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.

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)