Connelly Family of North Carolina
According to Thomas Walton in his Sketches of the Pioneers, the Connelly family forms one of the most extensive families of what was originally Burke County, North Carolina. The Irish pioneer, John O'Connelly, came to North Carolina from Pennsylvania in 1743 to settle in the Lovelady Ford Section of the Catawba River valley. His offspring are today scattered throughout Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties.

John O'Connelly was the father of four sons and three daughters: Mary, John, Elizabeth, Rebecca, James, Hugh, and William. His eldest son was Captain John Connelly who took the first Burke County census in 1790. Captain John Connelly also cammanded a company of North Carolina Militia at the Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. According to the 1790 census, Burke County was divided into thirteen companies of malitia. The Second Company consisted of seventy-eight heads of household and was commanded by Captain John Connelly.

Captain John's marriage to Jane Ballew, a name common to eastern Burke County, produced ten children: William, Joshua, Elizabeth, Caleb, John, George, Sussannah, Joseph, Allen and Mary. His eldest son, William, was the father of Colonel William Lewis Connelly

Like his grandfather, Colonel William Lewis Connelly commanded a company of militia of North Carolina volunteers. In 1838, he and his company were called upon to assist Major General Winfield Scott in the removal of the Cherokee Indians from their territory. In later years, William Lewis Connelly was known as a prominent land owner, a loyal member of the Methodist Church and one of the early supporters of the newly established Rutherford College.
Many of the Connellys now living in Burke County were decended from William Connelly, the brother of Captain John and great uncle of Colonel William Lewis Connelly. William Connelly was born on August 5, 1764. He married Mary Sanor Cooper, an English widow who was fourteen years his senior. Mary lived to ninety-nine years of age and had four children: Dutch John, Bryant, Elizabeth, and William Jr., who was known as "Big Bill". Following her husband's death in 1807, Mary moved into Big Bill's home in what is now McDowell County.

"Big Bill" Connelly married Sara Massey Moore and had eleven children. His daughter, Margaret Salina was the great grandmother of Beatrice Cobb who was the publisher-owner of The News Herald until her death in 1959.
According to documents filed at the Burke County Courthouse, "Big Bill" Connelly and his brother Dutch John were neighbors in the Linville River and Paddy Creek section of the county. The late Amos Connelly recalls that Dutch John's property was situated "at the upper end of North Cove, near the old lime quarry".

Hugh Connelly, born in 1761, was the sixth child of the John O'Connelly family. Hugh Connelly was married to Lucy Ballew. Their decendants feel that the family moved into the western part of Burke County looking for farm land late in the 1700's.

They settled on land in the Linville River area, according to court recordings, at one time these families owned large areas of land. The community in which they lived was called Fonta Flora, a self contained community with it's own store, church and school.

Dutch John Connelly was born on August 7, 1783. He married Elizabeth Wakefield and had thirteen children: Joseph, Ambros, Polly (Mary), William, Albert, Mira, Matilda, Charles, Christain and Sidney, Louisa, Eliza and Sophronia.

Dutch John was listed in the 1850 census as a slaveowner. His home, which he referred to in his will of 1868 as the Manor House was where he lived with his son Sidney and his daughter Louisa until he died at eighty-five years of age. The remainder of his children had by then scattered throughout Burke and McDowell counties.

His son, Dr. William Connelly was the first dentist in Burke County. His daughter Louisa married William Parks McGimsey, the great grandfather of Boger McGimsey, who currently serves as the Register of Deeds in Burke County.

Many Burke County residents trace their lineage back to Dutch John's son, Albert Connelly. Albert was born on March 4, 1813. He married his first cousin, Mary Ann Conley, the daughter of "Big Bill". Albert and Mary Ann lived in a large white house that still stands in the Glenwood section of what is now McDowell County. Albert and Mary.Ann had four children: Henrv Bascombe. Mirah Louise. Sarah (Sallie), and Laura.

Like his forefathers, Albert was a slaveowner and a farmer. Following his death in 1885, albert's estate was taken over by his son, Henry Bascombe.

Bascombe was born on September 11, 1854. He married Sarah Melinda Hicks on March 16, 1876. They had six children. Albert, John Marvin, James David, Joseph, Floyd Asbury, and Charles Alvin Connelly.

Like many families, the Connellys were affected by the abolition of slavery. Following the Civil War, the breakdown of the plantation system and the weakened condition of the southern economy forced many families to turn away from farming and find other means of livelihood. Prior to his death in 1911, Bascombe rented his house and property in McDowell County and moved to Marion, where he found work at the railroad depot as a drayman. His son, Charles Alvin Connelly was born on March 13, 1884.

Except for a brief stint as a carpenter in the Norfolk shipyard during World War I, Charles lived and worked in Morganton until his death in 1955. He was employed as a carver for Drexel Furniture Company at the Table Rock plant.

Charles married Essie Maude Greene, the daughter of the well known Morganton grocer, E.A. Greene. They had eight children: Charles Edward, Robert Leith, Vivian May, James Albert, Jack Lane, William Franklin, Joseph Greene, and Sarah Alice.

Charles Edward Connelly lives in Greensboro, N.C. He is married to Sarah Scott More of Greensboro, and they have two children: Charles, Jr. and Maurine C. Ford. He is retired from Cone Mills, where he served as Vice President, Treasurer and Director.

Robert Leith Connelly lives in Morganton, N.C. He is married to Miriam Dickinson of Wilson, N.C. They have four children: Daphne C. McKee, Melinda (Linda) C. Armstrong, Karen, and Robert, Jr. He is retired from Drexel Enterprises, where he served as a Director and as Executive Vice-President for finance and administration. Vivian is married to Glen B. Moody, a photographer, and they live in Charlotte, N.C. They have two children: Glen, Jr. and Michael. James A. Connelly lives in Morganton, N.C. He is married to Mabel Arney of Morganton, and they have two children: David and Scott. He is the founder and President of Nite Furniture Company.

Jack Lane Connelly died in 1962. He was married to Betty Wall of Rutherfordton, N.C. They have three children: Charles Evans, Christine C. McAdams, and Elizabeth (Beth). Jack was Manager of the Owens-Illinois Vineland, New Jersey Plant, Kimball Division. William F. Connelly lives in Toledo, Ohio and is married to Joan Webb of Findlay, Ohio. They have two children: Anne C. Gulley and Kay. He is Vice-President - Corporate Staff of Owens-Illinois. Joseph G. Connelly is a self-employed businessman in Bradenton, Florida. He is married to Bettie Barringer of Hickory, N.C. They have two children: Steve and Andrew.

Sarah Connelly White is an executive secretary for Nite Furniture Company in Morganton. She was married to the late Claude Nelson White, Jr.

Sources: Nancy Alexander, Here will I Dwell, 1956: Connelly genealogical papers compiled by Anne Abernathy Connelly; Interview with Paul Giles; Papers compiled by Paul Giles; Edward W. Phifer, Jr., Burke: History of a North Carolina County; and Col. T. G. Walton, Sketches of the Pioneers in Burke County History.

- Robert L. Connelly, Jr.




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