Born in Scotland and Died in Londonderry!

Lived in Coleraine and Buried in Ballymoney…

He was the eldest son of William Murdock and Jane McDougall, one of ten; and the only one born in Scotland.  Alexander was my great grand uncle, brother of Thomas Murdock, my great grandfather.

Alexander was born on 24 June 1873 in 14 Inverskip Street, Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland; a small village on the banks of the Clyde.  In the 1500’s Greenock mainly focused on fishing; later becoming largely involved in shipbuilding.  In the very early 1700’s it was a main port; and by the year 1850 there were over 400 sugar ships docking at Greenock, which had set up over fourteen sugar refineries.  It was in one of these sugar refineries that his father William worked as a labourer in 1873.

Born in Scotland and Died in Londonderry!

By May 1875 William, Jane and Alexander had left Scotland and returned to live in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.  Records from the First Ballymoney Presbyterian Church in 1891 show the family living on John Street; with Alexander working at Kennedy’s and his father working as a Railway Porter.

Born in Scotland and Died in Londonderry!

On 16 November 1894, at the Drumreagh Presbyterian Church, Ballymoney; Alexander married Sarah Anne Crawford.  Rev. S. Wallace joined the two in holy matrimony; their union was witnessed by the bride’s sister Ellen Crawford and Frank Bouthart.  The record reveals at the time the couple were married Alexander was a Railway Porter and his father William a Labourer.  Sarah Anne’s father, Robert, was a weaver by trade.

It is unclear where the couple lived immediately after their marriage.  The 1901 Census of Ireland finds Sarah (married) living at 2 Seacon Moore, Seacon, Co. Antrim.  She was living with her children at the home of her sister Martha J. Crawford along with two more of her siblings; Lizzie & Ellen.  Strangely, Alexander is nowhere to be found!

Born in Scotland and Died in Londonderry!

Once again, the 1911 Census of Ireland revealed that the couple wasn’t living in the same home.  Sarah, along with her children; was living at the home of her sister Elizabeth Crawford and two of her siblings Martha Jane and Ellen.  The record also revealed she had been married for “16 years”; indicating the couple was still married.  I then discovered Alexander, working as a carter; listed at the home of his father in Mount Street, Coleraine.  Was Alexander just visiting or was he living with his parents and extended family?  Alexander signed the Ulster Covenant on 28 Sep 1912 and once again his address was recorded as Coleraine.

Born in Scotland and Died in Londonderry!

No further records for Alexander were to be found until 28 Feb 1924!  Alexander Murdock of Coleraine passed away in the “Asylum in Derry” from “Enteric Fever”; better known as Typhoid Fever.  In an article by Professor W. James Wilson, M.D., D.Sc. entitled “Typhoid Fever in Northern Ireland” it states:  “Ireland in the past century suffered severely from typhus fever and relapsing fever, and in many parts enteric fever claimed a large number of victims.”

Sadly, it would seem that my great grand uncle Alexander was one of its unfortunate victims.  Once again he returned to Ballymoney; he is interred at the Knock Road Cemetery along with his parents.

Posted in Burial Records, Co. Antrim, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Lynch/Wilson Family of Burt, Co. Donegal…

A Preponderance of the Evidence!

Several months ago, upon obtaining burial records for my 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Wilson; I discovered he was born in Burt, Co. Donegal.  The record also revealed that his parents, and my 3rd great grandparents; were William and Cherry Wilson!  Cherry seemed like a rather unusual name to me, especially for someone born in the very early 1800s; a “nick name” perhaps?  A few months later “Mr. WUGS” was able to provide me with baptism information for Thomas from the Burt Presbyterian Church.  That particular record showed that Cherry’s maiden name was Lynch and the Wilson’s lived in Carrowreagh, Burt!  Now I had another Twisted Limb to follow; namely my Lynch ancestors!

Lynch/Wilson Family of Burt, Co. Donegal

Initially, I believed that this was the first time the Lynch surname appeared in my tree (of over 5000 ancestors so far); however, I was wrong!  Thomas Lynch Hunter is my 1st cousin twice removed; his mother is one of my great grand aunts and he is Cherry Lynch’s great grandson.  I had always realized that the name Lynch had to be a family surname; however, up until this point I had not known its origin.

My next step – find more of my Lynch/Wilson family in Burt, Co. Donegal!  How difficult could it be; after all, Burt isn’t very big.  Cherry and my Lynch ancestors should be easily found since she had such an uncommon Christian name.  Or so I thought!

