The prompt this week is “longevity” which brought my maternal grandfather to mind since he achieved the venerable age of 92 years before his death in 1953.
|Michael Joseph Connery|
Michael Joseph Connery was born on 15 June, 1861 in Kilfinane, County Limerick, Ireland to Maurice Patrick Connery[i] and Mary Leahy. Michael was baptized on the 16th of June 1861 in the parish of Kilfinane with his mother’s brother and sister, Michael and Helena, as his sponsors.[ii]
Figure 2 Baptism record of Maurice Patrick Connery
Michael grew up as the fifth of ten children on his father’s farm in Kilfinane, County Limerick, Ireland. Michael received an excellent education, even finishing high school which was unusual for the time.[iii] In 1880[iv], Michael Connery was told by his father to take a cow to market and sell the cow. The money from the sale of the cow was to be used to pay for an apprenticeship in butchering. Michael, who had previously thrown his clothes out the window, picked up the clothes and cow, sold the cow, and bought a ticket to America.
It appears that he went directly to Chicago, although so far it has not been proven that he had any connections there. Michael found work in the city where he proceeded to settle. By 1891 Michael was a saloon keeper in the city of Chicago, an occupation he would follow until at least 1906.[v]
According to family oral tradition, Michael returned to Ireland some time around 1890 to return to his father the money from the sale of the cow that had financed his voyage to the United States. Reportedly wearing a “fine suit” and sporting a “gold headed cane”, Michael caught the eye of a young lass names Alice who determined then and there that they would marry.
Michael married Alice Fleming on 28 June 1893 in the Port Huron home of her sister, Mary Walsh. Michael and Alice settled in Chicago where they raised their family of nine children on the west side. By 1910 Michael had left the saloon industry and was employed in building construction.[vi] By 1913, Michael was involved with Real Estate and eventually opened his own company “M J Connery & Sons, Inc. Beginning as a Real Estate company serving the Garfield Park area of Chicago, M J Connery & Sons eventually added insurance and travel services. Over the years, in addition to his sons and daughters, several of Michael’s grandchildren worked for the company.
Speaking of her father, my mom related the fact that during the depression, my grandfather walked to and from work every day with only a nickel in his pocket. He went home for lunch daily and during the depression, sold half of his real estate holdings to pay off the loans on others. Other stories, so far undocumented, include Michael leading the Chicago St Patrick’s Day parade on a white stallion.
Michael was a staunch Catholic and pioneer member of St Mel Parish in Chicago where he and Alice donated a stained-glass window in memory of their son Leo, who died days short of his eighth birthday.[vii]
Michael Joseph Connery died 16 March 1953 in Chicago and is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Hillside, Cook, Illinois.
[i] Catholic Church Records (Bulgaden Parish, Limerick, Ireland), Diocese of Limerick Baptisms, p55, Baptism of Maurice Connery; Microfilm 02428-01, National Library of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.
[ii] Footnote: Catholic Church Records (Kilfinane, Limerick, Ireland), Diocese of Limerick Baptisms, page 31, Baptism of Michael Connery; Microfilm 02429 / 05, National Library of Ireland, Dublin Ireland.
[iii] 1940 US census, Cook County, Illinois, Population schedule, Ward 30, ED 6, 9B, 721, Michael J Connery.
[iv] 1900 US Census Chicago Ward 28, Cook, Illinois; Roll: 279; Page: 12A; ED 0851; FHL microfilm: 1240279
[v] Chicago City Directories 1891 and 1906, online images viewed at fold3.com
[vi] 1910 U S Census, Cook County, Illinois, population Schedule, Ward 34, ED ED 1459, Sheet 11B, , occupation of Michael Connery.
[vii] Leo Connery entry, Cook County Deaths, source reference 1375, record number 82, FHL film 1,239,714.