Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Knox Family of Corcam, Donegal

This is Ivan Knox (left) with his son Andrew, showing their autographed photo of John McCain. Ivan's mother was a McKane from Drumboe, which is one of our McCains of course. Ivan's house in Corcam has become the de facto headquarters for McCains from both the USA and Canada that travel back over. I will be writing more about Ivan and the Knox family in the future as they are pleasure to be around and know most of the McCains still in Donegal.

Ivan was not surprised by the election results, but he and many of the people of the Finn Valley in Donegal, were obviously very disappointed none the less. A lot of the current research I am doing on the McCains is focused in Donegal. As I gather more and more data it appears that east Donegal is very likely the original ole sod of the McCains. They certainly were there in numbers earlier than I can find them in northwest Antrim. Just another surprise in my long odyssey of finding the McCains. Ivan was in touch with John McCain's people this summer.

Barry R McCain (i.e. Barra)

Pennsylvania and Iowa McKains

One of the interesting aspects of our McCain Clan is we sent immigrants from Ireland in almost every generation since the early 1700s. The last McCain that immigrated out that I am aware of did so in 1979. Keith McKain of Pennsylvania, below, is a member of the McCain DNA Project, which confirmed his kinship to our McCain family.

Keith is a descendant of William John McKain (1760-1827) who arrived in America from northern Ireland around 1795 and moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area through Chester County, Pennsylvania. In Chester County he married Catharine Hoff, the daughter of a Revolutionary War Veteran. By 1813 he settled in the western parts of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in the East Donegal Township, in an area called “Irishtown” near Marietta. William and Catharine McKain had eleven children. Six of these children remained in the Lancaster County area. Four children migrated to the vicinity of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and established a rather large group of McKains in that area. One child continued moving west to an area near Brighton, Iowa and additional McKain families can be found there.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

McCains in Oxford, Mississippi

My older boy Donovan, dressed up as the Celtic Lord of the Wood, Cernunos! Nice costume.

Barra, wearing his official wizard's hat on the Square in Oxford, Mississippi

My younger son Conar.... Conar the Viking on Halloween night that is.

Donovan and I enjoying a pint... Donovan got his free, he walked into the pub, went up to the barman and said, 'Trick or Treat,' and held up his functioning drinking horn, the barman filled it with Samuel Adams ale, not bad.

Our family really enjoys Halloween as you can tell. Oxford is a nice place as the Square becomes full of people, many in costume, the pubs all open their doors so you hear music and people laughing and talking, and the weather last night was perfect, cool and crisp with a crescent moon in the sky. Fall in Mississippi is absolutely beautiful.

Barry R McCain

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Frank and Gemma Anne McKane

Two more of our clan, this Frank and Gemma Anne McKane, these days of San Fransisco, California, but Frank was born in bonnie Scotland. Frank's originate in east Donegal. The line is that of James McKean who left Donegal circa 1846-47 and settled in the Renfrewshire mining are in the west of Scotland. We think they lived in the StJohnstown area prior to leaving for Scotland.

When we began this research we thought the McCain originated in northwest County Antrim but the DNA and primary sources now confirm that the McCains were in the Finn Valley very early, perhaps even in the 1500s. We may have had the tail wagging the dog. As I have travelled in Donegal to meet our McCain kin, I have observed there are many more McCains there than any other part of Ireland. Frank will be visiting McCains in Ireland and Scotland in the January.

Barry R McCain

Sunday, October 19, 2008

McCain Reunion in Dover Arkansas

above, Joyce McCain, Billy McCain, Jeanie McCain, and SJ

The annual McCain Family reunion was held September 6, 2008 in Dover, Arkansas at the farm of Ken and Sudie McCain Rutledge. Attendance for the event was down from prior years at 70 attendees. The reunion organizers were Sudie Rutledge, Joyce and Jeanie McCain, and Sue McCain Lay. The event was advertized as McCain / Lay Reunion.

In attendance were descendants of Ezekial Richard McCain, Thomas Powers McCain and Amos Calvin McCain. They were three of the known sons of William McCain, son of Robert, the son of Hugh McCain, SR.

In all the visiting with the many questions, the one asked all the time was, "How are we related?" when I left Michigan on my driving trip to Arkansas, I had laid out my external hard drive with all of my Family Tree data. I could not give dates and places to anyone because I know that I would be giving out mis-information.

