Thursday, July 31, 2014

Those Places Thursday/The Cobbler's Shop

      The youngest member of my Ryan family from South Tipperary was Cornelius.  Born in Golden Garden just a year before the famine struck, and named for his father, Cornelius accompanied his parents to America in 1860, landing in New York that August.  Outside of church and census records, there aren't many others available in New York State for that time frame.  Church records show Cornelius marrying Ann Hennessy in 1869, and he appears in the 1870 census of Palmyra, NY with Ann and a 5 month old son named Oliver; his given occupation is shoemaker.

     I often wondered how Cornelius became a shoemaker, no other members of his family had a trade, and I wondered who he worked for and where in Palmyra?  Things began to make sense when I read the 1865 census in the Wayne County Historian's office.  There Cornelius was listed as an apprentice living with shoemaker David Rogers in Palmyra.  Another clue presented itself in the remarkable book "Palmyra and Vicinity" by Thomas Cook.  An elderly gentleman, before his death he recorded in this book everyone he could remember who ever lived or conducted business in Palmyra and their locations.  This is the section about David Rogers--

     Cornelius must have been the next apprentice after John Jarvis left for the war.  The last piece of the puzzle was found during my visit  to the Palmyra library a few weeks ago.

     Oddly enough, the parents of Jennie Jerome, the future mother of Winston Churchill lived in Palmyra for a time.  Her mother, Clarissa Hall, was actually born there.  It's true, look it up.  Next to a photo of Jennie was one of her great-uncle Hiram Jerome's old law office on Market Street in Palmyra.  Upon seeing that, something clicked--I remembered reading that David Rogers purchased an old law office on Market St. for his shoe shop.  I thumbed through Mr. Cook's book again, (you have to love those old local histories),  which confirmed this was the very building.  I'm not sure exactly how Cornelius made Mr. Roger's acquaintance, but I did learn he became an apprentice and then a shoemaker before his untimely death in 1877.  I can almost picture Cornelius climbing those steps to go to work each day.  I love it when it all comes together.


  1. It is wonderful to add context to our ancestors’ lives, especially when there’s also a connection to world history. Well spotted!

    1. Thank you Dara, I agree. Finding names is wonderful, but finding a little piece of their lives is the best.