The Lady from Duneany
Pattie Morgan, USA
I will tell you of my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Scott. Hers is a life that bridges two centuries – and two countries.
Born in Duneany on 27 November 1872, Lizzie was the first of ten children born to James Scott and Mary Calderwood. The Ireland in which Lizzie grew up was a turbulent one. It was the era of the Land War and of the Home Rule movement. It was also the era of a Gaelic revival. Irish nationalists attempted to bring back the Irish language and culture, both of which had been in steep decline since the Great Famine.
It was in this Ireland that Lizzie received her education and grew to adulthood. After my great-grandfather, Kennedy McClarty, made his way to Duneany, the two would marry in the Killymurris Presbyterian Church on 1 February 1895. Lizzie would give birth to the first of their eight children – a daughter named Mary – about nine months later.
When Mary was about a year old, the McClartys moved to the townland of Craigs. By the time of the 1901 census, the family was living in a two-room house with three windows in front and Kennedy was working as a crisper of cottons. The family had also grown. Three children – including my grandfather – had been born between the time the McClartys moved to Craigs and the time of the 1901 census.
By December 1901, the family had moved to Cullybackey. It was in Cullybackey that Lizzie gave birth to the last two of her Irish-born children. A little over three months after she gave birth to her sixth child, Lizzie said a temporary good bye to her husband. He booked passage on the R.M.S. Teutonic – a ship built in Belfast – and sailed to America.
With six children ranging in age from three months to six years old, life without Kennedy was probably not easy for Lizzie. She endured this life for about five months. Finally, Kennedy was able to arrange for his family to join him in America. In May of 1904, accompanied by her six children and Kennedy’s younger brother, Lizzie boarded the R.M.S. Oceanic and sailed to America. From New York City, Lizzie and her group travelled to Chokio, Minnesota, to join Kennedy. They would not stay in Chokio for very long. The McClarty family would pull up stakes and move to Oregon City, Oregon, where Kennedy’s older brother, William, was living.
Lizzie and her family had lived in Oregon for about six months when tragedy struck. In November 1904, Annie Ellen, the last of Lizzie’s Irish-born children, fell ill with cholera and died. Not long after that, Lizzie would give birth to her first American-born child. That child would die in infancy. Seven years later, Lizzie would give birth to one more child. Happily, that child would survive and grow to adulthood along with the rest of Lizzie’s children.
As my great-grandmother watched her children grow, marry, and start families of their own, some historic things happened in America. In 1917, America entered World War I and Lizzie’s oldest son enlisted twice, serving first in the Navy and then in the Army. In 1920, the 19th Amendment passed and American women won the right to vote – two years after suffrage in Ireland won women the right to vote. In post-war America, the economy began to boom and Americans enjoyed great prosperity. Then the unthinkable happened. The “Roaring Twenties” came to an end in October 1929 when the stock market crashed and America entered the Great Depression.
Life for Lizzie and her family during the Depression might have been a struggle but things were not as bad as they could have been. The McClartys were able to keep their home, something many Americans were not able to do. Because they kept their home, Kennedy and Lizzie were able to give half of their land as a wedding present to my grandparents when they married in 1935.
The Depression ended after America entered World War II and American industry turned to producing supplies for the war. All three of Lizzie’s sons were eligible for military service but none served; however, one of Lizzie’s nephews would join the reactivated Wildcat Division and die in the Battle of Angaur.
The years immediately following World War II held much sorrow for my great-grandmother. In November 1945, Lizzie buried her husband. Not quite two months after losing her husband, she buried her younger sister, Mary. Roughly two years later – in July 1948 – Lizzie would bury another of her children. This time, the child was my grandfather.
After this season of loss, the years were much kinder to Lizzie. Though trials would still come from time to time as they do in every life, Lizzie’s life tended to be more peaceful. She continued living in the house she had shared with her husband and spent her days puttering around in her garden.
In about 1956, Lizzie moved from the home she had lived in for over fifty years to a nursing home in Portland. She lived here until 1964 when she passed away at the age of 91. They buried her alongside her husband at historic Mountain View Cemetery in Oregon City.