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The Irish in Chicago

The River Chicago is dyed green every St Patrick’s Day.



By 1890, Chicago had the third highest population of Irish emigrants in the USA. The city’s Irish-American heroes include Butch O’Hare, Captain Francis O’Neill, Richard Daley, Mother Jones and the men who built the I&M Canal. In the fall of 2024, Ireland House will open on the city’s Michigan Avenue, to house the Consulate General of Ireland together with representatives of Ireland’s economic and trade promotion agencies.




I’m a huge fan of Chicago. I’ve spoken at the Casino Club a couple of times, for the Chicago chapter of the Irish Georgian Society, most recently in October 2022. Seven years earlier, I got to give the Vanishing Ireland talk at the Art Institute as part of the fabulous ‘Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design’ exhibition. In 2016, I gave a talk on the Easter Rising under the Tiffany Dome in the Cultural Centre, an event arranged by the Consul General of Ireland. A few days later, I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Ken Bruen and William Doyle at Cliff Carlson’s fabulous iBAM festival. I also met many fine members of the Irish Fellowship of Chicago when I spoke about the Irish Diaspora at the Union League Club, again in October 2022.

One thing is for certain – there’s a whole lot of Irish in this town.

When I delivered my talk at the Union League Club, I divided the diaspora into five groups for sake of convenience. The convicts dispatched to Barbados, Australia et al. The Scots-Irish who piled through Ireland for a couple of generations. The people who played ball with the British Empire and made a living that way. The wild geese who skedaddled to more Catholic friendly parts of the world. The beleaguered citizens who fled the horror of their homeland, most especially during the Great Hunger.

One of the earliest Irish connections I found was Billy Caldwell, a fur trader who negotiated the Treaty of Chicago on behalf of the United Nation Tribes in the 1830s. His mother was Potawatomi, while his a Scots-Irish father, Lt. Col. William Caldwell, was born in 1758, in Belleek, County Fermanagh. A son of William Caldwell and Rebecca Campbell, he emigrated in 1773 and registered for military service two years later. In 1776, Lt. Col. Caldwell was married in Ohio to Sarah Rising Sun Kishpoko Shawnee. He died on 20 February 1822, in Amherstburg, Essex, Ontario, Canada, at the age of 64, and was buried in Canada West, British Colonial America. Billy was his only known child.

According to the Hon. John Wentworth in ‘Biographical sketches of some early settlers of the city of Chicago’ (p 19), ‘the first Irishman who ever trod the Chicago soil’ was Michael Welch, a soldier from County Cork, here, who served in President Andrew Jackson’s army and was in the area in the 1820s.

‘He was a bugler. He blew his horn.  He was a discharged soldier, and, having faithfully served  out his time, he stopped long enough to vote the straight [Andrew] Jackson ticket, and then joined Captain Jesse Brown’s Rangers and marched on to clear the Indians out of the way of his coming countrymen, who were already aroused by his bugle’s blast, as his patron St. Patrick, centuries before, had cleared the snakes out of his way in the land of his nativity.’
[Jesse Brown was a brother of Judge Thomas C Brown, Supreme Court, another ally of Andrew Jackson].

Robert McCormick Jr, whose son patented the McCormick Reaper, revolutionizing global agriculture, was the grandson of Thomas McCormick (1702–1762) and Elizabeth Carruth, a Presbyterian couple from County Londonderry and County Antrim who were married in 1728. They immigrated to Pennsylvania and settled in Cumberland County in 1735. Robert’s sons Cyrus, William and Leander would become enormously influential in Chicago in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The statue of Abraham Lincoln: The Man in Lincoln Park, Chicago (1887) was designed by the Dublin-born sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907). Lincoln gave money to famine relief in 1847.

Woodrow Wilson, the grandson of an Irishman, was not averse to playing up his Irishness to woo the ‘green’ vote when campaigning for the presidency. At a Democratic rally in Chicago in 1912, he affably declared: ‘I get all my stubbornness from the Scotch [on his mother’s side], and then there is something else that gives me a great deal of trouble, which I attribute to the Irish. At any rate, it makes me love a scrap…’.

