Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Orr mss., 1809-1871, are the papers of the Orr family who emigrated from County Tyrone, Ireland, to Monroe County, West Virginia in 1821. In the spring of 1827 the family moved to Greenbriar County, West Virginia. Nine years later they moved to Green County, Ohio. In May, 1838, in a covered wagon they traveled to Delaware County, Indiana.

James Orr was born in Ireland on October 18, 1782, and died on August 27, 1858. He was married to Elizabeth Jameson who died in 1843. They had six children. Their eldest son James was born on February 25, 1815, married Julia Ann Hopping, January 11, 1838, who died in 1869. In 1870 he married Martha Jane Campbell. James and Julia Ann were the parents of eight children. James was active in civic and religious affairs and served two terms in the Indiana house of representatives and one term in the Indiana senate. He died in 1895. The eldest son, William, born in 1838 married Margaret Small in 1862, who died in 1865, and he died on January 14, 1867. Three of James's sons served in the Civil War.

William was commissioned as a second lieutenant on July 29, 1861, as a first lieutenant on August 23, 1862, and as a captain on September 18, 1862, of Company K, 19th regiment, Indiana volunteers. He was promoted to major on August 4, 1864 and transferred to the 20th regiment, Indiana volunteers. On October 14, 1864 he was promoted to colonel and on May 15, 1865 received an honorable discharge. Samuel and James David were privates in the 19th regiment of Indiana volunteers. All three sons wrote letters to their father, mother and other members of the family, but William's letters were more numerous.

The letters describe battles and other topics related to the Civil War and politics. Other subjects covered are the Presbyterian Church; the smallpox epidemic in 1850; railroads; postal service on Sunday, 1852; and payment of indemnities of the Mexican War. Included are the minutes and other pertinent information on the Sharon congregation; a memorandum book of James Orr, 1829-1834; a daybook of Williams and Norris, 1856-1861; a land grant issued to Ila Lake, July 20, 1837; naturalization document of James Orr, April 7, 1842; and some printed matter.

Some of the material is in an oversize folder.

The first folder in the collection contains biographical and genealogical material on the Orr family.

Collection size: 472 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.