Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fitzpatrick/Sullivan Genealogy

My last blog post talked about my mother, Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin. In this posting, I will sketch out what I know about Mom's genealogy. I realize that most people find it easier to follow a genealogical chart or tree. At some point I'll try to link to something like that, but for now, it's a genealogical narrative.

Her Parents . . .
and my maternal grandparents were John Francis Fitzpatrick (whose middle name is rendered "Fenton" on some documents, after his father, and whose name is sometimes rendered FitzPatrick, with the "P" capitalized), and Margaret Ann Sullivan. John was born January 3, 1880, in Bluestone, Ohio. Bluestone was a quarry village on the Euclid Creek, where the current cities of Euclid and South Euclid, Ohio now exist. Local bluestone, a siltstone or fine sandstone of a bluish-gray hue, was quarried along the Euclid Creek and in a couple neighborhing areas. The product was used primarily for building foundations and sidewalks. The name "Bluestone" persists in street names in South Euclid and Cleveland Heights, but the Bluestone post office is long gone. The quarry must have employed hundreds of Irish, Slovenian, and other ethnic immigrants in its heyday. John died in 1949, in South Amherst, Ohio and is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, about a mile out of town, near his inlaws and some of his wife Margaret's relatives. He remarried after his wife Margaret died--Hilma Hunt, not-so-affectionately known as "Chicken." Hilma was left widowed by John's death in 1949. It is thought that Hilma got our grandfather's papers, photos, much of the Fitzpatrick memorabilia. It is so strange that John is buried near his in-laws, about 40 miles from our grandmother, his first wife, Margaret. Margaret Ann Sullivan Fitzpatrick is buried at St. Paul's, Chardon Road, in Euclid.

John F. Fitzpatrick's parents were Fenton Fitzpatrick, born in Ireland just after the famine, in 1852, and died in Euclid in 1897. His wife was Julia Broughan, born 1857 in Euclid, and died 1936--possibly also in Euclid. Fenton and Julia are buried at S. Paul's Cemetery in Euclid, near Margart Ann Sullivan Fitzpatrick. Julia's parents were Michael Broughan, born 1828 in Kildare, Ireland, died 1898, possibly in Euclid. His wife was Mary Sweeney, born 1834 in Donegal, Ireland, died 1901, possibly in Euclid. Michael and Mary are buried at St. Paul's. Mary's parents were Michael Sweeney and Bridget. Michael was probably born in Donegal. We don't have any information on Bridget.

Many of the names I've mentioned repeat throughout the generations. Great Grandfather Fenton Fitzpatrick's son is listed as John Fenton in some sources (John Francis in most sources). John had a son named Fenton Robert (known as "Skip")--this Fenton was my Uncle Skip; Skip had a son named Fenton (also known to many as "Skip")---this Fenton is my first cousin; and he in turn has a son named Fenton. My mother, Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin, named her youngest son James Fenton. So the name clearly runs strong in the family.

The name Julia goes back at least to my great grandmother, Julia Broughan Fitzpatrick, and also appears again in John's daughter Julia Fitzpatrick Brock (known as "Dudie" from a child's mispronunciation of "Julie"), and in my own daughter Julia Rose Coughlin. There is another Julia, I believe. Aunt Julia (Dudie) Fitzpatrick Brock's son Luke has a daughter named Julia. The names keep repeating as a way to honor beloved elders and beloved deceased.

Margaret Ann Sullivan Fitzpatrick, my grandmother, was born in 1880 in Brownhelm Township, Lorain County, Ohio, also near quarries. The famous quarries around Amherst and South Amherst mined the beautiful "Berea Sandstone." And they too employed hundreds of Irish, German, and other ethnic immigrants. Her parents were . . . [will continue]

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin--My Mother

A day doesn't go by that I don't think about my mother, Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Coughlin. She was one of the great people to walk the face of the earth, and her likes will not be seen again. My Mom died on December 8th, 2003, slipped quietly and gracefully from this life as we gathered around her hospital bed. I can just imagine that she was piped into Heaven, welcomed there by my Dad, her sister Julia ("Dudie"), her crazy twin brothers, Dick and Don, and brothers Fenton (Skip) and Al. And that's for starters. The welcome would have been Irish-rambunctious.

