Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Story of Wills

A last will can sometimes be the only available source telling a researcher what life was really like in a family at a certain time and place. The wills associated with the Hamilton and Pollock families are excellent examples of such revelation.

Hamilton Bonanza


Location of Robert Hamilton 45 Foyle St merchant house in Londonderry
Robert Hamilton was 76 years old when he passed away in 1893. His wife Margaret Graham Hamilton, two daughters and a son survived him. The Irish records estimated the value of the estate as £18,700. Taking into account changing values over time, this is the equivalent to £2.25 million in pounds today or $2.47 million in dollars. However it is measured, Robert Hamilton built up quite an estate over his lifetime.

The estate bequeathed to his wife and children included the house and business located at 45 Foyle Street in Londonderry plus a home and farm called Castle Farm in County Donegal.

A December 1901 For Sale notice stated the farm contained 140 acres of land "in the highest state of cultivation" about six miles east by road from Londonderry and a five minute walk from the railroad station in Newtowncunningham. According to the 1901 Census the house contained brick or stone walls, 15 windows in the front, and 19 rooms. 

"The Castle" in NewtownCunningham
No present day record or photo could be found for a Castle Farm. However, Wikipedia does mention for Newtown Cunningham: "The village's architecture includes stately Anglo-Irish "big houses", now known as the Manse and the Castle, which reflect the village's colonial and Presbyterian history." Until someone provides a better alternative, I am assuming this dilapidated building is "The Castle"  of the Castle Farm mentioned in Robert's will.

According to a 1910 town directory, 45 Foyle Street was then the location of P. Sweeney's restaurant. Today the location, thanks to urban renewal, has been swept of historic structures and is the site of a tourist center. The old Derry map above shows the former location of the Hamilton merchant house and business near the Derry Bridge and between the old city wall and the River Foyle.

Winding up the estate
Robert Hamilton's five page will is a blatant example of micromanaging from beyond the grave. Given all the asides and process directives included to assure his wishes were implemented into the future, it is a difficult document to understand.

My simplified take on the will is that the estate was bequeathed to his family as follows:
  • Castle Farm to Robert Jr. subject to his continuing payments on the mortgage.
  • Trust under the direction of Robert Jr and two non-family businessmen established to own and manage the Foyle Street business for the benefit of Robert Jr and to assure sufficient funds for the other bequests.
  • £500, first choice on home furniture and a £100 annual income to his wife Margaret for the rest of her life.
  • £2000 (equivalent to £252,000 today) each to daughters Margaret Gordon and Elizabeth Donnell.
After July 1897 the assets of Robert Hamilton Sr were distributed according to the terms of the will. His wife Margaret had died in April of that year. Robert Jr announced in May 1897 that he was no longer interested in running his father's business and would wind up its business and affairs. 
Castle Farm Sale
He and his wife Maggie McCandless Hamilton moved to the Castle Farm in Donegal.  In 1901 he sold the farm, he and his wife then disappearing from the record until 1918 when he died as a widower in Memphis, Tennessee. 

The lives of Robert Jr's sisters and their families turned out differently. Their stories begin in the next post.


Pollock Wills

Sarah Jane Graham, born in 1840, was the youngest of the Graham sisters. Sarah's oldest sister Ellen was born in 1806 when her father, James Graham, was 16. Assuming the mother, Elizabeth Henderson, was not younger than the father, this would put her birth date as 1790, indicating that Sarah Jane was born when her mother was 50 years old. 

Sarah married Andrew Pollock in 1858, when she was 18 years old. They had four children, 3 sons and a daughter. Their names and birth dates were as follows: William (1859), James Graham (1860), Andrew John (1868) and Bessie (1870).

Sarah died in Londonderry, Ireland on Novermber 17, 1894 when she was 54 years old. She wrote her will in February of that same year, and had it witnessed by Margaret and Robert Hamilton her sister and brother-in-law. The will left all her meager assets (£20) to her daughter Bessie who was 24 years old at the time of her mother's death.
Will of Sarah Graham Pollock
Sarah's husband Andrew Pollock died at age 67 on July 4, 1898 in Castlederg near the farm he worked in Ballyfolliard Townland. Probably this is the Graham's Town location mentioned in Ellen's will. In his will he left to his three surviving children (William had died in 1882) the following: James Graham (one shilling [a shilling was worth 1/20th of a pound]), Andrew John (one shilling), Bessie (one hundred pounds sterling, his watch and gold chain, and all his furniture, household goods and effects). The remainder of his estate, including the proceeds from sale of the farm, he left to his brother John James Pollock. His brother and another man were appointed to sell the farm, its implements and machinery with son Andrew John given first chance of buying "same at such valuation as may."

