Monday, April 30, 2012


We started this journey through the tales of the Flannigan family of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan via a chance find of a newspaper clipping in a grandmother’s personal papers. The trail began with a Chicago priest, Father Patrick Michael Flannigan, whose will named three siblings: Richard, John and Agatha.

We’ve already met Richard—well-known in the region due to his professional connections. We’ve gotten to know Agatha as best we could, owing to the fact that she lived a good portion of her life in the household of her brother Richard.

But before we move on to John, let’s take a look at that list of siblings once again—mainly because we now have two mentions of nieces for which puzzle pieces seem to be missing.

Rewinding the data to about 1870, and returning to Greenland, the original homestead for the Flannigan family since the late 1850s, let’s first look at the census record.

Besides the father, James, and the mother, Ellen, the children in the 1870 census ranged in ages from seventeen to nine. Admittedly, these names don’t line up with what was showing in the 1860 census, but let’s take a tally of where we are now. With each one born in Michigan, we see the sons as William, Mathew, Edward, and Richard. The two daughters are Margaret and Mary (whom I am presuming is the one who turned out to be Mary Agatha).

At this point—1870—Richard and his two sisters are enrolled in school. All the others are listed as laborers.

Conveniently coinciding with this record, and helping us to hone in on the date of the Flannigan family’s move from Greenland in Ontonagon County to the city of Marquette, is this 1873 city directory.

Even with the inevitable misspelling of the surname, we can see our family grouping all given with the address as “Washington near 6th.”
            The father, James, is listed as an engineer.
            William, now about twenty, is a machinist.
            Mathew, a nineteen-year-old, serves as printer.
            Edward, listed as “Ed.” at seventeen, is a carpenter.
            Richard, the youngest at fifteen, is a weighter—though most certainly still also attending school

Yet, from the earlier 1860 census, we see there were also sons Thomas, John and James. Could the James in the city directory actually be the entry for the son, rather than the father? And could either of those other “Flanigan” listings at different addresses actually belong to this family’s own John? And what has become of Thomas?

Of the sons listed in the 1873 directory, we find that three of them are no longer alive by the end of the decade. Mathew, the printer, dies of typhoid fever as a single man on November 16, 1875 in Marquette. Barely a month later, and now listed as a carpenter, his unmarried brother William is accidentally shot and dies on December 19. And in 1879, the same year as his mother’s passing, Edward the carpenter exits life on August 6 from the same ailment that eventually precipitates his mother’s demise in November. Of the sons listed in that 1870 census, the only one remaining by the time of the 1880 census is Richard.

What of the others—the ones who left home before the 1870 census? Of the sons for whom we have names, Thomas and James have left no discernible paper trail—most likely cleverly camouflaged by creative spelling tactics. John—the one son we can vouch for—has moved to Colorado. And Patrick, by the end of that decade, is ordained a priest and headed to Chicago. Of the others making up the unnamed list of James and Ellen’s reported “ten sons” we have no clue.

But there were daughters—besides Agatha, a Catherine and a Margaret. And later, there were nieces reported—Katie Cook and Mrs. William Crago—that will help hone our search parameters.

Until those hidden trails reveal some clear direction, though, our next focus will be yet another Flannigan to head to Colorado: John.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Becoming Less Invisible

Details regarding what seemed to be the near-invisible Mrs. R. C. Flannigan have surfaced—thanks to a family researcher—painting her as a more interesting individual, quite knowledgeable in a number of pursuits for which she had become noted.

Long before her well-known husband had passed away, an academic paper published by the University of Michigan had expressed thanks for the Flannigans’ role in furthering the author’s study in “The Mollusca of Dickinson County, Michigan.” The paper explained that, “The party made their headquarters the hunting camp of Mr. R. C. Flannigan, on the south shore of Brown Lake, about 11 miles north of Waucedah, Dickinson County, Michigan.” On page two of his preface to this paper, author H. Burrington Baker further explained that he wished to “express his obligations to Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Flannigan, especially the latter, for acting as guides on several occasions, and for trips to points around Norway, and for their kind hospitality.”

Another mention in The Wilson Bulletin provided a possible clue as to what kind of “guide” Mrs. Flannigan might have been.
To Mrs. Flannigan goes the honor of placing the first band on a Hummingbird, also Bohemian Waxwing, and she is in the lead in banding Chipping Sparrows, Phoebe’s and Chimney Swifts, 65 bands placed.
Two other journal entries cataloged Mrs. Flannigan’s participation in similar bird banding exercises.

It seems that Mrs. Flannigan had earned respect for her own interests in various zoological fields while her husband pursued excellence in his own career.

Having lost her husband, the Honorable Richard C. Flannigan, in 1928, it appears that Mrs. R. C. Flannigan had chosen to join her son, Clement, in the city that had become his newfound home—Colorado Springs. However, Clement’s passing in 1932 had left Mrs. Flannigan in the awkward position of being far from her former home in Michigan, yet having no apparent family to tie her to her new location—unless she had maintained connections with Richard’s brother John, who long before had moved to Colorado himself. John’s location in Leadville was quite a distance from Clement’s home in Colorado Springs. I have no indication of any continuing family connection, but it is a possibility worth considering—something that may become more evident once we explore John’s branch of the family.

