Down Memory Lane, February 26 2021

Jim's great-grandfather William McTaggart, grandson of the William who emigrated from Campbeltown in 1822, left, and his wife, Ida, right.
Jim's great-grandfather William McTaggart, grandson of the William who emigrated from Campbeltown in 1822, left, and his wife, Ida, right.

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American man researches Kintyre ancestors

An American man is hoping Courier readers may be able to help him in his search for information about his Kintyre ancestors.

Jim Cunningham, from Las Vegas, has spent years compiling information about his McTaggart relatives who emigrated to the USA from Campbeltown in the 1820s.

He knows a fair bit about those who moved over the pond, but has hit ‘a dead end’ when it comes to finding out about his ancestors who lived in Kintyre prior to those who emigrated.

Jim’s great-great-great-grandfather, William McTaggart, was born in Southend on May 1, 1790, to Margaret Brown and Edward McTaggart.

He married Jane Reed/Reid on August 1, 1818, in Caoranbeg in the parish of Southend. The couple had two sons while living in Kintyre – Jim’s great-great-grandfather Hugh on December 1, 1819; and Edward on January 1, 1822.

The family emigrated from Campbeltown in 1822 when Hugh was about three-and-a-half years old and Edward was an infant. They eventually settled in what was to become West Virginia, where William farmed land along the banks of the Ohio River.

In America, the couple welcomed three more children – Elizabeth, born on July 1, 1824; William Jnr, born on November 30, 1832; and Margaret, born on June 9, 1837.

William’s brother Edward followed him to the States in 1839, moving alongside him in West Virginia. Another brother, Archibald, is reported to have emigrated to Wisconsin in 1845.

William died of of tuberculosis, aged 72, on December 10, 1862, three months after his wife died from typhoid fever.

Hugh McTaggart, who was just three when the family emigrated to America.
Hugh McTaggart, who was just three when the family emigrated to America.

Jim, who was an educator in Las Vegas for the past 27 years and recently retired, said researching his McTaggart ancestry was one of his ‘favourite hobbies’. He thinks he takes his love of genealogy from his late father, Robert E Cunningham, who recorded his own family history in a publication titled The McTaggart Families of
Pleasants County, West Virginia.

Robert wrote that, according to the Scots Ancestry Research Society, four place names were associated with the family’s McTaggart ancestors in Kintyre, which were: Achinlene – also spelled Achinglene – Caoranbeg, Knocknow and Glenahervie.

Robert added: ‘These were presumably small villages or crofts where the families lived at various times before their emigrations. I have obtained Ordnance Survey maps of Great Britain in every scale available, including ones that show highly detailed features of the Parish of Southend, and also a few 19th century maps of the Kintyre peninsula. Of the four place names above that were associated with these McTaggart families, only Glenahervie can still be found on any of these maps.’

Jim told the Courier: ‘My father tried his best to uncover a link to any source of McTaggarts prior to William emigrating in 1822 but to no avail. My sister Candace and I continue working on finding Scottish relatives, which brings me to contacting your paper.’

Dicinda Phillips McTaggart, wife of Hugh McTaggart, and Jim's great-great-grandmother.
Dicinda Phillips McTaggart, wife of Hugh McTaggart, and Jim’s great-great-grandmother.

He is hoping to get in touch with anyone who may be able to assist in locating any of his McTaggart relatives.

Jim said: ‘I enjoy going back to my McTaggart ancestral land in West Virginia to visit the cemeteries, and look forward to visiting Scotland as soon as travel resumes.

‘I am so amazed that with all of the male McTaggarts in my family’s history, there is no longer one living relative carrying the McTaggart name.’

Anyone who feels they may be able to provide Jim with any information or assist him in his research can contact him by emailing