Wednesday, 30 May 2012

From Sloop to Passenger Liner

I have put a comment on my blog for 6 November 2011 concerning the sloop 'Industry'. This blog is however about a quite different ship, 'The Aquitania'. I have records of ships' passenger lists and also records of Border Crossings from Canada to the United States for two people on the 'Aquitania' who appear to be connected, though I don't know how!

George McIlhagga, who was born in Northern Ireland about 1900 sailed on the PS Aquitania from Southampton, England, arriving at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 26th February 1947. He crossed the border to St. Alban's, Vermont in the United States. Exactly a month later he returned to the United Kingdom, on the same ship, arriving at Southampton.

Why did he make these journeys? Was it to prove to himself, and to other family members, that the destination of St. Albans was suitable for 19 year old Elizabeth McIlhagga who was to arrive there on 10th April 1947, having also sailed from Southampton? Her birth date was estimated as 1928. Although she, like George, said that her nationality was Irish, she was born in Scotland. So was there a family relationship between George and Elizabeth?

Was Elizabeth George's daughter? The only birth record I have for a George in 1900 is for George Robinson McIlhagga who was indeed born in Northern Ireland to Samuel Robinson McIlhagga and Jane McNeice. However, I have no independent evidence that he ever went to America, though he did take out a US Patent for a Razor Blade! And I have no evidence that he had a daughter Elizabeth, or indeed any children, though he did marry Kathleen Trueick.

Nor do I know if any part of George's family went to live in Scotland. The only Elizabeth known to me to have been born in Scotland in 1928 was born in Bathgate, and I think she might have been the youngest daughter of James McIlhagga and Jean Walker Wallace. However, the birth date I have for her is 1936, some eight years different, though I have to say that is not from a reliable source. According to a nephew of this Elizabeth she did go to live in the States. She married Larry McKenna and lived in St. Louis. But I'm afraid I don't know of any George McIlhagga linked to this family. Perhaps a reader of this blog may have a clue which will solve this little mystery?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Galway to 'Aeneas'

I have added a brief comment to the blog entry for 14 May 2010 concerning the name McHaggart.

I have had a note from Jan in Australia (one of our blog followers) commenting on 7 Apr 2012 'Galway middle name' to say she believes this is her grandfather Samuel McIlhagger (son of George McIlhagger and Mary Jane Boyd) who was born in Galway 1886. She kindly attached a copy of his medal card from the National Archives. Somehow a place of birth had become a middle name - not an infrequent thing to happen in Gaelic circles to distinguish people from each other, though I hardly think this could have been the case with Samuel!

Jan has also attached a couple of photos of TSS Aeneas (see above) on which Samuel served as a Merchant Seaman. She says the ship was his pride and joy and that the photo always hung on the wall at home. Thank you, Jan. And I wonder how many other clan family photos there are out there which we would all love to see? Please send them along to me for future blogs.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Calgary Obituary

As I have mentioned before, I have (for the past 10 years) been a member of The Guild of One Name Studies. One of the 'privileges' is that all members have a guild e-mail address which anyone can find on the Guild website. It is on one's 'profile' page where the details of the McIlhagga One-Name Study can be found. Yesterday for the first time in ten years someone has contacted me using this address. Jill from Canada has kindly sent me the following 'Obituary' from the Calgary Herald. I know I referred to 'Jack' when he died, but there are one or two things in this Obituary that may not be known, so I am pleased to include it here:

McILHAGGA, John Owens "Jack" September 5, 1928 - June 9, 2011 Jack McIlhagga, beloved husband of Myrna McIlhagga of Calgary, went to be with his Lord and Saviour, on Thursday, June 9, 2011 at the age of 82 years. Jack was born in Elnora, AB and raised in Calgary. He had worked with Midwest Surveys and retired from Dicksons Food Services. He spent many years volunteering at the Mustard Seed and enjoyed gardening, and was an avid sports fan. Jack is survived by his loving wife Myrna; two daughters, Jodi McIlhagga and Jill (Troy) Hickling; three grandchildren, Danika, Tessa and Benjamin. Jack is also survived by Myrna's family, numerous nieces and nephews as well as his adopted family, the Doerksens. He was predeceased by his parents Catherine and Joseph, two brothers Ross and Allan. Funeral Services will be held at the Beddington Pentecostal Church (16 Bermuda Drive N.W.) on Monday, June 13, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. Forward condolences through . If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Mustard Seed Street Ministry, 102 - 11 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 0X5 (Telephone 403-269-1319, ), or the Missions Fund c/o Beddington Pentecostal Church, 16 Bermuda Drive N.W., Calgary, AB T3K 1H7 (Telephone 403-275-7133). In living memory of Jack McIlhagga, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park, Cochrane. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Bank Manager

Way back in March 2010 I wrote a blog about James Spence McIlhagga of Ballymena and I made a classic mistake. My mistake was to assume that there was only one James McIlhagga in Ballymena! James Spence McIlhagga was a train driver and I wrongly assumed that he had had a dramatic career change and had become a Bank Manager! Recent correspondence with his granddaughter has confirmed that this was incorrect. He retired as a train driver. He did, as I said, become an Alderman in the town of Ballymena, and as I have subsequently noted in another blog, he was one of the four founders of Ballymena Football Club.

So who was James McIlhagga listed in the 1940 Ulster Directory as Manager of the Belfast Savings Bank in the town? I do not have access to that Directory so couldn't check that I had got my facts right, so I did something I have not done before. For some years I have been a member of the North of Ireland Family History Society which kindly offers the service to its members of looking up the documents which they have in their library. I knew they had the 1940 Directory and I initially asked for a look up of the Belfast Savings Bank in Balfast. No McIlhagga! Then the volunteer went back and looked to see if the Bank had a branch in Ballymena. It had, and the manager was none other than James McIlhagga.

However the volunteer went the second mile. He was still there in the directories of 1945 and 1951, in the Bryant Street Branch, and in 1945 his surname was spelled McIlhagger. This alerted me to the possibility which I'm now sure is true, that this 'second' Ballymena James is none other than the James McIlhagger I have found who later was working for the Bank of Ireland in The Isle of Man. He settled there and died on the Island in 1968. He was the third son of David McIlhagger and Elizabeth Sherwood. He married Ethel Neville and had two sons. I express my sincere thanks to the North of Ireland Family History Society.