Death by Opiate: Duncan Clerk Winter (1829-1874)

Researching hundreds or thousands of direct ancestors and collateral relatives, one expects to find some alcoholics or problem drinkers.  They often show up in the newspapers getting into accidents or getting arrested.  Sometimes their death records make it clear that alcohol caused or accelerated their demise even if their obituary does not.  One of the saddest death notices I have read was for Joel Wilkins, the husband of my 5th great aunt Elizabeth Haseltine West.  She had left him a few years before he was found in December of 1891, “frozen stiff” in a shed in Danvers, Massachusetts.  His death record indicates he died of “alcohol and exposure.”

Wilkins, Joel 1891 Obit Boston Journal 19 Dec (2)

From the Boston Journal of 19 Dec 1891, found on

Though alcohol has been the most common drug of abuse throughout European and American history, I have a British relative who died from an overdose of laudanum, an  alcoholic extract of opium.

A typical bottle of laudanum would be 25-60% alcohol and about 10% opium by weight.  In the 19th century it was prescribed to people of all ages for everything from coughs and menstrual cramps to heart disease and yellow fever.  It was also used in many home remedies and in the patent medicines whose makers guaranteed that their product would solve all of one’s problems.  As a result many people became laudanum addicts, including Mary Todd Lincoln and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Duncan Clerk Winter was born 16 May 1829 in Martock, Somerset, the son of glove manufacturer John Winter and his wife Mary Presgrave.  The 1841 census captures him in Kent, living at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School at Sevenoaks, where the headmaster was Duncan’s uncle, the Rev. William Presgrave.

By 1851 Duncan was boarding in Leeds, Yorkshire and working as a commercial traveler or traveling salesman, selling shoe lastings, a trade he would follow the rest of his life.  In 1858 at Bradford, Yorkshire, he married Sophia Vincent Whitworth, the daughter of my ancestor Robert Whitworth, a wine merchant in Wakefield, Yorkshire.  Duncan and Sophia had five children between 1858 and 1867, though one died in infancy.


Bradford St. Peter, where Duncan and Sophia were married.  By Merete25 via Wikimedia Commons.

At some point about two years before his death, Duncan became very ill and had difficulty sleeping.  The opium and alcohol in laudanum do promote sleep, and he seems to have become addicted to the substance in the last months of his life.  The inquest after his death determined the cause to be an overdose.  Sadly Sophia died the next year, leaving their four living children orphaned.  The youngest, James Presgrave Winter, was only eight years old.

Winter, Duncan Clark 1874 Inquest Edinburgh Evening News 16 Jun

From the Edinburgh Evening News 16 Jun 1874 found on

(More) Rare Given Names from Aurilla to Zelotes

Here are some more rare and interesting names I have encountered in my research:

Aurilla:  Meaning “golden” and sometimes spelled (or misspelled) Orilla.  Aurilla Yates (1816-1904) of Quebec and Burlington, Vt. married my relative Albert Fuller.

Drusilla:  Via Latin from the Greek drosos meaning “dew.”  Drusilla the daughter of Herod Agrippa appears in Acts of the Apostles, and died in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 C.E.  This name has never been very popular in America, but was favored by descendants of Drusilla (Hicks) Thurber (1771-1857) of the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  One relative bearing this name used the nickname Dilly.

Job:  Before I began researching, it never occurred to me that anyone would name their child after someone who suffered as many trials as Job, though you do see it once in a while.  The only Jobs in our tree are three members of the Peace family in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Lubbert:  This masculine name and its feminine form Lubbertje are not uncommon among my Dutch ancestors in New York and New Jersey.  It is composed of Germanic roots meaning “bright tribe,” with “bright” suggesting famous or renowned.

Mathurin:  A boys’ name after a French saint who died about 300 C.E. Because he was supposed to have been good at driving out demons, people called for St. Mathurin’s help in cases of mental illness.  He is also the patron saint of jesters and clowns.  Mathurin Chalifour was the father of Paul Chalifour, who had arrived in Quebec by 1647.


By Hans Vollebregt via Wikimedia Commons.

Meribah:  A girls’ name from a place mentioned twice in Exodus.  Meribah Everest was born in 1875 in Clinton County, New York.

Narcissa:  A flower name referring to the daffodil family, and probably not used much anymore because of the association with narcissism.  I have only seen it among my Cornell relatives.

