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


Loyal G. Cornell (1842-1883): The Life of an Adirondack Peddler

Loyal G. Cornell was born in 1842 to farmers Godfrey and Clarissa (Baker) Cornell of Peru, Clinton County, New York.  (Clinton County forms the northeastern corner of the state of New York, with Quebec to the north and Lake Champlain and Vermont to the east.)  His father died in 1851, and the 1860 agricultural census shows that 18 year old Loyal is managing his family’s 38 acre farm.  Their livestock included three milk cows, two other (probably working) cattle, ten sheep and two swine.  Their main crops were wheat, rye, corn and oats.

Cornell, Loyal G. 1865 Civil War Muster Roll Abstract

Muster roll extract for Loyal G. Cornell, found on

Though he registered for the draft in 1863, Loyal served for only a few weeks at the end of the Civil War.  He enlisted at Plattsburgh 13 Apr 1865, joining New York’s 192nd Infantry regiment, and was discharged the following month at Hart Island, part of the Bronx.  According to his muster roll extract he was 5’11” with blue eyes and light skin and hair.


Women in the Adirondacks in 1898, using the traditional type of ash splint pack basket.

By 1870 the family seems to have given up on farming.  Loyal’s mother Clarissa works as a weaver, his sister Mary as a school teacher, and Loyal has become a peddler.  Long distance peddlers were essential to the people living on isolated homesteads in the Adirondacks.  They sold tin goods and other housewares as well as staple foodstuffs.  Peddlers’ wagons were like dry goods stores on wheels.  They used large pack baskets to ferry items to the most remote areas.  They came home with two types of valuables, cash and news.

Cornell, Loyal G. 1879 Peddling (2)

Newspaper mention from Dec 1879.

Loyal is described as a “veteran peddler” heading into the wilds in a newspaper notice from Dec 1879, indicating that winter did not prevent him from plying his trade.


Loyal died aged 41 years on 1 Jan 1883 at the American House Hotel in Ausable Forks, and his sister Mary settled his estate.  DNA, circumstantial and onomastic (naming) evidence all lead me to believe that my Dad is a descendant of this Cornell family, though I have not yet figured out how.


Did my Gramma Serve Tea to Eleanor Roosevelt?

My Gramma Elisabeth Oblenis (Bogert) Grover passed away in 1994.  I don’t remember her ever saying anything about serving tea to Eleanor Roosevelt, but other people in my family do.  I decided to find out if this were likely and, if so, when and where it might have happened.

Bogert, Elisabeth Oblenis 13

My Gramma’s page in the 1929 Russell Sage College yearbook.  Each young woman has a cartoon  as well as a photo.  I remember my Gramma telling me that they drew her eating an apple because she loved apples so much.

She was born in Paramus, New Jersey in 1906 and graduated from Ridgewood High School in 1925.  She then went to Russell Sage College in Troy, New York.  Her senior bio in the 1929 edition of the Sage Leaves yearbook mentions that she was known for her delicious sandwiches, punch and coffee, and also for being very good at basketball.

Bogert, Elisabeth Oblenis 15

Russell Sage Hockey Team 1928.  My Gramma is fourth from the right.

My Gramma lived with us much of the time while I was growing up and prepared most of the food in our household, including packing our healthy school lunches.  She was a good plain cook, who could make delicious roast leg of lamb, beef stew, and creamed tuna, the last of which is still my ultimate comfort food today.  She was most “famous” though for grilled cheese sandwiches.  Also she once threw out a bunch of garlic at my aunt’s house, not knowing what it was. 

Was it possible that Eleanor Roosevelt came to Russell Sage, and that a home economics major like my Gramma, renowned for her sandwiches, helped to prepare for and perhaps served at this event?  I searched New York newspapers for any Eleanor Roosevelt news between 1925 and 1929 and found that Russell Sage College awarded her an honorary degree in June of 1929, just as my Gramma was graduating.

Bogert, Elisabeth Oblenis 1929 Plattsburgh Republican, June 14, 1929, Page 5

Article from the Plattsburgh Republican 14 Jun 1929.

I think it is very likely that my Gramma would have been involved in the preparations for this event and also in the serving of Mrs. Roosevelt.  Unlike many family stories that turn out to be mixed up or even impossible, this one is probably true.

