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A Scots-Irish John McGough—A Seattle Connection

John McGough was born in county Down, Ireland, on August 21, 1761. He was the son of Robert and Sarah Matilda Carson McGough. John McGough was also the name of my great-grandfather. There was no close relationship between the two John McGoughs. The first was Scots-Irish and emigrated from Newry, Ireland, to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1773, with his moderately prosperous Blue Stocking Presbyterian Family. His family originally settled in the Piedmont area of western North Carolina. The second John McGough, my great-grandfather, was born in county Monaghan in 1824, and came to the United States, without other members of his family so far as I can tell, in about 1851. He was relatively poor and a Catholic. He originally settled in the hard-coal mining area of eastern Pennsylvania, near Pottsville.

There was, however, a geographic convergence of descendants of the two John McGoughs on Seattle, Washington, my home town. Robert Carson McGough, the grandson of John McGough from county Down, moved to Seattle from Forsyth, Georgia, in 1903 or 1904, and died in Seattle in 1908 at the age of 77. On his move to Seattle, he was accompanied by two of his daughters, Maud McGough and Nellie McGough. In Seattle, they joined Robert's son, Thomas Hollis McGough, the brother of Maud and Nellie, who had moved to Seattle in 1889. Another son, Robert Carson McGough Jr. and another daughter, May McGough Cato (widow of Frank Lee Cato, M.D., a physician), later joined the family in Seattle. Members of this McGough family occupied the same home in Seattle for over forty-seven years.

The family legend is that Thomas Hollis McGough, the great-grandson of John McGough from county Down, went from Seattle to Alaska, made a fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 and 1898, and, after his return to Seattle, increased his fortune in the real estate business. Records show that, in 1898 and 1899, Thomas H. McGough received a placer mine grant from the Yukon Gold Commissioner's Office in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, authorizing him to work a claim for gold in the Klondike. Other records show that he was in the real estate business in Seattle in 1903, and died here on March 7, 1948. His sisters, Maud McGough and Nellie McGough, died in Seattle on November 4, 1948, and June 9, 1950, respectively. Robert Carson McGough Jr. and his sister, May McGough Cato, moved from Seattle to New Orleans, Louisiana, probably shortly after they sold the family home in Seattle on August 8, 1953. May died in New Orleans on January 28, 1954. Robert Jr. died in New Orleans on March 2, 1957. His death certificate says that he had been a resident of New Orleans for three years at the time of death.

When he emigrated from county Down, Ireland, to the Piedmont area of the Carolinas in 1773, John McGough was 11 years old. He traveled with his parents, Robert McGough and Sarah Matilda Carson McGough; three younger sisters, Isabella, Sarah and Mary; and two younger brothers, Robert and William. The McGoughs settled in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, near present-day Charlotte. The McGoughs traveled to America with the Carsons, McDowells, and Pattersons. There were several marriages among the members of these families, both before and after their emigration. Three of the children of Robert and Matilda McGough, John, Isabella, and Sara, for example, married Carsons. A fourth, William McGough, may have married a Nancy Carson. These four, and another of the McGough children, ended up in Georgia. An earlier version of this page discussed more generally the emigration of Presbyterian McGoughs in 1773. At the end of that original version of this page, there was a short discussion of the Carson, McDowell, and Patterson families, other Presbyterian families who moved with the McGoughs. That material has been moved to my page: McGoughs in Pre-Revolutionary America: Robert and Sarah Matilda McGough.

 Table of Contents 

Newry to Charleston to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to Abbeville, South Carolina

John McGough's father, Robert McGough, was born in 1725 in county Down, according to A Glimpse Of The Past: Descendants of Robert McGough (b 1725, Northern Ireland), a comprehensive compilation of the genealogy of this branch of the McGoughs by Carolyn McGough Rowe. Carolyn Rowe's book is a prodigious work and contains the pedigrees of thousands of the descendants of Robert and Matilda Carson McGough. Much of the information on this page is based on her book.

In 1773, the Robert McGough family emigrated from Newry, Ireland, to Charlotte, South Carolina, and settled in Mecklenburg county, near Charlotte, North Carolina. Robert McGough died in January of 1779 in Mecklenburg county. His surviving children, all of whom were born in county Down and accompanied their parents on the voyage to America, were John McGough, born August 21, 1761; Isabella McGough, born on May 13, 1764 (or November 8, 1764); Robert McGough, born on December 1, 1765; William McGough, born in about 1767; Sarah McGough, born in 1768; and Mary McGough, born in 1769 or 1770. Around 1780, John, Isabella, and William moved to Abbeville, South Carolina. John moved on to Greene county, Georgia, in about 1791. Robert moved from Mecklenburg county to Fort Augusta, Richmond county, Georgia, in about 1785, and to Christian county, Kentucky, around 1806, and to Dallas county, Alabama in 1819. Sarah had moved to Jones county, Georgia, by 1785. Mary McGough stayed in Mecklenburg county, where she married John Sharp in about 1789, and died a short time later, probably in her first child birth.

