Thomas Leo Gorman and Hildegarde Doepker
Gormans In America
|Thomas Gorman: Our Irish Origins|
During the years of the Penal Laws in Ireland (between 1700 and 1832), it was illegal for Roman Catholics to keep records of births, marriages, and other church-related activities in their communities. Consequently, it is nearly impossible to make a connection between our branch of the Gorman family and the main MacGorman/O’Gorman/Gorman family lineage detailed in my History of the Gorman Name page. Generally, only descendants of wealthy landowners of Protestant and/or English descent have the ability to trace their lineage back past 1795. Nonetheless, we can trace our ancestry back to about 1800.
Thomas Gorman is the earliest known ancestor in our branch of the Gorman family. In the Griffith’s Valuation of 1848 - 1860, the Tithe Applotments of 1825, and the Poor Law rate books of 1847 and 1848, there is a single Thomas Gorman renting land within the Catholic Parish of Moycarkey. For the period of time between 1821 and 1901, these are the only civil records approaching the information found in a census. As near as can be determined, Thomas lived in the Townland of Cloughmartin, Fertiana Civil Parish, Barony or Eliogarty, County Tipperary, Ireland. The nearest town, Moycarkey, lies just off what is now highway M8, the primary artery between Dublin and Cashel, about 5 miles south of Thurles. From at least 1825 through 1848, Thomas rented this land, along with one John Kearney, from N. Valentine Maher, Esq., a wealthy landowner and representative in the British Parliament. Maher's grave can be found in the cemetery of St. Peter's Catholic Church in Moycarkey. Other than the aforementioned land valuations and church records, there are few records and no censuses for this time period. The censuses of 1821 through 1851 were destroyed in the Four Courts fire in 1922 at the beginning of the Irish Civil War. The 1861 through 1891 censuses were destroyed in 1917 by the British for their pulp, ostensibly for the "war effort", during the First World War.
Vital records for Thomas Gorman are also difficult to come by and almost all were kept by the church, in this case St. Peter's Catholic Church in Moycarkey. The only record found for Thomas is that of a marriage, in 1810, to Mary Kearney. She is presumably some close relative, possibly a daughter, of John Kearney with whom Thomas shared land. What is also known, from vital records in the United States, is that Thomas also married a Mary Pennefather, a woman of apparent English lineage, though no marriage record could be found for her. It is unknown whether she practiced as a Protestant or Catholic.
Following in the steps of his father Thomas, James Gorman continued to work the same land owned by N. Valentine Maher's family. James would have been the eldest of any male siblings. By Irish custom, the eldest son receives the right to "inherit" the use of the land that his father rents. James Gorman worked the land at least through 1874, when his son Michael, born 1851, begins his tenancy. Michael is found on the land at least through 1901. He is shown there in the 1901 census, at the age of 50, with his son James, aged 7, and daughter Ellen, aged 5. He is no longer living there in the 1911 census. What happened to Michael Gorman, his son, or his daughter is not known.
|William Gorman: A House, A Home|
By 1900, Ann Lingle was no longer living with her son. She had moved to Owosso, a small but thriving town near Corunna. Walter Lingle had moved to Mason, Michigan where he worked as a telegraph operator. William was in sole charge of the farm, but by that time had a family of his own, with four boys and one girl. He had married Catherine Sharkey on November 27, 1889 at St. Michael’s Church in Oakley. Catherine, whom people called Kate, came from Lansing, the daughter of Alice Delaney and James Sharkey. James Sharkey had served in the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters during the Civil War and had been imprisoned at the notorious Andersonville Prison. His experience left him in a state of ill health and he did not live long enough to see his daughter married. William and Catherine’s marriage was performed by Father Franciscus Maria Gustav Graf and witnessed by John Lortus and Catherine’s sister Mary. At that time, William considered himself a butcher by trade, though he continued to farmer his land. By this time, they had had their five children and had also taken on two boarders, John and Martha Spreman, to help work the land and keep house, respectively.
William Gorman would not live to see what would become of his farm or his children. He died on July 30, 1903 of tuberculosis. His eldest child was just 13. Catherine would soldier on at the farm for a few more years, but they were years of hardship. When the farm finally failed, the entire family pulled up stakes and moved to Lansing, where employment prospects were better. In 1920, the land was owned by a Charles Cheney, who continued to own it until at least 1955.
