CHAPTER VIII

 

 

IRISH CANADIAN ANCESTORS IN McGILLIVRAY TOWNSHIP   

 

THE KILGALLINS

 

 

Adare Drive on Highway No.4 marks the location just beyond and on the left, of the now vanished hamlet of Adare where in 1871 Patrick Kilgallin owned the McGillivray Adare Hotel

 

Patrick and Margaret Kilgallin

Patrick Kilgallin arrived in Canada and into the Huron and Middlesex County areas sometime in the early 1850's. The earliest known reference to him is contained in "History of the County of Middlesex, Canada  W.A.&C.L. Goodspeed Toronto 1889. A copy of page 600 from this reference appears below in an item describing the early history of Bornish in the township of West Williams, adjacent to McGillivray. Patrick's name is among those that Father Kerwin encountered on one of his last visits there ending in 1856. Recall that Father Kerwin was the parish priest for St. Peter's R.C. Mission from 1854 to 1856. This indicates that Patrick was an early resident/founder of Bornish, a place that he would eventually return to live with his family

Copied from "Goodspeed 1889" reference above

Patrick married Margaret Loughlin (John's daughter) on Feb 13,1858 at St. Peter's R.C. Mission church, witnessed by Patrick's brother Walter and Margaret's older sister Ellen. They are shown living and farming in McGillivray Township in the 1861 census, although their first child Mary was born in adjacent Stephen Township in 1859. She was followed by Catherine in1860, James in 1863, Annie in 1865 and Margaret in 1868

The family continued to live in the Township of McGillivray through 1871 when Patrick is listed as a hotel keeper in the census. He would have lived in the Hamlet of Adare and as we will see later was the owner and proprietor of the McGillivray Adare hotel.

Sometime around 1876 Patrick moved his family to a farm in the Township of West Williams, very near the hamlet of Bornish where he had briefly lived and worked many years before as we noted above, and Margaret gave birth there to a sixth child Eleanor  in 1880.

Margaret was an independent woman who was perhaps a little ahead of her time in terms of her rights. In 1881 Margaret filed a legal action against  the land they lived on, Lot 9 Concession 13. This action known as a Lis Pendens is to state that she had an interest in this land separate to that of Patrick. It was presumed that this action was brought about by the creation of Patrick's Will that left the land to their son James. The action was eventually heard in the High Court of Chancery Division for Property and on Jan 5, 1883 was awarded to Patrick who then appears to have released the deed to James. One possible explanation for Margaret's action is that in earlier land records the lot on which their hotel is on in the hamlet of Adare appears to be in her name, perhaps passed to her by her father John.

Patrick died Oct 20th 1892 at the age of 62, followed by Margaret on Feb. 4, 1900 aged 61. They are buried together in St. Columba Cemetery at Bornish.

Patrick and Margaret's headstone at St. Columba Cemetery, Bornish

 

The Kilgallins

Patrick Kilgallin was one of five brothers and sisters who moved to Canada from Ireland in the early 1850's period, and settled in the vicinity of McGillivray Township. Their point of origin is not known with certainty, one likely possibility being that they were part of a chain migration which primarily involved Tipperary Catholics recruited by the Canada Company for settlement in the Huron Tract. Please see Appendix A for map of Ireland. This migration was primarily targeted to the Townships of McGillivray and Biddulph and is documented in the book."Irish Migrants in the Canadas A New Approach" by Bruce S Elliott 1988. This migration is also referred to at length in "The Donnelly Album"by Ray Fazakas 1995, where reference is made to the arrival of the Donnelly's and other Catholics in the 1840's from North Tipperary. This text also refers to a somewhat later arrival in the 1850's another group of Catholics  in adjacent Stephen Township,  This latter group is the most likely as regards the Kilgallin's.

The oldest of the siblings was Thomas born in 1823, followed by Patrick 1830, then Walter born in 1831 . A sister Anne was next in 1834, followed by another sister Eleanor in 1846. Based on census searches it appears likely that the three men came to Canada first, followed later by Anne and Eleanor. The first census record of the Kilgallin's is in 1861 when Patrick and Walter are seen living together in McGillivray Township with their wives and one child each. It is interesting to note that Walter married Margaret's older sister Ellen on June 8 1859 again at St. Peter's.  This is the only record of Walter's existence available. It is assumed that he and his family moved to the U.S., likely Michigan which was very common at the time where  much employment was available in the lumbering industry. Thomas Kilgallin is buried at nearby Mount Carmel cemetery along with his wife Bridget. The community of Mount Carmel was at one time called Limerick, likely attesting to residents from this particular County of Ireland.

