Families of Lafayette County

THE MORRISSEY FAMILY
submitted by Bill Kemp

The MORRISSEYs are of Irish descent. Research is difficult in Ireland because most of the vital records were destroyed by fire. In the early 1900s, because of the civil strife in Ireland, counties were required to place their vital records in the Public Records Office in Dublin for safekeeping. Tragically, this building burned down in 1922. Scattered records do exist but they are difficult to obtain. The family information contained in this family research my be as far back as one can go.

The name Morrissey may be an anglicized version of the Irish name O'Muirgheasa. Other variants are Morris, Morrison and the other various spellings of Morrissey. It may also be an anglicized version of MacMuirgheasa or deMarisco(a Norman family). In earlier days the Morrisseys were found in the southern portion of Sligo Bay, County Sligo. According to all family stories our family is from County Waterford in southeastern Ireland. The name Morrissey is common in County Waterford. County Waterford is in the Province of Munster. The chief city is Waterford which is a major port in southern Ireland and is noted for its crystal. The county is mostly mountainous providing beautiful scenery especially west and northwest. The Knock-mealdown Mountains which attain a height of 2609 feet form the northern boundary with County Tipperary. A wide extent of Country between Clonmel and Dungarvan is occupied by the two ranges of the Comeragh and Monavallagh mountains. The coastline is rocky and indented by many bays. It has rich copper mines near Bunmahon. Generally the land is used for pasture but it is tilled in the southeast. Fishing is important around Waterford. The city has a rich history. It was visited by Henry II in 1172 and by John in 1185. John granted its Charter in 1206 after ascending the throne. He revisited in 1210. Richard II visited in 1394 and 1399.

The Province of Munster is one of the four ancient Kingdoms of Ireland. Its name comes from Mumba and it contains the Counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford. Counties in Ireland are similar to our States. The next sub-division are Baronies which are based on the great Irish family holdings and are of ancient origin. There are 325 baronies. They were turned into civil divisions by the English for purposes of the 19th Century land valuation. These are the equivalent of U. S. counties. The Parish is both civil and ecclesiastical. The Civil Parish was used for taxation and census and was often smaller with a different name than the ecclesiastical one. The religious one was a subdivision of the diocese. The townland is the smallest civil division. These rural divisions usually comprised 350 acres. Poor Law Unions were formed in 1838 for taxation purposes to aid the poor and destitute. They usually comprised several Townlands within a 10 mile radius from a Market Town where the "Poor House" was located.

The immigrant and earliest MORRISSEY traced is Michael MORRISSEY born ca 1813. The names of his parents are unknown. He married Mary GRACE HOULIHAN ca 1848. According to Family Bible informa-tion three children were born in Ireland, Matthew Mark b. 12 Aug 1850, Bridget Adelia, b. 24 July 1853 and Michael, b. 24 June 1856. He immigrated in 1855 which means he left Ireland before the birth of their son Michael. It is not known why he immigrat-ed but conditions in Ireland were very severe, at this time. The Famine had been very hard on the population and with the crop failure came a typhus epidemic. The country already had over-population, poverty, high rents, unemployment and excessive land subdivision. Although the majority of the Famine immigrants came between 1841-1854, this could well be the reason he chose to move. The lure of opportunity, wages and/or land availability caused many Irish to move to America. Many Irish settled in the East but Irish leaders encouraged immigrants to go west for farming and mining opportunities. He may have also followed other family members since there were MORRISSEYs in the Shullsburg area in 1850.

The interesting speculation is trying to figure out where in County Waterford the MORRISSEYs were from. Using the House-holders Index I had speculated that they were from the civil parish Mothel in the Upperthird Barony. Two family sources say they remember the parish Clonmel being mentioned. The parish of Clonmel is actually named St. Mary's Clonmel and it is located in two Counties. The majority lies in County Tipperary in the Iffa and Offa East barony, but part of it is south of the River Suir in County Waterford in the Upperthird barony and the Clonmel Poor Law Union. According to the Householder's Index there were 9 families with the exact spelling of Morrissey living here in 1850. It is interesting that this parish is right next to Mothel Parish.

The 1860 Census lists Michael's occupation as Miner. One family story says he spent some time in Illinois before settling in Shullsburg, Wisconsin. He was joined by his wife, Mary ca 1856. According to her obituary she stayed a short time in New York before joining her husband. Mary GRACE HOULIHAN was born ca 1822 in County Waterford. Her parents were Michael HOULIHAN and Mary GRACE. The family Bible of Bridget (MORRISSEY) BRIGHT lists six children being born to Michael and Mary MORRISSEY however the 1860 Federal Census also list a Maurice as living with them. The children are:

Matthew Mark b. 12 Aug 1850     d. 30 Aug 1899 - Butte, Silver Bow County, Montana

Bridget Adelia b. 24 Jul 1853 d. 24 Jan 1901 - in Ishpeming,

Michael J. b. 24 Jun 1856 d. ?

Maurice ? b. ca 1858 d. ?

John b. 1 Nov 1860 d. 5 Jul 1895 in Salt Lake City, Utah

Thomas b. 24 Jun 1863 d. Nov 1886

William Francis b. 12 Feb 1864 d. 26 Nov 1939 in Menominee, Menominee County, Michigan

The MORRISSEYs continued living in Shullsburg until June of 1873 when they moved to Michigamme, Marquette County, Michigan to live with or to be near thier daughter Bridget BRIGHT and her family. According to the 1880 Census they were living together at that time.