Then again, the enigmatic Mrs. Flannigan may have developed more of such connections in Colorado as we’ve just discovered of her university associations while in Michigan. There is so much more that needs to be uncovered about this family’s history.

However, there were not too many months, subsequent to Clement’s passing, in which to consider details of her personal activities and social choices, for once again a newspaper—back home in Michigan, rather than in any Colorado Springs publications—reports of another Flannigan family member returning home.

From the Ironwood Daily Globe, Tuesday, August 15, 1933, page 7:
            Iron Mountain—Word of the death of Mrs. Richard C. Flannigan, aged 75, of Colorado Springs, Colo., widow of the late Justice Flannigan, of Norway, was received in Norway Saturday by her sister-in-law, Miss Agatha Flannigan. Mrs. Flannigan died at 9:15 o’clock Saturday morning at her home following a lingering illness. The body, accompanied by Mrs. Flannigan’s niece, Mrs. William Crago, of Colorado Springs, was to arrive in Marquette this morning, where funeral services have been tentatively set for 9 o’clock.
Agonizingly enough, once again we fall victim to newspaper error, although in this iteration of reporting error, an entire column line is misplaced and substituted by an aggravating non sequitur just at the point which would have explained why or when Anna left Michigan for Colorado.
            Mrs. Flannigan left Norway five years ago following the death of her husband. She went to Color- [in the following line of the article is inserted, “Lake Superior and Cartigan on,” followed by the appropriate continuation of the article] Clement, who died in October of 1932.
Which robs us, once again, of a fuller picture of just who Anna Mary Haessly Flannigan really was.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So There Was a Son

While so much attention was focused on the career of the Honorable Richard C. Flannigan, details of his personal life seemed to recede far to the background. Not only did his wife, the near-anonymous “Mrs. R. C. Flannigan” seem cloaked in proper Victorian spousal invisibility, but the fact that he had, also, a son seems barely mentioned.

There was record of a birth to the young Mr. and Mrs. Flannigan on October 28, 1888, in the Menominee County register—then the county of record for the Flannigan’s Norway, Michigan, residence—listing the son’s name as William C. Flannigan. However, starting with the 1894 Michigan State Census, the six-year-old child was recorded as Clement. By the time of the 1900 Federal Census, it seems the names were reversed, as the Flannigan’s eleven year old son showed as “Clement W.” By the time of the 1910 census, Clement was now a university student, though listed as residing in his parents’ home.

I have yet to discover the explanation for this next move, but by the 1920 census Clement moved from Michigan to live in Colorado Springs.

This is where things get elusive. Further searches reveal that Clement was actually in the Springs as early as 1916, if a listing in the R. L. Polk City Directory for that year may be believed. The directory has Clement listed there as having a business address on North Nevada Street. The 1921 directory shows the same North Nevada Street address to be listed as his residence—although his name has once again morphed, this time to “Clement R.”

Indeed, it is Clement R. Flannigan in the 1920 census, too, at that same North Nevada Street address—although it turns out to be a boarding house. There, he is listed as a single man. For occupation, the entry is “none.”

Things have changed by the time of the 1930 census. A tree-shaded pleasant neighborhood just north of downtown Colorado Springs has become home to the recently-widowed Mrs. R. C. Flannigan and her son. The home, owned free and clear, is valued at $28,000—quite a comfortable sum for those times. Clement’s occupation, this time, is listed as “broker” for his “own business.” There is no indication of which line of work that business might involve. However, the name of the business, we discover from the Polk Directory for 1931, is Hazlehurst, Flannigan and Company.

There is not much more to be found online for the young William C.—or Clement W., er Clement R.—Flannigan. There is a mention of his serving as best man for his friend, returning home in 1921 for the wedding of Miss Kathleen Elizabeth Sutherland and Mr. Robert James O’Callaghan at St. Ambrose church in Ironwood, Michigan. I slogged through the unbearably unwieldy online text of some University of Michigan alumni publication to find only a small mention that Clement R. Flannigan, class of 1911, had joined with other Michigan alumni in the Colorado Springs area for an October 31 buffet lunch and play-by-play review of “the Harvard game” during some undisclosed year.

The eye is arrested in this fruitless search, however, by a newspaper notice back in Clement’s Upper Peninsula homeland on October 25, 1932:
Marquette—Word has been received here of the death of Clement Flannigan, 43, son of the late Justice R. C. Flannigan of the Michigan Supreme Court, and Mrs. Flannigan. The death occurred in Colorado Springs and the body will be returned here for burial.
Perhaps Colorado Springs civil records have not yet been digitized and added to the vast supply of online repositories so convenient for such genealogical research. Perhaps it is ditto for those local newspapers. Nothing has come up in online inquiries for these records. Without other means to research locally, for now, the mystery of why Clement moved from Michigan to Colorado—and what business he engaged in once he set up residence there—will have to remain unresolved.  It looks like the end of the line, not only for search results for Clement, but for descendants of Richard Flannigan’s line.