Novella:  I have only seen this Italian girls’ name meaning “new” in 19th century Yorkshire.  Since one of the girls with this name was actually named “Clara Novella,” I wonder if the name became popular in England because of acclaimed London-born soprano, Clara Novello (1818-1908).

Persis:  A girls’ name meaning “of Persia,” I have only come across this name among the Anglo-Protestants of Quebec.

Quirinus:  Quirinus was a god of the Roman state whose name may derive from the Sabine word for spear, and several saints have borne the name.  The only Quirinus in our tree is my ancestor Quirinus Bertholf, the father of Dutch Reformed minister Guilliam Bertholf  (1656-1726) of Sluis, Zeeland, Netherlands and Hackensack, New Jersey.

Rezinah:  This name and its nickname Ziney were popular among my relatives in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.  I had assumed it must be the name of a Biblical woman, but it seems to be from the Latin word for “queen” (regina) as spelled in some versions of the Gospel of Matthew.

Sealed:  I assume this name has a Christian theological meaning, perhaps “sealed by the Holy Spirit”.  The only one in our tree is Sealed Landers (1752-1777) of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Sirrildia / Rildia:  My mother-in-law’s second cousin Rildia Bee O’Bryan was the mother of pianist Van Cliburn, and her mother was named Sirrildia Early McClain.  I am not sure of the origin–perhaps creativity?


Van Cliburn and his mother Rildia.  From the Dutch National Archives via Wikimedia Commons.

Sukie / Sukey:  A nickname for Susan or Susannah that is not heard much anymore, though many are familiar with the old song that goes “Polly put the kettle on, Sukey take it off again.”

Tavernier:  I believe my francophile ancestor John Kipp Vermilyea named his son Tavernier, born in 1836, after a French notable of this name.  Possibilities include the politician Jean André Tavernier (1777-1850) or the explorer and trader Jean-Baptiste Tavernier (1605-1689).

Thankful:  One of the more adorable Puritan girls’ names, I have two direct ancestors named Thankful.

Wiley:  Originally a Scottish nickname for William, I see this name most often among my mother-in-law’s relatives in the American South.

Zelotes:  Referring to Jesus’ apostle, Simon the Zealot.  The only one in our tree is my relative Zelotes Lear Fowler (1825-1902) of Quebec.

Margaret (Tillman) Willis (1930-2018) and her DNA

My wonderful mother-in-law Margaret “Bitsy” (Tillman) Willis passed away last month, two days before her 88th birthday, and I have been thinking of her and also focusing on her ancestors lately.

Tillman, Margaret 5

Even though my husband and two of his sisters had already taken the AncestryDNA test, I was glad that Bitsy took it recently as well, knowing that she was one generation closer to her ancestors–including her brick walls–than her children.  It is also nice to have a test that does not have my late father-in-law’s DNA mixed in, and I should eventually be able to reconstruct much of his DNA using the children’s results and subtracting out Bitsy’s.

Tillman, Margaret 4 (2)

There was nothing surprising about the ethnicity results.  The “high confidence” groups Ancestry suggests are what I would expect for a person of English, Scottish, Scots-Irish and Irish ancestry with a few Huguenot refugees thrown in:  36% Great Britain; 28% Ireland/Scotland/Wales; 16% Scandinavia; and 13% Europe West.


The data also place her in two migration groups that make sense: North Alabama Settlers (this group includes settlers of North Mississippi) and Western North Carolina Settlers.  Bitsy was born in Texas and her ancestors include early settlers of Virginia whose descendants migrated to Mississippi, some via the Carolinas and some via Georgia, as well as Highland Scots who immigrated to the Cape Fear River area of North Carolina in the 1730s and quickly headed west.

Tillman, Alvin Young I and Clark, Margaret Latimer

Bitsy’s parents, Alvin Young and Margaret Latimer (Clark) Tillman.

I am just beginning to work with her results, and I am not an expert in DNA research, but I do hope they will shed light on some brick walls.  The two most recent ones, like many problem ancestors, have very common names:  William Young was born about 1795 somewhere in Virginia and died 1838 in Green County, Kentucky; John Harris was born about 1800 somewhere in South Carolina and died in 1882 in Copiah County, Mississippi.  Ideally DNA matches will help me figure out which Young and Harris families these men came from, and exactly where they were born.

Tillman, Margaret 6

Bitsy and my late father-in-law Bernard John Willis in 1950.

