My Irish Roots in My Hometown

Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin was my great great grandmother. I estimated this photo was taken in the 1880s. This photo has been edited.

I’ve been thinking about my Irish roots this week, because yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day.  One of my classmates put a post on Facebook saying, “I’m actually part Irish from my dad’s mom!”  So I responded to her by saying, “I’m actually part Irish from my mom’s dad!!”  – which is true.  My mom was Betty Lou Bucklin, and her dad was Fred Bucklin.  Fred’s father was Louis Charles Bucklin and his mother was Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin.  When I looked back at my previous posts, I realized that I’ve been negligent of my Irish roots.  It’s been three years since I wrote anything about it.  I’ve been hoping to find the exact year of when they immigrated.  I was thinking that I would find that important morsel of information and write a nice post about it.  It hasn’t happened, but I shouldn’t let that keep me from writing about my Irish peeps.

When I responded to my classmate, I also realized that I usually overlook Mary Ann and talk about being a great great great grandson of Maria Ettadosia Mooney McGrath.  I just love saying that name.  But I want to talk a little about Mary Ann and what she did.  I’ve mentioned her in two other posts, but only in relation to her son Joe who had such a tragic life.  In those posts, her death is just one of the tragedies in his life.  I’m sharing a photo of her that I’ve shared before.  Even when I posted that photo of her before, it was in relation to finding out who Maria Ettadosia was.  So let’s explore Mary Ann’s life.

Mary Ann was born in 1834 in Roscommon, Ireland.  She was the fourth of seven children of Edward and Maria Ettadosia McGrath.  The youngest sibling was born in 1838 in Ireland.  In Ireland at the time, potatoes were a large staple in the diet of the Irish people.  They would have some version of it for almost every meal.  So it’s hard to imagine the massive impact that a potato blight had on the population.  The Irish Potato Famine was in full force in 1845, when Mary Ann was not yet a teenager.  I talk about the tragedies that her son Joe had to endure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Mary Ann endured even more.  From 1845 to 1855 about a million Irish people died from starvation.  And just because the family survived, doesn’t mean that it was an easy time.  I wish I knew more about what they experienced. 

Besides the deaths from lack of food, almost two million people left Ireland in hopes of finding a better situation.  The McGrath family was included in this group.  They left Ireland and settled in Palmer, Massachusetts.  Like I said at the beginning, I haven’t been able to find out when they arrived in the US.  I know they were here by 1854, because that was the year that Mary Ann married James Bucklin in Springfield, Massachusetts.  It was the second marriage for James.  He was married to a woman named Rhoda Maria Gove and they had two children together – James and Mary.  Sadly, Rhoda died at the age of 26 in 1849.

So Mary Ann was 20 years old when she married 33-year-old single father of two James Bucklin on Sept. 21, 1854.  A year later they had a daughter named Jennie.  In 1861 Joseph was born.  At some point in the next few years the family moved from Massachusetts to Iowa.  They were there at least by 1864, because Edd Bucklin was born in Sand Springs, Iowa, that year.  Sand Springs is in Delaware County and the family stayed in this area for another 10 years.  My great grandfather Louis Charles Bucklin was born April 11, 1873, in Masonville, which is in Delaware County.

When the family moved south to Louisiana in 1884, Mary Ann was a 50-year-old mother of four and step-mother of two.  And she was a grandmother!  Jennie gave birth to a son named Clarence Kenyon in 1879.  She was married to another man named Ben Taylor by 1884, and they came down to Louisiana with the family.  Jennie had a daughter named Vera shortly after arriving in the south.  So Mary Ann had two grandchildren in 1884, but there were more to come through the years.

But now that I’ve got her down to Louisiana, I wanted to tell about her influence in my hometown of Jennings, Louisiana.  When we were kids, we used to go to the big library on Cary Avenue.  It is a public library and it is named the Jennings Carnegie Public Library.  I always liked that old, cool library when I was young.  It had such a soothing smell of old paper.  I wasn’t aware of its connection to my ancestor until I was older.  So when I went to my 40 year High School Reunion in 2019, I decided to look into the connection that I had heard about.  I arrived in Jennings a little earlier so I could go to that old library and see if there was any family history information available.

