Mary Ann Neidigh & James Joseph McGhee

October 28, 1796 in Treanamullin, Stranorlar, County Donegal, Ireland the first child of Margaret Stewart and Thomas McGhee was born, James Joseph McGhee.  Across the ocean on July 9, 1806 in Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania the first child of Susannah Klee and Jacob Neidigh was born, Anna Maria Neidigh.  Later Anna Maria goes by the more Americanized, Mary Ann.

Family legend says that James Joseph, along with two brothers, Adam, and Thomas, left Ireland for New York in 18191.  No documentation on James Joseph McGhee’s immigration has been found yet.

By 1826 James Joseph McGhee is in Centre County, Pennsylvania when he marries  Mary Ann Neidigh2.  By the 1830 census, James and Mary Ann have three young daughters and are living in Haines Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania3.  There is also one male in his 20s living with the family.  Perhaps it is Mary Ann’s brother David, but he is accounted for in the next household of Jacob Neidigh.  Perhaps it is the elusive Adam McGhee.

Mary Ann Neidigh and James Joseph McGhee have seven children while living in Centre County, Pennsylvania.

  1. Margaret Ann born December 3, 1827, married William Corel about 1856.
  2. Susannah Clay born December 25, 1828, married James Pickens Corel August 20, 1857.
  3. Mary Elizabeth born May 12, 1830.
  4. Adam Neidigh born June 29, 1833.
  5. Thomas Stewart born October 28, 1834.
  6. John Jacob born April 9, 1836, married Olivia Gillespie Corel April 19, 1860.
  7. James Stewart born February 27, 1838; died June 25, 1839.

Illinois

James McGhee reportedly arrived in Stephenson County, Illinois in 18384,5.  In June 1839, the rest of James Joseph’s family arrives from Ireland, and later in the month, Mary Ann and James Joseph lose their youngest child, James Stewart.  In October of that same year, Mary Ann’s father, Jacob Neidigh, dies after moving his family to Stephenson County, Illinois.

Once they are settled in Stephenson County, Illinois, Mary Ann and James Joseph add five more children to their family.

  1. Jane Lydia born June 16, 1840.
  2. Sarah Caldwell born April 27, 1844.
  3. Catherine born August 25, 1845.
  4. Nancy born March 31, 1848.
  5. Mary M. born September 7, 1849.

James McGee is found on the 1840 census in Centre Precinct, Stephenson County, Illinois, in a household of nine6.  The ages all agree with James, Mary Ann, Margaret Ann, Susannah Clay, Mary Elizabeth, Adam Neidigh, Thomas Stewart, and John Jacob, but there is an additional male in his 20s with the family once more.

On June 2, 1842, James Joseph McGhee purchased 493.36 acres of land in Stephenson County, Illinois at $1.25 an acre for a total of $616.797,8,9,10,11,12.  James’ father and brother, Thomas and Caldwell, as well as his brothers-in-law, also purchased land in Stephenson County during the 1840s.

There are 13 people in the James Joseph McGhee household in 1850 in Lancaster, Stephenson County, Illinois13.  There must have been some serious distractions when the enumerator reached the McGhee household on August 29, 1850 because some of the information is just a bit off.  Along with Mary Ann and James Joseph is James’ brother, Thomas McGhee working as a laborer.  The remaining 10 are the children of Mary and James, three sons and seven daughters, although the census taker would have you think that there was only one son with nine daughters.  At first glance, there could be confusion with one name in particular, Adonida.  After looking at the name for a moment and sounding it out, I realized that the enumerator did the best he could after being given the name “Adam Neidigh”.  This confusion could explain why Adam was listed as a female, but I cannot come up with a justification for “Jacob N” being listed as a female!

Kansas

In May of 1855 James Joseph McGhee moved his family further west to Douglas County, Kansas14.  James McGee took an active role in helping to define the Kansas Territory, where tensions between the Pro-Slavery Missourians and the Free-State settlers were already high by the time McGhee’s arrived.  Two elections had been held in the Territory by May 1855, and both elections had extremely high turnouts, from the Missourians traveling over the state line to cast their votes to ensure Pro-Slavery candidates would be successful.  This “Bogus Legislature” had its first session in Pawnee, Kansas on July 1, 185515.  During this first session, the Pro-Slavery members ousted from the session the few Free-State men that had been elected16.  July 11, 1855 the Free-State activists of Lawrence called for a Territory-wide convention to be held on August 14, 1855.  During this first convention of the Free-State activists called for an election to be held on August 25th to elect representatives for a general convention to be held at Big Springs, Kansas on September 5, 185517.  James McGhee was one of the delegates from the First District at the Big Springs Convention that formed the Free State Party18.  James McGhee also attended the Topeka Convention that began October 23, 1855 and was one of the signers of the Topeka Constitution that was sent to Congress requesting statehood on April 7, 185619.  Although at the elections of December 15, 1855, the voters of the Kansas Territory strongly approved this Topeka Convention, as did the U.S. House of Representative, it was rejected by the United States Senate, leading Congress to reject this Constitution as well as the request for Kansas to be admitted to the Union20.

