"Original" Drew family Immigrantsfrom County Westmeath Ireland ~ 1847

The essentials ofJohn's background are recorded and documented in the  HISTORYOF THE DREW FAMILY AND NAME ...which is a separate hypertext page. John himself was born in 1806, the son of Irish Catholic "renters," Bernardand Catherine Drew.  He was baptized December 28, 1806, probablyat Emper, which was about a mile and a half from the family's home in thetownland (township) of Lakenstown,which was also a "village" ...later called "College."  The baptismwas recorded at St. Matthews church in Milltown, about five miles to thesouth, where the parish priest lived and kept the parish register.

 CLICK HERE or onthe thumbnail at left to see John's baptism record

A study of the parish'sbaptism records seems to indicate that John had six older sisters, butno brothers... and that he was, therefore, the "baby of the family." His older sisters were named Mary, Judith, Catherine, Bridget, Margaret,and Rose.   All of these names (except for Bridget) recur frequentlyin John's descendants.  His grandparents on the Drew side are thoughtto be James and Judith Drew; but the records at Milltown do not recordmothers' maiden names or fathers' middle names, so it is impossible totrace his grandparents with certainty.  Nonetheless, there is enoughcertainty to render us bold enough to keep Bernard Drew's 1784 birth certificateas an heirloom.

  CLICK HERE or on thethumbnail at left to see Bernard's baptism record.

As a young man, John was probably much involvedwith "working the land."  It is also likely that the family had farmanimals and that John and his contemporaries all had skills at managinghorses... which were the primary means of getting heavy work done in thosedays.  Lakenstown was a very rural environment; and given to agricultureand the harvesting of peat.  It is likely that John had skills andexperience in all these areas.  It is also an undocumented traditionand a probable fact that the Drew clan and all the residents of the areawere skilled stonemasons.  The Royal Canal with many miles of channeland many bridges and locks within walking distance of Lakenstown, was builtbetween 1750 and the 1820's.  It is likely that John's father andgrandfather and other Drew clansmen were involved in the quarrying, horsemanship,and stonemasonry required to build the canal.  John himself may alsohave been involved.  [Photos of the canal as it survived till September,2000 are posted at:   ]

Another major community event during thetime of John and Rose's youth was the building of a newchurch at Emper. (Click or scroll to see photo below)  Thechurch was completed in 1829 and dedicated to St. Matthew.  At thattime, John was 23 years old; and it is quite likely that he helped withthe church's construction.  The following year, John married RoseReilly; and, most likely the wedding and the subsequent baptisms of their8 children occurred at the "Emper Chapel" ...which is how this churchcame to be known.

Rose is, in many ways, the most mysteriouscharacter in our family history.  The available records on her arelimited to her marriage and the baptisms of seven of her (at least) eightchildren.  Assuming she was a contemporary of her husband (withina few years) then she was born in the first few years of the 1800's; andit is known that there were several Reilly and O'Reilly families in Milltownparish at that time.   Her baptism record cannot be identifiedwith certainty because there were so many Reilly's... and (remembering"rule one") no record kept by humans is ever perfect.

From our research on Rose Reilly, it isclear that she spent the years 1830 to 1846 as wife and mother to her family. She bore at least 8 children; and all of them were baptized in Milltownparish.  Tradition is that she was a great believer in education;and there is also a tradition that one our ancestors was librarian and"tutor" to the children of the region's landlords, the Tuite family whoseresidence, in Sonna, was about 4 miles distant to the northwest. The subject of this tradition may well have been Rose; and it is possiblethat during the years prior to 1837 (when the new school opened at Irishtown)she may have been involved with teaching her own children as well as theTuite Children.  With the opening of the new school at Irishtown,June 5, 1837, Rose's oldest child, Thomas would have turned 6 years oldand was probably a member of the inaugural first grade class at the newIrishtown school.



Click on the photo to see it in full size
John Drew and RoseReilly were married June 24, 1830; and, most certainly the wedding occurredin Emper Chapel, pictured at left.  The church is about a mile anda half north east of Lakenstown, [the "home village" of the Drew clan]where it appears they set up housekeeping.

CLICK HERE to see a theirmarriage certificate.


The following children wereborn to John and Rose during the years 1831 - 1846.
Click on the thumbnails at left to see the baptismalrecords.

