Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Irish Ancestors

Thomas McNeill , my 4th great grandfather, was born in 1810  in Killyglen Townland, Grangekillglen, County Antrim, Ireland. He was the son of Andrew McNeill and Elizabeth McCombs. 

Left,  A map of Antrim, Ireland which borders Lake Lough Neagh, the biggest lake in Ireland on one side and the Irish Sea on the other. Right, a photo of the Lake looking from Antrim.

At age 23, Thomas McNeill married Margaret McWilliams and they had 5 children born in Ireland, Eliza, Jane, Robert, William and Margaret. Their daughter Margaret is my direct line as she grew up to marry Grissom Stuart Edwards,  my Grandma Nancy Margaret Edwards( Matherly's) father but more about that later. This line starts with Andrew McNeill but this story starts with Thomas.  Here are the descendants of Thomas McNeil and Margaret McWilliams

Andrew McNeill (1763 - 1851)
my 4th Great Grandfather
 Thomas McNeill Sr (1810 - 1879)

is my 3rd great grandfather

Margaret McNeill (1844 - )

daughter of Thomas McNeill Sr (my 2nd grandmother)

Grissom Stewart Edwards (1875 - 1967)

son of Margaret McNeill ( my great grandfather)

Nancy Margaret Edwards (1898 - 1992)

daughter of Grissom Stewart Edwards (my grandmother)

Betty Ann Matherly (1934 - 1995)

daughter of Nancy Margaret Edwards (my mother)

Darnell Mitchell Baker

daughter of Betty Ann Matherly

Margaret, born in 1844 was the last child born in Ireland  to Thomas McNeill and wife Margaret before they came to America.  Trust me , I know that's 3 Margarets in 4 generations.  They were in Abbeville, South Carolina in the 1850 Census and daughter Margaret was listed as 6 years old. Based on that documented Census info, they came to America between 1845 and 1849.   I have yet to determine exactly what ship they came on, but that is at the top of my "To Do" List.  Many people from Northern Ireland left from the port in Belfast, Ireland which is not too far from Antrim, Ireland.
This is the type of passenger ship typically used in the early 19th century to transport immigrants to the US, can you just imagine crossing the ocean on a ship like that?  What an adventure that must have been!

In my research of the area of Northern Ireland where both Thomas and Margaret McNeill were from I came across the most magnificent images of the area of Antrim. I can't believe anyone would ever want to leave such a beautiful place. 
Antrim Glens Coastline of Ireland

Dunluce Castle, County of Antrim, Ireland

Glens of Antrim, Ireland

 I mean who wouldn't want to live there?  I have always wanted to visit Ireland because I've known all my life of my Irish Heritage but now it has  really moved up pretty high on the Bucket List, like right at the top!  A girl, can dream, right? A trip there would truly be a dream come true.

I will share more on Thomas and Margaret's life in Abbeville, South Carolina in a future post but for now here is a video that really shows the beauty of this magical place and the history about the area.  I hope you will take the time to watch it and will enjoy it as much as I did. I would love to know what you think of it in the comments below.

Here is a cool fact.  Shane's Castle built in 1345, is a ruined castle near Randalstown in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Castle is used extensively in the HBO series Game of Thrones.

 I could be easily obsessed with Ireland.  I feel lucky to have some real connection to such a beautiful place.


  1. Hi cousin, I am a descendent of Andrew McNeill of Killyglen...and live about 3 miles from where they lived.

    Andy Wilson.

  2. Good evening. I randomly did a search for an ancestor, Thomas McNeill, and your site came up. It looks as though we're cousins! Apparently, Thomas and Margaret had a few children born in Abbeville, SC after they sailed over from Ireland. It looks as though the last son born to them (when Thomas was 50) was James Henry McNeill, who was my great-grandfather. James Henry McNeill married Irene Woodhurst and their first son was my grandfather, Fred Oscar McNeill. Fred married Winnie Dew and their first son, James Radner McNeil, was my dad! I am Randal James McNeill. My wife and I have 3 daughters and one son - Jameson. I see your email address here on your site so I will try to contact you that way. Thanks for these fascinating photos and information!