Just as many of the Free-Staters in Kansas, James McGhee faced retaliation from the Missouri Border Ruffians.  In March 1859, James testified that on September 14, 1856 men from General Reed’s Missouri Army approached his farm and took property valued at $658.  On March 18, 1859 Susan “Coral”, James’ daughter, confirms the loss that James sustained, and adds that she was at her home, within eyesight of her father’s farm when she witnessed that her father and brothers had to flee for their lives from the Missourians.  She continued that the Missourians shot a calf and that a stack of about 200 bushels of oats was destroyed, and they took off with two yoke of oxen, two “milch” cows, a pony, and a saddle and bridle.  Both James and Susan testified that the damages caused by this incident was worth about $200.  Miles McGhee testifies that Susan “Coral” is his sister, that her statements are true, and that he was at Susan’s home and also witnessed the Missourians destroying his father’s property.  The final testimony on this issue came from Adam N. McGhee who stated he was at his father’s home during this incident.  Adam added that there were 24 bushels sown and that all the crops were destroyed.  He also estimated that the actual damages were at least $250.  The men who presided over this testimony, Samuel A. Kingman, Edward Hoogland, and Henry J. Adams, did not allow for any damages to be paid to James McGhee, but they did allow him his full claim for the property taken and destroyed of $658, as well as interest for the two and a half years at 6 percent, for an additional $98.7021.

If you have been reading carefully, you may see a new name, Miles McGhee.  Miles testifies on March 18, 1856 that he is a brother of Susan “Coral.”  Then on March 21, when testifying for Jacob D. Herrington, Miles testifies that he is 15 years old22.  It is not completely certain who this Miles McGhee is, but it is possible that he may be Miles O’Brien, who in 1850 was 7 years old living with a 74 year old Miles O’Brien in Rock Run, Stephenson County, Illinois.

By the 1860 census, the oldest of Mary Ann and James Joseph’s children have married and are all living in Wakarusa Township, Douglas County, Kansas, as is Mary Ann and James Joseph with their five youngest daughters, Lydia, Sarah, Catherine, Mary, and Nancy.  There is also a 16 year old male listed as “M. McGee” (most likely Miles McGhee mentioned above) living with the family23.

Catherine, third from the youngest daughter of Mary Ann Neidigh and James Joseph McGhee, died on March 6, 1863 at 18 years, 6 months, and 9 days.  She is buried at the McGee family plot at Oak Hill Cemetery in Douglas County, Kansas.  Catherine’s name is listed on the north side of the McGee monument.  Because the land for Oak Hill Cemetery was not purchased by the city of Lawrence until 186524, Catherine was most likely first buried at the Pioneer Cemetery on Mount Oread and moved at a later date.

In 1865 Lydia, Sarah, and Nancy are still living with Mary Ann and James Joseph, but youngest daughter Mary M. is not shown.  She doesn’t marry until 1869 and I have not been able to locate her in the Kansas Census.  The McGee family is living next door to the James Pickens and Susannah Clay McGee Corel family at this time in Wakarusa Township, Douglas County, Kansas25.  Adam Neidigh McGee has moved his family to Eudora, and Mary Elizabeth McGee Kostenbader has moved her family to Lawrence, but the rest of the McGee children are still located in Wakarusa Township, and all are still in Douglas County, Kansas.

Tragedy strikes the McGee’s once more when their grandson, John J. McGee, son of Adam Neidigh McGee dies at one and a half years on September 16, 1868.  Not quite a year later Adam Neidigh passed away from consumption on July 16, 186926.  Both are buried at the McGee plot in Oak Hill Cemetery, Douglas County, Kansas.  After the death of their son, Mary Ann and James Joseph take in Adam’s oldest son, James C. McGee27.

