Grandpa and Grandma  Foy
Patrick James and Susan Olwell Foy

This essay was written as a secondary school assignment by Robin Duvall, the older daughter of Ginger and Jerry. In turn, Ginger  was the eldest daughter of Peter Aloyisius Foy, whose father was Paddy Foy.  Robin got a lot of help from Joseph Foy in lining up the facts.   The essay was written circa 1996.

Grandpa Foy (Patrick James Foy) was born in Ireland in 1891. He grew up on a farm in Claremorris Town, County Mayo, Ireland. His father was -a weaver. As they lived in sheep country, his father was also a sheep farmer. His mother worked on the farm also. They were a poor hard-working family. Grandpa had six years of schooling called "grade school", which was probably equivalent to our high school. He and his siblings were good readers and loved to recite poems learned in their youth. One teacher taught all the grades in his school. His parents died in their 40's or 50s presumably of tuberculosis, a communicable disease contracted from helping others who had it. They were a very caring family who always helped others in need. Mary, John, and Ellie were born in the first farmhouse. Margaret, Grandpa, Celia, Jane, Luke, Delia, Peter, Hannah and Elizabeth were born in the second house they lived in just down the road. Neither house was very large and had few extras like electricity. 

Grandma Susan was also born in Ireland, County Cavan. She received as much or more education as Grandpa. She probably came to America before Grandpa. 

Grandpa was in his teens, probably 16, when he went to England to get a job. Jobs were very scarce in Ireland. He was an Irish citizen, but became a subject of the British Empire so that he could get a job. He lived with an aunt and worked on farms. Later he went back home to Ireland. In 1912, he came to America as a 21 or 22 year old. He first lived in an apartment with his older sister, Mary, who had arrived in America earlier. It was rather crowded as the "family" included her husband, children and cousins. Later, he moved to a "cold water" flat that had the bathroom down the hall. 

Grandpa joined the Navy for a short while (about six months). He worked on the docks in New York City guarding the German ships that were impounded in World War I. His brother, Pete, got him a job in various grocery stores where he also worked. Paddy Murray, a cousin, already lived here, coming also from Ireland. He encouraged Grandpa to work on the NYC subway, switching trains. Once in a while, he had the job of a motorman, driving the trains. In 1917, he went to night school and became a policeman. Again, he was encouraged to do this by Paddy Murray. (his first cousin) He worked for twenty-eight years in the NYC Police Department. When he retired, because of his qualifications as a policeman, he then worked in a bank as a security guard, so that he could collect social security. At the time, policemen did not collect social security when they retired. Again, Paddy Murray influenced him to get the job as a security guard. 

The Murrays, the Morleys and the Foys all looked out for each other. Because jobs were scarce in Ireland, Mary's husband, Mike Mullin, came to America to get work and then sent for his family. When Grandpa arrived at Ellis Island, Paddy Murray went to meet him and took him under his wing. (In order to come over and live in America, you had to have someone sponsor you. ) Mary, the oldest, had led the way for her other brothers and sisters who came to America. Women came over as nannies (just like they do today) and later became nurses. They would go to school once they got here to become nurses. Men would study to become policemen and firemen. The Irish always heard that "the roads in America were paved with gold". The irony of this is that when the Irish arrived in America, they are the ones who helped pave the streets and build the tunnels and the bridges. 

Aunt Jane got to America by accident. She went down to the ship in Ireland with her sister, Ellie, to say goodbye to Margaret, who was traveling on the ship with a neighbor or friend. Aunt Ellie convinced her to also go on the ship and she would loan her the money, as that was Jane's reason for not going. Aunt EIlie had just enough money to pay for steerage class for Aunt Jane. (very cramped quarters in the bottom of the ship.) She would wave to Aunt Margaret who was in a higher class on the ship. This was so unlike Aunt Jane who was always prim and proper. Heaven knows how she stood it for several weeks, with no belongings! Wearing the same clothes for weeks! 

Celia was a licensed nurse, as were Elizabeth, and Hannah. Delia, Margaret, and Jane were practical nurses. Pete worked in the grocery store business. Luke was brought over to be taken care of, as a young man, because he had TB. Delia and Jane took care of him until he died. John and Ellie stayed in Ireland. Peter had a twin who died at birth. Elizabeth and Hannah went in the military as nurses, during World War I. (You had to be a licensed nurse in order to be in the military.) 

Susan Olwell (grandma) was a licensed nurse and was in nursing class with Elizabeth and Hannah. They became friends and that is how Grandpa met her. Grandpa's godmother was also in their nursing class. Susan had an aggressive personality. She was not a favorite of the Foy family, but then again, they were a very close-knit family with strong family ties. But when Susan was sick, Aunt Celia took care of her, even though she wasn't a favorite. The family came together to help out, as was always the case! Jane and Celia helped Pete when he was sick and died. Neighbors also played a big part in helping out. 

Grandpa Foy died in 1981.

Written circa 1996.     Added to family web  29 March 2002
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