Friday, 20 March 2009

Pittsburg, Pensylvania

I am trying to build up a 'Clan Archive' in two ways, first by acquiring copies of documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates, Wills, &c. The second way is to collect photographs both of people and of Memorial Inscriptions. These latter of course are normally on gravestones. The one I came across this week heads today's blog, but is I confess a complete mystery to me.  Clearly it reads 'Margaret McElhago, 1803 - 1875', who was either born into or married into a McElhago family. However, although I have records of 33 McElhagos, I have no Margaret!  The gravestone is to be found in Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburg, Pensylvania, USA.

I have only one other, rather remote, clan reference to Pensylvania.  One of the late eighteenth century centres of the clan was a place called Carnmoney, half way between Ballyclare and Belfast in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.  We can assume that the very rare name McHago is a contraction of either McIlhago or McElhago and there was a very early Helen McHago born in Carnmoney about 1690. She married James Millikin, a member of Ballyclare Presbyterian Church. They married in Carnmoney on 26th May 1713. Now there are two reference to McHagos in America. The first is to a Samuel McHago who was one of the witnesses to a Quaker Will in New York City, dated 18th September 1777 (proved on 18th April 1780). There is also a 19th Century Edward McHago who was one of three 'hired hands' employed by a farmer in Washington, Cass, Iowa in 1880.  Edward was 21 years old and had been born in Virginia in 1859 of an Irish father and (wait for it...) an American mother from Pensylvania. Were the American McHagos originally from Carnmoney? Were they related to the McElhago family to which Margaret on the gravestone belonged?  These are only remote possibilities but at this time I have no other clues to who Margaret might have been.

P.S. I've just realised that Margaret could have been a sibling of the three McElhago brothers to whom I referred in this blog on 7th February. James, Samuel and Robert were born in 1791, 3 and 6 respectively. Margaret, born in 1803, could have been their 'baby' sister. We know that James and Samuel, and possibly Robert, were seafarers and in all probability went to America and could well have taken Margaret as a passenger, though as yet I haven't found her on an extant passenger list. Maybe she just fell in love with her 'new' country and stayed there.  

1 comment:

  1. The Pittsburg Gazette on the 4 Feb 1876 published that Margaret McElhagy aged 72 had died on 2 February. Either the paper of the grave is wrong, most likely the paper.