Anita McCain, sister of Billy McCain, Harold McCain, double first cousin to Anita and Billy

When I left Dover, I drove north to Manila, AR for visits with more McCain descendants there. I dropped in on my sister, Anita McCain and our double cousin, Harold McCain. Later in the week, James D. Foresythe flew in from Capertino, CA. James is the son of Allie Mae McCain Foresythe, my dad's first cousin. James, Anita and I spent the day visiting old family sites and discussing family history. We did visit the Manila Cemetery where the McCains and Foresythes are buried. Harold McCain met us at the cemetery. We went to Harold's home to look at family picture albums and do a lot more reminiscing. James at 85 years had memories of great grandmother McCain and her stories of her husband, Amos, as a Confederate soldier. Amos was a prisoner of war, being released just prior to the end of the war.

Billy McCain, Michigan

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Our Canadian McCains

Andrew McCain of New Brunswick, Canada; he is a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, i.e. a Mounty. Andrew is one of our more accomplished McCains, not only a piper, but his work involves him in aspects of high level security for the Canadian government. Well done, Andrew! (I would say more, but it is all hush hush)

The photo above was taken some years ago and shows four James McKanes, of Ontario, Canada, including our accomplished webmaster and moose hunter, Jim McKane (third from left). The older James McKane passed away on 2 February 1995. The youngest James in the photo now a lad of fifteen years. Jim our webmaster, again third from the left has one of the most lovely lakeside cottages to rent in Ontario, should any of you want a wonderful holiday (vacation to us Americans). Just visit Jim's website for details.
Address is here:
One of the nicest aspect of our McCain family history research is we connected with our very large Canadian, branch of our family. We are hopeful or a reunion north of border some day soon.
Barry R McCain (c) 2008

Oxford Mississippi McCains

Conar McCain (on the right) and Donovan McCain, outside of Uptown Coffee House, Oxford, Mississippi, very late Friday night, or perhaps Saturday Morning, on the 5th or 6th of September anno domini 2008. They stayed out that late... making me uncomfortable, I mean Conar is 14, but he seems to fit in so well with the Ole Miss gang. What's a father to do? Fortunately, they are a good crowd usually. We run a tight ship here in Oxford.

Both of them are professional musicians, they had played earlier that night on the set of a film, in which they were a band in scene of the film. Donovan is writing the score for the film in fact.

Living in Oxford, Mississippi, is good.Oxford is an interesting place to live in many ways. Opportunities are here which are not often in other small Southern towns. We have three sushi bars and our children can be in films, strange, but true, yet we are still small town Mississippi as it gets.

Their Irish Hanna made caps, I bought in Donegal Town, many thanks to Ivan Knox and Letitia Knox, of Corcam, Donegal for taking me to MaGee's to purchase them. They were the perfect Irish gift for the boys.

BTW, very proud of cousin John for picking Mrs Palin, very nice. She's very popular here in Mississippi. We feel like finally, one of us normal folk may have a turn.

Barry R McCain (c) 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

McCain Musing Late July 2008

(above, Jonathon McKane with his grandmother and Barry R McCain, Drumboe, Donegal)

Time for a little McCain News I think. I am back from my sojourn in Tyrone and Donegal. The one thing relevant to our McCain Family that struck me while there, is I need to do a lot more research in the Finn Valley and the Strabane area of Tyrone. There is a much large McCain presence there than there is in northwest Antrim and it dates back at least to the late 1600s. I have several writing deadlines to met, but when there is a lull in the action I will take up the crayon and see if I can flesh out my thoughts on this more.

Additionally I think I may have located the Hamiltons that are so very connected to our McCain family. I did this when I chanced upon a copy of Hamilton will from the early 1700s in an out of print book. I may have found our Hance Hamilton Senior.

More later,

Barry R McCain
Oxford Mississippi

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jim McKane, Lord of the Web...

Jim McKane and his lovely wife Suzanne. Jim is the webmaster of the Ulster Heritage DNA Project and the McCain DNA Project. In short, he makes the magic work, to use the over 50 year old speak.

There is much to Jim, he's climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa and has 13 grandchildren to date; doing his bit to make sure we McCains not only survive, but prevail! I am jealous as I only have two grandchildren.

Jim is one of our Canadian McKanes, we have quite a few in our group in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Good people each and every one, eh...

