I thought I knew a lot about my grandparents before I started doing my genealogical research. Since starting I have learned quite a bit, but I have also added to that knowledge through a Facebook group that contains memories of those of us that grew up in the village of Wellsville Ohio. I’ve learned more about the history of the village from others that grew there and because of it I realized how it was that my grandparents came to live in that area.
My paternal grandmother Mary Gillespie emigrated from Ireland at the age of three with her mother, her twin sister Rose and her brother Lawrence. Her uncles Thomas and James had come to this country several years previously to earn money as coal miners. They had purchased farm property. When my great-grandmother and her children arrived there was a farm in place. I don’t know if my grandmother’s brother Lawrence went to work in the mines straightaway or if he worked the farm for a couple of years first. But I do remember my grandmother telling me stories of her mother clearing rocks from the fields in her apron. I do know from stories my grandmother told that their home was near the railroad and I have since been able to find maps that showed they are holding and where the railroad ran. My grandmother got to know the schedule of the trains that went by, so she would be out hanging up laundry or doing other types of womanly work around the farm when the locomotive my grandfather was driving went by. She would wave to him because she thought he had beautiful curly hair. I learned later from my cousin that he would write notes to my grandmother and wrap them around rocks and toss them out of the cab of the locomotive as he’d go by and now way they were able to keep in touch with each other. I don’t know how they actually did meet in person but they did and were married in 1912. My grandfather had grown up on a farm in southwestern Ohio and I don’t know what it was exactly that drew him to Eastern Ohio, but it was most likely the railroad. After all young man needs to work a few years before he reaches the status of being an engineer on the locomotive.
My maternal grandmother was born in Brooklyn and led a rather sheltered life as a young woman. Fortunately for her parents did send her to secretarial school so that she was able to earn a living, but of course was never allowed to move out of her parents’ home. Her sisters left home simply because one of them had gotten married and another sister had gone into the convent. My grandfather was born in Wheeling West Virginia and his father became very active in establishing the Operative Potters Union in Eastern Ohio. My grandmother knew both of my grandfather’s sisters Catherine and Eva. They had decided their brother was old enough that he should be married after all he was in his 30s. They played matchmaker and introduced their brother to their friend Katharyn and the two married in 1924.
|Joseph H. and Mary Rawlings wedding picture 1911|