| Only the blank faces of undecipherable stones greet visitors to the McCourry family graves on the small Scottish island of Islay. Salt mist, from those same turbulant seas which carried Malcolm to America, have erased all but etched grave markers; and carried with them any trace of Malcolm’s first years there. The first still-legible mark in Malcolm’s history is within the silver-threaded covers of the records of the First Presbyterian Church of Morristown, N.J. At that altar on December 21, 1766 he married Rachel Freeman, daughter of Ester and Benjamine Freeman a wealthy merchant/landowner. Malcolm was born 1742/45 in Scotland and died 1929 Yancey County, North Carolina. Forklore from that region gives young Malcolm a variety of colorful, if unsubstantiated, biographies prior to his marriage. Perhaps he was kidnapped and indentured on a British merchantship? Or perhaps, like an Elizabethan Moses, he was hidden for years in a boat in the waters off Islay, to escape the infantcide practices by English Protestant soldiers who invaded the islands after defeating the Scottish Catholic “Bonnie Prince Charles?”
Whatever the circumstances of his arrival in the colonies, Malcolm quickly made his mark in Morristown. A skilled penman, he read for and practiced law, speculated in real estate, and founded churches, first as a Presbyterian, and then as a Congregational in Chester, New Jersey where he moved his growing family just prior to the Revolutionary War. For twenty- three years he prospered here.
Malcolm McCourry and his first wife, Rachel Freeman McCourry’s six children were:
1. Phebe McCourry, born November 18, 1767. No further information. M. Jacob Drake.
2. Jane McCourry, born September 8, 1769. Married Zephania Horton, March 25, 1788 and moved to North Carolina. He served several terms in the North Carolina Senate. There is a monument standing in the city of Burnsville near where he is buried. Malcolm was friends with the Horton families in Chester N.J. and this probably helped him in his decision to come to North Carolina.
3. Benjamine McCourry, born 1773 and married Cathrine Brown, whose parents were among the first settlers to settle on the Black River in Western New Jersey. Catherine’s parents held many acres of land and during the war there was a battle fought on part of his property.
4. Elizabeth McCourry, married Samuel Carnes, March 17, 1791 and later moved to Mississippi.
5. Rachel McCourry, no further information.
6. Sarah McCourry, no further information.
Malcolm was a member of the New Jersey State Militia, Western Regiment, and under General Munson during the war. Peace time came further increasing Malcolm’s wealth but soon trouble came to him which is unexplained and in 1794 he left his wife and family in Chester nevermore to return.
Traveling to the wilderness of Buncombe County in western North Carolina, Malcolm settled with his new wife, Sally Lynn, on a 35 acre farm on Jack’s Creek, Gilders’ Branch. Four children were added to this family. He is listed in the 1800 census of Buncombe County, North Carolina.
Malcolm and Sally Lynn’s children are:
1. James McCourry born 1798, married Jane Edwards
2. Malcolm Jr. McCourry born 1800, married Martha Deaton.
3. Zephania McCourry born 1802, married Jane Phillips.
4. Harriet Harrision McCurry[sic], born November 13, 1808, married Geo Washington Tucker.
Malcolm continued to serve in the courts of our country by serving many terms as a magistrate of Yancey County.
In Chester the oldest boy Benjamine, managed well on his father’s estate. He joined his brother-in-law Jacob Drake Jr. and established the major stage coach route thru Chester from New York to Philadelphia. After the railroad bought out the stage line the men continued to run two prosperous inns of Chester. One is located at the crossroads where Benjamin’s large white house still stands.
Behind the limestone walls of the Chester Congregational Church cemetery, the first McCurry family plot lies well tended. The markers stand clear, and clearly marked are the graves of Benjamine, and his family, his mother, Rachel Freeman McCourry “relic of Malcolm McCourry Esq.” The McCourry family here was prominent but short lived.
But on Jack’s Creek the family persists, though the resting places of Malcom and Sally Lynn are forever lost in the laurel thickets which quickly reclaim land in the mountains.
Publication source: Heritage I, article #448, p. 266