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Formerly entitled Four Foys from Castlebar. Nora Kerrigan Brady, Jack Carr, John D. Carr, Margaret McCarthy Czervienke, Lars Dalstrom, Fr. Frank Fahy, Sharon Gibbons, Gail Kniewel Johnson, Julianne Pierce Joyce, James Kane, Charles Kerrigan, Margaret Kelly Kerrigan, Margaret O'Brien, Marla Prante, Barbara Kniewel Ritchie, Ellen O'Brien Ronan, Patricia Donahue Schwake, Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, Patrick Tracey, and Michael Walsh contributed to this family history.
Thomas and Mary Tracy Foy (Hunt) and Their Six Children
Thomas was born in County Mayo, north Connacht, Ireland, sometime around the year 1795 or 1800. He married Mary Tracy (based on daughter Margaret's death certificate) sometime before the year 1820 and lived on The Foy Farm in Derreennascooba. The townland of Derreennascooba is in County Mayo, situated on a hillside in the Partry Mountains, just south of Killavally (also called Killawala) and eight miles south of Castlebar, the county seat of Mayo.
They say that the name Foy comes from the ancient Irish word for raven and has been anglicized as Hunt. In the 1833 Tithe Applotment for the Parish of Ballintubber, page 20, the name of the lessor of the Foy farm is given as Thos. Hunt. The farm at that time consisted of 589 acres owned by George H. Moore (280 acres untitheable).
Thomas and Mary had six children born 22 years apart in Derreennascooba. Four children emigrated to Chicago, and one stayed on the farm in Derreennascooba. Of the four Foys who emigrated, two married in Ireland and then emigrated. The other two emigrated while still single and married later. All six had children. Two had spouses who died young, and they remarried.
Dominick and Anne had two children born in Ireland: Patrick Foy in 1847 and John Foy in 1848. Patrick died young because he did not appear in the 1850 U.S. census.
Nunda, 1849-1853. Dominick was the first of the four Foys to immigrate. He immigrated around 1849 at age 29 with his wife, Anne Walsh, and their one-year old baby, John. The U.S. flag had 30 stars, the most recent one being for Wisconsin. The President was Zachary Taylor. Dominick and Nancy settled initially in Nunda, which is in Western New York State. Two construction projects were underway at that time: the 100-mile Genesee Valley Canal connecting the Erie Canal with the Allegheny River, and the Erie Railroad connecting New York City with Buffalo.
Dominick could not read or write in the 1850 census, but he could do both in the 1900 census.
Anne Walsh Foy died in 1850, and Dominick married Mary Breen. They had one child in New York, Mary Foy (1851-1911).
Chicago, Near North Side, 1853-1871. Sometime between 1851 and 1856, Mary Breen died, and Dominick married Ellen Graham (1830-1900). They had three children, all born in Chicago: Bridget Foy Rowland (1857-1936), Margaret Foy Kane (1859-1910), and Thomas Foy (1862-1907). The 1866-70 Chicago directories show Dominick living in Holy Name parish on the Near North Side of Chicago at 56 Ohio Street (377 W. Ohio Street after 1909) in Chicago and working as a laborer. This area was in the path of the Chicago Fire that started at 9:30 p.m. on October 9, 1871, on the Near West Side, just north of where Dominick's brother Thomas lived, and spread north and east. By 7 a.m. the next morning the fire reached the Near North Side where Dominick and his family lived. Holy Name cathedral was destroyed. During the nine months that followed, the Relief and Aid Society provided assistance to virtually half the population of Chicago.
Chicago, Bridgeport, 1871-1901. Sometime around 1871, probably as a result of the Chicago Fire, Dominick, Ellen, and their four younger children moved four miles south to St. Bridget's parish in the Bridgeport section of Chicago. This area had not been affected by the Chicago Fire. There they purchased a one-story house at 216 Main Street (2925 S. Throop Street after 1909). The house is still there.