Will of Andrew Pollock
Both James Graham Pollock and Bessie Pollock lived in Londonderry for the rest of their short lives, dying respectively at age 42 in 1902 and age 31 in 1901.  Both appeared to have died childless.

Location of Castlederg and the former Graham's Town
What happened to Andrew John Pollock is less certain. An Andrew John Pollock, born in 1868,  is found in the 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses to be living in the Artigarvan Townland in Leckpatrick Parish. Leckpatrick Parish adjoins Ardstraw Parish where the Ballyfolliard Townland, Graham's Town and the former family farm were located. Artigarvan is about 14 miles from Castlederg where Andrew John Pollock was born and his father died. The former location of Graham's Town is between the two places, about 3 miles from Castlederg. Given the same name, year of birth and location of residence it is probable and practically definite that this man is our Andrew John Pollock.

Robert Pollock - 1918
At this point, the longevity of the Pollock family did not appear promising. The two surviving sons of Sarah Pollock were essentially written out of their parents' wills. Bessie, the one favored child, has died single and childless at age 31. The family future lies with any possible children of Andrew John Pollock whose death was not found in the public record.

Children of Andrew John Pollock

The 1901 and 1911 Irish Censuses indicate that Andrew John was married to Minnie Barnhill. They were parents of 11 children born between 1896 and 1910.  After the 1911 Census, no record or other evidence can be found regarding any of member of the family, with one exception. That exception is the oldest child Robert, born in 1896. He died in French Flanders from the effect of wounds suffered in battle during World War 1.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Those Left Behind

My last posting for this blog was in March 2017. At that time, I thought my story of grandmother Anna Love Graham and her family's migration to America had ended. I had no inkling that there was another story yet to tell; the lives of Graham relatives who did not join the passage across the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of the 19th Century.

Portion of the 1889 Will of Ellen Graham of Philadelphia

Ellen's Will

My attitude changed when a new record crucial to the telling of this diaspora story came online. That record was the 1889 will of Ellen Graham, Anna's spinster great aunt who had lived in Philadelphia since 1850.

The will revealed a surprisingly large estate for a women at the end of the 19th Century who had worked as a dressmaker most of her life. It also revealed the names of three new family members of whose existence I had been completely ignorant and who had never left Ireland. 

Old Derry Bridge
Two of those persons she identified as sisters. Their names were Margaret Hamilton, resident in Londonderry, Ireland, and Sarah Pollock, resident in Graham's Town, Ireland. The third person was listed as William Ramsay, son of Eliza Graham deceased, and residing near Derry Bridge, Ireland.

Londonderry, today called Derry, is one of the largest cities in Northern, Ireland.  Derry Bridge is in Derry and is a modern structure spanning the River Foyle. The Derry Bridge in Ellen's will is probably the area adjoining the previous bridge structure in the City of Derry.

Ardstraw Parish showing Listymore and Ballfolliard Townlands
Graham's Town no longer exists as an official population place in Ireland. However, it is shown on old Ulster maps as being located in the border area of Listymore and Ballyfolliard Townlands in Ardstraw Parish in County Tyrone. [See my prevous posting on 'Ancestral Irish Origins' for more detail about this area important to the 'Love' ancestors of Anna Love Graham.]

Eliza and the Ramsay Mystery

Who was Eliza Graham (deceased) with a son William Ramsay who was bequeathed $200?  My first guess was that she was a sister of Ellen's who had died leaving a son born out of wedlock. Or he could be the surviving son of an aunt who had died. There are a number of other logical possibilities. With this sketchy evidence, I made an attempt to further learn William's relationship to the family.

Bridge Street in old Derry
When was he born? Assuming he was the son of a sister, and knowing that all the children of Ellen's siblings were born between 1840 and 1870, I assumed a birth year within that range. Too many William Ramsays born in Ireland during this period. Tried mother's last name to narrow it down, but came up empty. Unless new information becomes available, William Ramsay living near Derry Bridge will remain a mystery.


The Hamilton and Pollock stories are enlivened through wills. The next posting discusses the significant contents of these end of life documents. Documents which more or less impacted the lives of the next generation.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

New Life in America

Fannie Lockhart King, Anna's cousin and daughter of
Sarah Killen - probably on wedding day - circa 1913
Anna's ancestors left Ireland for America for two reasons: to escape poverty and to live in a land that offered greater opportunity. As one would expect, success in finding and taking advantage of opportunities in America varied greatly among these new Irish-Americans. Here we look at just a sample of their lives.

Beyond the second generation their story melded with the rest of the American population. The first and second generations still carried much of the culture of the old country. For the later generations family history became entwined with life in America and origins from elsewhere in the world.

The two main areas of settlement by this group of Scot-Irish immigrants were Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Schuyler County, New York. There new lives in America will be examined in this same dual manner.