In the 1901 Census of Ireland I discovered that there were three people with the Lynch surname and four Wilsons living in Burt.  The 1911 census revealed that there were now two people with the Lynch name and five Wilsons.  Since William and Cherry Wilson were already long deceased I had to expand my search and work “backwards” (or sideways) so to speak!  I needed to find a way to confirm that these families were in fact mine!

In the 1901 census residing at 18 Toulett, Burt, I found Samuel Wilson Porter living with his father James; who was the head of the family and widowed.  Also living with Samuel and his father was his brother John “a lunatic”, and a domestic servant by the name of Margaret Coll.  The 2nd last entry in the census, the name that got my attention; was Ellen Wilson –spinster and sister in law!  Hmmm… now I know that James Porter had married a Wilson.  I will be eternally grateful that Ellen never married and still carried her maiden name!

Lynch/Wilson Family of Burt, Co. Donegal

The Church Marriage Record for James Porter, a farmer, of “Toolitte” disclosed that he had married Catherine Wilson of Coshquin, daughter of George; on 23 Aug 1855.  Andrew Wilson & Mary Wilson witnessed their union at the Second Derry (Strand) Presbyterian Church in Londonderry.  Catherine passed away in 1899 at the age of 75; based on this particular fact and her approximate birth year it might suggest that Catherine was a sibling of my 3rd great grandfather William Wilson!  If so, then is George my 4th great grandfather? Much more research is required for this particular Twisted Limb.

Interestingly, the 1901 census recorded the residents of a house at 16 Toulett, Burt – the Lynch family!  Robert, a farmer and his wife Matilda along with their eighteen year old son Samuel George resided right next door to the Wilsons!  Sadly, by the time the 1911 census was taken Matilda Lynch was deceased – Robert and his son Samuel George were now living in 14 Toulett, Burt.

The Civil Birth Record for Samuel George Lynch showed that he was the son of Robert Lynch and Matilda Hall of Ture, Kilderry, Co. Donegal.  Now, with another family address I have one more clue in my never ending search for my “dead people”!

Lynch/Wilson Family of Burt, Co. Donegal

A preponderance of the evidence would suggest that these families are connected to one another and definitely mine!  However, I have much more research to do in order to cite and source the records before “claiming” the families as my own and moving back one more generation!

Just another “Crooked Branch” to follow in my ever expanding tree!

Posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

I Am Bound To Them!

I am bound to them…

…though I cannot look into their eyes or hear their voices.

I am bound to them...

I honor their history

I am bound to them...

I cherish their lives

I am bound to them...

I will tell their story

I am bound to them...

I will remember them!

Author – Unknown

Posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Glasgow, Ireland, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

From Garryharry, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal to Montgomery, Pennsylvania, U.S.A!

Not Just A Chamber Maid…

Matilda (Tillie) Graham Sweeney was one of ten children born to John Sweeney & Matilda Graham of Garrowcarry, Edenacarnan, Co. Donegal.  She was also a granddaughter of James Baxter Sweeney and Fanny Robinson, who were my 2nd great grandparents; of Garryharry, Co. Donegal.

Tillie was born on 17 May 1905; she was the 7th child and the 3rd daughter in the family.  In 1911 the Census revealed that she was a scholar and living at 16 Garrowcarry with her parents and eight of her siblings.  Her older brother Alexander had died prior to the census being taken. 

Matilda Graham Sweeney

Not much is known about Tillie’s life between 1911 and 1929 when I discovered her on the Caledonia’s Ships Manifest.  On 6 Apr 1929 Tillie departed Londonderry; her destination… Philadelphia, USA.  After ten days at sea the Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States recorded her arrival on 16 Apr 1929.  Two of Tillie’s brothers immigrated to the USA as well; however it’s unclear yet if they made the journey before or after Tillie left Ireland.

Matilda Graham Sweeney

Tillie “disappeared” off the grid again until 13 Nov 1935 when I unearthed the U.S. Naturalization Records Indices.  At the age of thirty, and just over six years after her arrival in Pennsylvania; she became a citizen of the U.S.A.   The record revealed that she was living at 8240 Crittenden Street, Philadelphia, PA.

On 4 Sep 1937, two years after being naturalized and eight and a half years after leaving her homeland; Tillie was once again onboard the Caledonian traveling from Londonderry to Philadelphia via New York.  It would seem she was returning from her first trip “back home” since she emigrated.  The record shows she was living on Chestnuthill, Pennsylvania.  The Ships Manifest and List of US Citizens revealed she arrived back in New York on Sept 13, 1937.

