Posts Tagged With: Midleton Heritage

‘Few Families…Suffered As We Did:’ War of Independence Pension Files Associated with Midleton

The Military Archives have released another tranche of material relating to the Easter Rising, War of Independence and Civil War. Included among them are some more pension files that connect to service during the War of Independence around the Midleton area. There will be further releases in the coming months and years, but already there is much to interest us locally among what is available. The pension files in particular can contain great insights into the War of Independence in East Cork. Take for example the statement included in the pension application of Christina Ahern, of Cumman na mBan, charting her experiences during the conflict:

From the inception of the volunteers in East Cork, our house, situated midway between Carrigtwohill and Midleton, was a recognised clearing house for all Volunteers activities. We also had a business in Cobh and maintained daily communication for volunteer purposes there. As stated in my claim our house was burned and my eldest brother brutally killed and things got so bad that we could not engage a farm labourer as they would not stay any time with us. Actually some members of the A.S.U. [Active Service Unit] were sent to us from time to time to assist in the farm work and to provide protection. Both my mother and an invalid sister died shortly after the Truce and their deaths can be attributable to a certain extent to the strain they had undergone. My younger brother who was a very active volunteer officer and a member of the A.S.U. died in 1923. As a result of all our activities our farm property had eventually to be sold and our prosperous market gardening business at Cobh had to close up. I think I can honestly say that few families in the South of Ireland suffered as we did. I am not claiming from a sympathetic point of view but for my service as O/C [Officer Commanding] of the Cumann na mBan and the statements made in my claim can be fully verified.

The burnt cottage at Clonmult, where 12 members of the local Flying Column were killed (a further two were executed later). Many of these men had participated in the Midleton Ambush.

The burnt cottage at Clonmult, where 12 members of the local Flying Column were killed (a further two were executed later).

All of these files are free to access and we would encourage you to explore them. Those currently available with direct links to Midleton are as follows (click on the hyperlinks to access the file):

 

Categories: 20th Century, War of Independence | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Midleton Emigrants in 1940s America

After the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941 the United States mobilised for war. In 1942 men had to register for the draft, including those who were deemed to old for active service. The ‘Old man’ draft was targeted at men aged between 45 and 64 who were capable of providing assistance to the war effort on the Home Front. Those registered were born on or after 28th April 1877 and on or before 16th February 1897. Their official registration day for the draft was 27th April 1942. A number of the men who presented to provide their details were from Midleton, so we took a look at ten of them. You can find out who they were, and what information was recorded for them, below. 

Vincent John Egan

Vincent lived at 5324 Greenway Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was recorded as 59 years old, having been born on 22nd July 1882. His telephone was PH12A and he listed Mrs. Margaret Egan, 5324 Greenway, Philadelphia as the person who would always know his address. He was employed at the Pennsylvania Railroad Park Shop in Philadelphia. His height was recorded as 5 feet 6 1/2 inches, with a weight of 145 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a ruddy complexion.

Christopher Francis Collins

Christopher lived at 30 Lancaster St., Leominster, Worcester County, Massachusetts. He was 61 years old and had been born on 28th May 1880. His telephone was 2252M, and the person who would always know his address was Mrs. Florence E. Collins of 30 Lancaster St., Leominster. He was employed by the Northern Chair Company, 221 Lancaster Street, Leominster, Massachusetts. Christopher was 5 feet 10 1/2 inches tall and weighted 145 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a sallow complexion.

William Casey

William lived in Lincoln, New Hampshire. He was 60 years old and had been born on 23rd December 1881. The person who would always know his address was given as Sherman Adams of Lincoln, New Hampshire. He was employed by the Parker Young Company of Lincoln. William was 6 feet tall and 195 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

James Patrick Moore

James lived at 20 Clantoy, Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts. He was 53 years old and had been born on 6th June 1888. His telephone was 3-0662.The person who would always know his address was Mrs. J. Moore. He was employed at Gilbert & Barker on Union Street in West Springfield. James was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown eyes, gray hair and a ruddy complexion.

Michael John Murphy

Michael lived at 20 Linwood Square, Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was 59 years old having been born on 29th September 1883. The person who would always know his address was Mrs. Katherine Murphy of the same address. Michael worked for himself at 1260 Columbus Avenue in Roxbury. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 140 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

No. 1 Wall Street in New York, where William Edward Charles Perrott from Midleton worked in 1942 (Gryffindor via Wikipedia)

No. 1 Wall Street in New York, where William Edward Charles Perrott from Midleton worked in 1942 (Gryffindor via Wikipedia)

William John Cotter

William lived at 20 Tower St., East Bolton in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was born on 14th November 1895 and was 46 years old. His telephone was East Bolton 1762W. The person who would always know his address was his wife Margaret Cotter. William worked for the First National Bank of Boston at 67 Milk Street in Boston. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 195 lbs. He had blue eyes, grayish hair and a light complexion.