Photograph, above left, of the Santa Fe Depot in Colorado Springs, Colorado, built in 1917, as published on an undated postcard; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Portrait and Postscripts

The Hon. Richard C. Flannigan
After what seemed like a brief moment serving as Chief Justice of the Michigan State Supreme Court, Richard Flannigan’s passing in Chicago was followed by his funeral mass back home in Norway, Michigan. His body was laid to rest at the Flannigan family mausoleum at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Marquette.

Because of that role as Chief Justice though—no matter how brief—he was subsequently recognized for his services in a ceremony at the state capitol a little over a year later. The June 12, 1929, special session of the Supreme Court had as its agenda the memorial and presentation of portraits of several Supreme Court Justices. In an unusual twist of circumstances, the Court had experienced the loss—“three times within a startlingly short space of time”—of seated Justices, for which this special session had been called.

Gathering in Lansing at the Senate Council Chambers, Supreme Court Justices, members of the Michigan State Bar and family members of the honorees were addressed by state dignitaries while those departed were eulogized. Mrs. R. C. Flannigan and her son, Clement, were on hand to present the portrait of Richard Flannigan.

The portrait was an oil on canvas of modest dimensions, now located at the fourth floor lobby of the Hall of Justice at the state capital. The artist, credited by the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society as “M. C. Clamont,” is alternately listed as “John McClymont” in the records of the Smithsonian Institution. While it is difficult to find any online reference for either of the two names, the Smithsonian does record several other portraits done by a John Ingliss McClymont who lived from 1858-1934. Interestingly, a number of those portraits are held by the State Historical Society of Colorado and the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs, Colorado—a location which we will shortly discover to be of significance to the Flannigan family.

In a newspaper report back home announcing the upcoming ceremony honoring Richard Flannigan, the Ironwood Daily Globe also happened to mention another honor bestowed upon this judge just before his passing. Pope Pius XI had conferred upon Richard Flannigan the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Gregory—the “highest honor that the head of the Roman Catholic Church can confer upon a layman”—in recognition of his “great service to the church and to his community and state.” Perhaps in a nod of remembrance to his now-long-deceased brother, Father Patrick M. Flannigan, Richard had still, amidst his demanding professional obligations, endeavored to keep his faith close at hand.

Of course, his notable moment in history has since—after all these years—earned him a mention in the Political Graveyard (scroll halfway down the alphabetized page) and even a “stub” from his two listings in the massive online encyclopedia, Wikipedia (which I see as a call for someone to fulfill a family historian’s duty). But what Richard Flannigan has represented to me is a person whose faith infused his life’s outlook with character qualities of diligence in the face of hardship and equanimity despite the pressures of national attention.

It’s been a privilege getting to know you, Your Honor. How I wish your spirit could be replicated in the actions of more leaders today.

Above left: portrait of the Honorable Richard C. Flannigan, Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, 1928; detail as recorded at the Smithsonian Institution.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Six Cents Jurist

Richard C. Flannigan, presiding judge in the 1913 libel case brought by former President Theodore Roosevelt, served for the next fourteen years as Circuit Court judge in his district. While he was long recognized for his skill and wisdom, no other case may have brought him the national recognition that this incident afforded him. Described as presiding over a “jewel box of a courtroom” with its “paneled and gilded chamber crowned with a dome of stained glass,” Judge Flannigan’s every decision in the matter was reported as it unfolded, in newspapers from the Upper Peninsula to New York to Washington, D. C.

While Theodore Roosevelt’s day in court may have resulted in a six cents judgment—actually being “nominal damages” as defined by the State of Michigan at that time—the cost to the plaintiff far exceeded that token award. The result of Mr. Roosevelt’s desire to clear himself of such frivolous charges had amounted to forty thousand dollars—a sum for which his wife bemoaned the “family pocketbook would flap emptily in every breeze.”

Despite the notoriety of the unusual event, the furor in Marquette came and went, and court proceedings continued as usual for the remainder of Judge Flannigan’s term. Fourteen years later, though, serendipity presented itself once again when a Michigan Supreme Court Justice resigned his post. Michigan’s Governor Fred Green called upon the Marquette jurist to fill the position, appointing Richard Flannigan on September 29, 1927.

Quickly responding to the call, Justice Flannigan assumed his duties at the state capital on October 4 of that year. However, not long after arriving in Lansing, an illness caused him to seek treatment at a Chicago hospital, where he remained several weeks. Disregarding medical advice, he felt the need to resume his duties, during which time he wrote a number of opinions which were “unanimously concurred in by all the other members of the Court.”

