Waterfront View - Waterford, Ireland
b. June 24, 1844, Mount Mellery, Bradford County, Ireland d. January 1938, Escanaba, Michigan
Note: John Power is a first generation ancestor through the author's mother.
Early Life in Ireland
John spent the first 18 years of his life in the town of Waterford in the south of Ireland.
John Powers Leaves Ireland for America
March 17, 1863, 18 year old, John Powers departed Waterford, England for Liverpool, England to catch a sailing vessel heading for the United States.
March 18, 1863, John boards the Constitution and departs for New York, City.
John Powers Arrives in America
April, 11, 1863, after a 3 week voyage, young John Powers arrives at a dock in New York Harbor.
Situation in America, April 1863
The United States was in the middle of a civil war at the time of Johnís arrival. Earlier in the year, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves.
A few weeks prior to his arrival the US Congress passed the first Conscription Act making all men between the age of 20 and 45 liable to be called for military service. The act had a provision that allowed a person of wealth to pay a fee to avoid service. Riots broke out in the working class sections of New York City because the Act provided for a fee based exemption for those who could afford to pay it.
John Travels to the Midwest
Shortly after his arrival in New York John traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he stayed with relatives for a while. John says the trip took 5 days to complete.
Gains Employment in Chicago
Summer of 1863 John found a job working for the Chicago and North Western Railway in Chicago, Illinois
Transfer to Escanaba, Michigan
View From Merchants Dock, circa 1870
Fall of 1863, 19 years old, John was transferred to work the freight office for the newly completed Peninsula Line Railroad, (a subsidiary run by the C&NW parent company) on the Merchant Dock in Escanaba, Michigan a 180 miles north of Chicago. The newly built dock on the Escanaba waterfront was used to receive supplies and materials for building of the new railroad and act as the primary terminal connecting the isolated Peninsula Railroad line to the Chicago & Northwestern line via a terminal dock located at the mouth of the Fox river in Fort Howard, Wisconsin. The Merchant Docks also contained tracks for a retail coal business.
Northern Michigan Peninsula Development
Graphic: Wisconsin Historical Society
The development of Escanaba and the railroad that employed John
was tied to the demand for iron ore to support the war effort. Large
deposits of iron ore were located in the area of Negaunee some 60 miles
north-northwest of Escanaba. Prior to the building of the railroad, a few
thousand tons of ore was transported via sleds to Marquette, Michigan
located at Lake Superiorís southern coast. The Civil war pushed the
development for transportation and infrastructure to supply the ore more
quickly to the smelters at the south end of Lake Michigan. The owners of the
Chicago & North Western railroad decided to build a line (under a subsidiary
name, Peninsula Line) from the Jackson Iron Mines at Negaunee to Escanaba
located at Little Bay de Noc at the northern edge of Green Bay section of Lake
Michigan. The track had just been completed at the time of Johnís arrival and
first shipments would being to arrive in Escanaba after the snow melt in early
Since the railroad tracks between Fort Howard, (Green Bay) and Escanaba were
nowhere near completion it was quicker and easier to start, a steamship service
connecting the port of Escanaba to the new railroad terminal at Fort Howard.
The Fort Howard terminal had completed the route to the cities to the south in
1862. In addition to iron ore, lumber and other bulk products, passengers and
mail was delivered between southern Lake Michigan towns and what was becoming
the bustling frontier town of Escanaba. John Powers was working the dock office
when the Peninsula Lineís first woodburner steam engine named the ďAppletonĒ
was delivered by boat.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
St. Joseph Church 1873 -1938
1864, St. Joseph church, Father Dale of Fond du Lac attempted to organize a parish
and in the summer of 1864, Bishop Baraga appointed Father Duroc as its pastor. The
congregation moved into a little building at the present church site in 1869; a new
rectory and church were built in 1873; and ten years later the parish was ceded to the
Franciscan Order. A few years later members of Irish descent and of French extraction
left to establish their churches, St. Patrick's and St. Anne's.
John Powers and his family were members of St. Joseph's church and moved to
St. Patrick's with the other Irish Catholic families of the town.
John Powers Builds first Home
1872, John built his first home on Ludington Street in Escanaba
John Powers Marries
1872, December, 27: John Powers married 23 year old, Ellen Cody at Neenah, Wisconsin. Like John Ellen was and Irish immigrant. John and Ellen arrived at there new home in Escanaba on January 15, 1873.
Building a Family
John and Ellen had 11 children during their marriage.
image courtesy : Cousins, Linda Layman-Nowicki & Leslie Layman - Bastian
Top Row Left to Right
Kate, (aka, Catherine, 21 years old) Delia, (20 years old) Mag, (aka, Margaret, 18 years old) Ed, (15 years old)
Mike, (aka Michael, 17 years old) Ellen Cody Powers (48 years old), Mary Ellen, (24 years old) John Powers, (53 years old) John
Nan, (11 years old ) Tom, (6 years old) Laurette, (9 years old) Florence (13 years old)
1873, October 3: Mary Ellen Powers was born.
1874, October 5: John Henry Powers, was born.
1876, February 13: Catherine Powers was born.
1877, March 28: Bridget Powers (aka, Delia) was born.
1879, June 23: Margaret Powers was born.
1880, October 25: Michael Powers was born.
1882, Edward Powers was born.
1884, April 3: Florence Powers was born. Florence was to become my grandmother through my mother Arlene.
1886, Anna Powers (aka, Nan) was born.
1889, February 11: Laurette Powers (aka, Loretta) was born.
1891, Thomas Powers was born.
Escanaba C&NW Shipping Docks
C & NW Ore Docks
1890, By now, Escanaba became known as the iron port of the world
because of the tonnage of iron ore shipped from the North Western docks.
In addition to iron ore, copper and lumber were also in abundant supply
Total vessel tonnage at Escanaba, including all commodities, in 1890 was
slightly over eight million tons which surpassed Liverpool, England.
Family Moves to New Home
After many years the Ludington Street property was sold and John and family moved to the west end of town near the Chicago & Northwestern passenger depot. Their new home was located at 321 Fannie Street. (North 13th Street)
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
St. Patrick's Church 1902 -1997
1901, July 1: Irish members of St. Joseph's Catholic Church petitioned Bishop Frederick Eis
for permission to organize a separate parish and formal division was confirmed. The
Rev. Joseph M. Langan was the first pastor. The cornerstone of St. Patrick's Church
was laid March 25, 1902, and the new church was dedicated the following year. Father
Langan died in 1911 and was succeeded by the Rev. Francis X. Barth. John Powers andhis
family were founding members of the new Irish Catholic, St. Patrick's congregation.
Johnís Wife Dies
1903, Friday, June 19: Johnís wife of 30 years, Ellen Cody Powers died.
John Powers Retires from Railroad
1908, John retired after 45 years of service with Chicago & North Western Railroad
John in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1927, John moved south to live with his daughter, Mrs. Mary McCarthy at 529 North 29th Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin until his death.
John Powers Dies
John Power died at age of 94 at the home of his daughter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His funeral service was held at St. Patrick's Catholic Church and he was buried at the family plot next to his wife Ellen located at St. Joseph Catholic Church Cemetery both in Escanaba, Michigan.
Note: 1947 St. Joseph Cemetery and St. Anne Cemetery are merged and become Holy Cross Cemetery, which is owned and operated by the Diocese of Marquette.
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