CategoriesCarnival of GenealogyCorriganIrish

What’s in a Name?


My entry for the 13th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. Here is what this carnival is about. Share with us the surnames in your Irish family tree, but don’t just stop there. Do a little research and tell us the origin of one or more of those surnames, the stories of how they might have changed over the years, or tales of how they’ve been mixed up and mispelled, etc.

The big Irish surname in my tree is CORRIGAN. The name starts at my paternal grandmother, who is always the family’s biggest Irish supporter. I can trace the surname back to Michael John CORRIGAN who immigrated from Killeeshil Parish, County Tyrone, Ireland to Ontario, Canada in the 1820s. The family lived there for many years before my great-great-grandfather, Thomas CORRIGAN, moved to Wisconsin with his family. The history of the CORRIGAN surname according to Wikipedia is:

The Corrigan (O’Corrigan, Carrigan, Corocan, Courigan, Currigan) surname is of Irish descent. Translated Corrigan means “Spear”. The name is believed to have originated from Coirdhecan of the Cineal Eoghain. It is also believed to be connected to the Maguire clan. The Corrigan surname was popular in the 17th century in County Fermanagh in Ireland. Today, the name is spread out across most counties in Ireland and some of the United States and Canada.

Via my genealogy research, I have met and talked to a lot of CORRIGAN researchers, a lot of whom descended from the same Michael John CORRIGAN family. I have yet to trace back into Ireland, besides County Tyrone as listed above.

There are also few famous individuals with the CORRIGAN surname such as the actor Ray “Crash” Corrigan and Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan, who I posted about in the past.

I actually haven’t run into many misspellings of the name, other than the few listed in the Wikipedia entry above. Soundex usually handles most of the common spelling changes. The few other Irish surnames I have in my tree are MCCANN, THOMPSON, NUGENT, BOYLE and CRONIN, but none of these go as far or are researched as deep as CORRIGAN.

CategoriesCorriganFamily TreeWeekly HistoryZalewski

Weekly History

This week in my family tree history.

March 1

1653 – Died – Joanna (Pansars) CREIJBECK – Joanna was my 10th-great-grandmother on my mother’s side. She was born about 1610 and passed away in St. Lambertus, Herck, Belgium.

1818 – Born – Jacobus Franciscus KREBBEKX – Jacobus was my 4th-great-grandfather on my mother’s side. He was born in Hoofdplaat, Zeeland, Netherlands and married Maria Sophia SCHALLOIR.

1974 – Died – Helen A (Stroinski) ZALEWSKI – Helen was my great-great aunt on my father’s side. She was born 24 Sep 1897 and passed away in Milwaukee, Milwaukee Co., Wisconsin.

March 2

1826 – Died – Florentina Francisca (Knudde) CRAYBECKFlorentina was my 5th-great-grandmother of my mother’s side. She was the mother of Jacobus listed under March 1, which, as you can tell, shows all of the last name spellings I came across in the vital records. She was born about 1788 and passed away in Hoofdplaat, Zeeland, Netherlands.

March 3

1855 – Born – Thomas J CORRIGAN – Thomas was my great-great-grandfather on my father’s side. Thomas was born in Mara Township, Brechin, Ontario, Canada to William and Mary (MCCANN) CORRIGAN. His first wife was Ellen FERGUSON. When she passed away, he married my great-great-grandmother, Emma Jane FIRMENICH. Thomas’ first family was the subject of this week’s Wordless Wednesday.

March 5

1754 – Born – Wilhelmus van CRAYBECK – Wilhelmus (who has an awesome name) is my 6th-great-grandfather on my mother’s side. He was born in Genk, Limburg, Belgium and married Anna Catherina CROX.

March 6

1707 – Married – My 8th-great-grandparents on my mother’s side, Petrus van CRAYBECK and Elisabeth BROUCKX were married in Genk, Limburg, Belgium.

March 7

1888 – Born – William H LAST – William was my great-great-uncle on my mother’s side. He was born in Grafton, Ozaukee Co., Wisconsin.

CategoriesCorriganFamily TreeIrishTell Me Thursday

Tell Me Thursday: Tom Corrigan Family

Click for larger version
Click for larger version

From what I figured out, this is my great-great-grandfather Thomas CORRIGAN and his first wife Ellen FERGUSON (1854- abt 1890.) I had originally tabbed it as Thomas Corrigan and his second wife, my great-great-grandmother Emma Jane FIRMENICH. Then one day I looked closer at it and at Tom and Emma’s children and they didn’t seem to match up. It occurred to me that this was probably his first family since the kids line up pretty well with their ages. Tom was a busy man. He had 5 children with Ellen and then married my gg-grandmother and had 9 more.

The people in this photo (as far as I know) are: Ellen Ferguson and Thomas Corrigan in the back row. Joseph M. and William J. S. Corrigan (or vice versa) in the middle row. Mary Ellen, Agnes Alvina, and Thomas Francis Corrigan in the front row. This must be very close to Ellen’s death since little Thomas would only have been about 4 or 5 when that happened.

CategoriesCorriganFamily TreeWay Back Wednesday

Weekly Photo: Maurice Corrigan

Maurice Corrigan

Photo: Maurice Corrigan – Original owned by Mary Jane Zalewski (daughter of subject)

This is a photo of my great-grandfather, Maurice Corrigan. At least, that’s what it’s noted as. I’ve been told unofficially that they used to dress up boys in dress-type  clothing in the early 1900s for photographs. I have no reason to not believe this. I assume it was just a custom back then. Does anyone have more information on this custom?

