Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday's Photo/Timothy McGarr, AKA "The Snooty One"


     Today's photo is not of the best quality, but it's the only one I could find.  In young adulthood, Timothy McGarr worked for the Associated Press going on to become private secretary to Roscoe Conkling, US Senator.  Tim rose in New York State politics to become secretary of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.  I knew that a man of such prominence must have had numerous photos taken over the course of his career, and we here at EA headquarters did not rest until we found this one in an obscure book online. 

     Timothy began life in much reduced circumstances in Auburn, NY.  His parents, John McGarr and Mary Kelly, were Irish immigrants who married in Auburn and immediately began a family.  Timothy was their eighth child, to be followed by two more.  His father died when Timothy was ten years old and his mother when he was thirteen.  After that his oldest brother Richard raised him and his siblings, quite a responsibility for a young man of twenty four.

    Timothy was briefly mentioned in a blog of mine from November of 2015 concerning discrimination against Catholics in 19th century America, which noted his father-in-law's alarm that his daughter had married an Irish Catholic.  What I left out of that blog was that Tim's father-in-law made no effort to hide his disgust over his child's marriage, writing in a family history-- "(T.E. McGarr) is said to have been educated, in part at least, for a Roman Catholic priest; and it seems the veriest irony of fate that I, having had fear and detestation of Roman Catholicism bred in my very bones, and, since I arrived at years of discretion and understanding, having ever regarded the Roman Catholic Church as being, in all respects and without exception, the greatest calamity that ever befell the human race, should, despite myself, be thus connected with the unclean thing."  I hope his daughter slapped him.

     About now you're probably wondering where the label, "the snooty one", came from.  While researching the McGarrs on I made contact with a descendant of this McGarr line.  In her possession was an old letter packed with family lore, obviously written in response to another long ago family researcher's questions, which she generously shared with me.  This is the same letter that confirmed my hunch that the three children buried in an Alabama cemetery were indeed the children of Timothy's sister Catherine.

     The letter talks about the usual family happenings, in "Grandpa McGarr's" family, covering several of Timothy's siblings, then it comes to Tim himself-- "Tim, the real snooty one who was Commissioner of Lunacy of the State of New York and must have made quite a bundle."

     So there we are.  Was Tim really snooty?  Or was the writer a tad bit jealous of his success and affluence?  Motivations not likely to be found in typical genealogy records, but then who thought I'd discover Tim's in-law's bigotry in a book online?  I'm very interested in this McGarr line because my theory is that Tim's father John McGarr, the immigrant, was the brother of my Daniel McGarr who remained in Ballyraggan, County Kildare.  A possible link made more intriguing by shared DNA, but that's a story for another blog...


  1. LOL - I'd say he probably was a bit snooty, Ellie, and 'forgot' his roots in favor of his new-found friends, once he achieved success. It's great though, despite the bigotry, he could still rise to such a prestigious position - it couldn't have happened back in Ireland.

    1. Well, I have to admit he does look a bit snooty in that photo ;)