The first ancestor of the Early Eastern Pennsylvania Eckles Group was CHARLES ECKLES, who was born about 1715 in Ulster, Ireland, and died in October 1781 (or 1783?), near Chambersburg in the southern part of Pennsylvania. Several traditions among his descendants have been so widespread and firmly help that they may be accepted as being based on historical facts. One of these is that Charles Eckles came with two of his brothers from northern Ireland. The tradition is also is that the brothers did not remain together after a time. Some tradition has it that one of the brothers went south, Virginia being mentioned in this connection. Records show that Edward Eckles, progenitor of the Second Virginia Group, could well have been a brother of this Charles. The results of thorough searching for records of the two brothers of Charles show that JAMES ECKLES and CAPT. GEORGE ECKLES (a sea Captain) were in Eastern Pennsylvania at the same time as Charles, and that apparently they came there at about the same times and were not far from his age. Records were not found of any other persons there who could have been the brothers of Charles. It may be noted that all records of George show the surname as E-c-k-l-e-s, while those of James, as is too frequently the case in public records, show an occasional departure from this form. Some tradition has it that one of the brothers of Charles Eckles returned to his former home. If so, James was the one, and lack of records of him after a time seems to bear out this tradition. Robert Eckles, who was a taxpayer and "freeman" at Carlisle in 1780, may have been a son of this James Eckles, but no other record of Robert appears in eastern Pennsylvania. It appears also that there are no records of others in eastern Pennsylvania who were the children of James, and no record of his death was found. James could have been the fourth brother of the Virginia tradition.
The first record of CHARLES ECKLES (1715-1781/83) is that given in a tax list of 1753 of Sadsbury Township, in the extreme western part of Chester County, PA. He was there designated as a renter, and was still so designated in the same place in the 1766 tax list. But in the 1767 tax list he is shown as then living in the adjoining township of East Fallowfield, where he was the owner of live stock and one hundred and twenty acres of land, which, in 1774, was given as two hundred acres. Perhaps it was because of his house being within the zone of military operations around Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War that Charles Eckles decided to leave Chester County. About 1778 he moved to Hamilton Township, Cumberland (now Franklin) County, PA, and located a few miles west of Chambersburg where some of his sons also located. Here he was taxed in 1779 and 1780 on live stock and one hundred and fifty acres of land. Here also he died, somewhat unexpectedly perhaps, as his will, made on his deathbed, was stated orally to two of his sons and a neighbor. He doubtless conducted a cooperage business (manufacture and repair of barrels and casks) exclusively before purchasing a farm in 1767 , and thereafter may have combined this business with that of farming to advantage, due to the large number of his sons. On his deathbed he bequeathed his cooperage tools to his son William, but later records show only Charles's son Francis and his descendants as being engaged in the cooperage business.
It is quite probable that CHARLES ECKLES (1715-1781/83) was buried at Rocky Springs Church Cemetery, which is about four miles north of Chambersburg, as there seems to have been no other early cemetery within a very much greater distance from his home. It was this church that at least one son of Charles Eckles had a pew for some years after the latter's death. Three of Charles's sons served in the Revolutionary War, one of whom was in the regular army four years and two as members of the militia. Two younger sons were members of the malitia and among those of whom it is said "they serve who only stand and wait."
Another firm and widespread tradition among the descendants of CHARLES ECKLES is to the effect that he brought some children to Pennsylvania from northern Ireland, and that one child, NATHANIEL, was born on the ocean, doubtless the result of certain unfortunate incidents which occurred during the voyage. Such voyages were then known to be long and perilous, and tradition has it that the vessel on which the family embarked became disabled at sea and eventually had to return to port, which some tradition says was Newry and some Belfast, Ireland. Tradition has it that the mother died at this time and Charles Eckles married again. It is permissible to surmise that the vessel on which the family voyaged was a comparatively small one, perhaps owned by the brothers and commanded by CAPTAIN GEORGE ECKLES.
George Eckles married Susanna Holmes at Christ Church, Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 7, 1750. to them was born on child, Susanna, on Aug. 18, 1758, who was baptized at Christ Church on Feb. 27, 1759, where her father was buried following his death on March 25, 1759. Apparently there were no other children born to this union, and Susanna Eckles married second Andrew Wade on Oct 17, 1765. George Eckles was a member of Tun Tavern Lodge A.F. & A.M., in 1759, and in the records of the lodge his name is given as CAPTAIN GEORGE ECKLES. He is listed in the Philadelphia Ship Register at different times as master and owner of several schooners, one of which was named Elizabeth and Mary. His name appears with that of the mayor of Philadelphia and others on a petition to Thomas and Richard Penn for the gift of a lot on Society Hill on which to build St. Peter's Church, a project which was completed after his death.
JAMES ECKLES appears as a taxable at Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, as early as 1762 (From the "History of Cumberland and Adams Counties", by Warner Beers and Co.) and in 1768 his name appeared on a petition to Governor John Penn at Philadelphia asking exoneration of the sheriff in connection with a jail delivery at Carlisle. Robert Eckles, who was possibly a son of this James, was taxed in Carlisle, PA, in 1780 and apparently again in 1786 in Huntington Township, Westmoreland County, PA, where some of the sons of the early Charles Eckles were already settled.