Michael Moore

Michael lived at R.F.D.L. Keyport in Monmouth, New Jersey. He was born on 8th June 1882 and was 59 years old. The person who would always know his address was his sister Mrs. Annie Eustace. He was described as self-employed, working on farms in Middletown Township. He was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 148 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

William Mansfield

William lived at 444 East 145th Street in the Bronx, New York. He was 48 years old and had been born on 11th May 1893. The person who would always know his address was Mrs. Nora Blackburn of 426 East 26th Street in New York. He worked for Mr. Redner at the United Fruit Company at Pier 9 in New York. He was 5 feet 9 inches in height and weighed 140 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a sallow complexion.

William Edward Charles Perrott

William lived at 148-02 Sutter Avenue, South Ozone Park, New York. He was 53, having been born on 11th February 1889. The person who would always know his address was his aunt, Mrs. E.C. Babcock of 145 95th Street in Brooklyn. William worked for the Irving Trust Company, at the notable address of 1 Wall Street in New York. He was 5 feet 9 1/2 inches in height, and weighed 145 lbs. He had blue eyes, gray hair and a light complexion.

James J. O’Brien

James lived at 418 Fifth Street in Brooklyn. He was 55 years old having been born on 1st January 1886. The name of the person who would always know his address was Anna O’Brien who shared his address. James worked for United Parcel at 338 East 38th Street in New York. He was 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 165 lbs. He had gray eyes, black hair and a light complexion.

Categories: 20th Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Midleton’s Most Famous Forgotten Son? General John Joseph Coppinger

Many of Midleton’s men and women have emigrated down through the years, settling all over the globe and becoming part of the Irish diaspora. Some went on to become relatively famous abroad- for example Nellie Cashman– a woman who will be the topic a future post. However one man, although his family name remains closely associated with Midleton, is not well-known in the town of his birth. This is despite the fact that he is undoubtedly one of the town’s most successful and colourful emigrants. His name was John Joseph Coppinger.

Coppinger was born in Midleton on 11th October 1834, into the powerful Catholic landowning family. He was one of six children of William Joseph Coppinger and Margaret O’Brien. We don’t know much about John’s early life, until he begins his first associations with the military- associations that would continue across more than half a century. He first tested out the military in the 1st Regiment of the Warwickshire Militia- The London Gazette of 12th October 1855 recorded that ‘John Joseph Coppinger Gent.’ was to be an Ensign from the 29th September. However, his life of adventure really started in 1860 when he became a Captain in the Papal Battalion, a group of Irishmen which travelled to Italy to defend the Papal States from the ongoing efforts to reunify Italy. During the fighting there the young Midleton man performed well- his defence of the La Rocca gateway that September earned him the position of Chevalier and two Papal decorations. (1)

Medaglia di Pro Petri Sede (For the Chair of Peter) awarded to members of the Papal Battalion, including John Joseph Coppinger (Robert Doyle)

Medaglia di Pro Petri Sede (For the Chair of Peter) awarded to members of the Papal Battalion, including John Joseph Coppinger (Robert Doyle)

When the Papal War was lost, John Joseph Coppinger was one of a number of men in the Battalion who elected not to return home permanently. Instead he travelled to the United States. According to one account, upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, Archbishop Hughes of New York sought advice from clergy in Ireland as to young Irishmen of influence who might come to America to become officers: …’Bishop Keane, the patriotic prelate of Cloyne, who had been parish priest of Midleton, recommended [Coppinger]…and he was one of six young Irishmen who came to the United States as commissioned officers.‘ (2)

So began John Joseph Coppinger’s long an extremely successful career in the United States military. In September 1861 he was appointed to the rank of Captain in the 14th United States Infantry. Joining the Union Army of the Potomac in July of 1862, he was severely wounded when he was shot through the neck at the Second Battle of Bull Run on 30th August. Lucky to survive, it took him six months to recuperate. John returned to active duty and in 1863 participated in the Battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. (3)

General Torbert and his staff during the American Civil War. John Joseph Coppinger is seated at the front left (Library of Congress)

General Torbert and his staff during the American Civil War. John Joseph Coppinger is seated at the front left (Library of Congress)

