Donegal, Pa.
Home Up Donegal Family Tree Misc


Several of the Doak family located in this area in 1723 or 1724.  John, the earliest arrival may have been there in 1721.  Before we talk about them, let's review a little history of this important frontier area of America.

The Scotch-Irish settlers were working their way west with their settlements in the early 1700's. The Germans were anchored firmly in eastern Pennsylvania and rather than trying to merge into the well established German communities, the Scotch-Irish pushed west into the wilderness looking for new land to develop and settle.  "Old" Donegal was settled starting about 1720 and farms were staked out on both sides of what is now known as the Chickies Creeks. Donegal Presbyterian Church was established here. But the settlers continued to push West and about 1762 another Donegal was settled in what is now Somerset County, West of Pittsburgh right on what is now the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This later Donegal was noted more for its iron deposits and iron industry than it was for its farm potential. In the late 1700's, for a time, there was a 3rd Donegal (Township) where Butler PA. is now located. There is no evidence of THAT settlement on todays' maps. The 2nd Donegal on the Pennsy Turnpike is still alive and well and visible on road maps.  For our Doak genealogy research we are only interested in the original "Old" Donegal on the Chickies Creek.

Donegal (mispelled as “Donegar” in one Doak Deed), was a very early trading town on the Susquehanna near the Chicques and Little Chicques Creeks (The Chicques Creek is the shortened version of the name - the full name was “Chicquesalunga”). The name has been modified in modern times to “Chickie” and can be found on maps today. Donegal was erected in 1722 though some settlers were there earlier.  Donegal was part of Chester County until 1729, when Lancaster County was taken out of Chester County.

During the late 1600’s and early 1700’s this entire area was virgin frontier territory administered from Philadelphia as part of the Proprietary given to William Penn on March 4, 1681 by King Charles II. William Penn governed this territory (mostly while absent from the province) through a deputy name Capt. William Markham. Markham’s title was “Governor” and he headed up a “Council of Nine” to actually run things in the huge commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was their duty to set up a government to do things like making law, enforcing the law, surveying the land, levying and collecting taxes and renting, selling or granting land. And this they did, but it could not be done all at once and the western lands did not get much attention from 1681 up through the first 30 years of 1700. And yet the Scotch Irish settlers were coming into the area in a steady stream, so the settlers did what they had to do out of necessity, they drove stakes in the ground and claimed their farms without any authority to do so. By the laws of the new Commonwealth, they were “squatters” with only flimsy “squatters rights” and the strength of their numbers, their arms, and their common problems, to protect them. During the years 1710 to approximately 1730 they did not have a way to buy and get title to their lands. The “Council” in Philadelphia had not yet gotten around to surveying the land and offering it up for sale. Nor had a means of  renting land from the Proprietary been established. It is no wonder that Land records are hard to find today. There weren’t any prior to 1730. In many cases it took 15 years before title was obtained by some settlers. The following excerpt from Egles’ “History of Pennsylvania - 1883” is enlightening:

“They (the settlers) generally selected the highest ground, which at that time was covered with lighter timber than the bottoms, and was more easily cleared. They gradually worked from Chicques creek to the Swatara and Paxtang creeks (near present day Harrisburg). The land upon which they settled was not (yet) placed in the market for sale or settlement by Penn. They refused to pay any quit-rents to the Proprietaries, who declined to issue any patents for their land. They (the settlers) were a law unto themselves, and often proceeded in a summary way to enforce the squatter law. The following extract taken from the minutes of the Council, held February 2, 1727, give a very good idea of the manner in which disputes among neighbors were settled: ‘Upon a Representation to this Board, that in remote Parts of this Province, where Lands have not been regularly Surveyed or granted, divers Persons not only Enter & Settle the Proprietors’ Land without any grant or permission, but sometimes have proceeded to Acts of Violence in forcibly ousting of others, a remarkable Instance of which has lately happened in or near the Township of Donnegal, on Sasquehannah, where one John Scott being with his Wife and Children in peaceable Possession of a House, which he had built, were not only ousted by Force, but their house was pull’d down before their Eyes, to the very great Breach of the Peace & Terror of the Kings’s peaceable Subjects; To which Proceeding, unless a timely Stop be putt, & an effectual Discouragement given, the Country and Publick Peace thereof may very deeply suffer thereby’ “.

