The Drennen Legacy Revisited

I was recently contacted by a reader, Lisha Wallace, about my most popular post called “Drennen, A Place, A Name, A Family”, asking quite humbly if I could help her with her Drennen and Morris family connections.  Obviously, I was intrigued because of the Drennen name and also the Morris name, because of my wife’s Morris line. 

Right away, I decided I’d look into Lisha’s Morris line to see if there was a connection to my wife.  Even though preliminary research showed that Lisha’s Morris family is not related to my wife’s Morris family, I am still researching that Morris family for a future post.  Next up, Lisha’s Drennen family connection. 

First, I needed some more background and asked Lisha how much of her Drennen family she knew about, and she told me about her father, Michael Morris and her grandparents, Paul Morris and Mary E. Drennen.  Now, Lisha did tell me that her grandmother, Mary Drennen was a bit of a mystery.  She also believed that Paul Morris and Mary Drennen never married, but stayed together and had 3 sons, James, Paul and Michael. Paul and Mary then parted ways probably in the late 40’s or early 50’s.  Mary took Michael out west with her to the state of Washington, while Paul kept James and Paul. 

Remember if you are ever doing research for someone, be sure to get as much information as possible. The more information you can get from the start, the more records you may be able to find. 

With the information I had, I started researching Mary E. Drennen and I found the marriage application for Paul Morris and Mary E. Drennen: 

Courtesy of WV Culture Vital Records – 31st May, 1938 

This was a great starting point…at least I thought so. 

After doing a search on Ancestry and FamilySearch, I could not find an Edward and Elba Drennen.  I thought to myself this is so weird.  I reported it back to Lisha and she really couldn’t give me any additional information. 

I then decided to broaden my search net and start using different spellings of the Drennen name.  I went back to the WV Culture Birth page and looked for a Mary Drinnon born in a year range of 5 years before and after 1920 and I hit paydirt: 

Courtesy of WV Culture Vital Records 

Born 2 July 1920, Mary E. Drennen was born to Edgar S. Drennen and Elva Ramsey in Fayette Co., WV.  The names are to close to be just a coincidence. 

So the age that Mary said she was for the application of marriage to Paul Morris was probably not true.  She said she was 21, but her birth record above shows she would have been a little more than a month shy of her 18th birthday. 

Now that we have her parents’ names, this should go a little bit smoother. 

I found the 1930 Census for Mary E. Drennen in the Kentucky Dist., Nicholas Co., WV: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

Here is the 1910 Census for Edgar & Elva Drennen in Winona Precinct, Fayette Co, WV: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

You see that Edgar’s younger brother Walter is staying with them, as well as a servant and a boarder. 

My next step was to start searching on Edgar S. Drennen. I started at the WV Culture Birth records and found this birth record for Edgar S. Drennen, born 24 July, 1883: 

Courtesy of WV Culture Vital Records 

Now we have Edgar’s parents’ names. William J. Drennen and Harriet M. Drennen.  Many ancestry trees say Harriet’s maiden name was Johns. I next found this record of the 1880 census in the Jefferson District, Nicholas County, WV: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

Down the same census page, I found a John H. Drennen and family: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

Could this be William J. Drennen’s family? 

I then found the 1860 Census in Nicholas County, VA for John H. Drennen: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

It appears that William J. Drennen is the son of John H. and Elizabeth Drennen.  

My next discovery was the will of John H. Drennen – 17 July 1903: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© – Nicholas County, Will Book, Vol 1-2, 1820-1921 

So here we have all of the surviving children that are mentioned in John H. Drennen’s will. Although the son’s names are abbreviated, the 1880 Censuses I showed above for William J. and John H. Drennen families confirms their names. 

The children are William J. Drennen, John F. Drennen, Stonewall J. Drennen and daughter, Mary E. Bell. 

My next step would be to find the parents of John H. Drennen.  I found the 1850 Census in Nicholas, VA for John H. Drennen and his wife Elizabeth, living next door to the Jacob Drennen family (this is the Jacob Drennen I had mentioned in my previous post regarding the Drennen family): 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

I have not found any records that confirm that John H. Drennen is the son of Jacob, but I do however have the 1840 Census to show for Jacob Drennen who has a son that falls into the 10-15 year old age range that fits with the age of John H. Drennen at the time of the census.  John would have been 11 years old: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

I next found a book that has great information and some good records regarding the rest of the Drennen lineage.  The book is called “Drinnons of Mulberry Gap: A Century of Family History” by Kenneth C. Drinnon, 2013.  The will of Thomas Drennen, on page 18 mentions his children, including Jacob Drennen, the same as mentioned above.  It mentions that Thomas Drennen was in the Revolutionary War.  It also states Thomas was the son of Walter Drinnon, the immigrant ancestor of the Drinnon (Drennen) family. 

The rest as they say is history. Remember that if you are persistent in your searching, you can and will find the records you need to prove your ancestor’s lineage, and even if there are gaps in your research where there doesn’t seem to any records, don’t give up.  There are other places to look beside online sources.  You may need to make a road trip to see if there are any records located in the county where your ancestor lived, such as a local library, courthouse or historical society. 




West Virginia Culture Vital Records 

Google EBooks 


I wish to thank the following Drennen family members for their information and their inspiration. 

Lisha Wallace 

Connor Drennen 

Mark & Gramm Drennen (Father & son)  – I worked with both Mark and his son, Gramm at the Lucas County Engineer’s Office

Emma Byrnes 

Special thanks to my wife, Cheryl who is always right by my side and gives me all the love and support I will ever need 

6 thoughts on “The Drennen Legacy Revisited

  1. I am eternally grateful to Brian and all of his hard work uncovering the drennen/morris lineage! The spark to explore more of this side of the family is very strong, and I’m so excited to go exploring!


  2. Thank you for sharing part of the mysterious Drennen line which I am a big part of. I too have a John F. Drennen, Mary E. , James, Jacob, Walter , Charles and the list goes on. It appears that the Drennens used these birth names repeatedly, which makes for some tough researching. I’m great to have come across your search. Now back to the book of researching. Thank you


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