The United States was teetering on the brink of civil war as Mary Walker of Tamaqua (PA) made plans for her union with Ebervale (PA) coal miner Martin Corrigan. President Abraham Lincoln spent the Easter season contemplating the resupply of Fort Sumter. Mary and Martin completed the final details for their marriage.
On Easter morning, 31 March 1861, Mary traipsed up the mountain from Tamaqua to the region’s main Irish Catholic church in Beaver Meadows. In all likelihood Mary was accompanied by her mother, Ellen, and sisters, Anne and Ellen, each taking a turn carrying the dress in which the Irish immigrant was to exchange vows. Meanwhile, Martin, himself a recent Irish immigrant, hurried to put the finishing touches on his wedding attire, borrowing a vest and dress overcoat to spruce up his outfit.
Though St. Gabriel’s Church existed in Hazleton and was most likely the Corrigans’ home church, Martin and his entourage traveled to the diocese’s main church, St. Mary’s, to rendezvous with the Walkers. Within the celebration of the high holy day of Easter, Martin and Mary were united in marriage by the Reverend Father Scanlon. Afterward the young couple posed for a photograph, to capture in perpetuity the beginning of the Corrigan-Walker partnership.
Family Genealogical Record, Ida May Corrigan, 26 Dec 1903. Hand written original. Corrigan Collection with author.
Map 1859 COLTON’S PENNSYLVANIA. Published by Johnson & Browning, 172 William St. New York: accessed online at http://www.mapsofpa.com/antiquemaps35.htm.
Photographic copy of original carte de visite, inscribed on back by Mary Corrigan Delehanty. Corrigan Collection with author.
Miscellaneous sources such as census data and obituaries of Martin Corrigan and Mary Walker. Author’s notes available upon request.
The fifth page frames a young couple’s portrait, carefully staged to tell the story of a momentous autumn day. Robert Minor had just taken May Stevenson’s hand in marriage.
The twenty-three year old groom was dressed in well-tailored pin-striped pants worn with a frock coat and matching waist coat–a fashion which would indicate that the Thursday wedding was held during the day. His bride, seventeen year old May Stevenson, wore an exquisite gown with lace at the throat, on the bodice, and at the cuffs. The hat, no doubt designed and made by her milliner mother, Mary Jones Stevenson, was trimmed in the this same lace and finished with feathers. September 8, 1892 was a grand day for these families.
The Presbyterian minister, T. G. Bristow, conducted the service in Carmichaels, Greene County, Pennsylvania. After Robert and May exchanged their vows, and the LARGE families of both bride and groom mingled in congratulations, the newlyweds stopped by the Public Square studio of T. W. Rogers and had their picture taken. Robert stared a bit like a deer caught in a lantern’s light, perhaps rocked by the realization that the circuit of ice cream socials and steamboat shows had come to an end. A soft smile tugged at May’s face, however. The young lady had survived the arduous years following her father’s death and secured her future with this prosperous young man. Together the youngsters would join in the family business–raising cattle and children to carry on the Minor legacy on Ceylon Road, Garard’s Fort, Pennsylvania.
This yellowed newspaper announcement was carefully preserved by a relative, and sent to me when they cleaned out their clutter. Fortunately. My parents divorced when I was a young adult, and their wedding momentos became casualties of the fight. I am grateful to pack rats who unload their goodies to subsequent generations of pack rats. And to those of you who are divorced, a tiny plea to preserve memories of your relationship’s beginnings. Someday your children and grandchildren will want to see where they came from.