My mother was an O’Neill and her mother a Foley, the family claiming strong Irish roots. I have generally struggled with tracing these alleged maternal Irish roots. Most records documenting my Irish ancestors state that they were Irish but list no county nor specific location in Ireland to help direct my research.
I have, however discovered that my mother wasn’t as Irish as she might have thought. In fact, there appears to be a good dose of Scottish blood in her family. One set of my maternal third great-grandparents were born in Scotland – Ross and Cromarty, specifically. Finlay and Flora McRae immigrated to Canada around the early part of 1814 and settled in the area around present-day Glengarry, Ontario. They arrived with four children and had another five in Canada, the youngest of whom, Catherine, is my second great-grandmother.
One son, Colin married Margaret McRae (pictured above right in a photo that was published at the time of her death by the Windsor Star newspaper). Colin and Margaret, my second great-grandaunt and uncle, married around 1851 and had ten children between 1852 and 1870. Colin died November 12, 1894 of diabetes, according to his death registration. At the time the family was living in the Town of Eldon in Victoria County.
Eventually, Margaret would find her way further west and into Michigan where she appears in the 1910 US Census living with her son Christopher in Mount Pleasant City, Isabella County. At some point, Margaret moved back east of the St. Clair River into Ontario and settled into a home at 4 Askins Avenue, Sandwich (now part of Windsor), Essex County, Ontario. It was here that on July 1st, 1927 that Margaret passed away.
The Windsor Star newspaper the following day, July 2nd, 1927, memorialized her in an obituary entitled “Oldest Resident of Canada Dies on Nation’s Birthday.” Margaret’s death registration lists her age at the time of death as 107 years, 5 months and 4 days! Oh, what history she would have witnessed.