Anna Rodgers (right) with
daughter Nell and granddaughter
Anna Cunningham was born 3 Oct 1845, possibly in Ballymadeerfy Townland, County Down, Ireland, the daughter of James Cunningham and Catherine Devine. The exact date of her birth comes from her granddaughter Nan (Gallagher) Fleming's research. The year matches all of Anna's censuses, including the 1900 census which said August 1845. I was unable to find a baptism record for Ann in the Kilkeel Parish Records, but they are incomplete.
On her marriage record Anna was residing in Ballygowan Townland, but she was working at the time. Her father was listed as a farmer, and there is a James Cunningham in Ballymadeerfy on Griffith's Valuation who was farming. The James Cunningham in Ballygowan was a publican.
James and Catherine (Devine) Cunningham were said to have had a daughter Bridget born in 1837, who married a man named Sloan. In turn the Sloans had a daughter Ellen who married a man named O'Leary. Bridget may be this person found on the list at Ros Davies County Down Website:
Miss Bridget CUNNINGHAM . Kilkeel wife of James Sloane;
mother of Bridget b. 1868 & Sarah b. 1871 CR
The Cunninghams were also said to have had seven sons including their youngest child James. On the 1901 Cenusus of Kilkeel there are a Patrick Cunningham (b. 1866) and a James Cunningham (b. 1857) in Ballymadeerfy, who may be Anna's brothers.
One story that came down in the family about Anna was that prior to marrying Ned, she had been engaged to marry a man named Brennan. That man, or his son, went on to become a Catholic bishop in Cleveland. Wikipedia has a list of all past bishops and associate bishops in Cleveland and there is no Brennan. But enough of the Rodgers' oral tradition has proved true for me to say that there must be something to this story. Maybe Mr Brennan or his son became a monsignor in Cleveland, or a bishop elsewhere.
Anna was working as a "sewer" or seamstress when she was married. She was no slouch at the trade. My mother recalled that Anna could 'go downtown and see a dress in the store window. Then she would go inside and buy the material, go home, and make the dress from scratch, without a pattern.' I have a picture of three of Anna's granddaughters making their First Communion together, about 1923. I don't know if Anna was still sewing, but each of the girls is wearing a different style of dress, so someone probably was.
We started this series on the Rodgers by talking about the reliability of the family's oral tradition, including the story that Anna was a dressmaker. So that seems like a good note to end on as well. I've tried to stitch together their story and retell it as well as I heard it, but something is lost in the written word. I hope you can enliven it in your imagination and that you will pass it on.
Nan (Gallagher) Fleming's research
Transcription of marriage record for Edward Rodgers and Anna Cunningham
1900 Census of Cleveland
Ohio Births and Christenings, familysearch.org
Ohio Deaths and Burials, familysearch.org
For this complete series of articles, see:
Part two: Ned Rodgers: a Fenian in the Family?
Part three: Edward and Anna Rodgers: the Outbound Journey
Part four: Edward and Anna Rodgers: the Cleveland Years
Part five: Ned Rodgers and the Blind Pig