Monday, September 29, 2014

Mystery Monday - What Happened To Edward Lowry?

Edward Lowry is a mystery. A brick wall. After 1904, an apparition being sought. He is also my 2nd great grand uncle, a son to my third great grandfather Michael Lowry. Throughout Edward's life, he worked hard, but was never able to stay in one place and to some degree, appears to have had a strained relationship with his family. Over the course of a few dozen years, he made a trek west starting in Pennsylvania before the final mention of him appears in Washington State. But it's only the final mention, and probably not the final record. I've been trying for years to figure out what happened to Edward. The easiest thing to do to help locate someone if study what you already know.

Edward was born in 1855 in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, the second child of Michael and Bridget Lowry. He had an older sister, Mary, who edged him by a year. At least three more children would follow, including Anna in 1858, Margaret in 1861 and my great great grandfather Michael Jr. in 1868. For at least the first five years of his life, Edward and his family lived in Carbon Township in Huntingdon County. Michael Sr. was a coal miner and that dangerous work is how the family paid its bills. There is speculation that he was a member of the Molly Maguires, an often violent Irish secret society believed to be active in Pennsylvania coal fields. They used murder, extortion and kidnapping to fight for better working conditions on behalf of the Irish American miners. Whether or not Michael was a 'Molly' remains to be determined.

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By 1870, the family had moved to Saline Township, Ohio, along the banks of the Ohio River. Edward, only age 15, was already at work in the coal mines with his father. Today, a child this age can't drive, vote or drink, but 140 years ago, he was sent into the dark and dangerous depths of a coal mine to extract whatever million year old carbon he could.

In 1877, Edward married Sarah Humphrey. Sarah was born in Ohio to Welsh parents but spent much of her childhood in Bevier, Missouri. By 1879, the family of three lived in Boulder, Colorado where their first child, Edward Jr was born. In addition to being a miner, Edward was an organizer for the Knights of Labor. This early labor union that rose to quick prominence and size in the early 1880's but by the middle of the decade, largely failed because of a weak organization and a penchant for violence.

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By the end of the 1880's, Sarah was in Bevier with her family. We know this because it is where their second son, Ralph, was born on 18 April 1889. How long they stayed with Sarah's family or the reasons for leaving Colorado are unknown, but by 1900 the family  was together in Republic, Washington. Republic is the county seat of Ferry County in northeastern Washington. Ferry County was created in 1899 from a part of Stevens County, located to the east. Ferry County is so large and so desolate that its population density even today is just 3 people per square mile. Large amounts of snowfall and very cold temperatures in the winter no doubt made living in Republic less than ideal in the late 1800's.

At the turn of the century, Ralph was busy studying in school while his older brother and father worked in the coal mines. It's hard to image an 11-year old dreaming about escaping that life if it was all he had known. We know, however that while his brother continued to work in the mine, Ralph would go on to obtain an engineering degree from Washington State College and become a senior engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation and involved in some of the largest construction projects ever conceived in the United States. (See my article about Ralph here.)

The last mention I have of Edward Sr. is a 1904 obituary for his mother Bridget that appeared in the Leetonia Reporter. It says only that he was living near Spokane, Washington, 120 miles away from Republic. I haven't located either of them in the 1910 Census. Sarah Lowry died in 1915 at age 57 in Spokane and is buried alone in Republic. Her obituary makes no mention of Edward, only her sons.

Sarah's grave in beautiful Republic Cemetery. Edward is not buried there.
In 1904, Edward was only 48 years old. So the important questions to be asked are when and where did Edward die? Where is he buried? Why did Sarah go back to Bevier for the birth of her son when the family was otherwise living in Boulder? This is a brick wall that I really want to answer to both help explain Edward's journey west.

(PS: Today is supposedly the 184th birthday of Edward's father and my third great grandfather Michael Lowry. How they tracked birthday's in 1830 in rural Ireland is beyond me, but sure, let's celebrate. Happy birthday grandpa Mike!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Junior's First Photo

Sometime in late 1924 or early 1925, my grandfather Chas. Lowry was photographed for the first time. He's outside, probably in Leetonia, Ohio, being held by his proud father Charles. I remember the joy and excitement I felt when the first photo was taken of me holding my son and I can only imagine that 90 years prior, the exact same emotions were being felt.

As evident in the caption, my grandfather was called Junior as a youngster, even though the nickname is slightly misapplied. His middle name was James while his father's middle name was Edward. I'm going to assume this photo was taken outdoors because indoor photography in the 1920s was clearly not something that would produce usable photos without large flashes not commonly used on personal cameras.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Death Certificate of James A. Rogan

My 2nd great grandfather James Rogan died on 21 April 1938 at 78 years of age. His death certificate tells a lot about both how he lived and how he died. He was born in Aurora, New York to James Rogan and Esther Callahan. He was a second generation American, as both his father and mother were born in Ireland. His primary occupation was in the steel mills, although what he actually did is not discernible.