Not surprisingly, many of her closer matches are other descendants of Baptist minister Pleasant Barnett Chandler (1816-1904) and his wife Mary E. O’Kelley (1817-1886) who had 13 children, most of whom lived to adulthood.


Ancestry has placed Bitsy in 42 DNA Circles™,  groups of individuals “who all have the same ancestor in their family trees [within six generations], and where each member shares DNA with at least one other individual in the circle.”  (For comparison, my mother has been placed in only eight circles and my father in six.)  Many factors contribute to a person’s winding up in a large number of DNA Circles™, and they do not prove descent from these ancestors, but it is reassuring that Bitsy does seem to be genetically related to many of the people she should be related to based on the paper trail.



The Tragic Death of Leonidas Prather Tillman (1881-1905)

I have come across quite a few sudden and tragic deaths resulting from accidents on the job in my research.  My husband’s Scranton Irish relatives include men crushed in the anthracite coal mines and a teenaged girl killed when she jumped from her burning workplace, the Imperial Underwear Factory.  Other branches of the tree include a man killed in a grist mill accident, another at a quarry by an out-of-control gravity railroad car, and of course mariners lost at sea.

My husband’s 2nd great uncle Leonidas “Daredevil” Tillman also died while working, though in a more unusual accident.  Leonidas was an aeronaut, part of a traveling circus known as the Great Alamo Shows, boasting six large tents and “high-class exhibitions” including glass blowers.  According to one newspaper, the Alamo Shows were “unusually free from objectional features.”  Besides a 60 foot high Ferris wheel and a minstrel troupe, the circus featured Tillman’s act, which consisted of ascending in a balloon and then parachuting to the ground from the balloon.

Tillman, Leonidas Haden Family Group Sheet

Family group sheet my mother-in-law gave me, with Leonidas at the bottom and the note “Was accidentally k[illed].

 The last jump he had made before the fatal one was at Cherokee, Kansas, and all went well except that the balloon landed on a barbed wire fence and was severely damaged.  Newspaper reports indicate that Tillman worked all night at the next stop, Galena, Kansas, to make a new balloon.  For some reason the new balloon did not ascend high enough for his jump at the next show in Horton, Kansas.  He jumped anyway, and his parachute caught on the steeple of the local high school, causing him to be thrown against the building and then down to the ground, at some point breaking his neck.  He was only 23.

Tillman, Leonidas Prather 1905 Death Galena Evening Times 10 Aug (2)

Account of the accident from the Galena Evening Times 10 Aug 1905 found on



The Importance of Childless Relatives’ Wills: Martha Whitworth (1794-1829) of Ossett, Yorkshire, England

If I were to give ancestors awards for their wills, Most Boring would go to Samuel Linley (1752-1808) of the parish of Wakefield in Yorkshire, who mentions 15 times that he intends to make his children’s shares as equal as possible.  (The person who drew up the will may have been paid by the word in this time period.)  Most Interesting Items Conveyed would have to go to David Hamlin of Dutchess County, New York, who mentioned two portraits attributed to Ammi Phillips that came up for auction in 2009.

I am not sure who would get Most Useful and Informative, but it would definitely go to an unmarried sibling of an ancestor rather than a direct one.  This is because childless people tend to name other relatives, usually siblings and/or nieces and nephews.  This can sometimes provide a “snapshot” of a complete extended family at the time the will was made, confirming formerly uncertain relationships or pointing to previously undiscovered ones.  It may also provide the dwelling places of these family members.  People who seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth are sometimes found in an unexpected place or under a new married name.

For sheer number of relatives mentioned, the award would go to a 5th great uncle, successful London leather merchant Isaac Hemsworth (1787-1853).  His five sisters provided him with 40 nieces and nephews, and all who were living when he drew up his lengthy will were both named and placed.

Blossom at Dewsbury Minster where Martha is buried.  Photo by stuart Hartley via Wikimedia Commons.

The very useful will of Martha Whitworth of Ossett in the parish of Dewsbury, Yorkshire is much shorter, and a quarter of it is taken up with a run-on sentence expressing her relatively confident religious thoughts:  “I Martha Whitworth feeling myself of late much indisposed through bodily affliction & not knowing how soon it may please the Almighty to call me out of time into Eternity but I trust I shall be supported by the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit which alone can afford consolation in a dying hour & when I enter the dark valley of the shadow of death it will be illumined with the bright beams of the Son of Righteousness who I trust is my only hope and Saviour…”

Whitworth, Martha 1829 Will

Will of Martha Whitworth proved 30 Dec 1829.