Ellen died in 1900 and Dominick in 1901. Both are buried at Calvary Cemetery in a plot purchased in 1867 by Dominick’s brother Thomas (Section D, Block 6, Lot 28).
Chicago Daily News Obituary, January 8, 1900
Chicago Daily News Obituary, December 26, 1901
One of Dominick and Anne Walsh Foy's great great grandchildren, John Foy Coverdale, would become a Professor of Law at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and a lay member of Opus Dei. One of Dominick and Ellen Graham Foy's great great grandchildren, Rev. John P. Minogue, C.M., would become President of DePaul University from 1993 to 2004.
Ireland, 1820/25-1871. Bridget Foy was born in Derreennascooba. The year of birth was 1820 based on her death certificate and 1825 based on the 1880 and 1900 U.S. censuses. Bridget married Thomas O'Malley in Co. Mayo. They had six children in Ireland: Mary O'Malley (b. 1840), Michael O'Malley, John O'Malley, Anne O'Malley (1852-1929), Margaret O'Malley, and Catherine "KKitty" O'Malley (1857-1930).
Chicago, Near North Side, 1871-1902. Bridget was the last of the four Foys to immigrate to Chicago. She immigrated in 1871, in the year of the Great Chicago Fire. The U.S. flag had 37 stars, the most recent one being for Nebraska. The President was Ulysses S. Grant. Bridget was age 46 when she came to Chicago, with husband and children. She had married Thomas O'Malley in Castlebar. Thomas was a laborer.
Bridget could read and write.In the 1880 census, Bridget and Thomas lived on the Near North Side at 43 Ontario Street (432 W. Ontario Street after 1909). This was in Holy Name parish.
Thomas O'Malley died in 1890.
Bridget Foy O'Malley died in 1902. Her death certificate said she was age 82, indicating a birth year of 1820. The 1880 and 1900 censuses, however, indicate a birth year of 1825.
Chicago Daily News Obituary, March 21, 1902
After Bridget's daughter Catherine died in 1930, The Little Sisters of the Poor sent Emily Foy Biggins the deed to the cemetery plot at Calvary where Catherine, her sisters, and her mother Bridget were buried. Emily was Catherine's first cousin, once removed. The Little Sisters of the Poor had an old people's home in the building next the the University Apartments on Sheffield Avenue, which the Biggins family built and where they lived.
Chicago, Near North Side, 1850-1861. Thomas was the second of the four Foys to immigrate to America, arriving around 1850. He was age 20 and single. The U.S. flag had 30 stars, the most recent one being for Wisconsin. The President was Zachary Taylor.
In 1855, Thomas married Mary Higgins (1833-1907), who had been born in Ireland and immigrated to Chicago in 1851. Thomas and Mary had two children: John Foy (1857- ) and Thomas Foy (1859-1876) before moving to Sycamore, Illinois. The 1860 census shows Thomas and his family living on the Near North Side in Holy Name parish in Chicago's 7th Ward. The 7th Ward at that time was bounded by Fullerton on the north, LaSalle on the east, and the Chicago River on the south and west.
Thomas could not read or write, but Mary could.
Sycamore, Illinois, 1861-1864. In 1860 or 1861, Thomas and Mary moved to Sycamore, Illinois, 70 miles west of Chicago. There they had two more children, James Aloysius Foy (1862-1943) and Patrick Foy (1863-1931).
Chicago, Near West Side, 1864-1878. In 1864, Thomas and Mary moved to 17 O'Brien Street (620 W. O'Brien Street after 1909) on the Near West Side of Chicago, just south of 12th Street, west of Jefferson Street and the Chicago River, where Thomas worked as an ostler (groom). They were in Holy Family parish. The church was at 1080 West 12th Street (now Roosevelt Road). The church was built from 1857 to 1874.
Thomas and Mary had the last four of their eight children while living on O'Brien Street: John D. Foy (1867-1950), Stephen F. Foy (1869-1942), Mary A. “Mayme” Foy (1873-1857), and Catherine Ann “Kate” Foy (1877-1951).