Mary Ann Neidigh and James Joseph McGhee c. 1870

Mary Ann Neidigh and James Joseph McGhee c. 1870

July 14, 1872 James Joseph McGee faced perhaps the saddest hardship, the loss of his wife of 46 years, Mary Ann Neidigh McGee.  Mary Ann was buried at the family plot, with her children and grandson in Oak Hill Cemetery.  After the death of Mary Ann, James Joseph and grandson, James C., went to live with James’ son, John Jacob.  On the 1875 Kansas Census, James Joseph is simply listed as ‘Grand Pa’28.

On August 22, 1876, the Republican Daily Journal in Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas reported:

Mr. James McGee, one of the oldest settlers of Douglas County, and father of our two farmer friends, J. J. and T. S. McGee, departed this life on Saturday, August 19th. Mr. McGee came to this country in 1855 and took an active part in the struggles that tried men’s souls. He was a delegate to the Big Springs convention and also a member of the Free State Legislature, disbanded by the troops at Topeka. He died at the advanced age of seventy-nine years and ten months, of sheer old age, with no disease. Without regret and without pain he joined ‘the innumerable caravan that moves to the pale realms of shade.’ His respected sons have the sympathy of a large community.

James Joseph McGee was laid to rest next to his wife at Oak Hill Cemetery, Douglas County, Kansas.

