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Espey Family of Cookstown

Submitted by:  Suzanne Dickinson
Copyright © 1998 Suzanne Dickinson.  All Rights Reserved.


I am searching for traces of the John Espey family of Cookstown. They left Ireland before 1851 and went to Scotland. They were in PA in 1860.  I am including the information I have. One of my Uncles carried the family name Stewart, the other Hamilton.

1851 Census

Old Monklands, Lanarkshire, Gartshire, Scotland Book 41, page 14

John Espy Head of Household, married 62 yrs. of age, formerly linen weaver

Letter from Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society. Dec. 1996

1860 Census Bloom Township Columbia Co., PA living with wife, daughter and son-in law James and Mary Lenox


Life History of Thomas Espey

Born May 21, 1832 Killiman, One mile from Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, Ireland. 

Father: John Espey b. 1786 On Minola River, Co. Derry, Ireland

Occupation: Linen Weaver

Mother: Martha Magee b. 1779 Caltrum, County Derry, Ireland

Children: to US

Thomas Espey left Ireland in May 1848 and went to Gartsberry, Scotland -- which was eight miles from Glasgow. Worked in the coal mines pushing coal from diggers. The mine was called the Heather Bell and was sunk in a swampy place. The mine was thirty three fathoms deep. One Sunday night the whole mine collapsed and as the men were not working, no lives were lost. The mine was abandonded.

At Gartsberry were sixteen blast furnaces and he secured a job moulding pig iron and worked two years at this and then was employed moulding ballast for vessel. Each moulded ballast unit weighed four hundred and eighteen pounds.

In 1851 he was picked out of thirty two boys to mould two tons of A-1 iron to be taken to the World's Fair at Hyde Park, London, England.

He then went to work for a blacksmithing contractor as an apprentice.  Worked here two years.

Sailed from the decks of Glasgow, Scotland, September 30, 1854. Took passage from Liverpool, England for America October 4, 1854. The passage took thirty one days. The sailing vessel was named the Thornton and carried nine hundred passengers. He was accompanied on this voyage by his mother and father. (Incidentaly although he was the youngest in the family and he paid for the passage of his mother and father.)

The first job he secured in America was carrying a trunk from his boarding house to the NY Central Depot for an old lady.

Went to work for McKelven, Neill and Co. at Bloomsburg, PA at a blast furnace firing boilers and helping at the furnace. Worked here one winter and went to Albany, NY in May 1855 and in August 1855 returned to Bloomsburg, PA to work in the blacksmith shop. Left there on account of a fever and ague and went to Johnstown, Pa to fire boilers in a rolling mill. At this mill there were fifty four double puddling furnaces and six heating furnaces. At this time, he started to learn his trade as a heater. He worked as a helper to the heater on one of the furnaces and after six months applied for a furnace. The boss scoffed at him at first, but an emergency arose when a heater after placing a heat in the furnace imbibed too freely of whiskey leaving the heat in the furnace. He asked to be allowed to draw the heat and made good. Another emergency arose after that and he was given an opportunity on a furnace. He worked here about five years.

While in Johnstown, he married Margaret Kerr and brought her to Elmira.  Came to Elmira in April and went to work for the Elmira Rolling Mill Co. unloading rails while waiting for the mill to open. In May 1861 the mill was started and he secured a furnace in the rail mill. Heated the first rail to be made in the mill. In 1862 went back to Johnstown as the mill at Elmira was not running steadily and worked there until 1864.

From Johnstown he went to Sputendyvil, NY until the fall of 1864 when he returned to Elmira and made the first bar made in the bar mill.  Lived in Elmira continuously until his death in July 1924, at the age of ninety.


I am Thomas's great grand daughter.

Families of interest: Espey, Magee, Lenox, Stewart, Hamilton

Suzanne Dickinson
Owego, NY 13827

How can I get a copy of the book : Images of Cookstown?

Suzanne Dickinson


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