For more information on this family, see my page: McGoughs in Pre-Revolutionary America: Robert and Sarah Matilda McGough. Much of the material I had first published on this page has been moved to that page.

Georgia to Seattle

The family of this Scots-Irish John McGough has a connection with my home, Seattle, Washington, where I have lived since I was born here on June 9, 1931.

John and Elizabeth Carson McGough raised a family of seven boys and five girls in Greene County, Georgia, near White Plains. Their second child, and first son, Robert McGough, was born on March 28, 1785, in Abbeville, South Carolina. Robert McGough married Sandall Cabaniss (born about 1794 to George Cabaniss and Palatea Harrison in Amelia, Virginia) on October 11, 1811, in Jones County, Georgia. (The 1820 federal census of Jones County, Georgia, lists two entries for Robert McGough. Index to the 1820 Census of Georgia, Surnames, M-N, page 95, They settled on a plantation five miles outside of Forsyth, Monroe county, Georgia, and raised a family of six boys and four girls there.

The 1830 census of Monroe county, Georgia, lists a Robert McGough. Index to the 1830 Census of Georgia, Surnames, M-N, page 297, Here is the listing of the family from my page: McGoughs in the 1830 Census of the United States.

(1830) Robert McGough, male 40 to 50 (roll 19, page 193a) [James McGough was one household removed.] (11 slaves)

1 female 30 to 40

1 male 20 to 30

1 male 15 to 20

1 male 10 to 15

1 female 10 to 15

2 females 5 to 10

2 males under 5

1 female under 5

11 slaves

The 1870 census of Forsyth, Monroe county, Georgia lists Robert McGough, age 83, a retired farmer with real estate worth $6000 and personal property worth $1600, living with his wife Sandel, age 77, who was "keeping house," Margaret McGough, age 83, who was also "keeping house," Mach (?), age 54, a farmer, and Martha McGough, age 48. All residents of the household are listed as having been born born in Georgia. Here is the listing from my page: McGoughs and McGues in the 1870 Census of the United States.

(1870) Robert McGough, age 85, retired farmer, with real estate worth $6000 and personal property worth $1600, born in Georgia (roll 166, page 301a) [Robert L. McGough, born March 28, 1785 in Abbeville, South Carolina. Second child and first son of John and Elizabeth Carson McGough. He married Sandal Cabanis on October 10, 1811, in Jones county, Georgia. He died on March 10, 1881, in Monroe county, Georgia, and is buried in Ramah (Parah) Church Cemetery. Rowe, pages 10 and 11. Sandal died on August 20, 1885, in Monroe county, Georgia. Robert and Margaret are two of six siblings listed in the 1870 census, and who are listed under James McGough in Crenshaw county, Alabama. See: The McGough Family page by Carole E. Scott.]

Landis McGough, age 77, keeping house, born in Georgia [Sandel Cabanis McGough]

Margaret McGough, age 83, born in Georgia [Robert's younger sister, Margaret (Peggy) McGough, who was born on April 11, 1787, in Abbeville, South Carolina, who never married, and who died in Monroe county, Georgia, in 1880, and is buried there in the Ramah (or Paron) Church Cemetery. Rowe, page 10.]

Math McGough, age 54, farmer, born in Georgia [Probably Robert and Sandal's son Matthew Organ McGough, born in 1814 in Jones county, Georgia, who never married. Rowe, page 12.]

Martha M. McGough, age 48, born in Georgia. [Possibly the daughter of Robert and Sandal who was born on April 5, 1821, in Jones county, Georgia, but Rowe says that this daughter, Martha Elizabeth McGough, who was married to Ezekiel Hollis, died in Davison, Georgia, on May 2, 1858.

Robert McGough died on the family plantation at the age of 96 on March 10, 1881.

The second child and second son of Robert and Sandall Cabaniss McGough was Robert Carson McGough, born on September 24, 1831, in Monroe County, Georgia. He graduated with highest honors from the University of Georgia in 1855 and, after teaching school for three years, graduated from the University of Georgia Law School, and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1860. For other descendants of Robert McGough and Sandall Cabaniss, see The John McGough Family from Ulster, Tyrone, N. Ireland.

For the names of African Americans with the surname McGough living near Forsyth, Monroe county, Georgia, after the Civil War, see my page Odds and Ends under the heading African-American McGoughs in the 1870 Census of Georgia. These were doubtless people who had worked as slaves on the Robert McGough plantation and assumed the surname of their former master.

