The Splendid Research of Patrick Edward Mears of USA & Germany Shared

The following very interesting correspondence we recently received from Patrick Edward Mears (USA & Germany)

Patrick has visited the Millstreet area on more than one occasion having done some very professional and superbly detailed and comprehensive research.

Dear Friends in Millstreet and the Surrounding Areas,

My name is Patrick Edward Mears and I am a retired lawyer from the USA who is now living in Germany.  One set of my Irish Great-Grandparents, Philip John Cronin (1819-1883) and Mary Ann O’Leary (1825-1881), hailed from the Millstreet/Cullen area and emigrated to the United States of America in 1850, with their first-born son, Cornelius, in tow.  They disembarked from their ship in the South Street Docks in Lower Manhattan and then made their way up the Hudson River to Albany, New York, where Mary Ann gave birth to her second child, Judith, in 1851.  From there, they likely traveled on the Erie Canal to its terminus in Buffalo, New York, and from there probably took a Great Lakes Steamer to Detroit, Michigan.  From Detroit, they made their way to Lapeer County, Michigan, where they purchased a farm in Oregon Township circa 1858.  Nine other children were born to this couple, one of whom was my Grandmother, Mary Cronin Mears (1856-1924).   

Mary O’Leary Cronin’s parents were Cornelius O’Leary (ca. 1800-1881) and Mary Williams (or Hyde) O’Leary (1800-1887).  This couple and their children resided in what has been identified here in an earlier article as the “McSweeney House,” in Knocknakilla Townland, which house Sean Radley, my wife and I visited a few years ago on a trip to Millstreet. This couple, my great-great grandparents, likely began their exodus from Ireland when they emigrated to the United States and eventually settled in St. Lawrence River Valley, where they acquired farms near the towns of Brasher Falls and Potsdam in St. Lawrence County, New York State.  After their arrival there around 1851, and after their deaths in the 1880s,  their remains were buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Brasher Falls.  Of their 13 children all but the eldest son, also named Cornelius O’Leary, emigrated to the United States of America.  Presumably Cornelius Junior remained on all or a portion of the farmland owned by his parents prior to their emigration.  

Of particular note is Mary Ann O’Leary Cronin’s brother, Denis O’Leary (1825-1881), who appears to be her twin. Both of them were born on January 6, 1825, in the Millstreet area.  Denis emigrated to the United States probably in the late 1850s, whereupon as a single man he joined his sister, Mary Ann, and her husband in Oregon Township, Lapeer County, where Denis purchased farmland directly adjacent to Philip and Mary Ann Cronin.  Another brother of Mary Ann’s, John Charles O’Leary (1832-1920), purchased a farm in Elba Township, also in Lapeer County, and later moved to the nearby town of Flint, Genesee County, Michigan.  Dennis, John Charles and Philip Cronin engaged together in the lumber trade which boomed in this area of Southeast Michigan between 1860 and 1890, and it appears that this partnership reaped large profits from the lumber trade.  In 1876, after two of John Charles’ sons died within a day of each other from dysentery, that family moved to Sherman County, Oregon, where they settled on farmland near the town of Grass Valley.  In 1881, tragedy struck the families of Denis and Mary Ann.  Denis died on February 3rd in what was termed to be an accident; he was “struck by a falling tree.”  Mary Ann followed her brother to the grave only five months later, and her husband, Philip John Cronin, died two years later in 1883.  Many children of these two families later dispersed throughout the United States, with a number of them moving to Oregon to join their uncle and his family there, and with some others moving away from Lapeer County to other states.

Philip John Cronin was baptized on November 26, 1822 in the Roman Catholic Church in Cullen. Philip and his family lived on a farm located in Gurteennafinnoge Townland.  The Tithe Allotment/Land Assessment Books contain entries for 1847 and 1848 for this farmland, which was owned partially by Philip’s father, also named Philip, and by Philip himself.  Philip Junior’s mother’s maiden name was Julia Ahern.  Occupiers of neighboring land during these years included the following persons:  (i) Elizabeth Riordan, (ii) Cornelius Cronin, (iii) Daniel Bowler, (iv) Denis Daly, (v) Daniel Mahoney, (vi) Denis Keefe, (vii) Michael Ford, (viii) John Reardon, Sr., (ix) John Kiely/Keely, and (ix) Dennis Doody, who is likely an ancestor of Jerry Doody, the present owner of at least a portion of this former Cronin farmland.  Finally, it also appears form these book entries that the holder of the fee simple estate in some or all of this land was Sir Nicholas Chinery/Chinnery.

Philip John Cronin and Mary Ann O’Leary married in 1847 in the Roman Catholic Church located in Cullen, County Cork.  Only three years later, they and their infant son, Cornelius, were on a ship bound for the Port of New York City.  As a child and adolescent, I had some contact with just a few descendants of this Cronin/O’Leary marriage, one of whom was Dennis Devere Cronin, my first cousin, who lived in my home town of Flint, Michigan.  However, all of the information contained in this post derives from four years of steady research into these persons and their family members.  One rediscovery that I made was becoming acquainted again with the Roman Catholic Church that was founded in the 1860s in the City of Lapeer, Michigan, named “Immaculate Conception Church.”  Philip and Mary Ann were listed in the first church census as one of the first members of that parish, which still exists.  In that church there is a large, stained-glass window installed in the west wall of the nave that asks church members to “pray for the souls” of Philip and Mary Ann Cronin.    

Finally, any assistance that readers can lend to me in filling in the gaps of these persons’ histories would be greatly appreciated.  I am particularly interested in the stories of their siblings and their ancestors.  Certain evidence has arisen from my research that I could be related to Daniel Florence O’Leary (1801-1854), Canon Peter O’Leary (1839-1920), and even Art O’Leary (1746-1773), but nothing has arisen yet that is totally conclusive. ” 

2 thoughts on “The Splendid Research of Patrick Edward Mears of USA & Germany Shared”

  1. My name is Cornelius (con) cronin. Im from Millstreet originally and all my ancestors come from Cullen and surrounding areas. I have also done extensive research and would love to correspond with you by email.

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