Margaret Ann was born on November 10th, 1923 (we thought it was 1924 all her life--a little white lie she manufactured long ago!), born in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time, the Fitzpatrick's lived on East 169th Street in Cleveland, a hop skip and a jump from Euclid Beach Park and Lake Erie. Her dad, Jack [John Francis Fitzpatrick], was a yard conductor at the New York Central Collinwood Yards. Her mom, Margaret Ann Sullivan Fitzpatrick, was a homemaker. I think a couple factors really marked my mom's life. She had a wonderful sister and wonderful brothers. She was the baby of the family, and they helped her and stuck up for her and loved her. And she had wonderful cousins (some names come to mind: Pat and Sally Kearns, Lois Cherry) and wonderful aunts and uncles. She really loved the sweet Sullivan aunts, her mother's sisters (all of whom died fairly young). Her father, I think, was a little distant. He worked hard and sometimes went on dark drinking binges. And her mother's health started failing when my mother was still very young. The problem, we think, was high blood pressure, and possible kidney damage from it. In our era, this problem could have been easily treated, but in 1935 it was a serious issue. It led to terrible headaches and I think she became a semi-invalid in the late 1930's. This was my Mom's teenage years, and she had a distant and often absent father and an ill mother. I think my Mom was a kind of orphan, raised to a large extent by her sister and her brothers.

[I will continue writing about my mother in subsequent posts and will invite my sister and brothers to share their memories also--I'll post them here. In the next post on Mom I'll do a little Fitzpatrick/Sullivan genealogy, talk about her getting expelled from Villa Angela Academy, and finally talk about her meeting the Coughlin boys in Willoughby soon after World War II.]

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Solstice Sunset on Lake Erie

These photos show the sunset over Lake Erie on the Summer Solstice, 2008, from Mentor Headlands State Park. The photos were taken with a Canon digital camera, and the images were not manipulated in any way.

[Photos copyrighted 2008 by Robert M. Coughlin.]

Friday, June 20, 2008

An Gorta Mór (The Great Famine in Ireland)

“An Gorta Mór: An Fath Mo Clan a D’fhág as Éirinn”

(Le Robaird Mícheál Ó Cochláin)

Bhí mo shin-seanathair, Conn Ó Cochláin, a rugadh i meán an Gorta Mór áit éigin in iarthair Contae Chorcaí, Éire, in aice le baile “An Scoil” ó “An Sciobarín”. Bhí sé an mac Dónal Ó Cochláin is Máire Ní Crualaigh. Bhí 2 dheartháir, Jeremiah is Bartholemew, aige agus aon deirfiúr amháin, Cáitlín. Bhí Dónal feirmeoir bocht. Níor sé úinéir talún.

Sa bhlíain 1857 ó 1858, bhí Dónal, Máire, Jeremiah, Bartholemew, Cáitlín is Conn ag dul ar imirce go dtí Méiriceá, sa baile i “Scipio Town,” i Contae Cayuga, Nua-Eabhrac. Thosaigh siad ag deanamh feirmoireacht an talamh in aice le “Cork Road” (An Bóthar Corcaigh”). B’fheidir go labhair siad Gaeilge i Scipio Town.


"The Great Famine: The Reason My Family Left Ireland"

(by Robert Michael Coughlin)

My great grandfather, Cornelius Coughlin [also spelled Coghlin] was born in the midst of the Great Famine, somewhere in West County Cork, Ireland, [possibly] near the towns of Skull or Skibbereen. He [Cornelius] was the son of Daniel O'Coghlin and Mary O'Crowley. He had 2 brothers, Jeremiah and Bartholemew, and only one sister, Catherine. Daniel [Cornelius's father] was a poor farmer. [As far as we know] he never was a land owner.

In the year 1857 or '58, Daniel, Mary, Jeremiah, Catherine, and Cornelius emigrated to America, to the town of Scipio in Cauyuga County, New York. They [then] began to farm the land near Cork Road. It's possible that Gaelic was spoken in Scipio Town [because so many Cork emigrees lived there].

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Bloomsday! June 16, 2008

Today I'm sure you, like me, are celebrating "Bloomsday," honoring James Joyce and the protagonist of his novel Ulysses, Leopold Bloom. June 16, 1904 was the day celebrated in the novel. Thousands of people from Dublin, Ireland to Dublin, Ohio honor the events of that day. In Dublin, Ireland, people will move from place to place in the great city described in the novel.