It’s reckoned that six million mostly Catholic Irish emigrants journeyed to the USA between 1815 and 1920. That peaked with the years of the Great Hunger, the most cataclysmic event in recent Irish history when perhaps a quarter of the country’s population was lost to disease, malnutrition and emigration.

Inevitably many fetched up in Chicago. These were the people who worked on the lumber wharves, the railroads, the steel mills and the stockyards. They were the people who built Chicago, and most particularly the canals!  With pick, shovel, dynamite and grit, they dug out the I & M canal, aka the Illinois and Michigan Canal. It ran 96 miles from Bridgeport to the Illinois River. The project had really kicked off in 1837 – plenty of labourers died in the process but the result was a massive shipping route, which came just before the railways, connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. The connection from Chicago to New Orleans was amazing, but just as the railways to the west of Ireland inadvertently drained those counties of young Irish men and women in the 1890s and early 19th century, many now seized the opportunity to journey north from New Orleans, especially the black population, bringing blues with them, and so the world changed again.

More Irish helped build the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal when they reversed the river so that all the city’s do-do flowed off down to Louisiana rather than into Lake Michigan. The children of all those first generation Irish Catholic emigrants were taught by the Jesuits, and taught well. Many became lawyers and doctors within a generation.

In 1847, 20,000 people piled into the mud-flat city of Chicago for the Northwestern Rivers and Harbors Convention, including the Hon. Abraham Lincoln, ‘a tall specimen of an Illinoian, just elected to Congress.’ Lincoln donated $10 (c. $500 today) to Irish famine relief in 1847. He could recite Robert Emmet’s speech from the dock off by heart, while his favourite ballad was Lady Dufferin’s poem ‘The Lament of the Irish Emigrant’ set to music.

By 1890, Chicago had the third highest population of Irish emigrants after Boston and New York. 124,000 Irish adults were living in Illinois in the US Census of 1890, primarily in Chicago. Or perhaps that figure includes children too? By 1900, there were 73,912 Irish-born people living in Chicago, equivalent to a fifth of the city.

Needless to say, the Irish have played a massive role in the city’s rank and file. Nine bishops of Chicago have been of Irish birth or descent since 1843.

Father Maurice J. Dorney, known as “the king of the yards”, was priest to the packing house district of Chicago. According to his obituary in the Augustinian, 21 March 1914, p. 5:

‘His prestige extended to the White House in Washington, and on a memorable occasion, he earned the gratitude of the Celts everywhere, as a trust worthy envoy from Irish leaders on this side of the, Atlantic to Charles Stewart Parnell in London. What is said to be the most Irish parish outside of Ireland was Father Dorney’s charge—St. Gabriel’s at Forty-fifth street, the nearest Catholic parish to the main entrance of the stockyards.’

Up until 1907, all but four police commissioners were Irish. I am unsure what that figure would look like today but when I first came to Chicago, the commissioner was a McCarthy and when I returned in 2022, it was an O’Neil, so the Irish are still very much in the frame. The most remarkable of them all was another O’Neill, Captain Francis O’Neill from Co. Cork, the chief of police from 1901-1905, who did so much to preserve the record of traditional Irish music.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of Irish immigrants, Marie Owens (1853–1927), née Connolly, is believed to have been the first female police officer in the U.S. when she became the first female police officer in the Chicago Police Department in 1891. Prior to joining the police, she was one of five female health inspectors employed in the city health department. Holding the rank of Sergeant, Owens enforced child labour and welfare laws, with the power to arrest, until she retired in 1923. She is buried in the city’s Calvary Catholic Cemetery. See here.

