Compiled and written by Bonnie Adam Wallace in 1993.



To tell the Jacob Straley story, first it will necessary to review his ancestry.  The descendency chart traces our Jacob back to Christian Straley.

Christian Straley is considered the progenitor of our line of Straleys in America.   The following article titled “Christian Straley” gives a brief sketch of his life. It was probably written by Christine J. White, a descendant of Christian’s son Joseph.  We descend from Christian’s son George.

Christian Straley

Jacob and Susan Straley, John and wife with several children came to the new world 1758 and landed in New York. Christian being one of the children of John Straley.

Christian Straley was born in Strettgarst, Germany, September 21, 1742.  Christian married Christina Lance (Lantz) who was born in New Jersey 1745.  The spelling in Germany was probably Straehy.

Christian enrolled in American Revolution during the period 1777-1779 as a Private, 7th Class, in Captain Isaac Cooper’s 8th Co., 5th Bn., Philadelphia City Militia, according to the evidence of a General Muster Roll, Book 1, page 44.  Residence is ascribed to Northern Liberties.

Years following the Revolution, you can find information with reference to tax books in Pennsylvania as their home location.

Children of which we have listings were George Straley born about 1770, Christian Straley born 1777, Joseph Straley born 1780 and probably a daughter Mary Straley.

Grandson, Thomas Benton Straley, erected monument, Jane Lew, W. Virginia at the burial site of Christian and Christina Straley, this being on the Straley farm with reserved plot of land to be held forever.  Thomas was the son of Joseph Straley.

Christian Straley died August 14, 1818 and Christina Straley died 1820.

As the article states Christian enrolled in the American Revolution during the period 1777-1779.  Following the Revolution they remained in Pennsylvania for a time.  In the Hacker’s Creek Journal Vol. VII, p. 89 in an article written by Joy Gregoire Gilchrist titled “The Straley Line” it says, “In 1782, with the Revolution over and western expansion in the making, the Straleys, like many other Germans, left Philadelphia and moved to Hampshire County (VA, now WV) where Christian appears on tax lists in 1782 and 1784.  In the same year, he was also taxed in Philadelphia.  By 1789 he is listed in the first land tax book of Pendleton County (VA, now Highland Co. VA) at Crabapple Bottom where he owned 80 acres of land. The family remained at Crabapple Bottom until 1794 when Chrisian sold the property to John Miller.

“In 1795 the Straleys were in Harrison County (now Lewis County) WV where Christian appears on the List of Tithables with 3 tithes to pay.  Here Christian purchased at least five separate tracts of land including land in the Freeman’s Creek area as well as the tract now known as Straley Addition in Jane Lew.  He purchased a tract of 400 acres adjoining Jesse Hughes on 11 Nov 1794 for the sum of 150 pounds and on 21 Jan 1799 he bought 19 1/6 acres from William and Sudney Lowther for the sum of 58 dollars.  His final purchase for the Jane Lew property was on 18 Aor 1808 when he purchased a tract of land for 150 dollars.   The property remained his and Christina’s until 13 Apr 1818 when, shortly before his death, he sold the property (580 acres) to sons George and Joseph for the sum of 800 dollars.

“The Straley home stood where the National Guard Armory is today. Constructed of logs and later covered with clapboard, the home stood until recent times when it as torn down.  Logs from the home were said to be too termite-ridden to be used in modern construction.

“Other mementos of the Straleys have passed down through the generations; if these things could only talk, what interesting stories they could probably tell.  Merle Allman of Parkersburg is the keeper of the Straley family clock that is said to have come from Germany with the family.  Christine (Jackson) White of Jane Lew preserves the old Straley family Bible along with recipes passed down from Christina.  Raydine Teicheira has an intricately pictured small chest that also made the voyage from Germany.

“Christian died 14 Aug 1818 at his home.  His remains were interred on the Straley farm along the banks of Hacker’s Creek.  Christina was buried beside him when she died in 1820.

“Five known children were born to Christian and Christina: Mary, *George, Christian Jr., Elizabeth, and Joseph.”  Our ancestor is George.


George Straley was the eldest son or Christian and Christina (Lantz) Straley. It is believed that ha vas born in Pennsylvania in the year 1770.  His marriage took place in Harrison County, Virginia to Elizabeth Bonnett, daughter of Samuel and Mary Elizabeth Bonnett on March 23, 1796.  To this union thirteen children resulted.      George Straley was a prominent man in the Hacker’s Creek and Jane Lew areas and apparently well thought of and trusted, because he served as executor and witness for numerous wills in these communities.      The Straley family were members of the Harmony Methodist-Protestant Church in Hacker’s Creek.  In fact George Straley donated some of his farm land so that the church could be built.      George Straley was a farmer all of his adult life. He owned a large tract of land in the Hacker’s Creek area.  He also owned a few slaves.      His wife Elizabeth died after a short illness on December 12, 1824 at the Straley home.  She is buried in the Old Harmony Cemetery in Jane Lew.  George remarried in November 1828 to Margaret Roby.  To this marriage four children resulted.      George Straley died August 9, 1846, at his home.  He was in his 76th year.  Sensing his death, he made out his last will and testament on July 29, 1846.  Me left all of his property to his wife Margaret and all of his children from both marriages.    His place of burial has not been located.  Note: A later account in the Hacker’s Creek Journal claims George’s grave has been located in Did Harmony Cemetery.

