The Honourable Judge Smith Orr - Orrville, Wayne Co., Ohio

Many emigrants and adventurers were not only fleeing poverty, or religious and social persecution, but they were enticed by the thought of a better life and free or exceedingly cheap land. To many anything was better than the environment from which they came; they were incredibly resolute and also remarkably mobile for their time. They went to Canada and the wilds of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia; to the humidity of Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia; to New York, Pennsylvania; and the Ohio valley. Some were in the Mormon trek to Utah. In all these places they made their mark by fighting off the native Indians, clearing land and establishing townships some bearing the Orr name - Orrville, Wayne Co. Ohio is such a place named after an early pioneer Judge Smith Orr, son of Samuel Orr who went to America in 1801. Living a hard frugal, life the family managed to buy small plots of land and gradually accumulated some 300 acres. Some of this land was used to found the township that bears the family name

 The family originated from Talliard, Parish of Donoghkiddy, barony of Strabane, Co. Tyrone. The townland is associated. with Lisconbuy, Cloghogie and Benelealy in the Civil Survey of Donegal, Londonderry and Tyrone ( Simmington, Irish Manuscripts Commission).  Smith Orr was the youngest child of 8 born in 1797 but at the cost of a mother, Sarah, who died in childbirth. Following the 1798 Rebellion and its aftermath the family sailed for a new life in America in 1801. They settled first in New Castle, Delaware and it was not until 1812 that Samuel decided to take his family West. They took a stage coach to Cumberland, Maryland, which was the end of the line, and then joined a wagon train along the Old National Pike. They left the wagon train at Wheeling on the Ohio River and went forward pushing hand carts to arrive in the late Spring of 1812 in East Union Township, Wayne Co. and settled on a farm at Apple Creek. Samuel died in 1818 and is buried in the old cemetery there.

 Smith Orr was reared in the wilderness that was all about them and learnt to read and write at home; importantly he also learnt mathematics and was subsequently a surveyor in the community and the state for 40 years. He married Maria Foreman in 1818 and began married life in a log cabin on Apple Creek. They bought a small farm in Baughman Township in 1821 and in 1825 they bought the 160 acre `home farm` one mile south of where Orrville now stands. They lived here until 1854 and their only child, William, was born there in 1826.

Over the years Smith Orr saw opportunities with the coming of the railroad and set up a saw mill for supplying railway ties and fuel logs as well as buying several small plots of land that were subsequently set out as plots for the new town that would become Orrville. He was elected a justice of the peace at a young age and re elected for over 25 years; and was selected to be a judge of the Common Pleas Court which he held until abolished by the Constitution of Ohio in 1853. Smith took an active part in politics and was a member of the Union Convention which met in Baltimore in 1864 and re nominated President Abraham Lincoln. He died in 1865 and is buried in the old cemetery in Orrville .

Orrville is a hub for the family in Ohio and some excellent work was done by a local inhabitant, L G Weiss, who constructed a substantial family tree in 1968 and amended it in 1972. This tree, in the form of a Register Report, has been updated from my own research and contacts with descendants - special thanks to Deb Spano in NY and Vinson Tate in OH. 

If you see any amendments or have further information I would be very pleased to hear from you. 

Link to the Orrs of Mercer Co., PA.

I have been asked many times about possible links and have finally come across a connection between Ohio and Pennsylvania Orrs. It comes about through the marriages by male Orrs to Hofacre cousins.

Ross J Orr of Apple Creek, OH, married  Ethel May Hofacre 18 Jan 1919.

William Warren Orr, Mercer Co., PA married Martha Alice  Hofacre in Perry Towenship, Mercer Co. PA.

The Misses Hofacre are cousins:

Ethel May`s ancestors are : Alonzo Lawrence (1869); John (1841); George (1794) and Michael (1767).

Martha Alice`s ancestors are: George Werner; George( 1794); Johannes Michael (1769)

Michael and Johannes Michael Hofacre were brothers.

It may be a circuitous route to the connection, but remember that they were all immigrants and had a common interest, especially in a community of farmers, to migrate to places where the land was available and, hopefully, cheap. They grasped opportunities when and wherever they could and would have been on at least nodding acquaintance, and probably members of the same church. There is some truth in the saying " the family that prays together, stays together".


Orr Name Study Ulster Scots Reference material