As noted above, Donegal was erected in 1722 and adjoined the western boundry of Conestoga Township. The western boundry of Conestoga was the Conestoga Creek. Pequea Township seems to have been the north-east boundry of Conestoga and was probably established about 1720 (Egle).  Donegal lay between what is now Marietta and Mount Joy. These two communities were established AFTER the early Donegal was settled.  The Marietta/Mt Joy turnpike passed over Donegal Run. On today’s maps, one can find Donegal Springs, Donegal Heights, Donegal Mills Plantation and Newtown - all of which were no doubt part of old Donegal. The Donegal Presbyterian Church is located about 3 miles West of Mt. Joy.

Early Donegal Church Map Showing Location

John Herzler Farm Conewago Creek Brill's Run Dauphin County

Donegal Springs circa 1902

Donegal Presbyterian Church circa 1902


John Doak was original owner ca.1727


Historian Egle lists the names of many of the early Donegal settlers. The first was James Galbraith who came to America with William Penn in 1680. He was from Scotland from a famous Scottish family. His sons were John, James Jr. and Andrew. Andrew was appointed a Justice of the Peace at Donegal in 1730. He was also elected a member of the Assembly in 1732. He lived on Little Chicques Creek midway between Mt. Joy and Marietta. John Galbraith was elected Sheriff of Donegal in 1731. He lived at a crossing just north of his brother Andrew. He owned a grist mill and large tracts of land along the river.

Robert Buchannan and his brother Arthur were early Donegal settlers where Robert was elected Sheriff in 1732, 33, and 34. Samuel Smith was Sheriff in 1735, 36, 37. George Stewart lived in the area 15 years before dying in 1732. Ephraim Moore settled about a mile north-west from Donegal Spring. James Mitchell was a land surveyor and Justice of the Peace. He lived in the township before 1722. (Your Web Master is checking to see if this Mitchell was one of the sons of John Mitchell of Londonderry, N. H. 1721.) He was elected to the Assembly in 1727 and was on the Board of Trustees of Donegal Presbyterian Church and received a patent from William Penn in 1740. This shows how long it took to get title to land in those early days at Donegal. Other names of the early settlers are Hays, Kerrs, Hendricks, Dunlaps, Chambers, Cunninghams, Works, Clingmans, Wilkins. Two Indian Traders in Donegal in 1727 were Henry Baly and Jonas Davenport. At the first Court in 1727 at Donegal the following men of Donegal were given licenses to trade with the Indians including a license “to sell Liquor by the Small”: John Lawrence, Jonas Davenport, Oliver Wallis, Patrick Boyd, Lazarus Lowrey, William Dunlap, William Beswick, John Wilkins, Thomas Perrin and John Harris. Other men living in Donegal during this period were John Galbraith, Francis Water, Peter Corbie, Thomas Mitchell, James Denny, James and John and Daniel and Alexander sons of Lazarus Lowrey, and Hugh Crawford. John Burt and John Kelly traded with the Indians without a license and caused much trouble.  While we see no mention of the Doak families in the available records for the area, there were undoubtedly at least three Doak families farming land in the area during this period from 1723 to 1737.

The following map on right, shows the exact area of the Chickie Creeks and where all the Donegal Farms and plantations were. Note Donegal Mills Plantation.


The area circled in yellow is the approximate location of early Donegal. The farms were lined up on both sides of the Chickies Creeks shown on this map. One can see how the farms must have been laid out and how many of them there were at one time. The present day towns of Marietta and Mt. Joy were not there at the time, but were laid out after the mid 1700's.  Maytown was another community formed in the Donegal area, Maytown, Marietta and Mt. Joy all exist today.

The penciled in notation of the location of Donegal Presbyterian Church is probably NOT correct. The actual location is almost certainly at Donegal Springs also shown on the map a short distance away.


