New Dervock exhibit

Our new display of artifacts from the McKinley Ancestral home in Dervock, County Antrim, Ireland.

William McKinley’s Paternal Ancestry

According to H. Wayne Morgan, author of William McKinley and his America:

William McKinley’s paternal ancestors came from the Scotch highlands, where they were famous for their independence. The Caledonian mountains bred a race of men as hardy as their habitat. Few wars passed them by; few hesitated to fight for their beliefs; and unless they faced an unusual opponent, they won their fight. Legend records that in the Battle of Pinkie in 1547 a stalwart highlander named “Findla Morh,” or the Great Findla was killed. In Gaelic his name read “Fion-Laidh,” and was pronounced “I-on-lay.” His four sons took the name MacIanla, meaning “sons of I-on-lay.” Their descendants shortened and simplified the name to MacKinlay. 

The McKinlays, restless as well as hardy, eventually settled near Calender, in Perthshire. In 1690, James MacKinlay, “James the Trooper,” joined the army of William III, en route to Ireland, as a guide, and stayed until after the Battle of the Boyne, July 1, 1690, to found the Irish branch of the family tree.

The story of their ultimate migration to the new world is clouded in history. Why they came, who was involved, and the path of their westward movement is uncertain. That they came to better themselves is undoubtedly true; they may also have come, like the ancestors of William McKinley’s mother, for religious freedom. The earliest MacKinlay immigrant to the New World was David MacKinlay, who at the age of twelve settled in York County, Pennsylvania, early in the eighteenth century. “David the Weaver” as he was called, adopted the “McKinley” spelling.[1]

[1]Morgan, H. Wayne, William McKinley and His America. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1963. 2.


This case is on the floor of the auditorium.


A front-on view of the exhibit.


Miter frame (top) and level (bottom).


Painting of the ancestral home by Eleanor Curtis Ahl.


Shovel (top), level (lower left) and peat spade (lower right).


1925 letter of provenance from John Patrick, telling about these artifacts.


Two scythes (top), handle of peat spade (middle), and two peat bricks (bottom).




Painting of McKinley Ancestral home by Henry Hammond Ahl.


Smooth-handled scythe and rough-handled scythe (top), handle of peat spade (bottom).


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