A dose of Irish, among other things

Posted on March 17, 2008 by


This is a bit off track from the Civil War memory line of writing, but bear with me and I’ll get back to that.

I couldn’t help but post about Irish ancestry today. Yes, I suppose one could say it’s one of those “ancestral obsession days.” Many of those who have Irish ties go crazy and most of those who don’t … well, they find Irish as a state of mind. On a personal note, St. Patrick’s Day makes my mind wander to thoughts of two branches in my ancestral tree – to the Dorraugh family and the Quigley family.

The Dorraugh family, as best as I can tell, found themselves in Virginia sometime in the early 1800s. I haven’t been able to narrow things down as to how, when or why they came across, but my Dorraugh branch quickly made the Old Dominion their home while others from the same line appear to have continued into what is now West Virginia (and later further into the west). My line of Virginia Dorraughs ended up in the service of the Confederacy. In fact, I have a distant uncle who (a member of Co. D, 7th Virginia Cavalry, the Laurel Brigade) recalled, in later years, being on the picket line when word came of Lee’s surrender.

As for the Quigley family, that line is traceable a little further back – at least to a James Quigley, who was born in the early 1700s. Though able to go back at least 100 years more than my Dorraugh line, as with the Doraughs, I can’t find “when, where or why” when it comes to the origins of the Quigley family in Ireland. I think the most interesting thing about this tie to the Quigleys is actually that my given name, Robert, is descended through the family from James Quigley’s son, Robert Quigley, who was born in 1744. It’s a strange descent through the family, but the given name was actually passed along from daughters to their sons. Curiously, I think few realized in my family that the name had come so far, but I can trace a clear line of descent from Robert Quigley through his daughter to her son, Robert McKinney; from Robert McKinney, through his daughter to Robert Blocker Moore. Though this son died at a young age in the mid 1850s, the name wasn’t lost, but was reestablished by a brother, John Howard Moore, in one of Headstone of Robert Quigleyhis sons, Robert Moore, who was my great-grandfather. When I realized that the name had made its way down the family tree to me, I couldn’t resist the opportunity, on a beautiful day in late April 2006, to visit the grave of the first (that I know of so far) of those to bear the name Robert. The trip from Virginia through the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania to Shippensburg and the Middle Spring Presbyterian Church Cemetery near Southampton Township was one that still holds very pleasant memories for me.

All of this ancestral chatter makes me think a little more on the idea of historical memory and how it evolves in all of us. I admit, I was quick to be bitten by the family tree bug in my youth and I greatly enjoy the practice still today. However, when does ancestral identity become so dominating that it redefines sense of purpose in who we are and what we do? For that matter, when does identification to ancestral ties lead some people to look back at historical events with historical blinders?

On another note, I see that Civil War Journal is back on the History Channel on Tuesday mornings again and tomorrow’s episode is about Alexander Gardner; that’s probably one of the better ones. Despite the good news. I have to say that I am also disappointed that my annual dose of The Quiet Man can’t be had. I can’t find the movie anywhere today among the 200 + channels I have on Dish Network!