John Dougherty (1806–1879), who was elected Lieutenant Governor of Illinois in 1868, was the Ohio-born son of Charles Daugherty / Dougherty, an Irish emigrant, and his wife Elizabeth (née Wolfe) of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The city has had twelve Irish or Irish-American mayors, accounting for over 80 years between them. Edward Fitzsimmons Dunne, the son of Galway emigrants, was educated at Trinity College Dublin where he was in the same class as Oscar Wilde. He served as Mayor from 1905-1907 and went on to become Governor of Illinois in 1913-1917. In 1919, Dunne and two other prominent Americans were sent by the Irish American Congress to attend the Paris Peace Conference in Versailles, but they were not permitted to land in British-run Ireland en route.

A.H. Flanley of Chicago (sometimes named as J. Flanley) was a pallbearer at Boss Croker‘s funeral in 1922, alongside Arthur Griffith, President of Dail Eireann, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Oliver Gogarty, Alderman Macdonagh, and Mr. J. E. Tierney.

The Irish are even credited with founding two of Chicago’s best-known colleges, Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University.

Richard J. Daley, a vital cog in JFK’s electoral victory, was the longest-serving mayor in Chicago history – until his son Richard broke his record in 2011. The Daleys descend from famine emigrants, originating in Dungarvan, County Waterford.

There are other links far and wide. Mike Pence’s grandfather emigrated from Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo, in 1923 & became a bus driver in Chicago. Harrison Ford was born in Chicago in 1942, the grandson of John Fitzgerald Ford, an Irish Catholic émigré.

The Chicago Tribune was established 1847 by James Kelly, publisher and founding editor, who was the son of Irish immigrants. He left less than six weeks after establishing it and went on to be one of Chicago’s leading property owners. He held a government patent on nearly a hundred acres within six miles of the Cook County Court House. He also ran several large tanneries in Wisconsin.

Among the 200,000 Irish who served in the US Civil War was Little Al Cashier, born Jenny Hodgers in County Louth, who I wrote about in my book ‘The Irish Diaspora’. By 1868, he/she had moved to the small village of Saunemin, Illinois, south-west of Chicago, where he/she worked as a general handyman, gardener, janitor, lamplighter and, later, chauffeur.

The headstone from Louis Henri Sullivan’s grave in Graceland Cemetery in Uptown, Chicago.

Chicago was the great connector to the American Mid-West, just as New York was the great connector to the rest of the world. These two great cities grew together, skyscrapers and all, and presumably a lot of Irishman were involved in building those high-rises from the 1880s onwards. Louis Sullivan (1856–1924) is hailed as the father of skyscrapers and modernism, maestro of the Chicago School of architecture and mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright. Patrick Sullivan, his father, an orphan, arrived in Boston on The Unicorn in July 1847 and opened a music and dancing academy in the city. Louis said his father didn’t know if ‘he was a Catholic or an Orangeman.’

Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the Beaux-Arts sculptor who created the statue of ‘Abraham Lincoln: The Man’ (1887) in Lincoln Park, and two statues in Grant Park –  the seated figure of ‘Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State’(1909) and the grand equestrian monument to Civil War hero, General John Logan Memorial (1897).  Saint-Gaudens was born in Dublin in 1848, the son of a French shoemaker and his Irish wife who immigrated to America when he was six months old. He also created the statue for the monument of Charles Stewart Parnell, installed at the north end of Dublin’s O’Connell Street in 1911.

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was famously – and unfairly – blamed on a cow that belonged to an Irish couple by name of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary. That was all part of a rising tide of anti-Irish sentiment after the Fenian Brotherhood launched two abortive raids from the US on Canada.

Among those affected by the fire was a famine emigrant from Cork called Mary Harris who had already lost her husband and all four children to a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis when her dress-making enterprise was destroyed by the fire. Somehow, she found the spirit to pull through and reinvent herself as Mother Jones, one of the most celebrated champions of socialism in North America. Variously described as ‘the most dangerous woman in America’ and ‘the grandmother of all agitators,’ she led the garment workers of Chicago out on one of the biggest strikes in the city’s history. Her name is now enshrined as a symbol for feminists and the radical left; a statue of her is due to go up by the Waterworks Tower in the near future.

