Post – Rapleys in Ontario, Canada and Michigan, USA

The picture below is of the Yale Hotel, in Yale, Michigan, a small town north of Detroit, not to be confused with the famous New England University town. The hotel was opened in 1901 and is the oldest building in Yale. It was built by Thomas Rapley, who was also a lumberjack, hence the large saws on the wall in the interior. Thomas originally emigrated to Strathroy, Ontario, Canada. Strathroy is located to the west of the city of London, Ontario sandwiched on a peninsula of land between the great lakes of Huron and Erie. To their west lies the USA border, which unusually between the USA and Canada, runs north to south following the St Clair River. The St Clair River connects Lake Huron to the much smaller Lake St Clair. Detroit is located on the west bank of Lake St Clair and the Detroit River connects Lake St Clair to Lake Erie. At the northern mouth of the St Clair River, Sarnia is located on the Ontario east bank and Port Huron on the Michigan west bank. It is in this geographical area, where the emigrating Rapleys were located.

Thomas was born in Wisborough Green, a small village in West Sussex, UK on 15th March 1826 and he died in Yale, Michigan on 20th February 1906. His grand parents were William Rapley and Ruth Court. William was born in Rudgwick, West Sussex on 1st December 1738 and Ruth was born in the nearby village of Kirdford on 25th January 1756. They were married in Kirdford on 24th April 1774. This is St John the Baptist church in Kirdford. William died on 5th December 1825 in Fittleworth, West Sussex and Ruth died on 13th December 1838 in Kirdford.

William and Ruth had a large family, but I am only going to follow the two lines that link my family to Thomas in this blog. The two sons in question were James Rapley, born Fittleworth, West Sussex on 4th March 1781 (my 4 x Great Grand Uncle) who emigrated to Strathroy, Ontario and Thomas Rapley, also born in Fittleworth on 20th October 1782 (my 4 x Great Grandfather). James married Mary Collins (1783-1831) on 3rd June 1805 in Pulborough, West Sussex and it was their son Thomas mentioned at the start of this blog, who emigrated to Canada. Thomas married Ann Hurst (1781-1894) on 28th December 1802 in Kirdford.

If we follow my line first, Thomas and Ann, had another large family, but I am going to concentrate on two of the children.  Rhoda Rapley (1813- 1864 both Kirdford) married David Holden (1809-1880) on 4th January 1831 in Kirdford. They were my 3 x Great Grandparents. My lineage from Rhoda after marrying David Holden is detailed in the blog page “The Elliotts of West Sussex”. Rhoda had eight other siblings, but Hannah Rapley (1st May1808 Wisborough Green – June 1884 Petworth) married George Sopp on 18th May 1829 in Kirdford. In the 1871 census George Sopp aged 68 was living with his wife Hannah, daughter Fanny aged 39 and brother-in-law Steven Rapley aged 55 (who was described as a lunatic). Also, living with them was widower and father-in-law Thomas Rapley aged 88 and, as noted above, my 4 x Great Grandfather. I have a DNA connection to Peter Sopp, my fourth cousin once removed, who is descended through the Sopp line back to Thomas Rapley. This helps to cement all of this paper research in place.

Turning now to James’ line, Thomas was one of six children. William, Charlotte, James W., David and Lucy were his siblings. Thomas married Emma Cooper (born 21 January 1826, Graffham, West Sussex – 7th September 1913 Yale, Michigan) on 19th June 1846 in Adelaide Township, Ontario. Pictures of Thomas and Emma follow:

Thomas and Emma crossed the border into Michigan in 1868 and bought a plot of land to commence their logging business between Yale and Brockway to the south. This was evidently successful and provided the funds to eventually build the Yale Hotel, which at one time was named the Rapley House Hotel. There were eleven children from this marriage and one of the daughters, Mary Rapley, who was born in 1853 on a farm in Old Brockway (presumably the lumber business) was featured in a newspaper on her 84th birthday on 10th February 1937 and again on her 87th birthday in 1940, the year she passed away on 23rd November. In 1937 the newspaper confirmed that three of her siblings were still living, Mrs Frank Hill, Avoca, Mrs George Hull, Fargo and William J. Rapley, Port Huron. Mary married Arthur Patrick Hennessy on 29th April 1874 and they had four children, Maude (married Alex Pollock), Lilian May (married Charles Palmer), J. A. Hennessy and Herbert T. Hennessy. Her husband passed away and she married Miles Simmons on 4th August 1908. I have a DNA connection to Theodore Sommer, a 6th Cousin, who is descended through Lilian May Hennessy back to William Rapley, which confirms the accuracy of this line of my research and also confirms the link to my branch of the Rapley family.

I have a significant amount of research on the Rapleys, in the UK, Canada and USA, but as the families were large, I have had to concentrate on how they linked into my family for this blog page. I am finishing with a Thru Lines extract that shows the DNA Connections and this is an excellent feature from Ancestry.

