Thursday, March 22, 2012

James McGuire - Irish ancestor

For as long as I can remember, I knew that my mother's roots were Irish and that our immigrant ancestor was James McGuire. My 2nd great grand aunt, Bruna McGuire, wrote a history of the McGuire line published in 1954 called Pioneer Families. In her book she discusses James McGuire and his Irish origins. She states he was born in 1747 in County Fermanagh, Ireland and died in 1838 in Anderson County, Kentucky.

Unfortunately, her information is inconsistent. Bruna states in some places that James McGuire is from County Fermanagh, Ireland. This is possible as this county has been a Maguire/McGuire stronghold for hundreds of years.
Enniskillen Castle in County Fermanagh, Ireland, built by Gaelic Maguires nearly 600 years ago.
Yet in another paragraph, Bruna states that James McGuire was born in "Tyrone, County Fermanagh, Ireland." Research shows that there is no Tyrone in Fermanagh, but the county just north of it is County Tyrone. She also states that James' parents and grandparents participated in the Siege of Londonderry in 1689. If James was born in 1747 it is unlikely that his parents were alive to participate in this siege, but his grandparents would be of the right age. But Londonderry/Derry is in County Londonderry, just north of County Tyrone. There was also Siege activity in Enniskillen, the county seat of Fermanagh, so it is possible that his family participated in that as well. Even though Ireland is a rather small country, these three counties still include a wide stretch of area to attribute to an 18th century family.
I do not know what became of Aunt Bruna's genealogy research so I am not aware of her sources for this information. She did gift many things to the Ray County Missouri Museum, but none of her research was included. In her book Bruna attributes some of her McGuire information to Mary Hale Dean, a distant relative, who she interviewed in 1942. I had never taken note of this information before so last night I looked in to Mary Hale Dean. A quick Google search brought up her FindAGrave memorial which states:

"Largely responsible for bringing the first library and starting the Women's Club of Owensboro. The Kentucky Room of the Daviess Co., Library holds what people once referred to as the 'Mary Hale Dean Traveling Library' of genealogical research of area families."

A quick search for the Daviess County Kentucky Library shows that their website does indeed include information on the Kentucky Room. I have sent the staff a note to see if any of Mary Hale Dean's research is archived in the Kentucky Room. Perhaps I will be able to find more conclusive links to the origins of James McGuire.


Ginger Smith said...

I'm so glad you have written about this on your blog Heather. Finding the original sources of family information can be so difficult sometimes. But getting the information and questions out there is a good start. I posted something similar about a bible that I was looking for. And someone who saw my blog inquired about it and found someone who had worked in a library who had written a transcription of said bible and sent it to me. Even though I'm still looking for the original bible, I at least am one step closer with the transcription.

zelsersk said...

Ode to the McGuires/Maguires! You have definitely found out more about your McGuire's than I have about mine. I'm still stuck in 1880 NYC looking for my McGuire's with not much luck. It sounds like you are onto something with County Tyrone. Good Luck!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

@Ginger- I'm hoping I'm as lucky as you and find out some more information. A fellow researcher contacted me through a message board post and that re-energized my search for my McGuire links. Of course, I stopped my Ancestry World subscription just last month! I'll see if the blog post spurs any information.

Will McGuire said...

Heather, I'm not sure if you rec'd my last e-mail as you didn't respond, I believe I have found your ancestor James McGuire in Ireland, he was baptised in January 1749 which makes sense as they typically didn't give a christian name before a child was at least a year old - the story about his grandfather being in the siege of Londonderry is also probably factual but not his McGuire grandfather, rather his mothers father, that one does check out true.
Will McGuire