Before I obtained Martha’s will I was not sure that my ancestor Robert Whitworth, a wine merchant in Wakefield, was her brother.  Because Martha’s will mentions him and all of his then living children, it proved the two were siblings.






Stanley Peace (1879-1960) and Alice Houghton (1879-1960) of London, England

My Dad and his sister say that their grandfather Vernon Linley Peace (1873-1947) never spoke much about his family or childhood in England, so that they knew very little about his siblings who never lived in or visited the United States.  Vernon’s sister Isabel (1877-1947) did move to the U.S., and his sister Kate Elizabeth (1871-1950) visited Vermont in 1948, but the rest of his siblings remained somewhat of a mystery.

In researching his parents Henry Horton Peace and Sarah Elizabeth Linley, I found that they  had four children besides Vernon, Isabel and Kate:  Hemsworth (1875-1884) and Norman (1881-1884) who died of scarlet fever within a day of one another;  Norma (1886-1934) who became a schoolmistress in Northamptonshire; and Stanley (1879-1960) who spent his adult life in Greater London.

Like all of his siblings, Stanley was baptized at Cumberworth St. Nicholas in Yorkshire.  At some point in the early 1890s he was apprenticed to a draper named Henry Harris Pumphrey in Bromyard, Herefordshire.  A draper was chiefly a fabric merchant but often sold clothing as well, and Mr. Pumphrey offered yard goods, undergarments and dressmaking services.

Pumphrey, Henry Harris 1889 Draper Bromyard News 28 Mar

Advertisement for the draper’s shop of Henry Harris Pumphrey.  From the Bromyard News of 28 Mar 1889 found on

By 1 Feb 1901 Stanley had moved to London, where he enlisted in the 81st Company of the 21st Battalion of the Imperial Yeomanry, a cavalry regiment of sharpshooters.   He served in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in which the British fought the South African Republic and the Orange Free State for control of South Africa and its resources.  He received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with five clasps:  Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902.


British cavalry unit fording a river in South Africa during the Boer War.

Stanley returned to London after completing his service.  The 1911 census shows him still single, boarding in Streatham in south London, and working as a “Commercial Traveller” selling “Drapery,” what we would probably call a fabric wholesaler.

On 14 Mar 1914 he married Alice Houghton at Willesden St. Andrew in northwest London.  Alice was a draper’s daughter born in Nantwich, Cheshire, but she had been living on her own in London for well over a decade.  The 1911 census finds her living and working at Frederick Gorringe Ltd., a large and fashionable department store on Buckingham Palace Road.  Alice was one of 13 women employed in the millinery department.


Willesden St. Andrew’s.

A British headcount taken in preparation for World War II and known as the 1939 Register shows Stanley and Alice living in Hendon, northwest of London and now considered part of Greater London.  Stanley is still a commercial traveller, but Alice has gone into business and is a partner in a “gown shop.”

Stanley and Alice had no children, and his will mentions only his “dear Wife” with mainly charities as secondary beneficiaries.  These include the Home for Incurables (now the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability) in memory of his sister Norma, who died there of multiple sclerosis in 1934, and the London Commercial Travellers’ Benevolent Society.  Stanley died in September of 1960, and Alice died the following month.

I hope to find out the name of Alice’s shop and what sort of dresses they sold.


Denby Dale, the Pie Village

If you research families in Denby Dale, Yorkshire, England you will eventually learn about the village’s tradition of making enormous meat pies to celebrate important events.  To date there have been ten pies, and local historian Chris Heath has devoted an entire book to the subject:  The Denby Dale Pies: Ten Giants 1788-2000.

Commemorative plates from the 1928, 1964 and 1988 pies are listed for sale on eBay as of this writing.  I purchased the 1964 plate below several years ago for about $10.


One of the 2000 souvenir plates sold at the 1964 pie celebration.

The first pie celebrated King George III’s (temporary) return to sanity in 1788.  It consisted mainly of game animals and was baked at the White Hart Inn, which may have been the inn formerly run by my ancestor John Peace (1727-1772).

The second was baked in honor of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo in 1815.  Ingredients included meat from two sheep and twenty fowls.