Carol E. Scott, in The McGough Family Page, quotes information from the Memoirs of Georgia that Robert Carson McGough was a postmaster during the Cleveland administration. (Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd President from 1885 to 1889. He left the White House and returned for another term four years later. He served as the 24th President from 1893 to 1897.) Robert Carson McGough represented Monroe County in the Georgia General Assembly from 1894 to 1895. The sketch in Memoirs of Georgia, written before Robert Carson McGough moved from Forsyth, Georgia, to Seattle, Washington, says that his son, Thomas H. McGough, was a "merchant in Leavenworth, Washington." (See below).

Robert Carson McGough, Sr. married Margaret Hollis on January 10, 1860. They had five children, all of whom were born on the family plantation in Monroe County, just outside Forsyth, Georgia. Only one of these five children married — May. The children were Thomas Hollis McGough (1861–March 7, 1948), Maud McGough (1862–November 4, 1948), Nellie McGough (1865–June 9, 1950), Robert Carson McGough Jr. (February 25, 1867–June 7, 1959), and May McGough (Mrs. Frank L.) Cato (1868–January 28, 1954). The mother, Margaret Hollis McGough, died in Forsyth, Georgia, on April 9, 1871, and Robert Carson McGough did not remarry.

The 1870 census of Forsyth, Monroe county, Georgia, shows Robert McGough, the son of Robert and Sandall Cabaniss, living on the family farm: R. C. McGough, age 39, farmer; Margaret McGough, age 29, keeping house; Thomas McGough, age 9; Maud McGough, age 7; Nellie McGough, age 5; Robert McGough, age 3; and May McGough, age 10 months.

The 1880 census lists the family in Evers district (district 595), Monroe county, Georgia, this way:

(1880) R. C. McGough, age 48, farmer, born in Georgia, father born in South Carolina, mother born in Georgia (roll 158, page 195b). [In Johnstons Distinct of Monroe county in the 1870 census, with his wife Margaret McGough who died on April 9, 1871.]

Thomas McGough, age 19, son, clerk in store, born in Georgia, father and mother born in Georgia. [Thomas Hollis McGough]

Maud McGough, age 17, daughter, house keeper, born in Georgia.

Nellie McGough, age 15, at school, born in Georgia, attended school within the current year.

Robert McGough, age 13, at school, born in Georgia, attended school within the current year.

May McGough, age 10, born in Georgia, attended school within the current year.

M. O. Minter, age 26, nephew, clerk in store, born in Georgia, father and mother born in Georgia.

Claud Minter, age 20, nephew, farmer, born in Georgia.

Most of the names and birth dates on this page are from Carolyn McGough Rowe's book, A Glimpse Of The Past: Descendants of Robert McGough (b 1725, Northern Ireland). The birth and death dates of the five children of Robert Carson McGough and Margaret Hollis are not in her book, however. To the extent I have found them, they are based on data in the Genealogical Section of the Seattle Public Library, the Probate Records of the King County Superior Court, and the 1870 census of Forsyth, Monroe county, Georgia. The Georgia birth dates are derived from the ages at death in the Washington State Death Registry or, in the case of Robert Jr., from a death certificate in King County Probate 152933, and in the case of May, from data in King County Probate 131841.

Thomas Hollis McGough, the oldest child of Robert Carson McGough and Margaret Hollis, moved to Seattle in 1889, the year of the Great Seattle Fire. (See The Great Seattle Fire — Don't Blame Jimmie McGough on this website.) Robert Carson McGough moved to Seattle, with his daughters Maud and Nellie, about 1905, to live with his oldest son, Thomas H. McGough. They were joined by another son, Robert Carson McGough Jr. in 1907, and later by the third daughter, May McGough Cato. Robert Carson McGough and three of his five children died in Seattle. The two younger children, May and Robert Jr. moved from Seattle to New Orleans a short time before their deaths, and died in New Orleans.

While Thomas H. McGough appears briefly in Seattle directories of 1891–3 (see below), these later McGough relatives first show up in a Seattle City Directory in 1905. Robert C. McGough, his son Thomas H. McGough, and his daughters Maud and Nellie, are shown in 1905 as residing together at 2806 Washington Street. The same information is in the 1906 directory. In 1907, Robert C. McGough Jr. is added to the family list, and the place of residence is changed to 1415 35th Avenue. The 1908 Polk's Seattle City Directory shows the same five McGoughs at 1415 35th Avenue, but adds the occupation of Thomas H. McGough as "Battle & McGough" [real estate and insurance brokers] and of Robert Jr. as "assayer."