Newspaper article about the Jennings Carnegie Public Library mentions my great great grandmother Mary A. Bucklin.

Sure enough, there was.  I found a letter that was written to my great grandfather Louis Bucklin.  But more importantly, I found a newspaper article that talked about the founding of the library I had always been fond of.  It spoke about the Organization of the library, “The library society grew out of a society for mutual aid, social and intellectual improvement formed by the following ladies…” and the second person listed is none other than Mary A. Bucklin, my great great grandmother.

It looks like she was present at the first meeting which was held on January 24, 1885.  This is less than a year after the family moved down to Louisiana.  This must have been something important to her, because they didn’t live in Jennings proper.  They were homesteading north of Jennings around the Hathaway area.  She would have been taking a wagon into town and meeting with those other ladies to discuss ways to improve the area. 

I don’t know much more about her involvement, but I like the fact that she is linked to the beginnings of that old library I know so well.  She was also involved in the lives of her children and grandchildren who lived in the area.  Her son Joe lived in Jennings with his wife and two daughters.  But then his wife died in 1899 after giving birth to a son.  At the end of that year his 6-year-old daughter died as well.  Joe must have been having a hard time taking care of his infant son and other daughter, because Mary Ann went to live with them to help him out.  (James had died in 1890.)  

She was only able to help out for a few months, then she came down with the flu.  She ended up dying from that on April 10, 1900, in Jennings at the age of 66.  She is buried in an unmarked grave at the Jennings Greenwood cemetery.  That is another fact I  was unaware of when growing up in Jennings.  I’m glad to know about her connections to Jennings and I’m proud to be the great great grandson of Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin.  Erin go bragh.


The Irish Homestead

The McGrath homestead circa 1890. The individual is identified as Dan McGrath.

This is the photo that I’ve been planning on posting for a while.  I waited until now since it is Irish themed and St. Patrick’s day is just a couple of days away.  I got the photo from my fourth cousin once removed back in August.  This is the cousin Matt that provided me with names for my Irish great great great grandparents who came from Ireland during the Great Potato Famine in the 1840s.

Those names are Edward McGrath and Maria Ettadosia Mooney McGrath.  I just love her name.  It has a ring to it.  I like to say, “I’m the great great great grandson of Maria Ettadosia Mooney McGrath” with pride, especially at this time of the year.  I’ve even thought of getting a t-shirt with that printed on it!  Anyway, those names came to me by Matt by way of his great grandmother Madeline McMahon.  She collected and wrote about family history back during her lifetime (1897-1982).  And since her mother was Mary Ann McGrath (McMahon), she wrote about the McGrath family.

If you have been keeping track of our (my) family, you’ll know that my maternal grandfather Fred Bucklin’s paternal grandmother was named Mary Ann McGrath (Bucklin) as well.  Mary Ann Bucklin was the aunt of Mary Ann McMahon.   Mary Ann McMahon’s father was James McGrath, the brother of our Mary Ann Bucklin.  So Madeline had this old photo that came down from her mother.

Back of the photo card.

The photo is of the old McGrath homestead from around 1890 in Ware, Massachusetts.  This is in Palmer County, which is where the McGrath family settled after they immigrated from Ireland.  The family home was on Bacon Road.  I got this information from collected family history and from the writing on the back of the photo.  It doesn’t show a date, but I researched A. W. Howes & Co. and found out that they had a business in Turners Falls from 1888 to 1893.  That’s a pretty narrow window of time, so I just round it off to 1890.

The back of the photo identifies the individual as Dan McGrath.  Edward and Maria had a son named Daniel, but he was born in 1838 (in Ireland) and would have been in his fifties in this photo.  This definitely looks like a younger man.  Mary Ann McMahon had a younger brother named Daniel who was born in 1863.  That seems to be the right age and it’s in the right family line, so I think it is probably the right Daniel.

As you can also read from the back of the card, that old family home has since burned down.  I’m glad I have this photo so I can at least see what the house looked like that my ancestors lived in.  I hope you enjoy the photo as well.  Though I think it will probably be more thoroughly enjoyed by those of us that can say, “My great great great grandmother was Maria Ettadosia Mooney McGrath!”

