Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Last Word on John Cronin

Note:  This is the 4th post in a series of posts about John Cronin, the husband of my g-grandmother, Lucy.

The first place I traveled to in search of John Cronin was the town of Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky based an a newspaper article I had discovered in the Kentuckiana Digital Library.  A visit to the Paris-Bourbon Co. library revealed a second article that gave several more clues as to the "real" John Cronin.
Here is a transcription:

True Kentuckian, Paris, Kentucky, April 5, 1882

John Cronin, who committed suicide at Mt. Sterling last Saturday night by morphine, was buried in the Catholic cemetery here on Monday.  His father owns a lot in the cemetery, but it being contrary to rules of that church to inter a suicide in consecrated ground, he was buried in the strangers' lot.  He was born and raised in Cynthiana, having been here three or four years ago exhibiting the two Elam children, or "Scaly Brothers," human curiosities from one of the mountain counties.  Three or four weeks ago, while acting as Marshal of Mt. Sterling, he shot and wounded a Mr. Conner, for which he was under bond.  He left a wife and 5 small children.  His widow is a daughter of Thomas Probert, deceased, formerly of this city, she being the offspring of Mr. Proberts first marriage,  Mr. P.'s second wife being a sister of Thomas Richardson, Sr., of this place.

Finally, the Mt. Sterling Sentinel Democrat, 4-14-1882, p. 2 reports the following:

"The body was buried and reburied until Father Barry told Mr. Cronin, the brother, that he could either take the body from the cemetery or leave it where it lay, in unconsecrated ground, or take all the bodies from the Cronin lot and the money that was paid for it would be refunded.  Cronin cursed the entire congregation, and defied any man to step from the crowd, numbering 80 or 90 men, to stand before him, which polite invitation was, as a matter of course, declined.  It was thought that the body will be brought here (Mt. Sterling)".

I've yet to find out where he is buried -- if moved again, it would mean four burials for poor John Cronin.

John Cronin was the husband of my great-grandmother, Lucy Probert Cronin.  Lucy later had one more child, my grandmother, with William Dailey of Mt. Sterling.  All six children were eventually raised in orphanages.  I can't even imagine the difficult life Lucy had, nor can I imagine having to give up all six children.  I wish Lucy could have been blessed with an easier life, but it is testimony to Roman Catholic nuns that all six children went on to lead productive lives.

The Romanticization of John Cronin

I wanted SO much to believe that John Cronin was a good guy -- and maybe he was.  But the evidence isn't pointing in that direction. 

Two days ago I got to live the dream of every family historian and travel to the places in Kentucky I knew John Cronin had lived -- Paris, Bourbon Co., Mt. Sterling, Montgomery Co., and Cynthiana, Harrison Co.  Armed with the approximate date of John Cronin's suicide and the shooting of Richard O'Connor that may have led to this decision, my goal was to check any local newspapers to see if I could get a more complete picture.  What a day it was!

I decided to create a timeline of the events culled from several articles:

3-10-1882 - The Democrat - Mt. Sterling, p.2.
  • John Cronin and Richard O'Connor "collided on the street and both turned and began an angry altercation."
  • John Cronin "drew a pistol and fired at O'Connor five times, one ball taking effect in O'Connor's left side, in the abdomen."
  • The statements of the participants were "so divergent" that the newspaper could not "attempt to give any further particulars."
  • The trial was set for Thursday morning. 
3-14-1882 - The Democrat - Mt. Sterling, p.2.
  • "The attention of the Police Court was occupied all day Monday with the trial of John Cronin for wounding Richard O'Connor with intent to kill."
  • "Quite a number of witnesses were examined on both sides, but on account of the absence of several important witnesses the trial was adjourned."
  • "The Court adjourned to the house where the wounded man is staying.  He was very feeble and could scarcely give his testimony."
3-17-1882 - The Democrat - Mt. Sterling, p.2.
  • The trial was concluded in City Court.  "The Judge then delivered his opinion which was that the defendant had acted too hastily and that there were good reasons for holding him over to the grand jury."
  • The Judge "softened the charge" since he did not believe " there was any malice aforethought proven in the case."  Cronin was to be held over under the charge of "unlawfully shooting."
  • His bail was fixed at $800, which he gave.  Patsy McNamara was his bondsman.
4-4-1882 - The Democrat - Mt. Sterling, p.2.
  • The paper reported on the death of John Cronin by suicide on April 1, 1882.  (Note:  This is my birthday as well as April Fool's Day).
  • He took his life by overdosing on morphine.
  • He was described as handsome and about 33 years old. 
There is no way I can do this part of the story justice without including the actual article.  Since it is difficult to read, here is the transcription:

