Bridget Coughlin – The Forgotten Ancestor

Bridget CoughlinFor whatever reason, there are some ancestors and some lines in my family tree that I find interesting. Each ancestor has an individual story, and I wanted to share this one. Bridget Coughlin was pretty difficult to track down and maybe that is why she grabbed my attention. She was my great-great grandmother from Ireland, and I never heard anything about her growing up. My initial request of information from living relatives did not provide anything because no one mentioned Bridget. She is my direct ancestor, so who was this forgotten, not-so-distant relative?

Bridget was tough to track down because my great grandmother Rose was born in 1892 and by the 1900 US census, Rose was only 8 living with her twin brother Peter and their father Joseph who was listed as a widow. Since there is no 1890 US census to check, it was hard to find Rose’s mother in such a short time span.

After tons of searching, here is a summary with what I found about Bridget Coughlin…

Kilcolgan More-Ferbane-Offaly-IrelandBridget Coughlin was born in Ferbane, Offaly, Ireland on August 12, 1867. She was the fourth of ten children born to Thomas Coughlan and Anne Flynn. She arrived in the US through Philadelphia on May 28, 1886 at the age of 19. On the ship record, she appears to have arrived without other relatives. Her older sister Mary arrived earlier and was married in Philadelphia. From the 1901 and 1911 Census of Ireland, Bridget’s mother and most of her siblings are still living and living together in Ireland. Not sure what her motivation was for leaving since the majority of her family stayed in Ireland and I only have evidence of that one sister in the US.

At some point, Bridget, her sister Mary and brother-in-law Patrick Minnick made their way from Philadelphia to Chicago. After 5 years in the US, Bridget married Joseph McCabe (born in Tulach Mor, Offaly, Ireland) on September 22, 1891 at St. Anne’s Church in Chicago.

Rose, Peter and Joseph 1900 US CensusIt was a surprise to find that my great grandmother Rose and her twin brother Peter were not the only children born to Bridget and Joseph, especially since there were no other siblings ever mentioned and there aren’t more family members in that 1900 US census. I tracked down all the baptism records, and it turns out that Rose and Peter were the oldest, born in 1892. Then there were also Anne McCabe born in 1893, Mary Bridget McCabe born in 1896, and Katie McCabe born in 1897. Sadly, both Anne and Mary died in 1896, when Mary was one month old. Katie was only about a year old when she died in 1899, six months after her mother Bridget.

Bridget McCabe nee Coughlin died on July 24, 1898 in Chicago from tuberculosis at the young age of 31. She is buried at Mount Olivet with her 3 daughters who did not survive childhood. There is no headstone for their grave.

Her husband Joseph died in 1902 and son Peter died in 1914 after having one child with his wife, who was pregnant with their second child at the time of his death. They are also buried at Mount Olivet, but at different sections.

My great grandmother Rose lost her entire family when she was young, but eventually had a life filled with family including her husband and 9 children; she died at the ripe age of 77.

Bridget’s life was so short and full of loss. Times were difficult in large cities at the turn of the century for immigrants in low socioeconomic circumstances. Her story is not the only one like this out there, but it is in my tree and I wanted to share her story because she is not forgotten!