Erin go bragh!

My mom was Betty Lou Bucklin (Landry), her father was Fred Bucklin, his father was Louis Charles Bucklin, his mother was Mary Ann McGrath. Mary Ann and her siblings and parents immigrated from Ireland during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s.

Surplus Sunday: The Bucklin/Keys/Ausman/MacVey connections

Surplus Sunday?  What is that?  It’s an additional sharing of information on family history, that’s what it is!  I know I already posted two times this week, but I had so much information that came my way recently.  Fair warning – this post is extremely long and covers 125 years of history with the Keys and Bucklin families and how they were connected with two other families of no relation – the Ausmans and the MacVeys.  All because of a secret old letter that was recently uncovered.  It also connects several other previous posts that I have written.  Hopefully this will answer all of the questions that you may have had on the subject.  So first off you will need to read the letter that Louis Charles Bucklin received on that long ago day in April of 1893.  The envelope was addressed to L. C. Bucklin and the letter commenced with a quaint “Dear Friend.”  Here is the letter in its entirety:

Leeds, Iowa                    April 20th (18)93

Mr. L. C. Bucklin

Dear Friend,

Will now try to answer your welcome letter, which I received some time ago.

I hope you are not having as dissagreeable weather as we are having at present. – It snowed quite hard for over an hour yesterday forenoon, it commenced by raining in the morning, and then turned into snow in the forenoon, and then rained again in the after noon.

This morning the wind was blowing hard and cold and it was cloudy, this after noon it commenced to snow and snowed nearly all after noon and was snowing yet at dark.

Yesterday It looked very nice to see the large snow flakes falling so thick and fast, I thought, when I could sit in the house and look at it through the window, but it was not so nice, today, when I was out in it and had to face it part of the way home, but even then It was better than going home in the rain would have been.  We have had quite a good deal of cold, bad weather since we came

Here, but I don’t think we feel it a bit more than we did down south, it does not chill us so, but of course it is sharper and more kean hear than down there.

Willie and I commenced going to school a week ago monday.  we both like it real well, our teachers are real nice.  Mine is very kind to me. – We have a very large brick school building there are seven grades in the school.  Willie is in the fourth grade, and I am in the fifth grade.  I always told you I did not know any thing and I guess you will beleave it now if you did not before. – but I think I can learn more for a while, in the fifth grade than I could in the sixth, if it don’t sound quite so

“big.” –I have to study very hard, and quite a good deal at night, and as I am not used to it, I get very tired.  In my room we have, mental and complete Arithmetic, vocal music, spelling and reading in the after forenoon, and Geography, Language and drawing in the after noon, school is let out at a quarter to twelve and takes up again at half past one, and we have no recess.  I took my dinner today as it was so cold, and I studied all the noon hour after I ate my dinner and I have had the headache ever since. – I can keep up in all my classes execept music and Language, and they have been nearly a year at them and as I never studied eather of those before I am behind them in that.

My brother Phil lives ten or twelve miles north of here on a farm, and Sioux City is south of here.

Lambert is living in Merrill but perhaps I told you that before.  Mother is visiting at Phils, and Lamberts this week.  Pa and her went out to Phils Saturday night and Pa came home Sunday night. – It seems very lonely without mother here.

The Church and School house are quite close together, both are quite a distance, from here.  It seems so nice to go to Sunday school in a church once snow, of corse the church is not so nice as the ones you go to but it is away ahead of a “school house”.

Ida and Willie both had the fever about two weeks ago and again this week.  Willie has it this afternoon Ida had it Sunday afternoon and as Ma is away I have to help Ida all I can, and I do not have much time to write.  I had to learn a lesson tough before I commenced this so it was after nine when I commenced to write, it is ten now so I must close for tonight will finish this the first opertunity I have.                  Good night..

Sunday Afternoon

Thursday night when I commenced this letter I thought I would finish it the next night, but there was a temperance lecture in the M. E. Church Friday and

saturday nights and we all attended them so I could not finish this as I would liked to have done.