In the Jaws of Death

An occurrence, as startling as it was sad, shocked the entire community Saturday night.  This was none other than the suicidal death of John Cronin.  Cronin lived on Maysville street with his family and worked hard all day Saturday.  He appeared light-hearted and good-humored and not a breath of suspicion was held by any of the dreadful resolve centered in his mind.  After supper he said to his wife that he had the blues and was going up town and get drunk.  She begged him not to do so, and he replied that if she would send up and get him some morphine he would stay at home and go to sleep.  She sent up and got him two grains of this narcotic which he took after he had washed and dressed himself.  He then lay down on the bed.  Calling his little son to him he said "come lay on the bed here, for it is the last time you will ever sleep with your father."  They nestled up together and lay there for about five minutes, when Cronin petulantly observed that the morphine was "no account" and that he would have to get more before he could sleep.  He then got six grains more which he took, this being the fatal dose.  This was at a few minutes after nine.  He fell over on the bed and his wife suspecting he had taken an overdose sent immediately for Drs. Thornley and Glover, who labored with him faithfully but to no avail, for he died at 25 minutes past 10 o'clock.  His father lives in Cynthiana, and John King and John Feehan drove over there to summon him.  He arrived here Sunday afternoon.  The remains will be taken to Paris for burial.  Cronin was a handsome man, about 33 years old.  He was a tinner by trade, although he had not worked at it since he returned from Kansas.  His career had been a checkered one and numerous incidents are now related of his lawless life.  About a month ago he shot a man here in a street broil and this man is still stretched upon his bed.  Many are the motives assigned for the suicide, but the immediate cause will always be shrouded in mystery.  Sunday afternoon John McGilaway, Pat Sammons and Will Bradshaw went around and collected $35 for the family, which is in indigent circumstances.

As this post is getting to be quite lengthy, I will reveal the rest of my findings in the next post.  I'd love to hear your opinion of John.  Leave a comment.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

John Cronin -- Buried Three Times - At Least!

Note:  Click here for a link to Part I of this story.

As I write this, I have such a jumble of emotions.  From what I can tell, John Cronin was probably a fine, upstanding member of the Mt. Sterling community.  He married Lucy Probert and together they had five children:  Joseph, Albert, Charley, Annie, and Addie.  He was respected enough to be a "Deputy Marshall."  So how could everything go so badly so quickly?*

I have to believe that the shooting of Richard O'Conner had something to do with pushing John over the edge -- but at what a cost to his wife and children.  I wonder if he would have acted differently if he would have seen how desperate the situation would become for his widow.  Within a year and a half, all five children were placed in an orphanage.  Lucy would feel compelled to leave town.  Perhaps there is more to the story than I know and John anticipated a trial that would not go well for him.  At any rate, he took his own life.

This caused a real dilemma for the burial of John Cronin because suicide prevented the Catholic Church of the time from allowing the body to be buried in "consecrated" ground.  I found this article that described the problem.
Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky, Tuesday, 4-11-1882, Vol. 1, p. 1.
To summarize, John Cronin's body was buried in the Stranger's Section (unconsecrated ground) due to his suicide.  This infuriated John's younger brother, who together with the help of a brother-in-law, disinterred John's body and moved it to a plot owned by his father (consecrated ground).  The local priest telegraphed the Bishop of Covington for advice and was told that he would have to exhume the body and move it back.  John's brother returned from Cynthiana to confront the priest.  The article implies that they were working on a solution, but gives no indication of the final outcome.

