Finding your kin can be coincidental

By Don McAlavy: Local columnist

Bea Alma Peacock died at age 88 on June 6, 2005, at Plains Regional Medical Center. She was born northwest of Clovis, at Hassell, but later raised her family at Ima. In her obituary she listed five of her grandchildren, one of them being Misti McAlevy living with her husband Ronald McAlevy at Broken Bow, Neb.

That started my search for Misti and Ronald McAlevy. When I e-mailed the Chamber of Commerce in Broken Bow to located Ronald and Misti McAlevy, the lady said she didn’t know that name. Finally I contacted Alvie and Laura Peacock at House and got the address of the McAlevys in Broken Bow.

They must be my kinfolks, I told myself, as my ancestral great-great-great-great-grandfather was William B. McAlevy, who had come over to America in the 1750s from Ireland. He became a colonel in the Revolutionary War and fought with George Washington and later received land in central Pennsylvania, where he became General McAlevy of the state militia. Indians at that time were not friendly, and so Gen.McAlevy created McAlevy’s Fort, which became a small town (still on the map) not too far from Huntingdon, the county seat.

Gen. McAlevy married three times, I found out, and his third wife, Margaret Allen was the mother of Allen, Thomas, George McAlevy, and then my father Herman McAlavy, who was born 1891in Kansas. (He or the Army in World War I took out the “e” and that is why I’m Don McAlavy.

Now here is the connection between my family and the McAlevys in Nebraska. Gen. William McAlavy’s first wife was Margaret Harris, and she is the grandmother of the McAlevys I found in Nebraska. Of course, Gen. McAlevy had something to do with fathering the McAlevys.

I learned all of this when my wife and I went to McAlevy’s Fort in August 1991. I found a distant cousin there, and she directed me to the History Library in Huntingdon, where I found a lot of history of Gen. McAlevy.

Gen. McAlevy in 1787 worked to secure the new U.S. Constitution, but with a Bill of Rights. He went as far as leading a riot in Huntingdon County Seat, threatening to burn the courthouse down if the Bill of Rights wasn’t added. Charged with treason for the riot, his case was thrown out.

He lived to be 94, dying in 1822. (I was sort of a radical, too.)

I have received e-mails from both McAlevy cousins since I found Misti and Ronald and then discovered another cousin in Alliance, Neb., some 250 miles away, named Retta McAlevy Beals. Retta has been researching the McAlevys. Up until 2005, they didn’t know the history of Gen. McAlevy.

Misti is researching her great-great-grandfather, Joel Moses Peacock, and I’ve tried finding him, too, but with no result. I hope to visit my cousins in Nebraska and get acquainted. Isn’t history fun and exciting?

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
dmcalavy@telecopelab.com