Brief history of the Golladay family 

Joseph Golladay and his wife Sybilla Kneisley of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania are the first known Golladays in America. It is believed they arrived in the early 1700's. These early Golladay immigrants were part of a group called Palatines. The Palatines immigrated from an area of Germany that was inhabited by several different groups because of religious persecution.

"A striking mixture of peoples, faiths, and ways of life could be found in the Rhineland in the 17th century, where French Huguenots and Swiss and native German elements confronted one another in the same village communities."

- from article written by Don Yoder in the "Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups" (1980) regarding the origins of the Pennsylvania Germans

The historical evidence indicates that the origin of the Golladay and Golliday families goes back to a French Huguenot family. Y-DNA testing has now revealed that the family shares a common paternal ancestor with French-speaking Albert Gallatin, who was born in 1761 at Geneva, Switzerland. His ancestors go back to Savoy, which is now part of France. However additional DNA testing is needed before a final conclusion can be reached regarding the origin of the Golladay family.

DNA Analysis of the Golladay and Golliday family

Sybilla Kneisley was born in the Alsace region of France. Her ancestors trace back to the Knussli family in Switzerland in the canton of Zurick. Sybilla's Swiss Mennonite roots are discussed in an inexpensive book:

The 50,000 Year DNA Journey of the Knusli Family

The Golladay name was spelled differently in the Old Country and Anglicized when the family moved to America. Some Golladays have the belief that the Golladay family was German. This tradition is based on the fact that the early Golladay family in America spoke German and lived with the German settlers in Pennsylvania and in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. And many of the spouses of the early Golladay family were German. It was noted in the "A History of Monroe County, West Virginia" that Christina (Golladay) Baker never learned to speak English. She lived from 1761 until 1851 and she was the granddaughter of Joseph Golladay. He is believed to be the first Golladay in America.

Other Golladay families have the tradition that the origin of the family was French Huguenot. Evidence to back up this belief is in the biography of Jacob Shall Golladay:

"His father, Isaac Golladay, was of Huguenot descent, the family coming to this country during the persecution, and setting in Virginia."

- from "The Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky of the Dead and Living Men of the Nineteenth Century" - published in 1878

This biography was written while Jacob was still alive. Jacob was born in 1825. His grandparents would have been some of the earliest Golladay's in colonial times.

More evidence is found in the biography of Jacob's brother Edward Isaac Golladay. Edward was also alive when the following was written in his biography:

"The Golladays are of French extraction, the family name as originally spelt, being Gallaudet."

- from "Sketches of Prominent Tennesseans" - compiled by William S. Speer in 1888

A letter written to George S. Golladay from his brother also indicates their understanding of the family origin:

"This I shall take the liberty of doing in virtue of the 'Huguenot blood' which is common to us."

Edward Isaac Golladay on January 12, 1860

Another source of the Golladay family origin is found in the journal of a French nobleman who visited the Shenandoah Valley not long after the American Revolution:

"The country became more and more mountainous, the pines grew denser and were finally the only kind of tree in the valley. They grew in groves that ended in arrowheads on the mountainsides, but never reached the peaks. The soil in these parts is arid and the only local product is pine tar. We dined with Mr. Golladey,(1) whose grandfather was a French refugee."

- written by Louis-Philippe on April 14, 1797

Source: "Diary of My Travels in America, Louis Philippe, King Of France, 1830-1848 (ISBN 0-440-01844-7), page 43.

(1) This is believed to be Revolutionary War soldier David Golladay. Before David moved to Augusta County, he operated a tavern out of his home on Main Street in Woodstock in the 1790's.

The Golladay family may have been part of the exodus of Huguenots from France as a result of the turmoil created by King Louis XIV of France when he revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. Or the family may have been living in Switzerland before moving into the Rhineland area of Germany.


Huguenot cross

The Huguenots wore this cross during the persecution as a symbol of their evangelical faith in Jesus and the Word of God. The dove hanging from the cross signified the desire of the Huguenots to be led by the Holy Spirit.

The French spelling of the family name has been found in Shenandoah County, Virginia in 1825 in the area where the Golladay's settled. This was in the baptismal record of Isabella Gauladet.

Every white Golladay or Golliday in America apparently descends from two brothers, Joseph and Jacob. Jacob was the first Golladay to move into Shenandoah County, Virginia. He was among the first of the Lutheran setters in Powell's Fort Valley.

Joseph was the patriarch of the branch that included Isaac Golladay of Lebanon, Tennessee. His descendants were some of the most prominent of the Golladay family.

Golladay family ceremony

This family ceremony was held in June 2010 at the Dry Run cemetery in Shenandoah County, Virginia. The graves of the Golladay soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War were marked and their patriotic service to America was honored. In the background are the Massanutten Mountains and the land that was originally settled by family patriarch Jacob Golladay, Sr.

Every black Golladay, Golliday or Goliday acquired the name from working for one of Isaac's sons. A few African-Americans may trace their roots to the farms of Jacob Shall Golladay in Logan County, Kentucky or Frederick W. Golladay of Wilson County, Tennessee . However, the large majority of black Golladay/Golliday/Goliday's can trace their history back to the plantation of George Shall Golladay in Grenada, Mississippi.

Golladays Gap

Golladays Gap in Green Mountain is near the location where the Golladay family first settled in Shenandoah County, Virginia

Note to hikers: Golladays Gap is accessible by an ATV trail known as Powell Mountain Trail, which runs along the west side of Green Mountain

One interesting discovery involving a Golladay family member has now become a tourist attraction in the Shenandoah Valley:

"A pair of curious teen-agers are credited with discovering the amazing underground world of Shenandoah Caverns. A.C. Neff and Isaac Golladay first lowered themselves into the caverns below the Neff farm in 1884. Significant exploration did not take place until 1888."

- from "Shenandoah Valley Herald" article (27 Mar 2002) titled "Shenandoah Caverns Will Celebrate 80th Anniversary This Year"

Some families use a spelling variation of the original name such as GOLIDAY, GALLADAY, GOLLADY, or GOLLODAY. Even today, the Golladay/Golliday name is frequently misspelled.


There was a Palatine family with the name Golliday that emigrated to Ireland. The book "The Palatine Families of Ireland" by Henry Z. Jones, Jr. tells that William Golliday was the head of an Irish-Palatine family in 1715. He suggests this family can be traced back to the Galathe family in Mannheim, Germany. Apparently the roots of the Galathe family originate in Switzerland as documented in "500 Years of History & Genealogy of the Gallati Families of Glarus" by M. Mogensen-Gallati. There is no current evidence to tie this Irish family into the Golladay family that settled in Pennsylvania in the 1700's.

This page last updated on March 01, 2017