So on this day, 129 years later, I hope John is at peace -- regardless of resting place.

* Additional research proved that it was Richard O'Conner who worked in the grocery store -- not John Cronin.  Perhaps his job at the time of his death was serving as a "Deputy Marshall".  He had once worked as a tinner (tinsmith).

The Elusive John Cronin - Part I

For ten years I have been trying to find out what happened to John Cronin -- husband of Lucy Probert and father of her first five children.  He is listed in the Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky 1880 Census with Lucy and the first four children.  Addie was born later on that year.

I knew that all five children were placed in an orphanage in northern Kentucky in 1884.  On the intake record for the boys, the father was listed as "dead."  That gave me a narrow window to search -- 1880 to 1884.  How hard could it be?

For ten years I have visited the Montgomery County Court House, visited the Kentucky Room at the Mt. Sterling library, searched online and searched digitized historical newspapers.  To make matters worse, there was another John Cronin married to Armilda Hubbard living in Mt. Sterling at the time.  Why couldn't I find my guy?

Last night I was searching through the Kentuckiana Digital Library for the umpteenth time looking for John Cronin.  I know from experience that it can be a tricky thing and that you must try every possible spelling and variation imaginable.  This time I hit pay dirt!

Semi-Weekly Interior Journal, Stanford, KY    4-21-1882
Committed suicide?  Why?  Why in Paris, Kentucky* if he was living in Mt. Sterling? Continued searching gave me more clues.  Apparently Richard O'Connor worked in a grocery.  John Cronin was a "Deputy Marshall."  According to a second article, John Cronin had had an altercation with one Richard O'Conner.  As Richard threw "weights" at John, John unloaded his revolver into Richard, hitting his left side and arm. I've not been able to discover any basis for the "bad blood" between them.

Bourbon news (Millersburg, Kentucky): 1881, p.4.

I don't know what Richard O'Conner's beef was, but he lived to die another day -- literally.

Evening Bulletin, Maysville, Kentucky, 3-8-1882.
The article makes it appear as if John Cronin succeeded in actually killing him this time, but I have my doubts.  I came across a marriage record in the Kentucky Marriage Index for a Richard O'Conner of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in 1883.

 And then there is this notice in the newspaper . . .

Semi-Weekly Bourbon News, September 14, 1883, p. 1.
The article about the shooting does not say why Richard was shot, whether or not John Cronin was arrested, and whether or not there was a trial.  BUT WAIT -- THERE'S MORE!!!  The story takes yet another interesting twist. Be sure to read the next post.  John Cronin - Buried Three Times - At Least!

Note:  If you want to know what happened to John's widow, Lucy, go to this link.
*Additional research proved that John Cronin committed suicide in Mt. Sterling -- not Paris.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Son-in-Law, Roland - AKA Clotbuster

Roland the Clotbuster
Today is my son-in-law's birthday.  As you can see from the picture, he is many things.  In addition to being the husband of my daughter and father of my grandson, Roland is passionate about educating the public about blood clots and how to prevent them.  He is a triathlete who uses his races as a vehicle for increasing awareness. You can check out his blog by clicking on this link:

My daughter, Liz, met her future husband while attending DePauw University in Greencastle, IN.  Roland has an interesting personal history.  His full name, Imre Roland Varga, reflects his Hungarian heritage.  Roland's parents, Imre and Ildiko, defected from Hungary at the height of Communism.  It is a story in itself.  They eventually ended up in Venezuela where Roland was born.  In his family, it is traditional for the first-born son of the first-born son to be named "Imre".  Thus, my grandson Ian's full name is Imre Ian Varga.