Uncle Dick Hooley, whose theatre burned down in 1871.

Another excellent example of resilience in the face of adversity was Richard M. Hooley from Ballina, County Mayo, one of the great theatre men of 19th century America. In 1862, he and his brother John opened Hooley’s Theatre in Brooklyn, New York. Nine years later, ‘Uncle Dick’, as he was known, opened Hooley’s Opera House at 124 W. Randolph St,  Chicago, to much acclaim. Alas, the building was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire just nine months later. Undaunted, Dick opened a bigger, better theatre in 1872 – Hooley’s Parlour Home of Comedy had 1,400 seats and remained one of Chicago’s best loved venues until Dick’s death in 1893.

Given the fact that so many citizens had lived through the Great Hunger in Ireland, it should be no surprise that Chicago was a hotbed for Fenians, as well as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and, later, the Friends of Irish Freedom. When Charles Stewart Parnell (who was himself half-American) and Michael Davitt came on a fund-raising trip to the US in 1880-1881, Chicago was the biggest contributor. Parnell Avenue is a nod to that era, although there is also the dark tale of the murder of Dr Patrick Henry Cronin of Buttevant, Co Cork, a story for another day.

Tom Foley ran the Great Billiard Hall on Clark Street, the largest of its kind. (See here) Born near the Rock of Cashel on 16 August 1842, he emigrated with his family to New York in 1848 and settled in Chicago in 1854. In 1870 he organized Chicago’s first professional baseball team. He was also the team manager when it beat the Cincinnati Reds at Dexter Park in 1871, in the first world’s series ever played. At the time of his 80th birthday in August 1922, the Chicago Eagle hailed him as  ‘probably the best known citizen of Chicago’ and ‘the most popular billiard room keeper in the world.’ (See here). He died on 3 November 1926. One wonders was he related to Chicago-born baseball player Thomas James Foley (1847-1896), an outfielder  for the Chicago White Stockings in the Major Leagues in 1871.

The baseball player Charles ‘Commy’ Comiskey, who co-founded of the American Major League, and was founding owner of the Chicago White Sox, was the son of John Comiskey (1826 1900), a Chicago City Councillor and Democratic Party politician from Crosserlough, near Lough Sheelin, County Cavan. Comiskey Park in the Armour Square neighbourhood, which hosted four World Series, was named in his honour.

Jimmy Elliott, a notoriously aggressive bare-knuckle boxer from Athlone, was world heavyweight champion from 1865 to 1868. His life plunged into disaster when he was sentenced to 16 years in a Philadelphia jail for assault and highway robbery of the popular black minstrel Hugh Dougherty. Elliott was shot dead by a guy named Jere Dunn in a Chicago saloon in 1883. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Chicago. (DIB says he was buried in New York here, but his record is here.)

On a more heroic note, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is named for Butch O’Hare, the first naval aviator to receive the Medal of Honor in World War II. In 1943, his plane was shot down somewhere near the Gilbert Islands and that was the end of Butch. His father was Easy Eddie O’Hare, a lawyer from St Louis who played a key role in bringing Al Capone down. Easy Eddie’s mum was born in Ireland, as were his father’s parents. Given that I’d flown into O’Hare from JFK, I was struck by the fact that two such huge airports are named for Irish-Americans.

Al Capone’s wife Mae (née Coughlin) was the daughter of emigrants from Cobh and Limerick. See here.