They organized a good Templers loge last night.  John, Anna, Mother, Ida, and myself joined.  We will meet next Tuesday night.  We have a prayer meeting every Wednesday night and they have a young peoples Epworth League every Sunday night before preaching, there is a small room seprate from the main part of the church that they use for that, and prayer meeting.

How I would like to go to some of those nice churches you attend they must be grand.  I am afraid I would not know how to act in so large a congragation as you told about.

there was one hundred and one (101) members in our Sunday school today.  I like living hear real well going to school, and so many other things to go to that I have not been very lonesome yet.  We are getting aquainted with quite a good many too.

Now Lou, please don’t be angry at me for not answering sooner, for I could not help it.  Mother says she don’t want me to write so often as I have been doing. – I some times, don’t know what to do, she does not know how we feel towards each other, and she is so afraid of looseing me. – She does not need to worry about that, for I consider it my duty to take care of her as long as she needs me.  she has raised a large family, and, I, am her youngest girl.

3) and I think it is my duty to stay with her now since she is not strong any more.

It will be better for you to learn to care for some one else, if you can, Lou, for I am afraid we can never be anything more than Friends.

Oh if we only knew just things would be, but perhaps it is better that we should not know, for one might feel worse than we do as it is.

Remember Lou, that you can always find a friend in Jesus he is always redy and willing to help us, in time of trouble and sorrow, if we will only ask him, for I know by experience.

We received a letter from Aggie last week telling about the awful storm they had.  How glad I am that none of them were hurt.  I am so sorry

it ruined so many of your sisters things, but that is not so bad as if some of them were hurt.  Oh how much we have to be thankful for.

You spoke of your Uncle and cousins thinking of going to La.  Perhaps they will wait till you will be home for vacation.  how nice for you, it would be if they would.

When does you have vacation and how long.

I wish I could see you marching with your uniforms and guns.  I never saw any Soldiers eather.  I will have to close now.  I hope this will find you well,

I remain your true friend

May Ausman

I first saw this letter on May 14, 2017.  It was texted to me from my mom’s first cousin Julie Phenice Campbell.  She said that she found it in a pouch from her father that contained some old letters that had been sent to her (and my mom’s) grandmother Daisy Keys in the 1880s.  In addition to those letters, there were two other letters that were sent to my mom’s grandfather Louis Charles Bucklin in 1893.  Since Julie is not related to the Bucklins, it is a mystery how those letters ended up with her father.

I was kinda glancing through this letter when I first read it because I thought it was written by an old roommate.  She starts it with “Dear Friend” after all.  I was so surprised to see the signature of this letter that I had started to realize was a “Dear John” letter.  May Ausman (who was about 17 years old when she wrote the letter) mentions some of her siblings in this letter – Phil, John, Lambert, Ida, Willie, and Aggie.  Aggie Ausman was married to Lou’s older brother Joe Bucklin.  They had gotten married in 1892 and were living in Jennings, Louisiana.  But for Louis, this letter was the beginning of a rough few months. This sad news was received in April 1893.  Next, Lou received a letter from Joe in May of 1893 that talks about their sister Jennie doing poorly.  Then Jennie ended up dying in June of that year.

He was keeping a journal at this time.  The entries started in January of 1893 when he was traveling from his home in China, Louisiana, to attend Ohio Normal University in Ada, Ohio.  The entries for 1893 stopped when his sister died in June.  When I found this letter and realized it was during the time of the journal, I checked the journal for the time he would have received this letter.  He was talking about things in early April, then the next entry was in June.  So where were the entries for May?  I looked closely and noticed that there were pages missing.  Each page had a number on it and the April entry was on page 30 and the next page in the journal was 33.

I was looking for reference to the letter in his journal to see if he had been upset by the news.  Maybe little May didn’t mean much to him, or maybe she meant a lot.  The other letter that I received from my mom’s cousin Julie was a letter to L. C. Bucklin in Mar. 1893 from his previous roommate.  It is a very short letter, but it does mention that Lou might be sending letters “out to Iowa to that May you know.”  So someone else knew that he was interested in the girl named May.  But more telling are the missing pages from his journal.  If she didn’t mean anything, he wouldn’t have said anything about it.  It looks like he must have written something about it.  Then either he didn’t want anyone ever to see what he wrote, or someone else didn’t want it to be known and the pages were made to disappear.  Is that why Addie always had a scowl on her face?  I should hope not!