In January 1928, Richard Flannigan assumed the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Michigan. That honor was not to be held for long, though, as illness struck once again. Returning to Mercy Hospital in Chicago to seek treatment for pleurisy, after three weeks of medical care, he passed away on the seventeenth of February.

Perhaps owing to the aura of that exuberant personality that once graced his Marquette courtroom, R. C. Flannigan’s passing did not go unnoticed. Headlines again picked up the Associated Press story of the jurist who had once presided over the courtroom scene of the aggrieved Mr. Roosevelt. Dallas, New York, and others reported the loss of the Six Cent Jurist, an interesting passage of Upper Peninsula local color—and a mourned loss for the State of Michigan.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thanks From a Rough Rider

If the saying is on target, everyone will, at some point, experience his or her fifteen minutes of fame. Better to be prepared before one’s time approaches.

No one could argue that Upper Peninsula attorney Richard C. Flannigan had neglected his due diligence in preparation. Before long, his thriving legal practice extended beyond the doors of his Norway, Michigan, office and he had represented a number of important corporations in the area, including the United States Steel Corporation.

Perhaps serendipity heralded that approaching fifteen minutes for Mr. Flannigan. In 1909, a local circuit court judge was elected to the Michigan Supreme Court, leaving a vacancy in his unexpired term back home in the Upper Peninsula. Then-Governor Fred M. Warner appointed Richard Flannigan to fill that position as Judge of the Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit. His appointment was endorsed by all political parties in the district, demonstrating the unusual level of support that he enjoyed among his neighbors and peers.

Not long after this appointment, a slice of history delivered itself to the front steps of Judge Flannigan’s courthouse. None other than Theodore Roosevelt, himself, was campaigning in the area—as a third party candidate running against his successor to the White House, William Howard Taft. Roosevelt’s route that fall led through the Upper Peninsula towns of Marquette and Houghton.

A local newspaper editor had gone to hear the former President speak in Marquette. Taking up a personal issue with the candidate—as often happens in such scenarios—this editor chose to wield his pen to express those views publicly.

Rather than stick to the issues of the campaign, however, the editor wandered dangerously close to murky editorial territory, repeating in print what some others had affirmed to him as truth. The editor published his report, including accusations of various character weaknesses. Unfortunately, this editor also included the statement that, in the course of his trip through the Upper Peninsula, Theodore Roosevelt was “not infrequently” drunk.

Not surprisingly, Theodore Roosevelt sued the editor for libel and the trial commenced after the close of the election. At the Marquette County courthouse, the case was tried before a twelve-person jury beginning on May 27, 1913, with the Honorable Richard C. Flannigan presiding.

Considering the cast of players in this drama, the whole story attracted a local following in the packed courthouse—as well as national and even international attention. Mr. Roosevelt was represented by three attorneys—one local, one from Detroit, and one from New York. The defendant was equally armed. A veritable Who’s Who of governmental dignitaries came to Mr. Roosevelt’s aid to affirm his sterling character.

At the conclusion, the defendant took the stand and admitted that he was unable to substantiate his published claims. Those who had made the assertions that were the basis of his editorial had retracted their statements and would not stand as witnesses. The editor was left only being able to make the statement that he had not published those remarks with any malice.

At this point in the trial came a surprising turn of events. Theodore Roosevelt asked the judge for permission to speak once again. Though his attorneys had pursued an award of ten thousand dollars, given the outcome and comments by the defendant, Mr. Roosevelt requested only “nominal charges.”

It was at this point that the judge instructed the jurors to return a verdict of a mere six cents, which they did.

Toward the close of that 1913 case, a local paper, The Escanaba Morning Star reported on the front page of its June 1st edition a remark by the former President: 
I must say that the presiding judge in this court is one of the most fair; one of the most learned and one of the most dignified with whom it has been my pleasure to sit before. I consider Judge Flannigan to be the ideal type of the true American jurist; than that no higher compliment can be paid to any man.
According to a statement made many years later by the Honorable J. J. O’Hara, Judge Flannigan received the thanks of the former President “for his eminent fairness and the dignified manner in which he had conducted the case.”

Richard C. Flannigan continued to serve capably as the Circuit Court Judge for his district for many years, leaving that position in 1927 only upon appointment to an even higher honor: that of Michigan Supreme Court Justice.

Photograph, above right: Colonel Theodore Roosevelt in Rough Rider uniform; courtesy United States Library of Congress via Wikipedia; in the public domain.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Learning More About Anna

The almost-invisible Mrs. R. C. Flannigan has been causing me some grief—research grief. I can’t seem to be able to let her past alone. Why was she called “Haessly” in some records, yet “Hurley” in the marriage index?

I asked that question out loud yesterday, and thankfully a reader related to this Flannigan line came to my rescue. Connie Martel, a descendant of Richard and Patrick’s brother John—whom we’ve yet to research here—sent me, among other items, an excerpt from a private family publication she had received from a Hurley family researcher.

