I wrote about my great grandmother, Mary Marjorie
Susan McGaffin (Grams).
She came to America from Newry, Ireland.
I interviewed her daughter, my Grandma Rae,
analyzed a letter she left the family describing Ireland,
and talked to my mother about stories she recalled
from Grams herself.
The five terms I used from class were
“Grams” McGaffin was born in
Newry, Ireland on November 22,
We suspect that she came to
America sometime between 1907
This would have been just after the
second wave of immigration, when
the majority of the Irish population
By this time, the Irish American
population in New York City alone
was larger than in Dublin.
My family came from Newry,
Ireland, arrived in New York as their
port of entry, migrated to York,
Nebraska, and eventually ended up
in Pomona, California.
2) Rural Living
I asked, “Why on earth would my ancestors ever
decide to settle in the middle-of-nowhere
Nebraska, after living in Newry?”
The rural lifestyle that Nebraska provided at the
time was very similar to the family’s lifestyle in
My grandma told me that her parents were
famers in Ireland and in Nebraska. They were
mixed farmers, owning both pigs and growing
many sorts of vegetables.
Children in Grams’ school made
fun of her Irish accent, so she
had made an effort early on to
drop it and speak with an
Other than that, Grams
fortunately did not need to
change much in order to fit in.
In fact, there were a few customs
my family refused to change.
Grams was very proud of her
“Orange Irish” protestant religion,
(the Orange Irish were the
Protestants and the Green Irish
were Catholics), and my own
mother remembers her constantly
reminding the family that they are
Orange Irish and to never forget
They took on the denomination of
4) War Effort
After Grams met and married my greatgrandfather, Warren Bouton, they raised
three boys and two girls (one of which was
my grandma Rae) on their farm.
Eventually, all the sons were forced to join
the war effort in World War II.
All three of my great-uncles were stationed
in southern California in different sectors of
In the 1940’s, the rest of the family picked
up their life and moved to California to be
closer to where the boys were stationed.
There were other pull factors that
brought my great grandparents to
Finding new work in the shift yards
More opportunities for education
Method of migration: My great
grandfather built a house on the
back of a truck, and they lived back
there until they arrived in California.
My grandma claims there was even
a tub fastened on to the back to
wash, and potatoes to heat up and
put under their clothes and blankets
to keep them warm.
The family migrated to Long Beach,
but eventually settled in Pomona,
My Grandma Rae traveled around
Southern California herself in her adult
life and did take advantage of the
educational opportunities California
provided. She went to Los Angeles for
nurse schooling and eventually settled
down and spent most of her days
raising her six daughters (one of them
being my mom) in Pomona, California
with my Grandpa Lee in the same
house she is now retired in.
This project has help me come closer to my
grandmother and made me more grateful for the
sacrifices her and her parents made.