Matilda Graham Sweeney

The 1940 US Census revealed that Tillie was a Chamber Maid for the “well to do” Dick Family; and had been working for them since at least 1935.  The record also showed that she had worked for 72 hours the prior week and had earned $884 US Dollars that year.  Her salary was the equivalent of $14,826.70 today; a paltry sum when working 72 hour work weeks.

Matilda Graham Sweeney

For reasons that I will never know Tillie remained single for the duration of her life.  The US Social Security Death Indices recorded that she passed away in the Fall of 1971.  Her last known residence was 19117 Elkins Park, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, USA.

Matilda Graham Sweeney was not only a Chamber Maid; she was a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter and aunt; she had family who loved her.  I will always wonder if her life was as she had hoped; I will remember her.

Posted in Co. Donegal, Family History, Ireland | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Hunters of Donegal & Londonderry!

From Bohillion, Newtoncunningham to Lewis Street, Londonderry…

Ferris Row was located just off Bishop Street in Londonderry and was the birthplace of my great grand aunt, Mary Wilson.  Known as Minnie, she was born on 7 Jan 1865 to Thomas Wilson, a carpenter; and Margaret Norry.  Minnie was the eldest of thirteen children and sister to Thomas Wilson, my great grandfather.

The Hunters of Donegal & Londonderry!

On 20 Dec 1870 in the First Derry Presbyterian Church Minnie was married to John Alexander Hunter of Toulette, Burt, Co. Donegal.  Thomas Godfrey and Amelia Short witnessed their union.  The marriage record revealed that John Alexander’s father was also John, a labourer.  With further research I discovered that his mother was Matilda McDonald, she too was from Donegal.

The Hunters of Donegal & Londonderry!

John was born on 7 May 1857 in Bohillion, Newtoncunningham, Co. Donegal, and baptized in the Newtoncunningham Presbyterian Church.  He was one of at least six children that I’ve discovered so far.  The Newtoncunningham Presbyterian Church Communicants’ Roll book revealed that John Alexander attended the Church.  On 21 Oct 1883 it showed that he had left the Church and was a parishioner at the Greenock Presbyterian Church in Greenock, Scotland.  I can only assume that he went to Scotland to find work.  The Communicants’ Roll Book also revealed that he became a member of Derry First Presbyterian Church in Jun 1887, shortly after his marriage to Minnie.

The Hunters of Donegal & Londonderry!

The newlyweds took up residence in Londonderry, initially living in Marlborough Park; where their first son William was born in 1888.  By 1890 and the birth of their second son David the family was living on Lewis Street.  Lewis Street is where many of my Wilson, Beattie’s and extended family lived for over a century.  With the birth of their third son the family is found living on Creggan Road; another street in Londonderry where many of my ancestors lived.

John and Minnie had several more children; six of which I have been able to find.  As there is a “gap” in births between 1890 and 1897, I believe there are more children to be found on this particular Twisted Limb of my family tree.

The Hunters of Donegal & Londonderry!

The 1901 Census showed that the family was still living on Creggan Road and John was working as a “Dock Labourer”.  At this point in time their house was full; as his sister in laws, Maggie Wilson and Elizabeth Diver, along with Elizabeth’s two children were living with the family.  By 1911 the family was once again living on Lewis Street; where they remained until their deaths.

In 1918 at the age of sixty one with his daughter Mary by his side John, a “Watchman on the Quay”; passed away from “Rheumatic Paraplegia”; three years certified.  He, like many of my family; is interred at the Derry City Cemetery on Lone Moor Road, Londonderry.

The Hunters of Donegal & Londonderry!

“In the end, we’ll all become stories” Margaret Attwood.

Posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Too Many Deaths Too Soon!

The Beattie/Flanagan Connection….

Born on 9 Jul 1866 in Fountain Place, Londonderry she was a daughter, sister, wife and mother.  Her name was Rebecca and she was named after her mother and her great grandmother.  Rebecca Beattie is my great grand aunt, one of ten children born to James Beattie and Rebecca McCadden of Letterkenny & Rathmullan, Co. Donegal respectively.

Letterkenny, Rathmullan and Fountain Place

Rebecca was the sixth child and the 2nd daughter in the Beattie family.  Her younger sister Charlotte Elizabeth is my great grandmother.  On 2 Mar 1855 her parents were married in the Rathmullan Church of Ireland by Rev. H. Ferguson.  Sometime between their marriage and the birth of their first son Robert, who was born on 21 Feb 1856, they had moved to Londonderry and were residing in Fountain Place.

