[Page 2 is blank.]
To my dearly beloved brothers and sisters, and their descendants. May their posterity ever bring forth a spirit of truth and rectitude, and leave their "footprints on the sands of time" as our forefathers have done.
Arms--A fess gules between three holly leaves, ppr. Crest--A dexter arm in armor fessways, issuant out of a cloud, a hand ppr. holding a thistle, also ppr. Motto--Dum memor ipse mei. "While he himself is mindful of me."
This is a surname of ancient standing in Scotland and Ireland, and is supposed to have been originally Ervin, derived, according to some antiquaries, from the ancient "Celto-Sythick Erinvine or Erinfine, which signifieth a true, or stout, Westland man; for Erin, both in the old Gaelic Welsh, and old Gaelic language signifieth the West, and therefore Ireland is to this day called Erin, both by the ancient inhabitants, and by those of Albin, because its situation is west from Albin."
[Page 6 is blank.]
In the following pages I have sought to rescue from oblivion and hand down to posterity at least the names of our ancestors, who, not great in the ordinary sense, lived well in their day, and are worthy of this honor because of their religious zeal and the privations they suffered to maintain it. They were all Presbyterians of no uncertain type, and I am glad to say I have remained in their faith. I will preface my genealogy by a few remarks on the history of the times in which they lived, obtained principally from the early history of Pennsylvania, and Augusta County, Virginia.
At different periods subsequent to the Reformation many lowland Scotch people emigrated to the province of Ulster, in north Ireland. They prospered greatly, and maintained unimpaired the names, customs and religious faith of the country from which they came. They and their posterity regarded themselves -- and were regarded by the Irish of Celtic blood -- as such, in all essential particulars; but as in their own land they were persecuted, in addition to the religious restriction, Irish industry and commerce had been systematically repressed, when their hopes expired, men of spirit and energy refused to remain in the country, and for about fifty years great shiploads of families poured out of Belfast and Londonderry.
The people of Ulster had heard of Pennsylvania, and the religious liberty the people enjoyed and promised to all comers, and to that province they came in large numbers; but jealousies arose in the minds of the original settlers of Pennsylvania, and about 1740, restrictive measures were adopted by the proprietary government against the Scotch-Irish immigrants. Hence many of the race sought homes within the limits of Virginia, and drifted to the County of Augusta, which, at that time, embraced all the territory west of the Blue Ridge mountains, from the lakes on the north to the border of Tennessee on the south.1
John Lewis made the first permanent settlement in Augusta County, Virginia, in 1732, near the location of Staunton, and immediately after a flood of emigrants began pouring into the country. They came with a scanty supply of food; as game was plentiful they lived on the country. They brought clothing,
bedding, guns and ammunition, a few cooking utensils, seed corn, axes, saws, etc. And the Bible was indispensable and transported at any cost. They were profoundly religious; before lying down to rest at night they did not omit to worship the God of their fathers and invoke His guidance and protection. Family worship was universal, and this institution was handed down in our family to the present day.
During the early years of the 18th century the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians began to locate and patent tracts of land within the Shenandoah Valley, including Rockingham, Augusta and Rockbridge Counties, Va. Their innate desire to possess a home of their own, coupled with the love of freedom and religious liberty led them to plunge into the almost impenetrable wilderness, surmounting all obstacles, enduring privations, hunger and want, coupled with a fixed and steadfast belief in the guiding hand of the Great Dispenser of all things. One of the first things the good people of that olden time thought of, and made provision for, was the public worship of God. Accordingly during the year 1740, at Fort Defiance, the first Presbyterian church was organized, and a stone building was erected, whether for a church or a fort cannot now be definitely known. As the necessity for a fort was fast disappearing, in the year 1749 the Rev. John Craig dedicated to the worship of Almighty God the spacious stone barrack within the palisade, which had, during the perilous days sheltered his flock from their temporal foes, and named it the "Augusta Stone Church". Mossy Creek2 and Tinkling Springs3 was afterwards formed out of this congregation.
For about twenty years the immigrants were unmolested by the Indians, and many who had known wars in Ireland lived and died in that peace, in the wilderness, for which their hearts yearned in their native land.
Within this beautiful valley west of the Blue Ridge mountains I have located our emigrant ancestors, Edward Ervin, Sr.,4 and Edward Erwin, Jr., John Logan, James McCampbell, Robert Doak,5 Robert Erwin (or Irwin), James Brewster6 and later on James Dunn, and other collateral branches. Irvine, Irvin, Erwin and Irwin -- no matter about the spelling, all are one.
Dr. Christopher Irvine, historiographer to Charles II. in 1687, derived it from the Gaelic "erin" west, and "vine" or "fine", himself combined into "erinvine" a resolute Westland man.
Dr. Christopher Irvine, writing 250 years ago, is authority for the statement that the Ervins came to Ireland with the Scots under Fergus, about A.D. 503, inhabited the lands about the Irvine water (Ayrshire) and later removed to the west border.