Ulysses is a difficult book, but sections of it sing out to all, not just Joyce specialists. Yes, you will love the ending of the novel. Yes, in the end, it is lyrical and romantic, and beautiful, Yes.

Lift a glass to love and life! Slainte!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Surprise 60th Birthday Party

The Conspiracy Unfolds.

On June 7th, four days before my 60th birthday, my family, friends, and colleagues surprised me with a birthday party. Surprise is too mild a word--I was flabbergasted, stunned, gob-smacked! I chalk up the surprise to some devilishly deceptive devious doings by my wife Linda, my sister Mary Ellen, and my daughters Julia and Emily. And there some other suspects in the surprise as well.

Around 5 or 5:30 PM Saturday, June 7th, Linda suggested we go out to a sports bar to watch the Belmont Stakes to see "Big Brown" win the Triple Crown. I should have been suspicious right there because never in our marriage of 30 years has Linda suggested we go to a sports bar! I agreed to go and we ate supper at Damon's and watched Big Brown come in last in the Belmont. Good thing I didn't go through with my plan to bet my retirement funds on this sure thing. Soon after the race we headed home, a 25-minute drive. When we got near Chardon, Linda got a call from Emily saying she spilled a gallon of milk [a lie to stall us while Larry and Anu Needham arrived] and asking us to stop at the Convenient Store to get more milk. I thought to myself, Damn, why isn't Em more careful! Spilled milk over our new kitchen floor! We're going to have to mop that up real good with soap and water. After Linda came out of the store with the milk, she told me that Em was having a bunch of her friends over for a bonfire [another in a string of devious lies!].

Minutes later, we turned north off the GAR Highway, US Route 6, onto Penniman Drive (named after "Little Richard" Penniman, the rock 'n roll pioneer). As we approached our house I saw about 20 cars parked up and down the street near our house. I thought, Damn, Em is having all her friends over for that bonfire. We'll have to chaperone 25 19-year-olds!

We parked the car in the driveway, walked up the steps and opened the door. "Surprise!" yelled some 30 or more people, followed by a rendition of "Happy Birthday." It still didn't sink in! (You must think I am really dense!). I saw my sister Mary Ellen and saw Micki Long taking my picture and thought, What's going on here? What the hell are they doing here ? Where's Em's friends? And then it finally hit me--this was a surprise birthday party for me. I had never ever had one before.

The Linchpin of the Conspiracy.

There were lots and lots of clues that I ignored that allowed for the surprise party to be a genuine surprise. And I admit--I am often oblivious to what's going on around me. I attribute this to my status as an "absent-minded professor," but it could also be attributed to loss of brain cells during the 1960's and 1970's--I lost billions of neurons at Woodstock alone! In fact, I can't even remember for sure if I was there!

Anyway, here's the linchpin of the surprise. Some time in May, my sister Mary Ellen sent an email to Linda at our "Snowbelt98" email address. This hasn't ever been considered a private email address, and I often open emails if they are from my sister or from Sue and Steve Sanders. So I wasn't really snooping at private email. Mary Ellen's email that said something like "see you around Bob's birthday." Well, that should have sent alarm bells ringing, but no . . . . Because a follow up email mentioned something about Mary Ellen and Ed getting together with Linda and me sometime around my birthday in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood for supper. In fact, Linda mentioned this possibility to me. Any thought of a surprise birthday party was banished--I just figured we were going to have a nice quiet dinner in the Murray Hill neighborhood sometime around June 10th. That particular email was a trick, a devious trick. These were tracks laid down in the wrong direction--for the express purpose of convincing me that there would be no surprise party. And it absolutely worked. These guys, Mary Ellen and Linda, should work for the CIA. Maybe they do!

Who Was There.

Family. My sister Mary Ellen Zaremba was there with her husband Ed, driving in from Medina County on their Honda Goldwing. My brother Jimmy was there with his wife Jodi and their kids Dillon, Darby, and Quinn (and the kids brought their friend Brandon O'Donnell). My brother Kev was also there with his sons Tommy and Cody (who had graduated from Mentor High
School that very day), but brother Denny and his wife Sher were stuck in San Diego, so they were there in spirit and via telephone. My daughter Julia, one of the co-conspirators was there with her husband Ed. And Ed's parents, Judy and Ken Kleppel also came (we had a surprise 60th birthday party a couple weeks earlier for Judy--I should have seen this coming!). And my youngest daughter, Emily, also a co-conspirator, came up from Athens, Ohio (Ohio University) with her roommate Sarah just for the party. My middle daughter Carolan had just started her environmental education camp in the Front Range mountains above Nederland, Colorado, so she couldn't be there in person, but she did manage to call.