The third pie marked the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.  These laws had imposed high tariffs and other restrictions on imported grain, inflating food prices for British consumers.  Unfortunately the stage on which the pie was placed for serving gave way, the pie slid forward into the crowd and what must have been a somewhat disgusting free-for-all ensued.  Stories about the event made even the London papers.


Pie dish used in 1887 and 1896, just before being donated to the war effort in 1940.  Picture from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner.

The fourth and fifth pies were baked in August and September of 1887 for Queen Victoria’s jubilee.  Unfortunately the August effort went rancid and was given its own “funeral” procession and buried.  The second attempt in September was a success dubbed the  “Resurrection Pie,” and included beef, mutton, veal, lamb and pork as well as meat from  rabbits, hares, fowls, pigeons, grouse, ducks, plovers and “small birds.”  The pie was served on the grounds of my second great-grandfather Henry Horton Peace’s wool-weaving factory, Inkerman Mill.

The sixth pie in 1896 marked the 50th anniversary of the repeal of the Corn Laws, and was again distributed from Inkerman Mill.

The seventh pie in 1928 was a fundraiser for the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.


The 1964 pie dish has been made into a flower bed.  Photo by SMJ via Wikimedia Commons.

The eighth pie celebrated the four royal births which took place in 1964:  Queen Elizabeth’s cousin Princess Alexandra and her husband Angus Ogilvy had a son James on the 29th of February; Prince Edward was born on the 10th of March; The Duke and Duchess of Kent had a daughter Helen on the 28th of April; and Princess Margaret and her husband Antony Armstrong-Jones had a daughter Sarah on the 1st of May.  (In the 1980s gossip columnists would refer to these cousins as the “Queenyboppers.”)


The Swinging Blue Jeans.  Photo by Imperial Records via Wikimedia Commons.

A new baking dish was fabricated for the 1964 event, which now serves as a flower bed in Denby Dale.   Proceeds from the celebration funded the building of a community center known as the Denby Dale Pie Hall.  Attendees enjoyed a performance by the Swinging Blue Jeans, who had recently charted in both the U.S. and U.K. with covers of “Hippy Hippy Shake,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” and “You’re No Good.”

Crowd awaiting the 1988 pie.  Photo by Gerald England via Wikimedia Commons.

The ninth pie, baked in 1988, commemorated the bicentennial of the first pie.  The last pie weighed 13 tons and was baked in 2000 for the millennium.  If you live in the United Kingdom and don’t want to wait for the next giant pie, you can now buy frozen Denby Dale Yorkshire Pies at your grocery store.  The ingredients include beef and potatoes, but no mutton, rabbit or small birds.


Logo for Denby Dale Yorkshire Pies by WSLeafe via Wikimedia Commons.


California Pioneer John Wesley Young (1832-1914)

My husband’s second great-grandfather Thomas Hicks Young (1829-1887) was a Texas pioneer, arriving in Lamar County in 1859.  Thomas’ younger brother John Wesley Young (1832-1915) went to California instead.

Clark, Francis Marker

Historical marker in Boyle County, Kentucky.

The brothers were born in Green County, Kentucky to William Young and Salina Baker Hicks.  Salina’s maternal grandfather Francis Clark (1735-1799) was the first Methodist preacher in Kentucky.  Like the outlaw John Wesley Hardin and many other American boys of the era, John was named after John Wesley (1703-1791), one of the founders of Methodism.


Photo of Mt. Shasta, Siskiyou County, California by John T. Alfors.

I found John in California while researching his step-sibling, William James Radford.  The 1860 census shows a “J. W. Young” and “W. J. Radford,” both born in Kentucky, farming in Scott Valley Township, Siskiyou County.  Siskiyou County lies in northernmost California adjacent to the Oregon border.  On the same page is 11 year old Sarah Quigley, who will marry John 15 years later.


1860 census record showing Young and Radford in Siskiyou County, found on

According to a descendant,  John arrived in California in 1854 via Panama.   (This descendant’s DNA matches my mother-in-law’s DNA at the 3rd-4th cousin level, confirming the relationship of the brothers.)  He probably traveled from Christian County, Kentucky, where his family had moved, to the Mississippi River, then down the river to New Orleans.  From New Orleans he would have sailed to Panama, crossed the isthmus on foot or horseback, then sailed to San Francisco from the Pacific shore.   I don’t know if he set forth on this adventure with his step-brother Radford though it seems likely.  I also don’t know what happened to Radford after 1868, when he last appears on the voting rolls.


