Deadlines are a writer’s friend, and I desperately needed one if I was to transform an octopus of a research project into a finished story. Analyzing my mother-in-law’s old book, The Mine Foreman’s Handbook, for heirloom status had proven to be a daunting task.
The editor of my local genealogical society newsletter reminded me each time I visited their library of my promise to contribute a story. This past spring I committed to pressing “send” by the summer solstice. And the account of Martin Corrigan’s book flowed out, line by line by line.
I urge all you family history lovers to venture out from tree shaping and blog posting. We all have some big stories to tell. Find a genealogical or historical society near you and make friends with their newsletter deadline.
Here is an excerpt of Inside Out: Judging a Book By Its Cover, which begins on page 11 of the summer issue of Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society’s newsletter, The Heritage.
“In 1887 Martin Corrigan was granted a Certificate of Service by the Pennsylvania Mine Foreman Examining Board, an alternative certification which recognized men who had served as mine foremen for at least one year prior to the 1885 Mine Safety Act9 . Martin Corrigan did not own this book in order to take the Mine Foreman Exam himself. Martin may have originally purchased the book for his own private library, consulting its contents in his role as mine boss for Augustus S. Van Winkle’s Milnesville collieries. But Martin also loaned this book out. The words “Please Return” were found inside the front and back covers, and on one of the first pages someone inscribed the words: Martin Corrigan No. 90 North Wyoming Street Hazleton.”
My mother-in-law Mary told the story like this.
In 1919, Jim and Anna (Monahan) Corrigan lived with his mom, Mary Walker Corrigan, above his medical office in a double house on West Broad Street, Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Anna went into labor on June 25, and that night Jim, a general practitioner specializing in obstetrics, delivered his own first born child.
While Mary tended to his wife, Jim cradled his infant daughter and headed to the only phone in the house, down in his office. After placing a few calls to announce his Mary Margaret’s arrival the euphoric father returned to Anna and Mary.
“Jim, where’s the baby?” asked his mother.
He turned on his heel, ran down the stairs and scooped Mary’s swaddled little body off the desk where he had absentmindedly set her while talking with his brothers.
Later James A Corrigan, MD recorded this delivery, as he did every delivery, in a pocket-sized notebook, and checked off the entry when he officially recorded Mary’s birth with Pennsylvania Vital Statistics, Form No. 11.
These records were identified by Mary Corrigan Delehanty as belonging to her father, James Aloysius Corrigan, MD.
On May 28, 2016 I drove through the rolling landscape of north central Pennsylvania to the New York border. I drifted west over winding backroads until I hit the outskirts of an ancestral home. Along the banks of Cryder Creek, Whitesville contains the memories of pioneering people, including the White and Teater families, from which I am descended.
In the late 1810s, Samuel followed his father-in-law, John Teater, to the farmland that became Independence Township, Allegany County. His wife, Nancy, was a teacher and helpmate to every endeavor that Samuel undertook, which included the raising of seven children and the building of a hamlet’s first hotel in 1827. Samuel was a farmer, cattle dealer, a shop keeper, an innkeeper; he served his community as town clerk, postmaster, and town supervisor. With time the hamlet took on the name Whitesville.
Folks of Independence Township had long believed the oral tradition of how their town got its name. Roger Easton, Independence historian, led the effort to formally attribute the village’s name to Samuel White’s life and legacy. That last Saturday in May several descendants gathered at Lot 50, site of the White Hotel, and unveiled the Legends and Lore highway marker.
Thank you so much, Roger and all the supporters of the Independence Historical Society for your dedicated efforts (and for lunch)!!