The reason the letter surprised me was because of the added connection to the Ausman family.  I mention earlier that Louis Bucklin had it rough for a few months, but his brother Joe had it rough for a few years.  (I wrote about this in The Sad Story post on Aug. 17, 2016.) He and his wife Aggie Ausman had a daughter named Leola in 1893 and then it shows that they had another daughter named Gladys in June of 1896.  They had a son in July of 1899.  Those were all of the good things.  Then the bad things started the next month.  In August 1899 Aggie died.  I’m not sure what she died from, but it could be complications from childbirth.  Following that, Leola died in December 1899.

Since Joe was having such a hard time, his mother Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin went and stayed in Jennings to help him care for the children.  At least to care for Joe and his son Austin.  For some reason, at least according to the 1900 census, Gladys was living in Iowa with her Ausman grandparents and Aggie’s younger sister Ida, who is listed as Ida McVey.  Anyway, his mother ended up dying in April 1900.  It was a really tough year for Joe.

But by the end of the year things were changing for Joe.  He married Aggie’s younger sister Ida in November of 1900.  I guess things were good for him for a while.  He and his brother Ed ran a boot and mercantile store in Jennings and he was married with a young daughter and son in the household.  I’m assuming that Gladys was staying with him due to information you will hear later.  Joe and Ida had a daughter named Ida Bucklin sometime around July of 1903.   Then on Sept. 5, 1903 Joe’s wife Ida died.  I’m not sure of the cause of death for this sister, either.  In addition to that, further tragedy occurred in December with the death of his daughter Ida.  A very sad story indeed.

When I got the letter that was sent from May to Lou in 1893, I already knew about all of the tragedies of their sisters and nieces.  But it made me start to look at the connection between these families again.  One of the questions that stood out was the name Ida “McVey” in the 1900 census.  How did she get that last name?  I didn’t see any marriage or divorce for her.  She was living at home in 1893 when May wrote that letter and was living at home in 1900 when her name was McVey.  So I decided to look into it.

I did a search on Ida Ausman at, but this time I added a husband with the name of McVey – no first name.  I just wanted to see what would show up.  And sure enough something did!  I found a family tree that listed a William Lee MacVey who had married Ida Ausman in Iowa in September of 1895.  All of that information fit with what I knew about Ida and her family.  But that’s not all of the information that it showed.  It had a divorce date from a month later and a reason for the divorce.  That’s amazing.  I hardly ever see a reason for a divorce in people’s family tree.  I was excited about that because I was really curious to know why a marriage ended in divorce in less than a month!

The information in the family tree gave the reason for divorce as, “Marriage did not last long because she was pregnant but NOT William Lee’s child.”  Oh, my goodness!  Say it isn’t so.  I was curious about how someone would know this, so I looked to see whose tree it was in relation to these people.  The person who had the tree was the granddaughter of William Lee MacVey from his second wife!  I got in touch with her (let’s call her Nancy MacVey) and Nancy said that she didn’t know about this juicy bit of history when her grandparents were alive, she only found out about it when she started researching.  She found marriage records and divorce proceedings where he told the judge, “She can go back to her mamma!”    This was very scandalous for a small Iowa community in the 1890s.

Hey wait a minute!  She was supposedly pregnant in October of 1895.  If that was the case, she would have had a child in the middle of 1896.  There is no child attributed to her at that time. But her sister Aggie who was married to Joe Bucklin is supposed to have had a daughter named Gladys in June of 1896.  Is Gladys Bucklin actually the daughter of Ida Ausman McVey?  Why else would Gladys go live with her Ausman grandparents in 1900 when her brother stayed in Louisiana with his dad and his dad’s family?  And then after the death of the two Idas, Gladys shows up again in Iowa with her Ausman grandparents in the 1910 census.