After graduating from high school in Venezuela, Roland's parents thought it would be important for him to become proficient in speaking English.  Never mind that he was fully bilingual already -- English is the language of business.  So they arranged for him to be an exchange student in Evansville, IN where he attended an additional senior year of high school.  The family Roland stayed with in Indiana encouraged him to consider attending college in the United States.  The husband was on the Board of Trustees for DePauw and, as they say, the rest is history.

Roland, Liz and Ian
Liz and Roland started dating their Junior year.  As Roland wanted to be an electrical engineer, he had to complete his education at Washington University in St. Louis.  Their relationship was not an easy one to maintain as Roland had to transfer to St. Louis and eventually got a job in Kansas City.  Liz, meanwhile, spent a semester abroad in London and returned to Cincinnati after graduation to pursue her Master's Degree in Genetic Counseling.  During two summers, Roland stayed with us as he pursued summer internships.  We feel so blessed that the two of them hung in there and became the parents of our beautiful grandson.

So here's wishing a happy birthday to Roland.  Who knows what we'll be able to write about by his next birthday.

The In-laws -- Bill and Kathy

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Celebrating "Yuri's Night" -- 50 Years of Humans in Space

From the time I was a little girl, I was a HUGE fan of space flight.  I remember delivering fliers for the opening of my Uncle Jim's new gas station when everyone came outside to look at Sputnik.  The date was October 4, 1957.  We Americans were shocked into action as it was the U.S.S.R. that beat us into space.  Seeing that small satellite travel overhead when I was only eight years old triggered in me a lifelong interest in space.

As an adult I am a fan of NPR's Science Friday with Ira Flatow. Last Friday Ira discussed the upcoming 50th anniversary of Yuri Gargarin's flight into space.  There is a group that is organizing celebrations of this event all over the world.  The focus is on celebrating man's first spaceflight and the value of continued space exploration.

I'm also a "follower" of Neil deGrasse Tyson on twitter. Today's tweet was as follows:

He went on to explain that the first mammals to achieve orbit in order were: dog, guinea pig, mouse, Russian Human, chimpanzee and American human.

As a girl of 13, I started recording the history of Americans in space.  I recall the mix of excitement and anxiety that we experienced in those early days.  Space capsules dropped into the ocean following reentry and helicopters with divers were dispatched from naval ships to recover the astronauts.  It wasn't always a smooth recovery.

I was particularly interested in John Glenn.  Not only was he the first American to orbit the earth in space, but he was from Ohio.  I can't imagine the courage it took to be willing to climb into that capsule and be launched into space.  As we watched the launch on television, Americans burst with pride as Glenn reassured all of us that he felt fine.

Our local newspaper did its best to try to convince us that we were catching up with the Soviets by publishing this chart.  However, Soviet cosmonaut Titov had orbited the earth 17 times a full six months before Glenn traveled into space.

On this the 50th anniversary of man's entry into space, I can't help but think about the sacrifices in both capital and lives lost that have contributed to where we are now. We have an INTERNATIONAL space station -- a microcosm of what cooperation among nations and BOTH men and women can mean to our future on this planet. In these difficult financial times, I can't help but wonder where we will be on the centennial anniversary of our entry into space.

I did my best as a science teacher of 5th and 6th grade students to share my love of space with the next generation. This picture is of my students at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati mugging for the camera.  This and several other pictures were mailed to John Glenn.

Wishing everyone a happy Yuri's Night. Dreaming of a world of cooperation among humans from all nations. 

Note:  If you share my interest in this topic, you may want to read this link.  This link discusses a book to be released next month that discusses what amounted to a suicide mission of a Russian cosmonaut.  It is an amazing story.

Check out this youtube video produced by NASA to celebrate Yuri's Night. I don't want to spoil it -- so just watch.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Grandpa Roy Ryan -- 111th Anniversary of His Birth

I loved my Grandpa, Roy Ryan. As the first-born child and grandchild on my maternal side, I had the pleasure of knowing this gentle family man in ways that my younger siblings and cousins did not get the opportunity to experience.  He was Irish (if you ignore that his mother was of German ethnicity) and probably a good yin to my grandmother's yang.

