Michael O'Rourke, Killowen to Cleveland

Just because a man's name is O'Rourke doesn't mean he is from Killowen, County Down. But if he is living on the East side of Cleveland in the early 1900′s, and has an aunt named Mrs Farron, you start to get "suspicious." So it went with this man, whom I came across while working on my own O'Rourkes.

As it turns out, Michael O'Rourke was born Apr 30, 18771 in Ballyneddan, County Down, Ireland, and baptized May 1, the son of William Rourke and Margaret McVeigh. The sponsors at his baptism were James McVeigh and Margaret Rorke.2

His census information in 1900 said that Michael arrived in the United States in 1890,3 and there is a record of a Michael O'Rourke, age 14, arriving in New York aboard the Britannic on May 30 of that year.4

It seems very young for someone to emigrate, but his aunt's husband had just died and the family may have decided she needed someone with her. Also the land records in the Valuation Revision Reports for Ballineddan have a Margaret Rose Rourke taking over occupancy of parcel 6a from a Michael Rourke in 1892.5 I can't tell if this is Michael's family—the civil death records might help—but maybe there were reasons at home why he left also. Someone closer to the family might know.

On February 26, 1901, Michael O'Rourke and Mary McNally were married. They were both living at 24 Everett St, Cleveland, and Michael said he was working as a fireman. His parents' names were on the record; Mary's parents were Michael McNally and Annie Connors.6

By the following year Michael had begun operating a saloon at 900 Payne, Cleveland.7 The address became 3333 Payne after the street reorganization in 1905, and that is where the O'Rourkes remained for the rest of their lives. Their first child Lauretta, apparently misnamed "Ian" on the 1910 Census, was born about 1904. Alice was born in 1906, and Michael J in 1912.8, 9, 10

Michael died on Jan 31, 1919, at the age of forty.11 His death notice reads:

O'Rourke-Michael J., beloved husband of Mary McNally, father of Lauretta, Alice and Michael J. O'Rourke, jr.; died Jan. 31, 1919, at 8:15 p. m. Funeral at Immaculate Conception church at 9 a. m. Tuesday, Feb. 4. Chicago and Peoria, Ill, papers please copy. 1879 -- 1919. Calvary Cemetery Cleveland, Ohio.12

Michael's wife Mary (McNally) O'Rourke died July 29, 1946. They are both are buried in Calvary Cemetery.13


Now how closely were you paying attention? Is Mrs. Thomas Farron really Michael's aunt, just because the census said so? What were her given and maiden names? Why were Michael and his future bride living at the same address when they married? And why did Michael's death notice say ‘Chicago and Peoria papers please copy'?

If these O'Rourkes don't drive me crazier than my own O'Rourkes already have, I will get back to the answers in a coming article.

Continued in Charles and Margaret (O'Rourke) McNally, of Cleveland, Ohio.


  1. "Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FGVX-PPT : accessed 17 Nov 2013), Michael Rourke, 30 Apr 1877; citing Ballinedden, Down, Ireland, reference v 6-2 p 635; FHL microfilm 255978.

2. Transcription of Rourke records in Kilbroney Church Records, received 2009.

3. "United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMCY-WZ8 : accessed 13 Nov 2013), Michel Orourke in household of Thos Farron, ED 25 Precinct C Cleveland City Ward 6, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 3A, family 51, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1241252.

4. New York Passenger Lists at ancestry.com.

5. Valuation Revision Books at http://www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/val12b.htm

6. Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Marriage Records and Indexes, 1810-1973, ancestry.com.

7. Cleveland City Directories at ancestry.com

8. "United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MLD5-S1S : accessed 13 Nov 2013), Michael J O Rourke, Cleveland Ward 12, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States; citing sheet , family 34, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1375183.

9. "United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X434-B5T : accessed 17 Nov 2013), Mary O'Rourke, Cleveland (Districts 1-250), Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0146, sheet , family 64, NARA microfilm publication .

10. Ohio, Birth Index, 1908-1964, at ancestry.com, and Social Security Death Index.

11. "Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X8KW-1QS : accessed 13 Nov 2013), Micheal J Orourke, 31 Jan 1919; citing Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, reference fn 7782; FHL microfilm 1984637.

12. Cleveland Necrology File
was at http://dxsrv4.cpl.org/WebZ/Authorize?sessionid=0&next=/html/obit_start.html&dbchoice=1:dbname=necr&bad=html/authofail.html&style=noframe

13. "Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X6BH-KLQ : accessed 14 Nov 2013), Michael Mcnally in entry for Mary A O' Rourke, 29 Jul 1946; citing , reference Certificate; FHL microfilm 2372812.

My Old Ohio Home
Most of the information here is about my family or my wife’s, or about families with ties to Cleveland, Ohio, or the area near Rostrevor and Kilkeel in County Down, Ireland. There are also some unrelated families included that I came across. Whatever the case, I hope the material is helpful in your own research.
-- Ed Hamilton