More Recollections from Anna (Brennan) Gray's of her Grandparents Martin Brennan and Catherine Corcoran: Their Passage from England to New York and on to South Bend, Indiana as Told by Barbara (Gray) Cutter

This is the second in a series of stories about Martin Brennan/Catherine Corcoran recounted by Anna (Brennan) Gray and documented by her grand daughter Barbara (Gray) Cutter. This segment begins with what Anna recalls about Martin and Catherine's passage from England to New York. We have yet to find a ship passenger list that would confirm where they traveled from and when they arrived in the United States, but a departure from Liverpool would be most likely based on logistics from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England where they were married. Train lines opened up between New York and Chicago and coincide with the time line we have constructed for their journey west. The birth of John in Ohio along the way is acknowledged in the US census records. Their friends the Frains and McNulty's are repeatedly represented as sponsors in their children's baptisms and marriages in the Sacred Heart and St Joseph Church Records. Whether they knew them before they got to New York is of yet unknown. Finally, Michael's journey west is documented in the St Joseph Church records as he is listed in "New Braska" in 1880. James McNulty most likely went with him as he is documented as being in Omaha in the same census. Like any other lore passed on from generation to generation, the story has to be proven with concrete facts. Only time and our research will tell how the facts will pan out.

Well thank the good Lord; they didn't die.

Grandma, Anna (Brennan) Gray said Martin and Catherine Brennan came down the St. Lawrence Seaway to New York. How long they were in New York is unknown at this time. Grandma said "Kitty," Catherine's nickname, absolutely hated New York and would never talk about her time in New York. Anna told me that Martin and Catherine had two infant girls, one was Mary and the other was named Margaret or Bridget. Anna thought that the girls died somewhere in New York because Kitty hated the place so much.

Anna said that Martin and Catherine met up with a family by the name of McNulty and a family by the name of Frain/Frainey. All three families headed for Chicago by train because they were told there was work there. Martin and Catherine had a son born somewhere in Ohio on the way here (1853). Martin became very ill on the train and had to be carried off. The stop was South Bend, Indiana.

When Martin was recovering, the McNulty's and the Frain's went checking out the town. When they came back they reported to Martin. They both told Martin they thought they should stay in South Bend because there was work there; education for the children, it was a good Catholic area with a good church congregation. Whatever else they said, they convinced Martin and Catherine to stay.

They built a log house on property purchased from Father Sorin on Notre Dame Avenue. I have a map showing the exact property they purchased. Also for a fee of $10.00 anyone could have their name etched in the golden dome of Notre Dame and Anna said that they contributed.

"Kitty" was little with blue eyes and a fiery temper. One day Anna, who was also little with fiery blue eyes, got into a fight at school. She came of the winner, but not without some bruises. They said that Kitty would always be with them as long as Anna was alive.

The Civil War recruiter was going around town to all the houses trying to get recruits. Neighbors warned Kitty they were coming. When he got to the Brennan house, Kitty took her broom and started hitting him on the head, shoulders and back screaming at him to go away saying, "No Brennan will ever serve in any war!" The recruiter never came back.

When their son William was born, Kitty kept telling everyone "Another King of the Brennans was born."

Then there are the ears. When Anna saw my daughter Jessica, she said, "Oh my, she has the Brennan ears." I never knew what she meant until I saw a picture of my great-grandfather William Henry Brennan. The ears were huge and stuck way out from the side of his head. Now, my daughter's were not that bad but it was enough for Anna to recognize it.

Anna also had "Kitty's" wedding ring and she gave this to me. I still have it. It is like a size 4, is a plain gold band and has been worn very thin. It is a real treasure to me!

At one point, Nellie (wife of Martin and Catherine's son Martin) wanted a new and modern house. She was repeatedly told no because of the cost. One day while everyone was at church, she stayed behind. She burned the house to the ground. They found kerosene soaked rags inside chinks of the logs. She got her new home, but she was in the doghouse ever after.

Patrick, Catherine and Martin's son, was a horrible alcoholic. One day he fell into the stove and was horribly burned. He was unable to work after that.

Anna said that Catherine and Martin's other son, Michael, went west during the Gold Rush. They received one letter from him; he was in the area of the Ohawahee Mountains in Idaho but nothing after that. Alton, Anna's husband who had family in Boise, Idaho, told her the area was a ghost town and no one was there. Anna always wanted to find Michael, where we was and what happened to him. Nothing has been heard from him.