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Andrew Beirne

Birthplace: Roscommon, Ireland
Death: March 16, 1845 (73-74)
Monroe, West Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Patrick O'Beirne; Andrew BEIRNE; Mary Beirne and Mary PLUNKETT
Husband of Eleanor "Ellen" G. Beirne (Keenan)
Father of Andrew Beirne; Edward Beirne; Oliver Beirne; Susan Patton; Nancy McFarland and 8 others
Brother of George Beirne

Occupation: Green Hill Cem
Managed by: David Embrey
Last Updated:

About Andrew Beirne

BEIRNE, Andrew, a Representative from Virginia; born in Dangan, County Roscommon, Ireland, in 1771; received a classical education and was graduated from Trinity University, Dublin, Ireland; immigrated to the United States in 1793 and settled in Union, Monroe County, Va.; engaged in mercantile and agricultural pursuits; member of the State house of delegates in 1807 and 1808; during the War of 1812 served as captain of a rifle company and as colonel of the Monroe County Militia; delegate to the Virginia constitutional convention in 1829 and 1830; member of the State senate 1831-1836; elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1837-March 3, 1841); was not a candidate for reelection in 1840 to the Twenty-seventh Congress; resumed his former business activities; died while on a visit in Gainesville, Sumter County, Ala., March 16, 1845; interment in the family burying ground at Union, Monroe County, Va. (now West Virginia).

A History of Monroe County, West Virginia

Oren F. Morton, B. Lit.

Staunton, VA

The McClure Company, Inc.


p. 308-311


Andrew Beirne and his wife, (?) Plunkett, had three sons who built themselves largely into the history of Monroe. He was himself of of the Irish gentry and of classical education and comfortable circumstances. Andrew, Jr., decided after coming to manhood that he would leave the old home in county Roscommon and come to America. He saw a better future for himself in the land that had just gained its independence than by remaining in his native Ireland which was so grievously oppressed by the British government. At the age of 22 he arrived at Philadelphia with about $150 in money. This sum he handed to a man who agreed to take him in a while so that he might have opportunity to gain a practical knowledge of the new country. The tradesman soon failed and the money was a total loss. Nevertheless the young man decided on a mercantile career, and a worthy countryman named Flanagan became his security for a few hundred dollars worth of goods. This supply he soon sold Out and the same Quaker merchant, having faith in the young Irishman, furnished a larger stock. After about two years of very successful exertion Beirne found his way to this county and opened a small Store on the farm of Edward Keenan, whose daughter, Ellen G., he married. As soon as Monroe and the town of Union were established, Mr. Beirne moved his store into the village, and his brother George arriving in 1800, the firm of A. and G. Beirne was formed and it continued many years.

In 1824 Mrs. Royall speaks of its success as "without a parallel, taking into view the nature of the country." Andrew Beirne soon became a great landholder. He acquired an estate of 2200 acres just north of the county seat, the half lying near the village being unsurpassed even in the famed bluegrass belt of Kentucky. There is running water in every field and the land is worth from $125 to $150 an acre. Near the Beirne mill, which is yet standing, he built a house which he painted red, and from this circumstance it was known as the "Red House." It has since disappeared. Later he built midway to Union a large brick dwelling which he painted white, and thus it became known as the "White House." As captain of a rifle company he led his command to Norfolk in 1814, all the more willingly because of his resentment at the injustice of England toward Ireland. But the news of peace came before there was any need for his further service. At the disbanding at Norfolk he very generously offered the homebound expenses of any member of his company who might need such help, regardless of whether it were repaid or not. Afterward he became colonel of the Monroe militia. His political creed was Democratic and he was repeatedly honored with office. In 1807 he was a member of the Virginia Assembly. He was afterward a state senator, a member of the constitutional convention of 1829, and in 1836 a Presidential elector. He was also sent to Congress.

Colonel Beirne was not only a great financier but was of pleasing manners and high education. He took great interest in the affairs of his state and county. He died in 1845, aged 74, while on a visit to Huntsville. Ala. His possessions were then worth about $l.000.000. Beirne was of kindly impulses and much usefulness. Yet it must be added that this fortune, amassed while America was still a poor country, was not built up without recourse to grinding business methods. Such practices as his tended to deepen the inequality of wealth and to reduce the mass of the people to a condition little better than vassalage.

Of the ten children of Colonel and Mrs. Beirne the following attained maturity: Christopher (s)-Edward (s)-Mary D. (Bide Steenberger)-Susan (Charles H. Patton, 1833)-Nancy (William McFarland)-Oliver (1811-1888) (Margaret M. Caperton)-Ellen ( Turner)-George T. (Eliza Gray)-Andrew (d. 1872) (Mary A. Alexander, Ellen Gray). Steenberger was once the owner of the celebrated Mirnin's Bottoms in Shenandoah county. He was a financier after the order of Jay Gould and others of New York fame. On one occasion he borrowed $600,000 from the United States Bank with Col. Beirne and others as security.( 04-021 0385 Bank of United States vs. Andrew Beirne 1839 at the West Virginia State Archives Manuscript Collections MS79-83 Virginia Court of Appeals, Lewisburg, records, 1776-1921). He failed but his indorsers won in a suit for relief from their obligation. He cornered the beef market in St. Louis and the flour market in San Francisco, where he sold flour at $50 a barrel. And yet he died at St Louis a poor man. Patton was a distinguished physician of Alabama, and McFarland an eminent lawyer of Richmond. Turner was of Connecticut. George T. became a brilliant attorney of Huntsville, Ala. Oliver and Andrew were the only married sons who remained in Monroe.