Did they find happiness here? Fulfilling lives? Were they better off than if they stayed in Ireland? No conclusions will be drawn on these subjective terms - just the facts to the extent they can be found.

Occupation can be an indicator of success in America. Our new Americans experienced the full spectrum of occupation from the most rewarding to the lowest level of servitude.  As might be expected in those times, farming was the most common occupation among the men. However, success in farming varied greatly.

Keeping house was crucial to family success before the onset of modern appliances and was entered most frequently on census forms for the wife's occupation. Nevertheless, as an occupation it does not help much with comparison among families.
Of course none of this says anything about happiness. Surviving the diseases so common in those days may have given you more time to enjoy life - whether you found those years to be happy is something else.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mary Graham Forbes, Anna's great aunt.
In the 1840s, Graham family members were the first to settle in Philadelphia. Three of the sisters (Ellen, Jane and Matilda) remained unmarried and worked as dress makers in that city, living together according to the Census at the same address on Summer street for many years. Their brother James Graham was missing from the records until his death when the address of his sisters on Summer Street was noted.

One sister, Mary Forbes, was widowed young leaving no children. She moved back from Schuyler County, where she and her husband farmed, and lived with her sisters working as a dress maker. She actually returned to Schuyler County before 1900 where she lived with her niece Eliza until her death in 1905 at 91.

Sarah & William Lockhart, circa 1910. Sarah was Anna's Aunt
Ann 'Nancy' Graham Killen was the only one of the five Graham sisters to have children. The Killen children, starting with Eliza, began to leave Ireland toward the end of the American Civil War. Ann crossed the ocean in 1874 after her three oldest daughters had left Ireland, and much later in life than her siblings. All of her children married and all but Eliza ultimately settled in Philadelphia. After working in various Philadelphia homes as a housekeeper, in 1900 the 75 year old Ann Killen was living with daughter Margaret Getty. 

Sarah Killen married a William Lockhart, a carpet and then towel manufacturer, with Sarah keeping house. They had three children. Toward the end of their life they moved in with daughter Fannie who was married to Bart King who is discussed below. Son Andrew Lockhart volunteered in the Spanish-American War. He was employed in civilian life as a Turkish towel manufacturer and later as an accountant with the Pennsylvania Railroad. The other son, Isaac Garfield worked as a road builder and his wife was a shop saleslady. 

Bart King, Circa 1897
Fannie and the Cricket Star - If entry in wikipedia is an indicator of impact on the world, at least one couple did quite well. Fannie Lockhart spent 50 years as the wife of Bart King, the cricket star. Although listed as sportsman in occupation, this is not what is entered in the census forms. The story is that various wealthy benefactors interested in cricket offered Bart jobs whose income would enable him to contribute his skills to the game of cricket with no fear for his financial well being. Looking at the picture of their house, which still stands in Philadelphia, I would say he did quite well. My dad told the story of visiting Bart and Fannie in Philadelphia with his parents right after graduating from college in 1925. Bart had an event that night and invited them along. The event was a bridge game at the home of the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. According to my father, the wine served was quite good!

Matilda Killen took passage to America in 1868, the same year as Sarah. In 1878 she married a man named Jacob Seiders, who was a disabled Union Civil War veteran. Following the marriage, they left for California's Bay Area where a daughter Blanche and son William were born in 1881 and 1883, respectfully. They returned east in 1889 when Jacob's health condition deteriorated and he entered residence in the National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Virginia. He died in 1894 leaving Matilda a widow with two children. By 1900 her children had left home and she was working as a servant in Philadelphia. Her daughter married an insurance adjuster with whom she had two children. After four years in the Navy, the son ultimately became a merchant. By 1920 Matilda was no longer a servant and owned her home in Philadelphia, the former home of the Graham sisters.

Margaret Killen married John Getty after arriving in Philadelphia in 1881. They had two children (Robert and Anna), born in California in 1890 and 1892. After returning from California, her husband died in Philadelphia in September 1896. Following John's death, Margaret worked as a carpet weaver in Philadelphia.  A row house at 2134 Monmouth Street. remained the Getty home into the late 1920s. The two children remaining single with Robert working as a druggist and Anna as a bookkeeper. In 1926 Anna married Fred Bleacher, an accountant for an electrical company. They had a daughter. By 1930 Margaret had moved into the new home of her bachelor son Robert on Seventh St.. Robert finally married by 1934, when his son Robert Jr. was born to his wife Anna Halvorsen.

John Killen in the 1890s.
Not my image of a carpet weaver
Carpet Weavers - Carpet weavers were among the skilled workers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Philadelphia's thousands of modest scale firms linked together through contracts and trade in elaborate ways that made the city a vast workshop. Carpet makers purchased yarn from one firm, had it dyed at a second, bought pattern designs from a third, punched cards to control the weaving process (Jacquard) from a fourth. Wages were high and, although work was cyclical, job opportunities grew. Hundreds became proprietors, "commencing on their own account" in small partnerships, renting "rooms with power" in mills purposely built for hosting a dozen or more newly started enterprises.

