Memory Scraps

James A. Corrigan, spring 1912My “decluttering for the holidays” was stymied today by the discovery of scan-able scraps that directly pertain to my previous post.  And so, as is often the case with my reorganization efforts, I am at the keyboard rather than behind the vacuum.

The photograph of James A. Corrigan was dated in the upper left corner–1912.  During this morning’s work, I found his medical school year book, Jefferson’s The Clinician, among the boxes I was sorting.  Inside the black leather cover were a few scraps of paper.

Dead stop.  Flip Pal out.

James A Corrigan at Jefferson

What a hoot!! No letter of “Congratulations! You have been admitted to the class of 1915!”  Just a notice of matriculation, number 386, confirming that James Corrigan had satisfactorily completed preparatory classes in 1911.  His family certainly counted it as an important document, and carefully preserved the scrap as proof that Jim had been admitted to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia beginning with the 1911-1912 session.

Another valuable piece of paper was this stationary, remarkable for its header.James A Corrigan at JeffersonBeing asked to serve as President of the school’s pathology society as a second year student (1912-1913) must have been quite an honor.

The scraps add dimension to the image in front of the flowering shrub.  It is  more than a photo of a thirty-something Jim Corrigan.  It is a snapshot of the Hazleton native’s transition from scholar to doctor and community leader.

 

 

 

 

Photo Friday: James Aloysius Corrigan

Aunt “Sissy” Rattigan saved the Treasury Department envelope, “Important: Contains U.S. Savings Bonds” recycled to store important photographs and newspaper clippings.  My husband identified this 1912 candid as his grandfather, James Aloysius Corrigan.

 

James A. Corrigan, spring 1912

After graduating high school, Jim worked as a clerk in a Hazleton (PA) clothing store, and held offices in the Clerk’s Union and St. Gabriel’s chapter of the Knights of Columbus. In his late twenties, Jim attended Bloomsbury State Normal School before following his brothers’ footsteps to Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1911. The thirty-one year old medical student posed for someone’s camera the following summer, nattily dressed in a wool suit, hat in hand.

I wonder what stories floated through that open window.

 

 

 

Taking The Past Exit

My husband and I were returning from vacation, northbound on Interstate 81.  The highway made a backwards question mark, cutting into the southern anthracite fields of Pennsylvania.  Signs indicated distances to old patch towns–Tremont, Minersville, Donaldson, Port Carbon. As we passed the Tower City exit our conversation took a genealogical turn.

T: “My mother’s mother’s people came from Tower City.”

Me: “The Monahans or the Carrolls?”

T: “The Carrolls. The Monahans were from Shenandoah.”

Me: “Hmmm…That’s a good 30 minutes up the road, even longer back in the 1870s.  How did Margaret Carroll and John Monahan meet?”

T: “I never thought about that.”

We traveled on, but my curiosity took the off ramp into nineteenth century Schuylkill County.  Once home, I burrowed down into Monahan and Carroll genealogy warrens before hazarding any guesses into how T’s great-grandparents met and married in 1878.

The story starts, as so many Irish tales do, with the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s.

Martin and Margaret (Kelley) Carroll made the trans-Atlantic trip by 1848, finding work and community in Minersville, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of their first child.  Margaret, the future Monahan matriarch, was their third child, born in 1854. The family moved west during the Civil War, to the coal seams surrounding the town of Tremont.

Map of Schuylkill County, Minersville to Tremont, 1854

Map of Schuylkill County, 1854. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C. (Minersville is on the far right, and Tremont on the far left.)

Thomas and Bridget Mona(g)han left Ireland about the same time as the Carrolls, living for a few years in Liverpool, England, where Thomas earned the family’s fare as a laborer on the docks or the railroad. In 1854 the couple boarded the Andrew Foster with their little boys–the future Monahan patriarch, John J., and Michael–and crossed the wintry ocean to New York City.  By the end of that decade, the Monahans lived among the residents of Swatara, a patch town south of Broad Mountain, and a bit east of Tremont.

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In 1870 both the Carrolls and the Monahans lived in the area serviced by the Swatara post office.  Margaret was helping her mom make a home; John was an underground laborer alongside his dad.

Patch towns had collieries, schools, stores, and churches.  Surely there was ample opportunity for John to meet Margaret.  Perhaps the young folks lingered after mass or danced together at the wedding of a mutual friend.   I find it perfectly reasonable to presume that Margaret and John flirted, courted and wed because of geographic proximity.

In the last decades of the century, the Monahans and the Carrolls drifted, with various members settling in different towns nestled among the Appalachian hills.  By the time T’s mother was old enough to have memories of visiting, aunts and uncles were centered–the Carrolls in Tower City and the Monahans in Shenandoah.  But that is story for another day.

 

Put Procrastination On A Shelf

Book.Corrigan.Mining.1887.01.EHDeadlines 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. 

51-The Heritage Summer 2016, Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society

“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.”

The Night of Mary Corrigan Delehanty’s Birthday

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.

Corrigan Medical Notebook

Corrigan State Birth Record

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These records were identified by Mary Corrigan Delehanty as belonging to her father, James Aloysius Corrigan, MD.