John McGee, Kilkeel to Cleveland

Edited April 3, 2016: see comment below with additional information about John McGee, his ancestry, and family.

John McGee was born October 7, 1875, most likely in Tullyframe Townland, Kilkeel District, County Down, Ireland, the son of James McGee and Mary O'Hare. He was baptized that same day; the record is on the Kilkeel Parish Register. On September 12, 1910, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, he married Susan Brennan. John died January 19, 1953, in Cleveland.

Tullyframe sand quarry

Tullyframe sand quarry

John arrived in Cleveland by 1905. In the next year's city directory he is listed as a laborer living at 4007 E 89th. Like many of the people I have found in the Newburgh neighborhood, he didn't move very far away from where he started. In 1907 and 1908 he was at 9116 Harvard, and in 1909 and 1910 he was rooming in my great grandfather's household at 4025 East 89th. His death record listed him as a retired melter at American Steel and Wire.

John made a trip back to Ireland and returned on October 17, 1908 into New York aboard the SS Mauretania. His manifest information gives us his townland and county of origin: It states that he was born in Kilkeel and that his closest relative in Ireland was his mother in Tullyframe.

John's marriage information gives us his parents' names. He is described as a 31 year old laborer, living at 9208 Crane Ave, born in Ireland, the son of James McGee and Mary O'Hare. Neither he nor his wife Susan had been married before. They were apparently married at St. Catherine's church. James J Quinn, a Catholic priest, performed the ceremony; he is listed at 3443 East 93rd in the 1910 Census.That is the address of St. Catherine's.

John and Susan lived at 9208 Crane, 10104 Aetna, and 9916 Aetna before buying a home at 3596 East 106th about 1924. They remained there until they died, John in 1953 and Susan in 1955. They had no children.

John is buried in Calvary Cemetery, and Susan likely is also.

John's death notice said that he was survived by two sisters: Mrs. John Joy and Mrs. Thomas Powers, both of New York City.  I couldn't find any more information on John's sisters.

For more information on John's wife, Susan Brennan, see Susan Brennan, Kilfeaghan to Cleveland.


Dear Ed

I recently came across your website by accident while searching for something else.

I was intrigued by the inclusion of John McGee from Tullyframe in your records as I have been researching my own family background and there is a connection with him. I have learned for the first time that he emigrated and ended his days in Ohio.

Indeed I am astonished by the amount of information you have collected and impressed by the very interesting way it has been presented. As I have been writing my own family history, I appreciate the effort that is required to research past records and I'm sure I share your frustration when gaps cannot be filled.

I don't wish to over-burden you with more information which you may find irrelevant but I can give you some more detail on John's background. My late father was born in the same area although I now live in the small seaside resort of Newcastle, County Down, which is about 20 miles from there.

I have kept the McGee spelling in this information although we use the Magee variation but, as you know, both versions are found in old records as well as Maghee and McGhee.

John's parents James McGee and Mary O'Hare [variants O'Hear, O'Haire or without the O] married in Kilkeel on 7th February 1869 witnessed by Pat Quinn [neighbour presumably] and Hugh O'Hare [Mary's brother probably and most likely to be the same named as sponsor at John's christening]. James's father was Patrick, mother unknown and Mary's father was Neal [or Neil], again mother unknown.

I have found records of 4 children: Catherine [b. 11 Feb 1870], Mary [21 May 1871], Patrick [28 Nov 1872] and John [7 Oct 1875]. With a 3-year gap between the last two it is possible that a fifth child was born.

The family is missing from the 1901 and 1911 Census in Ireland and that was a puzzle to me until I saw your information which would seem to imply that the whole family emigrated to America before 1901, perhaps by way of England. However I have not been able to find evidence of that. On I found William E Powers [b. Cincinnati, Ohio] who on 10 Apr 1928 married Rose Simon. His parents were given as Thomas J Powers and Mary McGee, so that might tie in with the Mrs Powers mentioned in John's obituary.

[My note: The mother of this William E Powers consistently says she was born in Ohio. So she is probably not the sister of John Magee who married Susan Brennan in Cleveland.]

As you know, James McGee was born in Tullyframe townland but the small cluster of houses where the McGee family lived had the Gaelic name of Bar an dá Shruth meaning 'top of two rivers'. This was anglicised and my father pronounced it as Bardarough.

The James McGee mentioned above had a first cousin also called James [to avoid confusion!], so they had a common grandfather most likely named Patrick, Thomas or James. This other James [father also James] was my great-grandfather and, strangely, he married two days after his cousin on 9th Feb 1869 to neighbour Kate Trainor [variants Treanor, Traynor] whose father was Bernard. They had 3 children: my grandfather Thomas [1870-1927], John [1872-73] and James, of course, [1874-1950]. This John survived for just over 9 months. There were no more children as Kate died one month after the birth of James.

My grandfather Thomas married Mary McVeigh [variants McVeagh, McVey, McVay] from Tullyframe in 1908 and they had 3 girls and 2 boys in the family including my father, also named Thomas [1914-1973].

We also have family connections with Killowen as Annie - the sister of my grandmother, Mary McVeigh, mentioned above – married Felix O'Rourke [variants Rourke, Rorke, O'Rorke] from Ballintur. Their youngest child – Nellie – reached her 100th birthday in January of this year. You have this family listed on your site. Felix [1872-1950] was the only surviving child of 3; parents were Thomas [1831-1911] and Catherine Sloan [1835-1925] from Tullyframe who married in 1867 witnessed by Thomas Sloan, Ballintur & Alice Sloan [Nicky], Tullyframe. There were 9 children: Mary [1903-?], Thomas [1904-1992], John [1906-? Australia], Kathleen [1908-1965], Peter [1910-1911], James [1911-1977], Annie [1912-1990], Rosaleen [1913-2012] and Nellie already mentioned.

It's a small world, as the saying goes, and in this tiny part of it we are nearly all related somehow if you could research back far enough. As you are aware, the records do not go much beyond 1830 and, as so often happens, we did not make good use of the memories of the older generations while they were alive.

Thomas Magee


The image from Kilkeel can be found at and is copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


Kilkeel parish registers, Ellis Island manifest, Ohio death record, Cleveland Necrology File, US Censuses. See the Cleveland Families tree for details.