The Irish branch of my family tree has two main surnames on my mom’s side: Morahan and McGeever. I’d done some research on the Morahans that immigrated to Scranton, and I was surprised to see that very few of them were coal miners; the men were mostly all carpenters by trade. But then, last night I started digging into the McGeever side some more, and I found out that mining connections are indeed there on the Irish side of my family.
It all started for me with another search of the McGeever name on newspapers.com. They’re continually adding more papers to their site. I found a new-to-me and very sad article from 1892 about a 7-year-old girl who was killed by a runaway horse in Dunmore, PA.
Her name was Katie McGeever. On a September day at noon, she was walking home from school when a horse ran out of control– with tragic results. The article said her father was Edward McGeever of Grove Street in Dunmore. My 3rd-great-grandfather is named Edward McGeever, and he lived at Grove and Webster in Dunmore, according to city directories from that time. This must be his child.
From the Scranton Republican:
Such a sad thing to discover, but there was more to come. Searching on for news articles containing the McGeever name, I found this from 1895:
I have another 3rd great-grandfather, Joseph Groegler, who was also killed in a mine. I’m getting the feeling I’ll probably find this kind of tragedy in every branch of my family tree. I found several other McGeevers who worked in mines in Wilkes-Barre, PA, but I’m not sure yet exactly what their connections are (if any) to my McGeever line.
I was unable to locate an obituary that might shed some light on when Edward McGeever first arrived in America and who his parents are. One lead I have is that I share a few DNA matches with folks who descend from an Ann McGeaver, born about 1836 in Carracastle, Mayo, Ireland.
Back to the records, I was also shocked to learn that Edward McGeever and his wife, Catherine Reilly, had 15 children, but as of 1895, only eight of them were living. Child mortality rates were high back then, and every family on the census during those times seems to have lost at least one child. It’s tough to imagine what that was like.
In America in the late 19th century:
[T]he diseases of consequence were of an endemic infectious nature, the products of pathogens that were ever-present in communities and that took their greatest toll
among infants and young children.
These diseases were sufficiently dangerous to produce mortality levels that were, by present standards, appallingly high. Nearly two out of every ten children died before reaching their fifth birthday.
These stories show how tough times were for our ancestors in the late 19th century.
How I descend from Edward McGeever:
- Edward McGeever (1853 – 1895) Born in Ireland
My 3rd great-grandfather
Mary Ann McGeever (1875 – 1937) Born in Dunmore, PA
daughter of Edward McGeever
Agnes Morahan (1907 – 1978) Born in Dunmore, PA
daughter of Mary Ann McGeever
daughter of Agnes Morahan