Descendant Genealogies

The McCormicks of Strokestown, County Roscommon, Ireland

John and Catherine McDonnell McCormick were married in the Strokestown Roman Catholic Parish on January 23, 1845. James McDonnell and Jane Conniff were witnesses to the marriage. From what I know of the family history, their lives must have been extremely difficult, as 1845 was the first year of the famine.

I am aware of five sons born to John and Catherine.

Michael - 1851
James - 1853
Patrick - 1855
John - November, 1860
Francis - October 4, 1864

Notice that there are no living children born from the time of their marriage in 1845 until approximately 1851. The fourth son, John was baptized at the Strokestown Roman Catholic Parish on November 9, 1860, with Michael Carlos and Bridget Conlon as godparents. Francis McCormick was born in the Strokestown Workhouse on October 4, 1864. Francis' birth registration indicates that the family was from the townland, Corboghil, near Strokestown. However, no McCormick is listed in the Griffiths Valuation for Corboghil. I am amazed that a family with five children survived such an ordeal.

Sometime between 1864 and 1871, the McCormicks emigrated to Bolton, Lancashire County, England. Bolton was a very industrialized town with many iron foundries, cotton mills and at least one paper mill. The family lived in the center of town, in the area known as Irish Newtown. Housing was extremely substandard and unsanitary, according to the Bolton Sanitary Committee at that time. Needless to say, the pollution must have been incredible. Many Roscommon families lived in this area of crowded streets and alleys. There were several McCormick and McDonnell families nearby. They were probably close relatives, but that cannot be established with certainty.

According to the 1871 Bolton Census, the McCormicks lived at 5 Andrew Street. John McCormick was a laborer in the paper mill, along with son James (18) and lodger James McDonnell (18). Son Michael (20) and lodger Thomas Lyons (19) were laborers in the Iron Works. Patrick (16), my great grandfather, was a piecer in the (cotton?) mill. Youngest sons John (11) and Francis (6) were “scholars.” Wife Catherine was not employed outside the home.

The following decade brought many changes for the family. My great grandfather, Patrick (21) married Catherine Finneran (18), daughter of John and Ellen Hanley Finneran at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church on October 18, 1877. The Finnerans were also from Roscommon and emigrated to Bolton some time after 1871. The Finnerans lived at 158 Blackhorse Street , one block from the McCormicks. Mary McDermott and Martin Killelea witnessed the marriage. Patrick's mother in law, Ellen Hanley Finneran (47) died of colon cancer on February 12, 1878. My grandfather Michael was born on July 1 that same year. His godparents were John Conaughty and Elizabeth Hester. My grandfather would never admit that he was born in England. Instead he claimed he was born on the ship. The following year, John McCormick died of pneumonia on January 9, 1879. His age was given as 42, probably understated by 15 years. Patrick and Catherine's second child, Ellen was born on February 12, 1880. John Tully and Ellen Standen were her godparents.

By the time of the 1881 Census, Catherine McCormick and her two youngest sons, John (20) and Francis (16) had moved to 16 Andrew Street. Both sons were employed as iron foundry laborers. I can find no record of her oldest son Michael. James (29 and single), also an iron foundry laborer, was a lodger at the home of Isaac Mackey at 8 Barn Street. Patrick McCormick and brother in law Patrick Finneran emigrated to Albany, New York, in 1880. Siblings Michael Finneran and Mary Finneran Riley had been in Albany since 1870. The two Patricks' wives and children remained behind in Bolton for two years. Catherine Finneran McCormick and children Michael and Ellen lived at 9 Hall Street. The census indicates that she was employed at a cotton warehouse. Ann Hester Finneran lived at 6 Ward Street with her father in law, John and members of the Hester and Fox families.

By 1891, I can find only young John McCormick living in Bolton. He was 30 and still single . There is no death certificate for Catherine McDonnell McCormick between 1881 and 1891. I can only theorize that one or more of the McCormick sons may have emigrated and Catherine joined them. There is nothing to indicate that they lived in the Albany area.. This leaves more pieces of the puzzle to be discovered.

It is possible that life in Albany was a bit better, but it was still very difficult and marked by tragedies. Patrick McCormick and the Finnerans were laborers in Albany. It is interesting to note that many of their neighbors in Albany had familiar Roscommon names. Several of the row houses they lived in are still standing. At the time of the 1892 Census for Albany, Catherine and Patrick were living at 224 Myrtle Avenue, as was Patrick Finneran’s family. Children John, Mary, Kate and Annie had been born in Albany by that time. Soon after the census was taken, Kate (3 1/2) and John (9) died of Scarlet Fever within a week of each other. Anne (1 1/2) died 10 months later of the croup. By 1894, when Josephine was born, the family had moved to 83 Yates Street. Francis was born 3 years later and the family lived at 154 First Street. Sadly, Patrick McCormick died at home at 171 Third Street on December 25, 1902, of cardiac valvular lesion. He was 47.

Soon after Patrick's death, the family scattered. Mary, who had been employed in an Albany shirt factory, was married a short time after Patrick's death. My grandfather Michael married Anna Gaertner, daughter of German immigrants, in 1904. Michael and Anna took young Francis to live with them for many years. Anna died of influenza during the 1918 epidemic, leaving Michael to raise six children by himself. Young brother Francis enlisted in the army and married Anna Donnelly a short time after. Nellie (Ellen) married James Nichols about 1907 and she and her husband took Josie to live with them. I can find no official census records on Catherine until 1920, when she is listed as a housekeeper for John Morris at 140 Sherman Street. I am told by my mother that she was with him for several years. My mother remembers visiting her on upper Third Street and there was a grape arbor in the back yard. Catherine died of chronic endocarditis on May 1, 1924. She was 65 years old.

Compiled by Lynne Sisk

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