Monday, November 12, 2012

Mystery Monday - How are the Purcell's of Utica related to the McGraw's of Syracuse ?

This is a mystery I haven't solved, yet.

We know that Patrick Purcell arrived in Utica, NY about 1850 and lived their until his death.  When he arrived the family lore indicates that he lived with some relatives.  But who?

We know that at least three of his sisters also arrived from Ireland and lived in central NY, but I suspect they arrived a few years after he became established.

To be honest, I hadn't spent a lot of time contemplating this mystery until I came upon a newspaper that mentioned that Miss Margaret Purcell and Mrs John Lynch (Patrick's sister, Julia Purcell) attended the ordination of Reverend John McGrath of Syracuse in Troy in May, 1896.

This caught my attention.  Troy is about 90 miles from Utica and a multi-day journey by horse or possibly a half day by train (assuming there was a train that connected Utica and Troy).  My point being is that not a trip someone would undertake lightly.   Not likely you would make that kind of trip for a friend.  Most likely a relative...probably a first cousin at most.

I conducted some research on Rev John McGrath.  Nothing.

I tried to find the ordination class of Troy in 1896 and did uncover that the Utica NY paper had published the name incorrectly.  It wasn't Rev. John McGrath it was John McGraw.   It is my understanding that in Irish that McGrath is pronounced like McGraw and this may explain why John's family adopted the McGraw spelling.

I have been able to uncover a little bit about John McGraw's family, but not the connection between the two families.



John McGraw (1870-1935) was son of Philip McGraw (1844-1922) and Margaret (last name unknown).  Both Philip and Margaret were born in Ireland, so it seems likely that the Purcell family is related to Margaret's family.  Not only did John become a priest, but so did his brother, James (1876-1938).  In addition, John had two sisters:  Mary McGraw and Margaret McGraw.

Margaret died unmarried inn 1951.

Mary McGraw (1875 - 1941) married David Burke in 1895.  Together they had 11 children:  David, Thomas, Edward, Francis, Mary, Joseph, Ambrose, Alice, Vincent, Philip and Margaret.

Another indication of the relationship between the McGraws and the Purcells is from an Syracuse newspaper personal section which stated, "Miss Ellen Purcell (Patrick Purcell's daughter) of Utica is the guest of Miss Margaret McGraw".

My recent efforts to trace the Purcell family back to their roots in Tipperary, Ireland.  As you will note from previous posts on the Purcell family, they are said to be from Upperchurch, near Thurles in Tipperary.  However, when reaching out to genealogical resources in that area of Tipperary, they haven't had any luck finding any records for Patrick's family.  

I have turned some of my research efforts to find where Philip McGraw and his wife Margaret may be from in Ireland to see if this provides more hints of the origins of the Utica, NY Purcells.

If you have any information about the McGraw's of Syracuse, please email me.

The search continues....







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