The following is a life history of the grandmother of Mrs. Albert Myers (Veronica Flynn) of Lowell, Michigan, daughter of Hannah Delaney and John Flynn. The letter was located by her in 1963 and copied as nearly as possible.
Mrs. John Delaney, who died in Vergennes December 9, 1901 and was buried by the side of her husband, John Delaney, at Parnell, deserves more than a bare statement of her death and burial or a mere passing notice. A large circle of sorrowing friends followed her remains from her home of over 60 years to the grave.
Mary Delaney (formerly Conaty) was born in the County Westmeath, Ireland, on May 2, 18805, then a few miles from Dunganan Castle where Arthur, Duke of Wellington (Wellsleys) was born and Oliver Goldsmith, whose names have become historic. The Conatys were land owners and were graduated form the famous Trinity College, Dublin, but becoming dissatisfied with the laws of the government (English Rule) the subject of this sketch and her brother Thomas Conaty left their oppressed country and came to the land of the free.
They embarked (or took shipping) at Liverpool on the Lady of the Wave in September 1830, and after a stormy voyage of three months their vessel almost a complete wreck on account of the Equinox at that period of the year, they landed in New York, then a small city. The voyage is now made in five days, but the mighty age of steam was then unknown.
After remaining in New York City a short time, she went to Lansingburg, a small hamlet in New York where she married John Delaney in 1831. After remaining there a short time, and her husband finding employment in repairing locks on the Erie Canal around Lockport and in 1833, they went to Buffalo and started to Detroit on the Brig Hunter and went to Buffalo and started to Detroit on the Brig Hunter and on New Years Day in 1834, they landed in Detroit strangers in a strange land and with no means but pluck and energy.
Detroit, Mrs. Delaney told the writer, was a small French village retaining its French characteristics of its founder De-LaMotte Cadillac. There were but few highways or roads in the territory of Michigan in those early days. Her husband obtained work under General [unreadable] constructing a military road for defensive movements to keep the Indians in check. The subject of this sketch cooked for the men that were employed in the construction of that famous road afterward called the Territorial Road.
She loved to recall those early incidents and tall anecdotes of a famous lawyer by the name of O’Keefe, who took an active part in the early laws of the territory of Michigan when this state was admitted into the Union and the old 13 doubled to 26 in ’37 and the trouble of the Toledo war was over and the law passed the legislature for Internal Improvement for the State to borrow five million of dollars for the improvements of roads, canals, and navigable waters and the boy Governor Stevens F. Mason as he was then called, the first Governor.
The Michigan Central Railroad was one of the first improvements her husband was engaged under Col. Berrien, the first chief engineer, as a contractor while she was employed as a general cook for the hands that were employed on that historic road. She told the writer that she saw the first locomotive - and her husband helped to unload it – that came to Michigan. It was brought from Erie Pennsylvania in a schooner. It was different from the modern kind having but one set of drive wheels it did noble work in hauling freight from Detroit to Ann Arbor in those early days. It was hauled from the landing place across a marsh now the city of Detroit by several yoke of oxen to the track.
She loved to talk about those early days and a bet that was made between the citizens of Ypsilanti and Col. Berrien that the road would not be completed so that a passenger train would arrive at that place 1838. The rails were made of wood with a strap of iron nailed on the top (called snake heads) and when within 7 miles from Ypsilanti the iron ran out. The engine got along alright until it got out of iron, when the snow and ice caused it to slip and it could not be made to move ahead and to add to the difficulty it ran out of fuel and water. The company hired ox teams and a span of horses and hauled the engine and passenger car and won the bet. She was on that historic train and one of the first lady passengers that rode on the MCRR until 1842.
HER PIONEER LIFE IN MICHIGAN
Her husband took up from the government by land warrants earned for his services as contractor on MCRR and was coming on the slow stage coaches from Battle Creek via Yankee Springs and Thornapple and then afoot thence to the northern part of Vergennes, following an Indian trail to her future home. Home, then a wilderness, they built a log cabin in the woods and John Delaney went back to the MCRR to finish a job he had contracted, leaving his wife and two children to get along the best they could while he was absent.
She would walk from the place to Thornapple, now Ada, to mail a letter to her husband and in a week later to get a replay from it and pay 2 shillings postage. For those early days there was one church or priest nearer than Grand Rapids on the west side an Indian Mission, The Rev. Andrew Visosky. And her eldest daughter, Eliza, now Mrs. Sheridan, of Obrarion (Oberon?), Ontario. They traveled that distance on foot and carried the child as there were no bridges that crossed the old Owashtenong, the Grand, in a canoe paddled by Indians. She is the last of the survivors of the 13 who organized the parish of St. Patrick’s of Parnell in September 1844 and her husband worked on that historic church (now a warehouse). She was a devout Christian woman in her pew every Sunday throughout the year in the summer heat and winter cold. She assisted largely and contributed generously in building four churches in Parnell, two being burned down.
She was the mother of eight children, two dying quite young, and six growing to manhood and womanhood. James was engaged in lumbering and a superintendent for Delos A. Blodgett of Hershey, now deceased. Eliza married to John Sheridan an agriculturist living near Sandwitch, Canada, William (deceased), Michael (deceased), Mary, married to Michael McAndrews on the old Homestead where Mrs. Delaney died. Hannah married to John Flynn in business in the Village of Lowell.
Grand old pioneer mother, almost a Centenarian, 97, around a long eventful life. How many associations cluster. The grandest scenes in the history of Kent County have been enacted, I might say Michigan. She has lived to see generations of men come and go. She was the last leaf on the tree of the Pioneers of Vergennes.
Patiently, and with full confidence in the Divine Redeemer, she awaited the welcome summons. For this grand pioneer to put on immortality and like many of those who have gone before her she leaves the rich heritage of a good mother to her family and a counselor to friends and was ever ready to overlook the faults of others. These traits endeared her to a large circle of friends and is the best legacy to the history of those early days in Michigan in which she has taken such an active part and in memory over her tomb no trophies raise.
Later generations will know the manner of men and women they were that laid the foundation of these communities and how worthy they are of our respect and memory and with words of kindness for the living and respect for the dead I close the history of this grand pioneer who rests from her labors and her good work follows her and we hope being found faithful in a few things. She will be placed over many, Enter Thou in the Joy of the Lord.
O. William Farrell
Sec’y of Pioneer Society
Grand River Valley