Bogert, Elisabeth Oblenis 9 (2)

Bogert, Elisabeth Oblenis 1929 Graduation 1

Sarah Augusta Zabriskie (1844-1928) and the Danish Ambassador

Sarah Augusta Zabriskie was born 4 Dec 1844 in Hackensack, New Jersey.  Her father was judge and eventual Chancellor of New Jersey Abraham Oothout Zabriskie.  Her mother was Sarah Augusta Pell, the daughter of my ancestor, New York City-based ship’s captain William Pell.  Her mother died only a few months after Sarah Augusta was born, which is probably why the 1850 census shows her living with her Zabriskie grandparents in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

By the 1860 census she was 15 and back under her father’s roof.  Late in the decade she met the very eligible Danish envoy to the United States, Frantz Ernst de Bille, and the two were married in Jersey City 4 May 1869.

De Bille-Zabriskie 186 Wedding The_Brooklyn_Daily_Eagle_Tue__Jan_12__1869_

Frantz had been born into the Danish nobility in Copenhagen 14 Feb 1832, his parents being Danish Royal Navy officer Steen Andersen Bille and his wife Marie Sophie Frederikke Caroline von Bülow.  The Bille family had a long history of military and diplomatic service to the state of Denmark.   Frantz seems to have had the perfect makeup for a diplomat:  Newspaper articles describe him as popular, courteous, tactful and good-humored, but also brilliant, shrewd and observant.

de Bille, Frantz

Frantz Ernst de Bille.

Frantz and Sarah’s first child Mary Fernanda was baptized in 1870 at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York.  In 1871 Frantz was appointed governor of the Danish West Indies, which then consisted of the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.  According to one of his obituaries, life in the Virgin Islands was too boring for Sarah, causing Frantz to return to the Danish diplomatic corps.

Government House, Kongensgade 21-22, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, VI

Government House in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas, where Frantz and Sarah would have lived in 1871.  From the Library of Congress.

Frantz was appointed minister to Sweden in 1872, and the couple moved to Stockholm where three more children were born to them:  Steen Andersen Eske (1873), Torben Ivar (1879) and Carolina Elisabeth (1881).  (I was able to find images of their Swedish birth records on, as well as the record for their older sister Mary Fernanda’s death in Stockholm in 1879 from peritonitis.)

In 1890 Frantz was named minister to the United Kingdom.  A newspaper article describing his family’s arrival in London mentions the Bille’s close relationship with the Danish royal family, while Sarah is described only as “a lady of American extraction.”  They resided first at 41 Wilton Crescent in the Belgravia district of London, where they appear in the 1891 census.  By 1901 the family had moved to 24 Pont Street in Knightsbridge, where Frantz and Sarah would live the rest of their lives.



Pont Street in London.  Photo by Danny P. Robinson via Wikimedia Commons.

The couple became great friends of the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII from 1900 to his death in 1910) and his wife Alexandra, a member of the Danish royal family whom Frantz would have known before his posting.  In 1908 the New York Tribune reported that Frantz was ready to retire, but that the king and queen were “so fond of M. de Bille and of his American wife…, treating them more as friends than as members of the foreign diplomatic corps, that they have urged them to remain in London.”  The de Billes were frequent guests at the royal residences of Marlborough House in London and Sandringham in Norfolk.

Frantz died 10 Jun 1918.  His funeral took place four days later at Marlborough House Chapel by permission of King George V, where his casket was draped in the Danish flag.  Sara Augusta died almost 10 years later, on 22 Feb 1928.


Caricature of Frantz Ernst de Bille from 1903.


Kate (Tighe) Willis (c. 1850-1930) and the Sisters of Mary Reparatrix

Kate Tighe was born about 1850 in Sligo Town, County Sligo, Ireland to merchant and alderman James Tighe and his wife Catherine Hargadon.  On 24 Feb 1870 in the Roman Catholic parish of Calry, County Sligo she married William Willis of Luffertaun House in County Mayo, my husband’s first cousin four times removed.  (Luffertaun House is very near Ballintubber Abbey and is today the home of an organic farmer producing grass-fed beef.)