Too bad May didn’t write another letter with all of these details in it.  Maybe she intended to, but sadly she had died by 1910 herself at the age of 33.  The Ausman family lost five of their children before 1910.  According to Bucklin family history Gladys had also died at the age of 21 in 1917, yet in the 1920 census and the 1930 census, she was still living in Iowa.  Did they just write her off because she wasn’t exactly a Bucklin and tragedy seemed to follow her wherever she went?  I guess we’ll never know.  Gladys may have had a hard life.  Born out of wedlock in the 19th century (barely) and then her mother and sister dying.  Some people may have thought she were cursed or some such thing.  She may have thought the same thing.  Again, we’ll never know.

Of course, you know, just because someone in that MacVey family made a claim about Ida didn’t mean it was true.  Just how trustworthy was this MacVey family anyway?  Sure, there was family lore on the Keys side of my family about a McVey family in southern Louisiana.  The Keys family had nothing but praise for these people.  But not every MacVey family was as good as our McVey one.  Right?  So I saw that the names of William Lee’s parents were Thomas and Rebecca, and I started some more research.

The Keys family has a lot of information about the family when it immigrated in 1887 from England.  My grandmother’s first cousin did a lot of research and put together a book about the family in 1980.  I knew the McVey name was in there somewhere.  Everyone in my family knows the last name, we never bothered with the first names before.  I found a poem my mom’s aunt wrote, but all she mentions is “the McVeys.”  So I had to scour the old 1980 Keys family history book.  And guess what I found?  That’s right, I found some names.

In one part of the book, it talks about a family that helped my Keys family when they decided to stay in southern Louisiana: “The McVeys were one of the families which treated them well.  Mr. McVey had a large chicken house with wood floors and a window which they cleaned.  This was their first home though temporary.”  That’s the legend.  Our family lived in a chicken house that was provided by the McVeys!  Those Keys definitely did not suffer from a feeling of entitlement back then.  They were extremely grateful.  So much so that when they mentioned the people who were nice to them, the short list included a Frank McVey and a T. L. McVey.  Hey, could T. L. be Thomas?  I went back to the family tree, and sure enough William Lee MacVey’s father was Thomas Lord MacVey, our very own T. L. MacVey.  And William had a brother named Frank.

So the family that made the comment about Ida wasn’t just related to the legendary hero McVeys on the Keys side of my family, they were the very same family!  So I guess Ida was a tramp after all!  I looked into the MacVey family history and found out that the family of T. L. MacVey and his wife Rebecca Noble MacVey and their two sons had just started homesteading in China, Louisiana, in 1887 themselves.  So it was at least a brand new chicken house that the Keys stayed in.  That’s always good to know when looking for a chicken house to live in!

I corresponded a bit more with Nancy MacVey.  I expressed my thanks from my family to hers for the help given to us in our time of need.  I let her know that if she were ever in Baton Rouge and needed a place to stay, my house would always be open to her.  She had actually been to Louisiana a few times  in 2011 and 2012 looking for the graves of T. L. and Rebecca.  (Uh oh!)  She had found T. L. and had been unable to find Rebecca’s.  According to her information, Rebecca had been buried in a place called Fairview in 1892.  She didn’t know if that was a church name, cemetery name, or whether it was in Louisiana or Iowa.  She couldn’t find it.  I didn’t remember ever hearing the name Fairview before.

As I tried to keep track of all of these details, I thought I’d double check those missing pages from the L. C. Bucklin diary.  I have a paper copy from Louise Bucklin Connors, but she gave me a digital copy as well.  So I went to look for the digital copy and came across something else that she had sent me as well.  It was a transcription of headstones at the Raymond Methodist cemetery.  I thought I might as well check it for the grave that I just heard that Nancy was looking for.  Sure enough, it was in there.  I had been to that gravesite with Louise’s son Joseph and took photos of the Bucklins’ graves.  I remembered Joseph telling me that he had taken photos of all of the graves at that site.  So I sent him a note asking if he could find the photo of Rebecca Noble MacVey’s headstone.  He was able to find it quickly and send it to me.  I let Nancy know that I had located her great grandmother’s burial site and then created a memorial for her on Find a Grave.

