Wednesday, April 15, 2020

2020 Prompt - Fire - Bartholomew Cronin

Pumper Wagon - Fire Department
Bartholomew Cronin 1870- 1944
My great-great uncle - Detroit City Fireman - Captain

Nancy Simmons 
    Josephine Martin 
        Mary Catherine Cronin  
            Denis Cronin to his brother Bartholomew Cronin                                                                    

My Irish ancestors must have had a burning desire to leave Ireland in the late nineteenth century.  One by one they left their parents, family and friends to come to America for a better life. My great grandfather, Denis Cronin, left in 1875 and settled in Detroit and in the next fifteen years his younger brothers, Daniel, James and Bartholomew, all left the Emerald Isle to join him. Bartholomew Cronin, the youngest, arrived in 1888 and started his life as a piper-fitter but eventually worked his way up the occupational ladder to becoming a Captain for the Detroit City Fire Department.

Johanna (O'Connell) Cronin and her son Bartholomew Cronin about 1888

Bartholomew Cronin was born August 16, 1870 to John and Johanna (O'Connell) Cronin in Coolinarna, County Cork, Ireland.[1]  He was baptized August 26, 1870 in the Cullen Catholic Church in the Millstreet Parish.[2] He immigrated to Detroit about 1888 and in 1891, he was living at 320 Abbott Street in Detroit with his brother, James, in an area called Corktown, southwest of the center of Detroit.  Here many Irish families from County Cork, Ireland were living including several of his siblings. He was listed as a fireman and his brother, James, as a policeman in the Detroit City Directory.[3]

Bartholomew Cronin & Brother James Cronin about 1890

The Wayne County marriage records states that Bartholomew married Jennie Hannah Leahy on February 13, 1893 in Detroit by Father William DeBever.[4] According to the 1900 federal census, Bart and Jennie Cronin were living at 462 16th Street in Corktown and Bartholomew is listed as a city fireman and they have had four children: Hannah born 1893, John born 1895, Genevieve born 1898 and Loretta born 1900. [5] Two more daughters were born later, Ursela in 1901 and Edna in 1903.

Detroit Engine House # 8
Detroit Pumping Wagon pulled by a three Horse Team about 1900

Bartholomew was a fireman from the early 1890s until his retirement about 1928.  Bart started in Engine House No. 8 and used horse drawn fire engines. In 1916, Bart was promoted to Captain at Fire House No. 37 at Central and Dix.[6]  At this time, he experienced the transition of driving a team of horses pulling the fire truck to a motorized fire truck.

Detroit Motorized Fire Truck about 1920

Another memorable fact about Bartholomew was a newspaper article that mentions that in 1910 he was elected president of the Firemen's Fund Association for the Relief of Disabled Fireman.[7]  This Association is a non-profit corporation and was first incorporated in 1867 and is one of the oldest corporations in Michigan.[8]  For over 150 years they have using dues and fund raisers to provide benefits to ease the burdens of disabled firemen and their families.  To have been elected president of such an organization expresses the respect the Detroit city firemen had for Bartholomew Cronin.

Bartholomew elected President of Firemen's Relief Fund Association
Detroit Free Press April 5, 1916

Detroit Firemen's Fund Association Certificate of Membership

Bartholomew and Jennie moved from 16th Street to Wabash Street where they continued to live in Corktown until 1920 when they moved to 2363 Pearl Street on Detroit's southwest side two blocks from Saint Gabriel Parish Church.  Jennie died on January 26, 1926 of kidney disease[9] and Bartholomew continued to live with several of his children.  Bartholomew retired from the Detroit Fire Department about 1928 and died November 19, 1944.[10]  As was the tradition of the times, the funeral was held in his home with a funeral mass at St Gabriel's Catholic Church and he was buried next to Jennie in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Bartholomew Cronin Cemetery Stone
Holy Cross Cemetery - Detroit, Michigan

Bartholomew Cronin's Death Certificate November 19, 1944


[1] Ireland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1620-1911 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations, Inc., 2011.
[2] Ireland, Catholic Parish Registers, 1655-1915, [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations, Inc., 2011.
 Catholic Parish Registers, The National Library of Ireland; Dublin, Ireland; Microfilm Number: Microfilm 04267 / 07
[3] U.S. City Directories, 1821-1995, Detroit, Michigan, City Directory, 1891, page 359.
[4] Marriage Records of Wayne County, Michigan, State Library, Book 4, page 369
[5] 1900 United States Federal Census, Detroit, Ward 10, Wayne, Michigan, ED 0110, page 7.
[6] Detroit Free Press, “Cronin Gets New Station”, 31 Oct 1916, page 2.
[7] Detroit Free Press, “Payments Total $18,658”, 5 Apr 1910, page 3.
[8], Detroit Fire Department Fund Association.
[9] Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, Jennie Cronin, 26 Jan 1926.
[10] Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950, Bartholomew J Cronin, 19 Nov 1944.

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