JAMES DREW, 1833 - 1890
CATHERINE DREW, 1835 -1913
BERNARD [BRYAN] DREW, 1840 - 1862
JOHN DREW, 1845 - 1905


As has been discussed, John Drew and RoseReilly Drew put great emphasis on learning and eduction.  It has evenbeen said that this was a Drew "clan trait" and practice.  There isa tradition (through our distant cousin, Anna Mary Drew, in Lakenstownwhen we visited her in 1971 and again in 2,000) that formal meetings ofan educational nature for both young and old, were frequently held in thevillage at Lakenstown in those days; and that these were of sufficientfreqency and quality as to result in the village being renamed "College" it is seen identified on later maps of the county.

In the early 1830's, things began to "warmup" politically between Ireland and the English government under QueenVictoria.  About this time, government funds became available, administeredby a National Board, to support the building of schools throughout Ireland. On June 5, 1837, a new school was opened at Irishtown, about one mile southof Lakenstown.  This had previously been the site of a primitive "mudhut" school.... probably one of the so-called "Hedge Schools" which wereall that was available to Irish children pre- 1830.  In fact, however,education was not available to the overwhelming majority of Irish childrenbefore 1830.
The September 2000photo at left shows the Irishtown School in the background.  It wasdedicated in 1837; and had been abandoned for many years and used for livestockby the time of this photo.

In the foreground are (l.) John MichaelDrew (b. 1967) and (r.) John Nally, believed to be a distant cousin orco-descendant via Catherine Nally and Bernard Drew, parents of our ancestor,John Drew.

Click on the photo to see it in full size

By good fortune, when the new school atIrishtown opened in 1837, John and Rose Drew's children were just comingof age for grammar school.  Most likely all of them attended the schoolin Irishtown between 1837 and their emigration to the U.S. 10 years later. And, most likely, under their parents' guidance they did well.  Entriesin two family bibles following their arrival in the U.S. certainly indicatesthat they could read and write... though their penmanship and spellingindicated they "lagged" behind today's standards.  Catherine's entriesin the McGee bible over the years is also proof that she continued to improvein both areas.

Although there would have been scant economicopportunity for that first generation of Drew's in America to pursue highereducation; it is a real tribute to John Drew and Rose Reilly Drew thatatleast three of their grandchildren achieved college degrees, (GeorgeB. Drew, James H. Drew, and Catherine McGee) ...and all three became teachers. James H. Drew also went on to further studies and became a lawyer.


We have neither traditionnor documentation about why this family decided to emigrate to the U.S....nor exactly how they carried out and financed the plan.  CatherineMcGee, an impeccable historian, (daughter of 12 year old Catherine whoemigrated) related many of the details of the trip to my father and meduring the 1950's and we can therefore be very certain of the following: The family most definitely made the trip all together.  My fatherbelieved he recalled that they came "without a mother."

They definitely embarked at New Orleans;but I do not recall hearing the exact date or the name of the ship or portof debarkation.

As to WHEN the family emigrated, CatherineDrew McGee's obituary ["The Sedalia Democrat" 1/13/1913 ~ Pettis County,MO] says that she came to America at age 11.  Since Catherine wasborn in May of 1835; that would define the time of the family's emigrationas between May of 1846 and May of 1847.

The scant information and documentationwe have discovered regarding Rose Reilly's origins has been a disappointment. Perhaps we shall learn more as our searching and researching continues. An even bigger disappointment has been a complete absence of any documentsor references to her among the hundreds of documents we have collectedin the U.S. ...even though many documents have surfaced regarding her husband,John.   Keeping in mind that the family's emigration to Americaoccurred during the worst period of "the famine" in Ireland, it is ourcurrent hypothesis that Rose may have died in Ireland prior to the family'semigration.  And the sequence and timing of her "disappearance" fromthe record would suggest that she could have died in connection with thebirth of her last child, William... or of an illness brought on by thefamine... or even at sea during the voyage to the U.S.

That she was loved and respected by herchildren is attested by the fact that every one of her children (and severalgrandchildren) named a daughter Rose.



