Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hibernian Roots

As St. Patrick's Day was just last week, I've been thinking about my Irish ancestry.  There are quite a few of my forebears who came across from the Emerald Isle, and it would be nice to learn more about their own lineage, though the Irish were notorious for not keeping records.  Those of us with Irish ancestors generally find a dead end in our research once we get to Ireland, and I could probably write an entire post about the various social and cultural reasons for the absence of information, though not today.

Moving forward, here are a few of the Irish ancestors I've found:

George Gamble
Circa 1860

George Gamble:  He was born on 16 October 1795 in Ballybay, Monaghan County, Ireland, the youngest of six children born to John Gamble and Elizabeth Kennedy.  He came to the United States in April 1811, aboard the Protection, with his parents and siblings William, Joseph, and James, as well as James' wife Isabella (Nesbit), and John Morrow, Jr., the son of George's sister, Nancy.  The rest of the family, including John Gamble, Jr., migrated over at different times on different ships, and they settled in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, to work as farmers.

On 16 October, 1818, George married Anne Keeney, a woman whose ancestry goes all the way back to William Bradford.  They settled on a farm in the town of Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where they spent the rest of their lives.  They had 4 sons and 6 daughters, including my 3x great grandfather, Theodore Beza Gamble.

James MacCain:  I don't know a whole lot about the MacCain side of my family, largely because it was disowned generations ago.  Since my great-grandfather Raymond Wilmer MacCain, Sr. divorced my great-grandmother Effie Kurtz Robinson, little has been said of them.  Attempts to contact different cousins on this side of the family have gone unanswered, though I'm still hopeful that somebody with information about the MacCains will contact me someday.

Here's what little I know.  James MacCain (grandfather of aforementioned Raymond) was born circa 1810 in Armagh County, Ireland.  He married Nancy Agnes Nixon and they came to America sometime before 1840.  Their daughter, Agnes, was born in Pennsylvania in 1839, and they later had 3 sons, Robert MacCain (1840), James Penn MacCain (1844), and William John MacCain (April 1850).  William was the father of Raymond, and 3 other sons.

Alexander Moore:  Here's the other side of my MacCain heritage.  Alexander Moore was born 15 March 1830 in the town of Ballygawley, Tyrone County, Ireland.  His father was also Alexander Moore, but it may be inaccurate to call them Sr. and Jr., as there seems to be a long line of Alexanders in the Moore family.  If the Irish had kept proper records (damn their defiant non-compliance with English record-keeping), I'd probably be able to tell who's who, but there were certainly a lot of "Alexander Moore, son of Alexander Moore" baptisms in the 18th Century in Northern Ireland.  It is possible that my ancestor Alexander Moore born 15 March 1830 was the third, fourth, or tenth in his line.  There's no way to tell at the moment.

Alexander married Anna Jane Young the daughter of James and Elenor Young, also of Ballygawley, and they settled in Philadelphia, where they raised their 2 sons and 5 daughters, one of whom was my great-great grandmother, Mary Helen Moore, the wife of William John MacCain.

Thomas Nelson:  Moving over to my mother's side of the family, there are two families of Nelson.  One originates in England, and the other came from Ireland.  Thomas Nelson was born circa 1766 in Armagh County, Ireland.  He married Sarah Martin and they immigrated to the United States sometime during the 1790's.  It's uncertain how many children they had, but there are currently only two that I know of.  One was my 4x great-grandfather Joseph Nelson, who was born circa 1790 in Ireland.  The other child is a daughter, Lana Nelson, born September 1802 in New York.  Thomas died in Cambridge, New York, on 6 June 1808, though his wife lived until 1844.

Isaiah Rogers Nelson, son of Thomas, married Alice Jane Doughty, whose grandmother was also a Nelson, only from a branch that came over from England around 1640.  Of course, if you trace the English Nelson line back far enough, you eventually find yourself in Ireland again, when they spelled the name Nelleson.

Ann Carney Littlefield
w/ daughter Anna L. Forthman
New Orleans, 1912

Ann Carney:  Last Mother's Day, I wrote a little about my great-great grandmother, and over the last year I've uncovered a few more details about her.  Ann (or Annie) Carney was born 22 April 1853 in Roscommon County, Ireland.  Her parents were John Carney and Anna Nesbitt.  The particulars of her arrival in America are not certain, though she may have come aboard the Edith in 1868.  She ended up in Chicago, Illinois, where she met and married Henry Littlefield, Jr., an Iron Smelter whose father was an Irish sailor.  They were married on 19 February 1873 by a Catholic Priest, presumably in a traditional wedding ceremony, and they had 5 sons and 2 daughters, including my great-grandmother, Anna Louise Littlefield, the wife of William Edward Forthman, Sr.

Although her husband Henry died before 1900, Ann lived until 29 September 1930.

So, there you have it, a whole bunch of Irish ancestors that made a better life for themselves in the land of opportunity.

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