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Re-read Everything...

Gravestone of John Moak of Ballymurphy

   I frequently say when you hit a brick wall, go back and read everything you already have in your files.  I have huge files on the Moag family (William had 11 surviving children, 9 of whom emigrated to the US). In the 1990s I found the largest group of Moags in the US were in Upstate New York and through an article I found in PERSI (Periodical Source Index) made contact with Imogene Moag, who was a family historian.  Her sister-in-law, Viola Pforter Moag had done extensive documentation on what was known in the family as the "Ancestor Wheel," basically a Fan Chart.  There is an active Moag Family Association which has reunions each year and I have received various pieces of information over the years.  In many cases I just quickly read and filed them.  There was no way in a week I could read all of them (I even have a 3.5” floppy disk with a GEDCOM and no way to read it)!  Copies of two letters caught my attention.  Both are addressed to “Dear Friend.”  One was written by James Moag, son of William and brother to my David, in 1931  and the second was written by his wife, Agnes.  Here is the transcription of the letter from James.

   The letter is full of information (most of which didn't mean anything to me when I first read it.)  I learned: William S. Moag who was a son of John Moag whose father is buried at Board Mills near Saintfield Co Down.

   This confirms the connection to Boardmills and other records I have found since I originally wrote this. I have found the gravestone of "John Moak of Ballymurphy" at the Boardmills Church. The pages I have from the Boardmills transcription states that John Moag and Mary Petticrew had a son Stewart and daughter Margaret who were their 4th and 5th children.  Unfortunately the records for this parish don’t start until 1782 so it is unlikely that’ll I’ll find baptismal records for the earlier children. This statement seems to confirm that John was also a son of John and brother to Stewart and Margaret. It’s time to look at a map.  William was in the townland of Ballycrune in the parish of Annahilt.  So where is Saintfield?  A Google map shows the distance between Ballycrune and Boardmills is about 5.5 miles.  I also found a map online that showed the relationship of the townlands in Annahilt where the various Moags resided.  New information since I originally wrote this indicates that the original John (of Boardmills) first wife, Mary Petticrew likely died and he remarried in 1803 and had another family.

Permission granted to reprint research for non-profit use only.
Ros Davies' Co. Down, Northern Ireland Family History Research Site,

My Grandfather spelled his name Moak in his Will.

   I’ve seen this spelling, mostly in the US, but always discounted it as being a different family.  A search at RootsIreland turned up three additional children of John in 1814 and 1816 and a gravestone inscription in 1st Boardmills with the name Moak.  I didn’t find a will.

Father had 2 brothers, John and David and one Sister Margaret all dead years ago uncle David had one Son William John.

   This all fits...I have baptismal records for John, David and Margaret. David married Ellen or Eleanor Lavery in 1850 and had a son, William John in 1852. He also had at least one other son, Thomas James.  Margaret married Joseph Scott on 18 Jul 1845 and had two daughters, Margaret and Mary Jane.  I can’t find a marriage for a John that would fit.  Perhaps he didn’t marry or he emigrated.


There was 2 families cousins of my Father, John and Alex Moag lived near us when in Ireland.  John had 3 Sons William S, James Henry and Alex lives there yet Dr. James Henry died there.  William S last heard from near Pittsburg. 

   Another John!  This is likely the John (son of Stewart) who married McMaster and lived in Ballylintagh in the 1901 census.  There is also an Alexander, son of Stewart who married Blakeley in 1875 who lived in Ballymurphy in 1901.  Stewart appears to also have had daughters, Sarah who married McIlwain on 16 May 1846 and Mary who married Dunwoody on 13 Mary 1857. So, since John and Alexander  are identified as cousins, it would be likely that William S. also had an uncle, Stewart, the brother of his father, John.

My namesake was James Moag who migrated to Smith Falls Ont. Canada.  Father said he was a school Teacher but he must be Dead years ago as Father is dead 50 years. 

   There is a James Moag, born in Ireland, age 31 in the 1881 Census in Smith Falls, Lanark South who is a carpenter. He is the son of Stewart Moag (who is the teacher) so there may have been some confusion. Stewart was born about 1823 and I haven't found a baptismal record to indicate his father.

   The second letter, written by Agnes, gives details of her family in Pavilion, New York.  The one hint found in the letter is the first line.  It also begins “Dear Friend,” but then states “Mr. William Moag a line or to in answer to your very welcome letter.”  It would appear then, that the recipient of the letter was a William Moag, and that he was from the Rochester, NY area (based on the directions given in James’ letter).  This was likely William A Moag (1863-1956) of Niagara County, NY, grandson of Samuel (b. 1803) and son of Robert (1828-1882).


   I have more documents to read and I have been writing a report as I go along, citing all of the sources for the information and noting what I need to follow up in Ireland.  

Happy Hunting and Stay Safe!

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