Gallagher sisters & Family, The Valley, Achill Island to Cleveland, Ohio (via Quebec)
Bridget “Elizabeth” Gallagher-Sammon and Anna Gallagher-Laird
Bridget Gallagher was born on November 25, 1874 in Tonatanvalley (The Valley), Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland. Her sister, Anna, was born two years later on December 12, 1876. The girls were known as “Bridgie Rhua” and “Anna-Rhua” for their red hair.
The sisters were born to Anthony Gallagher of Clare Island and Anne McManamon of Achill Island. They were baptized at Dookinella Roman Catholic Church, the same church where their parents had married in February 1874. Bridget’s baptism sponsors were Patrick and Judy Grealis, and Anna’s sponsors were Martin and Honor McManimon.
Bridget and Anna were only four and two years old respectively when their father passed away in 1879. Two years later, their mother married James Dugan at Dookinella Church. In 1883, the family emigrated from Blacksod Bay, just north of Achill, aboard the S/S Scandinavian as part of the Tuke Emigration scheme. They arrived at Grosse Ile, Quebec, Canada on May 3, 1883. After crossing into the United States at Detroit, Michigan, the family made its way to Cleveland where other Achill friends and relatives already lived.
The Dugan family eventually settled in the Angle, an Irish neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side. On December 13, 1892, 18-year-old Bridget married Cleveland-born Thomas Sammon at St. Malachi’s Church. The witnesses were James Hugh and Julia McManamon. Thomas Sammon worked as a machinist at Midland Steel in Cleveland. In America, Bridget went by the name Elizabeth or “Liz” for short. Her name was listed as Lizzie Gallagher on the civil marriage record, but she was listed by her baptismal name, Bridget, on the church record.
Upon her marriage, Bridget moved into the home of her in-laws, Martin and Maria (Fox) Sammon, who were both immigrants from Newport, County Mayo. The home was located on Root Street (now West 47th Street) in St. Patrick’s parish. Thomas and Bridget Sammon had four children: Marie Violet Sammon-Sullivan (b. 1894), Thomas Gabriel Sammon (b. 1897), Ann Geraldine Sammon-Kirby (b. 1901), and Ursula Germaine Sammon-Kelley (b. 1909).
Bridget’s sister, Anna Gallagher began working in the restaurant business in Cleveland in the late 1890s and later moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where she lived for more than 50 years. She married a stage actor named Major Laird in 1904 and was widowed 10 years later. Anna was the head-waitress at Heilig’s Restaurant on the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk for many years. She met many dignitaries and celebrities while working at Heilig’s. She also traveled frequently and owned property back in Cleveland.
During most of her time in Atlantic City, Anna lived at the Wellington Apartments, right across the street from Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey. In her later years, she returned to Cleveland and lived with the family of her niece, Ursula Sammon-Kelley.
Bridget Gallagher-Sammon passed away on June 16, 1943 at the age of 68. Her sister Anna Gallagher-Laird died on April 19, 1961 at age 84. The Gallagher sisters were laid to rest in the same family plot at Cleveland’s Calvary Cemetery along with Bridget’s husband Tom, two of their children and a son-in-law. In addition to Bridget Gallagher-Sammon’s four children, her descendants include 22 grandchildren, 76 great grandchildren, and more than 150 great great grandchildren, so far.
Article and photograph kindly sent in by descendant Terry Gallagher, Cleveland.