THOMAS DREW (b. 1831)We have no recordof Thomas and assume he may have died in childhood.
JAMES DREW (1833- 1890)  This is mygreat grandfather.  Clicktojump to his information and picture.
CATHERINEDREW (1835 - 1913) This is the ancestor of the McGee > Sullivan> James line.  Clickto jump to her information.
JUDITH DREW (1837)  There is no documentationshe made the trip.  She would have been 10 at the time of the emigration.
                                             She may have died in early childhood.
BERNARD [BRYAN] DREW (1840 - 1862)Thisis the Bryan that was killed in the Civil War  Clickto jump to his information
EDWARD DREW (1842)  Aside from a baptismal record, thereis no record or tradition of what happened to this child.
                                           The absence of any records or "traces" of him in our research makes itprobable he died before age 5.
JOHN DREW, JR. (1844 -1909)Three years old when the family emigrated.  Clicktojump to his information.
WILLIAMDREW (1846? - ????)  An infant aboard the ship at thetime the family emigrated.  Clickto jump to his information.


JAMES DREW  (1833 - 1890)


James Drew  1833 - 1890

Theresa Cusick Drew  1843- 1892
Above are two rare photos depicting ourgreat grandparents, James Drew and his wife, Theresa Cusick. Her name is often written "Cusack" also.  James was born in Lakenstown,[near Mullingar] County Westmeath, Ireland, son of Irish peasants, JohnDrew and Rose Reilly Drew.  His father, and probably his unclesand forebearers were known as very good stonemasons.  No middle nameappears on any of the documents that we have collected; but his grand-daughter,Camilla Gallagher, reported that his middle initial was "C" and was notaware of what the "C" stood for. Theresa was born in New York, the daughterof Irish immigrants as the 1880 U.S. Census [Barr Township, Daviess County,Indiana] attests.  Tradition is that her family later moved to Philadelphiaand then to Kentucky or Indiana where she met and married James in Decemberof 1861.

Upon their arrival in the U.S.A. in 1847,James and his family spent about 10 or 11 years in Kentucky.  Recordsare scarce but seem to confirm the tradition that they settled in the Lexingtonarea... and there is also a tradition and some evidence that they may havelived for a time in Louisville.  Research is ongoing on this matter.

Probably about 1858 or thereafter, Jamesmoved to Daviess county, Indiana.  He was definitely there in 1860and in May of that year, shortly after the death of their father, JohnDrew, Sr., James filed for and received legal guardianship of his youngerbrother John Jr. aged 17 at that time.

James and Theresa had a total of at leasteight children... only 4 of whom survived. 
The youngest of the surviving children was our grandfather,JamesH. Drew

Click here to see theJames Drew~Theresa Cusick Family web page.

Catherine,born 1835,  was holding & "responsible"for "the baby" when the family landed in New Orleans in 1847.  Shewould have been 12 years old then.  Based on later documents, we assumethat "the baby" was William.  This tradition that Catherine was "incharge of the baby" provides a further argument that the mother, Rose Reilly,had died in Ireland and did not make the trip to America.

Catherine marriedWilliamMcGee Oct. 9, 1854. 

In either 1858 or1859, the entire McGee and Drew (conjoined) families moved to Pettis County,MIssouri, probably in 1858.   The folowing year (September 8,1959) Catherine's father John Drew died in Pettis County.

William and CatherineMcGee had many children, five of whom survived.  It is recalled thatthree of their children (John William, Brian, and Julia) were handicappedby reason of epilepsy.  The most remembered of their children wereCatherineMcGee (Aunt Kate) who had an illustrious career as a school teacherin Pettis County, Missouri, and Rose Ann McGee Sullivan whose decendants(the James family) are located in Phoenix as of the year 2000.

Click on the photo to see it in full size
Clickhere to see the Catherine Drew McGee web page.


BRYANDREW (1839 - 1862)

Some documents spell the name Brian. He was baptized "Bernard" ...but competent sources indicate that, in Ireland,the names Bernard, Brian, and Barney, are all synonymous.  He wouldhave been about 7 years old when the family made the voyage from Irelandto the U.S.  Although this Drew brother has been all but forgottenthrough the generations, tradition has it that Bryan was the "shining star"of this family.   In 1860, at age 20, he served as "God father"to Catherine Drew McGee's son John William, in Missouri.  Soon after,the Civil War broke out and Bryan returned to Kentucky and enlisted inthe famous "Louisville Legion" [5th KY Volunteer Infantry]  By this time, he had suffered the premature deaths of both his parentsand the "split up" of his family which occurred by reason of their homesteadingchoices.  [James to Indiana and Catherine to Missouri.]  He waskilled December 31, 1862 at the battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro.) In a 1970 letter, Brian's great grand neice, Gertrude James, wrote abouthow Bryan was admired in the family, and what terrible blow his death wasto the family.  Some 60 years after the Battle of Stones River, Bryanhad become the namesake of Gertrude's brother, Lieutenant Brian EugeneJames, who was also killed [in 1944] in action over Germany as a B-17 bombardier. Gertrude remembered her mother's tales about the death of her grandmother'sbrother and lamenting that the name "Brian" might have brought bad luck.
Click here tosee the Bryan Drew web page.

