The Life of Michael Lowry
Last Updated: 5 January 2022
Like so many other souls, Michael Lowry is a man who crammed onto a ship out of Ireland in the late 1840s and early 1850s to escape the horrors of a great famine that was sweeping over the land. Potatoes, the staple crop of the Irish poor, were failing due to blight while leaving the population starving and destitute. As a result, tens of thousands of men, women, and children would leave Ireland for places near and far: England, Australia, and the United States. Michael was in the latter group, who by most accounts arrived in 1850. His tale of an Irishman escaping the famine may seem familiar, but perhaps it’s too common.
Though numerous types of records have been discovered about Michael’s life, details of his arrival to the United States, including the date, the departure port, and arrival port, remain unknown. In addition, records of his earliest years in Ireland have proven difficult to locate. Nevertheless, we know that he settled down, raised a family, and had extended family that cared for him in his advanced age.
The earliest identified source that includes Michael Lowry is the 1860 U.S. Census. Michael Lowry, aged 30, was a coal miner living in Carbon Township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. He lived with his wife Bridget, aged 34. Both were born in Ireland. Three children were enumerated in the home, Mary, aged 6; Edward, aged 5; and Ann, aged 3. They were all born in Pennsylvania, and the enumerator indicated they had attended school in the previous year. This fact would indicate that they immigrated no later than 1854.
Living on the property next door was Michael’s sister, Mary (aged 22), and her husband, John Burns, a 30-year-old coal miner. Two children are listed, Henry (aged 4) and John (aged 2). Also in the Burns household are Daniel Conley and John Conley, 27- and 22-year-old coal miners, respectively. All adults were born in Ireland, while the children were born in Pennsylvania.
Also living nearby in Carbon Township were John Lowry (aged 50) and Mary Lowry (aged 70). John was reportedly a laborer instead of a coal miner, unlike the other adult men in the Lowry family. Both John and Mary were born in Ireland. No values were provided for their estate or personal property. It’s believed that Mary is the mother of Michael Lowry (b. 1830) and Mary (b. abt 1839).
Of course, breaking out in 1861 was the American Civil War. At the age of 30 in Pennsylvania, a man could have served in the Union Army, but whether or not Michael did serve has not been established. The name Michael Lowry of Carbon Township, Huntingdon County, was pulled in the August 17, 1863 draft lottery. However, regiment lists comprised of Huntingdon County men have not been found to include this name. Additionally, pension files for Michael Lowry have not been located.
Sometime between 1860 and 1870, Michael moved the family to Salineville, Jefferson, Ohio. In 1870, 40-year-old Michael remained a coal miner while Bridget kept the house. The eldest daughter was Mary (aged 16). Fifteen-year-old Edward worked in the coal mines while Anna (aged 13), Margaret (aged 9), and Michael (aged 5) were at home. Anna does not appear in the 1860 Census as one would assume, indicating a mistaken age, or she is not a daughter of Michael and Bridget. John Connley is also in the household, a 23-year-old coal miner born in Ireland. It’s unknown if he is related to the Conley men living with the Burns in 1860.
On 5 Jun 1872, Michael’s name would appear on the delinquent tax list published in The Huntingdon Journal. The county treasurer reported that he owed $1.65 in taxes for 1869 and 1870 on one seated lot in Carbon Township. John Burns, perhaps the neighbor in the 1860 Census, owed $1.50 for one lot and house.
In 1880, the Lowrys moved north to Salem Township, outside Leetonia, Columbiana, Ohio. Michael Lowery (aged 55; note he aged 15 years between 1870 and 1880) and Bridget (aged 56) lived with 16-year-old Michael. The men were coal miners while Bridget kept the home. Neither of the parents could read or write, but Michael’s limited education made that untrue for him. Living just four or five houses away was Michael’s daughter Mary, but this time married to John P. Boyle and the mother of three boys, Edward (aged 6), Arthur (aged 4), and John (aged 2). John, born in Ireland, worked in the coal mines, like his father-in-law and young brother-in-law Michael Jr. Also living in Salem Township was Michael’s daughter Margaret (aged 19), now married to Edward Lanahan (aged 25), and having a one-year-old son, Michael. Edward was born in England to Irish parents, and as the other men in the family, worked as a miner.