According to this person’s research, Anna was born in Wisconsin around 1858—1859 according to the 1860 census—in a household in Outagamie County which turns out to be right next door to her mother's own parents. Sometime after her father’s death (possibly by 1865) her mother moved the young family to Marquette, Michigan. Although I am not able to find any online record of the marriage, Anna’s mother, the former Margaret McGillan, married Timothy Hurley, Senior, a widower living in Marquette.

While in Marquette, according to this researcher, Anna served as school teacher for several years up until the time of her marriage to Richard Flannigan—which marriage, incidentally, was officiated by Richard’s brother, the recently ordained Catholic Priest, Patrick M. Flannigan. The fact that the marriage index showed Anna’s maiden name as Hurley may have been a nod to her step-father, either as a gesture to honor him, or as an indication that he may actually have adopted her. However, in later-life records, Mrs. Flannigan sometimes was listed as the former "Miss Anna Haessly."

The name Haessly, admittedly not a common surname here in the United States, has appeared in some census records as attributed to Prussia or Germany—most likely reflecting the political status of the country at the time of each census. One researcher whose material is available at Rootsweb shows the point of origin of this family line to be Baden-Württemberg in Germany. Another online discussion of the surname’s origin links it to the German spelling Häßle, which understandably suffered a number of spelling permutations once it hit American shores.

Another facet of the name-change story is what had become of Anna’s mother, Margaret. While Anna’s father was listed as Nathan Haessly—admittedly for which there is no substantiating documentation available that I can find—and her (possibly) adoptive father was noted as Timothy Hurley, Senior, what of Anna's mother, Margaret? I can find no records confirming family traditions regarding her difficult, twice-widowed course. Thinking to find the evidence with Margaret’s own death certificate, I uncover yet a third husband: a Mr. Cooney, who has left Margaret thrice-widowed by departing before Margaret’s own demise in 1902.

Seeing that 1902 death certificate reminded me that I had already seen the Cooney surname before: in Richard and Anna’s residence for the 1900 U. S. Census, proving once again that this family has got me running in circles.

Monday, April 23, 2012

On a Personal Note

Even though he was most certainly busy with his demanding career as an attorney, Richard Flannigan evidently had time to notice, before moving away from Marquette, the young daughter of a widow who had, some time back, moved to town from Wisconsin. The young lady’s name was Anna—or sometimes she was called Annie Mary—and she found herself, at some point in 1884, saying “yes” to the proposal of the tall, slender attorney.

Richard and Anna’s marriage day on November 11, 1884, found them embarking on a move to the newly-established mining company town of Norway, Michigan. From that point on, in true fashion for those times, the new Mrs. Flannigan assumed the anonymity of married life. Notwithstanding the wilds of her new environs, barely a mention can be found of her, as befitted a woman of proper late-Victorian era society. Acknowledged as “Mrs. R. C. Flannigan” even in the 1894 Michigan state census, she did finally emerge in public records as “Annie,” the young mother, by the time of the 1900 federal census. She assumed the more dignified persona of “Anna” once reaching the 1910 census, and remained so listed until her transition as widow to a new residence in Colorado, where we find her, once again, going by the name “Annie” in the 1930 census.

Tracking Mrs. Flannigan’s first name gives barely the researcher’s grief bestowed on one determined to connect her with her birth family. While family researchers online maintain that her maiden name was spelled “Haessly”—an understandably challenging surname for census takers to master—the scanned copy of the Marquette county marriage index shows that her maiden name was written as “Hurley” with a wide-open top for that “u” rather than a sloppily-closed “a.” Her record in the 1880 census in Marquette showed the same clearly-written name: Hurley. This is definitely not the case of a feeble attempt at transcribing such a challenging name as “Haessly.” With a puzzle such as this, I certainly entertain opening up that continuing conversation and asking any family researchers to add their comments to clarify this mystery with any records they’ve found.

Richard Flannigan and his wife had one child, a son whom they called Clement—at least according to the census records. The Norway, Michigan, birth index shows his name as “William C.” for the October 28, 1888, event. Unfortunately, here also, governmental records let us down as to the full identity of the invisible Mrs. R. C. Flannigan.

Surely, though, those records would not fail us at the other end of life, as modern sensibilities intrude upon those Victorian scruples. But where are Anna’s death records? Or even of Clement’s name on any death certificate? I can find nary a trace—at least at this point, online—of the man, under either the given name of William or Clement, nor of his mother’s own death certificate. In the funeral notice back in her Michigan home town, she has reverted back to the colorless "Mrs. Flannigan" once again. Like mother, the son, too, has become invisible, dashing any hopes of retrieving Anna’s own maiden name.

Meanwhile, as government records are failing the family on a personal level in any possibility of leaving a trail for future heritage-hunters, the young family’s patriarch continues his march toward greater application of his considerable professional acumen.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An Upward Trajectory

Because having a network of friends and supporters is so critical to anyone embarking on a business endeavor, it is hard to imagine young attorney Richard Flannigan starting to build his practice by moving to an entirely different town. There had to be something drawing him to his new location in Norway, Michigan. Looking into history records, we might be able to tease some information from the data to see what Richard was pursuing in the little town of Norway.

