Daly, Cook and Quigg

Daly Family

The Daly family, John and Mary, immigrated to the United States from Ireland as young people.  Sometime between 1855 and 1860, they purchased a farm just outside of Cleveland in an area commonly referred to as Reed Tract.  After establishing their farm, they later sent for their nephew, John Cook, also from Ireland.  Although he appears as a resident of the Daly farm only on the 1865 census, it’s most likely that he arrived in late 1860 to early 1861, as he enlists in the Union Army in October of that year.

Although there isn’t a lot of information known about the Daly family, tragedy seems to transcend generations and find a life of its own.  My wife’s grandmother, Kathleen Wheeler recollects the following in her memoirs:

[The Dalys] died in the middle of the winter and where not found until sometime later. They both took sick, it was possibly the food, I don’t know. Neither of them was well enough to tend the fire and the fire went out. Somebody finally noticed that there was no smoke coming out of the Chimney anymore and they were found frozen to death. [2]

Based on my research, this appears to be a partial truth.  John Daly appears last in the 1870 census and Mary Daly is listed as a widow in the 1875 census.  This falls in line with the following obituary provided to me by Charlene Weed:

Daly, Jon – An old man, residing some distance beyond Unionville, sustained injuries from which he died May 22, 1875.  He was hauling a load of slab wood, when his team starting up over a knoll on one side of the road, caused him to fall off and the load rolled over upon him. [3]

Mary Daly goes to onto live for another nine years in the Daly farm until December of 1884.  Her tragic fate falls in line with Kay’s recollection:

Aged 85 years, [Mary Daly] who lived alone, about a mile above Unionville school house, on Reed Tract, was found dead Tuesday morning, December 20, 1884, about 10 o’clock.  She was lying on a tick that was on the floor, with an old woolen blanket wrapped around her, and the body was yet warm.[2]

John C. Cook

John Cook Portrait (Jim and Anita Wheeler)

Very little is known of John Cook’s early days prior to his arrival in Constantia about 1861.  Almost immediately after coming to the Daly farm, John enlisted in Cleveland, New York with the U.S. Union Army on October 26, 1861 and was mustered in on October 30th of the same year to the 97th Regiment, New York Infantry, Company G.

Initial research indicates that the 97th Regiment fought on June 3, 1862 at Catlett’s Station, VA and on August 22, at an undisclosed location before moving on to fight at Bull Run, VA on August 31, 1862. Based on the John Cook’s military discharge date, it is most probable that he was injured in one of the first two battles.  He was mustered out of Washington D.C. on August 28, 1862 from U.S. General Hospital in Washington, D.C. due to “disabilities” acquired to both legs.

After returning from the war, John took up residence in Haverstraw, Rockland County, New York.  He took up work in a local factory, eventually becoming an accomplished brick layer.  This is, to the best of our knowledge, where he met and married Mary Francis McDermott.

[Mary Francis McDermott] had come over [to the United States] with her mother.  Mary’s father sent for her grandmother and her mother to come over.  He sent money for them to come by ship.  When they got to New York, they found that the husband and the father had been dead for a month and had been buried.  [Mary’s] mother spoke no English, only Gaelic.  Her daughter was old enough to have gone to school for a year or two and had been taught English and she interpreted.

The people, the landlord, where her husband had been staying at the address she had been given for him, managed to get her a job cooking for some very wealthy people in New York.  They stayed there and when the mother got ill, [Mary] stayed and took care of her.  I think it was cancer but I’m not sure … I don’t know how she met John Cook.  I never heard that story. [2]

Unfortunately, John’s wife was stricken with cancer.  Mary McDermott’s battle with the disease was not short lived and her daughter, Mary Cook, took care of her ailing mother until her death.  One can surmise that the years took their toll on John and the family.

After Mary McDermott’s death, John and Mary came back to visit the Daly farm in Reed Tract, which John inherited upon Mary Daly’s death.  The old Daly farm was located next to the Quigg family.  It’s here that Mary Cook became acquainted with Joseph Quigg and the two were married shortly after.

The farm, which was in the Reed Tract District of Cleveland, is where nanny came one summer with her father and met Joe Quigg.  They fell in love and where married.  They had the five children: Edward, Rose, Marion, Joseph, and Agnes.  Rose is my mother. [2]

Joseph Quigg had been known as a heavy drinker and, according to Kathleen Wheeler, he had tried on many occasions to have Mary take the children and move back to Haverstraw with him and the family, but Mary was resolute in her marriage vows.  In an attempt to convince her to leave the farm and in failing health, John Cook returned to Cleveland around 1898 to live with his daughter and her family.

Unfortunately, tragedy would again strike in June of 1900.  The Rockland County Times describes John Cook’s death as follows:

Mr. John Cook, a well-known citizen of this village, having resided here for many years, died at his farm in Cleveland, Oswego County, recently.

Mr. Cook has been in failing health for some time from an affection of the heart.

He was an industrious, reliable citizen and was the owner of considerable real estate.  Some time since he acquired the farm in Oswego County and when his health failed him he went there to live with his daughter, Mrs. Joseph Quigg.  He went to the barn to collect the chicken eggs and was overtaken with attack of heart failure and died before medical aid could reach him. [4]

However, Kathleen Crouch indicated that his death may have been intentional.  Subsequent research has validated her version of his death in articles from the Syracuse Daily Journal, Rome Daily Sentinel, and the DeRuyter Gleaner, all similar to the obituary from the Utica Observer (below).  This leads me to believe that the obituary in the Rockland County Times may have been slightly altered to avoid indicating that John’s death was suicide.