Nothing remains of the ancestral home in Oakley today. In 1995, all that remained was a small stand of trees and a mound of loose stones and concrete that once formed part of the foundation. The old well was still there, covered with a few decayed boards. The house burned down sometime around 1945 and the barn in the early 1980’s, but the homestead’s inhabitants left a record of their existence that remains with us still. It is a panel of boards from the barn. My father, John Michael Gorman, removed them only a year before the barn burned down. When he died, my sister Laura rescued it from his home. It is now in my possession. On it are inscribed names and initials of those who lived in the house, neighbors, friends, hired hands on the farm, and the name of the town, Oakley. The inscribed initials are those of the five siblings: L.G. (Leo), M.G. (Miles), A.M. (Mable), G.G. (Greg), and J.G (Justin). These are the fathers and mother of every Gorman, Tynan, O’Brien, Riley, and Neal who came after.
|The Children of William Gorman|
Linus Miles Gorman
Linus Miles Gorman was the eldest of William Gorman's surviving children. He was born September 18, 1890 in Oakley and later moved to Lansing with the rest of the family when the farm failed. He married Mabel Helen Tynan in 1915 and they had the first of what would be three daughters in 1916. He worked for the REO Motor Works (a motor car company which would become the Diamond REO truck company) in Lansing until the 1920’s when the factory closed. Following this, he worked for his wife’s mother’s brothers, James and Thomas Farrell, for $10.00 a month. In 1932, he went to work for Oldsmobile in Lansing, where he stayed for 25 years. His daughter, Mary Ellen Neal, described him as "one of the most mild mannered men I have ever known. I can’t ever remember him losing his temper." He died Nov. 1, 1962, in Lansing, Michigan and was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.
Anna Marie Gorman
Anna Marie Gorman, who preferred to be called Mabel, was second oldest, born April 28, 1892 in Oakley. She married Frank E. Tynan in 1921 and quickly started a family. An aviation mechanic during WWI, Frank was already friends with Mabel’s brothers and his sister was married to Mabel’s older brother Miles, so the two were a natural fit. Mabel and Frank had two sons, Frank and Jim, in 1922 and 1924. Not long after Jim’s birth, however, his father contracted pneumonia and died September 20, 1924. To support her family, Mabel started working for the State of Michigan in the Corporate Securities Division, a job which she held throughout her working life. Both her brothers Greg and Leo moved in during 1929 and Leo became a surrogate father to her 2 young sons, living with the family until 1943. Mabel was very close with her brothers and the family often got together to sing while Mabel played piano. Her son Jim remembers her as being very quiet and reserved, but level-headed with a strong religious faith. She died April 3, 1970 and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing.
William Justin Gorman
William Justin Gorman, who went by his second name Justin, was the second son, born May 11, 1895 in Oakley. When the family farm failed, he moved along with the rest of the family to Lansing where jobs were more plentiful. In 1918, when the United States entered World War I, he enlisted in the Army Aviation corps where he served until 1919. Following his service, he began working at Oldsmobile in Lansing. He married Mary Margaret Dwyer of Port Huron on November 21, 1921, in St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lansing. They had the first of their six children in 1923. He continued working at Oldsmobile until his retirement in 1960. Not long after, it became clear that years of smoking had taken their toll. He developed emphysema and died July 12, 1969. He is remembered as having a great interest in sports, both baseball and football, and penny-ante poker played with matchsticks as chips, a game that characterized many family gatherings. He is buried in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Lansing.
Thomas Leo Gorman
Thomas Leo Gorman, the third son, was born April 16, 1896 in Oakley, Michigan. When the United States entered World War I in 1918, he entered the army at the rank of Private 2nd Class in Company D of the 307th Motor Transport Corps and served in France. While there, he heard Enrico Caruso sing and gained an appreciation for opera and classical music. Following the war, he moved back to Lansing where he met and married Rhoda Moriarty. Their marriage only lasted until 1924, when Rhoda died of Scarlet Fever. When the depression hit, unemployed, Leo moved in with his widowed sister Mabel (Anna Marie) Tynan. Here he met Hilda Doepker, who worked for the Tynans as a domestic. They married on June 6, 1934 and had the first of their two children, John Michael, in 1936. Leo found work at the Arbaugh Co. Department Store for a period and then became a rate clerk for Oldsmobile. Leo was a dedicated worker and father, had a dry sense of humor, played the banjo, and loved Notre Dame football. He died of heart disease on November 4, 1954 and is buried in St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery, Lansing, Michigan.
Gregory was the youngest in the Gorman family, born February 10, 1900 in Oakley. Only four years old when his father died, he moved to Lansing with his family when the farm failed. He enlisted in the Navy in 1918 at the age of just 18. After the war, he went to work for the State of Michigan. Like many his age, Greg enjoyed the Twenties working, playing golf with friends and coworkers, and generally having a good time. He was known to be lively, fun loving, and had a great sense of humor. He married Adeline Grennay of Durand, Michigan in 1927 and they had the first of their two children in 1929. Not long after the birth of their second son in 1931, Gregory began to have neurological problems. It was Parkinson’s Disease, a degenerative disorder which attacks the central nervous system. He continued to work for the State through the depression, but the disease eventually overtook him, leaving him dependent on his wife and children with the simplest of daily needs. He died in November, 1971 and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Lansing, Michigan.
|Gorman Family Group Photos|