The home at 1415 35th Avenue in Seattle was to remain the home of members of this McGough family for over forty-seven years. The house was built in 1901. It is a two story house with three bedrooms, 4,160 square feet of space, and is in good condition and occupied today. It sits on a 17,500 square foot lot. The house was purchased by Thomas H. McGough in January of 1906 for $8113. The tax valuation in 1999 was $674,000, probably below the market value. The 1999 real estate taxes of $8501.50 were more than the original purchase price.

Robert Carson McGough Sr. died in Seattle on October 15, 1908, at the age of 77. An article on page 3 of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of Friday, October 16, 1908, reports:


"R. C. McGough, Who Fought for the Confederacy, Came From Family of Soldiers

"R. C. McGough, a veteran of the Confederate army, prominent planter in Georgia and a former member of the general assembly of that state, who spent the last four years in Seattle, died yesterday at his home, 1415 Thirty-fifth avenue, at the age of 77 years. Mr. McGough, a few weeks ago, was planning to visit his old home and his own plantation.

"Mr. McGough was admitted to the bar in 1860. When the war came on, he enlisted in the Confederate army. During the existence of the Confederacy, he was engaged in its service as soldier, enrolling officer, or tax assessor. After the war, he retired to his plantation in Monroe County. During the Cleveland administration, he served as postmaster.

"Mr. McGough comes of an old line of Southerners, his grandfather, John McGough, when a boy, enlisting in the Colonial army.

"R. C. McGough's eldest son, T. H. McGough, junior member of the firm of Battle & McGough, of Seattle, came to Seattle in 1889. Mr. McGough leaves two daughters, Maud and Nellie, and two sons, Robert and T. H. McGough. No funeral arrangements have been made as yet."

This notice appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on the following day, Saturday, October 16, 1908:

"McGough — At the family residence, 1415 Thirty-fifth avenue, Robert Carson McGough, aged 77 years. Funeral services will be held at the family residence this (Saturday) afternoon. Friends are invited to attend. Interment at Lake View cemetery."

Lake View Cemetery is Seattle pioneer cemetery, established in 1872. Many of the founders of Seattle are buried there. Cemetery records show that Robert C. McGough died at the age of 77 on October 15, 1908, and was interred in the east half of plot 229. The cemetery records show no other McGough. The plot is near the western edge of the cemetery, south of the east-west center line, and near the eastern edge of the westernmost road in the cemetery. About 20 feet to the east of McGough's grave is a family memorial to the Jackson family, with the center obelisk memorializing W. G. Jackson who died on December 3, 1896, at the age of 19 years, 5 months. Robert C. McGough is in an unmarked grave between the graves, both marked with flat stones, of Ernest Gareson to the south and George H. Peltier to the north.

Although Thomas H. McGough came to Seattle in 1889, I found no reference to him in the 1890 or 1900 federal censuses of the state of Washington. Polk's Seattle City Directory of 1891–1892 lists the California Baking Company, Thomas H. McGough, manager, at 2331 Front Street (page 206), and Thomas H. McGough with rooms at 2415 3rd Avenue (page 548). Corbett & Co's Seattle City Directory of 1892–93 lists Thomas H. McGough, secretary, Eureka Baking Company, 2331 Front, with a residence at 2415 3rd Avenue (page 583). The directories are available on At page 84, the directory lists: Eureka Baking Co.—D. A. Duffy, President (Dennis A. Duffy who resided at Green Lake); Thomas H. McGough, Secretary. Office 2331 Front.

Thomas H. McGough apparently left Eureka Baking Company in about 1893. The entry for the company in Polk's Seattle City Directory 1893–1895, at page 380, reads: Eureka Baking Company, D. A. Duffy pres and mngr, J. Fred Duffy Sec (the son of Dennis and Marian Duffy who had been born in Canada in July of 1876), mnfrs Bread, Cakes etc. 2331 Front. Tel 547. At page 753 of this same directory is this entry: Queen City and Eureka Baking Company, Adolph Krug Pres., D. A. Duffy Vice Pres. and mngr, H. F. Stoel Jr. Sec and Treas, Bakers and Confectioners, 2935 Front. D. A. Duffy is listed in the 1900 census of Seattle, King county, Washington, as age 59, born in Canada to a father born in Canada and a mother born in Ireland , a naturalized citizen who had been in the United States for 10 years, proprietor of a bakery. He was living with his wife of 29 years, Marian, and four children, at 626 (?) Highland Drive, which was on Queen Anne Hill in an affluent part of Seattle (roll  T623_1745, page 8B). (The 1910 census of Seattle lists his first name as Donna, age 70, both of whose parents were born in Ireland, retired, and residing with his family at 514 West Highland Drive; roll  T624_1659, page 16A. The 1920 census of Seattle lists him as Dennis A. Duffy, age 80, whose father was born in Canada and mother in Ireland, residing with his wife at 514 Highland Drive; roll  T625_1927, page 3B. The 1930 census of Seattle lists Dennis' wife, Marian, age 84, widow, living with her son Gilbert Duffy, age 45, a stockbroker; roll  2496, page 1B.)