William and Kate had a daughter they named Mary in 1872 who died aged only four months.  She was buried in the churchyard at Robeen, County Mayo, where many in the Willis family have been laid to rest.  William Willis died in 1874, aged about 35 years.

At some point thereafter Kate became a religious sister of the Sisters of Mary Reparatrix (S.M.R.), an institute founded in France in 1857 and focused in part on the education and spiritual support of women.  Kate appears in the 1901 Census of Ireland, aged 50 and “Head of Family” at the Laurel Hill Convent and school in the city of Limerick.  This school was founded by the S.M.R. in 1844, and is now known as Laurel Hill Coláiste.  Graduates include Dolores O’Riordan, the late lead singer of the Cranberries.

Laurel Hill Convent School

Kate appears in the 1911 census at 53 Merrion Square, Dublin, another S.M.R. convent, which hosted retreats for women among other activities.  She is listed first on the census page, and may have been the Mother Superior.  Since she died at the same address in 1930, it is likely that she was there during the Easter Rising in 1916, when Irish Republican forces and British troops fought each other for control of Dublin.

British Troops Seal-Off Dublin Streets during"Troubles"

British soldiers in the Merrion Square area during the Easter Rising.

The diary of Eileen Chance of 90 Merrion Square indicates that there was much shooting in this area during the Rising.  On the afternoon of April 27th she saw smoke coming out of the top windows of the convent and wrote:  “We have just now discovered that the Convent had Sinn Feiners in it, and that Martin Dempsey’s [35 Merrion Square] have been turned out for the soldiers…so we seem to be in a very hot corner.”

Article from the Dublin Evening Telegraph 30 Dec 1920 found on

Religious houses in Ireland were sometimes searched by British forces during the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921).  The Sisters of Mary Reparatrix in Merrion Square were raided late on the night of 29 Dec 1920.  After greatly alarming the sisters by banging on the door at such a late hour, soldiers and police spent about a half hour looking for any Republicans who might be sheltered there as well as ammunition, but found nothing.


Map of Ireland showing the approximate location of Sligo Town (blue), Luffertaun (orange), Robeen (magenta), Limerick (purple) and Dublin (green).

I want to find out more about Kate:  Where was she in between her husband’s death and the 1901 census?  When did she become a religious sister?  Was she the Mother Superior at the Dublin convent and if so when?  And what exactly happened at the convent during the Easter Rising?


Surprising Mormon Connections: Elizabeth (Hall) Clough (1805-1881) and Selina (Rayson) Bray (1802-1853)

I did not expect to find any connections to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in my research because none of my direct ancestors became Mormons.  Of course researching your ancestors’ siblings and cousins is crucial for both context and evidence, and this is how I found two interesting connections to early Mormonism, both on my Dad’s side.

I made the first discovery researching the 12 children of my Dad’s ancestors Moses Hall (1764-1853) and his wife Lucy Fowler (1762-1843) of Barnet, Vermont and Shipton, Quebec.  All of these children remained in the Quebec-Vermont-New Hampshire area except one daughter, Elizabeth “Betsey” Hall.  I noticed that other people’s online trees said she died 5 Jun 1881 in Arizona, which at first seemed highly unlikely to me.

Clough-Hall 1824 Marriage

Record of the marriage of David Clough and Betsey Hall in the Church of England at Shipton, Quebec, from the Drouin Collection on

Betsey married New Hampshire native David Clough or Cluff 25 Jan 1824 in Shipton, Quebec in an Anglican ceremony.  The couple moved to back to the United States and eventually converted to Mormonism.  They were with Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS church, in Nauvoo, Illinois by the 1840 census, where David helped to build the temple.  Because of violent persecution the Cloughs and some of their co-religionists left Nauvoo in 1844, settling near what is now Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they farmed and produced maple syrup.


The Burning of the Nauvoo Temple (in 1848) by C. C. A. Christensen.  This painting is held by the Brigham Young University Museum of Art.

In 1850 David, Betsey and their 11 sons joined with the Edward Hunter Company, a train of 67 wagons and 261 Mormons headed for Salt Lake.  All survived the journey, and appear together in the Utah Territory census taken 1 Apr 1851 along with David Jr.’s first wife Sarah.  (David Jr. would eventually add three more wives to his household.)  David Cluff Sr. and Betsey lived in Provo, Utah in 1860 and 1870, but had moved to Apache County, Arizona by 1880, both dying in Arizona the following year, just as the online trees had said.