Cleveland, N.Y., June 21 – John Cook, aged 60, an old and respected resident of this place and a veteran of the Civil War, committed suicide by hanging himself yesterday morning.  He arose at about 8 o’clock as usual, prepared and ate his breakfast and after calling his daughter and giving her a cup of coffee, left the house and was not seen again.  His son-in-law, Joseph Quigg, having occasion to visit the barn about 8 o’clock, was horrified at finding him hanging to a post by a small strap.

Coroner W.G. Babcock was summoned and after an examination pronounced an inquest unnecessary.  The cause was probably despondency. [4]

The following recollections of Mary’s family is as follows:

Mary Cook Quigg (Jim and Anita Wheeler)

[John Cook’s death] was a great tragedy which must have been a traumatic time for nanny.  She had the priest come and bless the barn and the house, but it was still rough.  But she stuck it out on the farm and tried to raise her brood of kids.  She had one right after the other, five of them.  It was Edward, my mother, Agnes, Joseph and Marion.

Nanny had a very hard life in Cleveland bringing up five children.  Her husband, Joseph, although still around, was a hard drinker and poor provider.  He was not there when he was needed.  Nanny knew nothing about farming and had to muggle through bringing the children up on the farm.  But her mother-in-law, Nancy McNaulty, was a very capable person.  She was sort of the midwife in Cleveland.  She took care of women as they had their babies.  The story went that she was working in the field and went into the house to have her own baby and was then back out in the field.  I believe that was added by somebody at one time or another, but she had her baby by herself and took care of him.  She was also midwife for nanny to all the kids except Butsy (Joseph).  They had to have a doctor come for Joe.  He was too big a baby and she couldn’t get him thru.

She finally got a job in the hotel there, maybe as a cook, I’m not sure.  She’d leave early in the morning so the little kids would get themselves off to school on their own.  I remember my mother saying that they would set the bread before they went to school so when they got home they could bake the bread.  They would send the chickens, one at a time over to the mother-in-law’s.  Instead of chopping the head off, she’d just ring its neck and give it to the kids to take home and dress down.  Nanny had no idea how to go about a chicken.  There was a cow and they’d have to get her to come over to milk the cow, she had no idea.

Edward said, when they were big enough to go to school, the three oldest ones, they brought the books home to nanny and she read to them every night.  She read them every book in the school library, which probably wasn’t very big.  This made readers of them all too.  When your parents read to you, it makes you want to read.  That was a very fond memory that Edward had of his mother.

I can remember by mother telling me that she had two blouses and a surged skirt.  She would wash her blouse every night and get up the next morning to iron it.  My mother was always very particular about clothes.  Aunt Lucy, nanny’s sister, used to send them clothes.  At Christmas time, she would send a huge box with oranges and apples and goodies like that, plus presents for all.  Nanny said they always had a nice Christmas because of her sister Lucy.  It was most appreciated and it was a big occasion when the Christmas box came from nanny’s sister.

Agnes and Rose had lots of tales to tell about their childhood.  They lived in what they called the Reed Track part of the Village of Cleveland and that’s where they went to school.  A one room school house.  They used to go to bed as soon as it got dark because they didn’t have the kerosene for the lamps.  Agnes and my mother would write all of this poetry stuff at night.  Kids think they have a happy childhood.  Money and things don’t mean that much to children.  It’s the love that they’re surrounded with that makes for a happy childhood. [2]

The Quigg family continued to reside on the Reed Tract farm until approximately 1914 when life took them out of the area.  Mary Cook Quigg passed away in her sleep on April 5th, 1956 in Syracuse.  She was buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oswego next to her son, Edward.


[1] Photos provided by Jim and Anita Wheeler
[2] K. C. W. a. W. F. Wheeler, In Their Own Words, Limited ed., G. M. Comins, Ed., GMSC Productions, 2012.
[3] C. Weed, Personal Correspondence, 2012.
[4] Utica Observer, Veteran Hanged Himself: Was Despondent and Took His Life for That Reason, Utica, New York, 1900.
[5] Ancestry.com, “Oswego and Madison Counties,” U.S. Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865, p. 97, 22 June 1863.
[6] Ancestry.com, “New York; Rockland County; Town of Haverstraw,” 1890 Veterans Schedule, pp. ED#93, Line#40, 1890.
[7] Ancestry.com, “New York; County of Oswego; Town of Constantia,” 1900 United States Federal Census, pp. ED#107, SD#13, 4B, 6 June 1900.
[8] Rockland County Times, John Cook, Rockland, New York, 1900.
[9] “New York; John Cook,” Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900, p. 479.
[10] Ancestry.com, “New York; Rockland County; Town of Haverstraw,” 1880 United States Federal Census, pp. ED#51, SD#4, Sheet#25, Line#10-13, 9 June 1880.
[11] Syracuse Journal, “War Veteran Hangs Himself,” Syracuse Journal, p. 3, 21 June 1900.
[12] Rome Daily Sentinel, “Suicide at Cleveland,” Rome Daily Sentinel, p. 3, 22 June 1900.
[13] DeRuyter Gleaner, “County and Vicinity,” DeRuyter Gleaner, 28 June 1900.

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