This photo taken this year during Jim's seasonal migration to Arizona.

Barry R McCain

The Mississippi McCains

Two Mississippi McCains; Leslie GordonMcCain and son, Barry R McCain, circa 1958.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

James & Esther Hamilton McKean

This photo is of the burial monument of Esther Hamilton McKean, Edith Annie McKean and James McKean and was sent to me by William Roulston, one of the organisers of the upcoming Ulster American History Symposium in Omagh, County Tyrone. The stone is located in StJohnstown, in east Donegal. It once again shows the close relationship between the Hamiltons and the McCains. I would say there are easily seven Hamilton McCain marriages, possibly more. The McCain name was often written as McKean in times past, but said 'Mac Cain.'
Barry R McCain
© 2008 McCain

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The 1718 McKeens

John Cargill “Jack” MacKeen is a direct lineal descendant of settlers from the 1718 migration from Antrim to America, including both McKeen and Cargill lines. His immigrant ancestor, John McKeen, born 1700 in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, arrived as a young man with his mother and siblings in Boston in August of 1718. This is a historically significant family in that it was the families of James and John McKeen, father of the above John McKeen, which were the motivating force behind the fleet of ships from Ulster that came into Boston harbour in late summer of 1718. Many historians site the event as the actually ‘beginning’ of the Ulster Migration to the New World. They established a migration paradigm, of many families coming together in a fleet of ships, and this pattern established the large Ulster presence in the New World.

When the McCain DNA Project began we did not know that the New England McKeens and McKeans were the same family as the New Brunswick McCains and Mississippi McCains, to our surprise the DNA testing revealed not only that they were the same family, but quite close kin as well. Jack McKeen was an early participant in the McCain DNA Project and because his McKeen family is so well documented his participation did much to further the research into the Mac Eáin family history.

Jack is now retired from the high tech field. Jack is a Trustee of New England Historic Genealogical Society, a member of Clan Donald USA and a member of the local historical society.

The picture below is the gravestone of that immigrant ancestor and his wife, Martha Cargill, in the Robie Street Cemetery in Truro, Nova Scotia. Both died on the same day, December 30, 1767.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

LIVE McCains, Ole Miss Campus Fall 2007

Donovan McCain, Conar McCain perform on the Ole Miss Campus, Fall 2007, with Jesse Pinion on lead guitar. The song original, written by Donovan, notice the nice bass work by Conar, he's only 14, but already very good on bass guitar.

Video curtesy of Jamie Johnson

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The McCain Clan

The McCains are a small Irish clan that were for a long time an enigma. We knew who they are and where they lived, but much of their history was a mystery. There are several reasons for this. In the north of Ireland there are two Gaelic names anglicised as McCain and several non-related families have used this anglicised surname and their respective histories are sometimes confused with one another. There is also the chaos of Ulster history. So, for these reasons, the McCains were largely missed by the historians’ sieve. It was left to the McCain descendants in the Diaspora to extract their own history, which they have done with much success by using primary source research and Y-chromosome DNA testing. The real history of McCain clan is at last being told.

The anglicised forms of the name include McCain, McCane, McKane, McKain, McKean, and McKeen. Confirming the Gaelic form of the name was difficult. While this may seem surprising, as noted previously there are at least two Gaelic names anglicised as McCain in Ulster. These names are Mac Catháin and Mac Eáin and to add to the complexity, these families were often living in the same districts. However, DNA research and a study of primary sources confirmed that the McCains originated from north Antrim east of the Bann River and were linked to the name Mac Eáin.

(right, a burial stone of a prominent McCain circa 1490s)

The McCains are a classic Gaelic patronymic clan. The Patriarch of the clan was named Eáin. Eáin was a popular form of Eóin in use in the Gaelic dialect of Argyll, the southern Isles, and parts of Ulster from the 15th Century onward, Eáin is a loan word to Gaelic from the Latin Ioannes via Aramaic and Hebrew y'hohanan, meaning 'Jehovah has favoured.'

An analysis of the DNA suggests this Patriarch lived circa 1350 to 1450 AD. DNA tests have also revealed that the Ulster McCains are related to several Gaelic families from mid-Argyll associated with historical Gallóglaigh kindreds. The Gallóglaigh were a hereditary professional military caste that played a major role in the history of Ireland circa 1225 AD to 1600 AD.

