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Monday, April 18, 2016

Sarah Lonergans Legacy

Oops...newly confirmed name change

Sarah Bridget Lonergan was lace curtain Irish.  She could have been the owner of the Mills of Golden, Co. Tipperary, but instead married poor farmer, John Dunn and had her life disrupted by emigration to Canada.  The poor lady never recovered from the poverty and sadness .... or so my grandmother told me.

Some fifteen years ago I encountered a fourth cousin and sharing notes, the story told by her great grandmother was the same.

As we delved into the story of John and Sarah, reality set in.  There is absolutely NO evidence that Sarah had any claim at any time to any mills in the town of Golden.  At no time did anyone with the name of Lonergan own the mills.  And even more telling, there was no eligible bachelor owner or son of an owner at any time that Sarah might have married. 

Ah, a tradition broken.  But then this is not the story of John and Sarah, but rather the story of the legacy that Sarah left to her family.  A legacy of discontent.  As Ruth and I compared notes a pattern emerged, a pattern of unhappy unsatisfied women, disrupting lives of husbands and children with cries of woe as the world mistreated them.

Bridget Dunn Murphy
Sarah's daughter Bridget was born in Ireland and accompanied her parents and older sister Mary to Brant County Ontario about 1840.  Little is known of her life there until she married Michael Murphy.  Michael, the son of James Murphy and Mary Brien was born in Ireland about 1838-.  Bridget and Michael emigrated to Michigan early in their married life, settling in Port Huron.  There Michael worked as a chauffeur until suddenly the family pulled up stakes and moved to Bay City.  Word is that Michael was in trouble.  Perhaps with the law, perhaps with the family he worked for, perhaps with Bridget.  

Mary Murphy Haffey
It was not too long before Bridget kicked Michael out of the house in Bay City. In the early days Michael sent money home to Bridget, but she would send it back.  And so Michael disappeared into the streets of Chicago, final destination still undiscovered.   Bridget lived on to age of ninety eight.  

According to Ruth's grandmother, Bridget was always unsatisfied with her life and always creating turmoil in the family...Ruth laughed in the telling and said that so she remembered was her grandmother.

Bridget's daughter Mary Murphy was born in Ontario in 1868.  While living in Port Huron, Michigan she met a promising young law student.  

Joseph Phillip Haffey was born in Adjala, Ontario in 1854,  the son of Irish immigrants John Haffey and Margaret Keenan. Joseph attended St. Michael's College in Toronto and then remained as a tutor for another five years.  In 1880, he pulled up stakes and emigrated to the US, to attend the University of Michigan School of Law in Ann Arbor. 
Isabel Haffey Madden

Joseph was an honest and ethical man.  Much as he loved the law, he grew to hate the legal scene, it was a time of corruption at every level and he refused to he corrupt.  Thus the family was comfortable but did not reach the ranks of the wealthy.  Mary lived the life of leisure but longed for the life of the rich, poor Joseph never met her expectations as a provider.

Mary had five children, both sons and one daughter never married.  But the legacy lived on. The eldest and the youngest daughters both carried the germ.  

Isabel, the youngest,  was my grandmother.  Though I loved her dearly,  I can honestly say she was always unsatisfied with the cards life dealt her and she created major turmoil in my family ......

Will the legacy continue..... or will the telling of the tale allow it to be finally at an end.

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