John Killen was the youngest child, only son and the last of the Killen children to leave for America. He married a Sarah Lockhart (probably a sister or other relative of his sister Sarah's husband) in 1890 and was employed as a carpet weaver. John was not living with his wife and daughter in 1900 and 1910 when she was listed as family head in the census. In 1910 John was working as a night watchman when he suffered a "fractured skull due to being accidentally struck by a barrel" His wife Sarah was employed as a carpet weaver in a mill. Of their two children, only the daughter Sarah Jane "Jennie" Killen survived. One of Anna Love Graham's fondest memories was of the summer Jennie spent at the family's farm in Schuyler County. Jennie eventually married and according to a family story had a son who attended Girard College in Philadelphia.

Schuyler County, New York


Schuyler County is about 250 miles from Philadelphia. Today the interstate highway system connects them. In 1842, when Isaac Graham and his wife Sarah settled in the county, there was not even a railroad connecting the two places.

Isaac farmed his whole life in America. He and Sarah produced six children born in Schuyler County; four boys and two girls. Daughter Eliza never married and died in 1900 in the Willard State Hospital in Seneca County, NY. Daughter Margaret married a John McDermott and had two children. Her husband had various jobs including a fruit farmer, carpenter with a company that made bins and a railroad switchman. All four sons were farmers for their entire lives. The sons were named Joseph, James, William and Robert. Joseph would eventually become Eliza Killen's second husband, and Anna Love's stepfather.

In 1862 the family of Samuel Love and Mary McClintock settled in Schuyler County. Samuel being Isaac Graham's brother-in-law. All of their six children (three of each sex) were born in Ireland. Samuel farmed in the Town of Reading. Their children and grandchildren's lives are described below:

Samuel Love's three daughters were named Matilda, Eliza and Margaret. Matilda died unmarried at age 34. Both Eliza and Margaret married farmers. Eliza had two sons with Daniel Hughey, Joseph and Amasa, who also were farmers in their short lives. Margaret and her husband John Stewart had five children, two boys and three girls. Son Donald died young on the farm. Son John started out in farming, but by 1930 was working as a service manager for an auto distributing company in New Jersey. Margaret's three daughters were Mary, Anna and Blanche. Mary and Anna both married farmers. Blanche was working as a stenographer at a crane and hoist company in 1920.

Andrew Love family - Effie Jane and Andrew sitting. Standing
left to right: William, David, Hebe, Andrew & Mary Amelia.
Andrew Love was Samuel Love's second oldest son and a farmer his entire life. He married Effie Jane Wasson, a cousin of Thomas Watson (Watson's father changed the spelling of the last name) founder of IBM. They had five children (three boys and two girls). Sons David and Andrew were farmers. Andrew's wife Lola was a high school teacher. Son William Thomas worked in sales for the National Cash Register company. Andrew's daughters Mary Amelia and Hebe Bell both married farmers, Walter Ellison and Irving Wilbur, respectively. (Hebe Bell Love Ellison was best friends with her cousin Anna Love Graham. They roomed together at Starkey Seminary where they received their high school education. Starkey was a boarding school in Yates County which adjoins Schuyler County to the north on the west side of Seneca Lake.)

Samuel's son John T. Love never married, finding work as a farmer when he was younger. Anna took in her Uncle John and gave him a place to stay during the 1920s when he was older and could no longer work.

Sam and Nell Love in buggy with mother Eliza standing in front of their house
Circa 1912
William Love, Samuel's oldest son, married Eliza Jane Killen (mother of Anna Love Graham) in 1871. William's first wife, Anna Caldwell, had died along with their infant child. William Love died of spinal meningitis in the year 1885. He was only 41 years old.

Two of  Eliza and William's four children survived; Sam and Anna. Son Sam Love became a farmer and also the assessor for the Town of Dix. He and his wife Nell Buck had two children. Anna's story is told in the first post of this blog. 

An Epidemic Tragedy


This story of the Irish Diaspora, as illustrated by the lives of one extended family, began with the Great Famine in Ireland. The story ends with another tragedy that had an even more devastating impact on family members. 

I first became aware of the tragedy when I noticed that a lot of these ancestors were dying in 1919 - most of them young and in the prime of their lives. It seemed more than coincidence and I wondered if there was a common cause to these deaths. As luck would have it, I discovered the existence of a digitized edition of a newspaper in the area accessible from the internet - The Telegram in Elmira, NY. The newspaper provided information not found on the gravestones; the immediate cause of the deaths. 