In 1881, when Richard Flannigan moved to Norway—then, up until 1891, a part of Menominee County—he was a single man having just been admitted to the bar in Marquette. Though mining and railroad concerns were to occupy his professional attention in the near future, according to one narrative, it appears his first duty was to serve as Menominee County Prosecutor—although mention is made in a different turn-of-the-century history book that he was actually elected to this position in 1886. According to some reports of the time, he had also capably served “in criminal practice” and as a trial lawyer.

At some time in the late 1880s, though, Richard Flannigan’s practice underwent a shift in focus, perhaps paralleling the succesful rise in the mining industry in this Upper Peninsula region. He became “very active and prominent as a business lawyer, handling extensive business transactions, representing organizations that have large and important financial interests.” By 1890, perhaps in conjunction with his affiliation with these mining interests, he was appointed attorney for the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company, a position which he held for the next twenty years.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, the town in which Richard Flannigan lived began the process of incorporating as a city. Not surprisingly, Richard had a hand in these legal proceedings, too. Perhaps that is why he found himself elected as Norway’s first mayor upon completion of their incorporation in 1891. Or perhaps he was just an ardent participant in political matters. He did, subsequent to this political position, also serve for eighteen years on the Norway School Board, including a term as its president.

Despite his thriving practice, claiming clients among “the more important mining corporations” of the Menominee Range, and though he also enjoyed success in his minor political role in his new hometown, Richard Flannigan’s career was still pursuing an upward trajectory. Concerning professional recognition and assignments, there was yet more to come.

Photograph, above right: The Menominee County Courthouse in Michigan, which until the 1891 formation of Dickinson County, served as courthouse for the area encompassing the then-township of Norway, Michigan.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Before It Became His Honor

Behind the simple listing of the name “R. C. Flannigan” in the news report of his older brother Patrick’s will lies a story studded with the rugged individualism of one lifting himself by his own bootstraps to high achievement—or so it might seem. R. C., or Richard Charles as it turned out after a bit of online research, was most likely born in the humble log cabin pictured here in Thursday’s post. In a family that claimed him twelve other siblings in total, he couldn’t escape the reality of the hard work necessary to survive in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

A biographical sketch puts the scene of his early educational training in a “pioneer log schoolhouse” in Ontonagon County. Sometime after the 1870 census—which shows the Flannigan family residing in Greenland Township in Ontonagon County—the family moved to Marquette. There, as one 1911 history records it, young Richard found work as a checking clerk and bell boy at the scales of the Marquette, Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad some time after attaining the ripe old age of twelve. He eventually advanced to a position on the ore docks.

Richard continued his schooling each year after the docks closed down for the fall. However, his—or the family’s—economic situation must have required that he shoulder more of his share of the burden, for he sought a year-round position with his company. There was only one offer made to him. It was for the position of assistant to an agent in another town, at the monthly salary of twenty dollars.

This is where serendipity kicks in: someone in a law office in town offered Richard a position that would enable him to stay at home in Marquette—all at the same salary as the out-of-town position with the railroad.

Surrounded, in this new job, by all sorts of opportunity for study, law thankfully became a subject for which he developed an interest. After four years serving in the law offices of Parkes and Hayden, Richard had benefited from due diligence in studying the material at hand. He was able to enter the law department of the University of Michigan.

Schooling, degree requirements and the plain old burdens of life being different then than they are now, after one year of study, Richard ran out of funds and had to return to Marquette. This didn’t present much of an obstacle to his ambitions, though, for he soon found a position with another law office in Marquette. When he reached the age of twenty one, Richard applied to the Circuit Court of Marquette for admission to the bar. Once his request was granted, Mr. Flannigan began his practice in Marquette, where he remained until 1881, when he relocated to Norway, Michigan.

I am not sure what prompted that move to Norway, rather than a return to his family’s home town. However, because of Richard’s involvement in the legal affairs of both mining interests and railroads, his proximity to the area of Iron Mountain may have been seen as helpful to his own future prospects. In any event, Norway, Michigan, became the location of Richard C. Flannigan's practice and residence for many years to come.

Photograph, above: The Marquette County, Michigan, Court House, built 1902-1904, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places; photo courtesy USDA Economic Research Service via Wikipedia; photo in the public domain.

Friday, April 20, 2012

News Flash: It’s Finally Here!

There used to be, in broadcasting, a particular way that announcers employed to break into what was called their “regularly scheduled programming.” (I have no idea what would qualify an on-air segment as “irregularly-scheduled programming”—but I digress.) With the package that arrived late yesterday afternoon in the mail, I received sufficient cause to do, here, just that: interrupt our conversation about the Flannigan family of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

For, you see, someone promised us via a telephone call on Monday morning, a week ago, that by the end of this week, we would have a particular package we had been seeking. Yes, that package: a copy of the entire personnel file from two branches of the United States military—the Navy, and what eventually became the Air Force—for one specific person. That particular person was Francis Xavier Stevens, whose World War II letters home to his folks in Chicago have been shared here in a series spanning the last few months of 2011.