The reference in the Memoirs of Georgia, quoted above, describes Thomas Hollis McGough as a merchant in Leavenworth, Washington, in 1893 or 1894. He probably moved from Seattle to Leavenworth in about 1893, from Leavenworth to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, and back to Seattle sometime before 1903. See the next two sections: Klondike Gold Rush and Leavenworth, Washington.

According to McGough Family, Research Obtained from Rev. E. M. Sharp*, after successfully digging for gold in the Klondike, Thomas H. McGough "returned to Seattle and engaged in the Real Estate business when the city was rapidly growing and increased his fortune."

*To go to an archived copy of this source, go to WaybackMachine; in the theTake Me Back box enter:; and, in the calendar, click on the blue circle around August 10, 2009.

Seattle was rapidly growing in 1903, and by then Thomas was a real estate and fire insurance broker. He was joined in the real estate business in 1903 by Edgar Battle. Battle's biography appears at page 210 of James H. Boswell's American Blue Book: Western Washington, (Lowman and Hanford Co., Seattle, 1922.) (Another way to get to this web page is to go to the Washington Biographies Project and search for Edgar Battle. In the biography, Thomas H. McGough is referred to as T. m. McGough, in case anyone tries to use a search engine to find the web page.) Edgar Battle's father came to Seattle in the same year as Thomas H. McGough, 1889, and was a lawyer, as was Thomas H. McGough's father. Here is an excerpt from the biography:

"I think I can truthfully say that nowhere in the service of the United States government is there to be found a man thoroughly qualified for the office he holds than Edgar Battle, who since 1912 has served as postmaster of Seattle, his appointment having been made by President Woodrow Wilson. Mr. Battle is a Texan by birth. Following the completion of his educational training in Baylor University, from which he graduated with the M. A. degree, ... he entered upon the study of law in the offices of his father, Judge Nicholas W. Battle. ...

"Following his retirement from consulate duties, Mr. Battle came to Seattle, to which place his parents had moved in 1889, and where his father remained in the active practice of his profession until his demise in 1905. ... In 1903 Mr. Battle associated himself with T. m. McGough and C. C. Ramsay in the real estate and fire insurance business, and continued in the field until his selection for the postmastership of Seattle by President Wilson [in 1912]."

Here is a listing of this McGough family in the 1910 census of Seattle, King county, Washington, in a residence at 1415 35th Avenue:

(1910) Thos H. McGough (head), age 49, single, born in Georgia to parents born in Georgia, broker, real estate, owner of home free of a mortgage (roll  T624_1658, page 4A).

Robert McGough (brother), age 43, single, born in Georgia to parents born in Georgia, assayer, ore.

Maud McGough (sister), age 47, single, born in Georgia to parents born in Georgia, no occupation.

Nellie McGough (sister), age 46, single, born in Georgia to parents born in Georgia, no occupation.

The family was in the same house in the 1920 census, with ages: Thomas, 59; Robert 52; Maud, 57; and Nellie, 54. Robert was listed as a broker in a real estate office. All the McGoughs listed were single. A boarder was Morton H. Van Nyes (indexed by as Van Nyer), age 41, single, born in Indiana, a lawyer in general practice, and his widowed mother, Mary L. Van Nyes, born in Indiana (roll  T625_1929, page 5A).

The 1923 City Directory of Seattle, Washington lists, at page 977, these McGoughs residing together at 1415 35th Avenue: Thomas H. McGough, real estate; Maude McGough, Nellie McGough, and Robert McGough.

The listing for the family in the 1930 census is basically the same as in the 1920 census, except Robert is shown as having no occupation. Morton H. Van Nuys, still a lawyer in general practice, and he and his mother, are again listed as boarders (roll  2499, page 32A).

The 1940 census of Seattle lists Thomas H. McGough, age 79, as the head of a household at 1415 35th Avenue consisting of himself, 3 sisters, and a brother, all born in Georgia. Listed in the household were Thomas' sister Maud, age 76; his sister Nellie age 74; his brother Robert, age 73; and his widowed sister, Maggie M. Cato, age 70. All were living in the same house on April 1, 1935. Morton H. Van Nuys. age 61, and his morther, Mary L. Van Nuys, age 89, are again listed as lodgers in the house. (enumeration District 40-159, block number 95-96).

