Purcell Family of America

An association to help those trace the Purcell family line

Know of any noteworthy Purcells? Do these look familiar? 

Henry Purcell - Composer

Henry Purcell, English Baroque music composer (1659-1695)  Find out more...


Irish pub photo courtesy of nomadicfootprints.com

Who knows in which Irish town or city this pub may be found?


 Purcell Pub

Thomas Persell, 81, a policeman kidnapped
 by Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in 1933. Persell
was a 25-year-old motorcycle officer on the evening
of Jan. 26, 1933, when he was kidnapped and forced to ride
with the notorious couple and their accomplice
W.D. Jones toward Joplin, Missouri, as the outlaws
were looking for a vehicle to steal. After six hours, he was
released unharmed about 12 miles from Joplin but without
his Russian-made .45-caliber revolver, which later
appeared in famous portraits of Bonnie
and Clyde Barrow. Persell did not learn who his abductors
were until three months later when the Barrow gang was
involved in a shoot-out in Joplin that left two officers
dead. In Springfield, MO, on Monday [July 24, 1989, he died] of a stroke.

Joseph Purcell Space Pioneer

Born in 1928, Joseph A. Purcell was raised in Richmond VA, son of Joseph A. and Gladys Purcell. In 1951 he earned a degree in physics from the University of Richmond and went to the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. In 1957, The Soviet Union launched the world’s first man-made satellite called Sputnik, and the the U.S. scrambled a team of scientists to answer the challenge. Mr. Purcell was chosen to be part of the first group of engineers in the newly created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958. As his son Craig Nunnally Purcell described it, “There were no standards. It was ‘How do we do this?" Mr. Purcell headed the spacecraft electronic instrumentation section in Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and then moved on to lead the Space Electronics Branch. He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the first civilian to receive it, for his work on the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory. From the 1960s to the 1970s he was involved in the Orbiting Geophysical Observatory III and the Advanced Orbiting Solar Observatory in leadership positions, retiring in the late 1980s. Joseph Purcell died September 23, 2009, in Annapolis MD at the age of 80. His wife Bettie Dorsey Purcell predeceased him in 2005 and he was survived by his two sons, Craig and Benjamin Dorsey Purcell and four grandchildren.
Six-Day Governor of Arkansas

Joseph Edward Purcell was born in Warren, Bradley County, Arkansas, on July 29, 1923. He served his country in World War II in the U.S. Army and returned to graduate from law school at the University of Arkansas in 1952. He soon put his degree to use as the city attorney in Benton, Arkansas, and in a few years became a municipal judge. In 1966 he was elected state attorney general and was responsible for many reforms and protections to benefit the taxpayers of Arkansas. He ran for governor unsuccessfully in 1970 but was elected lieutenant governor 1974, 1976 and 1978. In 1982 he ran for governor again, losing to future President Bill Clinton. But Joe Purcell did gain that seat when he was appointed Acting Governor to fill out the unexpired term of David Hampton Pryor then the senator-elect. Joe’s term ran from January 3 to January 9, 1979.
Medal of Honor Awarded to Sgt. Hiram Williams Pursell

Medal of Honor Certificate No. 13 reads: “To whom it may concern: This is to certify that Hiram W. Pursell was enrolled on the Sixteenth day of September 1861, to serve during the war, and was discharged on the Thirtieth day of September 1864, by reason of muster out of company while holding the grade of Sergeant, in Company G, 104 Regiment of Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers; that a Medal of Honor was awarded to him on the Twelfth day of May 1894, for distinguished gallantry at the Battle of Fair Oaks, VA on May 31, 1862. Being a bearer of one of the regimental flags when his regiment was on the retreat, Sergeant Pursell returned in the face of the advancing enemy with his own flag in his hand and saved the other regimental flag which would otherwise have been captured; that his name was entered and recorded on the Army and Navy Medal of Honor Roll on the Fourth day of May 1916, as authorized under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved April 27, 1916 and that he is entitled to receive the special pension granted by that Act. Given at the War Department, Washington, D.C., this Fifteenth day of May, 1916.” By authority of the Secretary of War: W.P. McCain, The Adj. Gen.

The singular Medal of Honor recipient of the 104th Pennsylvania was Sgt. Hiram Williams Pursell. This episode occurred at the first battle the 104th PA ever fought in; the battle of Fair Oaks, part of the battle for Richmond, the Confederate capitol. Half of the men of the 104th were either wounded or killed that day. Sgt. Pursell had been shot twice when he returned to his comrades with the flag, and was near collapse from loss of blood. The Commanding General's bugler played an important part in that he helped Sgt. Pursell onto his horse and carried him off the battlefield, thus saving his life in all likelihood. The wounded men that remained and could not be reached were captured and put into rebel stockade camps.

Hiram Williams Pursell was born in Upper Black Eddy, Bucks County, PA in 1837. He later migrated to Nockamixon Twp when he first enlisted in the army. He served for 90 days with the 6th PA Volunteers and then was mustered out after serving his "time". Still wanting to serve his country, he went to Doylestown, PA to sign up with the 104th PA and went into training at Fort Lacey (located on what is now the Central Bucks West High School). He applied himself so well that his Colonel, W.W.H. Davis promoted him to Corporal in October of 1861 and to Sergeant the next September, 1862… Following recovery from his wounds received at Fair Oaks, Sgt. Pursell returned to his regiment, was wounded again and finally honorably discharged in 1864…

Edited from the posting by Helen More at http://www.ourworld.compuserve.com
Edward Mills Purcell

August 30, 1912 --March 7, 1997

Edward Mills Purcell, 1952 Nobel laureate in physics, was a prolific contributor to scientific knowledge and advancement in physics, biophysics and astronomy during his long career. Along with colleagues Henry Torrey and Robert Pound, he is renowned for his discovery in 1945 of nuclear magnetic resonant absorption. This led to major developments in chemistry and medicine. In 1951 he and Harold Ewen detected the emission of radiation at 1421 MHz by atomic hydrogen in the interstellar medium. This tool led to important advances in the field of radio astronomy. Dr. Purcell was a great influence as a professor and writer at Harvard and MIT and was on the President’s Science Advisory Committee for Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson

Colonel Robert Baldwin “Percy” Purcell was one of the true American heroes of the Vietnam War era.  Born February 14, 1931 in Louisville KY, son of the late William Tilden and Mary (Baldwin) Purcell, Percy died December 6, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas, at age 78. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
    But Percy had an earlier funeral in the mid-1960’s.  Percy enlisted in the Air Force in the early 1950s.  A highly decorated Air Force pilot who few 25 missions over Vietnam, Col. Purcell was shot down in 1965 and taken prisoner in North Vietnam and for three years he was believed to have died in the crash.  He was a POW under cruel treatment for over seven and a half years at the “Hanoi Hilton”, the infamous prison where Senator John McCain was held.  According to his family, after his release in 1973 he was never heard to complain about his ordeal.
    Percy was tough, according to his best friend Jim Hagan, who said of him, “He made John Wayne look like he’d been in a trash can.”  As a prisoner of war, however, he was generous and protective in caring for the soldiers under him.  Col. Purcell was awarded the Silver Star for resistance to torture while a prisoner of war in 1969, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as the Prisoner of War Medal.
William Gray Purcell (Left) George Elmslie (Right) William Gray Purcell was born in Oak Park, Illinois in July, 1880. His parents, Charles A. and Anna Cora Purcell lived first with William Cunningham and Catherine Garns Gray, Anna's parents, in Oak Park. In 1886, William Gray Purcell began living permanently with his grandparents at his own request. During this time William became skilled as a photographer, his hobby made possible by the newly available commercial outfits which supplied camera, photographic plates, processing chemicals and printing papers in one package. Purcell received his first camera from W. C. Gray in 1888, a Kodak model given to The Interior office just before public release of the product. When Purcell was fifteen, Frank Lloyd Wright built his Oak Park studio on the same block where Charles A. Purcell lived, not far from the Grays. In Chicago, where Purcell went frequently to visit his grandfather at The Interior offices, the work of Louis Sullivan continued to impress the young architect-to-be. His mind was already made up to pursue the study of the building arts in college and, following his graduation from Oak Park High School in 1899, he entered the School of Architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. During his third year of studies, Purcell entered the Andrew D. White Competition of 1902, sponsored and judged by the American ambassador to Germany. The design that he submitted was laughed at by others preparing their own entries, for the drawings featured no classical ornament and the plan was strictly organized according to the minimal requirements of the program. To the astonishment of his faculty and classmates, Purcell distinguished himself by winning first prize. Some years after graduating from Cornell, William and his class mate George Feick and his friend George Elmslie had the second most commissioned firm of the Prairie School after the Frank Lloyd Wright firm in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis.

