection as in all the other relations of life, being mainly instrumental in having its first house of worship erected.

About 1800 George Ross married Mary Moss, of Washington county, PA., a first cousin, and their family consisted of four sons and seven daughters, of whom Jane, born in 1801, married David Reynolds; she was his second wife.

WASHINGTON ROSS, son of George and Mary (Moss) Ross, was born May 29, 1817, on his father�s farm in Manor township, and died March 9, 1911, in the old Ross mansion at Rosston. In his early life he owned and operated a steam sawmill for a time, but soon engaged in farming, which he continued throughout his active career, being a gentleman farmer in the highest sense of the term. He owned a farm of 170 acres, and after he became interested in other undertakings gave part of his time to its management. For eighteen months he lived at Kittanning. In 1854 he laid out Rosston on land he owned in Manor township. His tract, extending from the mouth of Crooked creek, up along the left bank of the Allegheny river, on its east side, was laid out into thirty lots, and includes the site of old Fort Green. Mr. Ross was a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church, to which he belonged for many years. In politics, he was a Republican.

In June, 1844, Mr. Ross married Margaret Copley, a native of Philadelphia, born in 1826, daughter of Josiah and Margaret (Sibbet) Copley, and they became the parents of twelve children, five sons and seven daughters namely: George is mentioned below. Mary (now deceased) married Dr. Eugene H. Van Antwerp, who died two years later, and she then married Samuel McBride, now also deceased; she had one son, who died in infancy. Margaret, who never married, resides in the old homestead. John, who married, resides at Polk, Clarion Co., Pa. Miss Sarah A. resides at the old homestead. Albert C, a farmer at Rosston, married Mary Mabel King; he is a member and trustee of the Manor Memorial Church of Rosston, has served as school director, and is one of the prominent citizens of his locality. Judith Dull, who died unmarried, was a talented artist. Jane married John W. Herron, son of Col. W. A. Herron of Pittsburgh, and they have two daughters, Alice V. and Dorothy Ross. Samuel died unmarried. Edward, an attorney, resides at Rosston. Two daughters, the eldest and the youngest children died in infancy.

GEORGE ROSS, son of Washington and Margaret (Copley) Ross, was born Sept. 6, 1846, in Manor township, on the farm which was also his father�s birthplace, and died in November 1896. He was brought up on the home place, and received his education in the public schools of the township and at Kittanning Seminary. Entering the employ of W. D. Robinson, a merchant of Rosston, he remained with him one year and then began farming, which was his principal occupation throughout his life. In 1888 and 1889, however, he served as assistant postmaster at Ford City. In 1884 he was elected justice of the peace, which office he held for five years, and his fellow citizens chose him at various times as school director and auditor. He was a successful man in his business enterprises, and purchased substantial qualities which won him the highest esteem of his fellow citizens. In politics he was an independent Republican.

In February 1873, Mr. Ross married Eva E. McKee, daughter of Thomas Vincent and Mary (Craig) McKee, the former of whom served two terms as member of the board of commissioners of Armstrong county. Three sons and three daughters were born to George and Eva E. (McKee) Ross, viz.: May Van-Antwerp, who married Marcus D. Wayman, and died Nov. 13, 1906; James G.; Elizabeth M.; Thomas V.; Washington M.; and Helen Josephine.

Mrs. Eva E. (McKee) Ross is a descendant of Revolutionary ancestry in several lines. Her paternal great-grandfather, Andrew McKee, served throughout the war; Col. Ephraim Blaine, from whom she is descended through her grandmother, Margaret (Blaine) McKee, gave notable service during that struggle; and her mother, Mary (Craig) McKee, was a great - granddaughter of Captain John Craig and great-great-granddaughter of Lieut. Samuel Craig, both of whom were in the army, the latter losing his life in the service. Her ancestry in the McKee and Blaine lines is fully given elsewhere in this work. (See Blaine and McKee family sketches.)

Source: Pages 301-324 Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers, & Co. 1914
Transcribed September 1998 by Donna Sheaffer for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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