Moses Perry

This page isn't complete yet. Work is in progress on incorporating numerous messages from our Perry cousins into its data.
Related pages:
Moses Perry's will

The information on my great-great-great-grandfather, Moses Perry, is somewhat sketchy, but is being added to regularly, thanks to the hard work of several Perry researchers, especially Nancy Scott, whose husband Walter Scott is Moses' great-great-grandson. Nancy has compiled an excellent book, Westward, Ho!, which tells the story of Walter's Perry and other ancestors' migrations across the United States. I will draw upon Nancy's research in these pages but will not try to copy her work verbatim.

Moses Perry's parents. I don't have any information as to the first or last name of Moses' mother. I've seen suggestions by several people that his father was named Thomas Perry. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has been able to produce any evidence to prove, or disprove, this claim. The 1790 U. S. census in Northumberland county, PA, lists a Thomas Perry, but our suggestion, in this page, that he might be Moses' father drew the following response in Oct 2004:

Hi Chuck,

Have been viewing your Perry web site where you say "There was a Thomas Perry listed in the 1790 U. S. census in Northumberland county, PA, who may be Moses' father. His entry lists one male under 16, one male 16 and up, and two females." I believe this entry to be Thomas Perry, who according to his Rev. War Pension Application, was born in 1754, Sussex County, NJ. After spending some time in military when very young, he states in his application

"My father's family soon after removed to Pennsylvania 12 miles above Reading on the Little Schuylkill where we lived 5 years".

According to research, this area would have been Northumberland County, PA. This Thomas married Catharine Uley Fisher. Son John was born in 1789 which would account for the one male under 16 as shown in the census. Thomas and Catharine migrated to Washington County, Ohio. On the same 1790 census page is found Henry Cornes, Corns who also ended up in Washington County and whose children intermarried with the Perry offspring. An Isaac Perry, b. abt 1774, also showed up in Washington County and was named executor of Thomas's estate. According to some researchers, Thomas's daughter Nancy Perry married a Joseph Perry, b. abt 1789 in Lycoming County, PA. (I have not proved this).

To date, this Thomas Perry's lineage has not been discovered.

Sondra K. Prine

It looks like Sondra has eliminated this man from our consideration. My reply to Sondra's note wondering about how sure she was of this Thomas' connection to the descendants she mentioned drew this reply:

Hi Chuck,

I am basing my opinion on the information contained in my Thomas Perry's pension application. I have no other proof that I can be sure of. Interesting is that Nancy Scott in one of her postings lists Moses Perry, b. 1760. as having a warrant for land in Northumberland, Pa in 1794....I wonder if he and my Thomas, b. 1754. could have been brothers. Another Perry researcher, Mary Pierotti states "Moses Perry Land Records: Warrant #470. 25 Feb 1794 Northumberland Co., Buffalo Twp. PA, warrant is requesting for survey. He did not continue the warrant (this means he did not buy the land after having it surveyed). The owner of the land was William Russell.

Cf. also History of Venango County PA, Brown, Runk & Co. pub 1890. Buffalo township remained in Northumberland County after the establishment of Lycoming County. Buffalo township is found right next to White Deer Township in what is now Union County PA." Interesting enough, Catherine Fisher, wife of my Thomas, was born in White Deer Township. Incidentally, Rev. War records also list a William Perry and Joseph Perry from Northumberland Co. In the 'Annals of the Buffalo Valley by John Blair Lynn', Thomas Perry is shown living in White Deer township in the year Buffalo, 1788..but no listing for any other Perry's.

Thomas Perry's pension application can be found at

Hope this info clarifies things....but, I realize the real questions remain. It seems the more we know....the more questions there are.


Sondra is obviously familiar with the research of several of our Perry cousins and we hope she'll keep us advised of her own research. These Perrys quite possibly are related to our own. There were also Thomas Perrys in Dutchess and Montgomery counties, NY, and in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, PA, and there were ten Thomas Perrys in the remaining states for which 1790 census information is available. No data is available for DE, GA, NJ, VA or the western territories.

Birthplace. I formerly listed the following quotation as appearing "on pp. 644-645 of the History of Venango County, Pa., published in 1890":

MOSES PERRY, born in Gates Co., N. J.1 1774. Moved to Lycoming Co., Pa., near Williamsport, about 1793, from thence to Scrubgrass Twp., Venango Co., Pa., in 1799. Settled on part of Matthew Riddle farm near Lisbon, now owned by J. B. Atwell. He lived on this farm until his death in 1849. Raised a family of ten children, three now living:

David Perry, farmer, born Nov. 5, 1811, on the farm on which he now resides in Scrubgrass Twp., Venango Co., Pa. He married on November 24, 1835 and raised a family of nine children, three living.

