In 1851 a twenty-year-old named John P. Roane crossed the Atlantic to America from County Galway, Ireland. With him was a brother, Patrick Roane, and a sister, Hannah Roane, all lived and worked for a time in the bustling industrial city of Lowell, Massachusetts. Patrick and Hannah both spent time working as operatives in the world-renowned textile mills. Patrick took a wife and daughter to Iowa in 1856 to farm land lately cleared of Native American inhabitants.
John owned a grocery business at the corner of Gorham and Summer streets, where he also housed his wife Mary (Hurney) and five children between 1860 and 1869 when he died at the age of 38, most likely, of the tuberculosis that carried his sister Hannah off in 1866. A lot of happened in that span of time. Babies were born and babies died. The very nation went to bloody war with itself. John struggled to maintain his business and his family in failing health. He left a legacy in Lowell, but he died in a place called Colmanstown in County Galway, where he, and his siblings were probably born.
The family portrait above was taken around 1913 and centers on Irish immigrant, Mary Hurney Roane O’Neil who survived two husbands and seven of the eight children she bore. Behind her stands John F. Roane, Senior (1861-1942), a letter carrier for 40 years. His wife, Mary Josephine Donohue, died in 1900 and the eldest child, Mollie Roane (1890-1980), became mother to these five boys. Standing: James P. H. Roane, Senior (1895-1960); George E. Roane (1897-1961); Paul J. Roane (1891-1944). Flanking their grandmother are twins, John F. Roane, Junior (1893-1941) and Francis “Peach” Roane (1893-1942). Missing from this group is Mary’s other grandchild, William Samuel Robinson (1896-1958), son of Sarah L. Roane (1868-1899) and William J.Robinson (1868-1932).
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