Irish Gallóglach wearing their unique conical helmet, an icon of their caste

McCains appear in the primary sources from the mid-1400s onward. They are mentioned in north Antrim by the 1500s and by the late 1600s a branch of them settled in east Donegal. They were part of the old Gaelic class yet some converted to the Presbyterian faith and took a leadership role in this community and yet other McCain families remained Catholic or Anglican.

From the late 1600s until the early 1800s the McCains were most numerous on the east side of the Bann valley, from Ballymoney north to Ballyrashane and Corbally, east to Dunluce and Dunseverick. The Donegal branch of the McCain family was located in the Finn Valley and around St Johnstown.

In 1718, groups of these McCains began to immigrate to the New World and they continued to throughout the 1700s, 1800s and 1900s. One family from this clan, the Ballymoney McKeans, were the progenitors of the 1718 Ulster Migration to the Colonies. The Ulster McCains families are now located throughout the United States, and are particularly numerous in the South. In Canada they are found in New Brunswick, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. One Donegal McCain family migrated to Scotland and the descendants now live outside Glasgow. In Ireland itself few remain and these are found around Coleraine, in Dublin, in east Donegal and northwest Tyrone.

The McCains are an energetic and successful clan and have distinguished themselves in many fields. They have produced frontiersmen, writers, historians, church leaders, musicians, sport champions, attorneys, doctors, entrepreneurs, business magnates, admirals, generals, and statesmen, and their saga continues.

The Clan McCain Website:

The Clan McCain Blog:

Barry McCain © 2008

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Congratulations Mac!

John McCain won the Texas Republican primary on Tuesday, 4 March and clinched the number of delegates needed to win his party's presidential nomination. Good to see the old Teoc McCain family doing so well and frankly, I think we shall need Senator McCain’s experience and wisdom in the coming years. Also a nod of thanks to Governor Huckabee for running a good and honourable campaign that kept important issues before our citizens, one hopes we will see him in a prominent position in the McCain Whitehouse. Well Done Mac.

Barry R McCain
Oxford Mississippi

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Our Amazing Glasgow McCains

(left, Dr Joe McKane and sisters Mags and Mary)

The Glasgow wing of our family include Joe McKane and his family and extended family. Now everyone read about Joe’s remarkable father, Francis McKane, and his ordeal of being a prisoner during World War II. The story actually continued on from there. Francis McKane was discharged on medical grounds in 1947, after being told he had only 6 to 12 months to live because he had contracted a bad case of tuberculosis while a POW. To have gone through the hell of being a prisoner, tortured and starved, then to survive only to find out your life was over, you would never have children, would never feel the fire of your own hearth. What a blow. But, not really, because you see Francis lived to be 81, passing away in 1998, he had 8 children, one of which is our Joe McKane who participated in the McCain DNA Project.

Joe with daughters Angela and Janey

Joe lives in the Glasgow area and leads the very busy life of a physician. Joe’s family descend from James McKean that left Donegal circa 1846-47 and settled in the Renfrewshire mining are in the west of Scotland. As our readers know, the McCain clan has two branches, one in north Antrim, but then another large group in east Donegal, in the Finn Valley and around St Johnstown.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Remarkable Story of Francis McKane

As I have worked collecting McCain clan lore over the years, I have noticed how many McCains have served, often in harm’s way and dramatic fashion, in the military. Given our Gallóglaigh origins, perhaps something deep in our psyche leads McCain men to seek this path. Here is the very poignant story of one of our family, Francis McKane, his remarkable story:

Francis McKane took the road of many McCains before him; he joined the military during the Depression years in Scotland. He entered the Royal Artillery and shipped out from Hong Kong in 1938, just in time to become involved in some of the hardest and most brutal fighting seen in WW II. He rose to the rank of Senior Sergeant with his own gunnery detachment. The world knows the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, on the 8th they attacked Hong Kong and Francis McCain’s world changed forever. Francis has volunteered to act as spotter for his battery, which placed him in an obsolete biplane flying into the face of the fighting to observe the effects of his artillery. His battery was the last one to fall in the defence of Hong Kong and he went into four long years of very hard and cruel captivity. (photo right, Francis McKane 1938)