Colleagues. Many of my colleagues at Lakeland Community College were there. In fact, when I opened the door, there was Micki Long snapping my picture. Micki and I were hired at Lakeland on the same day in 1988, and have worked closely together for 20 years. Also there were Sue Kincaid and her husband Tim. Sue and I have worked together for some 18 years. Larry Needham came with his wife Anu from Oberlin, Ohio--a great treat for me to see them. Larry and I have worked together around 16 or 17 years. And perhaps most wonderful of all, my retired colleagues, John Covolo and Phil Skerry, came to celebrate my birthday.

Old Friends. Many of my friends from growing up in Euclid also came: John Wirsing and his wife Mary Ann came from Bainbridge. Tim Homan and his wife Mel came from the Dark Side, west of the Cuyahoga River (Parma, I think). Bill Heiss, who I have known since my first day of cub scouts (probably 1957) was there with his wife Ruth Ann, and Ross and Gail Salupo made the trek to Chardon from their home on the lake in Euclid.

Newer Friends. Also there were Bill and Ann Busch, and their daughter Mary,who were our next-door neighbors in Euclid; they came in from Willoughby; and Todd and Mary Ray, whom we first met in 1991 or so with Peacemaker folks at the Cleveland State University Newman Center, made the short jaunt from Munson Township.

I've probably left out some people--so sorry! I was very very happy to see each and every one of these dear friends--and hardly had time at the party to talk much with everyone. It's the same frustration that happens at weddings--so many dear friends and so little time.

A Blessing for My Dear Friends.

I wish I could call down the Lord's blessing on all my friends and family. Maybe I'll use the old Irish blessing and say, "May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields, And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of His hand."

Cards and Presents.

Despite the invitation's exhortation not to bring presents, of course many people did. Most presents fell into one of two categories: alcohol; and sweets (candy, maple syrup, honey, etc.). Tell me these dear friends don't know me well!

I also got many wonderful, and often hilarious, cards . . . .

[More coming soon]

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Birthday Greetings from the California Coughlin's

Denny and Sher Coughlin, the Southwest Branch of the clan, sent me greetings on my 60th birthday (the greetings were actually sent on Denny's 58th birthday, 4 days before my birthday).
Besides Den and Sher, the photos shows Sean and Rachael, Kit, Marlo, and Den and Sher's grandchildren.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Big Birthdays: Little Cogs, Big Cogs, Big Mike

June is a big month for birthdays in my family. On June 7th, "Little Cogs," Denny Coughlin, will celebrate Birthday # LVIII. "Little Cogs" is about 6 inches taller and 2 years younger than "Big Cogs," who will celebrate birthday # LX four days later. And right between Denny and me, my great friend Mike Gerrity will also be celebrating birthday # LX.

Happy Birthday to me, Denny, and Mike. May there be several more (make that many, many more!).
[Photo shows Grampa Connie Coughlin holding Bobby (left) and Denny (right) circa 1951, Hayes Avenue, Willoughby-on-the-Lake, Ohio]

Monday, June 2, 2008

Clare Weinkam, Briana, and Manuel Susarret: Stroke Recovery

A couple days ago, I talked to my old friend Clare Weinkam. She, her husband Manuel Susarret, their other children, family members, and friends have been coping with a tremendously difficult situation: Clare and Manuel's daughter Briana suffered a severe stroke last fall, caused principally by an injury she suffered in a traffic accident. To save Briana's life, surgeons had to remove much of the right hemisphere of her brain. Luckily, most of Briana's language and thinking capabilities were preserved, but she lost a great deal of control over the left side of her body and other subtle functions. Clare and her family have been in a heroic struggle to help Briana with all kinds of therapy: physical, psychological, and emotional. It has become a full-time job for Clare. The details of the rehabilitation process boggle my mind and would test anyone's will and strength.

You never know where life will take you. It has taken Clare to many unexpected places and through many difficulties. She, Manuel, Briana, and all their family and friends have our prayers and best wishes.

I first met Clare in 1972 in Cincinnati. At age 18, she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. At the time I was totally smitten. After all these years, I still have great affection and respect for this amazing woman. God help her in her work with her daughter Briana.