Since it was about his father, my husband did the honors of engaging his Swiss Army knife in slicing open the folder and carefully extracting the cover letter from our contact person at the National Personnel Records Center and removing two tidy bundles—one for each branch in which Frank had served.

Though these were merely photocopied sheets of personnel records, many full of unintelligible codes or redundant facts, I felt an inexplicable awe in handling each page—inspecting each and, one by one, flipping them over in order until the whole packet was reviewed. Perhaps it was the milieu in which I sat turning the pages: in the light of the setting sun, comfortable on the couch as my daughter’s evocative Skyrim sound track gently coaxed my mood. I sensed a metamorphosis transpiring as each page, each bit of data, reassembled an aspect of the life of the person who meant much to his family.

Everything we had already gleaned from Frank’s letters was all there. We found the specific dates for his work in Saudi Arabia. We discovered he even did a stint at the American University in Beirut. Of course, his assignment in England was documented, although it included some other details I knew nothing about.

Some of the places were now verified in these pages where I had just guessed about his assignments when I was writing about them—for instance, the family’s stop in South Carolina was indeed at Donaldson Air Force Base. On some of the places I knew little about—like Frank’s assignment in Japan—I still haven’t uncovered the specifics. I’ll have to come up with a way to decode the hospital facility number in the “Far East” where he served in the late 1950s.

Of course, I’m already devising a system that will allow me to glean the pertinent facts from these pages and lay them out in an orderly fashion—construct a time line, perhaps, or some way to let my mind grapple with all those intangible codes, acronyms, dates and places. In some ways, this raw data is still a puzzle and needs some manipulation before it assumes the organized fashion that will allow me to call it completed. To be able to have gone every step of the way with this veteran of World War II would have been impossible for me, but now that we’ve completed this leg of our research “journey” at least we are better equipped to recognize him for what he went through, what he did, and its impact on  others.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

About The Captain

Captain James Flannigan
Holding out for the names and details on the thirteen children of James and Ellen Sullivan Flannigan may seem to be a long shot. However, let’s start out with what we know. Because Captain Flannigan was evidently well-known and respected in his circles in the Upper Peninsula, we can glean quite a bit from online narratives, despite not being able to locate him in the 1850 census.

Taking a peek at these resources will also unfold some details on the family that will help to connect the original source of our inquiry—Father Patrick M. Flannigan of St. Anne’s Church in Chicago—to the rest of this family.

According to the census records we have located, James Flannigan is listed as being sixty four years of age in the 1880 census. Before doing the math, however, let’s see how that matches with previous census records. Perhaps it was his wife Ellen—missing from the 1880 census as she died just short of that decennial report—who kept track of all those pesky details such as dates of birth, as we run into contrary numbers in the earlier records. The 1870 census shows James at age fifty six with his wife aged fifty one. Minus ten years for the 1860 census, and that is exactly what is showing: James at forty six, Ellen at forty one. Conclusion: James was born on or about 1814, Ellen around 1819.

Census records show the couple as both born in Ireland. Presumably, their marriage also occurred in the old country, as some of their oldest children show that same place of birth on the census records. As to how the family arrived in their new homeland, we’ve yet to discover. What is evident so far, though, is that they carried a heartfelt faith with them from the traditions of their Irish heritage when they crossed the ocean.

The Flannigan homestead in Greenland, Michigan
The first reference found, courtesy of “Iggy,” is a quaint mention of the Flannigan family in a 1906 history of the Catholic diocese of the Upper Peninsula. Mentioning the travels of their Bishop, Frederic Baraga, as he tours the missions and outposts of his responsibility, Rev. Antoine Ivan Rezek’s History of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette confirms the hospitality of the Flannigan family as far back as the late 1850s.
From the Minnesota Mine Bishop [Frederic] Baraga walked to Maplegrove, or Greenland of now-a-days. The home of the Flannigans opened its hospitable door to him. It was only a small log cabin but the people who lived in it ennobled it far above residences of modern demand. James Flannigan and his wife, Ellen, together with their children, lived in the small log house blessed with true Christian happiness. Whenever the bent and withered form of the saintly Bishop appeared in their door his visit only increased their happiness. She, like a Martha of old, hastened to serve to the small and few wants of the exalted guest, while from under the heavy brows of the sturdy captain gleamed a kindlier light than usual. We regret not being able to give the good lady's photo, none having ever been taken.
On the lot adjoining Flannigan's home stood the church, the same as it stands there today. There Bishop Baraga preached in several languages and confirmed, Sunday, October 3rd, fifteen persons.
More was provided on James and Ellen from an excerpt of the lengthy 1911 book, A History of the Northern Peninsula of Michigan and its People. Written by Alvah L. Sawyer, it included—on page 631—a section on the professional accomplishments of their well-known son, Richard C. Flannigan, within which excerpt his parents were mentioned.
Born and reared in County Waterford, Ireland, Captain James Flannigan was for many years engaged in mining in the old country. Emigrating to the United States in the "forties," he located at Ontonagon, becoming one of the pioneers of the Upper Peninsula, and one of the very first to mine copper in this region. He was subsequently joined by his wife and their four children, who came over from Ireland in a sailing vessel. After a few years he was made captain of the Forest, now the Victoria Mine, and retained that position as long as he was able to work. On retiring from active pursuits, he removed with his family to Marquette, and there resided until his death, at the age of seventy-six years. He married Ellen Sullivan, who was born in County Waterford, Ireland, and died in Michigan at the age of sixty years. To them thirteen children were born, ten sons and three daughters.
Though we have yet to discover even the barest of facts about the lives of those thirteen children, we do know that many of them died prior to the passing of Father Patrick Flannigan in 1907. Of course, so did parents James and Ellen—James living until 1891, Ellen passing away in 1879.