Section of the California Great (voting) Registers for Siskiyou County showing John Wesley Young, native of Kentucky.

John registered to vote 1 Oct 1866, and though he probably did not give up farming, the roll lists him as a miner in Oro Fino.  Oro Fino or “Fine Gold” was the name given to both a mining town and the wider gold-mining district encompassing John’s home in Scott Valley, which was first worked during the Gold Rush (1848-1855).  According to the California Division of Mines and Geology, the gold deposited in the creeks there is indeed fine as well as plentiful, though “rough and angular.”  The 1870 census shows John living alone, mining, with $1500 in real estate, still near to his future bride’s family.

Young, John Wesley and Sally Quigley

John Wesley and Sarah (Quigley) Young.

John and Sarah Quigley’s 1875 marriage was announced very succinctly in the Sacramento Daily Union:  “Oro Fino, Siskiyou co., Jan. 13–J.W. Young to Sallie Quigley.”  They had six children between 1875 and 1892, with four sons living to adulthood.  By 1882 John was a Master Mason of the North Star Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons based in Fort Jones, Siskiyou County.  By  1912 he was the president of the Scott Valley Bank, where his son William Thomas Young (1884-1966) would work until his retirement in 1952.

John Wesley Young died of heart disease in Fort Jones on 3 Dec 1914.  His brother Thomas Hicks Young had died 27 years earlier in Red River County, Texas.  Did the two men, who lived almost 2000 miles apart, ever see each other again after leaving Kentucky?

Bernard John McGreevy (1855-1915) of Cloondaff, County Mayo, Ireland and Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania


My husband’s great-grandfather Bernard John McGreevy was probably born in March of 1855, the son of Bryan McGreevy (c. 1813-1911) and Catherine Walsh (c. 1830-1924) of the townland of Cloondaff, parish of Addergoole, County Mayo, Ireland.

Like many other natives of this area, Bernard immigrated to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where coal-mining jobs were plentiful.  According to his naturalization papers he arrived in the port of New York 5 Apr 1880, when he would have been about 25.  The handwriting on the passenger manifest is very sloppy, but I believe he may have arrived on that date aboard the steamship City of Montreal.


Passenger list for City of Montreal arriving in New York 5 Apr 1880 with 24 year old Irish male, possibly Bernard, found on

The 1883 Scranton directory lists Bernard as a miner, but he had gone into the bottling business by the time of his marriage five years later.  On 21 Nov 1888 at Scranton’s Church of the Holy Rosary he married 29 year old widow Mary Ann (Ludden) Reilly, the daughter of Thomas and Mary (Early) Ludden.  Mary and her first husband Michael Reilly, who died in 1884, had had a daughter Gertrude in 1883.  Mary had five more daughters with Bernard:  Evelyn (b. 1890), Kathleen (b. 1893), Mary (b. 1895), Claire (b. 1896) and Frances (b. 1901).

Hotel McGreevey

By 1893 Bernard and his family had moved to Chinchilla, six miles north of the city of Scranton.  At first he made a living trading in cattle, but he soon established an inn which he ran for the rest of his life.  According to newspaper reports, Bernard was a successful fisherman and rabbit hunter, as well as a generous and likeable person.

McGreevy, Bernard John 1893 Rabbit Hunting

From the Scranton Republican 7 Jan 1893, found on

In 1908 Bernard and his younger sister, Scranton resident Bridget (McGreevy) Cusick, traveled home to Ireland to see their aged parents and other relatives.  The bon voyage party before they left was quite an affair:  A banquet with speeches, gifts and Irish folk songs.  Toastmaster Anthony Francis O’Boyle presented Bernard with a gold watch and a cigar holder.  The siblings sailed on RMS Caronia, arriving in Liverpool on the 21st of June, and returned to New York on the 31st of July aboard RMS Lusitania (yes, that Lusitania).


RMS Lusitania, which brought Bernard and his sister Bridget back from Ireland in 1908.

Six of Bernard’s eight siblings (including Bridget) immigrated to the United States, the last being his sister Catherine who arrived in 1912.  I have not been able to find out what happened to his brother Thomas, b. 1864, but he is not mentioned as one of the next of kin in the 1906 estate settlement papers of his sister Ellen, so I think he must have died before then.  Bryan and Catherine McGreevy’s youngest child Michael, b. 1873, remained in Ireland and my husband and I had a great time meeting some of his descendants in Mayo in 2013.

