Monday, March 17, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks = Week #11; Michael Coyle; Proud to be Irish

This prompt comes from Amy Johnson Crow at her blog, No Story Too Small. She suggests we “write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor.” 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
It is the perfect day to post about my Irish great grandfather; a man whose life is surrounded with questions.

Michael Coyle
b 24 Nov 1870 Ireland
My Great Grandfather
Mary Jo Mullane & Michael Coyle

Although I do not know details of Michael’s death I do know something about his birth. Michael Coyle was the oldest child of Patrick Coyle & Margaret Brady. He was born in Moat, Cavan, Ireland.[1] He was baptized on 26 November.[2] He would be the oldest of 11 children. His siblings were: Bernard, Catherine, Maria, Patrick, Margaret, Thomas, James, Bridget, Maryanne & William.

For unknown reasons Michael did not stay in Ireland long. He was only 14 years old when he boarded the boat Servia and sailed for New York City, landing on 11 May 1885.[3] He became an American citizen in October 1894.[4],[5]

In New York City, Michael Coyle met Mary Josephine Mullane, daughter of Daniel Mullane and Brigid English, while they were both in a boarding house. She was walking down a flight of stairs and he was starting up those stairs. She thought he was very handsome. He saw her and instantly fell in love.[6] Despite the protests of Michael’s mother, they were married on 9 November, 1895 by Father Patrick F. McSweeny, the pastor at Saint Brigid’s Church.

On 2 June 1900 a Federal Census taker visited the little Coyle family at their home at 159 113th Street in Manhattan. The enumerator listed Michael as a baker in a bake shop. Mary Jo was listed as a mother of three children; two living. Their daughters were listed as Nellie and Mary. [7] In 1910 they were renting an apartment on Third Avenue. Michael was still working as a baker. Mary Jo was the mother of five; four living.[8]

Michael was proud of his American citizenship. He kept his naturalization papers in a safe deposit box in a bank. He was also proud of his Irish birth. Each year on St. Patrick’s Day he would open the windows on their apartment, play Irish songs on their piano and sing loudly. Mary Jo would complain at the noise. Michael would say, 'I want people to know we are Irish'. His wife would say, 'I think they know already'.[9]

The 1920 Census is important in the history of the Coyle family because it is the only census to show the whole family: Michael, Mary Jo and their six living children, ages 23 to 3 years old. Michael was still a baker.[10] By the 1925 NYS census their oldest daughter was married.[11]

By the end of 1927 Mary Jo had died, Michael had left his family and the single daughters were living together. I have been unable to discover where Michael went or when he died.

Interested in Irish research? Check the long list of resources at my web site,

Related Posts:

[1] Birth Record for Michael Coyle, 26 November 1870, Microfilm #101217, Page 121, Entry 478, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Photocopy from Kathleen Coyle, Arizona.
[2] Baptism Record for Patrick Coyle, 9 May 1841, Microfilm #1279229, Church Records of Ballymachugh Parish, Page 30 (British Isles) from Family History Library. Photocopy of page given to author by Kathleen G. Coyle, Sun City West, Arizona and by Robert Coyle, Florence, Oregon.
[3] Arrivals at Port of New York, Microfilm #1027354, arrival 11 May 1885, Passenger #540, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Copy made by Robert J. Coyle and given to author. Passenger: Michael Coyle.
[4] Citizenship Papers for Michael Coyle, 21 October 1894, State of Connecticut, County of New London. Photocopy belonged to Kathleen G. Coyle (daughter of Michael), Sun City West, Arizona.
[5] Certificate of Citizenship for Michael Coyle, 25 Oct 1894, USA, State of CT; Co of New London; New London, CT.
[6] Interview with Kathleen Coyle [daughter of Michael], January 2006.
[7] 1900 United States Census, Manhattan, New York; Vol. 178, E. D. 930, Sheet 2, Line 72; NYS Library, Albany, NY; Microfilm Box #120.  Michael Coyle family at 159 E 113 Street, Manhattan. 
[8] 1910 US Census, Third Avenue, Ward 12, Manhattan, NY City, NY, S. D. 1, E. D. 330, Sheets 16 A & B. Michael Coyle family.
[9] Interview with Kathleen Coyle [daughter of Michael], January 2006.
[10] 1920 United States Census, New York City, NY, Vol. 279, E. D. 1292, Sheet 18, Line 70; NYS Library, Albany, NY. Michael Coyle family, 223 E 113th.
[11] 1925 NYS Census, NY Co, Microfilm Box #151, AD 18, ED 32, Page 47, NYS Library, Albany, NY.  Michael Coyle family at 223 E 113th.


  1. With a name like Michael Coyle, he had better be proud to be Irish!

  2. That's a great biography, and a lovely picture to go with.

    1. Thanks, Sally. One of my biggest mysteries is what happened to Michael.


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