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.


  1. Bless the nuns indeed. Such tragic events.

    It's hard to read these articles and not react to them from a modern perspective. He was surely not the only man profiting by exhibiting "human curiosities" (PT Barnum comes to mind) but it's hard not to recoil.

    Well done, Kathy. Fascinating reading.

  2. Thank God for the nuns helping the children. Wonder if you will be able to find out why he killed himself?
    Betty A

  3. Kathy
    Being that Lucy was my Great Great Aunt it pains me to think of what a difficult life at such a young age she had. Left with 5 children and a scarred family hx to say the least. Where did she get the strength to go on.
    In your previous posting the newspaper article stated that he, John Cronin lived a lawless life and that he had a checkered career. I wonder what he was doing in Kansas.
    In summary I think I would have liked Lucy very much, her strength and perseverance is her legacy

  4. Barbara,
    I found out there was a Bourbon Co. Kansas named after Bourbon Co., Ky. Kansas was a new territory and counties were forming. I couldn't find out why it was named after Bourbon Co., KY but it's possible that he went out there to see what opportunities might be available out west.
    I agree about Lucy -- as we've discussed before, I would have liked to meet her. "Strength" is an adjective I would also use to describe her. I don't know how she survived in the face of so much adversity.


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