The last months of his life were no doubt difficult both for him and his family. He suffered a serious fall on 10 January 1938, which led to a fracture of his right femur (thighbone). The femur is the largest bone in the human body, and it takes significant force to break. Breaks of the femur and the hip to which it connects can have significantly detrimental effects to the lifespan of the elderly, who suddenly lose all mobility. About 10% of people who break their hip die within the first 30 days. That number increases dramatically if there are other complications, including pneumonia, heart trouble, or another acute medical problem. In James's case, he suffered a pulmonary embolism, no doubt brought on in part by his sudden immobility.

At the time of his death, he was being cared for at Saint Elizabeth's Hospital in Youngstown but was previously living in the home of Catherine Rogan. His final arrangements were handled by D. A. McVean in Youngstown, long considered the Lowry family funeral home. However, he was a long time resident of New Castle, Pennsylvania, and that is where he is buried.

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"Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 09 Sep 2014), James Rogan, 1938; citing Youngstown, Mahoning, Ohio, reference fn 24019; FHL microfilm 2023561.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Ray

This is my great grand uncle Raymond F Lowry. He was born on 17 Feb 1902 in Salem, Ohio, the youngest son of Michael and Bridget Lowry. He lived his entire life in Columbiana County, in either Salem or Leetonia. He died in Salem on 2 Mar 1977.

Because of the age of these photos, dating to the early 1920s, many of them did not scan well because the paper had curled or became wavy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Night Genealogy Fun - Last Name Unknown

When I first joined about five years ago and started looking at the family trees out there, I was dumbfounded by the number of people with the surname that I assumed was pronounced 'Lanoo.' Countless women in so many different trees were named LNU. Fortunately, I learned there was not a rash of poorly surnamed individuals out there.

LNU is a fairly common genealogical acronym meaning 'Last Name Unknown." You will most commonly see it with female ancestors, whose maiden names are more difficult to discern the farther back in history you search. I have dozens of individuals in my database with unknown last names.

This weekend's Saturday Night Genealogical Fun at (one of the BEST genealogy blogs) asked how many Sarah LNU's are in your database and how many of those were your ancestors. Well, I searched high and low in mine and of 1400+ people I've researched, I have exactly one.

1) Sarah LNU (Abt 1825 - ?), who married William Price (1823 - 1895) in Wales. They migrated to Mahoning County, Ohio and had at least 5 children.

I've not done a lot of research with this line. I did a few quick searches for Sarah to see what else I can find and turned up the 1860 Census, which identified several additional children. Certainly I need to look a little deeper, but for a quick five minute search, headway has already been made!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday - Happy Birthday Dad!

August 28, 1957 was perhaps a slow news day, unless you were in Salem, Ohio in which case the paparazzi were probably out in full force covering this event. Does it get any more exciting than when "refreshments were served, and the rest of the afternoon was spent visiting?" 

Today is my dad's birthday, and he's now a few years older than six but his birthday still warrants a few inches of ink. You don't see too many birthday parties for 6-year olds in the newspaper, so this was a great find. When I first shared this, my dad claimed to have never seen it so I'm glad I could dig this out of the family archives.

So happy birthday dad! Here's to many more!

"Patrick Lowry Feted on Sixth Birthday," 28 August 1957, from Salem News; Joe [name removed for privacy reasons] collection, provided by estate of Charles J. Lowry; privately held by Joe [name removed for privacy reasons, address for private use], Sterling, Virginia.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Lowry Men

I have scanned so many photos that sometimes I glance over one that in fact reveals so much or at least is interesting as I try and discover my ancestors. Such is the case of this photo which is only the second unique picture I have showing my great great grandfather Michael Lowry and his father, also Michael Lowry. Based on their age in a newer photo I have of them from 1928, I would date this photo to the early 1920s. Many images in this collection are of the same time period.

The elder Michael was born in County Westmeath, Ireland in 1830. He emigrated to the United States around 1850 and worked most of his life as miner, first in central Pennsylvania and later in Leetonia, Ohio. I continue to search for leads to help me better understand his life. He left Ireland in 1850, at the height of the Irish potato famine. Crammed onto 'coffin ships', he probably crossed the Atlantic with a few hundred other souls, some infected with typhus and cholera. He died in 1928. His son Michael was born in 1868 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. He was also a miner. He died in 1949 in Leetonia after a nearly 12 year illness, probably caused by a stroke.

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