The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Looney and Birdwell family of our ancestors…

An article I wrote and it is posted on the WikiTree profile for Thomas Lewellyn.

Thomas Lewellyn Looney was born about 1718 on the Isle of Man. He was the oldest son  of Robert Looney and Elizabeth Llewellyn. He immigrated to Pennsylvania with his parents and into Virginia when they moved to Virginia circa 1740. He passed away about 1760.[1]

Thomas Looney and Jane Harmon’s marriage is acknowledged and their birth dates given in the Huntsville History Collection. It reads, “Thomas LOONEY was born 1718, and died 1755. He married Jane HARMON[2]

Thomas Lewellyn Looney and wife Margaret Jane Harmon, who married circa 1742 had children, one was Mary Looney. Mary Looney was born 1742 at Washington, Augusta County, Virginia.[3] Mary Looney married in 1759 to George Birdwell in Stafford, Stafford, Virginia, USA. Mary Looney Birdwell died 1781 in Sullivan County, Tennessee.

A second daughter, Louisa Looney was born about 1745 in Augusta County, Virginia.

Thomas was the first of the Looney brothers named in the 1742 muster roll of Augusta County, thus is designation as the oldest son. He obtained 400 acres in what would become Abb’s Valley that was named after his brother, Absalom Looney. Thomas was reported as having settled there by 1754 but that is uncertain given other information.[4]

Named on the roll in Capt George Robinson’s Company of Militia during the time of the Revolutionary War for the commonwealth of Virginia was Thomas Looney. Also, named in the same company was Robert Looney, Daniel Looney, and Adam Looney.[5]

The story of an early demise for Thomas Lewellyn Looney were very much presumed. There were probate papers for his estate filed on more than one occasion of his presumed death, but never acted upon by the courts. It is often reported that he was killed by indians in 1746, but he was much alive until 1760.

Thomas Looney was reported killed during an attack by Shawnee Indians who raided the settlement in early 1746. There was a petition on behalf of Margaret Lundey [Looney] that informed the court that her clothes had been taken by David Logan, Constable on attachment vs. her deceased husband Thomas Lundey [Looney] as suit of Daniel Harriss, be returned.[6] Since Lundey is not a name that appears in any of the printed abstracts of Augusta County, the correct name must have been Looney. [7]

Thomas Looney was appointed road work in November 1746 in court documents. The road work traversed “from Adam Harmon’s to the north branch of Roan Oak.” That would be pretty difficult for a dead man to accomplish. Men in the day would go on long hunting expeditions and would not return home for long periods of time. That might explain why court papers were filed presuming Thomas Looney’s death.

In the fall of 1760 there was a conflict with Shawnee at the Little River. It has been named the Battle of Little River. There was a large band of Shawnee who surprised and fell upon a Dutch family. The family had delayed the call for everyone to come inside the fort, actually there was an order for the entrance into the fort. They did not need the order.

The Shawnee killed some of the family and captured a Dutch woman, took property among which were horses and cooking vessels. They then headed in the direction of Little River.

Captain Henry Harman, brother of Margaret Jane Harman Looney, and his milita went into hot pursuit. Among the soldiers of his militia were Margaret Jane Harman Looney’s husband, Thomas Lewellyn Looney and David Lusk.

The Shawnees had stopped where there may have been cover by the tall sedge grass, cooked a meal in the stolen vessels and were gleeful in their enjoyment of the meal of which they were partaking.

Knowing the make up and willpower of the militia that served under him, he chose Thomas Looney and David Lusk to place in the rear. Thomas Looney and David Lusk were ‘tried and true’ soldiers that held his trust. He placed them in the rear to rally and bring the soldiers in should the militia falter; Looney and Lusk were told they would be at his back at first fire should the militia falter.

Captain Harman acted as if a vidette and was creeping ever so close to the feasting of the Shawnee party as a tall Shawnee bent over and sopped his bread in the food. Upon rising, Captain Harman fired a well aimed bullet and the Shawnee’s back bent as if an elbow. The Shawnee party sprang into quick action, positioning themselves behind trees and firing back at Captain Harman who was also positioned behind a tree.

Suddenly, Captain Harman felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and there smiling back at him were Thomas Lewellyn Looney and David Lusk, his ‘tried and true’ comrades in battle. A lot battle ensued with splinters from the gunfire of the Shawnee becoming embedded in their hair. The splinters were not picked out until they returned to the safety of the fort; more work lie ahead for them.[8]

Captain Henry Harman questioned the Dutch woman they had recaptured from the Shawnee as to the number in the party of the Shawnee. He first questioned her in English and she did not answer. He then questioned her in the Dutch language and she replied there were thirty.

Then at the fire of Thomas Lewellyn Looney’s own gun that brought down an approaching Shawnee, he heeded the instruction of his Captain by “…aim like you are shooting at an old buck ” and the shot felled the Shawnee. The others in the militia unit came forth. The battle continued furiously until the Shawnee who had seven felled by the militia, escaped into the tall sedge grass in retreat.

The probate record for Thomas Looney was published on 19 Nov 1760 in Augusta County, Virginia.[9]. Another source for this information states that David Looney was made administrator of Thomas Looney’s estate on the same date. At the same time, David Looney was appointed administrator of Daniel Looney and Peter Looney’s estates. The reports of his estate being brought into the legal court system, may have no indication of his true date of death. In the Looney family along there are many recordings of the brothers and close kin being killed or were taken off by the indians.

The Looney family even intermarried with some of the indians. The second Robert Looney family has two such marriages documented and there was a third. The third married a niece of Enoli, Black Fox, who was chief of the Cherokees. This Enoli lived and died in Alabama, likely Mississippi Territory. John, the son of the niece of Enoli and a Looney became a Chief and died 1846 in Washington while in D.C. to sign a treaty with the government. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery.

Samuel Looney, son of the second Robert Looney is supposed to have married a grandchild of Pocohontas, but that is without record. [10]

On 26 Dec 1766 [2QQ98] the son-in-law of Thomas Lewellyn Looney, James Brigham, and David Looney of Fort Chiswell presented a letter to William Thompson of Back Creek relating to a financial matter in which Looney and Henry Harmon are involved. The file was witnessed by Anthony Bledsoe, and endorsed by James Brigham and David Looney. This further connects the Harman and Looney family.[11]


  1. Uprooted: An American Family Saga, Volume Two, by Kathleen Shelby Boyett, page 223, published 2014
  3. Uprooted: An American Family Saga, Volume Two, by Kathleen Shelby Boyett, page 223, published 2014
  4. Early Adventurers on the Western Waters, Kegley
  5. Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers, Militia Miscellany in the Draper Manuscripts, page 225, Looney-136.jpg
  6. ↑ Augusta Order book One, page 26, dated 15 April 1746
  7. ↑ Reported by Madge Looney Crane, Uprooted: An American Family Saga, Volume Two, by Kathleen Shelby Boyett, page 223, published 2014
  8. ↑ Periodical: Harmon Genealogy (Southern Branch), 1700-1924, written by John Newton Harmon, S, Publisher: W. C. Hill printing company, Richmond, Virginia, page 89
  9. Virginia, Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850 9 Nov 1760, Augusta County, Virginia. Notes: This probate record was originally published in Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, 1745-1800
  10. ↑ page 226 of Uprooted
  11. The Preston and Virginia papers of the Draper Collection of ManuscriptsVolume I. Preston manuscripts, page 59

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