Bernard died 16 May 1915 after an operation for appendicitis, having written his will the day before.  He was buried in Scranton’s Cathedral Cemetery 19 May 1915 after a funeral attended by a large number of friends.

McGreevy, Bernard John 1915 Obit

Obit from the Scranton, Republican, 18 May 1915, found on



McGreevy, Bernard John 1915 Estate 7

Will of Bernard John McGreevy.




Connections to India

Before I began researching I did not imagine that any of my reasonably close blood relatives or their spouses would have lived on the Indian subcontinent.  Thanks to my Yorkshire-born great-grandfather Vernon Linley Peace and British Imperialism (I know, generally a bad thing) I have found two who were born and one who died there.  ( has many useful records for British people in India.)


Military uniforms for various Madras divisions circa 1835.  The illustration second from the left shows a cavalryman.

Katie Stewart Forbes (1859-1938) was born in Secunderabad, Madras to British parents who had married in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1850, her father George Forbes being a Captain in the 5th Madras Light Cavalry.  (Secunderabad is now in the state of Andhra Pradesh.)  Katie’s mother Charlotte Godsall Brande died in Secunderabad in 1860.  By  the 1861 census George and his three India-born daughters were living at his mother’s house in Reading, Berkshire, England.

George must have left the girls with their grandmother in Berkshire to resume his post at Secunderabad where he died in 1864.  A newspaper death notice described him as “Captain George Forbes, 5th Madras Cavalry, son of the late Major-General David Forbes, C.B., 78th Highlanders.”

Katie lived with an aunt of independent means in 1871 and 1881, marrying my second cousin five times removed Charles William Ellison Gibson in London in 1891.  Charles was a successful builder who retired from business in 1894.  They had no children and Katie died 25 Mar 1938 in Devon.  I doubt she had any memory of her brief time in India, since she arrived in England before the age of 22 months, but her older sisters might have.


The Protestant Church at Secunderabad, where Katie Stewart Forbes was baptized

Oliver Hofland Hoare (1897-1959) was baptized at the Wesleyan church in the city of Madras (now Chennai) on 5 Sep 1897.  His mother Helen Martha Fox was also born in Madras, where her father was an appraiser in the customs office.  Oliver’s father was a schoolmaster in Madras, but had been born in Lincolnshire and educated at Oxford.

His parents appear to have lived out their lives in India but Oliver was in England and  employed in the offices of the London and Northwestern Railway in 1914, though only age 16.  He became a mechanical engineer specializing in locomotives.  He appears as a mechanical engineer arriving in San Francisco from Sydney, Australia in 1925, on his way home to Crewe, Cheshire, England.  He married my second cousin twice removed Mabel Gladys Linley in Cheshire in 1925.

Oliver must have worked in Argentina in the later 1920s.  Passenger lists show Mabel and this couple’s little daughter Berenice sailing for Buenos Aires in 1928, and the whole family of three returning to England the following year.  Oliver left for Bombay in 1931 and passenger lists show Mabel and Berenice giving their residence as India when making trips from Bombay to England in 1933 and 1934.  (Oliver’s parents were deceased by this time, but he may have had other relatives in India.)

The 1939 Register shows Oliver and Mabel back in Cheshire, living with Mabel’s parents.  Oliver’s occupation is listed as “Air ministry aeronautical inspection directorate exam.”  I am not sure what that means but I am guessing he used his engineering skills in the war effort.  Oliver survived the war, dying in 1959, and Mabel lived until 1990.


Barbers at Saharanpur by Edwin Lord Weeks.

Alfred Howe Collinson (1866-1927) is my second cousin four times removed.  Alfred was born in Brixton, Surrey, England (now part of Greater London) to insurance agent William Collinson and his wife Susannah Hemsworth.  He became a civil engineer and over his lifetime worked on major railway projects in Great Britain, Argentina, China and India, including designing improvements to the Calcutta Tramways.  He married Isabella Douglas Creighton in Buenos Aires in 1891.


Marriage notice from the London Morning Post of 21 Mar 1891.

During World War I he worked for the Ministry of Munitions.  He was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1917.  He died 28 Jun 1927 of pneumonia “in the Bombay mail”–I assume train–between Meerut and Muzaffarnagar, and was buried at Saharanpur.  All three of these municipalities are northeast of New Delhi within the modern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Collinson, Alfred Howe 1927 Death (2)

Alfred’s burial record