CategoriesCorriganIrishWay Back Wednesday

Sunday Photo: Tom Corrigan Family

Tom Corrigan Family

Today’s photo comes from my Irish roots, just in time for St. Patrick’s day. The original photo is my grandmother’s collection.

This photo was taken in Ashland, Wisconsin, year unknown, but I’d guess around 1892 or so looking at the ages of the children. Based of the number of children in this photo, I assume that this is Thomas Corrigan with the children from his first marriage along with his new wife, my great-great-grandmother. Thomas J. Corrigan was my great-great-grandfather and is pictured with his wife, Emma Jane (Firmenich.)

If that is true, than the children’s names are Joseph, William, Mary Ellen, Agnes and Thomas. At first, I had thought that this was photo of my great grandfather, Maurice Corrigan, but looking at all the details, I think these are his half-siblings.

CategoriesCarnival of GenealogyCorriganFun

Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan

My grandmother, who’s maiden name is Corrigan, always used to tell us about some distant cousin that they called “Wrong Way” Corrigan. She talked about how he flew a plane from New York to Ireland. When I was young, I thought this was some made-up, grandma-style folk tale the old people liked to tell their grandchildren. It turns out that he is real and that he really did that. Now, is he related to us and our Corrigan surname? That is another question.

Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan was born in 1907 in Galveston, Texas as Clyde Groce Corrigan, after his father. He legally changed his name to Douglas as an adult.

In 1938, after a transcontinental flight from Long Beach, California, to New York, he flew from Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, to Ireland, even though he was supposed to be returning to Long Beach. He claimed that his unauthorized flight was due to a navigational error, caused by heavy cloud cover that obscured landmarks and low-light conditions, causing him to misread his compass. Corrigan, however, was a skilled aircraft mechanic (he was one of the builders of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis) and a habitual risk-taking maverick; he had made several modifications to his own plane, preparing it for transatlantic flight. Between 1935 and 1937, he applied several times, unsuccessfully, for permission to make a nonstop flight from New York to Ireland, and it is likely that his “navigational error” was a protest against government “red tape”; however, he never publicly acknowledged having flown to Ireland intentionally. – Wikipedia

Wrong Way CorriganI decided to do what I could to find out if there is a connection somewhere down the Corrigan line, at least as far back as I could go. I started by finding Clyde G Corrigan in his first census report, the 1910 US Census. Fortunately, my first search brought up a Clyde G Carrigan (or Corrigan) living in San Patricio, Texas at three years old. His father’s name is also Clyde S Corrigan. We’re two for two. He also lives with his mother, Evelyn, and his younger brother, Harry. Clyde and Harry are also listed in the Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997.

Well, as I jump through the Corrigan line, fortunately made easier by less popular names like Clyde and not Michael, I find evidence that will not help my cause. I find Douglas’ grandfather, John Corrigan, living in California in 1900 with his son Clyde S. It says that John’s parents were both born in Ireland and that he was born in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, my Corrigan line came to North America in about 1820 and entered into the southern area of Ontario, Canada and stayed there a long time before dropping into Wisconsin. I don’t have much beyond that, so I won’t be able to connect his family with mine too quickly.

I did pinpoint two John Corrigans in Pennsylvania in the 1850 census and only one had parents that were born in Ireland. Hugh and Jane Corrigan living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I can find one Hugh Corrigan of that age that immigrated to New York from Ireland in 1841, but no other information to confirm this is him. It also doesn’t tell me which county in Ireland that Hugh came from. This would help me connect our families, since my Corrigan family came from County Tyrone. Unfortunately, I don’t have any Hugh Corrigans listed in my tree that were born around 1805 in Ireland. I can only imagine that somewhere back in Ireland, Wrong Way’s family connects to mine. How far back? We’ll never really know, I guess.

This was a fun little escape from the normal genealogy grind. It’s amazing what you can find about almost anyone that was alive before 1930 with all the data available today on the Internet. You escaped me this time, “Wrong Way” Corrigan! One day. I will find you! (Please…for my grandmother.)

CategoriesCorriganIrishWisconsin Research

Pour me a Guinness


The last major ethnic group that has affected my Ancestry (and a bit of Wisconsin) is the Irish. It’s probably the 3rd largest ethnicity in my family tree, behind German and Polish.

All of the Irish in my family tree comes from my paternal grandmother’s line. She herself was born a Corrigan, which is obviously an Irish name. It takes a few jumps back before you find more Irish names since Corrigan seemed like it lasted more generations than the others.

My Irish immigrated over from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland and into Canada (making a stop in New York, I think.) The Michael Corrigan family came along with most of their children. They settled in the town on Mara in Ontario. There is actually a book called, “They Came to Mara,” that has some information on my family. They seemed to have lived there for a few generations before my great-great grandfather, Thomas Corrigan, traveled to and settled in the Ashland/Sanborn area of northern Wisconsin. Ashland is up near Superior; way up in the cold part (The cold-er part to be more specific.)

My Irish family didn’t really expand out of the Ashland area. My great uncle Edwin Corrigan wrote a letter to another family member talking about life in the Ashland area in the early 1900s. I wrote about it in an earlier post and I have transcribed most of it. And, as with most ethnic groups in Milwaukee, the Irish have their own cleverly-named, annual festival: Irish Fest.