Our ENNIS ancestors came from Ireland, around either Dublin and/or Athlone. I strongly believe the name arrives in Westmeath with the Army if King James in 1690.
The following is a collection of notes about the ENNIS family of NW ARK & MO who came into that area from IND, KY, VA.
There is a transcript of a letter dated to the 1920's, Note that the letter contains wording that reflects oral history traditions (i.e., 'these are the generations as I have been caught..."). Oral history of this nature, stylized in format, was often extremely accurate and reflects a Celtic background. The transcription outlines the ancestry of the woman Adeline ENNIS Ussery, daughter of Zachariah.
Transcription from a statement recorded in 1923 from Adeline USSERY, Missouri stating her lineage:
"this is my statement as i hav bin teched about my ENNIS ginerasion JOHN ENNIS my grat grat granfather cam from dublin, irlin back in the coln days hee had one son named JIM ENNIS hee had 8 c children thar names was MARTN, an JOHN an WILLIAM an JIM ZACHRIAR an JESSA an JERAMIR and ELISABETH won girl next is our family ZACHRIAR family
now i will comens on ZACKRIAR our grandfather hee was JIM ENNIS son an he was JOHN ENNIS son hoo com from dublin IrlanZACKRIAR had 8 childrn nams ANNA an MARA an ELIZBETH ARONS boys JAMS and WILLIAM an ZACKRIAR an JHON an ELISA grandmother ENNIS her name bee for marig was ANNA BRADCHAW i think grandfather was bornd in for gina i don noo wher grandmother (i wont bee shore) borned she cam from Irlan too but wher shee was bornd her ir thair i dont remember
Your grandmother TERA was a ENNIS ELIZBETH ENNIS'S daughter your grandmother's mother was our fathers aunt, WILLIS Your grandmother TERA was Barba ENNIS before she marred wasnt she of the 4 ginrarations sam as you father and min
was 11 childrn in your fathers family thair was 14 in my fathers family sevn in the first famly an sevn in the last famly thair was 6 marred 2 of the first childern an 4 of the last family WILLIS ant a herin you i noo it will tak time an trubel i just rit becus i hav som wher to rit to i got a leter from Dow the other day hee sad hee was well but Miles had bin sicj but beter you sad you cedn't barly understand albut WILLIAM ENNIS
You noo your uncl WILLAM was my father an his uncle WILLIAM my fathrs uncle was my grandfather ENNIS'S brothe JAMES ENNIS brother JAMES ENNIS'S son.
this in the ENNIS children names of our grat grat gran father."
Note: The "TERA" refers to the husband of Barbra ENNIS, daughter of Elizabeth ENNIS, Barbara's husband was WILLIAM TERRY. These Terry's like many of the ENNIS clan settled in the early 1830-1840's in NW Arkansas and SW Missouri.
At some point in the 1920's and 1930's something triggered an attempt by some of the Ennis group to make claims concerning the Irish estate of the Ennis who first came to America.
A letter to Mr. W.L. Ennis, Cassville, MO (a home location for this line) from a man, assumed to be a lawyer in LA, CA dated Nov. 14, 1937 reads:
"In regards to the Ennis estate I beg to advise that we have produced a summary of all the evidence in the case like I referred to my previous letter. It appears that our claim must be solely based upon your relationship to Sir John Ennis, born in 1800 and died in 1878 and the papers that was sent you from London by F.H. Dougal & Co., seems to be correct. As far as teh monies in the bank I think that is going to be very easy to get which will amount to approximately $16,0000.00, that inclusive of interest since 1883. As to towns and lands mentioned in the famous lease June 10th and 11th 1744 which was sold by the commissioners in 1856 as nefore stated by F.H. Dougal and Co., or the monies derived from said sale and charged to credit of the suit filed in 1848, if the Irish Court awards you the towns and lands mentioned in said lease dated June 19th and 11th, 1744 between Rev. Blachford and George and Hugh Johnston for a sum of 500 lbs per annum which seems to have been paid !
to the Rev. Blachford until the time of his death and it seems that the said George and Hugh Johnston fell behind with their payments which might have resulted in the action of 1848 by Sir John Ennis et al, and if that is the case that may account for the suit between John Ennis and Joseph Johnston as mentioned in a former correspondence. I am certain that you all are going to receive some benefit from this estate. I have not heard from the heirs of William Ennis, or the Usserys. Would like to hear from you from time to time. Sincerely yours, Fred G. -------(last name is hard to read might be Haryl. Fred is followed by a large cursive letter G with os superscripted followed by J (or T?) aryl or b."
In reference to the story of "Sir John Ennis":
This John Ennis in the Westmeath County area claimed by Ennis descendents, may be the son of a Major John Ennis who was listed in the "Irish Landed Gentry when Cromwell Came to Ireland", in the "Retinue of King James the Second, Ireland, 1690.
Also in this volume is a listing under "The Forty Nine Officers" (pg. 384) a Garrett Ennis.
"Irish Pedigrees; Or the Origin & Stem of the Irish Nation, vol. 2", appendix #2, p.776 A John Ennis is listed with the "men of note" who came with King James.