In keeping with tradition, Grandpa was my Godfather and my Dad's mother, Norine, was my Godmother.  "Tradition" resulted in two great role models for me. I was baptized on my Grandfather's birthday, 62 years ago today.  That's me he's holding in the picture on the left.

I've written about Grandpa several times before.  You can search his name on the blog if you want to read more -- there is so much more.  If you missed the photoshow I posted for him, and want to get all emotional, click on the link and spend a few minutes with Grandpa.  What a great date for a birthday -- April 10th, 1900!

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Brother Dan's Birthday!

Dan is the 6th of seven Jones children and the 4th of five boys.  His arrival coincided with my own desires to "mother" a younger sibling.  I was ten years old.

Depending on your point of view, my mother did a very smart thing.  Dan was due to be born close to my April 1st birthday.  During her pregnancy, my mother told me that I could expect a "birthday present" to be born very close to my birthday. Dan's birthday is a week after mine.

I actually believed, on some level, that he was MINE.  From the very beginning, it was my job to feed him his bottle while Mom made dinner.  Changing diapers was the norm.  But please don't think for one minute that I felt like Dan was a burden.  I couldn't get enough of him.  For the life of me I couldn't understand why other girls my age loved to play with dolls.  What was attractive about a doll?  Dolls don't laugh at you, respond to you, hug you and cuddle.  Dan did all of these things.

Like all of the "little kids" in my family, Dan doesn't think there are many pictures of him as a baby.  The truth is that I have many pictures -- mostly of poor quality.  (I'll bet as Dan reads this that he wishes I actually had fewer pictures).  Looking at the picture of Dan being bathed in the kitchen sink, I wonder how many other families of that era did the same?  How long has it been a "requirement" that we all have special plastic bath tubs for our newborns?

This is one of my favorite pictures of Dan sitting with Tim in front of the fireplace, but what did they see?  I don't see a fire.  Given Dan's age in the picture, this had to be taken shortly after we moved to Pleasant Ridge for a bigger home.  Our previous home didn't have a fireplace -- maybe Tim was dreaming of fires yet to be built.

When I was in high school, I played the cello for a couple of years in the school orchestra.  My sister, Karen, is in the background.  What is curious, however, is that the house pictured across the street is the same house I ended up buying about 25 years later as a single Mom of a six-year old girl.  Tim and his wife bought our childhood home.  Who could have guessed we'd be neighbors as adults?

When Dan was about three years old, the family took a vacation to visit my mother's best friend, Mary Davis Crowell, who lived on an apple orchard in Carbondale, Illinois.  All of us had the chance to ride their horses -- an experience I will never forget. One of the Crowell's neighbors is holding the horse.  Dan and Ted are sitting on the horse and Karen is in the background.

Pictured below are the 8 of us packing up to drive the 350 miles to Carbondale for our vacation.  I can't even imagine. (Tim called to tell me that he is holding his transistor radio in this picture.  He gave me enough information for a whole separate post).

When Dan got married to his lovely wife, Carol, I told her that Dan would forever be "mine".  When Mom was pregnant with Don, my grandmother said that as soon as Don was born, Dan would no longer hold such a special place for me.  She was wrong.  Although I was thrilled to have Don come on the scene, he was not my birthday present.  (Did I just type that)?

So -- note to Dan -- I have many more pictures I couldn't put in this post.  Here is a link to a photoshow that has many more of them.  Hope your birthday is a happy one as you anticipate your next set of grandchildren -- twin girls at that!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Barbara and Kathy's Excellent Adventure

As I mentioned in the previous post, my cousin, Barbara and I, traveled to Columbus for the Ohio Genealogical Society conference.  I knew before attending that I was going to be inducted into two lineage societies -- one for members of my direct line who lived in Ohio for at least 100 years and the other for ancestors who served in the Civil War.  I was hoping for (but did not get) an award for a submission to the O.G.S. Writing Contest.