However, I am unable to locate it in the online version of the 1890 history at Instead I found the following biographical sketch of Moses in pages 975-976 of that history:

MOSES PERRY came to Scrubgrass township, Venango county, near the close of the last century and settled upon a two hundred acre tract of land where his son David now resides. His wife, Sarah, was a daughter of William Russell, a native of Ireland and an early settler of this township. They were the parents of the following children: William; Polly, who married Eli Williams; Margaret, who became the wife of John Parker; James; Phoebe, who married Samuel Marshall; John; Elizabeth, who married Ephraim Galbraith; Martha, who became the wife of Charles Stewart, and David. The last mentioned is the only survivor and was born in 1811 on the old homestead upon which he has lived for seventy-nine years. Moses Perry died about 1840, his widow surviving him some two years.

The biography of Moses' grandson David S. Perry which appeared on page 659 of the 1902 Centennial Biographical History of Champaign Co., Ohio, mentions:

The origin of the family is authentically traced far back into Scottish history, in which country Moses Perry was born, and from where he emigrated to America with his parents when yet a boy.

We don't have any evidence for or against this story. County histories frequently tried to trace their subjects to this or that country in Europe, whether or not those ties could be proved.

Henry Thomas informs us that he has a genealogical chart handwritten by his grandmother, possibly based on information given her by Minnie (Perry) Johnson, which, referring to Moses Perry, states:

His father was English, married a Scot, and had three sons.

Nancy Scott contributed yet another piece of evidence for Moses' possible English origins...

Sorting things, I found the original little scrappaper note that I made from Walter's Aunts Lucile & Velma, saying that the Perrys came from England, a place where they could look across water and see the clothes on the line in Scotland. A British war bride I knew years ago told me that there was only one place in England this could be - near Carlisle, at the Solway Firth.

Keep this story going, because we might want it some day!

I don't know how this fits with the Scotch-Irish church.

The location of Moses Perry's birthplace is further confused by the 1880 United States census, in which his four living children are supposed to have told the census taker three different stories about where their father was born:

Did Mattie mean New York, or Yorkshire, England?

Marriage. We used to have Moses' wife listed as Phoebe Cross. This piece of information was based on a biography of his grandson, David S. Perry, which appeared in a county history in Ohio. These histories are usually a good source of family history facts, but we've received conflicting data from Virginia (Perry) Culbert and other sources which indicates that Moses' wife was named Sarah Russell. Virginia says her mother told her that Moses Perry's wife was Sarah Russell. This information is also confirmed by Walter and Nancy Scott's research.

If Sarah Russell was Moses Perry's wife, who was Phoebe Cross? Was she a misprint? A figment of a biographer's imagination? Did D. S. Perry really think she was his grandma? There were several Cross families in Venango county in the early 19th century, and one of Moses' sons married a Cross. In Mary Pierotti's e-mail of 22 Jan 2002 she mentions:

More Cross Mystery. In 1841 we also find Samuel Cross in Slippery Rock township. By his second wife, he has daughters: Jane (PERRY) and Sarah (BOVARD). The History of Butler County 1883, states that only one of his children, Mrs. PERRY, was still living in Venango County in 1883.

We also have a Sarah BOVARD in the family. She is the daughter of Charles Stewart and Martha "Mattie" Perry (d/o of Moses Perry & Sarah Russell). Charles Stewart and Mattie Perry were married in May 1836 in Cherry Township, Butler County!

These must be two different Sarah Bovards.

The following is a part of a description of the beginning of white settlement in Scrubgrass township from pages 550-552 of History of Venango County, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Ill., Brown, Runk & Co., 1890:

Some of the earlier families are no longer represented, and after the lapse of so many years it has been found difficult to obtain any reliable and complete details regarding such as are. From a comparison of the best evidence, however, it appears that the first settlement of Scrubgrass resulted from the explorations of James Scott... After his return to Westmoreland [county, about 1794], Scott gave his neighbors such a favorable account of the Scrubgrass region that ten or twelve accompanied him thither, thus inaugurating the emigration from Westmoreland county that contributed so large an element to the population of the southern townships of Venango county. Scott's first improvement was made near the Butler county line on a four hundred acre tract. Several years later he sent for his father, who located here, while the son took up another tract, the same now owned by Moses Perry.3 The stone house in which the latter now lives was built by him [Scott], and here he died in 1837...