My second Mormon connection was surprising in part because it began in England.  Before this discovery I had not realized that the LDS church proselytized there so early.  Selina Rayson was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1802 to Protestant Dissenting Minister Benjamin Rayson and his first wife Mary Ann Marsden.  (Mary Ann was the daughter of my ancestor Robert Marsden, a cutler in Sheffield.)   Selina married London hardware merchant Francis Jeffrey Bray in 1826, and both were baptized into the LDS church in London on 29 Aug 1848.


Part of the Mormon Trail in Wyoming.

In 1853 this couple headed for Utah with many other English converts.  Selina kept a detailed journal of their Atlantic crossing.  She was an invalid for unknown reasons, and much of her writing expresses her great gratitude for others’ kindness to her.  Their first stop was Liverpool where they awaited passage to New Orleans.  They sailed the 23rd of January on the ship Golconda with over 300 other Mormons, arriving at the mouth of the Mississippi on the 26th of March.  A tugboat then pulled them upriver to New Orleans where they boarded a steamboat for Keokuk Iowa, arriving on the 28th of May.


At Keokuk they would have been fitted out for the long overland journey on the Mormon Trail.  Unfortunately Selina never got to see the land of Zion, as she calls it in her diary.  The Emigrating Company’s journal entry for August 13 notes:  “Died at 1 oclock P.M. while we were stopping to our noon halt Selina Rayson Bray, daughter of the Revd Benjamin Rayson of Wakefield. Born at Wakefield Yorkshire England May 11th 1802.”  They buried her the next day, 66 yards north of the trail.  Based on the context of these entries, I think she died in what is now western Nebraska.

Her husband made it into the Utah Territory but not all the way to Salt Lake.  A petition in his estate papers explains that he left his trail-mates to go hunting on or about September 27 and never returned.


Page from the estate papers of Francis Jeffrey Bray found in the Utah Wills and Probate Records on


The Maybury Family of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland and Montreal, Quebec, Canada

A fairly large Y-DNA study has shown that our branch and most other Mayburys  descend from a common ancestor, now believed to be a John Maybury who married in Sussex, England in 1565.  Many of this man’s descendants for several generations were skilled ironworkers.  When records include an occupation, a 17th or 18th century Maybury is very likely to be described as a hammerman, fineryman, forgeman, ironmaster, or blacksmith.

While some of John Maybury’s descendants remained in England, others went to areas where their metalworking skills were in high demand, with some heading to the American colonies.  One William Maybury, born about 1645, was among a group of English forgemen who immigrated to County Kerry about 1670.  Though William is likely the progenitor of our 19th century Killarney Mayburys, the generations in between are somewhat murky due to the loss of so many Irish records.

My probable fourth great-grandfather William Maybury died in 1858.  His death notice in the Cork Examiner reads: “On Monday last, at a very advanced age, at Cloghereen, near Killarney, Mr. William Maybury, a respectable and trustworthy man, who had been confidentially employed on the Muckross estates under four successive generations of Colonel Herbert’s family.”

Muckross House

Muckross House, former home of the Herbert Family.  Photo by BBCLCD (own work) via Wikimedia Commons.

I am not sure if William was the first Maybury to work for the Herberts, but he was not the last:  Probable son James (below) and four of his sons also worked as land stewards and foresters to this family, whose former property now comprises much of Killarney National Park.  Among other duties they planted trees, cut and sold timber and reported wood poachers.  (A George Maybury, perhaps another son of William, is listed as gamekeeper for the Herberts in an 1835 newspaper.)

Maybury, James

James Maybury (c. 1799-1870)

The Herberts hosted the royal family during their visit to Kerry in August of 1861.  James Maybury and two of his sons were among the Herbert employees who rowed Queen Victoria across one of the lakes of Killarney so that she could view a stag hunt.