In September 1942 he and 1800 other POWs were locked in the hold of the Japanese transport the Lisbon Maru. They were the Allied prisoners that had been captured in Hong Kong nine months earlier. The Lisbon Maru was called the Hell Ship as the POWs were kept in appalling conditions of filth, disease and malnutrition. They were being transported to Japan as slave labour. On 1 October, 1942, the Lisbon Maru was spotting by the US Submarine Grouper off of Shanghai. The sub fired six torpedoes and immediately came under attack from Japanese patrol boots and aircraft and sank deep and quickly left the area. One torpedo struck the ship and exploded sending water pouring in. The US sub of course had no idea there were 1,800 Allied prisoners of war aboard, nor did they see the Japanese batten down the hatches over the holds as they abandoned ship in an attempt to drown these men. Over 850 POWs drowned. Francis McKane and a few others managed to get out using the breach made by the torpedo and through port holes. Francis McKane swam a very long way in shark infested waters, eventually making his way to a small island. There he was again taken prisoner by the Japanese. He spent the rest of the war as a slave labourer in the shipyards in Osaka, Japan, suffering tremendous cruelty and torture. The bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki came just in time to save him and the other prisoners that were by that time walking skeletons, with their numbers shrinking daily.

Even with the Japanese capitulation he had a long road to get back home, with many sad experiences; he made it back to Scotland via Canada in 1946. Francis McKane is the father of Joe McKane of Glasgow, Scotland. Joe is a physician and participated in the McCain DNA Project. This line of McCains is from east Donegal, and immigrated to Scotland in the 19th Century.

(photo, Hong Kong being attacked, 8 Dec 1941)

Barry R McCain

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Two McCains in action in Ireland

A photo of Donovan McCain of Oxford, Mississippi, playing an informal session with the great Seamus O'Kane, bodhrán player and maker from Dungiven, County Derry, Ireland. Seamus is a force in the music world of Ireland, his bodhrán unsurpassed in sound, and has a playing style unique and beautiful. He was very kind to two fellow musicians from Mississippi. We had a very lovely time playing this session with him, having tea and farm brack. He is an amazing fellow as is his son. His son, named Murrough, is one of the very best flute and tin whistle players in Ireland who was part of the musical phenomenon called Óige back in the 1990s. Donovan is the one on the left, with the long blond hair, as if you needed to ask... the second photo on the lower right is of Murrough O'Kane and Donovan McCain on stage in Derry. BTW, I also played in these sessions, but alas, I was the fellow with the camera. Seamus O'Kane's web is found at:

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Descendants of James McCain and Sally King

This is a photo of two descendants of James and Sally King McCain. He was my great great great great grandfather. I was told he was born at sea coming to this country and referred to himself as a man without a country. I have found descendants of seven of the ten children of their son William Delaney McCain. I am still searching for descendants of his children James, John and Charles Vernon McCain. The second photo was taken at the tombstone of James McCain Sr of Lawrence Co IN. (After driving from AR to IN in a small sport car convertible with no makeup) My James McCain was supposed to be a Rev War soldier per a book written in 1904 but if you see this tombstone says born 1776. I do not know if this is an original tombstone or if it was placed there later by someone. If he was a Rev War soldier he must of been a young one, maybe a drummer boy or they got the age wrong. Maybe he was a relative. I was told my people went from the hilly parts of TN to IN. In 1840 my William Delaney McCain was in Greene Co IN which is close to Lawrence County next door to James Sr and Jr McCain. I lost some of my research in a computer crash. Maybe someone will see this and help me find the missing decendents. S J

Friday, January 18, 2008

John Clinton McCain and his wife Ellen Mayfield McCain, the photo taken circa 1930s in Edmond, Oklahoma. John was the only child of Lorenzo Bass McCain, who died at the end of the Civil War and was the son of William Calvin McCain of AL and the grandson of Robert McCain of TN. John and his family were Oklahoma 89ers who entered from TX and homesteaded near Edmond. John Clinton McCain is the grandfather of Bruce B McCain. John looks like so many McCain men I remember from my childhood, bib overalls, hat, brogans, it was their way.
Barry R McCain

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Golden Wedding Anniversary photo of John Melbourne McCain and Ida Belle Dooley, taken on 13 October 1924 at their home in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas. Antrim McCains were early settlers in Arkansas and Texas. This photo sent in by Otis Evatt McCain, grandson of John Melbourne McCain.