Nothing has been yet located to provide details on Michael’s life between 1880 and 1900, but the 1900 U.S. Census found him in Leetonia, where Mike (as he was enumerated) was stated to be 60 years old and working as a day laborer. Perhaps too old for working in the coal mines, or perhaps that work was less available than 20 years earlier, but this is a change for him. Day labor likely provided less steady income than coal mining. His wife, Bridget (aged 69), was again keeping the house. This census record indicates that Michael and Bridget had been married for 40 years. However, 1860 is unlikely the year of their marriage. By 1860, they had three children, Mary, Edward, and Anna, so this is likely an inaccurate approximation. One of the more interesting details in the 1900 Census is that Bridget noted she had five children, but only four of them were living. In fact, all five of Bridget’s children were living in 1900. Four remained in or near Leetonia, but one, Edward, moved west around 1880. He first lived in Colorado before settling in Washington; he died in 1905. It’s possible the family had not heard from him in many years, or some falling out resulted in Bridget not acknowledging him as living. It’s likely impossible to determine the real reason behind this error.
Kinship to Mary has been shown through atDNA and newspaper articles.
What we do not know definitely about Michael is where in Ireland he was born. His death certificate reads, “West Meath.” Given the spacing in the phrase, could that be read as County Westmeath or the western part of County Meath? We can not definitely say.
As additional research is done about Michael’s life, this article will be updated.
Researched with Negative Results
- Family Search, Mortgagor index and mortgagee index, 1786-1891
- Family Search, Deeds, 1786-1866; index to deeds, 1786-1972; misc. index to deeds, 1790-1877 (1/2/2022)
- Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive, searched “Lowery” in Huntingdon County; no new returns other than existing delinquent tax list. (1/2/2022)
 1860 U.S. census, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Carbon Township, Huntingdon Post Office, sheet 89 stamped, 11 handwritten, dwelling 63, family 70, Michael Lowry; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Feb 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1115.
 1860 U.S. census, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Carbon Township, Huntingdon Post Office, sheet 89 stamped, 11 handwritten, dwelling 64, family 71, John Burns; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Feb 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1115.
 1860 U.S. census, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Carbon Township, Huntingdon Post Office, sheet 111 stamped, 32 handwritten, dwelling 188, family 200, John Lowry and Mary Lowry; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 Mar 2021); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 1115.
 “The Draft in the 17th District,” The Globe [Huntingdon, Penn.], 19 Aug 1863, pg 1, col 5-7, “9th Sub-District – Carbon,” line 28 – Michael Lowry; digital image, (https://panewsarchive.psu.edu/lccn/sn83032114/1863-08-19/ed-1/seq-3/#sort=revelance&city=&rows=20&words=Lowry+Michael&language=&sequence=0&lccn=&index=0&date1=&county=Huntingdon&date2=&frequency=&ortext=&proxtext=%22Michael+Lowry%22&year=&phrasetext=&andtext=&proxValue=&dateFilterType=&page=1 : accessed 13 Mar 2021), Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive.
 This author pulled Civil War pension files from NARA I for four Michael Lowrys and did not find a match. Pulled were files for Michael Lowrys that served in the 162nd New York, 39th Pennsylvania, 79th New York, and 47th New York.
 1870 U.S. census, Jefferson County, Ohio, population schedule, Saline Township, Salineville Post Office, sheet 1 (handwritten), dwelling 4, family 5, Michael Lowery; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Feb 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication M593.
 “Prior to 1947, Pennsylvania’s land was categorized as either seated or unseated land.” Herder Spring, 143 A.3d at 363. “Seated land was property that had been developed with residential structures, had personal property upon it that could be ‘levied upon for the tax due[,’] or was producing regular profit through cultivation, lumbering, or mining.” Id. In contrast, unseated land was “wild” or undeveloped land, which “included any land that did not meet the requirements of being seated.” Id.
 “Treasurer’s Sale of Unseated Lands in Huntingdon County,” The Huntingdon Journal, 5 Jun 1872, p. 3, col 6, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania; digital images, Pennsylvania Newspaper Archive, (https://panewsarchive.psu.edu/lccn/sn83032115/1872-06-05/ed-1/seq-3/#sort=revelance&city=&rows=20&words=Lowry+Michael&language=&sequence=0&lccn=&index=1&date1=&county=Huntingdon&date2=&frequency=&ortext=&proxtext=%22Michael+Lowry%22&year=&phrasetext=&andtext=&proxValue=&dateFilterType=&page=1 : accessed 13 Mar 2021).
 1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Leetonia, Columbiana County, Ohio, ED 58, p. 32 (penned), dwelling 285, family 294, Michael Lowry household; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1002; https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed May 2020.
 1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Leetonia, Columbiana County, Ohio, ED 58, p. 33 (penned), dwelling 290, family 298, John P. Boyle household; NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 1002; https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed 1 Jan 2022.
 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Leetonia, Columbiana County, Ohio, ED 30, p. 10B, dwelling 252, family 257, Mike Lowry household; NARA microfilm publication T623, citing FHL microfilm: 1241249; https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed 1 Jan 2022.