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Map --Log canal --Black River to Lake St John
Map --Log canal --Black River to Lake St John

    The McCorkell Story Continues…….


    Continuing with the O’Donnell-Jordan line we come to Kate, who married Pat Kelly. They lived in the village of Brechin for many years and had a family of 13, equalling the Martin O’Donnell brood. There were 9 boys and 4 girls. As to Pat, the father, I did know him well. I remember him only as a silent man, and a great reader, a combination of qualities rare enough in those days of much talking and few books.

    I did not personally come to know the Kellys as they grew up in Brechin in the same intimate way as I knew the O’Donnells because I went to school with the latter and not with the former. Of course, I drifted into their house in the so-called red block in Brechin every chance I got. All our relatives did exactly that. Theirs was a sort of town house, a meeting place for all who claimed kinship with the Kellys. I can never forget one of my prolonged visits there. I had been sent to Beaverton to get some medicine for my Mother from Dr. Galloway. It was urgent. My father drove me to Brechin in the morning but the horse was lazy and I missed the train for Beaverton. So I had to wait all day in Brechin, killing time till the 5 p.m. train. Where did I put in the time. Certainly not in the hotel, much less in the Church. I spent the time at Kelly`s. I got away to Beaverton at 5 p.m. found Dr. Galloway`s office, got the medicine, spent the rest of the time talking to Jennie, the doctor`s daughter, who was my classmate at the Orillia high school, though I had never dared to accost her in Orillia. Strange as it may appear, I caught the 8 p.m. train back to Brechin, but in a vain attempt to steal a bus ride from the station to the village of Brechin, the bottle of medicine jumped out of my pocket and was broken to bits on the on the stony road. So I had to repeat the Beaverton trip the following morning. Even Jennie Galloway did not show up at all at Beaverton thinking me stupid, and my Kelly cousins in Brechin found the whole episode amusing. Only Aunt Kate gave me sympathy.

    Mary the eldest Kelly girl was a favourite with my sister Rosella, and was the bridesmaid at her wedding in 1914. Mary herself was married in 1928 to Frank Cleary of Uptergrove, but they made their home in Toronto. Etta, Kate, and to some extent Celia, I came to know through breakdowns in the years before I went to high school in 1904. There was plenty of work to do on a farm of that time, and I mean work normally assigned to women. Milking cows was the toughest of these jobs. How I hated it!

    The Kelly cousins supplied something our home lacked. The fact is that we were 5 growing brothers and no sister except Rosella who was older, and considered to belong to the establishment, thought the word was not in our vocabulary then. At the other end of the family line makes for a sense of balance in a home. Their refining influence is needed to offset the animal spirits of an unrelieved sequence of boys. So we like the Kelly cousins who came to our house, often for weeks at a time during the school holidays. Vince and I usually pitched in with the girls to do much of the housework, but we had our periods of fun and frolic, our coffee breaks, so to speak, during which we relaxed and played tricks on one another.

    The older Kelly boys I did not know well, mainly because they were ahead of my age-group. Pete, the first born began as a teacher, and that intrigued me a little, as if the thought of myself becoming a teacher was beginning to germinate in my mind. Joe, the 2nd boy, I knew better, but only after I became a priest. He married Rose McDonnell of Rathburn and made a home for her at Hydro Glen on the Severn River, where he kept the post office and a country store. It was a hospitable holiday resort for the Kellys of Detroit and Toronto. Once during Joe`s long illness which he endured with touching resignation , I had the privilege of taking Holy Communion to him. It was a simple matter to take our boat down the Severn to Hydro Glen from Lake Simcoe where I still spend the summers at Strawberry Island. At that visit, and on others that followed , I could not help thinking that it sometimes is the vocation of somebody in a family to suffer at all. Only God knows how we are indebted to Joe Kelly, and the Rose whose devotion to her husband played a supporting role.

    Marty Kelly, the next of the Kelly boys, I knew in Toronto as a star lacrosse player. He had a life-long interest in sports, and has been an enormous help to St. Michael`s College School at Bathurst and St. Clair. He raised a large family of 8, supporting them by service with the C.P.R. Express Company. Alphonse, Tobias and Emmett went overseas with the Canadian Army and Pete joined them later. Alphonse was killed in action on the Somme, but the others returned to have careers in Toronto. Tobias and Emmett also were with the C.P.R. Express. These two brothers married McKendrick sisters in St. Basil`s parish, where I had the privilege of receiving the marriage vows of Tobias and his bride Eva. Tobias had an outstanding record as a Knight of Columbus, rising eventually to the top as grand Knight of the original Toronto council. Both brothers had many sons and daughters in the family tradition.