Michael MORRISSEY died Tuesday afternoon, 3 March 1891, of bronchitis at the home of his daughter, Bridget Bright. His Death Certificate listed his age as 75 and his occupation as janitor at the time of his death. Mary MORRISSEY died of bronchitis on Tuesday, 22 March 1898 in Michigamme. She had been confined to her bed for over six months. They are both buried at Champion, Michigan.

Michael MORRISSEY liked to smoke his clay pipe after supper. He would keep them by the chimney to keep them dry. After smoking he would put a handerkerchef over his face and fall asleep in the "big chair".

Bridget Adelia MORRISSEY married Matthew Richardson BRIGHT on 23 Nov 1870 in Shullsburg, Lafayette, Wisconsin. After the birth of their first child, Mary Ellen (Nellie) on 24 July 1871 , they moved to Marquette, Michigan, then to Champion and finally to Michigamme in Marquette County where three more children were born; Catherine Marie (Kate) on 10 April 1874, Anna Adelia (Dee) on 3 Nov 1877 and Matthew Richardson (Matt) on 22 Oct 1879. After her husband, Matthew died 20 April 1881 Delia had four children to raise. She cried for days after Matthew died as the kitchen window in the family home overlooked the cemetery, in Michigamme, where Matthew was buried. She received a pension of $12.00 per month and took in sewing to support the family.

In 1898 Delia BRIGHT moved to Ishpeming. She died 24 Jan 1901 of pulmonary problems at her home at 114 Barnum St. and she was buried at Champion with her parents.

The cemetery plot in Champion also includes a Mary MORRISSEY, "beloved wife of Daniel MORRISSEY". Daniel MORRISSEY may be a brother to Michael MORRISSEY. The 1880 Census list Daniel with his wife Mary and three children, James, Patrick and Kate. Nellie (BRIGHT) Small had an autograph book that was signed "Your fond cousin Katie MOR---RISSEY", 27 Oct 1889 in Champion. This Katie could be the same one mentioned above or a daughter of one of Bridget's brothers. It is not known what happened to this family.

As with the BRIGHT family not much is known about the brothers of Bridget MORRISSEY. Since many were miners they probably followed other miners to Colorado and California. There is a family story which tells of one MORRISSEY who went to Colorado. Bridget's obituary mentions her brother M. J. MORRISSEY who was living in Utah and was not able to make it back for the funeral. Maurice may have died young and just is not mentioned in Bridget's Bible. William Francis MORRISSEY, "Uncle Will", however was well known to the children and grandchildren of Bridget and Matthew BRIGHT. He married Clara Morrow and worked as a conductor on the Chicago Northwestern Railroad. They lived in Iron Mountain, Michigan and he died in 1939 in a Menominee, Michigan hospital and is buried in Oconto, Wisconsin.

Nellie BRIGHT married Patrick Francis Small 16 Aug 1899 in Ishpeming. P. F. Small was born in LaPrairie, Quebec Province, Canada. He was the son of Patrick Small and Mary Cudahy. They lived with Bridget at 114 Barnum St. until August 1906 when Nellie and her family moved to Butte, Montana. They had four children; Francis Bright, Katherine Adelia, Helen Marie, and Margaret Elizabeth. Nellie died 11 Feb 1957 in Butte.

Kate BRIGHT married Herbert James Adams, 19 Jun 1907, in Iron Mountain at the home of Will MORRISSEY because he was the closest relative living in Michigan. H. J. Adams was born in Oakwood, Oakland County, Michigan. He was the son of James Gooding Adams and Ophelia F. Ball. They moved to Arizona Territory right after the marriage, then to California, Butte, Montana and eventually back to Ishpeming, Michigan in 1914. In 1946 they moved to Green Bay Wiscosin, and then in 1950 moved to Lake City, Minnesota. Kate died in Lake City, 1 July 1961. They had one daughter, Catherine Bright Adams.

Dee BRIGHT married Edmund Howard Dea on 14 Aug 1907 in Butte, Montana. The marriage took place here because her sister, Nellie was living in Butte and she was the closest relative. Dee was teaching in Bemidji, Minnesota when she met E. H. Dea who was born in Port Daniel, Quebec Province, Canada. He was the son of James Dea and Jane Sullivan. They lived in Bemidji for several years before moving to Minneapolis to (Private).

They had four children; John Howard, William Jerome, Catherine Jane, and Mary Norene. Dee died 22 Oct 1951 in Minneapolis.

Matt BRIGHT married three times. His first wife was Loretta McKenna of Quinessec, Michigan. They were married in Bisbee, Arizona Territory on 9 June 1910. She was the daughter of Patrick McKenna and Mary Lalley(or Mullally). Matt was living with his sister Kate Adams and helping to manage the Warren Ranch near Bisbee. He moved to Los Angeles where Mary died in 1925. They had two children, Cecilia Loretta and Matthew Thomas. His second wife was Mary Holland who died in 1944 then he married Esther Braun who died in 1981. Matt died Nov 1960 in Hemet, California.

APPENDIX - Additions and Corrections

Misc. info
transcribed by Dori Leekley
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