During the Civil War Coppinger was brevetted a Major for gallant and meritorious service at the Battle of Trevilian Station on 12th June 1864, and brevetted Lieutenant-Colonel for the same reason after the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19th October that year. At the time he had been serving on the staff of Cavalry General Alfred Torbert. Recommended for promotion by men such as George Armstrong Custer and Phil Sheridan, Coppinger was appointed Colonel of the 15th New York Cavalry on 19th January 1865, a position he held until the close of the war. (4)

Detail of the Civil War photograph showing Midleton's John Joseph Coppinger (Library of Congress)

Detail of the Civil War photograph showing Midleton’s John Joseph Coppinger (Library of Congress)

After the war Coppinger returned to the rank of Captain in the regular army and was transferred to the 23rd United States Infantry, with whom he served on the Western Plains. He earned another brevet, this time to Colonel in 1868, for ‘energy and zeal while in command of troops operating against hostile Indians in 1866, 1867 and 1868.’  In 1871 he returned to Cork to attend to family business resulting from a bereavement, and took the opportunity to visit Egypt. However, it was always his intention to return to the United States, and he was soon back in the American West. The Midleton man had a reputation as a dashing officer, and after his return to America he landed in hot water, when he was accused of seducing another man’s wife in California. Described by his accuser as ‘a gay Lothario in epaulettes…a…bold, unprincipled adventurer …a serpent’, Coppinger was outraged by what he described as ‘infamous falsehoods’, but whoever was in the right, the incident eventually died down. It did not hurt his military career, as John was promoted to Major in 10th United States Infantry in 1879 and Lieutenant-Colonel in the 18th United States Infantry in 1883. 1883 was also the year he finally married, tying the knot with Alice Stanwood Blaine (25 years his junior) in Washington D.C. on 6th February. The wedding was attended by President Arthur and his cabinet, a mark of how high Coppinger had risen. The couple would go on to have two sons, Blaine and Conor, but Alice would die tragically young just seven years later, during an influenza epidemic. (5)

John’s march through the ranks of the army continued. He was promoted to  Colonel as a result of service rendered against hostile Native Americans between 1886-1888, and took command of the 23rd United States Infantry in 1891. He finally became a Brigadier-General on 25th April 1895. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, the Cork native took charge of the 1st Independent Division in Mobile, Alabama. He later served as Major-General of Volunteers commanding the IV Corps. John Joseph Coppinger retired from his 36 year career in the U.S. military on 11th October 1898. The Midleton man died in Washington D.C. on 4th November 1909, where he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (6)

General Coppinger during the Spanish-American War, 1898 (National Archives)

General Coppinger during the Spanish-American War, 1898 (National Archives)

Today John Joseph Coppinger is all but forgotten in his home town. Indeed he is one of the many hundreds if not thousands of men from around Midleton and East Cork who fought in the American Civil War and who are no longer remembered at home. Surely one of Midleton’s most successful and noteworthy emigrants, remembering John Joseph Coppinger’s life is hopefully something that will improve in the future.

The grave of General John Joseph Coppinger in Arlington National Cemetery (Brian C. Pohanka via Find A Grave)

The grave of General John Joseph Coppinger in Arlington National Cemetery (Brian C. Pohanka via Find A Grave)

*The most comprehensive research on John Joseph Coppinger to date has been carried out by the late Brian C. Pohanka, who’s work is referenced in this article and should be rightfully acknowledged.

(1) Pohanka 2013, London Gazette 1855, Tucker 2009: 135, Irish Nation 1883; (2) Irish Nation 1883; (3) Foreman 1943: 125, Tucker 2009: 135; (4) Foreman 1943: 125, Hunt 2003: 84; (5) Foreman 1943: 125, Pohanka 2013, Irish Nation 1883; (6) Foreman 1943: 125, Tucker 2009: 135;

References

The Irish Nation 17th February 1883. Colonel Coppinger.

The London Gazette 12th October 1855. Commissions signed by the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Warwick.

Foreman, Carolyn Thomas 1943. ‘General John Joseph Coppinger Commandant Fort Gibson’ in Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 21, No. 2.

Hunt, Roger D. 2003. Colonels in Blue: Union Army Colonels of the Civil War: New York.

Pohanka, Brian 2013. Defender of the Faith and the Union Cork Born John Joseph Coppinger 

Tucker, Spencer 2005 (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars

John Joseph Coppinger Find A Grave Memorial

Categories: Famous Links, Nineteenth Century | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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