One of our maternal g-g-grandfathers, Patrick W. Murphy (PWM), was living in New York City in 1840. We believe he was born in Ireland. On July 7, 1857,
when he was 37, he and 19 year old Mary Anne Anderson,(born in NYC) were wed at St Bridget of Erin Church, Carr St., St. Louis (it's still there).
Our family bible says she was an Anderson but church records show her as an O'Brien.
Sometime after the Civil War the family relocated to Louisvil e, Kentucky. Three letters PWM wrote to his family in Louisville, and a fragment of a fourth,
survive. They display great love and concern for his children ~ 18 year old Margaret (my great-grandmother) and her sisters, Annie, 15, and Mary Alice, 13.
Texarcana Tars November 1 1876 "My dear children Maggie Annie & Allie It is a long time since I have heard from you all i hoap you will ancer this rite a way
for i want to hear from you all i got hear thi. morning and got a job on the repairs on the railroad 12 hundred miles to gat work and tims was so dull that i could not gat
any thing to do I am gating $1.20 per day and i will stay bear this winter the will pay off on 15 of december and i will send you what money i will have after paying board and every month i will send what i will have so i got to cloas as i have to bagoanoutonthctraingivemcregardtoRemandBdandiimTellAnnie&Alliestobagoodgirlsformeso
good by to you Charlie must ha a big boy now From your father PW Murphywhen i hear fromyou all I will rite a long later".Taxarkana Ark Nov 9 1876
"My dear 3 children maggie Annie Allies your later of nov 15 i received and it gave -me grait hapnes to hear that you all ware wall and i am wall also thank god i am working every day this month the wather is fine bear wall that will do for this time one night last week i dreamd of Annie Chancy and you maggie thre times and it has trubeld me a greet deal since i hoap you all are wall rite to me and lat me now how you all are as soon as you can wall i am so goad how good Allies is gating along at scool i want her and Annie to rite to me for i would like to see one of these laters i will send you sum money home, on the 1st of december waIl i have now news to tall you for there is noan hear in the woods whare i am working I will stay hear until Spring if i keep my health the chills & fever is awful bad hear but i keep in good health good by to you all Maggie you must tale Annie to rite to me give my regards to Rem & Ed rite soon as you can and tall Annie Allies to ha good girls for me & Charley to be a good boy good byto you all maggie Annie Allies CharleyFrom your father PW Murphy". They were written the year Rutherford Hayes was President and Colonel George Custer and 264 troopers of the 7th Cavalry died in Montana (1876). t year found PWM away from Louisville to find work. He traveled by steamship upriver on the Mississippi to Quincy, Illinois and Dubuque, Iowa,
and then into the American southwest to Texarkana~ on the Arkansas/Texas border, where he worked on the railroad. Not long after arriving his
letters stopped. We surmise he may have died from natural causes for he was about 56 years old and was evidently laboring. Perhaps he
suffered an accident, as happened to many emigrants.
KENTUCKY FAMILY HISTORY
The Rodgers family home on Bank St., Louisville, was built by family member James C. Anderson. On May 28, 1886 the Civil War veteran made lumber and hardware purchases from McClure & Ryan Lumber on Main St., between Fourteenth and Fifteenth. 'To Work and Material as per agreement , he put $100.00 down towards a total bill of $679.43.
Our mother Mary John Rodgers (Johnnie Mae) Sullivan, was a 2nd generation Irish-American with roots
in Counties Cork and Tipperary, Ireland. Educated at Presentation Academy and the University of Louisville,
she was the youngest in a family of four children.
She had 2 sisters and one brother. Her father, John T. Rodgers, was a linotype operator (printer)
for the Louisville Courier Journal newspaper. Her mother, Mary Beatrice Foley (Mayme),
was a homemaker. Johnnie Mae's father passed away before she was born. He was sickly, probably from
inhaling the fumes of the melted lead used in the linotype printing process at that time.
L to R - Norton McCullough, Aunt Marge (Rodgers) Zavesky, Aunt Clem (Rodgers) McCullough, Great Aunt Alice Murphy, Great Aunt Annie Murphy, Grandmother Mayme (Foley) Rodgers, Mary John (Rodgers) Sullivan, John J. Sullivan - April 24, 1937
The family lived on Bank St. in Portland, one of the Irish sections of Louisville, Kentucky. In 1915, when it came time to baptize my mother, the parish priest at Saint Patrick’s asked what name she would go by. Mayme told the priest that she and her husband had agreed that if they were to have a boy he would be named John. And they had chosen Mary if the baby was a girl. The priest said, "Well, we'll baptize her "Mary John." And, she had the Southern-sounding nickname "Johnnie Mae" her entire life.
Our grandfather, John T. Rodgers was born 23 December 1876, 1st generation Irish, his parents John Rogers (yes, there was no “d” in his name) and Mary Smith having emigrated from Ireland. In census records I found John’s mother, Margaret, living with him in Louisville. She was born ca 1818 in Ireland. Most Irish in Louisville, Cincinnati and St. Louis came upriver from New Orleans via the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. For the most part, both sides of our family all emigrated during the 1850s, the period of An Gorta Mor - the Great Hunger. It was a time when the main staple crop of the Irish peasant diet, the potato, failed in successive years due to a fungus they knew nothing about. Millions in Ireland died while the fortunate escaped with their lives. One of my maternal great-grandfathers, Jeremiah Foley, was born circa 1851 in Hartford, Connecticut. . His parents, Timothy and Mary Foley, were shopkeepers. They were born in Ireland however. I find my maternal great-great grandfather, Patrick W. Murphy, in New York before the famine era (1840).
Immediately before the Civil War, Louisville, like Cleveland, was an ethnic city. The Irish had dug the Portland Canal and built the Louisville & Nashville (L & N) railroad. During this period, however, the Irish and other immigrant groups experienced the workings of the American Party, also known as the “Know-Nothing Party.”
The KN’s were a secret society whose official name was The American party. Because they were American born the professed to be the only true native Americans and were obviously anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic. In Philadelphia and Boston churches were burned to the ground. In New York the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) prevented the burning of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. In Louisville the movement reared its ugly head on Monday, August 6, 1855.
“Bloody Monday” entered Irish neighborhoods and disrupted voting lines. A Catholic priest was stoned to death as he gave the last rites to a dying parishioner. The Cathedral of the Assumption and St. Martin of Tours churches were surrounded by the mob and threatened with burning. They actually believed that arms were being stored in the cathedral, as well as cells for the future imprisonment of Protestants. Defending St. Martin of Tours, a German=American parish, the courageous Mayor of Louisville, John Barbee, told the crowd that they would have to kill him first. They backed off.
When the rioting ended it was estimated one hundred poor Irish were killed or burned from their homes with deaths in the area of `19 to 22. The city authorities, all Know Nothings, endeavored to blame the Catholics. According to J. Michael Finn, writing in the Midwest Irish News, “Since 1995 the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Kentuckiana German Heritage Society have joined together in a commemorative Mass for the heroes and the dead of “Bloody Monday.”
Merging the Kentucky and Ohio Families
At a Sunday USO dance, perhaps in response to an item in Saint Patrick’s church bulletin, girls volunteered to go to Fort Knox where they with chaperones. It was there that the young, handsome soldier from Cleveland met the charming and beautiful Irish-Catholic southern belle from Louisville. They both fell very much in love with each other and, in 1937 married at St. Patrick's Church, Louisville. Against her family's wishes, she left Louisville to spend her life with John J. Sullivan, who was then a police officer in Cleveland.