The first to occur was the death of Clayton Graham on March 3, 1919 at the age of 26. Clayton was the son of Isaac Graham's son James. Next to follow were Donald (age 24) and James Stewart (age 64) on the 10th and 12th of March 1919, respectively. Donald and James were the son and husband of Samuel Love's daughter Margaret. Finally this March of sorrow brought the deaths of two brothers Joseph (age 32) and Amasa Hughey (age 34). They were the sons and only children of Eliza Hughey, also the daughter of Samuel Love. They died March 3 and March 17 of 1919. Pneumonia was the immediate cause of death in all five victims.

As may have been guessed by those familiar with the times, all the deaths were related to the Great Pandemic of 1918/1919. This influenza pandemic has been described as "the greatest medical holocaust in history" and may have killed as many people as the Black Death. This huge death toll was caused by an extremely high infection rate of up to 50% and the extreme severity of the symptoms. The majority of deaths were from bacterial pneumonia, a secondary infection caused by the influenza.

The unusually severe disease killed between 2 and 20% of those infected, in contrast with the more usual flu epidemic mortality rate of 0.1%. Another unusual feature of this pandemic was that it mostly killed young adults, with 99% of pandemic influenza deaths occurring in people under 65, and more than half in young adults 20 to 40 years old. This is unusual since influenza is normally most deadly to the very young (under age 2) and the very old (over age 70).

These characteristics of the epidemic clearly were present in 1919 as the disease wreaked havoc in these descendants of Irish immigrants.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Ocean Passage

Londonderry was the closest port for potential emigrants from Ardstraw, County Tyrone, Ireland. It was also the departure port in 1840 for the first of Anna's ancestors to cross the Atlantic Ocean to America.

Londonderry in the 19th century looking toward the port. Interesting how it shows
new trees planted in the street. I wonder if they survived into the 20th Century?


The Trailblazers

James, Jane and Matilda Graham, sisters and brother of Ann Graham Killen (Anna's grandmother) are found among the passengers listed on the Ship Manchester out of Philadelphia, Captain S. E. Forman, weight three hundred and seventy nine tons, bound from Londonderry, Ireland for Philadelphia.

Given their names, ages, the fact they are traveling together and the decade they sailed, this passenger record documents the initial crossing in 1840 of Anna's ancestors to a new life. The passenger list even tells what they brought with them: 1 chest, 1 barrel, 3 boxes, and 3 sets of bedding.

Finding the ships in which the other Graham siblings took passage to America was more problematic than for the pioneer trio.

Remaining Grahams


Ann Graham Killen, who left Ireland later, is discussed with the Killens in the context of her children's passage. The rest of the Graham siblings left Ireland in the same decade, during the height of the Potato Famine

Isaac and his wife Sarah were the first. No passenger listing can be found for Isaac and wife Sarah. However, the timing of their passage is pretty definite given the date of their marriage in Ireland and the birth of their oldest child in America.

I was hoping I had found Mary on an 1848 passenger list: correct age, Irish origin, destination Philadelphia. The fly in the ointment was that she was accompanied by four Graham children, ages 2 to 10. Oops, wrong one. On the chance she had married in Ireland, I also checked under the Forbes name. No luck there either.

Typical habitation in steerage on an immigrant ship
Mary's determined year of passage was based on two items; her residence (married to Robert Forbes and living in Philadelphia) in the 1850 Census and the 1844 immigration date she entered in the 1900 Census. Assuming the 1844 date was correct, this placed her on the ship England arriving in New York City in 1844. My only hesitation is that she is listed 5 years younger than her true age. However, given human nature, people are more likely to 'err' toward more youth. 

As for Ellen, there is little to go on. The only thing I can say for sure is that she took ship passage before 1850 because she is in the 1850 Census for Philadelphia and living with her sister Matilda.

Killen Family

The children of Ann Graham Killen left Ireland as they became adults following their father's death in 1862. The first to leave was the oldest, and Anna's future mother, Eliza Jane Killen.

Eliza Killen, Anna's future mother and first of the Killen
family to leave for America
Eliza arrived in New York on the ship Constantine in 1865, the immigration year entered in the 1900 census. The entered age of 18 is correct (within a year). The surname entered (Kelim) is spelled incorrectly, but sort of agrees phonetically. New York and Philadelphia are close, with multiple public transportation connections at the close of the Civil War. The 1870 Census shows her resident in Philadelphia working as a servant with the Hildeburn family. 

Sarah appears to have taken passage on the ship France out of Queenstown, Ireland, arriving in 1868. We know for certain that she was in Philadelphia in 1870 given her presence in that census residing with her three spinster aunts; Ellen, Jane and Matilda Graham. The 1868 Castle Garden Immigration Center entry for Sarah Killen is the only realistic possibility in the decade before the 1870 Census.

As illustration of the frustrations of genealogy research, note the different 'immigration year' responses given for Sarah in the four Censuses starting in 1900: 1870,1859,1870,1865. The 'actual' year seems to split the difference.

Matilda Killen is the single instance found among my ancestors where rare Irish information on the ship’s departing passengers is available. Matilda Killen from Killstroll, Ardstraw (name of the town the Killens are from in Ireland) came over in 1868 (Sailing date: May 19, 1868) on the ship Stadacona (of the McCorkell line) from Londonderry. The ship was engaged by her Philadelphia relatives on April 22, 1868.

On both the Ancestry & Immigrant Ships websites, the Stadacoma passage arrived July 13, 1868 in Philadelphia with only one passenger named Killen on the arrival list. It misnames her as “Martha” Killen, but gives her age correctly as 16 which would put her birth year as 1851. We know the correct first name is Matilda because Matilda is the only passenger with the Killen name listed as leaving Ireland on the ship, and the indicated home town in Ireland is Killstroll in Ardstraw

Ann (Nancy) Graham Killen's crossing time was a mystery given that the entry for immigration year in the 1900 Census was 'unknown'. As the children emigrated singly as money was saved up for passage, it was logical that she waited until her youngest were older, but before 1880 when she was working as a housekeeper in Philadelphia and 1900 when she shows up in the census in the Philadelphia home of her daughter Margaret.

In April 25, 1874, an Anne Killen age 50, born about 1824 in Ireland is shown as a passenger on the ship California arriving in New York City from Moville, Ireland. Also on the ship was a Sarah Killen, age 56, who may have been a sister-in-law. Both listed their occupation as housekeeper. The Castle Garden immigration center in New York City listed Ann Killen arriving April 24, 1874 on the ship California.
In 1874, only Fannie (age 19 and married to John Hamilton), Margaret age 17 and John 15 of Anne's children remained in Ireland.

Based on the 1880 and 1920 Census, it appears Fannie and John Hamilton immigrated to America in 1879 or 1880.  No supporting passenger lists can be found.

SS Parthia docked in Londonderry
As for Margaret and John Killen, in those days, they would have been considered old enough to look out for themselves. They also had possible income from the property in Kilstrule still leased by Robert Killen according to the Griffith Valuation. Perhaps they stayed with Irish relatives until sufficient funds had been gathered to pay for ship passage. The listed passenger names, ages, dates for Margaret and John are close enough to provide confidence that they crossed the Atlantic on the ships British Queen and Parthia in 1881 and 1883, respectively.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Joining the Diaspora

As described in the Wretched Ireland post, migration from Ireland was propelled by poverty and the Great Famine of the mid 19th Century. Beside the 'push' of poverty, a significant attraction for the Irish was the perceived greater opportunity to be found across the ocean in the new lands. America was the primary beneficiary of this 19th Century Irish Diaspora. 

Pamphlet advertising the benefits of emigration to North America - Click on image to enlarge




Sarah and Isaac Graham
Anna's Irish ancestors began their participation in the great Irish migration at the beginning of the Potato Famine. In 1840, the first to make the trip were the Graham sisters, Jane and Matilda and their brother James. The three of them left on the same ship from Londonderry to Philadelphia,

The second to make the trip were Isaac and Sarah Love Graham, within a year of their marriage in 1842. As seen in the chart at the bottom of the first post, these two people also symbolized the connection between the two main ancestral branches of Anna Love Graham.

The rest of the Graham siblings, except one, took ship passage to America before 1850. The one exception was Anna's grandmother, Anne (Nancy) Graham Killen, who remained in Ireland until decades after her siblings had settled in America.



William Love, Anna's future father arrived in America with his family in 1862
The family of Samuel Love had a harrowing voyage to America. Although I am sure it seemed like a grand adventure to some of the children.

When they departed from County Tyrone, Ireland in 1862 it was as one family on the same ship - Samuel, Mary and all six of their children; ranging from infant Margaret to 18 year old William (Anna's father). 

The vessel on which they came was in passage for between three and four weeks when it was driven from its course by a gale when only a few days out. Instead of landing at New York City as intended, they found harbor in Quabec, Canada. From there they journeyed to New York via the Hudson River. The Civil War was raging at the time and the boat was so crowded with army mules that there was scarcely room for passengers. 

In New York City the family boarded a train. When they arrived in Watkins Glen they were met by the above mentioned Isaac Graham, Samuel’s brother-in-law who had left Ireland about 20 years before. (Source: Watkins Express of Nov. 17, 1982)




Robert Killen, the father of the family, never made it to America. He died in Kilstroll, Ardstraw Parish, County Tyrone, Ireland on October 17, 1862. At the time of his death, the children ranged in age from three for the only boy John to Eliza's fourteen. After Robert's death, the children spent the remainder of their childhood in Ireland (perhaps Londonderry), shipping out to America as adults. 