    The youngest Kelly boys were Basil and Frank of Detroit, where they married and raised families, though Basil passed away in middle life. Basil`s sons went to Catholic Central High School, which is conducted in Detroit by the Basilian Fathers. When I was on the administrative staff of the Univ. of Windsor from 1961-64, we had one of Frank`s sons as a student. He got his degree and began a teaching career in Detroit. I came to know Frank best of all the Kelly family eventually though I only “discovered“ him when I began to live in Windsor. Frank has a very fine home in Detroit and a lovely wife. He impressed me as much more than a lithographer though that was a role in which he earned his living. He was, it seemed to me, a wise man.

    Before leaving the Kellys, I must give the girls of the family full credit. Eta married Jim Ryan, Celia married Bill Hand, and Kate married John Newton. Two of Etta`s sons went overseas with the Can. Army in World War II. Kate`s sons served in the American armed Forces, having been born in Mayor Daley`s great city. One of these sons was Edmond, which evidently has become a family name, though it did not come from Ireland with our ancestors. It is probable that my Mother started it. St. Edmond of Canterbury, presumably my patron saint, had a religious mother. When her son was a student at the University of Paris, she sent him a X-mas present. It was not a sweater or a windbreaker. It was a hair shirt, which can be described as an irritating, tickling engine of torture to keep the flesh subdued. Though it is needed today, it is not popular and cannot be purchased in a clothing store.

    Here ends the story of the Pat Kelly`s of Brechin. It is a thumb-nail sketch of Pete, Joe, Mary, Etta, Marty, Alphonse, Kate, Celia, Tobias, Emmett, Basil, Frank, and Gerard, who died as an infant. 13 in all. There are 52 grandchildren. If you ask what is the relationship of these 52 to the original Jordan parents who brought their 4 daughters to Canada in 1842 the answer is: great great grandchildren.


    I have now to say something about Ellen, the youngest, and named after her mother (Ellen Jordan). Ellen married John Hurley. A few years ago when the Hurleys came over (including the Milton) from Buffalo to see their relatives in this part of Canada, they called to see me at St. Michael’s college, and in the conversation someone said that the Hurley parents were married in St. Basil’s Church in Toronto. Thereupon we got the marriage register and found this to be true. When they went to live in Buffalo is not clear, but it seems certain that all their famly were born after they left Canada. The eldest was Marian. She married young, but after having 7 children she died suddenly. Her married name was Medlar. I knew her but slightly. The other girls, however like their Kelly cousins of Brechin, came at intervals to help my Mother during their school holidays. A big share of the extra work occasioned by my First Mass at Brechin was done by Irene, who spent a month or two at the McCorkell farm during the busy period in June and July 1916. The fact is that Rosella had been married by that time and in fact was having her second child, so that even my sister Philomena was occupied at Uptergrove. Irene Hurley however stepped into the breach. But Ethel Hurley was there more continuously over several years, so much so that she became more like a sister than a cousin. Her marriage a few years later at Buffalo to Bill Milton was the true beginning of a career for both of them. Bill and Ethel made their home in San Diego, though they rank high among travellers, having gone to Scotland several times to visit the homeland of the Miltons, and to almost every part of United States. They have two children, both of whom are now married, so that Ethel and Bill are alone. Their son had an amazing war record with the American Air Force in the European theatre of war. He had to bail out over the Aegean Sea in one dog fight but was picked up and imprisoned by the Germans. You can imagine how slow word came through as to his whereabouts, and then it was a disturbing word. He was in a prison in East Prussia in the direct path of the Russian invasion when the allied armies were thronging over the German frontiers. It was an agonizing wait for Ethel and Bill for many months, and many prayers were said in the many places where Ethel and Bill were known and loved. The prayers were answered finally and there was a joyful homecoming.

    Esther Hurley was also at the McCorkell farm in Brechin at intervals. We used to tease her a lot about the snow banks of her native city, but she enjoyed it because we seemed to find a lot of fun in it. She became Mrs. Bauer eventually but was left a widow without children after a few years. Edward and Albert were only boys. The former, working for one of the railroads, was accidentally killed and on getting this dreadful news his mother suffered a heart attack, and died almost instantly. The double funeral brought to Buffalo many of the relatives from Toronto. Unfortunately I had an attack of influenza and could not go to celebrate the Mass of requiem. Aunt Ellen deserved anything I could do for her. Her family had been extraordinarily good to my Mother.

    Albert, unmarried , now lives with Esther. Both have good jobs, but Esther, I think, has now retired. I used to visit them occasionally when I lived at St. John Fisher College in Rochester a few years ago. Gladys and her husband, Albert Rauls always came to join the party and drive me to the bus for my return to Rochester. They Hurleys rarely miss family events in the Toronto area. Even Ethel manages to put in an appearance occasionally. As I said already , Ethel and Bill are great travellers. I returned their many visits, stopping overnight once at their home in San Diego. It is a beautiful place to live. I used to kid Ethel and Esther about the snow and grime of Buffalo. Perhaps I should get some credit for pushing Ethel and Bill to a more spurious area. They might well retort that I should go myself. Toronto is not too hot a place either.



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