The conference was wonderful!  Both of us learned so much that we worry about our ability to process it.  There were several national speakers including David Rencher of FamilySearch, Leslie Albrecht Huber, Shamele Jordon, and Lisa Louise Cooke.  All did not disappoint. The speakers were able to combine the best of technology with the best of original documents. I now have a much better idea of how to use the available microfilm from the Freedmen's Bureau that is housed in the Cincinnati Public Library.  This information will be very helpful as Jimmie Ellis and I continue to work on his family's history in Georgia.

As great a time as we had, however, Barbara apparently takes her life in her hands if she agrees to travel with me.  Last October we traveled together to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky to visit the home of our Probert ancestors.  The next day, we traveled to the Kentucky Archives in Frankfort.  A few miles out the sirens went off warning us of a possible tornado.  Police officers were speeding up and down the street with their sirens blaring and trying to get everyone off of the streets.  We tried to take refuge in a bank, but they had a sign on the door telling us that they had taken refuge and locked the doors.  We and several others took shelter in the covered drive-through.  I naively thought it wasn't that bad -- until Barbara sent me this photograph:

Tornado in Frankfort
That streak just to the left of the road is not a flaw in the picture.  It's a tornado!

Not wanting to subject my cousin to another frightening travel experience with me, I was happy that we had such an uneventful drive to the conference.  But I was happy too soon.  The Hyatt Capitol offered free valet parking to all conference attendees.  Sounds like a great plan, but how do a few valets get cars in a reasonable time frame for several hundred people all dismissed at the same time?  After waiting for over half an hour, Barbara approached one of the valets only to be told that our car had a dead battery, but no problem -- they were charging the battery and would have it up front in a few minutes.  (The valet took care to tell Barbara that it wasn't anything they had done).  After another 30 minutes went by, we were told that they got the car out of the garage and it died on the street.  No charge in the world was going to get it there.  They literally pushed the car to the front of the hotel.

Barbara, Kathy and the car
We considered our options and eventually called AAA.  Luckily, I had coverage that would allow them to tow the car up to 100 miles free of charge.  They will also take up to two passengers.  The wrecker driver was there in about 15 minutes.  He was the GREATEST GUY!  After a couple of stressful hours, we were on our way, packed into the front seat of the wrecker, legs straddling the radio equipment. 

My husband, Bill, met us at the Subaru dealer in Cincinnati, where we are now all convinced that the valet left the parking lights on.  When they hooked up the battery to a charger, the parking lights were on!  What's strange is that they couldn't be turned off.  We'll get the final diagnosis tomorrow.

Bill, Barbara and I went to Bravo's where dinner and a couple of drinks made everything right with the world once again.  I'm just hoping that Barbara will be willing to go places with me in the future.  One thing for sure -- our trips together have been unforgettable.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I'm 62 -- No Foolin'

Once upon a time I was cute!  (Don't ask me what happened).  But I'm celebrating today because it's my birthday!  This year I've been posting pictures of my siblings as each of their birthdays rolls around, so I decided to do the same for myself today.

I'm the oldest of seven and the first grandchild of 25 on my mother's side of the family -- so I guess it shouldn't really be a big surprise that I would be the one who became most interested in our family's history.

It just so happened that I discovered that the Ohio Genealogical Society was having its annual conference in Columbus over my birthday.  I have never attended before. A cousin I discovered through Ancestry, Barbara Pharo, thought it would be fun to attend together.  Barbara's birthday is in a few days so the birthday excuse sounded good to her, too.  But Barbara lives in Tampa.  She came anyway.

We are having a great time in sunny, cold Columbus.  Yesterday we attended workshops on writing your family history and tracing your Irish ancestors.  In the evening, we attended a dinner where I received a "Century Families" recognition for proving that nine direct ancestors were living in Ohio before 1911.  Tonight is a dinner recognizing three Civil War ancestors. Tomorrow may bring yet another recognition -- we'll see.

Thanks to everyone who posted so many wonderful birthday wishes on Facebook today!