Friday, January 17, 2014


In January 2014, Amy Johnson Crow of the Ancestry blog issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. The premise: write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor. The next week, write about a different ancestor. In 52 weeks, you’ll have taken a closer look at 52 people in your family tree… and maybe learned a little bit more about them in the process.

I have taken the challenge and started with Martha Anderson Moore last week.  This week I am talking about my paternal grandmother, Mamie McGuigan Mathews. 

Mamie McGuigan was born in 1875 in Middletown, Armagh, Ireland.  In 1897 she and her sister Alice McGuigan travelled to America and began a new and exciting life in New York City.

They really had no skills just as so many immigrates before them, but they got jobs in the Hotel industry.  They cleaned the rooms and had a very social life with all the other immigrants.

They left a very crowded home in Ireland.  Their mother, Ann Mallon McGuigan, died in 1883 and their father, Thomas McGuigan, remarried in 1886 to Catherine McNaughton.  In 1888 they had a son, Thomas who joined the family of 4 girls and 1 boy.  They lived in a very common house in the townland of Crossdall.  The photo below of the McGuigan farm and house was taken in the early 1900’s.

In 1909 Mamie married William J. Mathews.  They had met while working in a hotel, she was a cleaning maid and he was a hall boy.  The photo of Mamie below was taken around the time they were married.
Mamie and her husband, William (Willy) Mathews had 4 children, Thomas, Catherine, William and James (my father).  They lived in Manhattan, New York until 1933 when they moved to Richmond Hill, New York.  William died in 1943 and Mamie began to live with her children, ending up living most of the time with Catherine (Kay) Mathews Hurley. She died in May 1959 in Richmond Hill, New York.
Mamie only lived with us for a short while and I remember how she loved the soap operas on radio that she listened to faithfully while doing the ironing. 
Mamie very seldom spoke of her life in Ireland but did keep in touch with relatives there. One of her other sisters (Elizabeth McGugian Catior) came from Ireland a couple of years after Mamie.  I know of one niece who immigrated to America and stayed.  Most of the rest of the family stayed in Ireland.  Her half brother Thomas married in 1913 and had 10 children.  Peter McGugian, a grandchild of Thomas lives in the McGuigan house in Crossdall now.

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