Anne Kilgallin's first record was in 1867 when she married Thomas Kearns on April 29th again in St. Peter's R.C.Mission church. Thomas was was farming in Bosanquet County near his brother Brian at that time. In 1871 as evidenced by the census, Thomas and Ann moved to a farm in West Williams at Concession ABCR  Lot 10 S1/2 to be nearer their church of choice St. Columba, to facilitate the education and religious instruction of their children.This information is contained in his obituary in 1912.

Thomas Kearns was a widower in 1867 when he married Anne, his first wife Sephronia dying at the age of 32 in 1866.Anne died in 1912 at age 86. They are buried at St. Columba along with his first wife and Eleanor Kilgallin, all commemorated by a single gravestone. Thomas had at least two children from his first marriage and it is believed a son Thomas with Anne.

Eleanor Kilgallin was presumed to be a sister, albeit quite a bit younger then the others, although possibly a niece and was born in Ireland in 1846. The timing of her journey to Canada is not known ,but thought to be in the early 1860;s probably with Anne. In the 1871 census she was living in the household of Brian Kearns in Bosanquet, and sometime later moved to live in the household of Ann and Thomas Kearns at Bornish She died in 1905 and is buried St. Columba as noted above.

The only information available regarding the parents of these Kilgallins is in the records of Anne's wedding in 1867 ,where her parents are listed as Charles Kilgallin and Mary Morin. There is a Charles Kilgallin aged 77 who died in1866 buried in St. Peter's R.C. Mission cemetery, along side one of Thomas Kilgallin's sons Charles who died at age 22 in 1880. The former is almost certainly great great grandfather Kilgallin who likely came to Canada after his wife died in Ireland ,as there is no burial record for Mary Morin  in Canada that could be found. The author has found no other record of Charles in Canada, the problem being his arrival and death likely falling between census's. The other Kilgallin marriage records make no reference to parents, this being the normal practice by the traveling priests of the time. Charles's grave in St. Peter's cemetery is shown below.

Broken stone in foreground had recorded inscription

Charles Kilgallen died Oct23, 1866 at 77 yrs.

 

Ages and death dates for those mentioned above and the Loughlin's earlier have been taken from cemetery transcription books available through the Middlesex Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society to which the author belongs.

 

Adare

In 1850 a little frame church was built on Lot 4 Con 1 on the London-Goderich road in the Township of Biddulph. This church known as St. Peter's R.C. Mission would soon become the centre piece of a thriving settlement which in 1857 was given the name Adare, which was a place in County Limerick and adds a further alternative possibility as to the origination of the Kilgallin's  The church site was chosen to be beside a Catholic cemetery where the first burial had taken place in 1843.  

 Most of the settlement was built across the road from the church in the Township of McGillivray. In June 1854 a Post Office was opened and by 1964 the population had increased to one hundred. There were three churches, Roman Catholic, Wesleyan Methodist and Presbyterian. There were two public schools and a Catholic Separate school which was located across the road from St. Peters Roman Catholic Church. The following excerpt copied from "Biddulph a Local History Pioneers to the Present" published in 2001, describes the industrial and transportation importance of Adare, and the Patrick Kilgallin connection.

Reference to the McGillivray Adare Hotel on Lot 5 Con.1

McGillivray Township owned by Patrick Kilgallin

 

For awhile Adare thrived as a key centre of local commerce, but by the early 1870's was in decline and the closing of the Post Office in 1877 would have been a major blow. Today only the cemetery, along with a road sign marking the location of Adare Drive (McGillivray Line 5) remain to show people where the community was once located.

The history of Adare is described in more detail in the Biddulph history referred to above. Also in "History of the Township of McGillivray" 1992 by The McGillivray Township History Group and further in Jennifer Grainger's "Vanished Villages of Middlesex"2002.

 

The "Donnelly" Connection

The story of the Donnelly's is extrinsically linked with the history of the Township of Biddulph and the Town of Lucan Several books chronicle the record including The Black Donnelly's, The Donnelly's Must Die and most importantly in our case The Donnelly Album by Ray Fazakas 1995.