The 1877 Chicago city directory shows an Edwin Foy living with the Foys. This is believed to be the famous vaudevillian Eddie Foy who, according to an August 24, 1935 Chicago Daily News article, shortened his name to Foy from Fitzgerald based on his association with the Thomas and Mary Higgins Foy family. See How Eddie Foy Got His Name.
Dawson, Iowa, 1878-1900. Around 1878, Thomas and Mary Higgins Foy moved to a farm in Dawson, Iowa, 370 miles west of Chicago and 45 miles northwest of Des Moines. All except their two oldest children went with them.
Chicago, Bridgeport, 1900-1902. In 1900, after 22 years in Iowa, they returned to Chicago and lived in Bridgeport at 3602 S. Union Avenue. Their son, John D. Foy, however, had married and stayed in Iowa with his family.
Thomas died in 1903 and Mary in 1907. Both are buried in a plot at Calvary Cemetery that Thomas had purchased in 1867 for the burial of his sister Margaret’s husband (Section D, Block 6, Lot 28).
Chicago Daily News Obituary, September 24, 1903
Chicago Daily News Obituary, August 24, 1907
In 1907, Ascension parish was carved out of St. Luke's parish to serve the south section of Oak Park.
One of the children of Thomas and Mary Higgins Foy was James Aloysius Foy. He married Bessie Nora Murray in 1889. They had five children, one of whom was Frances Foy. Frances, and her husband Gus Dalstrom, were well-known Chicago artists. In 1938, 31 years after the death of Mary Higgins Foy, Frances painted the mural pictured below under a commission by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Section of Fine Arts. The mural is entitled "Advent of the Pioneers, 1851." Mary Higgins Foy immigrated to Chicago in 1851. The mural is 15'x5' and hangs at the east end of first floor of the Main Post Office at 433 W. Harrison Street in Chicago. See Mural in the the Chicago Main Post Office. It was originally hung in the Chestnut Street Post Office in Chicago. The October 10, 1943 edition of the Chicago Tribune contains a nice article about Frances Foy and Gus Dalstrom entitled "Art, Marriage Double Ties for North Side Pair."
Frances Foy's husband, Gus Dalstrom was an artist in the Department of Anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago. Gus did the drawings for Digging into History, a book on archeology in New Mexico published by the museum in 1959.
Derreennascooba, 1831-1865. Catherine Foy was born in Derreennascooba in 1831 and married John Higgins in 1865 (based on the birth of their first child).
Devleash West, 1865-1930. They lived on a farm in Devleash West, which is which is west of Killawalla. Catherine and John had nine children in Tawnynagry: Mary in 1866, Michael in 1867, John in 1870, Bridget in 1871, Charles, Patrick in 1873, Margaret in 1874, Catherine in 1877, and Thomas.
Information on this family was provided by Sharon Gibbons in 2018. "In the 1901 and 1911 census Catherine Foy Higgins and John Higgins are living in Ballintubber Parish, Townland of Devleash West, DED ( District Electoral Division) of Tawnynagry, County Mayo, house #3 and #11 respectively. The 1901 Census shows Catherine as age 70, John as age 75, Patrick age 30, Katie (my grandma) age 22. I believe my grandma went back to Ireland several times before she settled in America. In the The 1911 Census Catherine is 76, John is 86, daughter Bridget is 40, and son Patrick age 38, granddaughter Bridget Staunton age 6. Catherine and John are married 54 years in 1911 census. Hard to know which census age is correct for Catherine Foy Higgins.
"According to our family Catherine Foy and John Higgins came to America to visited likely more than once. We have family photos of them in Chicago and later Detroit. A family story passed down was that John Higgins woke up one day and put on his best suit and his top hat. He told family that he was going on long journey and proceeded to lay down on the couch and passed away. He was 105 years old. John and Catherine Foy Higgins 9 children."
