Irish Heritage

Religion in Family History

Since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I have been thinking about my Irish heritage. I have several branches of my family with Scotch-Irish ancestry. It is sometimes difficult to determine if an ancestor is Scottish or Irish. Many Scottish families immigrated to the US through Ireland and there is also a great similarity in some of the surnames. Of course, this has a lot to do with the shared Celtic heritage of the Scottish and Irish. Perhaps I should have titled my post Celtic Heritage. Hmm, I can hold that title in my pocket for later use.

I decided to share a few pictures from one of the Irish branches of my family. You may wonder if I will be sharing something about my Grandma’s family. She had beautiful red hair, but her ancestry was more Scottish than Irish.

Instead I am sharing one of the branches from my Grandpa’s family.

Here is the first picture.

Absalom Leeper - Mount Pleasant Iowa - Preacher - Christian Church - Pioneer Preacher - Mad as a Hatter - Hat Maker

This is my 4th Great-Grandfather Absalom Leeper. Absalom was born in Pennsylvania in the 1790’s and died in Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1896. His tombstone states that he was 106 years old when he died, but the figure is most likely inflated. He was probably about 98 years old. I am still researching the reasons why his age was inflated.

Absalom was a preacher in the Christian Church and was also at one time a Hatter. Does he look as ‘Mad as a Hatter‘? I do like his white hair and beard in this picture.

I don’t have a picture of his wife, Mary Thomas, but she was of Quaker ancestry.

Next, is a family group shot.

William Leeper Family - Irish Family - Shenandoa, Iowa - Old Family Portrait

This picture was taken in Shenandoah, Iowa and is my 3rd Great-Grandfather William Amos Leeper and his family. Of course, he is the one with the great white beard. I think that my 2nd Great-Grandfather John Henry Leeper is sitting to his right. Sitting on his left is my 3rd Great-Grandmother Susannah Bunt. I have a few interesting stories to share about some of her ancestors. Including one of them who went to church with George Washington.

It is interesting that my family generally does not associate this branch of our family as being Irish. Perhaps it is because I am an 11th generation Irish-American through this branch. The first Leeper in our family came to American in the early 1700’s, and they were Presbyterian. Most of the early Irish immigrants came to America for religious or political reasons. Later waves of immigrants came because of the great potato famine.

Even though my Irish ancestors were Presbyterian instead of Catholic, I can still appreciate my Irish heritage today on St. Patrick’s Day.

Oh, and back to those great beards in the pictures above.

Three Generations of Beards - White Beards - Father, Son, Grandfather - Family Heritage - Irish Beards

I thought I would share one last picture. I have a great picture of my father and grandfather both with beards. This was taken back in 1985, and is the only time that father grew a beard. He grew it for the Centennial of the town we lived in. I decided to add in a picture of myself that was taken several years ago when I was in Antarctica. I guess that white beards are a trend in my family :-).

I hope that everyone had a great St. Patrick’s Day.


This post is part of a series on Religion in Family History. See also:

Religion in Family History

Amish in California?

The Light in the Forest

Stephen Jenks – Singing Master

Amish in Oregon

Amish Origins

Gallup Poll Connection I – Amish

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Pilgrim Ancestry

First Amish Settlements

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20 Responses to Irish Heritage

  1. Boomdeeadda says:

    It just amazes me that you have photo’s of your 4th great grandfather. That’s stunning and wow, he has a lot of hair. So, I see you come by your crazy do honestly, LOL I love the colour in photo’s from the 80’s. I have a bunch like that too.

  2. Sheryl says:

    All the pictures are great–though my favorite is the one of your 4th great grandfather.

  3. Glenda McDougal says:

    Amazing that you have these wonderful pictures of your ancestors that go that far back. Thanks for sharing.

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