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I am researching my Great Great Grandparents from Monaghan County Ireland.  I am looking to find out about their parents, siblings and other relations in Ireland.  Below is the informaiton I have.

Mary McMahon was born in January 1838 in Co. Monaghan, Ireland, her grave marker states "Native of Co. Monaghan, Ireland.   A wealthy family in San Francisco named Rairden's, sponsered her.  She came around the horn in a steamer and landed in San Francisco when she was around 16 years old (1854 - 1855).  She stayed with the Rairden family as a "domestic" for a couple of years and later made her way to the mining town of Chinese Camp and worked in the kitchen of the mining camp.  There she met Thomas Smith whom she married at Chinese Camp.  Per her death certificate, her parents names were Michael McMahon and Judith Griffin.  One of her brother James McMahon born in 1836 also came to california and another brother John McMahon also came to the USA but they lost track.  I am wondering why Mary at 16 years old came to the US by herself.  What happened to her parents and/or other family members?  I am also wondering about the family that sponsered her in San Francisco, some type of a Catholic organization that helped children get out of Ireland during the famine years?

Thomas Smith was born in Co. Monaghan, Ireland in 1824 and came to New York by ship arount 1850.  He signed up with General Fremont and came west, across the plains with him.  Mining was big in the west at that time and he ended up in a mining camp at Chinese Camp (Tuolumne Co.). I have not been able to get a death or marriage Certificate to confirm his parents names.  Thomas had two brothers James McMahon and Michael McMahon that joined him in California.  Thomas and Mary were both from Co. Monaghan ireland but I don't know if they knew each other prior to arriving in the USA.

I know both Mary McMahon and Thomas Smith were Catholic, but I have no idea of the parish or townland.

Any further information would be very much appreciated.






Sunday 13th March 2022, 10:33PM

Message Board Replies

  • Liz:

    I searched the subscription site Roots Ireland and did not find any McMahon baptismal records for children of Michael McMahon and Judith Griffin in Co. Monaghan.  I did find a Maria McMahon baptized September 19 1838 in the Kilcornan RC parish in Co. Limerick with father Michael McMahon and mother Johanna Griffin. (Johanna and Judith were sometimes used interchangeably). I mention this record as a lead in case you might get info that Mary McMahon was not from Co. Monaghan ( despite the grave marker notation).

    Have you considerd DNA testing? Possibly you will get some matches that might help with your McMahons and Smith families.

    Roger McDonnell

    Castlemore Roscommon, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Monday 14th March 2022, 01:25PM
  • Thank you for taking the time to look on Roots Ireland on my behalf!  I also saw this same record you provided above on where I am a member.  I have done the DNA testing around 6 months ago, but unfortunately no matches with the McMahon and Smith families.  I will keep searching/inquiring and hopefull find a foot in the door.

    Thanks again!



    Tuesday 15th March 2022, 10:52PM