Robert Looney Book
Latest book about the Looney Family and Looney History 

Review Volume One

RAVING REVIEW BY STEVE LOONEY

Adventures in pre-revolutionary America! When pioneering fames endured hardships, struggles, and danger as they explored the vast wilderness! Filled with tales of political intrigue, courtroom drama, and battlefield action!  Featuring appearances by such famous characters as King George, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Daniel Boone! The newest Hollywood Blockbuster? NOPE.


I'm talking about the book: 
"MOST DISTINGUISHED CHARACTERS ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER"

written by Madge Looney Crane and Phillip L. Crane


The subject of the book is Robert Looney Sr. and some of his descendants with particular focus upon the history and events surrounding the Looney family pioneers in southwest Virginia during the 1700's. It is a seminal piece of work in both genealogical and historical context. The book is highly detailed and meticulously documented--chock full of maps, diagrams, copies of original papers, archaeological excavations, etc.

    Almost everything known abut Robert Looney Sr. is available to you in this single volume. With this book as a foundation, Looney Family researchers can get on with the business of investigating 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations, etc.


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In August 1998 the Archeological Society of Virginia published in their Newsletter a review of the book about Robert (1) Looney. This review was written by Col. Howard A. MacCord, Sr., who conducted the excavations in 1968-69 at the Robert Looney home site at the mouth of Looney's Mill Creek in Botetourt County, Virginia.

MOST DISTINGUISHED CHARACTERS ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIER

The book's subtitle just about says it all! "Robert Looney (b. 1692-1702, d. 1770) of Augusta (now Botetourt County, Virginia and some of his descendants, with histories of the Great Road, Looney's Ferry, Crow's Ferry, Anderson's Ferry, Boyd's Ferry, and Beale's Bridge." 

This hard bound volume has 442 pages, 31 photographs, 76 maps, 18 plats of landholdings, and 124 documents (scanned copies of originals in various courthouse, libraries, etc.).


Unquestionably, a tremendous amount of time and loving, devoted dedication went into this study of the immigrant Robert Looney and many of his descendants. The authors visited almost every place they mention in the text, and where possible, they photographed buildings, landscapes, or remains. 


Where gaps exist in the data, they point them out, and they relate their efforts to fill in the gaps, thus hoping to save future researchers time, effort and expense.


Robert Looney came (probably) from the Isle of Man, via Pennsylvania, Maryland, and what is now part of West Virginia, finally settling (by 1742) in Orange County (now Botetourt) on the south (right) bank of James River at its crossing by the Great Road (now followed in general by US 11 and I-81). Looney built a home, operated a ferry, built and operated a grist mill, farmed, and took part in community affairs. He had ten [known] children, many of whom played important roles in the expanding frontier in southwestern Virgina, and on into Tennessee and westward. Abb's Valley in Tazewell County, Virginia was named for a son, Absalom Looney, who was an early settler there. The Looney name shows up in many other places, as well, and many are described in this book.


In 1754-55 as the Indian menace developed into what we call the French and Indian War, Robert Looney palisaded his home, creating Looney's Fort, which served as a neighborhood refuge when danger threatened. The home was demolished in 1914, and the home-fort location became an archeological site, named the Lipes Site, for recent owners. An archeological test of the site in 1968-69 revealed part of the house foundation, the ditch which supported posts of the palisade, plus an underlying prehistoric Indian occupation. The report on the work is in ASV's Quarterly Bulletin for December, 1971 (Vol. 26, No. 2). 


This reviewer had written the Lipes Site report, with many statements in it based on his (then) limited knowledge of the site and its history. This publication by the Cranes corrects his errors and this writer appreciates the kind way in which they did this. Naturally, some of the conclusion about the site still need better proof, and the writers join this reviewer to urge further archeological work at the Lipes Site. In the meantime, the current owners are protecting the site.


In this volume, the Cranes assembled a tremendous body of data. At times, the reader feels overwhelmed by details. However, those details are the crucial building blocks of history. Students interested in the Looney genealogy, the history of the Great Road, events during the French and Indain War, frontier forts in general, and related data are encouraged to use this source, either through purchase, or by having your library acquire a copy. It is unlikely that anyone will (or can) replicate the research and data presented so well in this book. Those of us with an interest in Virginia's frontier history will use this book extensively, expecialy in seeking leads and data concerning homes, mills, forts, roads, bridges, and so on of the James River valley west of the Blue Ridge during the mid-18th Century. As an archeologist, I already see dozens of potential data sources (sites) leaping from the pages and demanding attention!   Howard A. MacCord, Sr.