Beattie-McCadden Family

On 2 Sep 1887, at the young age of twenty one, Rebecca gave birth to her first daughter, Mildred Rose, who was known as Millie.  The Birth Record revealed that the father was Thomas James Flanagan, a butler, who was only nineteen.  Although Millie was baptized as “Flanagan” her parents were not married.  Rebecca remained living in her family home, located at 81 Marlborough Park, Rosemount while Thomas was residing on Lecky Road.

Thomas James Flanagan and Rebecca were united in Marriage at St. Augustine’s Church of Ireland – the “Wee Church on the Walls” on 17 Dec 1891.  St. Augustine’s is a beautiful little Church where many of my ancestors before her had married.  Their union was witnessed by Philip Fletcher Flanagan, the Grooms brother, and Martha Lochrie.  Their Marriage Record disclosed that Thomas was a Cartwright living at 162 Lecky Road and Rebecca, a “factory worker”; was residing at 81 Marlborough Park.

Lecky Road & Marlborough Park

On the 22 Nov 1892 at 162 Lecky Road their second daughter Rebecca was born.  Sadly, Rebecca’s life was not to be a long one.  On 6 Jun 1893, just before she was seven months old, Rebecca passed away.  Her death record showed the cause of death as “Teething – 14 days; Convulsions – 8 days, Certified”.  Her maternal uncle Alfred Beattie was present at her death.

While dealing with this loss the family was to be dealt yet another blow!  On 30 Jun 1893, just weeks after the death of her young daughter, Rebecca passed away at her parents’ home in the Creggan.  Once again Alfred Beattie, her brother, was present at the death.  The death record noted the cause of death as “Phitisis Pulmonalis (Pulmonary Tuberculosis), 6 months certified”.  John Foster, the Assistant Registrar, recorded her death just as he had recorded the death of her daughter a few short weeks before.  Both Rebecca and her infant daughter Rebecca are interred at the Derry City Cemetery.

Derry City Cemetery & Creggan Road

After the devastation that my family must have dealt with, I “needed” to find out more -what had become of her husband and their two very young children?

In 1907 at the age of nineteen, their eldest daughter Millie and William Bogle were joined in Marriage at Christ Church in Londonderry.  Sarah Coyle and Robert Bogle witnessed their wedding.  Very quickly their family grew – Millie and William had three sons between 1909 and 1913 named Robert, William and Samuel.

Derry City Cemetery

It would seem that long lives were not meant to be on this particular crooked branch of my family tree.  On 21 Mar 1914 Millie passed away from “acute laryngeal phthisis (tuberculosis), 1 1/2 months certified” leaving her three young sons without a mother.  Like her mother before her she died young and at the home of her maternal grandmother, 81 Creggan Road.  Her husband William was present at her death.

Yet another loss for her father Thomas James Flanagan… what happened to Thomas?  Well, that’s a story for another time!

Posted in Burial Records, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Sentimental Sunday…

Cranky Old Man!

What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man… not very wise
Uncertain of habit… with faraway eyes
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice… ‘I do wish you’d try’
Who seems not to notice the things that you do
And forever is losing a sock or shoe
Who, resisting or not lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding the long day to fill
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?

Cranky Old Man

Then open your eyes, nurse you’re not looking at me
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will
I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon new a lover he’ll meet
A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap
Remembering, the vows that I promised to keep
At Twenty-Five, now I have young of my own
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home

Cranky Old Man 2

A man of Thirty my young now grown fast
Bound to each other with ties that should last
At Forty, my young sons have grown and are gone
But my woman is beside me to see I don’t mourn
At Fifty, once more babies play ’round my knee
Again, we know children my loved one and me

Cranky Old Man 3

Dark days are upon me, my wife is now dead
I look at the future, I shudder with dread
For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years, and the love that I’ve known
I’m now an old man and nature is cruel
It’s jest to make old age, look like a fool
The body, it crumbles; grace and vigour, depart
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart

Cranky Old Man 4

But inside this old carcass, a young man still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I’m loving and living life over again
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last
So open your eyes people; open and see
Not a cranky old man
Look closer – see…ME!!

Author – Unknown

Posted in Belfast, Co. Antrim, Co. Donegal, Co. Down, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mystery Monday!


Elvin of Co. Donegal

Time was I used to walk away
When wearied by the old folks’ chatter
About some joy of yesterday
To me, such memories didn’t matter

Elvin of Co. Donegal

I’d often heard the tales they told
And I was living in the present
I didn’t care for pictures old
Or bygone days, however pleasant

Elvin - Co. DonegalBut now my youth has slipped away
I’m drawing close to life’s December
And I have many a yesterday
Aglow with joys that I remember.

Elvin - Co. Donegal

By Edgar A. Guest

Posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Life Cut Short!