JOHNDREW, Jr.  (1844 - 1909)

John made the tripto America with his family as a 3 year old.

Tradition has it that John was impetuousand had some problems growing up.  He suffered the loss of his motheras an infant, and the trauma of emigration at a young age.  Afterspending his formative years (motherless and probably poor) with his familyin Kentucky, he was again uprooted at age 14 and accompanied his ailingfather and sister, Catherine, to Missouri in 1858.

The following year, his father, John Drew,Sr., died and shortly thereafter, John Jr. was sent to Indiana where hiselder brother, James had obtained legal guardianship over him.

Although he is officially listed as a CivilWar veteran, his military history is not stellar.  In fact if we arereading the records correctly, John's impetuous 1861 enlistment ended withhis desertion of his unit.

Following the Civil War, John married Mariah(sometimes written Maria) Melton and had several children, only two ofwhom survived.  [James T. and Mary Catherine.]  John spent hisentire life as a farmer in Barr Township, Daviess county, Indiana. 

It was John's grave marker, shown at right,that led us to the correct county in Ireland to begin our search for ourancestors.  The grave is at St. Mary's church near Montgomery, Indiana. The family apparently wanted the stone to read: "Born in County Westmeath,Ireland."

Click on the photo to see it in full size
Click here tosee the John Drew Jr. web page
WILLIAMDREW (1846 -   )
William would have beenthe infant that Catherine was holding and caring for when the family arrivedat the port of New Orleans.  Later I'll tell the story of what happenedwith Catherine and William when Catherine saw her first black person onthat day.
Meanwhile, our knowledge of William and his lifeis almost a blank.  We believe he also accompanied his father andthe McGee's to Missouri but later went to Indiana under the guardianshipof his elder brother, James... as did both John Jr. (documented) and Brian(assumed.)  The only thing we can document is that James was summonedto (the Daviess County Indiana) Court in 1867 "on behalf of William Drew." The date of the proceedings was August 10, 1867.  The header on courtdocket reads as follows: "State of Indiana vs James Drew Indicted in theName of Wm Drew."   The docket record we have does not indicatethe charge against him; but states that he was found NOT guilty.

At the time of theseproceedings, William would have been 21 years old... or very near 21. It is possible that James could have been called to court in his behalfbecause William was still a minor... or because he had been a minor atthe time of the "offense" whatever it was.  I suppose it is also possiblethat William had died without answering whatever these charges were...and James wished to resolve the matter to clear his little brother's name. We need to do some more checking on this... if possible!

Thequestion of possible military service by William is thought be be answeredby discovery of the following U.S. Government record found on the HDS website:

Residence Indianapolis IN; Enlisted on 7/10/63 as a Private.On 7/10/63 he mustered into "H" Co. IN 113th Infantry He was Mustered Out on 7/17/63 at Indianapolis, INSources: - Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Indiana
Procuredvia paid membership and adapted by Daniel C. Drew from
Historical DataSystems, Inc.
P.O. Box 196
Kingston, MA02364

The aboverecord VERY probably is "our" William Drew.  He would have been onlyabout 17 years old at the time of this enlistment; and the dates indicatethat he was a soldier for a total of only 7 days, being mustered out 7/17after enlisting on 7/10.  Furthermore, the unit he joined [113th INInfantry] was one of Indiana's ten (in)famous "ONE HUNDRED DAY" REGIMENTS. None of them were ever assigned any combat duty or took any casualties. These were NOT "crack fighting units" ...and further information abouttheir history is being sought.

The questionarises about why William might have been discharged after only 7 days. One speculation would be that his age was discovered.  Even thoughthere were many enlistments under the age of 18 during the civil war, thisparticular unit might have been unwilling to accept a 17 year old... ormight have "caught him lying" about his age.  We will probably neverhave an answer to this.

Exceptfor the records above, we have lost all traces of William.

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