Tracing Our Irish Ancestors

St Patrick’s Day is over for this year, but it isn’t too late to get in touch with your Irish roots. The last few years I’ve really gotten hooked on genealogy and I’m learning more about my roots to Ireland.
ancestry dna map
One of my family lines is Kennedy that goes back to Ireland in the 1700s. I also have Scots-Irish ancestors on my mother’s side, the McGhee line. More recently, I’m traced my father’s Joy line back far enough that it appears to cross to Ireland where it was originally Joyce.
Perhaps you have ancestors from Ireland. More and more information is being made available on the Internet to research your family history. Take advantage of it. Watch a  YouTube video features genealogy expert Helen Kelly who provides some advice on tracing your Irish roots.
smilebox mcghee family photos

Graphic created with our family photos and Smilebox.

Read More about Our Roots in Ireland in the Following Pages

  • Scotch-Irish Ancestry: My Family Roots – I learned about the Scotch-Irish while researching my McGhee and Kennedy family roots. It’s a heritage that you can be proud to claim. Learn more about these immigrants to America and their background.
  • Clarence McGhee – My Grandfather’s WWI Years – My grandfather served in France in the first world war. Learn about his experience and the family memorabilia from this momentous time in his life. I’m sure it parallels that of other young men of the time.
  • Ruth Vining McGhee – A tribute to Ruth Vining McGhee, my grandmother. She grew up in Oklahoma and Kansas. She married a young man just as he went off to WWI. This is their story.
  • Bertha McGhee – Missionary from Kansas – This is Clarence McGhee’s sister who dedicated her life to ministering to Indian children in New Mexico and later in Alaska.
  • The Kennedy Family Desk – My sister researched this family heirloom that traveled with the pioneers from Pennsylvania to Kansas in the 1800s.

1918 Postcard from France

As World War I raged in France, Clarence McGhee sent a postcard home to his bride, Ruth. It is part of the family memorabilia that his daughter, Gail Lee Martin, preserved and passed along to the next generation.

In sorting the papers, cards, and photos, I found myself having a hard time reading his handwriting. “I wonder if it is as hot in Tyro ? or is — ? This has been the warmest day without ? ? this is the picture of the church I was in the other Sunday. (can’t read the rest.)

Clarence’s granddaughter, Karen, came to the rescue. She deciphered the handwriting. Here’s what the postcard says,
“Somewhere in France. July 16, –18. Dear Ruth: I wonder if it as hot in Tyro today as it is here. This has been the warmest day we have had yet. This is the picture of the church I was in the other Sunday. This is just the center for there is another section on each side. Good by dear. As ever, Clarence”

It looks like he didn’t have to pay postage. “Soldiers Mail” is in the top right corner where the stamp usually goes.
I feel so fortunate that Mom saved this card that her father sent to her mother.  Wish we knew where the church was located in France and if it survived the war. 

Mom Would Have Liked Her

Now and then, I meet someone in real life or online who has much in common with my mom, Gail Lee Martin. I find myself wishing that they could meet each other. Recently, I met one such lady, Edna Melcher. Too bad that Edna is way out west in Idaho, while I’m on the east coast in Orlando.

We could have a cozy chat about all her interesting activities. Like Mom and Dad, she makes wagon wheel rugs. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, she shared photos of her rug making and the finished projects. I’ll share her tips in another post as she is anxious to pass along the rug making techniques.

Edna’s Facebook page is sprinkled with pictures of her crafts, recipes for yummy foods like chicken and dumplings, and other nostalgic activities. She makes jelly, plum applesauce, and chocolate caramel cookies. She’s quite a gardener too, growing colorful ears of Indian corn, some rhubarb, and tomatoes.

edna melcher jams

Edna Melcher’s pretty jars of jam.

Although Edna is more my generation than Mom’s, I’m sure they would have hit it off and spent an afternoon sharing tips for making the wagon wheel rugs and swapping favorite jam recipes. Although she can’t meet Mom in person, I sent her links for this blog so she could enjoy Mom’s recipes and crafts.

Remembering the Old Wood Stove

Guest Post by Gail’s daughter, Karen.

“I remember using these to shovel out the ashes from our wood stove. They haven’t changed at all in 60 (yikes!) years. That part of heating with a wood stove was fun. You shoveled the ashes out of a little door at the bottom.

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We had a 2-story late-19th-century farmhouse. The wood stove in the living room didn’t help much with the upstairs bedrooms!

We moved there when I was 7 and lived there until we moved to town when I was in junior high. We all had electric blankets, but we only went upstairs when it was time for bed during the winter. I remember there being ice on the inside of the windows. Good times.

I remember huddling around that stove as we hastily put on our clothes in the morning. Brrr!”

That memory triggered her sister, Ginger, to add, “in the evening, we’d sit around the stove and prop our feet as close as we could to get warm. If you smelled singed leather, you were too close.”

Karen wrote, “and thanks to Mom saving papers for each of us kids, here’s a drawing I did of OUR actual stove from the Greene farm (proving early on that I wasn’t going to be an artist!) But the teacher did give me an A on it. ”

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Sister, Cindy added her memories, “I remember the year we got the little red wagon for Christmas and thinking at the time; weren’t we all a little old for such a gift, except for Shannon. That idea sounded good, and we thought, cool! we can take turns pulling her around in it.We quickly found out what the little red wagon was for…., hauling frozen rabbit water bowl and firewood up to the house. As an adult, I understand that loading it on the wagon was a lot better than carrying a stack in my arms.”