A  Diver of Londonderry & Donegal…

Born on 7 Feb 1898 in 21 Lewis Street in the City of Londonderry, Thomas Wilson Diver was the second child and eldest son of eight born to George William Diver and, my great grand aunt; Elizabeth Wilson.

A Life Cut Short

I discovered Thomas just recently after unearthing Short Service Record No. 8211 belonging to Robert Norry Wilson, his uncle and my great grand uncle; which led me to Burt, Co. Donegal and another Crooked Branch of my family tree.

The 1901 census revealed that three year old Thomas was “visiting” his maternal great aunt, Eliza Jane Doherty (nee Wilson); in 28 Carrowreagh, Burt, Co. Donegal.  By the time the 1911 census was recorded Thomas was shown as “living” with the family, who were now residing in 21 Carrowreagh.  At this point in time his name was recorded as Thomas Wilson and he was listed as a boarder and scholar.  His parents and siblings were still living in Londonderry.  It is unclear why Thomas was living in Burt and not with the rest of his family.  It bothered me – I needed to find out more about Thomas Wilson Diver.

A Life Cut Short

I researched further and discovered much more than anticipated; it sadly started with his death record.  The UK De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour (1914 – 1919) revealed that Thomas “joined the 10th Inniskilling Fusiliers on 12 Oct. 1914 and served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders”.  It also noted that he “was wounded and invalided home on 28 Aug 1916.”  It would seem that Thomas was not to be deterred – he returned to France in Jan 1917 and transferred to the 2nd Inniskillings in Mar 1918.  The record also stated that he “was present at the German offensive that month, and was killed in action 2 Oct. following.”

Although the UK De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour (1914-1919) indicated that Thomas was killed in action on 2 Oct 1918; more records revealed that his actual date of death was 29 Sep 1918 in France and Flanders.

A Life Cut Short

In May 1917 Thomas was “awarded a Parchment Certificate after fighting at Thiepval on the Somme, 1 Jul 1916; and the Military Medal for gallant and distinguished service in the field”.  The record shows his address as Creggan Road in Londonderry, his parents’ home.  It also noted that he was educated in Burt, Co. Donegal.

The UK Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects confirmed that this was indeed my Thomas Wilson Diver.  His father George William Diver was listed as his father and a War Gratuity of £23 10 Shillings for his war service was paid.  The Grave Registration Report noted: “DIVER, Lce. Cpl. Thomas, 15459, M.M. “A” Coy. 2nd Bn.  Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 29th Sep 1918. Age 20, son of George William and Elizabeth Diver of 5 North Street, Rosemount, Londonderry.” 

A Life Cut Short

His life was cut short… Thomas Wilson Diver, not only is he  Remembered with Honour  at the Tyne Cot Memorial and Commemorated in Perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; he is commemorated on the Diamond War Memorial in Londonderry.

The records for the Diamond War Memorial state, “Thomas Wilson Diver – who was a member of First Derry Presbyterian Church and a holder of the Military Medal – was also awarded an Ulster Division Certificate for conspicuous gallantry on July 1, 1916, in the Thiepval sector, for showing great courage and ability in handling his Lewis gun in the German ‘C’ line.  Although he escaped unscathed that day, he was later wounded and gassed. Lance Corporal Diver joined the Ulster Division on its formation, although not sixteen years of age.”  

It also revealed the contents of a letter written by the Reverend J. G. Paton informing Tommie’s aunt, Mrs. Wilson, of her nephew’s death.  It said; “I have known deceased for a long time, and can tell you he was a good boy and a keen soldier, who always did his duty cheerfully. He never did better than on the day on which he was killed; it was in an attack on the enemy, and he did good work.”

Tommie will always be remembered by me!  Like many other he has found a little space in my heart!

A Life Cut Short

I would like to say a very special thank you to Nigel Henderson of Great War Belfast Clippings who provided me with a newspaper clipping of a notice which read:  “Lance Corporal T.W. Diver, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Creggan Road, Derry, who has received an Ulster Division Certificate, commended for gallantry in the field.”  The best part… it came with a photo!  Many thanks Nigel!

Posted in Burial Records, Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Friday’s Faces From The Past!

Do Not Weep…

Do not stand by my grave and weep
I am not dead, I do not sleep

Friday's Face from the Past

I am a thousand winds that blow
I am a diamond glint on snow
I am the sunset on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain

Friday's Face from the Past

When you awake in the autumn hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight
I am the soft star shine at night

Friday's Face from the Past

Do not stand by my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die.

Author – Mary Frye

Posted in Co. Donegal, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments