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A detailed history of the PFA by Todd Y. Purcell


It all began in 1969 with the urging of June. We tried to start an organization in 1966 among the immediate relatives. There not being many Purcells it was doomed to failure before it was ever created.

June the genealogist was having problems trying to confirm my great, great grandfather. We had some correspondence (a penny post card) from a cousin to my father dated in the late 1930's stating she knew who he was but did not list his name. ( Samuel Pursell.)

At June's suggestion we decided to try again. I was doing considerable traveling, crossing the United States up to four times each month. I began to gather names form telephone books at hotels where I had stayed. June began to write letters. We also asked other Purcell’s we had corresponded with to send us names and address and I would personally correspond with them explaining the scope of our plans and asking them to join. Thus it was our beginning. We purchased a new electric typewriter and eighteen months later we had to have a major over hall. I don't know how many letters June wrote but it began to get results. We explained what we were attempting to do and asked them to send in five dollars if they wished to join.

June had been carrying on a correspondence with a few Purcell’s one being Forrest and Alice Purcell. 

In order for the Association to be a success I felt very strongly that we  had to have an internal organ to communicate with the various members. With out it I felt we had no cohesiveness or glue to hold our organization together. It was at this time we decided to call the publication a Journal. A Journal carries a connotation of something  more than a mimeograph or news letter and information more substantial than either.

I had called a gentlemen from Illinois with experience and asked him to be our editor. He wasn't a bit interested and told me our organization was doomed to failure and he wasn't about to be a party to it. He pointed out that the life expectancy of any genealogical body was under ten years. The Purcell Family of America has been in operation now for twenty-seven years.

It was at this time providence entered the picture. Knowing Forrest was a technical writer for the Air force I called him and discussed the situation with him. Explaining we would do the typing and preparing the publication for offset printing , mailing and needed some one to assemble the material for us. Forrest and Alice accepted and became our Editors. Some years latter the contact in Illinois informed Forest that he had been offered the  the editorship.

Our first publication was sixteen pages and printed in April 1972. In March 1973 June and I visited with Alice and Forrest at their home here in Dayton.

On one trip to San Francisco we had stopped at a little town just over Donner's Pass in California. In examining the telephone book I found one Purcell listed. I called and was told his wife had become interested in genealogy with in the past ninety days and they became members immediately. This happened many, many time among our members.

We formed an organization with representatives from various sections of the United States.  We 
expected these members to continue to feed us names that We could correspond with and might become members. These later became our board of directors. We incorporated in the State of Utah in June of 1978. It was done without the aid of an attorney. I sent the necessary paper in to the state and they returned them asking for correction or additional information. I returned them again and the same thing happened. Finally a lady called from the state and said, "Let's try and work this out over the phone and save you some money on postage". We were incorporated. One reason for incorporating was to allow us to solicit funds and have it allowed as a tax deduction. That is everything above the membership fee. In the beginning our five dollar membership was not enough to cover our expenses and June I covered the excess. We needed some special gifts. Latter we pushed for sustaining members and special gifts. It was at this time that we began to become solvent.

Computers were not available. I had IBM typewriters in my office and June would come into the office at nights and on Saturdays to prepare the material for printing  that Alice and Forrest had sent. I later purchased a new IBM for June to use at home.

We held our first Purcell convention (so noted rather than a reunion as none of us had met or had a close association and thus a reunion would be a misnomer) in Lawrence Kansas in 1974. We have since held  others;. three in Dayton Ohio, one in Williamburg, Virginia; Purcellville, Virginia; Salt Lake City, Utah and other places.

We felt the association would not long endure with out something to hold it together. This is the Journal. A high classed publication and one that is recognized through out the land reaching as far as  Australia and the British Isles. We made sure some of the major libraries received copies at our expense. The New York City Library, offered to send us twenty -five dollars for subscription. We declined such offers from libraries.

Alice and Forrest took over the entire operation of editors and publishers of the Journal in September of 1982 and Valerie Kontes became the President. At the next convention when our purposed president failed to function, I again took over and carried on until Tony our current president took control. I have since with drawn  from any active roll in the operation with one exception. I still serve the resident agent, a requirement of most if not all states, a liaison between our organization and the State and Federal Government. This entails the filing of the annual report. To begin with it was detailed covering our funding and certifying as to who the officers of the corporation. The government is much ;more lenient today and the annual report is pretty much routine.  We have had excellent support from members through out the country. Our indexers made it possible to check the contents of our Journals to access the contents with out going through each one.

There is no way we can fully express our appreciation for the many hours spent by so many to insure the continuous operation of our association.

Many others have like myself have benefitted from the research done by so many. It was through the association we were finally able to document my great great grandfather.

The average life span of a family association is under ten years. We are now in our twenty-eight year. 
I feel that with out the Journal this would not have been possible. We are facing new problem some one to replace Alice Purcell.




Our Purcell information is contained in the Book     Lumber River Scots and their   ancestors
 by Angus Wilton McLean - John Edwin Purcell I - Archibald Gilchrist Singletary - John Edwin Purcell II.
    Published in 1942

It might be noted that we have established eleven separate spellings of the Purcell Name.

There is an old legend that the name Purcell was originally Porcelus. Later the us was dropped and the name became Porcell. This is found in the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. and was written in French and Spanish as follows.

    "Porcellus, a celebrated historian and Latin Poet, was a Neapolitan and claims that in his early youth he watched over swine, whence is derived the name Porcellus. In order to dignify this origin a little he had himself called Porcellius, which does not make a great deal of difference."
        
        See Dictionaire Historique Por Morrie, supplement TOM III D 9 M 83, 1733, Congressional Library, Washington D.C.

The Purcell first appeared in History with Charlemange in 742 A.D.. According to MacFirbis, the genealogy of the  Purcells begins with Charlemagne.

        See "Irish Pedigrees" Vol. a, pp. 345-352, by John O'Hart. John O'Hart was associate in Arts Queen's University, Ireland, Fellow of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland.

Commencing with Charlemagne or Charles the First, King of France who in 800 A.D. was crowned Emperor of the West:

             1. Carolus Magnus or Charlemagne
             2. Rosebeard, his son
             3. Sir Hugh, his son
             4. Risdeard, his son
             5. Philip, his son
             6. Risdeard, his son
             7. Eunon, his son
             8. Roibin, his son
             9. Reumum, his son
            10. Tomas, his son
            11. Bened, his son
            12. Seaan, (Shane) his son
            13. Seumas, (James) his son
            14. Seunfionn, his son
            15. Seumas, his son
            16. William, his son
            17. Eumom, his son
            18. Piarus, his son
            19. Tomas, his son
            20. Seumas, his son
            21. Tomas, his son
            22. James, his son
            23. Thomas, his son
            24. Philip, his son
            25. Tobias, his son
            26. James, his son
            27. Reverend James-Bryan Purcell of Loughmoe Hall, Mt. Washington, Baltimore County, Maryland, U.S. A. (living in 1881)

The name Purcell first appeared in Normandy about 1035 A.D. According to family tradition, one Hugh Purcell (Porcell) was the first man to land at Pevensy Bay when William the Conqueror came with his army of Normans to invade England, which was then ruled by the Saxon Harold. This Sir Hugh Purcell is evidently the grandson of Charlemagne. William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 A.D. He (Hugh Purcell) was the first to do a deed of arms by storming the ruins of the old Roman Castle and was the first to receive a grant of land from William the Conqueror in guerdon of the deed. 

He founded a baronial family, hereditary ushers of the King's chamber, holding their land by tenure of that office until the end of King Henry II"s reign and threw out flourishing branches in several countries, some endured to the seventeenth century.

This Hugh Purcell was succeeded in the next generation by his son, Hugh Purcell, who married Beatrice, the childless widow of Thomas de Hereford and daughter  of the first Butler of Ireland. The expression "First Butler of England". referred to an office created by the Crown of England for some worthy of honor. By this marriage, Hugh Purcell acquired the Barony of Loughmoe. The House of Loughmoe, and endured in the male line to the eighteenth century. In the female line it is now represented by the Purcell O'Gormans.

We see from the fore going that the name Purcell was originally a Norman name. Further, that the name came to England at the time of William the Conqueror. Latter the Purcells took part in the invasion and settlement of Ireland. We also find the Purcell’s in Scotland at a very early time.

One will find the Purcell family ranked exceedingly high in various lines of human endeavor. The name was early introduced into Munster, where it became numerous in the year 1310. In view of the fact that the Purcells have been seated in Ireland for a long period, the family have considered themselves Irish.