Great Great Grandpa John Spellacy…what a life…

    Born in 1803, six years before Abraham Lincoln and living through the Irish Famine during which he  and his wife Nora (Hartney) lost two little girls named Mary and Anne either in Ireland or on the way over in a famine ship, their oldest boy Matthew survived the trip. They had lived  through the famine in Ireland by emigrating to America (via Canada?) according to the history that I can find in “Centennial History of Coshocton County, Ohio” by William Bahmer in 1909. What happened was this I put in  “John Spellacy Nora Hartney” into the search area on “Google Books” screen and the book on Coshocton popped up. It said;   (Remember this was 1909)

    M. Spellacy

     ” In recent years Coshocton’s development has been rapid. Many business concerns have here found a profitable field and their trade interests are bringing the city into close touch with other parts of the country. Each successful industry should be a matter of pride to the citizens in that it is a factor in the general progress and improvement here. The Spellacy-Raiff Enameling Company is now conducting a prosperous concern in the manufacture of high grade enameled kitchen ware. The President of the company, M. Spellacy was born in Clare County, Ireland, In 1844 and was therefore only about six years of age when in 1850 his parents, John and Nora (Hartney) Spellacy, bought their family to the United States. They located first in Vermont and the father became identified with railroad work there. He lived at various places and after the breaking out of the Civil War engaged in contracting and railroad building, with which he was identified until he reached the evening of life, He died in 1888 at the very respectable age of ninty two years. M. Spellacy began railroad work at an early age, carrying water for the construction crews when but just a lad of ten years. From water boy he gradually worked his way upward until he became a railroad contractor and for some thirty five years was prominently and extensively engaged in railroad construction. During this period he built many miles of railroad and was employed by a number of the leading railroad  companies of  the country. In 1903 he became a factor in development of the oil interest in Harrison County and is still associated with this work, in which he attained a notable measure of success. A man of resourceful ability however, he has not confined his attention to a single line but has engaged in various fields of business enterprise, readily recognizing a favorable opportunity.”   

According to family lore the  Spellacys were known for being very good with horses and when John Spellacy first came to America he worked grading roads with a team of horses…he was in charge of taking care of and getting the work out of the horses. Horses were the “Heavy Construction Equipment” of that day and age to level and create a “roadbed”.   It talks of them being “Contractors” so I imagine they owned the horses and leased them and their services to the Railroad Companies. Ergo Martin Spellacy’s Horse Farm in Alton, Ohio. And from what I’ve read in old newspaper archives online  Matt had a huge place (100 + acres) too. It looks like a horse farm (he was a railroad contractor also) outside Coshocton in Hopedale, Ohio. And when there was oil found on it he sold off his horses and then the land to Standard Oil, and started the Enameling Plant with Raiff in Coshocton.

And another thing,  I can remember my Dad telling a story about how not everyone was happy when Lincoln was elected and about a Aunt on the Spellacy side who got so angry at the election because they this meant war and they knew that their brothers Martin, Matthew and Michael would be at risk and sure enough Matthew though and immigrant was pressed into service unwillingly. So his father John Spellacy according to this moved his family at the start of the Civil War…I’ll bet right after they took Matty away. Anyway John moved the rest of his family to Southeastern Ohio. When Matt left the service his own way and found his family in Southeastern Ohio his next step was to sell horses to the Confederates. I can remember them talking of a useless trunk of Confederate money in the family. Reality bites even in real families and War stinks and It’s wrong to force someone into military service period. They came here from Ireland to stay alive and to have a say in how they lived their own life, they fought enough hard battle just to get here alive they’d lost enough children and weren’t losing any more. They would not to be forced into Military service like in England.  

 We come from a long line of immigrant survivors. And in raising a large family of whom only one married and had children, Jon’s son Michael Spellacy is our Great Grandfather. Family lore says that John was from a place called “Ballykett” in County Clare Ireland. He and his wife Norah (Honora Hartney Spellacy) were married in Cabinteely Parish in Ireland. The records I can find show that at one point his family was living according to a census in Sandusky County and he was a Farmer and residing in the house with him was Norah his wife and the children Matthew, Martin, Michael working for the Railroad and their daughters Sarah, Anna and Kate at home yet.  Now family lore is that Sarah and Anna were fraternal twins. Family stories…the more I read the more real they become part of a history of this country you won’t find in a history book because it’s real it’s family.

5 responses to “Great Great Grandpa John Spellacy…what a life…

  1. This is very interesting…

    • Pretty neat to come from such a wonderful eclectic crew. They were making sure they’re kids made it through no matter what, talk about tough times and survival.

  2. patti robarts

    My great grand father was Timothy Spellacy..I would like to see if we have a connection Timothy had brothers and was connected to oil..he ran for lietenant governor of Calif..I have alot of old pictures he at one time was the advisor to woodrwo wilsons cabinet and I have a large frammed photo signed and in appreciation to timothy for his advisory..The oil industry in Taft Calif has info in there library on spellacy ..I have pictures of his brothers I would love to see if there is a connection ..St Marys Ohio and Pennsylvania are mentioned ..touch basis ..thankyou Patti mother was Florence Spellacy grand daughter of timothy ..Elizabeth was his daughters name and she passed away giving birth to my timothy raised my mom with his children Mary..Edward and elizabeth.Thankyou

    • Dear Patti,
      With a name like “Spellacy” I’m sure we’re related, just how far back is the question. My Great Great Grandfather John Spellacy came over here in 1841 according to his obituary that can be found here in thekatebook. But I spoke with my sister who told me that there is a family story of three brothers from Balleykett-Kilrush area of County Clare Ireland who came over here each at a different time. I like to think that they came over, worked, saved and sent for the next brother and his family. Anyway, the three Spellacy Boys and their families got over here and went on to become the progenitors of three different lines of “Spellacys” in the United States. The ones that went out west to California became the “Gold Spellacys” the ones that went south became the “Oil Spellacys” and those of us that worked the Railroad and Farmed and stayed back in the Midwest and East remain…the “Dirt Spellacys” go figure…! Anyway that’s the family story from here in Ohio. But with our last name “Spellacy” it looks like all roads lead back to County Clare. Good Luck with your search…you already have the beginning and the end ( Golden You!) you just have to fill in the middle dots…my moneys on you. After all… you are decended from the very BEST. Good Luck and let me know.
      Sheila Spellacy Follman

      ***update 7/1/08 upon futher review (I feel like a football replay!) my sister Margaret’s report refers to the three spellacy brothers being called the “Gold Spellacy’s” (california and the klondike), the “Dirt Spellacys” (midwest farmers and railroaders) and the “Tin Spellacys” of colorado….it seems the the Oil Spellacys ARE the same branch as the Gold Spellacys.

    • Dear Patti,
      I have found amongst my papers that my sister Peggy gave me copies of some interesting things. It’s just easier for me to type them into thekatebook because your’s and mine cousins are popping up all over. So take a look…it’s under “Spellacy Papers” I’ll get it on the site today.

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