Children of George and Elizabeth Straley:

Joseph Straley John Straley Samuel Straley Christiana Straley Elizabeth Straley George Straley Mary Straley Stephen Straley Nancy Straley Nicholas Straley Hannah Straley Jacob Straley Susannah Straley

Children of George and Margaret Straley:

Asa Kemper Straley Julia Ann Straley Lucretia Straley David Benton Straley

Margaret Straley continued to live in Hacker’s Creek after her husband’s death.  Her younger children supported her.  She applied to the pension board for a pension through her son David Benton Straley’s service in the Civil War. Despite presenting several letters he had written while he was in the war stating that he was supporting her financially, she not able to get a pension. Her exact date of death is unknown, but is believed to be sometime after 1880.

*Note: In the Hacker’s Creek Journal, Vol. II, p. 80 Joy Gilchrist has an article on the George Straley Sr. family.  She names two more children born to George and his second wife Margaret Roby.  They are:

Penwood Straley Presley H. Straley


III. JOSEPH STRALEY  1796 – 1849

Joseph Straley was the eldest of George Straley’s nineteen children.  He was born 20 December 1796 in Harrison County, Virginia (now West Virginia).  His mother was George’s first wife, Elizabeth Bonnett Straley, daughter of Samuel Bonnett and Mary Elizabeth Lorentz.

Joseph married Elizabeth B. Hamilton 30 April 1818 in Lewis County, WV.  Elizabeth was born 10 April 1802 in Fauquier County, Virginia to Presley Hamilton and Susannah Lawson Hamilton.  Joseph and Elizabeth had 15 children.  One daughter died in infancy and was probably unnamed. A son, Christian, died at birth. The three oldest children were born in Lewis County, WV.

In October 1823 they moved to Fayette County, Ohio traveling through the wilderness in wagons.  They settled near West Lancaster on a tract of land which was covered with timber.  They rapidly converted it into fertile fields.  The remainder of their children were born in Fayette County.  Six of their sons served in the Civil War.

Joseph died 31 July 1849 and is buried in the Koontz Cemetery, Fayette County.  After Joseph’s death, Elizabeth married the Rev. Ben Anderson who preceded her in death.  She died 24 May 1877 in Fayette Co. and is buried in the Koontz Cemetary.

Children of Joseph and Elizabeth Straley:

Susannah Straley Elias Straley Samuel B. Straley Christina Straley Eliza Ann Straley James Straley Elizabeth Straley Jacob Straley Joseph Straley George Presley Straley Christian Straley Caroline Straley William Simmons Straley Mary Jane Straley



Jacob Straley and Mary Elizabeth Sayre were married 28 June 1854 at Washington Court House, Fayette Co OH. Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of Seth Sayre and Clarissa Ravenscroft.  Seth’s ancestry has been published in a SAYRE book by Banta.  Ethel Houston Stripe owned a copy of this book, but at this writing her family has not been able to locate it.  There is a copy in the Fort Wayne Public Library. Thomas Sayre came to Massachusetts from England in 1639. Seth was a direct descendant of Thomas.  Seth’s parents were John Sayre and Hannah Weaver.  Seth was born 1805 or 1806 in Kentucky.     The HISTORY OF ROSS AND HIGHLAND COUNTIES, OHIO pp. 3056 states that settlers Thomas Cox and Seth Sayre arrived Ross County in 1823.  It is likely he came from Meigs County OH where many Sayres settla~when they came to Ohio.  Even today the Sayres are numerous in Meigs County.


For many years all that was known about Clarissa Ravenscroft was that she was born in Kentucky and she walked with a limp. The limp was the result of an injury inflicted by an arrow shot from an Indian’s bow.

In 1988 Margaret Ravenscroft DeLeurere of Bobart IN visited the Brumback Libreary in van Wert OH and noted Clarissa’s name on a five-generation that was on file. At the time she was in the process of revising and updating THE RAVENSCROFTS IN AMERICA written in 1954 by Ruth Thayer Ravenscroft.  The following material was taken from pp. 185-6 of her book.

The Ravenscrofts came to America from England.  A Samuel Ravenscroft came to Boston about 1679.  He married Dyonisia Savage and their only surviving son was Thomas.  Thomas Ravenscroft was prominent in early Virginia history. Although we cannot document our lineage to him, it is possible he is our progenitor.

Clarissa was the daughter of John and Martha Ravenscroft.  John was born before 1795 and died around 1834. His father was James Ravenscroft.  James came to Washington County PA from Virginia which suggests further proof that he might have been a descendant of Thomas, also of Virginia.

The final account papers in the estate of James Ravenscroft in 1834 says the following children signed for their father’s part of the estate in Washington Co. PA. *Note the spelling is Ravenscraft, an error that was frequently made in early days.