The Rev James S Greene, DD, an Episcopalian minister in Chicago, was subject of an astonishing bigamy trial in 1888. Born in Dublin 1815, probably Swords, he was named for his father, James Stuart Greene (1789-1862) and educated early on by Dr Maguire at St Patrick’s College, Dublin. He then entered Trinity College Dublin for one year before accompanying his parents and seven siblings to the USA in 1834. They initially settled in Rochester, New York, and by 1836 he had commenced his career as an itinerant Methodist preacher. After he became rector of Chicago’s Emanuel Reformed Episcopal Church, Chicago, the number of communicants more than doubled. However, the truth was revealed in 1888 as per this newspaper article:
‘There was a sensation the Grand Pacific Hotel last right. The Rt Rev. James Greene, nearly 80 years of age, and former rector of St. Mathew’s Reformed Episcopal Church on Larrabee street, was evicted. He occupied elegant quarters with his bride. A charge of bigamy is preferred against him by a legal wIfe, who left him a short time ago in fear of her life. This woman tells a remarkable story. Over half a century, she says, he has been a minister of the gospel, been seen grossly intoxicated at prayers, then not only addicted to the inevitable minor vices, but has been a forger, a state prison convict, three times divorced from who have died of insanity and broken hearts and has married six women.’ [1]

Dublin-born Toby Greene was a close friend of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick.

James’s younger brother Toby Greene, aka Richard Tobias Greene (1825-1892), who famously jumped ship with with Herman Melville in the Marquesas Islands in 1842, becoming immortalised as Toby in Melville’s 1846 classic, Typee:  A Peep at Polynesian Life is American. How close were they? Toby seems to have sent Melville a lock of his hair — ‘an amiable vanity, perhaps, at Melville’s celebration of his personal charms.’ Born in Swords, Toby Greene was brought to America by his father, who initially settled in Rochester, New York. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the 6th Infantry of Missouri and for three years was “trusted clerk at General Grant’s headquarters.” Discharged in June 1864, he enlisted again on 19 October 1864 in the 1st Illinois Light Artillery. According to notices in Chicago papers, Toby Greene died on 24 August 1892 and was buried at Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery and Mausoleum. [2]

The Irish-American philanthropist and collector Richard Driehaus (1942-2011), described by the Irish Times as ‘an apostle of classic architecture,’ restored several Gilded Age mansions in Chicago and owned two landmark buildings in Dublin – Staunton’s on the Green hotel (a pair of adjoining Georgian townhouses on St Stephen’s Green which back on to the Iveagh Gardens) and Number 31, a Georgian townhouse, accessed via Leeson Close, with a modernist mews that once the home of the brutalist architect Sam Stephenson. He was also a patron of the Trinity Irish Dance Company.

Lady Lavery, the second wife of portrait artist Sir John Lavery, was born in Chicago. A famous beauty, she appeared on Irish banknotes of the 20th century.

The Shannon Rovers Fife and Drum Corps (later the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band) of Chicago, was established in 1926 by Tommie Ryan and some fellow Irish emigrants. They performed for Al Smith’s 1926 campaign presidential. FDR was the first of many presidents for they played for.

In more recent times, Chicago-born George Wendt, who played the wonderful Norm Petersen in Cheers, is three-quarters Irish. The comedian Bob Newhart’s mother Julie (née Burns) was of Irish descent, and his wife was Virginia Quinn. The actress Melissa McCarthy and her cousin Jenny McCarthy, actress and former Playboy model, are both of Irish descent.

Michael Flatley, the dancer of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance fame, was born in 1958 to Sligo-born plumber Michael James Flatley and Eilish Ryan, a step-dancer from County Carlow. They met at an Irish dance in Detroit and moved to Chicago’s South Side when Michael was a baby.  As well as being a dancer, Michael Flatley once competed in the Chicago Golden Gloves boxing tournament and won the middleweight division.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery opened at 901 W. Kinzie in Chicago on 28 September 2023. This is only the third Guinness brewery in the world that people can walk in for a visit.  The first barrels of Extra Stout rolled into the Windy City in 1910.

