An American Family History

The Sullivan County Looney Family

A blockhouse or garrison house is a small, isolated fort. The typical blockhouse was two stories with the second story overhanging the first. It had small openings to allow residents to shoot attackers without being exposed.

Robert Looney (about 1674) and Elizabeth Llewellen married.

Thomas Looney (1718, married Jane Harmon),
Robert Looney, Jr. (1721 - 1756, Margaret Rhea),
Daniel Looney (1723 - 1760, married Jane Evans),
Adam Looney (1725 - 1770, married Hannah Wright),
Samuel Looney (1727),
Louisa Looney (1728, married Captain John Shelby),
Absalom Looney (1729 - 1796),
Lucy Jane Looney (1730, married Stephen Holston),
John Looney (1732 - 1817, married Esther Renfro),
Peter Looney (1734 - 1760, married Margaret),
David Looney (1735-1810, married Mary McClellan),
Joseph Looney (1740-1817, married Jean (Jane) Bowen).

In 1724, the Looneys came to America. They settled in Philadelphia and later moved to colonial Maryland. Soon after, they moved to what is currently Augusta County.

They settled on Looney Creek and established the first ferry crossing of the James River and built a mill.

A fort was built in 1755 near the Looney home. It was named Fort Looney and was at the junction of Looney Creek and the James River.

In 1783, John received a warrant for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

Sullivan County is in far northeast corner of Tennessee between North Carolina and Virginia and was originally part of those states. It was formed in 1779 when it was divided from Washington County.


Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.



There were two Peter Looneys. One, who changed his name to Peter Luna was the son of Peter. The other Peter was the son of Absalom.

Both Peter Looneys made a trip in 1779-80 to Big Salt Lick, or French Lick (now Nashville) on Cumberland River. One went by boat with Capt. John Donelson; the other followed a completely different route by land with Capt. James Robertson.

East Tennessee is part of Appalachia. At the end of the French and Indian War, colonists began drifting into the area. In 1769, they first settled along the Watauga River. During the Revolution, the Overmountain Men defeated British loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain. The State of Franklin was formed in the 1780s, but never admitted to the Union.

David Looney was born 1735 in Augusta (now Rockbridge) County, Virginia.

He married Mary McClellan.

Robert Looney (1752),
Joseph Looney (1755)
Anna Looney (1758, married John Vaughn),
Mary Looney (1761, married Jeremiah Taylor),
Sarah Looney (1764, married Samuel Gregg),
Julia Looney (1767, married Abraham McClellan),
Janie Looney (1770, married Samuel Caruthers),
David Looney, Jr. (1777),
Abraham Looney (1780).

They lived on Muddy Creek, two miles above the Holston River. David built a blockhouse.

In the 1778 Washington County court records

Ord. take the depo. of David Looney and Jas. McCain on behalf of Peter Huffman, defdt. in a suit with William Cocke, on a cavit.

In 1783, 1784, and 1789 David received warrants for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

David died on May 1, 1810 in Blountsville, Sullivan County

  David, Michael, Peter, John, Samuel, Benjamin and Robert Looney signed the 1777 petition of men living on the north Holston River complaining about the division of Fincastle County. They felt the line was not equitable and the court house was too far away.  

Robert Looney (1721) married Margaret Rhea. Margaret was Joseph Rhea's (1715) sister.

Their children included:
John Looney (1744, married Elizabeth Renfro),
Moses Looney (1745, married Sarah Holston),
Benjamin Looney (1748, married Mary Johnson),
Samuel Looney (1751), and
Mary Looney Grimes (1756).

In 1783, Benjamin received a warrant for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

After Robert's death, Margaret married Stephen Renfro.


Samuel Looney (1725). His wife was named Ann.

Samuel Looney, Looney, Jr.
Moses Looney.

In 1779 the Washington County, Virginia Court heard the motion of Anne Loony administration is granted her on the Estate of Samuel Loony deceased . ..

After his death, Ann married Elijah Cross.


Absalom Looney (1729) married Margaret (maybe Moore)

Michael Looney married Temperance Cross.


Moses Looney was born about 1745.

He was a captain in the militia as early as 1774.

In February, 1780 the first court of Sullivan county was Moses Looney's house. Moses Looney was captured by indigenous people in 1781.

In 1783 and 1788, Moses received several warrants for land in Sullivan County, Tennessee. At that time it was in North Carolina.

  Benjamin Looney (1748) had at least one son Isam Looney. Isam married Anna Greenway.  

Samuel Looney (1751) was one of the earliest settlers of the Holston Settlements. He had a large tract of land located on the Holston, one mile below the mouth of Beaver Creek.

He married Nancy (Ann) Lane.

Nancy and Samuel's children included:
Moses Looney (1775),
Samuel Looney (1776), and
Sarah Looney (1777).

Samuel, Sr. was killed by indigenous warriors.

After his death, Nancy Lane Looney married Elijah Cross.

There were two Beaver Creeks in early Washington County, Virginia. One (also called Shallow Creek) flowed through Bristol and emptied into the South Fork of the Holston River in Tennessee. The other was a south branch of the North Fork of the Holston River in current Smyth County.

The Holston River flows from Kingsport to Knoxville.
map by Kmusser