Thomas H. McGough died in Seattle on March 7, 1948. Here is his obituary from page 12 of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of March 8, 1948:

"T. McGough, Fire Year Pioneer, Dies

"Thomas Hollis McGough, A Seattle resident since 1889—year of The Seattle Fire—died yesterday.

"The retired real estate man succumbed to a short illness at 1 a.m. in the house at 1415 35th Avenue where he had lived for 40 years. He was the oldest of two brothers and three sisters, all of whom lived there with him, and survive him. They are Robert, Nellie and Maud McGough, and Mrs. May Cato. They joined him here years ago, coming from Georgia where he was born 87 years ago.

"They asked that instead of sending flowers, friends mail contributions to the Unitarian Church's Service Committee, Seattle 5, for overseas relief.

"Memorial services for Mr. McGough will be held at his home at 3 p.m. tomorrow, with the Rev. J. R. Bartlett of University Unitarian Church officiating."

The Seattle Times obituary of March 8, 1948, adds a detail: Thomas McGough "came to Seattle shortly before the fire of 1889."

Maud McGough died in Seattle on November 4, 1948, at the age of 86. Nellie McGough died in Seattle on June 9, 1950, at the age of 85. Both of these dates are from the Washington State Death Register. The house was inherited by their brother, Robert Carson McGough Jr. and their sister, Mrs. May McGough Cato. On August 10, 1952, in Seattle, Robert Carson McGough Jr. and May Cato, each executed a will leaving the house to the other, and, if the first named legatee did not survive the testator, to Robert's nephew and May's son, Dr. Frank L. Cato of New Orleans. Seattle lawyer Arthur Redman drew up both wills, and handled the probates of both of their estates in Seattle.

The 1953 Seattle Polk's Directory shows Robert McGough as the sole occupant of this house at 1415 35th Avenue. On August 8, 1953, Robert McGough and May Cato sold the house and lot on contract for $10,500 to Clarence A. Larsen and Ann M. Larsen, husband and wife. Shortly after this sale, Robert and May moved from Seattle to New Orleans. Robert died in New Orleans on March 2, 1957, and his death certificate showed that he had been a resident of New Orleans for three years at the time of his death. The death certificate says his age at death was 91 years, 10 months, and 12 days. His birth date is given as February 25, 1867, in Monroe, Georgia. His parents are listed as Robert McGough and Mary Hollis. After the blank for "occupation" is the entry: "Never worked."

May died in New Orleans on January 28, 1954, and her probate documents say she was a resident of New Orleans at that time (King County, Washington, Probate 131841). Her age at death is given as 85. No specific date or place of birth is stated. The 1954 Seattle Polk's Directory shows that the residents of the house at 1415 35th Avenue are no longer McGoughs, but rather Clarence A. and Ann M. Larsen. On the death of Robert Carson McGough Jr. in New Orleans on March 2, 1957, the house was inherited by May McGough Cato's son, Dr. Frank Lee Cato Jr. of New Orleans. (King County Probate 152933). On November 2, 1959, Dr. Frank L. Cato, in the State of Louisiana, County of Orleans, executed a statutory warranty deed of the Seattle property to the Larsens "in fulfillment of a real estate contract dated August 8, 1953 by which Robert McGough and May Cato agreed to sell to Clarence A. Larsen and Ann M. Larsen his wife the real premises described above." Dr. Frank L. Cato, as grantor, described himself as 'the sole beneficiary of the estate of Robert McGough, deceased and owner of the following described property as his separate estate." Thus ended a 70 year connection between this McGough family and the city of Seattle.

Klondike Gold Rush

The family history, as set out by Carolyn McGough Rowe in her book and in McGough Family, Research Obtained from E. M. Sharp, on Edward McGough's now defunct website, Clan McGough*, is that Thomas McGough participated in the Klondike gold rush of 1897 and 1898, and made a fortune mining and prospecting for gold.

*To go to an archived copy of this source, go to WaybackMachine; in the theTake Me Back box enter:; and, in the calendar, click on the blue circle around August 10, 2009.

Although there had been a steady flow of gold miners from Seattle through Alaska to the Klondike in Yukon Territory before 1897, the gold rush to the Klondike started in earnest after the steamship "Portland" arrived in Seattle on July 17, 1897, with what the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described as a "ton of gold" from the Klondike. The rival newspaper, the Seattle Times, informed its readers that there was only a half a ton of gold aboard and advised "there should be no haste, but every person going to the Upper Yukon should move with deliberation, care and forethought." The day Seattle's ship came in by Ross Anderson, Seattle Times staff reporter. Many Seattleites, nonetheless, caught the "Klondike Fever" and joined the rush to the Klondike. Ross Anderson reports further in The Seattle Times:

"Former Gov. John McGraw, a U.S. Senate candidate, decides to head for the goldfields instead. Seattle's mayor, W. D. Wood, attending a convention in San Francisco, reads the news and wires his resignation; he will raise some money, buy a decrepit steamer, fill it with prospectors and gear and sail for the Yukon."