The latter, known as "young colonel," lived on the Lewis place, where he was very successful as a grower of blooded livestock. He was not only a large slaveholder but an extensive employer of hired labor. But the war of 1861 was disastrous to him in a financial way. Andrew J. Beirne was over six feet tall, dressed like a planter, with brown slouch hat, highly polished boots, and large flaps to the pockets of his riding coat. He was known as the most superb horseback rider in the county. Mounted on "Honest John," he would lope in a single hour the eight miles between his house and Union, and to the schoolboys who envied his equestrianship it seemed as though horse and rider were one. His colored attendant, "Black Joe," riding "Peacock," could with difficulty keep up with him. His children were Mary G., Rosalie, Ellen, and Andrew. The one son died in a Federal prison in 1865. The first daughter married Thomas J. Middleton, of South Carolins, the second married Col. Garrett Andrews, an eminent lawyer of Mississippi, and the third married Adolphus Blair of Richmond, whose son, Andrew B., is a prominent business man of that city.

Oliver had a college education and was a graduate in medicine, although he never practiced. On one of his return trips from school he met John Burnside at Fincastle, and this casual acquaintance led to the employment of the latter by the colonel. At length Oliver Beirne formed a partnership with Burnside for buying and selling sugar, Burnside taking the New Orleans end of the business and Oliver the New York end. After making a great deal of money they closed Out in 1847, Burnside then becoming a sugar planter. Oliver enlarged the "White House" and lived there until the war, when he moved to Sweet Springs, where he was the owner of the hotel. To this property he gave the great benefit of his capacity for business organization. Oliver Beirne was at length not only the proprietor of the family homestead and of Sweet Springs, but also of the Lewis place, the Burnside estate, and large holdings in Texas, the whole being worth some $6,000,000, and making him at that time the wealthiest man in the Virginias. All this property except Sweet Springs still belongs to his heirs. Mr. Beirne was a person of warm attachments as well as strong prejudices. He was large-hearted toward his friends, but could tolerate no petty meanness. In his later years he was known as an erect, well-groomed gentleman of somewhat more than average size and he wore a long, white, patriarchal beard. His children were John, Jane E., Bettie, Andrew,

Susan, Nancy, and Alice. Bettie married William P. Miles, of South Carolina, a scholarly gentleman and a great book lover. He served in Congress and was one of the organizers of the Confederate government at Montgomery. He was one of the near counselors of Jefferson Davis. Susan married Major Henry Robinson, and Nancy married Samuel B. Parkman, who was killed at Antietam In 1869 she married Emil von Ahlefeldt, a German, and spent thirteen years in Europe. The only living grandchildren are those of Mrs. Miles, two of whom spend their summers at the White House.

George Beirne (1780-1832) married Polly Johnson in 1805. His children were Andrew P., Jackson, Christopher, George, Susan, and Mary R-Andrew P. (1808-1842) married a Miss Smith, of the Shenandoah Valley. Jackson, a surgeon in the Confederate army, settled in St. Louis. George, who died at an early age, married Delilah Alexander in 1827. Christopher, a bachelor, and the owner for a while of a fine estate immediately south of Union, moved to

St. Louis. Susan and Mary R. married respectively Manilius and Augustus A. Chapman. Andrew P. had a son and a daughter, the latter marrying a Kinney, of Staunton. The former, who married Elizabeth Caperton, was born in 1842, was educated at the United States Military Academy, and served in the Confederate navy. In the year of his marriage-1867-he came to Monroe as a farmer and attorney, but at length moved to Ronceverte. The children of George were Michael A. J., Oliver F., and Christopher J. Oliver (1785-1845), a brother to Colonel Beirne, lived unmarried.

None of the Beirnes in the male line are now residents of Monroe.

From the 1820 Lawrence County, Alabama Census Data + Historical & Genealogical Notes

Anderson, Charles: 1,2,1,2,6,0,1,7 (Prob same as mentioned in Saunders "Early Settlers of Alabama": "Andrew Beirne, Esq., of Western Virginia, a man of large wealth and an accomplished merchant, sent a young man to Courtland, at an early day, named John Anderson, and established a large mercantile business under the style of "Beirne & Anderson," which proved to be so profitable that, in a few years, John Anderson's part of the profits enabled him to retire from business and purchase a large plantation near Montgomery, where he died in 1837. He was a brother of Richard N. Anderson , but a man of more sagacity. He was born in Maryland, but reared in Madison county, Alabama, and left his fortune to his sisters. An amusing story is told of John Anderson getting early news of a sudden rise of two cents per pound in cotton. He concluded then to go hunting for a "stray horse," took a bridle in hand, and rode into the country. He came to the house of Charles Anderson (no kin to him, however) and inquired, very particularly, about the stray horse, but said nothing at all about cotton. As he turned off and bid Mr. Charles a good morning, the latter detained him with a proposition to sell him his cotton crop, which, after some chaffering, John bought at the old price. Charles was a keen man himself, and was greatly vexed. He used to declare afterward that he would never sell his cotton again to a merchant "hunting for a stray horse," even if he offered twenty-five cents per pound.")

Deed Index References Monroe Co.,WV

Date Granter Grantee Instrument Page Type

1825 Wood, Andrew Beirne & Deed H 218 Land

        Elijah & Rachel    George Beirne                              
view all 19

Andrew Beirne's Timeline

Roscommon, Ireland
November 5, 1801
Monroe, Amherst, Virginia, United States
July 8, 1809
Virginia, USA
March 26, 1811
September 9, 1816
Union (Monroe County), Monroe County, West Virginia, USA