Children of John and Martha Ravenscroft:


On page 188 of the Ravenscroft book, Lot Ravenscroft, son of William Harrison and nephew of Clarissa, wrote an account for his children about their grandfather, John Ravenscroft.  He said “He (John) came down the Ohio River and settled in Ohio, near Portsmouth, in the year 1812.”  Since Clarissa was born in Kentucky in 1806, he must have spent time in Kentucky before crossing the Ohio River in 1812.

Children of Seth and Clarissa Sayre:

Sanford Sayre Mary Elizabeth Sayre Asbury Sayre William Sayre Eliza Ann Sayre Clarissa Sayre Henrietta Sayre Albert Sayre John Sayre Newton Sayre


V. JACOB AND MARY – Their Story

As previously stated, Jacob Straley and Mary Elizabeth Sayre were married 28 June 1854 at Washington Court House, Fayette Co. OH.

Their first child, Millard, was born 16 May 1855. He died in infancy.  Their second child, Charles Elliot, born 18 Aug 1857, also died in infancy. Sometime between 1854 and 1860 they moved from Fayette Co. OH to Nebraska.  The obituary of Jacob’s sister, Elizabeth Straley Sharrett, may give a clue to that move.  It says that she and her husband John B. Sharrett were married in Fayette Co. Ohio in 1850 and they located in Johnson County, Nebraska near Tecumseh in 1856.  We know that Jacob and Mary’s third child, Clinton, was born in 1860 near Lincoln, Nebraska.  Tecumseh is about 30 miles southeast of Lincoln so the two families could have made the move together.  The Sharrets were prominent in the early history-making of Johnson County.  John served the county as a member of the first board of commissioners and for many years held the office of assessor.  He died there in 1898 and Elizabeth died at the home of a grandson three miles east of Tecumseh in 1918.

Jacob Straley’s Civil War records show that he joined Co. K, 2 Reg’t Colorado Cavalry on October 9, 1862 for three years at Leavenworth KS.  Be was mustered out on Sept. 23, 1865 at Ft. Leavenworth.  Notations in the records in 1863, 1864, and 1865 state that he was on extra or daily duty as a cook or baker.  It has always been known that the Straley women were good cooks. Perhaps Jacob had a flare for cooking also.

It is not known when Mary Elizabeth returned to Ohio with her little son Clinton. Lizzie was born in 1864, a year before Jacob was discharged from the service.  It is possible Mary Elizabeth returned to Ohio after she learned she was pregnant with Lizzie.  Jacob returned to Fayette County after his discharge and he and Mary remained there until 1876. Three more children, William Eiollis, Della, and Chloe, were born to them.

We do not know what motivated them to decide to move to Jackson Township, Van Wert County, Ohio in 1876.  Jackson Township had been organized twenty years earlier, but it was still relatively undeveloped.  Perhaps the challenge of clearing the land and forging a new life for themselves and their family appealed to them.  In 1877 the family was completed with the birth of a daughter Florence.

Jacob was a farmer, but he was also a carpenter and contractor.  When several of the frame and log schoolhouses in the township were replaced by brick structures, Jacob was enlisted to build the new buildings.

Several years ago I had the opportunity to abstract the old trustee’s records, Civil Court Dockets of the Justice of the Peace, and the Jackson Twp. School records.  Many of the entries gave one a glimpse of what life was like in those early days of the township.  Money was a very scarce item and borrowing five dollars from one’s neighbor to tide the family over a lean period was a common occurrence.  It often took five years or so to repay a small loan.  Since this was before the Savings and Loan era, these loans and other items of indebtedness were handled through the Township’s Civil Court Docket if there was a default in repayment.

Two interesting entries give some insight into the quality of life Jacob and Mary sought for their children. Sometime before 1883 they purchased a sewing machine on time for d 38.00.  Times being lean it took some nudging on the part of the plaintiff, The White Sewing Machine Company, to recover the purchase price, but on August 26, 1885 they paid their debt in full.  In a family with four daughters, can’t you just imagine what a valued piece of equipment the sewing machine would have been. My grandmother, Della Wales Straley Adam, was an expert seamstress and sewing was an important part of her life.  I’m sure this skill was shared by her sisters.

The other item Jacob and Mary bought that threw them into financial difficulty was a parlor organ.  It was purchased from D. S. Johnston and Co. on Nov. 8, 1884. They tried to pay off the debt in small installments, but that did not satisfy the company so on Nov. 13, 1886 the organ was offered at public auction to the highest bidder. Either from lack of funds or from loyalty to their neighbors, there were no bidders and the organ remained in Jacob and Mary’s possession until they were able to pay in full the final indebtedness of $55.18 in February 1888.  This may have seemed a frivolous purchase when money was so scarce, but think of the wonderful times the family had singing around that organ. Both the boys and the girls learned to appreciate music because of the willingness of Jacob and Mary to dare to take a chance.  What a wonderful legacy we share.  Hurrah for Jacob and Mary!

In THE STRALEY REUNION-1933 booklet written by Wilbur Straley, there is a history of the Straley Family after their move from Fayette County to Van Wert County.  That booklet has been reprinted in full on pp. 23-30.  Joan Stripe found a copy in Ethel Houston Stripe’s belongings and graciously made a copy for me.  Wilbur has given a vivid account of life in those early days.