As a finishing touch to this story, my cousin Mary sent me a note saying that she knew someone who was writing a history of Hathaway.  Really?  Who would write such a thing?  And even more puzzling, who would read such a thing?  Of course I would, but I’m unusual.  Not many people know about that tiny hamlet in southern Louisiana.  And even less care.  Anyway, I told her about a blog online that had some Hathaway information and she sent me a booklet that she got from Grandma Bucklin about the history of the Methodist Church in Raymond.  On the first page of this history it talks about the new church, “known as the Fairview Methodist Episcopal Church, represented by Gilbert N. Brown.”  So Nancy had asked if I knew about a Fairview church or cemetery and I said I didn’t.  But now I do.  Her great grandmother had been buried in the Fairview Methodist Cemetery, which is now known as the Raymond Methodist Cemetery.  Mystery solved.

And doesn’t that Brown name sound familiar too?  Well, maybe not to you, but to me it did.  Nancy had told me that one of the MacVeys had married a Brown.  And, in another little twist, Grandma’s best childhood friend had been a Brown as well.  I’m sure you know where this leads, so I’ll explain the details.  Thomas Lord MacVey and Rebecca Noble’s other son Frank married Gilbert Brown’s daughter Libbie.  Libbie’s brother Eugene Brown had a daughter named Emily, whose childhood friend was Myrtle Phenice.

I wonder if Grandma knew that her friend’s uncle and parents were the ones that owned the chicken coop that housed her mom’s family when they moved to the area?  Or that her friend’s uncle’s brother was the first husband of her future father-in-law’s sister-in-law?  Probably not, they were too busy fixing their hair with the latest styles or chatting as they were riding their buggy to that old Hathaway school.

A Sad Story

I’m in the mood to tell a sad story.  It’s probably because I’ve been hearing so many this week with the Great Flood of 2016 happening all around me.  Like those stories, it is a true story.  And, alas, it is sad.

I’ve wanted to tell it for a while now.  As I looked through the information about the Bucklin family, little pieces of the story would show up from time to time.  My cousin Joseph Connors posted a prequel to this story a few weeks ago. (Jennie Has Been Very Sick)  He told a part of this tragic tale, but I thought that I’d tell a little more.

Joe Bucklin in 1909 in Jennings, Louisiana. (photo edited by Van Landry)

His name was Joseph Bucklin.  He was born around 1859 in Massachusetts to James Austin Bucklin of Palmer, Massachusetts, and Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin originally of Ireland.  The family must have moved to Iowa shortly after his birth, because his younger brother Edward was born there in 1864.  Then his youngest brother Louis Charles Bucklin (my great grandfather) was born in Iowa in 1873.  They lived in Coffins Grove, Iowa.  (Cue the ominous music here.)

In 1884 the family moved to southern Louisiana where he, his father, his brother Ed, and his sister Jennie set up homesteads in the Raymond area. (Louis was not old enough to set up his own at that time.)  I’m sure it was a busy time for the family working on developing the land, roads, and bridges in that area.  But still, as things will happen, Joseph got married to Agnes “Aggie” Ausman in 1892.  She was from Canada, had spent time in Iowa at some point, but I’m not sure how they got together.  Let’s hope it was a happy courtship and marriage, because tragedies soon followed.

In 1893, Joseph wrote to Louis in Ohio to tell him about their sister Jennie being sick.  Jennie died sometime after June of 1893.  Around the same time, Joe and Aggie had a little daughter named Leola.  Things were calm for a few years with the birth of Gladys in 1896 and Harold in July 1899.  Shortly after that came more tragedies.  A month after Harold was born, Aggie died.  Then in December Leola died.  Joe must have been having a hard time, because his mother Mary Ann came to stay with him in Jennings.  But to make matters worse, she caught a severe case of the flu and died on April 10, 1900.

I told you it was a sad story.  I feel a reluctance in telling you his story and letting you get to know him a bit, because his story is so sad.  But I wanted to tell it, and that’s what I’m doing.   I’m sorry to tell you this, but there are more tragedies to come for poor Joe.  But not just yet.  As luck would have it (I’m not so sure about that Irish luck at this point!), Aggie had a younger sister of marrying age and Joe did just that.  He married Ida Ausman in November of 1900.  He certainly didn’t waste any time!