The Killen children sailed individually to America during the 20 years starting in 1865. The first to emigrate from Ireland was Nancy's oldest child Eliza, Anna's future mother, who arrived in New York City from Londonderry July 24, 1865. Her sisters Sarah and Matilda followed in 1868.

Robert's widow, Anne (Nancy) Graham Killen, left in 1874, two years after she was granted the estate of her husband, an amazing ten years following his death.

The 1880s brought the last of the children, Margaret in 1881 and John, the youngest in 1883 at the age of 25.

More details respecting the Graham and Killen emigration are found in the next posting.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wretched Ireland

Ann Killen

The available options for Ann 'Nancy' Killen were grim, whatever way you examined them. Her husband was dead. She had six kids, with the oldest fourteen years old. She had neither the knowledge, strength or time in the day to operate the farm.

Nancy Graham Killen, sometime in the late 19th Century
Who could she turn to for help? There was no welfare state in 1862. Her parents were old or dead. Her sisters and brothers were on the other side of a wide ocean, having left for America more than a decade before.

Even remarriage was not in the cards. She remained a single widow the rest of her life.

Yet, somehow she persevered. All six of her children survived to become adults. All of them married and five had children of their own.

We know from the records that she retained the farm in Kilstrule Townland, Ardstraw Parish in County Tyrone. She probably leased it out to a farmer, at least getting a small income from it.

Where did she live? Was it in Newtownstewart, the address for the Kilstrule property listed in the 1876 Irish land ownership book? Or was it Londonderry where family stories say she resided? How did she earn sufficient money to raise the children and send them across the ocean to America?

Many questions still remain.

Great Famine


The Great Famine in Ireland occurred during the 1850s - the decade during which Nancy's sisters and brothers emigrated to America. It is probable that the famine was a significant factor in their migration across the Atlantic Ocean. Other factors, prevalent before and after the famine, were significant as well. Some of these are laid out below. The impact of all these indicators of poverty plus the magnetic attraction of rich, free lands across the ocean had a profound impact on the Irish population. 

This change is illustated by the chart. Before the famine, the high Irish birthrate more than countered the impacts of poverty. The Great Famine changed that relationship, with the death of an estimated million people between the years of 1845 and 1852. The population continued to drop for the rest of the 19th Century. It did not start growing again until after 1950. 

Difficulty of life in Ireland before the Great Famine


The wretched condition of life in Ireland arose many years before the Great Famine. The clothes of the ordinary man were generally a cloak or tunic made of homespun wool or leather. Pants also were of wool or leather. A wool cap would be worn on the head but the feet would most of the time be bare. Shoes were saved for church. Women went barefoot almost all the time.

It was very difficult for farmers to make a living from their small leased farms. Most of them weaved in the evenings to bring in some money for purchasing items they had to buy. The women would do many of the farm chores and also did the spinning. They made all their own clothes.

If they had an open hearth in the cottage they would burn peat, as coal was too expensive. Very few could afford candles. The cottages of most farmers were rough wood at first and then later would be of stone. The one storied cottage would be thatched with straw. If there were two rooms one would be for their cow, sheep and probably a pig.

The Church of Ireland (Anglican) was still the state church and tithes were collected from everybody to support the Episcopalian clergymen and churches. The situation was particularly annoying to the Presbyterians and Catholics who also had to support their own churches. To many people the tithe was more than annoying and they refused to pay, including members of the Love family who were reported to the Earl [Letter]. Prior to the Great Famine, tithes were one of the main reasons for so many leaving Ireland.

Annual earnings in cash in 1733 would be £8 for a country schoolteacher and £10 in a town. Of course most of the children were needed to help on the farm so their schooling would be limited. Normal income was £44 for a farmer on leased land, £45 for a tradesman, £20 for a servant, £6 10 shillings for a cotter (a farm laborer or tenant occupying a cottage in return for labor) and £14 for a soldier.

Starting in 1730 and for the next 20 years making a living from farming became almost impossible. Considering what they made from selling their crops at continually dropping prices, they many times could not pay their rent for the land. The Estate Agent's books show people getting further and further behind. The land became overworked and they could not afford to make any improvements. England restricted the importation of wool to protect their own wool industry. Thus the farmers in Ardstraw lost what little extra income they had been making by spinning. Ardstraw was better off than most because of the help from the Earl of Abercorn. He often supplied free flour to his tenants to support them over the hard times.

The holdings became smaller and smaller as families had to divide the land between their sons. Many lost their lease and had to try to eke out a living as a cotter. These were persons who just sold their labour for food and a place to live.

