The Harland diaspora
Aunt Margaret and Uncle Thomas with the second family and visitors, Hillside 1902
Sara Herdman ?? - 1892

Sara Herdman (d.1892) was Thomas Harland’s second wife.

It is of some interest to note that Thomas  (1819 ) and Sara were not married in church, but in the Newry Registry Office, on 25 April 1863, with Sara giving the same address in Maytown as her husband. She was obviously needed there to help raise her sister’s orphaned children; but they must have consoled each other too, for their first born was a ‘love child’ who arrived into this world only 28 weeks after their marriage. Agnes Harland was born on 17 November 1863. Thomas and Sara’s union produced two more children: Margaret (b. 26 April 1865) and Thomas (b. 29 March 1870).


Margaret (b. 26 April 1865) had some sort of a serious physical handicap. In the parlance of the period ‘she was a cripple’. She never married and died in Liege, Belgium in Aug. 936 -  she had worked there as a teacher for many years.  Her nephew, Wallace, arranged for her to be buried in Bessbrook; but he had to stop the hearse outside Lisburn, because he had to take time to unscrew all the Catholic emblems from the Belgian-made coffin before proceeding to the Methodist graveyard in Bessbrook - local sensitivities had to b respected.

Although the younger Thomas was only 11 when the first of his nephews was born in 1881, he was always teasingly known amongst the family as ‘Uncle Thomas’. He emigrated to Providence, Rhode Island, and then to the Philadelphia area of USA, where his extended family still lives. Although Thomas had lived and died in USA, he requested cremation so that his ashes would be placed in the grave at Bessbrook. The urn took a very long time to arrive, and this led to enquiries. The report, which caused a great deal of stifled merriment, was that the ashes had been sent home by sea “because he always hated flying”. ‘Uncle’ Thomas, who was a great practical joker, had had the last laugh.  

His second son Conrad (1918) carried out extensive genealogy on that section of clan Harland. Conrad (‘Deenie’) was a graduate of Germantown Friends and lived in the Philadelphia area most of his life, apart from a sojourn of 12 years in retirement in Lakeland Florida   Prior to that he had been a supervisor for SEPTA for 36 years. He had a keen interest in sport, and took part in the Penn Relays in 1934 and 1935.  He was an avid bird watcher and loved to sing .

Sara Harland died on 25 Aug 1892 and was buried in the family plot in  Mulaghglass Old Churchyard.

Part of the  townland of Derrydrummuck, where the Herdman family lived, is known as Wallace's Hill Head.   From  this vantage point the environs of Bessbrook under Camlough Mountain may be seen - some 15 miles away.  Margaret Herdman's fourth grandchild Wallace (1888) often used to repeat the story that he had been named  after  "Praying Jack Wallace of the oul’ hill head".  But Wallace himself was unaware of the fact that this was a real place.  No one living in the area now, seems to know who their Wallace was. Similarly Jack (1885), the third grandson, was named John Herdman Harland, confirming the strong Herdman influence on the next generation.

Camlough Mountain and Slieve Gullion seen from Wallace’s Hill Head