1903 - Little Flower GoneHe and Ida had a daughter named Ida May in 1903.  I’m not sure of the details here, but Joe’s wife Ida died on Sept. 5, 1903.  It could have been from disease or complications from childbirth, but it was a tragedy nonetheless.  Following that, little Ida May died a few months later.  As an article in the Jennings Daily Times states, she had never been strong and died as a result of a severe cold.  The person writing the article must have known the situation, because they talk about “the grief stricken father whose cup of sorrow seems filled to over flowing.”  I agree with that evaluation.

Joe did marry again in 1913, but he didn’t have any more children.  His daughter Gladys died in 1917 in Iowa at the age of 21 while living with her Ausman grandparents.  (There could also be a sad story written about the Ausman family, but I’ll leave that up to someone else.)  Gladys did not have any children.  Then Joe himself died a year later of the flu in the great 1918 flu pandemic while living in Florida.

There are no descendants today of Joe.  His son Harold did get married, but he died at the age of 27 without any children in 1926. He was the last of that family.  I descend from his brother Louis and I have never even attempted to count the number of descendants that he has.  He and Addie had 11 children (including my grandfather Fred) and 19 grandchildren (including my mom Betty Lou).  There were several more great grandchildren (Fred himself added 20 to that count.) and countless great great grandchildren.  The difference is drastic.

And so ends the sad story of Joe.

June 11, 2017 Update

For more information about the connections between the Ausmans and Bucklins, read the later post The Bucklin/Keys/Ausman/MacVey Connections.

Nov. 14, 2019 Update

For newly discovered details about the life of the Ausmans and Joe Bucklin, read this post The Sad History Surrounding Joe Bucklin.

McGrath and Mooney: My Irish Roots

1880s - Mary McGrath Bucklin

Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin some time in the 1880s

This is my great great grandmother Mary Ann McGrath Bucklin and even though she was born in England, she was all Irish. I knew about her ever since I was young. I didn’t have much information on her and assumed that she was Irish. But she was born in England. So I searched for her parents’ names. I found her father’s name on the marriage registration when she married James A. Bucklin in 1854. I wanted more.

I wanted the name of my great great great grandmother and Mary Ann wasn’t talking! But her DNA was. My mom had a strong DNA match at 23andMe named Matt G. and the only common surname that we had with him was McGrath. Normally that wouldn’t be enough to go with since McGrath is a common Irish name, but since there was so much common DNA, I pursued it a bit more vigorously.

I sent him her birthdate and birth place, but the thing that revealed the connection was when I told him that she had settled in Palmer, Massachusetts. That was where his McGrath Irish roots were from also! And the best thing about it was that his grandfather and great grandmother had gathered information about the family and written it all down for the rest of the family.  (For someone who does genealogical research, this is a very exciting thing to hear.)

So I prodded him to find that written information and see if he could find the clear connection. And sure enough he finally found the name of a certain Mary Ann who had married a James Bucklin in Massachusetts in 1854.  Mary Ann and James later moved to Louisiana and over time they lost touch with the rest of the family back in New England.

And here’s the best part. (Wait, didn’t I already say something else was the best thing? Oh, well.) I told you earlier that I wanted the name of Mary Ann’s mother.  She was the last unknown great great great grandparent of mine.  And they had her name! And the name of all of Mary Ann’s siblings -Arthur, Margaret, James, Catherine, John, and Daniel.  They had lived in Roscommon, Ireland and the last sibling was born in Ireland in 1838. So the family moved to Massachusetts some time between 1838 and 1854.

And everyone knows what happened in Ireland during that time, right? The Great Irish Potato Famine.  I’ve heard about it all of my life, but never thought that it had any direct effect on my family. Boy was I wrong! Mary Ann’s parents found a way to move themselves and their seven children to the United States at a time when over 1 million people starved to death in Ireland.  They were among the million people who left to find a better life.

So this St. Patrick’s Day I’m going to celebrate my Irish roots. And I’ll be glad to tell everyone that I am the great great great grandson of Maria Ettadosia Mooney McGrath!


1893 - I was an Irishman

Part of a journal by Mary McGrath Bucklin’s son Louis Charles Bucklin in 1893. He refers to himself as an Irishman. (see green print)