Linen and Lace
The Chromosomes slipped into the sea of genes gliding into many ports. They peopled lands with their Norman blood. Many a Welsh lad whose family had no means sent him a’soldering at the “Back Door” of the empire of the Virgin Queen. The Queen paid coins into those hands, which was far better than getting coal dust in their lungs.
In 1560 Anwell Gruffudd came to Ireland as a mercenary solder with the Elizabethan Planters. Seven years later home he went to take the hand of the beautiful lass, Ebrill Popkinton. The “fruit of their loins” begot generations of progeny called affectionately the Wee Welsh Tots. The line was pure Welsh warrior stock moving northward to become flax farmers in Ulster. In 1869 Addiena Landeg a descendant of the Gruffudd family married James J. Graham in Ulster.
Owen James Graham their first man-child was born in 1872. He was named for Robert Owen a Welsh social reformer with enlightened views. At age 14, Owen James Graham wrestled the Grim Reaper. he won that battle, but his parents did not. He was left to care for his four younger siblings, but was determined they would not be orphans. For a time he supported them by working as a weaver in the off-season, when farmers were idle. This and help from his relatives supported his family until he was 18. The Grim Reaper and starvation were once again at his door forcing him to a life of crime.
One desperate night by the dark of the moon he took linen from a bleaching green, the watch house did not catch him. The linen was sold in Cootehill and Food was bought. later at nineteen he was sent by an uncle to a safe new life in North America.
Owen became a dry goods salesman in Chicago, Illinois. He married Catherine Hogan from Cork. My grandfather was related to Gov. Al Smith of New York the first Catholic to run for President of the United States. My mother, Catherine Agnes Graham was Owen and Catherine Graham’s second child born in 1918. I was born to Catherine Agnes in 1945 as my mother’s first “wee wonder”.
My beloved grandfather died in July of 1949. He was one of the kindest men I have ever known, a joyful spirit with a big heart. He never once talked about life in Ireland.