History of the Orr Family
From documents contributed by Barbara Eades, Rosemary Nay
Karen Dickerson Walsh and transcribed by Rick Holloway.


The story of our Orr families' arrival on this continent starts with Thomas' Uncle William.  Some of this story is speculation, based on documents--some comes from the documents themselves.

William owned about 350 acres of land, and left no heirs behind to inherit his state.  His brothers and sisters all lived in Ulster, (Ireland) and sent Thomas (who I think was the son of Alexander)  to South Carolina to dispose of the property.  Here's a transcript of the power of attorney: 

Heirs...Samuel Orr of Carlagan in County of Monaghan, farmer; Robert Orr of Muhuailghuly, carpenter; Alexander Orr of Bellahaugh in County of Armagh, weaver; Alexander Whiteraft(?) of County of Monaghan, farmer and Ann Whiteraft(?), his wife, otherwise Orr, all of the Kingdom of Ireland appoint Thomas Orr of Bellaheagh in County of Armagh, now age 21, our lawful attorney to demand and receive from administrator of William Orr, formerly of Glenehiem(?) in County of Monaghan and lately of South Carolina in America, where he died, and which property, we the brothers and sisters are entitled.  Given at (?) in county of (?) in ...

Thomas sold the property, but the buyer defaulted on his payments, so Thomas decided to stay and work the property, buying their shares from his siblings who remained in Ireland.  Evidently, William had left an illegitimate son behind, who later attempted to take the land from Thomas.  Aliens (non-US citizens) were prohibited from owning property directly following the Independence of the United States from Great Britain.  Thomas had applied for naturalization after acquiring various properties, and he was now obliged, more than 20 years after his arrival, to petition the South Carolina Senate in order to keep it.  What follows are transcripts of two petitions.

The Orr and Jameson families were quite close.  Two of Thomas' children (Margaret and Amanda) marrieda child of William Jameson Jr.  Thomas' grandson (through James), William Wallace, married Amanda's daughter, Sarah.

You can see a photo of Thomas & Sarah Orr's house here.


The State of South Carolina
Pendleton District

To the Honorable, The President and others the members of the Senate in General Assembly Convened:

The humble petition of Thomas Orr of the district aforesaid, respectfully Sheweth:

   That your petitioner is a foreigner, a native of the Kingdom of Ireland; That being anxious, like many others of his countrymen, to realize the blessings of a free Government and equal Laws, which they had long struggled for in vain at home, he emigrated for the United States, the general asylum of the oppressed of all nations, and landed at Charleston in the month of November 1804.  He came(?) to reside in Pendleton and being desirous of becoming a Citizen of and his attachment to the United States, he did, as soon as he became informed of the steps necessary to be taken to obtain this desirable end, at October Term 1820, in the court of Common Pleas being thus open and Sitting, give notice to the Said court of his intention of becoming a citizen of the United States, and did then and there take and Subscribe the oath of Allegiance and Abjuration in open Court and then afterward, towit at October Term 1823 at Pendleton Court House aforesaid He, the said, Thomas Orr, upon the prayer of his peitition accompanied with ample certificates of good conduct, moral character and fidelity, and attachment to the United States Government was fully admitted to all & singular the rights, privileges and immunity of Citizenship in the United States----all which is fully shown by a certificate under the seal of the Court Accompanying this petition.

    And whereas between the time of your petitioner's first giving notice to the Court of his intention to become a citizen of the United States and of his being admitted to the rights of one, He, the said, Thomas Orr did purchase and with the hard earning of his industry, honestly pay for, certain tracts or parcels of land in Pendleton District, and, like many other foreigners did ignorantly receive titles for the Same--but hath since been informed that there may arise a difficulty in his holding, possessing and enjoying the Same.

    The Prayer of your Petitioner therefore is, that your Honorable body, will (?) this, his memorial, humbly and most respectfully made, confirm to him and his (?) and in fee simple all such lands as he hath thus purchased and paid for, as well as any other which may have been divised to him or to which he may be in any way entitled to.

    The prayer of your petitioner further Sheweth that one William Orr, and Uncle to the Petitioner being a duly naturalized Citizen of the United States was possessed in his own right of Three hundred and fifty acres of land in Pendleton district and is lately deceased.---And whereas the Heirs and representatives of the Said deceased, did, previous to his being fully naturalized, execute a power of attorney authorizing the said Thomas Orr, to sell and convey the said Lands--Now therefore your petitioner further prays that the power they vested in him, may not be deemed and held to be legal and that all his acts done in conformity thereto, and not contrary to Law be held good.---And your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray.
4th November 1826

Thomas Orr (his signature)


The undersigned citizens of Pendleton District certify that we have long known the petitioner, as a good citizen and a sober industrious and Honest man.

                John S. Lewis
                C. C. G. Blv. & C. C. G. S. 
                William Anderson
                Joseph Gresham Postmaster, Pendleton, (?)
                William Swords
Petition of Thomas Orr, Nov. 4, 1826
(found--South Carolina Archives--General Assembly Petitions)



To the Honorable John B. O'Neale, Speaker and others Members of the House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina

