Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Missing McGarrs Located

Monona County

     I've spent the past few days looking at military records, so I figured I might as well see if any new ones had been added for my McGarr family who lost three members in the American Civil War, and sure enough there was John McGarr.  John enlisted at Watervliet, New York in Albany County in 1866, after the close of the Civil War that had claimed his oldest brother Daniel.  I had some difficulty reading the place name in the record, but after pulling up a list of towns and villages in New York I was able to figure it out, I think it was the "rvl" in the center of Watervliet that was throwing me, along with the poor handwriting.

     Although John enlisted many miles from Auburn, New York where I would have expected to find him in 1866, further along in the record his birthplace was given and it was indeed Auburn.  I'm not sure how John's line fits into my McGarr tree, but I'm confident there is a relation.  All the McGarrs who emigrated to Auburn were from Kildare or from just across the county line in Wicklow.

     Once I discovered John's enlistment, I grew curious about his family so I turned to the wonderful research done by Evelyn Twining on the Auburn McGarrs back in the late 1970's.  I copied it twelve years ago on a trip to the historian's office in Auburn where it now resides and as far as I'm concerned it's the definitive work on the Auburn McGarr family to date. It's all the more amazing because there were no indexed census or church records back then.  In it I found John's family; his father John Sr. from Ireland and his mother Hannah Kilfoyle , (or sometimes Guilfoyle), also from Ireland along with his brothers and sisters.  

     Evelyn hadn't been able to determine what became of this family, other than the eldest son dying in the war and several other children dying young and being buried in Auburn.  Of course, Evelyn didn't have the internet when she compiled her research, so she couldn't have known John Jr. traveled far from home and joined the military or that his parents ultimately traveled over one thousand miles to settle in Iowa.

     I stumbled upon that fact by happy accident.  I did a Google search for <"John McGarr" Auburn NY> and a history of Monona County Iowa, containing the following came up--

     It was very compelling that John came to town the same year as Philip O'Neal, a man from Auburn.  Looking again at Evelyn's research I noticed the marriage of John McGarr Sr.'s daughter Eliza to Philip O'Neal, and saw that he did have a son named William.  I also found some burial records for John Sr., Hannah and their daughter Eliza McGarr O'Neal in the local Catholic cemetery.  Eliza died in 1871, just a year after arriving in Iowa.  The last sentence in the above excerpt makes it appear her husband Philip got himself into a bind after her death.  

     The presence of those pertinent names along with the mention of the city of Auburn convinces me that this is the John McGarr family that went missing from Auburn after the 1865 NY census.  I'm not yet sure what became of John Jr. but I'm working on it.  I wish I could tell Evelyn, but I'm sure she herself has passed on by now, when I copied it I was told she was elderly and confined to a nursing home. Her fantastic research lives on however, and inspires me to get mine together in a form another human being could comprehend.  I've discovered quite alot about this family over the years, and someday I'd like my folder next to hers in the historian's office.


  1. Well researched Ellie, I love when all the loose ends start to come together.

    1. Me too Dara! Thanks for commenting.