Derreennascooba, 1836-1918. John Foy was born in Derreennascooba in 1836 and married Bridget Gibbons in 1858. They remained on the Foy farm in Derreennascooba. John and Bridget had five children in Derreennascooba: Mary in 1860, Dominick in 1863, Patrick in 1866, Thomas in 1869, and Catherine in 1871.
Mary Foy married Anthony O'Malley. They lived on a farm in Killadeer, not far from Derreennascooba. They had six children, two of whom, Mary and Kate O'Malley married Carr brothers and emigrated to Boston. Mary O'Malley Carr is the remarkable woman of Proud Daughter of a Remarkable Woman, written by her proud daughter Margaret Carr Shea. It is the story of Mary's 1926 immigration to America and her earlier immigration to work for Carmelita Hinton, who started The Putney School in Vermont.
Dominick Foy emigrated to Philadelphia, married, and had eight children.
Patrick Foy stayed on the farm in Derreennascooba and married Mary Gibbons. They had one child, Mary "Maisie" Foy, who married Thomas Kerrigan in 1929. In 1918, Patrick replaced his father as tenant of the Foy farm. In 1939, Patrick became the owner of the farm. In 1970, ownership of the Foy farm was transferred to Thomas and Mary Foy Kerrigan. In 1970, ownership was transferred to their son, the late Thomas Joseph Kerrigan, husband of Margaret Kelly.
A grandson of Thomas and Mary Foy Kerrigan, Thomas Brady, is a priest. Father Brady was ordained in the Archdiocese of Tuam in Killawalla in 1981. He has served in the Diocese of Galway in Shrule, Ros’A’ Mhil, Ennistymon, Salthill, Malawi, Ballybane, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, the Defence Forces Renmore, and the Parish of Renmore. See Father Brady's blog, God is at home.
Derreennascooba, 1842-1864. Margaret Foy was born in Derreennascooba in 1842.
Chicago, Near North Side, 1864-1914. Around 1860, Margaret married Thomas Tracey in Ireland. In 1861 they had a daughter Mary in Ireland. In 1864 (based on Margaret's death certificate), the family emigrated to Chicago. In 1866-67 they had a son John in Chicago. Thomas Tracey died in 1867. Margaret’s brother Thomas Foy purchased a plot at Calvary Cemetery to bury her husband Thomas (Section D, Block 6, Lot 28).
Around 1869, Margaret married Cornelius Conway (1826-1891). Cornelius was born in Ireland, immigrated to Pennsylvania, married, and had at least four children in Pennsylvania from 1852 to 1863: Peter, James, Cornelius, and Anthony. In Chicago, Cornelius worked as a day laborer and an express man. In the 1870 census, Margaret and her family were living on the Near North Side in the 18th Ward of Chicago, which is bounded by the Chicago River on the west and south, by Division Street on the north, and by Franklin Street on the east. In the 1880 census and the 1890 voter rolls, they were living at 59 Erie Street (430 W. Erie Street after 1911).
Margaret and Cornelius could neither read nor write.
Margaret and Cornelius had three children: Mary Ann Conway LaVelle (1870-1918), Catherine Conway O'Brien (1872-1948), and Honora Conway (1879- ).
In 1900 Margaret was living on the Near North Side a few short blocks north at 95 Townsend Street (825 N. Hudson Avenue after 1909 and a street name change).
In 1904, Margaret became a member of St. Dominic parish, which was carved out of Holy Name parish. In 1910, Margaret was living two blocks east at 355 W. Chicago Avenue. When Margaret died, she was living a block east at 876 N. Franklin Street.
Cornelius Conway died of bronchitis in 1891 and was buried at Calvary cemetery. Margaret died in 1914 and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in a lot purchased in 1867 by Evan T. Rees (Section B, Block 5, Lot 19). Also buried there are her daughter Mary Ann LaVelle and Mary Ann’s husband John, both of whom died in 1918.
Chicago Tribune Obituary, June 10, 1914Two of Cornelius and Margaret's great grandchildren would achieve some notoriety:
Thomas and Mary Tracy Foy: 6 children, 39 grandchildren, 66 great grandchildren
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