Michael Martin Cowley - (1841 - 1915) Spokane Washington
COW (LEY) BOYS & INDIANS
My great great grand Uncle, Mike, left Rathdrum, County Wicklow, Ireland in 1856, at the tender age of 15 and travelled alone on a sail boat to New York and to the new world. He left behind his father Hugh Cowley, a shopkeeper and hotelier and his mother Bridget (nee Byrne).
Mike travelled first to Rochester NY, where he had an uncle and two years later he went west gold rushing. In Fort Leavenworth, he got a job as a pack handle for the Union army and later got promoted to 'sulter' an old word for an army shopkeeper. This job took him further west and just before the Civil War in 1861 he left the army supply business and went pan gold-rushing (placer) with a brother of his. In the early 1870's he used the gold he had accumulated to buy a bridge and a shop & boarding house at a place known as Spokane Bridge in the State of Washington. There he operated a ferry across the Spokane River and ran his trading post.
In order to survive after the gold-rush, he started to trade fur with the local Native Indian tribes such as Nez Peirez and the Spokanes. He borrowed a young Indian boy from one of the tribes who came to work for him with the intention of learning their language which he did.
Later he moved to a house north of the Spokane with his wife Annie Connolly (also Irish) who he had married in Walla Walla and became involved with the Traders National Bank of Spokane which he finally had majority shares in. He was survived in 1915 by two daughters Mary Francis who married Dr. J. F. Reddy of Medford Oregon and Eleanor B who married James Smyth who owned a plumbing and heating company in Spokane.
Mrs Francis Reddy had one son and two daughters and Eleanor had a son and a daughter.
While much has been written about M.M. Cowley as being a founding father of the North West and his pioneering spirit, less has been revealed about his own family the Cowleys. His sister Eliza Farrell (nee Cowley) was my great great grandmother. She lived in Rathdrum County Wicklow Ireland. From records and journals it is known that Mike had another brother in the North West with whom he went gold-rushing. His name however is not mentioned. It is my belief this man also remained in North Western States. Secondly, while not recorded to the best of my knowledge M.M. Cowley also had a sister Natalie (Great Aunt Tal) who lived in the New York area, perhaps Rochester. The name of his uncle in Rochester remains a mystery as does the name of the sailing vessel on which he travelled in 1956 to New York taking 41 days.