An American Family History

The Connolly Family

The united counties of Leeds and Grenville are in southern Ontario, Canada on the border with the United States.The county seat is Brockville.

Christopher Fraser Connolly married Anne Jane Byrne about 1842 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Christopher was born about 1819 in Ireland and was the son of Michael and Mary Connolly.

Anne Jane Byrne was born in 1821. Her parents were William Byrne and Sarah Long.

Christopher and Jane's children were born in Montreal:
Michael James Connolly (April 27, 1847, married Keziah Adeline Buell),
Maria Connolly Dwinnell (June 1, 1848, married David Dwinnell),
Christopher Connolly, Jr. (December 22, 1851, married Catherine McLaughlin),
and Ann Jane Connolly (1854, died young).

A Christopher Connolly appeared in the 1852 Montreal Directory. He was a "marketman on the south side canal."

Anne died in 1855 in Montreal and Christopher died in 1856.

Maria and Michael Connolly, were adopted by Samuel Miller in Yonge Mills.

In 1869 Christopher, Jr. and Maria were sponsors at the baptism of Charles Alfred Byrne, son of Sophia Dwinnell Byrne.

Yonge Mills, Ontario was in Front of Yonge Township near Brockville. It is north east of Kingston and north of Watertown, New York. It is now a ghost town. In the mid 19th century, Yonge Mills, was a busy and prosperous village with a population of about 175. It had a sawmill and a fulling mill. There were hotels with taverns and a general store. The village also included two blacksmiths and a church.

The peak period of Irish immigration to Canada was during the Great Famine between 1845-1849. Most immigrants went to Canada because the fares were lower. Ships that reached Canada lost many passengers and even more died while in quarantine. From the reception station at Grosse-Ile, most survivors were sent to Montréal. The typhus outbreak of 1847 and 1848 killed many of the new immigrants. An economic boom following their arrival allowed many men to work in on the expanding railroad, in construction, in the logging industry, or on farms.


The Province of Quebec was founded in 1763 after the Treaty of Paris transferred the colony of Canada from France to Britain.




In the War of 1812 (1812-1815) the United States declared war on England because of trade restrictions, impressment, and British support for Indian attacks. They signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 after reaching a stalemate.

Bernie Warden wrote in 2000:

M.J.[Michael] Connolly was born in urban Québec Apr 26 1847. Can't find any more than that to nail down an exact place. His parents came from County Cork (when? or exactly where in Cork?) They both died quite early as he said he didn't really know his parents. (Probably one of the epidemics raging through the land at that time)  From his cemetery records from Watford ON, we know his parents were Christopher Connolly and Jane Byrne, born in Ireland.

My Grandmother, MJ's daughter, told me the story that, when he was a boy, he and a brother were acting up in church one day (maybe while the Priest was trying to train them to be altar boys?). The Priest told them if they put their hands on the altar it would shrivel right up! So, of course, as soon as he turned his back they did exactly that, with no noticeable shriveling at all. Then my grandmother would turn to me and say "And that's why we aren't Catholic today!"

Michael was adopted by Samuel Miller in Front of Yonge County of Leeds Grenville.This is close to Caintown and Mallorytown. Samuel Miller had a farm that he got as a grant from the Queen for participation in the War of 1812. When Michael was 25 he bought part of the farm from his stepfather and built the house (have picture of the house and will send). We were in the house about 5 years ago where the old lady had kept a "house journal" and I'll send you the first page of that too. She's gone now, but she kept it up as close as possible to what it had been like. Samuel Miller and wife were Methodists, and brought Michael up that way too. They were great believers in Education and did an excellent job of raising young Michael that way too. He taught school and farmed and became the County Clerk and Justice of the Peace. This old lady pointed out the corner of the kitchen where he had his office.

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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