I also had an eye on Lizzie Magie (1866-1944), the real inventor of ‘Monopoly’ (aka ‘The Landlord’s Game’), as a possible Magee, but that did not pan out! [3]

Almost 8% of Chicago are Irish or Irish-American today, comprising just over 200,000 Chicagoans, most especially the South Side Irish. Many of them were in attendance  at Chicago’s Soldier Field in November 2016 to watch Ireland inflict a famous defeat on the All Blacks. As one Irish fellow remarked after the game: Nobody beats Ireland 29 times in a row.




With thanks to Belinda Evangelista, Michael Kerrigan, Tom Cooney, Maribeth Heeran, Kathy Taylor, Meghan Burdick, Mark O’Malley, Cynthia Espy, Tom O’Gorman, Jay and Sylvia Krehbiel and, most especially, to Rosie O’Neill.

Chicago artist, writer and historian Tom O’Gorman publishes a regular column called Irish American News in the weekly Skyline magazine.

The Irish American Heritage Center is located at 4626 N Knox Ave., Chicago IL 60099. 




The Double Life of a Chicago Priest via Belinda Evangelista


John Joseph Carroll (1856-1916) of Enniscrone, County Sligo, was a Catholic priest in Chicago but seems to have  lived a double life as Oliver Cromwell Hamilton in Ashville, South Carolina, where he kept his mistress in a mansion. Born on 24 June 1856, JJ Carroll was a son of Francis J Carroll and Mary Howley Carroll. He was an infant when he emigrated to America with his parents. He graduated from St Michael’s College in Toronto in June 1876, and from St Joseph’s Provincial Theological Seminary in Troy, New York, on 18 December 1880. He worked at the Cathedral of the Holy Name in Chicago until 1887 when was appointed rector of St Thomas Parish (Kimbark Avenue and 58th Street), Chicago. Father Carroll made a deep study of Gaelic language and literature and attained distinction as a Gaelic writer and scholar.

The National Museum of Ireland (Record 32117) states that this was the first typewriter of Conradh na Gaeilge [The Gaelic League], and believes it to have been the first ever made with an Irish keyboard, circa 1905. This seems to contradict the text from the Weekly Irish Times regarding the McKenzie and Sons typewriter.

In 1895, he was clocked as the owner of what was claimed to be ‘the only Gaelic typewriter in the world.’ An eminent Gaelic, Sanskrit and Latin scholar, he was at the time writing the history of Ireland ‘on exhaustive lines … to be published in both Latin and Gaelic.’ According to the Chicago Tribune (here):

‘As the work progressed Father Carroll experienced many difficulties in preparing the Gaelic manuscript for the printer In order to facilitate matters he went to Providence RI where he personally superintended the building of his Gaelic typewriter The type had to be specially cast as there are but few Gaelic fonts in this country Gaelic scholars in Chicago pronounce the work of the machine as perfect.’

The Weekly Irish Times added:

‘A Gaelic Typewriter – Messrs M’Kenzie & Sons Limited agents in Ireland for the Remington Standard Typewriter have designed a machine to write in Irish characters The firm have forwarded to us specimens of the writing and we can only say that they are admirable in every respect The lettering is perfect and the accents are inserted with absolute accuracy We quote from Messrs M’Kenzie’s letter The speed of the instrument in operation is limited only by the ability of the typist upwards of a dozen clear copies may be taken at one time by means of carbon sheets and by means of the duplicator an unlimited number of perfect copies may be produced.’

In 1896, he purchased land on Beaucatcher Mountain in Buncombe County, North Carolina, to which he seemingly moved with his pregnant lover, Kate, aka Katherine. See here for some shiver-inducing seance references to all this.