There had been repeated bad harvest years in 1720, 1728, 1740, 1757 and 1765. After 1750 potatoes became the staple diet. At that time it is estimated that one out of every ten persons in Ireland died of starvation or disease. By 1762 two thirds of the population were unemployed. Around the middle of the century emigration was about 12 thousand per year. Although life was most difficult during those years, this is 1750 and not yet 1840 when the worst starvation years drove millions out of Ireland.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ardstraw and the Scot Settlement



Some history of the Parish of Ardstraw will give a better feel for the area where 'Loves' and 'Killens' lived. It is a parish of about 10 miles by 15 miles comprising about 32,000 acres. Some of this area is composed of bogs and mountains and is unsuitable for farming. The residing Earl of Abercorn was very fair in this regard and the tenants were not charged rent on the land that was not arable. The arable land along the rivers is very fertile.

Harry Avery's Castle
Ardstraw Parish has records of habitation back in the 9th century when there was a Monastery in the area. In 1397 the Lord Archbishop stayed at Ardstraw Village on a Visitation. Ardstraw was part of the area of land controlled by the O'Neill clan. In 1999 there are still ruins of Harry Avery's Castle at Newtownstewart. His actual name was Henry Aimbreidh O'Neill and he died in 1392.

In the 16th century the population of the whole of Ireland wasn't more than 500,000 people. In the Ardstraw area there were practically no roads. However, there was a bridge at Ardstraw Village in 1564, indicating it was a place of some importance. The Ardstraw Bridge was where the chiefs of the O'Neill and O'Donnell clans signed a peace treaty in 1564.

The bridge at Castlederg was not built until 1609 and the ones at Lifford and Derry were not even there in 1690. The rivers were crossed by fords or, in the case of the larger rivers, were crossed by ferry. The land was completely rural and even Strabane was only a tiny village of about 30 families.

Armstraw Bridge over the River Derg
In those days, life was centered on thefamily and survival. There was not a national concept of Ireland as a united country. The history was one of individual Irish Chiefs fighting each other for control of land and cattle. By the late 16th century Ardstraw was inhabited mostly by Irish of the O'Neill Clan. 

Turlough Looney O'Neill was Chief of the Clan from 1567 to 1595 and made his headquarters at the village of Newtown which later became known as Newtownstewart. His wife was Lady Agnes Campbell, daughter of Archibald Campbell, 4th Earl of Argyle in Scotland. At one time O'Neill employed as many as 3,000 Scottish mercenaries, mostly highlanders from the Islands.

Culture and religion in the 16th century in all of Ireland and certainly in Ardstraw was at an extremely low level compared to England and Europe. The Church which had been continuous since St. Patrick's time was undergoing a transition. The Reform movement of the mid 1500s, with it's adherence to the Book of Common Prayer, was throwing religion into turmoil. Just as in England the swings from Catholicism to Protestantism and back created utter confusion. The clergy were not properly trained and in Ireland it was worse because many of the clergy could not speak Irish.

Arrival of Scots in County Tyrone

The Plantation of Ulster (Irish: Plandáil Uladh) was the organized colonization (plantation) of Ulster by people from Great Britain. Plantation by King James I of England began in 1609. All land owned by defeated Irish chieftains of the O'Néill and O'Domhnaill (along with those of their supporters) was confiscated and used to settle the colonists. This land comprised an estimated half a million acres.

James Hamilton
King James I asked for applicants for land grants in Ireland who would be called undertakers. James Hamilton, who was the first Earl of Abercorn, was granted 3,000 acres on the east side of the River Foyle and extending down the west side of the Mourne River. The river valleys are extremely fertile. He started to build a castle and bawn at Strabane which was part of the agreement. A castle was really a building that could be defended and a bawn was an enclosure around the castle which could contain the animals in case of attack. These castles weren't what we envision as a castle. They were about three storeys high and built of stone.

Part of the agreement was that all native Irish had to be expelled. These native Irish had leased the land from the Earl of Tyrone who had fled the country. They could not be hired or they could not intermarry. This was modified later and Hamilton could lease land to Irish as long as they were dispersed and did not form a large group to be a threat to the Scottish settlers. Some intermarrying occurred even though it was illegal.

The King had several surveys made to assess the progress of the endeavor. By 1613 they reported 220 families living in County Tyrone which represented 770 adults. Of these 220 families, 170 of them were on the settlements of either James Hamilton or his brother George Hamilton. The survey at this time did not show any Loves.

The years between 1613 and 1619 were the height of the planting of Scot settlers in County Tyrone. Between 1611 and 1614 only 15 Scots were granted Denization (citizenship). But between 1615 and 1616, 336 were granted Denization. The peak year was 1617 when 170 were granted Denization. The first Love settler, a William Love, settled in County Tyrone at this time.
The diligent research of Mr. Linton E. Love is the source for much of the foregoing description of life in Ardstraw and the Scot settlement.