Tuesday, July 5, 2011

McGARVEY Family - The Brick Wall I Didn't Know I Had

On my trip down to Switzerland County, Indiana back in May, I copied some family files about the Bovard family that were at the Switzerland County Public Library. I finally got around to looking at them last week. The file contained some family group sheets, a narrative of how the family might have come to Switzerland County, some obituaries and a land transfer document.

There was a bond for $600 in exchange for land. The land description does not give a state, but my guess is that it is in Hamilton County, Ohio where all parties resided. Or it could be across the border in Indiana. I'll have to figure out the townships and ranges later.

The land description wasn't the important piece of the document to me anyway. The interesting part was the parties involved. Robert Bovard and Chas W. Lloyd paid Mary McGarvey for the land. I have no idea who Charles Lloyd is, but Robert Bovard is my 5th great grandfather. Robert married Margaret McGarvey. So who was Mary McGarvey?

I lucked out on this one. I went looking for McGarvey wills in Hamilton County, Ohio. The Hamilton County, Ohio probate court records are available online for free. The Hamilton County records were burned a few times, including the original will books. But the court went back through the probate packets and found the original wills and rerecorded them in new books. I found the will of Mary McGarvey that was written in 1828 and probated in 1830.

In the will she gives land to her daughter, Peggy Bovard, wife of Robert Bovard. Happy Dance!

I broke down a brick wall I didn't even know I had. I had assumed that I would never find Margaret's family. I knew she was born in Philadelphia in 1788 and that was where she married Robert and had 2 children before moving to Ohio and then to Indiana. I definitely didn't think I would find her family in Ohio, but it appears that the whole McGarvey family (or most of them) moved to Hamilton County.

It just goes to show that one little document can open up a whole generation of your family tree.


  1. What a nice surprise for you, congratulations!

  2. That's great! And I loved the post title! Sucked me right in!

  3. Excellent! Isn't it amazing to come upon these jewels when you're not even expecting them? I think of this phenomenon as the "zen of genealogy."

  4. Congratulations!

    That is great that the court went through the probate files and re-recorded the wills!

  5. I an fascinated the lengths that people will go to when researching their ancestry. I have more interest in the old photographs that this throws up and spend endless hours restoring them for people. A friend did my family tree a number of years ago and it is amazing how first names travel through history. Good luck with your search I will follow to see how you progress.

  6. Great find! And you are the second case tonight demonstrating the importance of expanding your search! Congrats!

  7. Wow I would like to collaborate the mcgarvey side with Mary. There might be a link as our mcgarvey came from Philadelphia

    Michael mcgarvey

  8. My family also has roots in Philadephia. I would love compare note with you and Michael.

    Gen McGarvey