Before 1723, John Doak of Londonderry, N.H., son of the original immigrant Robert Doak, left the farm he shared there with his brother James, and moved to Donegal, Pa.. He had been farming at Londonderry for a year or so and probably heard of the fine farm lands becoming available in Pennsylvania.  He probably took his sister Thankful with him while his brother Samuel, still under age, stayed at Londonderry on the farm of his parents Robert and Margaret. Things went well at Donegal and in 1724, John sold his half the farm at Londonderry to his brother James. There is reason to believe that James did not get along with his father, Robert. In 1723 he was called before the Town Fathers of Londonderry and charged with beating his father.  Though he was judged not guilty, he was admonished to treat his parents with respect. In 1725, Robert and Margaret sold their 556 acres of land in Londonderry and followed their son John to Donegal. They probably had their children Samuel, David, Robert and Anne with them. We don't know if Robert and Margaret bought a farm at Donegal or whether they lived on John's farm. In any case, we think that Robert died on the way to Donegal or shortly thereafter. Samuel came of age and secured farm land at Donegal also. Margaret apparently owned land of some kind at Donegal as there are records showing "Margaret Doak and son" on the Donegal tax roll in 1726 and another Donegal Tax roll of 1727, Chester County,  showing John Doak and mother as tax payers. The actual original record supporting this fact has not been found to this date. Kirsten Straight and her daughter Joycelynn, found a 2nd John Doak farm at the junction of Brills Run and Conawago Creek in 2005. This spot is south west of what is now Elizabethtown, Pa..  So, from 1723 until 1738, it is likely that John Doak and his brother Samuel owned farms in the Donegal area and that their parents were living there also. One genealogist has indicated that they in fact owned several farms at different times from 1723 until about 1738 and that proof of this via land records will eventually be forthcoming.  During these years, their mother Margaret died, probably just prior to 1738. Their sister Thankful had met and married John Finley circa 1722. Their father Robert and their mother Margaret are probably buried somewhere in unmarked graves on the old Doak farms at Donegal. As indicated earlier on this page, records prior to 1730 were practically non-existent. By 1741 John would have been about 44 years old and his brother Samuel about 40. Both men show up about 1742 in the Virginia Militia and by 1741 they owned large adjoining farms near Tinkling Springs in Augusta County, Virginia.

John married Mary Wilson circa 1742 when he was 45 years old. He had 8 children with her starting in 1743, the last was fathered in 1753 when he was 56 years old. Mary Wilson was obviously much younger than he. John died in 1770 at age 73 in Rowan County North Carolina.  It is a mystery as to why John did not marry while at Donegal. It could be he WAS married and Mary Wilson was a second wife, however no children from a first marriage have shown up. It is probable that he and Samuel were pre-occupied with caring for their mother Margaret and their brother David. After Margaret died they were free to sell their holdings and move on to Virginia to new settlement opportunities.

John's brother Samuel married Elinor Mitchell circa 1737 and there is an extensive record of him and his family and their many descendents available from many sources on the Internet. The origins of Samuel appears to be unique to THIS Web Site.

New Information 10/06/05

Kirsten Straight and her daughter Joycelynn, professional genealogists from the state of Washington, have unraveled the mystery of the Doak farms around Donegal.  By spending hundreds of hours going through all the early land warrants for Dauphin, Lancaster and Chester counties, they have found documentation showing that all three Doak brothers from Londonderry, N.H. had owned farms in the Donegal, Pa area between 1723 and 1738/39. John Doak occupied his original land from 1724 until 1727 or thereabouts.  Then we think he turned over his original farm to his mother and brother David and moved to a different  300 acres of land further West in what is now Dauphin County. The farm was  just west of the County line between Dauphin and Lancaster Counties.  The farm was close to the Conewago Creek where it joins with Brill's Run.  Your Web Master and Kirsten and her family visited the farm in Sept of 2005 and visited with the current owner 89 year old John Hertzler. John bought the farm in 1939.  Close by in Lancaster County was a farm owned by brother Samuel and the original John Doak property then held by David and their mother Margaret.


More later.