Doug Purcell
Eufaula, AL

The alley behind the historic Hart House had been nameless until this month (6/24/12). The Eufaula City Council designated the path as Purcell Way at its June 4th meeting. It was named after the former executive director of the Historic Chattahoochee Commission, Douglas C. Purcell. The HCC offices currently reside at Hart House. The designation was made at the request of the HCC. In 1972 Doug Purcell was named executive director of the HCC. Under his leadership, the resolution states, the agency successfully promoted historic preservation and tourism in an 18-county region. Doug has also authored, co-authored or influenced numerous books and articles highlighting the history in the area. He retired from his position with the HCC last year. The alley named after Doug runs from St. James street to East Broad Street.

Taken from the Eufaula Tribune.

William Purcell, Ship’s carpenter, signed aboard the H.M.S. Bounty of “Mutiny” fame in 1787. During the voyage made famous in print and on film, he had a number of ”insolent” confrontations with the infamous Captain Bligh but, when Lt. Fletcher Christian
made the fateful decision to take over the Bounty, Purcell decided not to risk the grave consequences of mutiny and was cast off with his Captain and 17 other loyal sailors in a launch that found its way to Timor and safety. But he did side with John Fryer, who
had been demoted from Sailing Master early on in favor of Fletcher Christian, when Fryer argued with Bligh. When the survivors returned to England, Purcell was charged with insubordination but was let off with a reprimand.

After 1800, Purcell married Hannah Maria Mayo and he died in 1834 near Portsmouth.
For more details, go to: http://www.lareau.org/purcell.html

Philip and James Purcell

A Sir Thomas Roe, of England, obtained a royal commission to establish a settlement on the Amazon River. His Guiana expedition of 1610-1611 employed the services of an experienced seaman named Matthew Morton to explore the lower reaches of the Amazon. One of Morton's companions, on this excursion, was thought to be an Irishman named Philip Purcell. According to the author of the book, "This Purcell created a tobacco plantation at a river called Tauregue, possibly the Maracapuru that flows into the Amazon's northern mouth west of Marajo Island". This settlement, established in 1612, was the first Irish colony on the Amazon River. After the Irish settlement was established, the Tauregue River was called Purcell's Creek.

Joining Philip Purcell in establishing the Irish settlement was a group of 14 Irishmen which included his brother James. Between 1620 and 1625 the Irish settlement thrived as O'Brien and the Purcells cooperated in growing and promoting their tobacco crops and traded with passing Dutch and English merchant ships. In 1621 Purcell personally escorted a cargo of Irish tobacco to London aboard the William and Thomas leaving his brother James to manage the Tauregue plantation. Three years later, Philip Purcell formed a joint venture with Nicolas Hofdan, a Dutch planter, and established a new plantation on the south side of the Amazon River, in a location very close to the modern day city of Gurupa. Little more is known about Philip and James Purcell so we are left to wonder who they were and what family they left behind in Ireland.

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