Post – Finns in the USA

I had a comment recently from Scott Brown on my “Finns of County Mayo” blog page. We have exchanged some information and he is descended from Bridget Finn who emigrated from Ireland to the USA in 1901, making her home in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was born in 1881 in the Cloontia, Mayo area along with the rest of her siblings. Three of her sisters also emigrated to Cincinnati, Mary Agnes Finn born 1883, Katherine Finn born 1885 and Ann Finn born 1886. Bridget married Bernard John Gorman in 1908 and Mary Agnes married Patrick Joyce in 1909. Katherine married William P. Lantry and Ann married Charles Ziegler. This picture shows the four Finn sisters in 1955. The Finn name disappeared from Cincinnati because of these marriages.

Back in Ireland their parents were James (Seamus) Finn (1860? – 1932 Cloontia) and Ann (Nancy) Finn (1845 Croyhill -1938 Cloontia), who were married on 13th February 1879. There were four sons besides the four daughters mentioned above. They were Thomas Finn (born 1889 Cloontia), James Finn (1887 – 1969), Patrick Finn (1893 Cloontia to 29th July 1917 Lake Erie) and Matthew Finn (1895 Cloontia to 1901 Cloontia). Patrick arrived at Ellis Island on 25th March 1911 and gained work as a chauffeur. Whilst vacationing, he visited relatives in the Cleveland area and, unfortunately drowned in Lake Erie. James married Marie McGeever (1891-1973) and they had seven children.

One of these children was Thomas Finn (28th April 1919 – 24th July 2019, aged 100) who wrote the paper about the residents of Cloontia featured in my blog page “More on Grandad Finn’s Family”. He married Kathleen Farrell in 1948 and there are four sons and five daughters listed on his obituary notice along with the mention of thirty grandchildren and twenty-seven great grandchildren.

I have a DNA connection to Jess Bazeley of Cincicinnati. Her grandmother, Mary Louise Ziegler (born 1916, Harrison, Ohio), married Fred Bazeley. Mary Louise was the daughter of Charles Ziegler and Ann Finn. Maribeth Samoya, sister of Scott Brown, sent her brother the same information, which he passed on to me. This means I have a connection as a distant cousin with, at least, James Finn (1860?-1932), and all of his offspring in the USA, plus, in all probability, further connections to his family back in Ireland that are yet to be established. James’ father was Patrick Finn, known as ‘Patch’, who was born and raised in Cloontia, County Mayo and who married Dorothy Doherty.

My great grandfather Luke Finn married my great grandmother Bridget Phillips in the Sacred Heart of Mary (picture above), in the village of Bunninaddan, church on 2nd February 1887. They were the parents of my maternal grandmother Kate Finn (1896-1995). One of the witnesses was Patt Finn, but I know nothing about him. He could be either a brother or other relative of Luke Finn – further research is needed. Their marriage certificate extracted record is below.

I have been in contact, because of another DNA connection, to Michael C. Pecora. He has traced his line back to Ireland, via Thomas Finn (1845 – 16th August 1903, both Kiltycreen), who married Ellen Gorman on 16th December 1865 in the above church. They had a large number of children and I have DNA links to two of them – Matthew Finn (22nd March 1881 Kiltycreen – 18th March 1945 Cook County, Illinois) who married Ann Lynch (born Bury, Lancashire, UK) on 21st May 1936 from the Pasquini tree on Ancestry and Matilda (Tilly) Finn (13th July 1891 Kiltycreen – 14th December 1951 Philadelphia) from Michael C. Pecora’s tree. Tilly married Patrick Scott and is recorded in the 1940 USA census, with six children. Other siblings of Matthew and Tilly, who emigrated to the USA, were Catherine (Kate) Finn (29th January 1870 Kiltycreen – Philadelphia), Mary Anne Finn (14th April 1871 Gurteen, Sligo – 26th September 1916 Philadelphia), Patrick Finn (17th March 1875 Kiltycreen – 6th January 1921 New York), and Emily Finn (18th August 1888 Kiltycreen – New York). All of these need further exploration. The dates and locations in this paragraph are from Michael C. Pecora’s research and the data cannot be verified because it has not been uploaded to Ancestry.

Going back a generation, John Finn (1796 Cloontia – 5th October 1877) married Catherine Kane (1813 – 7th January 1894) in 1823, probably in the Cloontia area). Apart from their sons Thomas (1845-1903) and Patrick (1831? – 1881) mentioned above, a number of other siblings have been suggested where further research is needed. There must be a link to my Finn family, a generation or two back, because of the DNA results I have been able to trace.

I have concentrated this blog page on the Finns who reached Cincinnati, because of the information provided by Scott Brown. I have not provided any further details of the Gormans, Joyces, Lantrys or Zieglers, because this blog is primarily about tracing my family connections, being Finns in this case. Some of my distant cousins related to those in this blog who emigrated to the USA, emigrated to Australia and New Zealand and that is also a further topic for research.

Another amusing fact about Cincinnati. I had a long stopover there on my way back to the UK after the initial flight from Tampa, Florida. At least, I thought, I have briefly visited Ohio, a state I have never set foot in. However, Cincinnati airport is south of the Ohio River in northern Kentucky, so I still have never set foot in Ohio, but as this is my only claim to have ever visited Kentucky, I will just have to settle for that!