The mission of LowellIrish is to collect and preserve the history and cultural materials, which document the presence of the Irish community in Lowell. As the first immigrant group in a city that continues to celebrate its immigrant past, LowellIrish will serve as an advocate to support a better understanding of the historical, political, religious, and social function the Irish played in the formation of the city.
Nunnally has been a guest blogger on several occasions.Her entry tells the interesting story of
Cornelius Lennon.Great reading!
discovered in the Yukon region of Canada in 1896.It wasn’t until the following year, 1897,
that pieces of this gold made it by ship to Seattle.Then the news spread throughout the United
States and the world.One hundred
thousand people rushed toward the Klondike region between 1896 and 1899.Out of the 100,000 people who started out,
about 30,000 – 40,000 actually made it to the gold fields.Out of this group of gold miners, only 4,000
found gold.Cornelius Lennon, an Irish
man from Lowell, was one of the lucky ones.
arrived in the U.S. about 1879.He was
born in Ireland, possibly County Leitrim as that is where his sister Katherine
died on a visit back to Ireland.He
married Mary Lynch of Tewksbury on March 4, 1889.
caught the gold fever early. He may have seen the special pages in the Lowell
Sun with the headline “Seeking Golden Treasure in Far Alaska”.Cornelius left Lowell on August 1, 1897.He left his job as a contractor on the
construction of roads.He also left behind
his wife and three children.They
continued to live on Schaffer St. in Lowell while he was away.
the Klondike was not an easy task.Clothing, tools, food and other supplies were needed for the
journey.Cornelius had to have had some
savings to be able to undertake this trip.He probably traveled to New York and then took a train to Seattle.A boat would have brought him to Juneau and then
the trek across Alaska to the Klondike commenced. He may have walked with hundreds of other men
and women on the Chilkoot Trail, climbing the “golden stairs”, 1500 steps cut
into the snow and ice.Cornelius had to
bring food for a year, a requirement enforced by the Royal Canadian Mounted
was the center of the Klondike gold rush.When Cornelius arrived there, he found a lively place with concert
halls, dancing halls and music at every hour of the night.He said there were many schemes to try to
take your money.He also said that it
was almost impossible to obtain food.A
Lowell Sun, 1897
would cost him as high as $25.00, a bag of flour $30.00.Cornelius immediately started prospecting. The Canadian government would allow him to
stake off 500 feet along a stream.In
return, the government would take about half of the gold Cornelius discovered.
returned home to Lowell and his family in the summer of 1899.He came back with bags of gold.The Lowell Sun published an interview with
Mr. Lennon on July 27, 1899.The reporter
said that Cornelius was a “modest and unassuming man, reluctant to talk about his experiences”.He
did recount some of his observations. He felt that the climate was healthier
than Lowell’s as he was never sick the whole time he was there.He advised young men against going to the
Klondike.He said staying home and
saving your money would be better than enduring uncertainties and privations.
showed the reporter a bag of pure gold nuggets along with another canvas bag
which contained gold.The reporter
stated that “his modesty would not allow him to tell the exact amount that he
had received from his venture.Judging
from the amount of gold the reporter saw, he might easily be counted among the
lucky miners and surely the most successful one to return to Lowell”.
interview, Cornelius Lennon said he was pleased to be home with his wife and
family.He continued to live modestly on
Schaffer St., working as a foreman in construction. His wife died in 1906 and
his sisters-in-law, Margaret and Annie Lynch, helped him care for his children.
By 1930 he was aged 77 years and living with his sister Margaret and her
husband Thomas M. Donohoe.In the Lowell
Sun of December 20, 1933 it was reported that Cornelius Lennon had retired as a
laborer in the street department at a yearly rate of $552.20. It does not appear that Cornelius ever used
his gold to live an extravagant life.
Lennon died in September of 1940 at the home of his son James on Aberdeen
Street in Lowell. His funeral was at St.
Michael’s Church.Cornelius was buried
in St. Patrick’s Cemetery.The flat
marker on his grave is no longer visible.