  1. Philip F. McGee.  Letter to Lois F. McGee Moorman, daughter of  Nathan B. McGee, dated January 17, 1967 from Philip F. McGee, son of Richard Oney McGee.  Digital copy held by Paula K. Hawk
  2. Ancestry.com. Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: This unique collection of records was extracted from a variety of sources including family group sheets and electronic databases. Originally, the information was derived from an array of materials including pedigree charts, family history articles, querie. Source number: 1741.007; Source type: Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents; Number of Pages: 1. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=worldmarr_ga&h=810167&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accesed 3/20/2007)
  3. Ancestry.com. 1830 United States Federal Census (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifth Census of the United States, 1830. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1830. M19, 201 rolls. Year: 1830; Census Place: Haines, Centre, Pennsylvania; Roll: 165; Page: 420. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1830usfedcenancestry&h=600159&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 3/20/2007)
  4. Compiled by M. H. Tilden. “Buckeye Township” The History of Stephenson County, Illinois containing a History of the County, its Cities, Towns, &c. Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880.  Page 536. <http://www.archive.org/details/historyofstephen00tild> (accessed 4/15/2009)
  5. Fulwider, Addison L. History of Stephenson County Illinois: A Record of its Settlement, Organization and Three Quarters of a Century Progress.  Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1910. Page 341. <http://www.archive.org/details/historyofstephenv1fulw> (accessed 4/15/2009)
  6. Ancestry.com 1840 United States Federal Census (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixth Census of the United States, 1840. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1840. M704, 580 rolls. Year: 1840; Census Place: , Stephenson, Illinois; Roll: 70; Page: 238. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1840usfedcenancestry&h=1973177&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 3/23/2009)
  7. Illinois State Archives. Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database. Illinois State Archives, Reference Unit, Margaret Cross Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756, Telephone: (217) 782-3556, Fax: (217) 524-3930. <http://www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/PublicLandSalesNameServlet?purchaserNumber=0027666> (accessed 4/16/2009)
  8. Illinois State Archives. Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database. Illinois State Archives, Reference Unit, Margaret Cross Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756, Telephone: (217) 782-3556, Fax: (217) 524-3930. <http://www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/PublicLandSalesNameServlet?purchaserNumber=0029852> (accessed 4/16/2009)
  9. Illinois State Archives. Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database. Illinois State Archives, Reference Unit, Margaret Cross Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756, Telephone: (217) 782-3556, Fax: (217) 524-3930. <http://www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/PublicLandSalesNameServlet?purchaserNumber=0002272> (accessed 4/16/2009)
  10. Illinois State Archives. Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database. Illinois State Archives, Reference Unit, Margaret Cross Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756, Telephone: (217) 782-3556, Fax: (217) 524-3930. <http://www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/PublicLandSalesNameServlet?purchaserNumber=0004578> (accessed 4/16/2009)
  11. Illinois State Archives. Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database. Illinois State Archives, Reference Unit, Margaret Cross Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756, Telephone: (217) 782-3556, Fax: (217) 524-3930. <http://www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/PublicLandSalesNameServlet?purchaserNumber=0026561> (accessed 4/16/2009)
  12. Illinois State Archives. Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database. Illinois State Archives, Reference Unit, Margaret Cross Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, Illinois 62756, Telephone: (217) 782-3556, Fax: (217) 524-3930. <http://www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/PublicLandSalesNameServlet?purchaserNumber=0028773> (accessed 4/16/2009)
  13. Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432, 1,009 rolls. Year: 1850; Census Place: Lancaster, Stephenson, Illinois; Roll: M432_129; Page: 267; Image: 144. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1850usfedcenancestry&h=16606730&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 2/16/2007)
  14. Ancestry.com. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: 1859 Kansas Territory Census. Microfilm reel K-1. Kansas State Historical Society. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=ksstatecen&h=2781925&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 4/20/2009)
  15. Kansas State Historical Society and University of Kansas. “Territorial Kansas Timeline, 1854-1861.” Territorial Kansas Online. <http://www.territorialkansasonline.org/~imlskto/cgi-bin/index.php?SCREEN=timeline> (accessed 4/23/2009)
  16. “Bogus Legislature.” Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. … / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward. <http://skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/archives/1912/b/bogus_legislature.html> (accessed 4/24/2009)
  17. Goodin, Joel K.  Election of Delegates to the Free State Convention. August 1855.  Item Number: 90318 ; Call Number: Port Vault K 329 Ex31f 1855; KSHS Identifier: DaRT ID: 9031.Kansas Historical Society. Kansas Memory. <http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/90318/page/1> (accessed 4/23/2009)
  18. Cutler, William G.  “The Big Springs Convention.” Territorial History, Part 19. History of the State of Kansas. Chicago, Illinois, A.T. Andreas, 1883.  Transcribed by EKIS, Dec 1997. <http://www.kancoll.org/books/cutler/terrhist/terrhist-p19.html#THE_BIG_SPRINGS_CONVENTION> (accessed 4/23/2009)
  19. Free State Legislature. Papers Purporting to be The memorial of Senators and Representatives of the State of Kansas and the Constitution of the State of Kansas. United States House of Representatives, 34th Congress, 1st Session; Serial Set Volume 867, Session Volume 2, Report H, Misc. Document 82.  Washington: 1856. Genealogy Bank. <www.genealogybank.com> (accessed 4/23/2009)
  20. Kansas State Historical Society. “Topeka Constitution.” Kansas State Historical Society website. Kansas Historical Society, 6425 SW Sixth Avenue, Topeka, KS 66615-1099. <http://www.kshs.org/research/collections/documents/online/topekaconstitution.htm> (accessed 4/26/2009)
  21. Kansas Claims (to accompany Bill H.R. No. 1017). March 2, 1861. United States House of Representatives, 36th Congress, 2nd Session; Serial Set Volume 1106, Session Volume 3, Report No. 104, Pages 300-303.  Washington: 1861. Genealogy Bank. <www.genealogybank.com> (accessed 4/23/2009)
  22. Kansas Claims (to accompany Bill H.R. No. 1017). March 2, 1861. United States House of Representatives, 36th Congress, 2nd Session; Serial Set Volume 1106, Session Volume 3, Report No. 104, Pages 302, 435.  Washington: 1861. Genealogy Bank. <www.genealogybank.com> (accessed 4/23/2009)
  23. Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Eighth Census of the United States, 1860. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1860. M653, 1,438 rolls. Year: 1860; Census Place: Wakarusa, Douglas, Kansas Territory; Roll: M653_349; Page: 0; Image: 57. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1860usfedcenancestry&h=44026276&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 3/26/2009)
  24. City of Lawrence. “Oak Hill Cemetery” City of Lawrence website. © 2009 City of Lawrence, City Hall, 6 E. 6th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044, (785) 832-3000, cityhall@ci.lawrence.ks.us <http://www.lawrenceks.org/lprd/parks/oakhillcemetery> (accessed 4/22/2009)
  25. Ancestry.com.. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: 1865 Kansas State Census. Microfilm reels K-1 – K-8. Kansas State Historical Society. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=ksstatecen&h=3870976&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 4/16/2009)
  26. Ancestry.com. U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1880 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: United States. Non-population Census Schedules for Kansas, 1850-1880. T1130, rolls 1, 3, and 42-44. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. Census Place: Wakarusa, Douglas, Kansas; Roll: T1130_3. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=usmortality&h=1830373&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 4/22/2009)
  27. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003. Original data: 1870. United States. Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Washington, D.C. National Archives and Records Administration. M593, RG29, 1,761 rolls. Year: 1870; Census Place: Wakarusa, Douglas, Kansas ; Roll: M593. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1870usfedcen&h=21883044&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 4/22/2009)
  28. Ancestry.com.. Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925 (database on-line). Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: 1875 Kansas State Census. Microfilm reels K-1 – K-20. Kansas State Historical Society. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=ksstatecen&h=3776136&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 4/22/2009)

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