By September 1, 1897, nine thousand miners had left the port of Seattle for Alaska. In February through April of 1898, more thousands of miners left Seattle and other cities for the Klondike. In the summer of 1898, between 20,000 and 30,000 potential miners reached Dawson City. A few did make fortunes, and I like to think that the family history is true and Thomas Hollis McGough was among them. Perhaps he was one of the "Lucky Prospectors" shown arriving in Seattle with their "gold pokes" in a photograph in the special collection of the University of Washington.

The North West Mounted Police were dispatched by the Canadian federal government to maintain law and order in the midst of Klondike chaos. The Mounties set up a post along the Canadian-American border at the summit of the Chilkoot Pass. Here, they confiscated guns and maintained records of persons who entered the Yukon. These records show that, on September 20, 1898, G. H. McGough, Seattle, Washington, Seattle boat 14663, entered the Yukon Territory. This entry should probably read T. H. McGough.

Thomas H. McGough was in the Klondike in 1898. He probably crossed the Chilkoot Pass on September 20, 1898, and he received a placer mine grant along a tributary of the Klondike or Yukon River in 1898. The Pan For Gold Database includes references to T. McGough and G. H. McGough. After gold was discovered in 1896 on Bonanza Creek, thousands of claims were staked along tributaries of the Yukon and Klondike Rivers. The Yukon Gold Commissioner's Office issued placer-mining grants, enabling prospectors to become miners and work their claims for "placer" findings; that is, mineral deposits containing gold, left by glaciers or rivers. The Test Results Placermining Grants show two duplicate listings for T. McGough. Volumes 2 and 3 both show this information: Name, T. McGough; Claim number, 20956 07; Microfilm number, 07; Year Recorded: 1898–1899. Thomas H. McGough, therefore, was in the Klondike prospecting for gold in 1898, and placer mining in 1898 and 1899.

Tom McGough's tramping the trails of the Klondike recalls a verse from Robert Service's poem, The Cremation of Sam Magee:

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee,
where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam
'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold
seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way
that he'd "sooner live in hell".

Thomas H. McGough's mining for gold in Alaska or the Yukon Territory was part of the big gold rush of 1897 and 1898. There was, however, earlier mining in Alaska. There was a gold strike at Forty-Mile Creek in Alaska in 1886. In March and April 1896, a substantial number of miners left Seattle for Circle City, Alaska, and other gold fields at Forty Mile, Sixty Mile, and Cook Inlet. The first Klondike discovery of gold was in August of 1896 on Bonanza Creek, a tributary of Klondike River, in the Yukon Territory. In the Fall of 1896, news of the Klondike strike reached Circle City, Alaska, and miners departed for Dawson City, Yukon Territory. In the winter of 1896–97, miners took out millions in gold from the Klondike mines. Some of this gold arrived in Seattle on the steamship "Portland" on July 17, 1897, starting The Klondike Gold Rush.

There was also a later gold rush to Nome, Alaska. In the summer of 1899, gold was discovered on Nome beaches. Two thousand men arrived to dig for gold in the sand. In October of 1899, a steamer arrived in Seattle with Nome miners and gold aboard. In April and May 1900, ships sailed from Seattle for the Nome gold beaches, with up to 20,000 on board.

For a good collection of materials on the gold rush from Seattle to the Klondike, see The Klondike Gold Rush: Curriculum Materials for Washington, by Kathryn Morse, University of Washington Department of History. Available for downloading at this website is a photograph of the arrival of the "Ton O' Gold Ship" at the Alaska Commercial Company dock in Seattle. The Yukon Archives website offers a microfilm collection of newspaper and archival material that is available for loan to libraries. See also An Educators Resource Guide to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, published by the Seattle Unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. Genealogical resources for individuals who were in the north during the Klondike and Alaska Gold Rushes are listed in the website How to Find Your Gold Rush Relative: Sources on the Klondike and Alaska Gold Rushes (1896–1914), compiled by R. Bruce Parham, May 1997, published by the National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Alaska Region, Anchorage, Alaska, and presented by The Alaska Gold Rush Centennial Task Force. Some genealogical tips are offered at The Klondike Gold Rush: Finding Grandpa in the Crowd, a web page by Wenonah Finch Sharpe, published by Heritage Quest Magazine. There is a Klondike Gold Rush Museum & National Park in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle.