History records the origins of this family as North Tipperary, coming to Canada in the 1840's and settling along the so called Roman Line in Biddulph along with other Catholic and Protestant migrants from that location, bringing with them an apparent tradition of violence and faction fighting. Catholics against Protestants and among Catholics themselves, driven in part at least by the harsh penal laws imposed by the British which set families with the same name against each other. Most of the Catholics settled along the same Concession Line, which became known as the "Roman Line"in reference to their Catholicism.

              St Patrick's church in Lucan on Roman Line  Junction of Roman Line &Hwy.4

The story starts with the father James Donnelly who killed a neighbour at a lumbering bee in 1857 and was sentenced to seven years in Kingston, temporarily leaving a family of seven boys and a girl to be raised by his wife. It continues after his eventual release from jail, into the 1860's and 70's through a growing series of violent acts involving his boys, barn burnings, crops destroyed, and vandalism, and especially sabotage of other stage coach lines which ran between London and Exeter. The Donnelly sons were very active in the stage coach business from 1872 to 1880 with several incarnations, partnerships and companies and the business was highly competitive, with several other competing lines involved.

Fear built up in and around the Town of Lucan over more than a decade was finally exorcised in 1880 with brutal murder, when a large howling and drunken mob shot, beat and burned to death five members of the Donnelly family including the mother, father, two sons and a cousin, burning their house on the Roman Line to the ground after midnight on a dark night in March.

The crime was sensationalized across North America as was the ensuing trial. No convictions were ever obtained!

This brings us to the first connection to the Kilgallin's On page 12 of The Donnelly Album. Author Ray Fazakas cites an example of the faction fighting between the Irish  in Huron County in 1854. The example involves Patrick and Thomas Gilgallin(sic) as seen below

Excerpt from The Donnelly Album

The footnote quotes Huron Court Records 1854(UWO). Several attempts were made by the Author to obtain access to these records from the University of Western Ontario in London and The Huron County Archives in Goderich to see what else might be in them. It seems these records have gone back and forth between these two institutions over the years as well as with Ray Fazakas and have either been lost track of or disappeared. One staff member volunteered to contact author Fazakas on the Authors behalf without any result.

The second connection relates to Patrick Kilgallin's ownership of the McGuillivray Adare hotel at Adare between the late 1860's and mid 1870's. As we saw in the excerpt from the Biddulph history , the hotel was a stopping point on the daily London-Clinton/Exeter stage run and some of these stagecoaches were operated by the Donnelly sons. Patrick was the same generation as these boys and would almost certainly have known them.

 

Bornish

At the corner of Centre Road which marks the boundary between East and West Williams Townships in Middlesex County and Concession Line 12 (Bornish Road) lies the remains of the hamlet of Bornish.Today this consists of St. Columba Roman Catholic Church and a beautifully kept cemetery.

The community was founded in 1849 by three  boat loads of Scottish Catholics who came from Bornish on the west shore of the Isle of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. These people were victims of the Scottish "Clearances" wherein the Scottish landlord who owned the land these people were living on ordered them to move on very short notice and organized ships to take them to the new world in Canada.

Their first priority was to build a church and the first St. Columba was erected from logs in 1851. As time went on a Separate school was built, a store, a blacksmith shop, a hotel and by 1874 a Post Office. Around 1876 Patrick Kilgallin moved his family to a farm in West Williams W1/2 Lot 9 Con13, from his hotel in Adare. The lot was located about one mile from the church and the family remained there until Patrick and Margaret's passing, the farm passing to their son James who remained there until about 1920 when the farm was sold.

By the turn of the century Bornish had begun to decline with the school finally closing in 1962. The current brick church was built in 1902 and as of the year 2000 Sunday mass was still being said there.

In 1999 a St. Columba Church reunion was held and a book "Bornish, Ontario 1849-1999"" from age to age "by Donald Read was published. Also in 1999 the Corporation of the Township of West Williams published a history of the township entitled "West William Township A Proud Heritage" The Author prepared pieces on the Patrick Kilgallin family  which are included in both of these histories. More information is available on Bornish in the two histories mentioned, as well as in "Vanished Villages of Middlesex".
 

St. Columba Church at Bornish in 1998 with cemetery behind   

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