244 – DNA Cousins

Bridget Large and her children arrived in America in 1844.

Bridget’s husband Thomas Large had died in Castlecomer, Kilkenny in 1834. His death left Bridget with seven children, ages newborn to 9. After struggling for a decade in Castlecomer, Bridget obtained funds to emigrate.

Bridget and her children left Ireland, passing through Kingston, Canada, and arrived in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania in 1844.

Bridget’s four sons went to work in the coal mines. Bridget’s three daughters married coal mine workers.

Ellen Large

Ellen was Bridget’s youngest daughter, born in 1833. She was just 11 when the family arrived in Pennsylvania. In 1854, at age 20, she married Patrick Gallagher. They’re our grandparents.

Margaret Large

We’ve met Margaret. She and twin sister Catherine were born in 1830. Margaret married Patrick Kelly. Like Patrick and Ellen Gallagher, Patrick and Margaret Kelly moved to Eckley to work in the new mine. Mother Bridget Large also moved to Eckley and lived in Margaret’s household.

Richard Large

Richard was third of four brothers, born in 1826.

We met Richard in a surprising way. In 2015, Deborah Large Fox contacted us as a DNA match with Kathleen Gallagher Teply. Debbie is a descendant of Richard Large. A few back-and-forth emails, and we established a fascinating and productive relationship.

Deb had been researching her Large ancestors for years, had made several research trips to Ireland, and had connected with other Large descendants. Over the ensuing months, we traded research, debated citations, speculated on theories, and enjoyed our new-found relationship. You’ve seen lots of Debbie’s research in these past stories.

Let’s meet for dinner

Debbie and her husband Doug lived in New Jersey, in a suburb just south of Philadelphia. We arranged to meet when we were visiting Philadelphia.

September 1787: After signing the Constitution, the delegates adjourned to the City Tavern, which John Adams described as the “most genteel tavern in America,” for a farewell dinner.

City Tavern

We were looking forward to our dinner meeting. But Deb had one more surprise for us.

200 years after Thomas and Bridget Large started a family in Castlecomer, Kilkenny, three of their descendants were going to meet and greet at the City Tavern. 200 years! It would be the most famous meeting at the tavern since the founding fathers shared dinner after signing the Constitution.

Cousins Cathy, Gail, and Debbie

We had a great dinner and evening of conversation in a wonderful atmosphere.

Richard Large

Deborah Large Fox’s great-grandparent is Richard Large. He was the third child of Thomas and Bridget Large, and older brother of our Ellen Large.

Richard was born in 1826 in Gurteen, one of the townlands northeast of Castlecomer. He immigrated with his mother Bridget and siblings in 1844 and went to work in the coal mines around Tuscarora.

In 1853 Richard married Teresa Bowe. Teresa had immigrated from Arles in Laois County, very near Castlecomer.

Richard and Teresa lived in Tuscarora, near their extended families. Richard continued to work in the mines.

In the 1870 census, Richard and Teresa were living in Tuscarora.

1870 Census – Richard and Teresa Large – Tuscarora, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania

Five of their children were living at home – James, Mary, Bridget, Lizzie, and Teresa. James, age 14, was a slate picker in the mine. Teresa, the youngest, was age 7 months. Two older sons are missing from the census record – Thomas, age 16, and John, age 10. I don’t know where they were; they may have died sometime before the 1870 census.

By 1880, Richard and Teresa had moved to Mahanoy Township, about 20 miles northwest of Tuscarora. The census shows them living in the post office district of the village of Yatesville.

Mahanoy Township – villages of Jacksons, Yatesville, St. Nicholas – Richard and Teresa Large lived in this area from 1870s to 1897
1880 Census – Richard and Teresa Large – Mahanoy Township, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania

Richard, 52, still labored at mine work. Son James, 22, was working at a mine. Some older children were out of the house, and there were some younger children born since the last census – Margaret, 8, Ellen, 5, and Richard, 2.