Photograph, above left, from History of the Diocese of Saulte Ste. Marie and Marquette, page 183; below, right, from same publication, page 181. Published in 1906, now in the public domain.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Finding Aggie’s Family

The newspaper report of Miss Agatha Flannigan’s funeral gave a brief glimpse into her life and that of her family—especially her one brother Richard and her father—but it didn’t get down to the specifics that would further our search.

Who were “Captain and Mrs. Flannigan,” Aggie’s parents?

In order to get the details, since I hadn’t, at the time, access to any scanned copy of her death certificate (which I later discovered was listed under the given names Mary Agatha), I looked for her well-known brother’s records. Googling Richard Flannigan’s name produced a few documents. Taking a close look at and yielded his death record as well as posts of a couple family-trees-in-progress.

Good thing there were these online resources, for once again this family throws us a curve: Agatha’s brother Richard had passed away not in his native Michigan, but in Chicago, Illinois. Thankfully for research, the year of his passing was much later than that of his Chicago-based brother Patrick, and the information gleaned at this later date included the names of the parents.

From Richard’s death certificate, then, we find the parents’ names to be James F. and Ellen Sullivan Flannigan. (Of course, I have since located Agatha’s own death certificate, which confirms this.) The record shows both the parents to have been born in Waterford, Ireland—most likely meaning County Waterford—concurring with those reports we have already found.

Armed with this bit of information, the next step is the census records. What can be found there? While we already know that Agatha and her brother, the Honorable R. C. Flannigan, were listed as adults in the same household all the way back to the Michigan state census of 1894, I wanted to see what the earlier records would reveal for the names of all their siblings in their childhood home.

True, I already had the news article about Father Flannigan’s will naming both Agatha and Richard and another brother, John, but I’ve been curious to see if I could track the lines of any of the other Flannigan children. With this fascinating continuing conversation unfolding before our eyes about the research on this line, as people piece together missing links to family members heretofore unknown, I’m wondering if anyone else from this Flannigan line will come join in the give-and-take.

Frankly, I was stumped from the start with the 1880 census (though a Flannigan descendant yesterday was kind enough to direct me to it). I simply couldn’t find anything on Ancestry listing parents James and Ellen with children Patrick, Richard and Agatha. Being the impatient sort, I simply stepped over that roadblock and continued my search with the 1870 census. After all, Agatha’s funeral notice mentioned three daughters and ten sons claiming James and Ellen as the proud parents. I wanted to know who each and every one of them were.

In retrospect, I’m not even sure how I found the family in 1870. The head of the Flannigan family was listed in 1870 by that antiquated abbreviation of his given name as “Jas.” There, alongside the fifty-six year old miner stood his wife, Ellen. Listed with them were Matthew, Richard, Margaret, Mary, William and Edward. Where was Patrick? And where was Agatha, who would have been ten years of age by then?

Taking another step backward in time, I found the 1860 census didn’t help in uncovering the names of those three daughters and ten sons. Once again in the town of Greenland in Ontonagon County, Michigan, the Flannigan family was listed: parents James and Ellen, their son Thomas listed as the eldest at age nineteen, followed by eight siblings.

Certainly not thirteen children here, either. And though Richard is showing as a two-year-old, there is no sign of Agatha. The youngest listed is one-year-old Margaret. And still no Patrick.

There is, however, a possibility that Patrick was still there—though not listed in this specific household. Thanks once again to the persistent “Iggy,” we find a likely 1860 census entry in the Minnesota Mine section of nearby Rockland township: a nineteen-year-old “theology student” by the name of “Pat. O. Flannegan” in the household of the “R. C. Clergyman” Reverend Martin Fox. As we shall discover, that notation from June 14, 1860, and that location will soon be corroborated by other reports.

Even tentatively accepting the student “Pat” in the nearby township, though, and adding in the elusive Agatha yields us only eleven children.

I’m holding out for thirteen!
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