In 1898, he was elected historian of the Gaelic League at the Convention held in Boston. In 1901, he was elected National Librarian of the Gaelic League in America at the Convention in Philadelphia. Father Carroll was author of ‘Notes on the Aryan Tongue Tale of the Wanderings of the Red Lance‘ in Gaelic and English. He also typed the words of Chief Francis O’Neill’s songs. In her University of Limerick dissertation, ‘Irish Traditional Music Dissemination at the End of the Long Nineteenth Century: Francis O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903) and the City of Chicago’ (2016, here) Aileen Dillane observes:

‘It is interesting to note that O’Neill never spoke of ‘translation’ when thanking Rev. John J Carroll for his “invaluable assistance in arranging and perfecting the bilingual names of the Melodies” (O’Neill 1903, 5). The appearance of all names in Irish and in English not only created a sense of uniformity and sameness but it also directed from past to present, Irish to English. Thus the tunes were all given the appearance of authenticity, with all tunes coming first in Irish and second in English, as if that was how they had come to O’Neill.’

Fr Carroll died in Chicago on 17 July 1916 in the same week that O.C. Hamilton died, also in Chicago. Both bodies were shipped to Rochester, New York, for burial. Fr Carroll was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York. (See here). No record exists of O. C. Hamilton’s burial.  A deed from John J Carroll to Mary Hamilton was made “with love and affection”. She is believed to have been his daughter by Kate, his lover.  Much documentation supports this claim, including an “indenture’ from JJ Carroll in which all his property at Ardmion Park, Asheville, North Carolina, was given to Katherine’s child, Mary. A picture of this Smith & Carrier designed mansion from 1904-1906 is here. A picture of Fr Carroll is apparently available at Gaodhal here but I cannot access it.


Further Connections via Belinda Evangelista





[1] One of Rev James Greene’s wives was Rachel Smeltzer (d. 1852), daughter of a wealthy farmer from Seneca County, New York, with whom he had five children. Another was Frances Cullison, with whom he had a very musically minded daughter.

[2] Herman Melville, mariner and mystic by Raymond Weaver. See the grave of Richard Greene, aka Toby Greene, here. James and Toby’s grandfather John Greene was a land surveyor from Lancashire, England, who came to Ireland ‘at the instance of the British Government … to assist in the survey of the land coast line of the island.’ John Greene’s wife Elizabeth Stuart was the only daughter of a prominent gentleman from Lancashire. Once in Ireland, John built a residence at Swords where he became was the first man to welcome Wesleyan Methodist preachers north of Dublin; thereafter, preaching continued in his house ‘every other Tuesday the year round.’ He died aged 85.

Captain James Greene, John’s son and father of the Chicago clergyman, was born at Swords on 13 December 1785 and educated at Trinity College Dublin. Initially destined for the Established Church of Ireland, he ‘suddenly’ changed his mind, purchased a captain’s commission in the Enniskillen Dragoons and commanded his company under the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, receiving honourable mention in the dispatches of his commander. Upon his return to Ireland he was at his colonel’s quarters when he met Miss Elizabeth Durang, a Florentine and a protégé of the captain’s wife. She was brought up a devout Catholic but after her marriage to James Greene, they both became Wesleyan Methodists. They had eight children before emigrating en masse to the USA in 1834, settling in Rochester, New York.

Likely find them in the US 1840 and 1850 Census.  Monroe County). They were at Corfu, New York, at the time of the 1860 Census in Genesee County. Captain Greene died in January 1862, followed by Elizabeth in May. They may both have died in Corfu.
Mary Anne Hair, Toby and James’s sister, was living at Corfu NY about 1860 and died in 1888. See Correspondence By Herman Melville, Lynn Horth, 1993, here.
[Alfred Theodore Andreas, ‘History of Chicago: From the fire of 1871 until 1885’ (1886), p. 789. WIth thanks to Belinda Evangelista.]
[3] Lizzie Magie was born at Macomb, Illinois, and moved to Chicago in 1906. Her grandfather, Abraham Magie (1797-1869), was the son of a Joseph Megie and Hannah Gegung. Hannah Genung was born c. 1768 – location, parents and siblings unknown. On 22 Nov 1789, she was married in New Providence, Union, New Jersey, to Joseph Megie III whose Wikitree ancestry in fact traces him to John Megie Sr., who was born about 1659 in Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. Thanks again Belinda! See graves of Hannah Genung Magie here and Abraham Magie here.