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American Civil War Buggy

This American Civil War buggy belonged to a priest from County Armagh.

Father Arthur Michael McGinnis, born in 1835, was from Dorsey, County Armagh.  He left Ireland in 1856 for Philadelphia, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest and sent to the small town of Gettysburg in 1861. 

American Civil War Buggy

American Civil War Buggy

Oral family history has it that Father McGinnis was called upon to give the last rites to a dying soldier in the Confederate camp outside Gettysburg.  By the time he returned, the Battle of Gettysburg, which was to define the American Civil War, was about to start. 

Father McGinnis was the first to open his church to receive the dying and wounded from both sides in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

Father McGinnis was transferred from Gettysburg in 1864 to Columbia, Pennsylvania, then to Danville, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1873 aged 38 from ‘apoplexy’ or stroke.

The buggy, which pre-dates the American Civil War, was likely to have come into Father McGinnis’ ownership in his first parish.

The buggy through the generations

Since Father McGinnis owned the buggy, it has moved down the generations through the family maternal line. Father McGinnis’ younger brother James also emigrated to America. He set up a funeral business. On his brother’s death, James inherited the buggy. 

James paid for passage to America for his nephews Arthur and James Mallie, sons of his sister. He brought them into his undertaking business. The two brothers inherited the business from their uncle James when he died in 1899.

Arthur Mallie met his future wife, Ellen McKee, on a visit back to Newtownhamilton, County Armagh. They married and went back to Philadelphia but often returned to Ireland. When Arthur retired, around 1922, they returned to live in Armagh.

He brought Father McGinnis’ buggy with him. Arthur never drove a motor car in Ireland and often was to be seen out in his buggy with his black horse called Beauty.

After Arthur died in 1925, Ellen kept the buggy in a coach house. Ellen died in 1954 and her daughter Agnes O’Tierney (nee Mallie) and son Dr James Mallie donated the buggy to the Ulster Museum. 

Where can I see this buggy?

It is on display in the ‘Emigrants’ exhibition gallery at the Ulster American Folk Park.