Moses Perry bought the farm upon which his son, David Perry, now resides, near the close of the last century. He married Sarah, daughter of William Russell, and they were parents of a large family, one of whom, David, lives upon the old homestead. Mr. Perry died in 1840, and his widow some two years later. Their eldest son, William, was a man of considerable local prominence, and was recognized as one of the leading citizens of Venango county. He took an active interest in public affairs, was elected county commissioner in 1838, and some years later represented the county in the legislature. He married Elizabeth, daughter of James Craig, and died in this township.

Page 549 of the same history lists Moses Perry among the early landowners of Venango county, giving the following description of his holdings:

Moses Perry.--Four hundred and fifteen acres, adjoining lands of James Scott, Samuel Jolly, and James Polk; surveyed April 29, 1814, in pursuance of warrant bearing date February 26, 1814.

Children. This is our best guess as to who Moses Perry's children were:

  1. William Perry (senior). Born 24 Jan 1794 in Williamsport, PA. Died 29 Apr 1877 (or 27 Apr 1878 or 23 Apr 1873)4 in Scrubgrass township, Venango county, PA. Married:
    1. Nancy Anderson5,
    2. Elizabeth Craig.5
  2. Mary (Polly) Perry. Born 13 Feb 1796. Married Eli Williams 14 Apr 1818. Died after 1870.
  3. Margaret Perry. Born about 1798. Married John W. Parker. 8 Jan 1822. Died 18 Oct 1865 in Butler county, PA.
  4. James Perry. Born about 1799. Married Mary Jane Cross. Died before 1880.
  5. John Perry. My great-great-grandfather. Born 5 Dec 1802 in Scrubgrass township. Married Mary Ann Smith 4 Jun 1834. Moved to Ohio about 1847. Died 23 May 1889 in Urbana, Champaign county, OH.
  6. Phebe Perry. Born 5 Dec 1803. Married Samuel Marshall about 1824. Died 15 Dec 1885 in Franklin, PA.
  7. Elizabeth (Betsy) Perry. Married Ephraim Galbraith. Died between 1841 and 1852.
  8. Martha (Mattie) Perry. Born 1809 in Scrubgrass township. Married Charles Stewart May 1836. Died before 1890.
  9. David Perry. Born 5 Nov 1811 in Scrubgrass township. Married Susannah Calvert 24 Nov 1835. Died 1892 in Scrubgrass township.

Based on the 1800 census, there may have been an additional male child who died in infancy.

A cousin sent me a gedcom file which listed a T. M. Perry, born in 1829, among Moses' children. This information may have been circulated to other researchers. I questioned the data when I received it, since it was unlikely Moses would have had a child so many years after the birth of his other children, especially if he were married to the same wife through all those years. Thanks to the efforts of several researchers, we've been able to identify this mysterious individual as Thomas McClintock Perry, who was the son of Moses' brother Thomas Perry.

Residences. Even if Moses' own birthplace is still a mystery, it appears that he lived awhile in New York before moving to Pennsylvania. In the 1850 census, his brother, Thomas Perry, was listed as being 68 years old and born in New York. Even if Moses was born overseas, he must have come to America by about 1782. From New York, he moved with his parents to the central part of Pennsylvania, then on to Venango county by the end of the 18th century, along with his wife Sarah and their first few children.

According to Mary Pierotti, Moses Perry requested a patent for land in what would become West Buffalo township, PA:

"25 Feb. 1794, No. 470, Northumberland County, 400. Moses Parry [sic]. Whereas Moses Parry of the county of...[paper is cut off here] hath requested to take up four hundred acres of land adjoining land this day granted to Wm. Russell Jun'r in the county of Northumberland (Provided the land is not within the last purchase made of the Indians) for which he agrees to pay, immediately into the office of the Receiver-General, for the use of this state, at the rate of fifty Shillings [sic] per hundred acres, in gold, silver, paper money of this state, or certificates; agreeable...."

On the Scrubgrass Township page at the Venango County genealogy web site, there's a list of place names, including:

Lisbon, PA
Lisbon, PA, is a tiny community that appears as no more than a crossroads, within a mile of I-80, on a modern map of Venango county. It was here in Scrubgrass township that Moses Perry spent most of his life, raising his children to maturity. Here, he was recorded in each census from 1800 to 1840. Thank you, Kelly Marshall, for sending us this photo!

Death. Thanks to the availability of his will, we can place the time of Moses Perry's death in the month of April 1848. The will also implies that Moses' wife was still alive at the time he prepared it.

1 There is no Gates county in New Jersey.
2 David, his wife, and five children were enumerated in Scrubgrass township in the 1850 census.
3 This is probably Moses' grandson, Moses Thomas Perry, son of David, who was born in 1850.
4 The first date is from William's biography and the second from his obituary; the third appears on his tombstone!
5 Listed on the Scrubgrass Township page at the Venango County web site.
This page was last updated 1 Jan 2010.