The legend of the immigration of John Ennis to America involves a story that John killed a man being attacked by an English soldier. Versions differ as the reason: some have had a version that a man had poached birds because of hunger (i.e. the "bird killing" in some lines version of the events) and John killed the soldier; some that John killed a soldier abusing a tenant.
From another source comes this:
April 23, 1990
"Yet another story has surfaced about the reason Sir John Ennis came to American as a stow-a-way on a ship.
On Decembe 6, 1987, I received a letter from Alta MCCURRY, who is the grandaughter of Amanda Jane ENNIS HALL. She states in her letter, and I quote, with her permission,---"My father, all the years I was growing up, told me the Ennis story of their coming to America: He said, "grandma (Amanda Jane ENNIS Hall) tol him that Sir John Ennis did kill a man, but this is the story Grandma told Daddy & he told me---"Back in Sir John's time, he owned lots of land and towns, etc. taxes were very high and Sr John rode in the yard of one of his tenants farms and the tax man was there abusing the man (the tenant) about not paying his taxes, and Sir John shot him (the tax man). She further states, "So I would believe this story over the others as the English at that time were taking everyone (the Irish) very heavy. History can prove that." (end quote)
"Clara's note: Perhaps she is right! At least this story is more noble than the other stories, and it's true that the English relentlessly taxed the Irish."
The truth may never be known. It could be that John was the tenant and was defending himself from a soldier when the other man died, necessitating a speedy flight. One way to determine this would be to examine the tax and property lists for the areas of VA where the son, James, lived. If there was money in the form of large land values, the story gains credence.
Nearly every line of Ennis and Terry contacted had a version of the tale (again that oral history process).
If the basic assumptions of the stories about John being a landed individual are true, though, it does raise questions about the property (and income) he would have abandoned. This property may have been passed on to other relatives in the aftermath of his leaving.
However, if these Ennis' came with the army of James in 1680 and were awarded land many things could have happened in the intervening years, including reversals of fortune.
I have been unable, as of yet, to uncover any reports of a death such as the one recorded in the legend. However, there are gaps in the Irish records due to the unrest of the birth of the Irish Republic.
The chief source of the legend in its present form was a Mrs. Sylvia Black. Mrs. Sylvia Black gives the following information on what she thinks may be her great (5) grandmother & parents:
John ENNIS (1710) lived at Athlone Co., Westmeath, Ireland.
James ENNIS (c 1735) came to this country as a stowawy. Mrs. Black says he was only 3 yers old.
Evidently he settled with or without his father in VA, for he found with the North Virginia Regiment in the Battle of Germantown, PA where he was taken prisoner (4 Oct 1777) and reportedly died sometime next year.
"The Ennis Estate"
Sir John ENNIS became involved in the killing of an officer of the law and brought his three year old son to the American Colonies, leaving behind his property and lands.
Sir John married approximately 1733. A Mary Catherine married a John ENNIS, substantial land owener at Warren Point, Northern Ireland. (May or may not be related) James (his son) was heir to Augha, Cashel, Momragh, Bananarow, Caldragh, Tuelageh, amore Kachcullen, Gorthuane, Agapolo, Kilcross, all situated in the Barony of Leitrium (?). Spelling in question on two words.
Zachariah ENNIS b. 1766, Augusta Co., VA; d. Nov. 4, 1844, Madison Co. ARK
wife Anne BRADSHAW, b. ca 1770, North Burke Co., NCc; d. 1815
William ENNIS b. 1804 Burke Co., NC
Elisha b. 1814 Nov. Burke Co., TN
7 children but only two named.
William TERRY 7 Nov. 1785, TN
md Barbara ENNIS *(b. Burke Co., NC) b.24 Oct. 1788
In the Arkansas census of 1840 is listed a Elisha, John, Zachariah, William. First three in Madison CO. and the last in Pope CO
If you have more details, another version, family letters or records that verify or disprove this tale, please contact me.
Was Elizabeth the wife of Zechariah? It appears not. The birth dates of her children are before the recorded marriage of Zechariah to his wife. The Elizabeth who is Zechariah;s daughter married someone else. Again, the dates and places do not seem to fit. "I am descended from Zachariah Ennis and Susannah (Anna) Bradshaw. Susannah was daughter of Mary Callicoat (Collicoat) and Rev. William Bradshaw. I have a copy of the marriage bond for Elizabeth Ennis, daughter of Zachariah and Susannah. She married George Aaron in Adair County, KY October 11, 1831. The bond is signed by both Zachariah Ennis and Abraham Aaron, father of George Aaron. This would be Abraham Aaron, Jr. If anyone is descended from this line, it involves three DAR memberships. One under Abraham Aaron, Sr., one under Abraham Aaron, Jr., and one under William Bradshaw, father of Rev. William Bradshaw." And "I am also descended from Zachariah Ennis through his daughter (no proof on this one), Mary Ennis, who married Gideon Bradshaw July 26, 1816 in Burke County, NC. Possibly this is the Mara referred to. I have a copy of the marriage bond but it does not list father for either Gideon or Mary, though Isaiah Bradshaw believed to be father of Gideon and Zachariah Ennis believed to be father of Mary."
The truth is probably she was the daughter of another line of the family, did not formally marry the father(s) of her children and moved with the Terry group as they moved toward Indiana.