Wednesday, May 2, 2012

From a World of Brothers to a Life With Daughters

Irish immigrants James and Ellen Flannigan moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with at least four sons and finished up life the proud parents of ten boys. And yet, one of their older surviving sons, John, found himself eventually the proud parent of not boys, but girls.

Of course, his firstborn may possibly be the Patrick “Flanagan” we discussed yesterday, for other records show the second like-named couple in Marquette to be John and Maria. And an 1872 death index entry for Patrick shows his age at death to be eight days, confirming the earlier of the two dates of birth.

After that sad episode early in the married life of our John and Mary, the couple was blessed with five daughters during their years in Michigan. Moving to the little town of Ishpeming by the time of the 1880 census, the Flannigan household now includes Katie, Nellie, Florence and Rosa. The two older girls were born in Marquette, the  next two in nearby Ishpeming, helping to target the date of the family’s move.

Birth records for all of the girls lack that one detail that would give me more confidence that I’m dealing with the right family: maiden name for the mother. However, in all four entries in Return of Births in the County of Marquette, the father’s occupation remains the same: engineer. Presuming that that is not a common designation, we can hope that is one way to distinguish the children of this John and Mary. After all, it agrees with the occupational entry for John in the 1880 census.

The oldest daughter, listed simply as Kate, was born August 23, 1873. Of course, the inevitable happened here: that same misspelling as Flanigan. Complicating matters is the unfortunate entry of Canada as John’s birthplace. And yet, 1873 fits nicely with the age estimate in the 1880 census, which shows Katie still at age six when the census was taken on June 4.

Following Katie was her sister Nellie. I wonder if this child, born on September 8, 1875, was named after her mother’s sister, Ellen.

By the time John and Mary’s third daughter, Florence, was born on December 12, 1877, the family was living in Ishpeming.

The next child to be born to them in Ishpeming was Rosa, who arrived November 9,1879, less than a year before the 1880 census was taken.

Times being what they were in the Upper Peninsula in the late 1800s, large families did not always remain large families, and that turned out to be the case for John and Mary, too. Shortly after the 1880 census, their daughter Florence succumbed to bronchitis on April 26, 1882.

That date was perilously close to another family event: the birth of the Flannigans’ fifth daughter, Grace, who arrived earlier that same month on the seventeenth. Perhaps these extenuating circumstances partly explain why the family—or at least Mary and Florence—had returned from Ishpeming to Marquette.

Regardless of the reason for returning to Marquette, the entire family was about to embark on a much larger trip: the move from John Flannigan’s decades-long home in Michigan to a different mining region: the Rockies.

The Flannigans were moving to Colorado.

Photograph: View of Downtown Marquette, Michigan, looking up Front Street, circa 1909; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain. 

1 comment:

  1. You really got a handle on this bunch it seems - sounds like you found a great source!

    I like that photo of "downtown". An engineer was anyone that operated steam powered machinery - not just a train locomotive "driver." Many of the manufacturers of the day had their own power plants and an engineer (or more) to keep it operating.


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