McCleve Family in Belfast, Ireland


Lionel Nebeker

John McCleve and Nancy Jane McFerren, both from County Down in Ireland, were married on 27 June, 1833.  It is not known where they were married but their first child was born in Crawfordsburn, which was the location where Nancy Jane was raised--a short distance NE of Belfast, and just to the west of Bangor.  John’s trade was as a shoe maker.  Later, he worked for a wealthy landowner, whose name was Alexander Gilmore.  It is not certain what his duties were at for this man, but John admired Mr. Gilmore and appreciated his employment opportunity.  In fact, in 1854 he and Nancy named their youngest son, Alexander Gilmore McCleve in his honor. 

In 1841 the family listened to the LDS missionaries and both parents were baptized in June of that year.  Nancy’s family was supportive of their decision, but John’s was not.  The oldest children were not baptized for another nine years (26 Aug. 1850) after dark in the Irish Sea. 

In 1856 the McCleves were living at #29 Great George’s Street in Belfast.  Their daughter, Margaret McCleve told how they were not far from the ocean and as children would often go down to the sea to collect shells and play on the beach.  Since the city of Belfast is actually located near the mouth of the Lagan River, and Great George’s Street is only a couple blocks from the harbor on this river, it may be that these children spent more time playing on this widening estuary than on the open sea itself. 

Lionel Nebeker & Jolyn Atwood, (2nd great grandchildren of Margaret McCleve) standing on Great George’s Street in Belfast, near the spot where the McCleve family lived just prior to their departure for America in 1856.

Looking west on Great George’s Street in Belfast, Ireland.  This photo was taken from the same spot as the one above, but just turned to look down the street--looking east.  The McCleve home, #29, would have been on the left hand side, about where the car is parked in this photo.  That entire side of the street has been replaced by a freeway that runs east-west along the northern side of downtown Belfast.

Old map of Belfast.  Great George’s Street is outlined with a dark ring.  Note it’s close proximity to the Lagan River which is just opening up into the harbor area.  The downtown area of Belfast is in the center of this map, a bit south of Great George’s Street.  The McCleve home, #29, was close to the left (west) end of this road.

A modern map of Belfast with it’s river and harbor.  Great George’s Street has been highlighted in purple.

A close-up of northern Belfast with the Lagan River in the lower corner.  Great George’s Street has been highlighted in purple.  One can see where the freeway now runs along the northern side of the road and replaced the site where the McCleve’s home once stood.  The McCleve home, #29, would have stood on the north side of this street and near the west end.

In 1856, the McCleve family left Belfast to migrate to Utah with a group of Irish converts.  It was with the help of the “Perpetual Immigration Fund” that they were able to make the journey.  Their two oldest daughters had already gone to America in 1853.  So, at this time, John, Nancy and seven of their children, the oldest traveling with them was their 17 year old daughter, Margaret, boarded the Samuel Curling ship on April 19, 1856 for America.

Perpetual Emigration Fund document signed by Nancy Jane McLeave (sic)

upon her arrival in Salt Lake.  It was signed by her due to the death of her husband,

John McCleve, while still en route to the Salt Lake Valley.

Note that she did not misspell her own name, but rather signed with her X mark. 

Someone else spelled her name for her.

The cost of their trip was $382.41.  This document is from the LDS Church Historical Dept.

There is some disagreement as to the spot where John McCleve died and was buried.  This document, completed by Nancy at that time, states that he died at Bear River, which would have been crossed at the spot where Kemerer, Wyoming is today.  Other family members however, say that he died on the Weber River, just after exiting Echo Canyon, in Utah.  Still others say that he died on “Big Mountain” just as the saints were about to descend into Emigration Canyon, near the spot where Brigham Young, nine years earlier, had first seen the Salt Lake Valley and declared that “this is the right place”.  We are not certain which of these spots is the last resting place for our ancestor, John McCleve.

Nancy Jane McFerren McCleve, wife of John McCleve and mother of Margaret McCleve.

Nancy Jane McFerren McCleve family with Nancy in the center photo.

Nancy’s children are those immediately surrounding her starting with her two oldest daughters at the top of the group.  Their spouses form the outer-most ring.

Margaret McCleve is to the third child, and appears to the left of her mother’s head, with her husband, Mosiah Hancock to the left of Margaret’s photo.

Photo of Margaret McCleve Hancock in her older age.  She was 17 years old when she left Belfast and sailed to America.  She met and married Mosiah Hancock in Utah.  They lived for many years in Payson, and then in southern Utah, eventually settling in Taylor , Arizona where she now lies buried. 

                     John McCleve