Friday, May 25, 2018

Those Left Behind

Portion of the 1889 Will of Ellen Graham of Philadelphia
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.

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.

Old Derry Bridge
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.

Two of those persons she identified as Ellen's 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 neighborhood 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 contents of some of these end of life documents and their significant impact on the lives of descendants listed as heirs.

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