Leavenworth, Washington

The sketch in Memoirs of Georgia, quoted above, says that Thomas H. McGough, the son of Robert Carson McGough, was a "merchant in Leavenworth, Washington." The sketch was probably written in 1893 or 1894. The town of Leavenworth did not get its name until 1892. The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, Georgia, published the Memoirs of Georgia, in two volumes, in 1895. The sketch refers to Robert Carson McGough's service as postmaster during the Cleveland administration. This is a reference to Cleveland's first administration, 1885–1889. The memoir was written while Robert Carson McGough and his daughters, Maud and Nellie, were residing in Georgia.

The Cascade mountain range runs north and south through the state of Washington. The crest of the Cascades divides our state into what we natives call Western Washington and Eastern Washington. Leavenworth is a small town in Eastern Washington, across the Cascade mountains from Seattle, in the eastern foothills of the mountains. The town is on the Wenatchee river, in Chelan county, about twenty miles northwest of the town of Wenatchee. Leavenworth is about 80 miles east of Seattle in a straight line across rugged country, or about 120 road miles, also across rugged country. For a map, see Lake Chelan and Wenatchee River Basins published by the US Geological Survey, or Wenatchee.

The area probably came to life briefly in the early 1890s when the Great Northern Railroad laid its tracks through the town. Before then, the area was settled lightly by pioneers in search of gold, furs and fertile farmland. Stakes were claimed, land was tracked. The original town was built on the Icicle Flats about 1890. The western portion of the Great Northern Railway, from Wenatchee to Everett to Seattle, passed through Leavenworth, and the town, which had originally been called Icicle, was renamed for the Great Northern stockholder, Charles Leavenworth."

The history of the Great Northern states:

"In September 1889 the name of the railroad was changed to Great Northern Railway Company. At the close of 1892, only a seven-mile gap remained in what was once referred to as 'Hill's Folly.' On January 6, 1893, in the towering Cascades near Scenic, Washington, the final spike was driven, and GN became the second railroad to link Puget Sound with the upper Midwest."

The closing of the gap in the tracks just west of Leavenworth in 1893 completed the Great Northern line from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Seattle, Washington. The bustle associated with construction of the railroad may have brought Thomas H. McGough to Leavenworth. James Jerome Hill, "The Empire Builder," and the driving force behind the Great Northern Railway, had set up programs under which grants of land were made to persons who would settle along the line.

A friend of mine, the late Robert Hitchman, spent many hours during his lifetime collecting and recording the stories behind the names of towns and other places in Washington. His work was published posthumously: Place Names of Washington by Robert Hitchman (published by Washington State Historical Society in 1995). Here are his entries for the towns of Leavenworth and Scenic:

"Leavenworth (S.11;T.24N;R.17E)

"Town on Wenatchee River, 20 miles northwest of Wenatchee, south central Chelan County. Prehistorically, it was the site of an Indian village. In 1891, a settlement was established under the name Icicle. In 1892, the townsite was platted by and named for Capt. C. F. Leavenworth, who operated Leavenworth Townsite Company." page 159.

Scenic. (S.29;T26N;R.13E)

"Highest community west of the Cascade range in Western Washington, 8 miles east of Skykomish, 4 miles west of Cascade mountain summit, extreme northeast King County. It is near the west portal of the Burlington Northern Railways Cascade Tunnel, elevation 2106 feet. The name is descriptive and was applied by officials of Great Northern Railway Company. It has a wide vista of snow clad mountains." page 266.

Bob Hitchman's work has been updated by Gary Fuller Reese, Managing Librarian for the Tacoma Public Library's Northwest Room and Special Collections, and has been published on the website of the Tacoma Public Library as the Washington Place Names Database.

Thomas Hollis McGough—A Possible Sequence

Though the family history of this branch of the McGoughs does not say when Thomas Hollis McGough came to Seattle, his obituaries and his father's obituary say that he came here in the year of the Great Seattle Fire, 1889. One obituary specifically says that he "came to Seattle shortly before the fire of 1889." The fire occurred on June 6, 1889. The statement in Memoirs of Georgia, written between 1893 and 1895, that he was a merchant in Leavenworth, Washington, must have come from his family. Leavenworth was a small town east of Seattle on the opposite side of the Cascade Mountains. There is little possibility that someone would say "Leavenworth" when he meant "Seattle." Thomas H. McGough may have been attracted to Leavenworth because it was a gold mining town or, after 1892, a railroad town. The probable sequence of events is that Thomas H. McGough came to Seattle in 1889, moved to Leavenworth in about 1893, joined the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, returned to Seattle from the Yukon before 1903, and remained in Seattle until his death on March 7, 1948.


A Scots-Irish John McGough—A Seattle Connection—Emigration of Presbyterian McGoughs in 1773
Updated April 1, 2013  
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