• Clan Joyce of Ulster

Introduction to the Joyces of Iowa

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In the United States in the state of Iowa lays one of the most intriguing situations in the history of Clan Joyce of Ulster. Considered the home of two distantly-related Joyce/Joss septs, it certainly presents us with an interesting history. Little did the nineteenth-century adventurers in the area know that they would be living next to their Ulster-Scot Joyce relatives. What is more, however, is that Iowa is where the Joyces of Ballynahinch and Ballydonaghy lineages meet. From a genealogical perspective, they share Thomas Joise (b. 1609) as a most recent common ancestor. But what specific Joyces arrived in the state?



From a historical perspective, both septs arrived in Iowa during the mid-1800’s, and it is difficult to determine which one arrived first. Although, it is clear that they were actors in the ever-growing movement westward. For the Joyces Ballydonaghy, County Armagh, their original presence was in Benton County and Linn County, Iowa through the descendants of George Joyce (1767-1807). To be more specific, through his sons: William Henry Joyce (1794-1848) and George Joyce (1796-1836). Both born in Adams County, Pennsylvania, they were representing descendants of George Joise (b. 1629), son of Thomas Joise (b. 1609).


It also was not uncommon for Virginians and North Carolinians to settle in Iowa as well. During this time, the descendants of Susan Joyce Means (1799-1826) settled in Dubuque County, Guthrie County, Jasper County, Linn County, and Polk County. Descended from Elijah Joyce (1752-1804), they were grandchildren of Alexander Joyce (1720-1778) of Ballynahinch, County Down. Meanwhile, Alexander Joyce (1806-1880), son of George Joyce (1759-1835) of Kentucky moved to Warren County. By the year 1923, his lineage was living in nearby Marion County.


Today this region of the United States is where the genealogies of Joyces of Ballydonaghy and Ballynahinch merge together. Ironically, many Joyces living in Iowa are not aware of this and its significance. For those descendants researching their ancestry in the northeast, knowing this simple fact will be beneficial. Despite sharing a common Joise ancestry, recognizing which ancestors are part of which sept can provide clues in one’s research.

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