The Petition of Thomas Orr, Humbly Sheweth

That your petitioner is a native of the County Armagh in Ireland and a brother, son and Nephew of William Orr, a Naturalized Citizen of the United States of America, late of Pendleton District in this State deceased.  That the said William Orr about June 1803 departed this life without leaving any lawful wife or children and without making any last Will & Testament.  That after his death, That is to say on 17 April 1804, Sam'l Orr, Robert Orr, Alexander Orr, brothers and Alexander Whiteraft and Agnes his Wife, Sister of the Said William orr, employed your petitioner and gave him a power of attorney to sell and dispose of all the Estate of the Said William Orr.  Your petitioner arrived in the United States in November, 1804, and as soon as practicable sold all the Estates of the said William which he could identify.  That about 150 acres of the Land whereon the said William lived, on the 23 Mile Creek in Pendleton District, he sold to one William Spruell, after the sale finding he would be unable to collect the purchase money from Spruell he rescinded the contract.  Your petitioner then settled himself on the said tract of land and has cultivated and improved it for the last twenty three years.  He paid over to one of the persons who gave him the power of attorney the proceeds of the lands said & made advances for the tract he lives on & believes in their satisfaction, as he has always acted openly, fairly and honestly:--He has lately learned that one James Orr--Natural (or illegitimate) son of the said William Orr has petitioned the Legislature to vest in him the legal title to the said tract of 150 acres of land or to have the same Eschewed and the proceeds given to him.  Your petitioner has greatly assisted the said James in obtaining an Education and getting him into business as a merchant.  While your petitioner is a poor labouring farmer upwards of 45 years of age, with a family of seven small children and the prospect of increasing dependant on him for support.

Your petitioner sheweth to your honorable body that he has become a Naturalized Citizen of the United States:  That he is well disposed towards the good order and happiness of the Citizens and attached to the Laws and institutions of this state.

He therefore prays your Honorable body to take his care into your tender consideration And vest in him his heirs and assigns the legal title of the Tract of Land whereupon he now lives, containing 150 acres more or less or grant him such other relief as in your Honorable body shall seem meet.  And as in duly bound he will ever pray.

Pendleton   5 November 1827

                  Thomas Orr (his signature)
State of South Carolina
Pendleton District                   )                                Before me personally came Capt. Thomas Orr and made oath
                                                                                 that the facts stated in the foregoing petition are substantially
                                                                                 true to the best of his belief.
                  Thomas Orr (his signature)
Sworn to 5th November 1827  )
Before Joseph Gresham          )
Not. Pub. & Ea. off                    )
     T. W. Q.                                )
              We the undersigned of the District aforesaid
              certify that we are well acquainted with Capt
              Thomas Orr above named, that he is a very
              respected Honest Industrous Citizen & we 
              beg leave to join him in his petition above.
                  Joseph Gresham
                  James Dauthit
                  James C. Griffin
                  John T. Lewis
                  C. C. G. S. J. C. C. Blv.
                  B Earls
                  Samuel Cherry
GA Petition
1827 #32



From Karen Dickerson Walsh of Texas, a descendent of Thomas Caswell Orr:

(Thomas Caswell) T.C. was born on his father's (Thomas Orr) plantation in South Carolina, one of 12 children.  Caswell Orr is a relative of J.L.Orr, a Member of Congress.

His Civil War record shows:
Jan 17, 1862 Private, CoG 22nd Regiment, South Carolina Volunteer Infantry
Oct 24, 1862 2nd Lieutenant
1864-- Company K, 6th Regiment, South Carolina Cavalry.  Served at Adam's Run, S.C. under Capt. Haugh (orHough?) atShiloh.

After the war, T.C. moved with the Golden family (his in-laws) to Mississippi. They came to Texas (abt 1868)  in 2 covered wagons and crossed the Red river north ofParis.  Lula was the first child born in Texas (at Luella).  T.C. was 6 ft tall, about 170 lbs, with black hair in his youth.  He never shaved, but clipped his beard (he had a long beard).  The Luella Cemetery is about 1 mile north of their farm.  Luella is in Grayson County, Texas, a few miles east of Sherman. 

Eulalia Samantha Delitha Belfedere (nee Orr) Hall (she shortened it to "Eula" belle) was my great grandmother.She was the daughter of John Dean Orr (b. 1861, Piedmont, SC) and Carrie Mullens Orr. John's father was Thomas CaswellOrr.  PerJohn's obituary, he came to Texas in 1868. They settled in Luella, which is in Grayson County, Texas, just a few miles east of Sherman. I noticed Thomas Caswell named a few of his children after his siblings. Lula was John's sister.  It was her son, Judge James Nelson Dickson (Grayson County Judge, probably born between 1890 and 1900) who wrote an article about T.C. and Hannah Orr.  I found it in a Grayson County history book.

When John died in 1943, he was 82 and the last of the original settlers of Luella.  He farmed  there for 75 years.

Karen also noted that, "On reading the petitions to the court {from Thomas Orr}, I realized that it took place in Pendleton District, where the maternal grandfather of Hannah Harrison (Golden) Orr {wife of Thomas Caswell Orr} was JOHN TALLIAFERRO LEWIS."  Lewis was the clerk of the superior court in Pendleton District.

(Rick Holloway notes:  it's interesting to note that the J.C. Jameson family settled down only a few miles from T.C. Orr's family (settling in Van Alstyne and then Blue Ridge) when they arrived in Texas about 25 years later.  T.C. Orr was J.C.'s uncle, and his description--except for the beard-- sounds very much like that of his nephew.  You can see a photo of J.C. Jameson with his family, taken just a few miles from Luella...click here).



John H. Morris writes "My father-in-law, Edward Alexander Orr, was a Furman graduate with a degree in Chemistry.  He hoped to go to medical school, but did not have money. He went on to be superintendent of the water department for Duke Power Co. in Anderson, S.C.  The "other" Orr family along with the Whitners had developed Anderson Light and Power Co, the first long distance transmission of power in the United States at that time.  Alex taught school at Liberty, S.C. and coached football.  Later became Superintendent of the school system.  He went to work for Duke Power in 1943.  Someone in the Orr family or connected to the Orr family had been in Duke Power her down through my father-in-law.  They used to tell the new managers that came here not to worry about the water department, it was run very well.  His word was his bond, you could put in the bank."  (Edward Alexander Orr is a descendent of James Orr.)