The importance of reviewing genealogy materials

Rose Rogers O'Rourke Morrison
Rose Rogers O’Rourke Morrison

It’s always a good idea to take a second look at genealogy materials and sources when studying family history. I took a second look at my materials today and realized something that I had not previously known. All three of the Rogers sisters, my great grandmother, Mary, and her sisters, Kate and Rose, all immigrated to America at the same time. All three families had their passage paid by cousin Jim Cunningham of Pullayup, Wash.

I knew Mary and Rose had immigrated together. But I did not know that Kate and her husband, John Murphy, had also made the journey. Today I reviewed a document I received about four years ago from distant cousin Anne Fernando, a member of the Stupfel family. Members of the Stupfel family are descendants of Rose Rogers O’Rourke Morrison (my great grand aunt) and her first husband, James O’Rourke (my great grand uncle). Rose and James are both related to me by blood since my great grandfather, John and his brother James, married sisters Mary and Rose Rogers.

The document was a narrative of Rose’s life and it stated that she immigrated to the US with her sister Kate and her husband, John Murphy. It does not mention that my great grandparents and their five children also made the journey. My grandfather Wilfred was one of those children. I find that interesting, but whoever wrote the document might not have been told that.

A new discovery

So I went back and checked the manifest of the ship Teutonic that made the voyage from Liverpool, England to New York carrying my ancestors back in April 1907. I found John Murphy’s name on the manifest just a few names above Rose’s. Sure enough, his voyage was paid by Jim Cunningham. The only thing that troubles me is that I didn’t find Kate’s name. It could have been on a previous page or maybe she made the journey at another time.

Teutonic manifest
This is the Teutonic manifest from April 23, 1907. John Murphy’s name is four names above Rose O’Rourke’s. My great grandfather’s family is listed last.

The document also states Kate and John Murphy settled in Menlo Park, Calif. So I did some searching on Ancestry.com and found a gravesite for a John and a Catherine Murphy at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Menlo Park, Calif. I’m not entirely sure they are my relatives. Also listed on the gravestone are what appear to be three of their children – John Jr., James and Vincent. After more searching, I located a World War II draft card for Vincent that he filled out when he was 48 years old. On the draft card, Vincent gives his birthplace as County Down, Ireland. So maybe they are.

Below is the story of my great grand aunt, Rose Rogers O’Rourke Morrison. There are a few factual errors in the document. Rose was actually born near Kilkeel, not Rostrevor and her young daughter, who died at 11 months, was named Anne Josephine Ivy.

Rose Rogers O’Rourke Morrison, Irish patriot

Rose Rogers O’Rourke Morrison was born in 1868 in Rostrevor and was the second of three daughters born to Hugh Rogers and Mary Rooney. Her early years were short in the Rostrevor and Kilkeel areas of County Down. She met Jim O’Rourke (brother to John) in Liverpool, England where both were working. They were married in Killowen Church, Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland in 1898. Their family included Mary C. (born Feb. 18, 1899) and Ivy Josephine (b. 1901 d. 1902).

The family continued to regard Kilkeel and Rostrevor near the Mourne Mountains as home. Soon after their marriage, they returned to Liverpool to work. Husband Jim was employed in the shipbuilding industry and wife Rose as a dressmaker. Jim became ill rather suddenly forcing the family to return to Ireland for care and support. He died in 1903 and was buried at Rostrevor. Following Jim’s death, Rose left the store she had opened and returned to live with relatives in Liverpool where she again worked as a dressmaker. Though staying with cousins (Sloans) in Liverpool, Rose kept close contact with Rostrevor and Kilkeel relatives and sent her daughter back with other cousins to spend the summer seasons with the Quinn family.

Rose makes a deal

James Francis O’Rourke, son of John O’Rourke, and nephew of Jim and Rose, was sponsored to the United States by a cousin, Jim Cunningham. These two encouraged Rose to go to America. She agreed to go for a six-month stint only if Jim Cunningham would agree to pay her return trip to Ireland in the event she did not like her new home. At the end of six months, Rose asked to return to Ireland but Jim Cunningham refused to help. He said, “If you don’t know when you’re well off, I do, and you’re staying.”

Rose had heard of the western wilderness before leaving the Auld Sod from the new Irish bride of Arthur Cunningham (Jim Cunningham’s brother). Arthur’s wife was brought from Ireland to a ranch in Montana, which was to be the second house from town. It proved to be 50 miles from Miles City. Knowing this and anticipating the wilds, Rose gave almost everything away except her “feather tick.” At least she intended on being warm.

Journey to America

Leaving from Lime Street Station in Liverpool in 1907, plus John and Kate Murphy, made the crossing in seven days. Initially, they stayed with a cousin, Ellen Cunningham, in Puyallup, Washington where Rose worked at the Montague and McHugh store in Bellingham as a dressmaker.

In 1909, Rose married John Morrison, a French Canadian from Engleville, North Dakota, who had retired to a small farm and apple orchard in Oregon. John had visited the 1905 Lewis and Clark Expo in Portland and was so impressed he bought property and moved west. John adopted Mary C. after his marriage to Rose. He died in 1925. Soon after John’s death Rose went to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Leo.

Rose had left Ireland before the Irish uprising and was not happy with the division of the nation. She was outspoken and sympathetic with the Irish cause, violently opposed to the yearly celebration commemorating victory by followers of William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne and was visibly hurt on one occasion when a grandson wore orange socks on July 12. She returned to Ireland for an extended visit in 1935, but came back very disappointed. May of her former friends had already gone to meet their maker.

Rose was small in stature, talented as a seamstress and suffered long years with varicose leg ulcers. In her later years she was afflicted with a serious loss of memory, thought to be due to Organic Brain Syndrome, more like known today as Alzheimer’s disease. She died in 1950 and was buried near her second husband in St. James Cemetery in McMinnville, Oregon.

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5 thoughts on “The importance of reviewing genealogy materials

  1. What a great story, Lois…Thank you!

    And, thanks too to the Stupfel family!

    Interesting that each of the sisters appears to have ultimately settled in a different west coast state. One wonders if they had opportunity to see one another?
    If there is evidence of any stateside correspondence?

    Thanks again for this latest chapter in the “Irish American Traveler” series!

    Any thoughts about the Murphy family found in Canada?

    1. Hi Erin, I no longer think the Murphy family in Canada is “ours.” This lead has sent me to San Mateo County. Who knew that our relatives were in our backyard?

      1. Indeed, Lois!

        I’ve done some additional research on the John and Catherine Murphy family, and sent the research results to you. The Menlo Park Murphys appear to indeed be ours, and their son, Vincent Charles (VC)had two sons, Peter and Marvin. The latest article I’ve been able to find is of VC’s retirement, in the late 50’s, from the City of Hillsborough, as a building inspector.

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