A decade later, in 1891, the Eleventh Census of Schuylkill County showed that Richard and Teresa still lived in Mahanoy Township.

Eleventh Census of Schuylkill County – 1891

Richard, age 65, was still working in the mine. Son James, 34, was a mine engineer.

It’s unsettling to see that sons Richard Jr, age 13, and William, age 10, were working in the mine as slate pickers. Their future didn’t look promising.

Ed. Note: William is Debbie Large Fox’s grandfather.

Slate pickers, aka breaker boys

The 1891 directory listed Richard and Teresa’s post office as St. Nicholas, but they were likely still living at the same place as the 1880 census, near Yatesville and Jacksons villages. All these locations are within two miles of each other.

We don’t know which mine Richard worked in, or if he worked at one or more mines during his time in Mahanoy Township. It’s likely he lived in a dwelling owned by the mine company, very near the colliery where he worked. He had a dirty and dangerous job.

Richard died on January 15, 1897, and was buried in nearby Mahanoy City. His death record lists the cause of death as Asthma (3 weeks). Really? After decades of mine work? That strains credulity.

Whatever the cause, Richard’s death left Teresa without the ability to pay rent or buy necessities. Teresa and family were dead weight for the mining company. As did so many widows and survivors of miners who died, Teresa moved away.

1900 Census – Teresa Large – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

By 1900, Teresa, 60, daughter Teresa, 28, and sons Richard, 22, and William, 19, were in Philadelphia. They lived next to Teresa’s daughter Margaret Large Wolf and her family. Teresa’s daughter Helen Large Apple lived nearby.

Ironically, the move may have saved Richard and William from lifetime careers as miners.

Teresa Bowe Large died April 6, 1904, in Philadelphia. She was buried in Mahanoy City.

William Large

Gail Large Gallo’s grandparent is William Large.

William was the eldest child of Thomas and Bridget Large, born around 1823 near Castlecomer. He immigrated with the family to Schuylkill County. There William married Ellen Brennan. The Brennans were some of the original Irish landowners around Castlecomer until the British took over the land and deeded it to the Wandesfordes.

By 1860, William and Ellen lived in Glen Carbon, 20 miles west of Tuscarora. William and Ellen had five children.

William worked at William Verner’s Glen Carbon Colliery.

On Sunday, April 29, 1860, William argued with his neighbor Joseph James Collier about the garden. Collier lived in the adjoining double house. They had quarreled before.

Collier went into his house and returned with his musket loaded with shot. He approached William, who was standing in his own doorway, and fired at point-blank range. William died within hours.

Collier escaped up Broad Mountain. He was occasionally sighted afterwards, but was never caught or charged.

Cause of Death

William’s death was tragic for his family. The coroner listed his cause of death as “shot by Jos. Collier.”

William wasn’t the only one who died in tragic circumstances. Look at just one page of the coroner’s list. You’ll be shocked.

William Large – Coroner’s report – Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania

We are their legacy

It’s amazing that DNA connects us with cousins who share our great-grandparents. We have so much in common, yet know nothing of each other. Our families went separate ways generations ago. Yet we immediately feel a bond when we meet our DNA cousins today.

I wish we could tell Ellen, Richard, and William Large that their grandkids met and shared stories. I wish we could tell Thomas Large and Bridget Kavanagh that their 4th great-grandkids honored them 200 years after they lived.

I think they would have been happy and proud to know that.


2 thoughts on “244 – DNA Cousins

  1. deborahlargefox0764 October 26, 2022 / 4:11 pm

    I am still amazed that I met Cathy and Gail! That day, I felt that the ancestors were watching happily. I’m sure the ancestors are proud of this blog and post, too, for telling their stories so well. As always, this post is both informative and entertaining. Thanks to our Seanchaí Mark.


    • Mark Jarvis October 26, 2022 / 9:26 pm

      Thank you Debbie. This post should have been dedicated to you. Your tireless and continued research has shone light on the Large family. We sure enjoyed our get-together.

      Liked by 1 person

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