Place of migration
Migrated to/Born in USA

My grandfather was born in Strokestown 28 January 1871 to Richard Alexander Lynden, a draper with a business on Church Street, and Anna Maria Lynden (McManus), eldest daughter of a medical doctor. He was born just three weeks after the death of the Lyndens' first child, a daughter whom they had apparently adored. My theory is that they were so shattered by the death of their little girl that they failed to bond with their newborn son -- but that is guesswork on my part. Whatever the reason, they emigrated to America in 1872, leaving my grandfather and his infant brother behind. My grandfather was never able to understand or forgive his parents' abandonment of him.

I know little of my grandfather's early life. Apparently he and infant brother Jimmie were left with cousins, probably the Holtons (James S. Holton was an apothecary in Strokestown, married to the twin sister of the Lynden boys' mother). Their maternal grandmother, Margaret Anna McManus (Morton) also lived in Strokestown so they may have spent some time living with her as well. I have a note from my mother that her father lived with his grandmother in Strokestown when a child. He seems to have attended school in Strokestown on Elphin Street. He could recite the poems he learned by heart in that school well into his eighties!

In 1884, when he was just thirteen, a cousin (also in his teens) suddenly inherited his father's store in Mohill. John moved to Mohill and helped his cousin Arthur Burns run the store. He had a brilliant mind for mathematics and was able to add long columns of numbers in his head. The skills he learned while helping his cousin in Mohill stood him in good stead later in life, when John became owner and operator of a wholesale grocery business in San Francisco.

At seventeen, John emigrated to America, traveling in steerage on the SS Celtic out of Cobh, a White Star liner with a top speed of only 14 knots. He joined his paternal uncles, Henry and John Robert Lynden, who had already been in America since the 1860s and were, by that time (1888), prosperous farmers and ranchers in Lompoc, California. John worked for a time at the Lompoc Landing, but soon pulled up stakes and went north to San Francisco, where he took a business course at Heald College. He graduated Heald College in 1891 and became a U.S. citizen in 1894. We think these photographs may have been taken to commemorate one or the other of these events:

John Lynden worked for a time as a salesman with the United Dairymen in San Francisco. In October of 1903 he met Sarah Mary Steele, an Irish girl connected to a prominent family of dairymen established north of San Francisco in the green hills of Marin and Sonoma counties. He married her in January of 1904, so theirs must have been a whirlwind courtship. Shortly thereafter he went into business with his brother-in-law, Frank Smith, In 1906 they incorporated a business: Smith-Lynden Co., wholesale grocers. The business was located in San Francisco not far from Market Street, where the Embarcadero Center currently stands.Smith Lynden Co.

John married Sarah Mary Steele (1873-1950), a girl from Killycopple in County Down, in San Francisco in 1904. They lived at first in San Francisco, but by 1912 or so had moved to a much larger house in the suburb of Burlingame; John took the train to San Francisco every morning. He was elected to the City Council/City Trustees of Burlingame in 1916 and was re-elected every year until the family moved to Campbell sometime in the 1920s. Meanwhile, he bought orchards in Morgan Hill and made other investments in commercial real estate (including a post office in Burlingame that still serves as a U.S. post office) and land in both California and Arizona. Here is a photo of the Lyndens' home in Burlingame, California:

48 Park Road, Burlingame

In addition to his real estate and business ventures, John also invested successfully in the stock market during the 1920s, saw the crash coming, and liquidated his stock prior to the crash in 1929. So in 1932, John took his wife, all three of his children, and his daughter's husband, on a lengthy tour of Ireland and Europe. Family legend says that he took great pleasure in returning to Ireland in First Class on the same ship in which he left Ireland in Third Class - but my research indicates that the legend is not strictly true; it was a different ship! And a much more "posh" ship than the White Star's little Celtic! But this part of the legend is true: John Ross Lynden came to America in his teens with nothing, and became a wealthy man.

Kindly contributed by Diane Farr.  Read more about the Lynden family at her blog.

Additional Information
Date of Birth 28th Jan 1871 VIEW SOURCE
Date of Death 23rd Dec 1956 VIEW SOURCE
Associated Building (s) St John's Church of Ireland STROKESTOWN  
Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname) Sarah Mary Steele VIEW SOURCE
Father (First Name/s and Surname) Richard Alexander Lynden
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Anna Maria McManus
New Type I have found a note among my mother's "family history" items indicating that when his parents took off for America, John Ross Lynden and his infant brother James Henry Lynden may have been left with Thomas and Mary Jane (Cochran) Hayes of Mohill. They were prominent Methodists and Thomas Hayes, a draper and fabric merchant in Mohill, was the boys' uncle (son of Ellen Lynden and her first husband, James Hayes).
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  • I have additional information I would like to add, but am told when I click "edit" that I do not have permission to edit the bio. This is very frustrating. Several of my ancestor chronicles need to be updated. How do I obtain sufficient credentials to do this? Thank you.


    Tuesday 3rd September 2019 11:34PM
  • Hi Diane,

    I'm sorry to hear of your difficulty in updating your ancestor's profile. As long as you are logged in to the same account you used to create the ancestor profile, you should be able to edit the profile. The edits won't appear however until they've been moderated by the team at IrelandXO, but this usually only takes a couple of days.

    If you continue to have problems with editing please let me know at and we'd be happy to help.

    All the best,

    IrelandXO Team


    Friday 6th September 2019 07:25AM
  • I still cannot edit my grandfather's bio.


    Thursday 28th May 2020 12:25AM
  • Patrick: Yes indeed! A beautiful movie with beautiful music. Apparently it's based on a true story, but if Barry Lyndon was a relative I haven't been able to trace the connection! - By the way, I still receive the message that I lack "credentials" to edit the bios I have posted of my ancestors.


    Tuesday 13th December 2022 08:16PM

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