Mary Hennessy was one of my maternal great-grandmothers. She was the daughter of John Hennessey and Mary Hayes. While I don’t yet have an exact date, she was probably born about 1822 in Ballylanders, Limerick, Ireland. To my knowledge there were nine children in the family. The names of the children, in no particular order, are Winifred, Mary, Alice, Margaret, James, Patrick, Thomas, and Michael. Mary married Thomas Fleming, a grocer in Ballylanders about 1845 and they had twelve children and all but Eliza and Patt emigrated to the United States. Actually Patt came to the States but decided the work was too hard and returned to Ireland to open a grocery store in Dublin.
Mary’s sister Winifred married Michael Browne and about 1850, they left Limerick with their family and sailed for New Orleans. Michael Browne died shortly after their arrival in New Orleans. Winifred left her children with an orphanage and went to Houston to find housing and work. Winifred and Michael had seven children: Thomas, Johanna, John Thomas, Margaret, Winifred, and Michael. Michael and Winifred died in babyhood.
John Thomas Browne married Mary Jane Bergin and they had twelve children of whom only George Raymond died in infancy. All of the others married and had families that they raised in Texas providing John Thomas and Mary Jane with forty-two grandchildren.
John Thomas Browne was born March 23, 1845 in Ballylanders, County Limerick, Ireland and died August 19, 1941 in Houston, Texas. He was an Irish Catholic Mayor of Houston, Texas. He was instrumental in starting the Houston Fire Department as a paid force.[i] He served in that post from 1892 to 1896 and then in the Texas House of Representatives from 1897 to 1899 and again in 1907. He married Mollie Bergin on September 13, 1871 and was also known as "The Fighting Irishman" and "Honest John". He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus. He died of pneumonia and was buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.[ii]
Other members of Mary and Winifred Hennessy’s family also came to the United States and helped to settle this country from Georgia, to Illinois, to Texas. My ancestors were instrumental in helping this country grow and prosper just as this country helped them grow and prosper.