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Kintyre emigrant’s role in founding US village
Last week’s Down Memory Lane feature asked Courier readers if they could help American man Jim Cunningham in his search for information about his Kintyre ancestors who emigrated to the USA in the 1800s.
Jim’s great-great-great-grandparents, William and Jane McTaggart, and their two young sons, who were from Southend, emigrated from Campbeltown in 1822, moving to West Virginia in the United States.
William’s brother Edward followed him to West Virginia, emigrating in 1839 with his wife Mary, née McGeachy. Edward and Mary were married in Knocknow, Southend, on October 7 1827.
Their son, also named Edward, who was born in Southend on August 26 1833, travelled from West Virginia to Washington in the 1860s and was one of the founders of a settlement which remains to this day.
The village was founded in 1869 when pioneers settled on its tide-swept flats and began to reclaim the land from the sea.
‘Washington Ed’, as he became known to the West Virginia McTaggarts, moved to the area in 1870, and built a homestead on 640 acres of land, floating the timber for his home across the land at high tide.
As others moved to the area and the settlement expanded, it was decided that a post office was required. Ed called a meeting at his home on March 26 1876 to discuss the matter, with 46 settlers in attendance.
A petition was drawn up and signed, asking for the creation of a post office with Ed as postmaster. He suggested naming the settlement Edison in honour of the inventor Thomas Edison.
This led to the establishment in 1880 of a trading post on land donated by Ed. In around 1882, Edison’s first hotel was built on a small section of Ed’s land adjoining that on which the store stood.
In 1878, Ed married Mary Judson whose parents, Phoebe and Holden Judson, founded the city of Lynden in Washington. Ed and Mary had two children, a son and a daughter.
Their son, also named Edward, farmed the family’s land from 1914 until 1930 before moving to San Francisco in 1932, and later to Seattle.
While Jim and his relatives know a fair bit about those who moved over the pond, they are keen to find out more about their ancestors who lived in Kintyre prior to those who emigrated.
Anyone who is able to assist with their research, can contact Jim by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org