Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tenuous Irish Ties


I have never been able to claim any other native country other than my own.  I don’t have any ancestors who arrived in the United States that I know of – any later than 1810.  My ancestors didn’t come over and land on Ellis Island and watch the Statue of Liberty out their window – most of them came on the Mayflower or within a hundred years of the Mayflower.  Most of my families are English, German, and Dutch with a bit of Scottish and Irish thrown in for good measure.  I just wish I knew more about my Irish roots…since I have always been fascinated with Ireland.

My 4th great grandmother was Mary Jane Callison.  She was born in 1804 in Greenbrier VA (now WV) and died on 5 May 1854 on Mill Creek Mountain, Greenbrier Co., WV.  Mary married Robert Shawver on 25 Apr 1820 and they were the parents of nine children, including my 3rd great grandfather George William Shawver.  She was the daughter of Isaac Callison and Mary Cavendish who were both first generation descendants of Irish immigrants.  Sir James Callison, Sr was born about 1739 in Ballyhagen, Armagh Co., Ireland and was married to Elizabeth McCallister who was reputed to be born in North Ireland.  I have no idea as to what prompted them to come to American…It seems that most who came in those early days (first 150 years) came for opportunity or for religious freedom.  Can’t help if both might have been in play here…I know enough to say that if you were a Protestant and a Catholic and tried to marry in Ireland…there might have been problems.  That is just a guess of course…but it does make sense.  Mary Cavendish was also the daughter of William Hunter Cavendish.  Story goes that William Hunter Cavendish was the illegitimate son of Margaret and an aristocrat who was born in Ireland in 1740 and came over to America with his mother and sisters.  Strictly speaking, William Cavendish was born in Ireland, but more than likely was of English descent. 

My great grandmother always told my mother that she was of Scots-Irish descent.  Seeing that she was from the Appalachian area of the country…this is not a surprise.  Sophia Dollar Friddle was born in 1894 to John Dula Dollar and Buena Vista Bailey.  The Irish line is obviously the Baileys…but I sure wish there more bread crumbs to trace them to Ireland.  Jasper Bailey was Buena Vista’s father and from what I can tell, he was born in 1842 in Ohio and died near Abingdon, Washington Co., VA in 1928.  I know he was born in Ohio from census records – but I haven’t been able to locate him I the 1850 census with any faith in the accuracy nor have I been able to find him in the 1860 census.  He turns up in the 1870 census with three children and a wife named Margaret.  I have since found out that he was first married to a Martha Ellen Church.  However, I am very interested in Margaret – and this 1870 census is the only record that I have of her name.  Anyway, Margaret dies and he marries his ex-brother-in-law’s widow, Rachel McBride.  It is fairly obvious from Jasper’s last name that he was most likely from Irish descent and I am sure that my great grandmother heard that from him personally…I just wish I could figure out when and where his family came from with some sort of proof.

My last line with Irish roots is that of John Nathan Lyons.  I first found mention of him in my great great great grandfather’s death record.  John Nathan Lyons was born about 1790 in Ireland and probably arrived in the United States in 1810 or so…or at least before his marriage to Mary French in 1817.  He lived to be an old man of 90 years old and died in 1880 in Manchester, New Hampshire.  I have seen a record that lists his father as Timothy and his mother as Honora.  I have also seen a few other items that lead me to doubt this…

So here I am…searching in vain for the Irish ancestry that I always thought I had.  My claims are tenuous and unproven…and I wonder if I will ever find proof.  All I can do is what I have always done…keep searching.  Perhaps someday, I will find who Jasper Bailey’s parents were or why James Callison left Ireland and perhaps where John Nathan Lyons immigrated from in Ireland.  These are three separate branches on my family tree that as yet don’t have any connections beyond what I already have!  So, as I prepare the corn beef and cabbage and soda bread tomorrow on St. Patrick’s Day – I will celebrate those tenuous ties to my Irish heritage.