250 Years Ago Today — March 17, 1764

Londonderry, Ulster/Northern Ireland
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1764, somewhere in Ireland, a little baby boy was born. He was christened James. Born to a man named Boal and a mother whose name is lost.

It was a Saturday. An ocean away, in British North America, New York City had just begun the tradition of celebrating the day, the first five years without a parade.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, life went on for James. He became a linen and carpet weaver, trades probably learned from his father. James wed in 1787.

James left for America in 1790 with his wife Elizabeth and two children, Margaret and George. They left from Londonderry in the North.

ireland_mapBeing poor, “the trip was made by the cheapest passage.”

It was not a pleasant journey.

“The voyage of three months was a stormy one, during which the ship sprang a leak, and much of the cargo, including some of the goods belonging to the Boal family, was thrown overboard.”

They were devout Presbyterians.

At least one grandson of James, John Shannon Boal, fought in the Civil War.

I doubt James could fathom the chain of events he had instigated with his decision to leave Ireland. How could he foresee that a descendant would write about him on the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his birth and that the day, a truly Irish one, would be so widely celebrated?


4 thoughts on “250 Years Ago Today — March 17, 1764”

  1. Hey Cousin
    Well….distant cousin….. there is quite a few generations between us. I just now read your old post about James Boal the carpet weaver born in Ireland on March 17th 1764…he would be my great great great great grandfather. I descend from James Boal I=> James Boal II => James M. Boal III (fought in civil war) => Caleb T. Boal => Winfield S. Boal => Shirlee Boal => me. The information I have on your John Shannon Boal is that he was the grandson of Jame Boal I above and son of George Welch Boal (1790-1858) and Sarah Cummins Shannon (1796-1864), John Shannon Boal was born Jan 18, 1829 and died 1911 buried at Centre Hall and married Elizabeth R. Cunningham b. 1836 d. 1912 buried Centre Hall….they had a daughter Bessie S. born 1862 d. 25 Feb, 1891 buried Centre Hall and married David A. Boozer. Her grave is shown in the Find-a-Grave website.


    1. Nice to hear from you!

      Actually there is more than one John Shannon Boal, and they all appear to be cousins. My John Shannon Boal is the son of William, with William being one of the sons of James Boal and Elizabeth Welch. Both William and his son John Shannon Boal are buried in Iowa.

      Keep in touch! I love hearing from the distant cousins, especially when it is genealogy-related.



    2. Hi Eric. I follow the same line down to James Boal iii. Then it breaks off to Charles Boal (Caleb’s brother). From there it’s Howard Boal (my grandfather) to Donna Boal Stromberg (my mother) to me (John Stromberg).

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