The Irish in Illinois – Cannon/Sweeney/Walsh

Below is the transcript the Sisters of Charity shared with me when I inquired about family history information. My comments are in brackets. I think this is a transcript of my aunt’s family history sometime in the 1930s.

“Grandma Cannon’s maiden name was Sweeney. Her mother’s name was Kelly. She married Grandpa Cannon in Providence, Rhode Island. One or both of our grandparents came from County Leitrim, Ireland and met here in the United States.

Possibly they came here because of the Potato Famine in Ireland in 1845-46.”

“They moved to Illinois. John Henry, the priest, was born in Henry, Illinois. Mary was born in Joliet, Illinois. They were living there when John Henry was ordained in Chicago, Illinois.

The family moved to Chicago and lived in St. Agatha’s Parish, where the twins, Joe and Bill were ushers. The family lived at 598 California Ave. (I am not positive of this address.) [1900 U.S. Census says 592 N. California Avenue] Grandpa was working in the sand and gravel business. This was important then when Chicago was building up.”


James died as an infant [Not to be confused with my uncle James who died about age eight].
John Henry was a priest. He died as pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Pontiac, Illinois in 1932. [John Henry married his sister to James Edward Walsh, Jr. – my grandparents]. Thomas was a dentist. he married Mary Kelly and had three children: Mary Cecilia (Sister Maryanita, BVM), Anita (Sister Mary Shelia, BVM) and Thomas who is the father of ten children. He lives in Milwaukee.”

“Mary was a teacher. She married John Thomas Shields, a grocer in Rock Island, Illinois. He was a widower who had two children by this first marriage: Rev.John T. Shields and Elizabeth Whalen.  Mary’s children were Margaret Mary (Mrs. Raymond E. Diffenderffer) and Anne Catherine (Sister Mary Jean Ellen, BVM) and Helen Esther who died as a twelve-day old infant.”

“Anne married James Edward Walsh [my grandparents]. They lived in Piper City, Illinois. He was mayor of this little town for a time. They had three children: Seraphia Angela (Sister Mary James Ann, BVM), James Ignatius, who died when he was about eight years old, and Ursula Natalie (Mrs. James Dorcy) [sic] my parents, should read Dorsey]. They [Anne and James Walsh] went to Europe for their honeymoon which was most unusual for those days. When Father John got his first parish in Farmer City, Illinois, Anne went to keep house for him and she played the organ in the church.”

“Twins: William Patrick, a medical doctor, married Sophie Benoit. They had a daughter, Helen (Mrs. George Kuzma).  He practiced in Kankakee, Illinois. Joseph married Ella Struber. They had two children: John who is a dentist and Rita (Mrs. Robert Christine). Both children live in Springfield, Illinois.”

“Mary Cannon and Mary Kelly both taught in the same Chicago Public School. Mary Kelly visited at the Cannon home and there she met Thomas. Later she married him.”

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Portrait of a mid-century contemporary artist, AKA Ann Walsh

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