I recently found in a box of old papers an ‘In Memoriam’ article about my great-grandmother Sarah Boles Nixon that appeared in September 1938 in the Irish Christian Advocate newspaper, an Irish Methodist publication in existence from 1883-1971. The clipping (right) is a wonderful testament to Sarah’s character and faith in God. She passed her faith on to her children, as many who knew them personally would attest. They were wonderfully kind and caring people.
(Note: Some of the below info has appeared in past posts.)
Sarah was born in County Leitrim, Ireland, on 26 May 1855 to William Nixon and Rachel Millar (perhaps, ‘Miller’). This is the Nixon family of Fermanagh*—about which much has been written (e.g., The Families of French of Belturbet and Nixon of Fermanagh, and Their Descendants by Henry B. Swanzy, published in 1908), however, I have yet to figure out Sarah’s exact location in this Nixon family tree.
Supposedly Sarah was one of 14 children. I’ve come across birth dates for 11 of the 14, and so far, age-wise, Sarah appears to have fallen somewhere in the middle of the pack.
According to our family records, on 26 July 1888, at the age of 33, Sarah married Edward Boles, a farmer—also 33, at the Drumkeeran Methodist Church, Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim. Edward was the oldest of the eight children of James Boles of Fingreagh Upper, Co. Leitrim, and wife Jane Payne. (See the Rootsweb page Boles of Leitrim for a partial family tree.)
Edward and Sarah lived in Clooneen, which is a rural area located about a half mile to the northeast of the small village of Drumkeeran. Between 1889 and 1896, Sarah gave birth to six children: Jane (“Jennie”) Kathleen, John James, William Robert, Edward (“Ben”) Benjamin, Beulah Sarah, and Mary (“May”) Elizabeth. Beulah (Ben’s twin) died in 1900 at age 6; May died of TB in her early 30s. John died in December 1935 in a car accident (a “huge blow” to the family, according to my mother). He was in his early forties.
As I’ve mentioned before, my grandfather William emigrated to the US in 1912. He was sponsored by Sarah’s brother Robert, a silk salesman, who had emigrated in 1879 and was living in Summit, NJ. That left just Jennie and Ben in Ireland. Both outlived their parents—in fact, Jennie lived to the age of 92.
On a visit to Ireland in July 1935, my mother got to meet Edward and Sarah for the first and only time. She was twelve and remembers walking with Edward through the fields around the Follistown house counting sheep and chatting with him, but having a hard time understanding him through his Irish accent. He was very tall and seemed a giant to her. Sarah she remembers as being super petite and ‘absolutely ancient-looking’ from a 12-year-old’s perspective. She also found Sarah hard to understand through her accent. (Sarah sent my mom a gold coin every Christmas; of course, my mom’s mother took them immediately for ‘safekeeping’ and then when WWII hit, they all disappeared to contribute to the war effort. Mom understood but was pretty unhappy about that!)
But, back to Edward & Sarah—eventually (early 1930s?), the family purchased land in Follistown, Navan, Co. Meath (about an hour’s drive to the northwest from Dublin); a house was built and sons John and Ben took charge of farming the land. The farm was left to Ben to run after John died.
Edward and Sarah spent their final years at the house in Follistown. Sarah died in September 1938 and Edward in October 1940.
They and son John were laid to rest in Kentstown Cemetery, Co. Meath. To go to the grave site photo, click here.
Now, on a side note, something I find very interesting is that Sarah’s parents and most, if not all of her siblings, emigrated to the United States, but Sarah chose to remain behind.
According to information I received earlier this year from a descendant of Sarah’s brother, Benjamin Nixon, the parents moved to NYC in 1869, when Sarah would have been about 14. I presume she would have stayed behind with relatives, but I have no idea with whom that could have been. I’ll have to try to find her in whatever records survived or weren’t affected by the Four Courts fire of 1922.
In recent months, I’ve learned a bit more about the Nixon family in the US, so more about them in a future post. As always, comments, additions, and corrections are welcome.
(*Fermanagh is one of the six counties of Northern Ireland.)
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