Colonel John Canon's Family

From Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania then Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana, Texas and California


Biography of Colonel John Canon


Early History

       John Canon  (Generally referred to Colonel John Canon was born on May 16, 1741 and died  November 6, 1798  was an American Revolutionary War soldier, miller,  judge, and businessman, who founded three towns, including Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, which bears his name.   John Canon was one of the first settlers in  Valley a tributary of the Ohio. He worked as a rent collector for George Washington, who owned a large amount of land in the area. At the time, the area was part of Virginia.  In 1773, Canon acquired 12 acres (4.9 ha) of land along the Chartiers Creek on the Catfish Path, where he built a gristmill and started a farm  In January 1774, he was appointed viewer of a road from Thomas Gist's in Mount Braddock to Paul Froman's mill on Chartiers Creek. He was appointed by Lord Dunmore to serve as judge in Augusta County. After the border dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia, the area was placed in Yohogania County.  Military serviceIn 1775, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel in the Washington County militia during the American Revolutionary War.  He was made sub-lieutenant of the county and participated in a number of Indian expeditions, including the Crawford expeditions. It is not clear whether he participated in some of the more brutal raids, as is claimed by some historical accounts.Some evidence exists that indicate that he was in Philadelphia, serving in the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly.Civic accomplishmentsIn 1780, he received land in Virginia along the Chartiers Valley through present-day Canonsburg on the north side of Chartiers Creek. In that land, he founded three towns, Canon Hill (now Canonsburg, founded April 15, 1788, Abbington, and Sugar-Tree Grove.

     He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Washington Academy, an academy that would eventually merge with the institution he helped found, from 1789 until his death in 1798. In 1791, he helped found Canonsburg Academy, which would later become Jefferson College and Washington & Jefferson College, by donating a plot of land in Canonsburg and constructing the Stone Academy Building. Stone College Building, constructed by John Canon  as Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. In 1791 John Canon donated this lot to Canonsburg Academy, which in 1802 was chartered as Jefferson College.

     The original stone college building was bought by the borough in 1843 and demolished to build a town hall Washington Academy's sole building (now called McMillan Hall), showing the original central portion and the two wings added in 1818.

     Old Main is the main academic building at Washington & Jefferson College.


He owned a early flour mill and saw mill that formed the basis of the town.  It was water-powered and was erected in 1780. The mill was demolished in 1942 when the milling company ceased flour production


Personal life

     Colonel John Canon had 2 brothers,
Daniel born in 1744 and Joshua in 1750. Daniel was a Captain in the Revolutionary war and settled in Fayette County Pennsylvania. His wife was Agnes McCelland, they had 11 children.

     John Canon's five children by his first wife Polly were, Abigail, William, Jane, Joshua, and John, Jr., By his second wife Jean Mercer were, Samuel, Margaret, and Ann. He died on November 6, 1798.  John Cannon Jr.  is this Cannon family's branch of direct lineage. He was born in 1776 in Pennsylvania or Virginia. His first wife was Jane Fife.  They had a son William  born 1806.  Jane died in 1809 in Canonsburg, Washington County Pennsylvania.

     He married the same year that Jane died to  Margaret Bryson on July 13, 1809 in Washington County Pennsylvania.   Their children were Jane Maria  born 1808, James Wilson born 1811 (direct lineage),  Margaret born 1816,  Isaac J. born 1818 who were all born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Their daughter Abigail was born in 1825 in Gilford, Medina County Ohio.  John and Margaret moved to Seville, Medina County Ohio in the year 1823 and settled on Center Road. John died in Eaton County Michigan on August 3, 1857 at the home of his daughter Abigail Cannon Richards.  He is buried in Roxand, Eaton County, Michigan in an unknown cemetery.

     James Wilson Cannon had two wives, and a total of 14 children. James  first married Carlista Kellogg in Medina County Ohio. They had 4 children. Cordelia 1834 died young, John 1835 died at 2 years old, George Riley born 1837 and Thomas Benton born in 1842. Carlista died in 1843 at 32 years of age. James lost his first son John and first daughter Cordelia by early death also. 

     James took his remaining sons, George Riley, known by Riley and Thomas Benton and moved to Dallas County Missouri. This is where he married Mary Ellen Cooksey who was from Kentucky. Their children were William Allen, John Wilson, James Crittenton, Francis Marion, Missouri Ann, Louis Ledstone, Perry Madison, Carlisty Jane, Sara Julia, and Dock. 

     James Wilson Cannon’s brother Isaac Jackson Cannon stayed in Guilford, Medina County, Ohio. Isaac's son George Riley Cannon served in the OVI 166th of the Union Army. His son Perry served with the 103rd OVI of the Union Army. Isaac Jackson.

     James Wilson Cannon’s sons George Riley Cannon and William Allen Cannon both served with the 1st & 4th Consolidated Missouri Infantry of the Confederate Army. William Allen being a mere 15 years old when enlisted. These two brothers fought side by side during the war.

     George Riley and William Allen were captured at Vicksburg, Mississippi July 4th, 1863 and held prisoner of war in Vicksburg Mississippi. They were released in December of 1863. They walked across the states to Demopolis Alabama where the Confederate Fort was.  George Riley Cannon and the entire Confederate Brigade re-enlisted for 40 years or until the end of the war.  William Allen never mustered in again and was listed as absent without leave. 

     George Riley served from 1861 until his death Nov 30, 1864 on the Franklin Tennessee battlefield. The Franklin battle was one of the bloodiest fought during the Civil War, within 1 hour 60% of the entire Missouri Brigade lay as casualties on the battlefield. Total Confederate casualties were 6,252 and Union casualties numbered 2,326.
 George Riley Cannon of Ohio 103rd Union was also fighting this Franklin Tennessee battle. Two cousins with the same name fought on opposite sides against each other during the battle that took the young Confederate, George Riley Cannon’s life. George Riley Cannon is buried in the McGavock Confederate Cemetery at the Carnton Plantation. He is listed as Lieutenant Cannon in the Missouri State Section 15.  During the last 6 months of the war, their brother Thomas Benton joined the 46th Missouri Infantry of the Union Army.  During the war, James’s two-story house was burned. I’ve tried to imagine what it was like. War to me has only been on foreign ground. This war was fought right on their own land. Many civilians died as a result.

     By now James now had lost his son John and daughter Cordelia and first wife Carlista. During the war he and Mary Ellen lost their young daughter Carlisty Jane and their son George Riley. It has been said among the family that James was never right again after the war and could not care for his family. While doing the family research, I especially noted that many of George Riley’s siblings named one of their children Riley, for the brother that was lost during the war. So I presume that my brother Riley, my Father Riley and his Grandfather Riley were also named after him.

     In the early 1880’s most of James’s son’s moved to Texas, only Perry and Louis Ledstone remained in Missouri. The brothers moved mostly to the upper part of Texas, in and around Grayson, Cooke, and Montague Counties. Later, some moved to Oklahoma, and during the 1930’s many moved to California.    Thank you for visiting my site. Thanks to the wonderful people online that are sharing information with me I am constantly finding new information and I will update regularly! I hope to hear from any relatives. Thanks!