Maybury, James 1861 Queen Victoria (2)

Excerpt from an article about the Queen’s visit in the Cork Examiner 6 Sep 1861 found on

James Maybury and his wife Maria Shaw had at least ten children including my second great-grandfather George (1843-1927).  On 12 Oct 1871 George married Mary Jane McCarthy, daughter of Robert McCarthy, the late Harbour Master of Tralee.  George’s occupation is given as “Forrester on Herbert Estate” and his late father is also listed as a “Forrester.”

Maybury-McCarthy 1871 Marriage

George and Mary Jane had two daughters in Ireland before leaving for Montreal.  The family of four arrived in Quebec 8 Sep 1874 along with Mary Jane’s younger sister, Harriet McCarthy.  George’s older brother James and family were already established in Montreal, having immigrated in the mid 1860s, and most of George’s siblings would follow.  His widowed mother was in Montreal by 1878, dying there in 1888.

I think the Herbert family’s severe financial problems in the 1860s and 1870s–caused in part by their extravagant preparations for Queen Victoria’s visit–meant that they could no longer employ the Mayburys.  With few opportunities in Ireland and with so many fellow Kerrymen going to Quebec, emigration made sense.  In Montreal the Mayburys had to find new occupations.  George got work as a carter and then established his own trucking business, George Maybury & Co.   He and Mary Jane’s third daughter arrived 18 Sep 1876, and was my great-grandmother.


The Adventures of a Bergen County Kas

A kas or kast is a large Dutch-style linen cupboard, and the one pictured here is one of my favorite heirlooms.  It was made sometime in the 18th century in Bergen County, New Jersey of native red gum, probably for a member of the Zabriskie family.  American kasten are difficult to date because they were made in essentially the same style by many cabinetmakers over a long period, from the later 1600s to the early 1800s.  Furniture historians ascribe this conservatism to the relative cultural isolation of rural Dutch-American communities in New York and New Jersey.

Zabriskie Kas

Also kasten were often made for future brides to store up the linens they would need when setting up their own households.  Like a Norwegian wedding chest, they were not only cultural emblems but were also bound up with traditions surrounding marriage and proper housekeeping.  A newfangled one might be good for storing linens, but it wouldn’t make the same cultural or value statement.

When my mother decided to send it to me, we had a hard time figuring out how to ship it from Los Angeles to Cincinnati.  I thought one of the carriers whose trucks I often see would be a possibility, since their slogan is “We ship anything, anytime, anywhere,” but it turns out that “anything” does not include antiques.

We turned to a well-established furniture moving company, and had it shipped directly to Professional Furniture Service, Inc. in Amelia, Ohio for restoration.  They have done work for the Cincinnati Art Museum, so I trusted them to do a sensitive job.  Unfortunately the kas was only a small part of a larger load headed for New York City, and the furniture restoration shop was not open when the truck first came through Cincinnati, so the driver had to keep going.

It took a full month for the kas to make it back to Ohio, and though the moving company seemed to know approximately where it was most of the time, it was nerve-wracking for us to think of our precious, ancient heirloom wandering the country by itself, possibly getting bumped and bruised.  It spent some time in a warehouse in Brooklyn, closer to its place of origin than it had been since 1959.  Finally it arrived at the restorer and did not seem to have any new damage.

I mainly wanted the restorers to reattach one of the drawer knobs and make appropriate feet.  Almost all kasten have large, bulbous feet, and though you could see where they had originally been attached, ours had lost its feet at some point.  To figure out the correct shape and proportion for a Bergen County kas, I read American Kasten: The Dutch-Style Cupboards of New York and New Jersey 1650-1800, a publication of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Page 22 of this book shows a photo of a kas nearly identical to ours so I knew that similar feet would be appropriate.  The restorers did an excellent job of turning and finishing copies so that they look almost original.

Usually the cornice of a kas juts out at a 45 degree angle but the cornice on ours is more vertical.  The shapes of the moldings used on ours exactly match the diagram of typical Bergen County cornice moldings in the MMA’s book, but they have been mitered to form a less dramatic, less baroque crown.  I am not sure why that is, but a member of the Bergen County Historical Society told me that this was sometimes done so that the piece would fit within a particular spot in the home.   The cornice seems to be a slightly different color than the rest of the piece, and I wonder if it is not original.  Someday I would like a kas expert to examine it and tell me what they think.

In spite of this quirk we really enjoy having it in our home.