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by Darren Waters
by Mike Kramer
|This beautiful castle
inspired home has overlooked downtown Sidney since 1886. For those of us
who have called Sidney home, at any time of our lives, we have looked up
at and to this castle as being one of the town gems. It sits high on a
hill, just a few blocks to the northwest of downtown Sidney on Walnut
Avenue. The life and the story of this historical structure is much like
any real castle on a Irish countryside. It has been home to many powerful
men, it has been misunderstood and rumored about for decades, it has seen
kingdoms fall, and has been overtaken and plundered by hostile enemy
forces, and left to die and decay. Much of this story has been known
for years as being "what we know of the castle". After years of interest
and much research I have several things to add to her story.
by Mike Kramer
(click photo to
photos from the Shelby County Historical Society.
Click here to view their page.
|Here is this beautiful
built by John Loughlin, also known in Sidney history for founding
the Sidney School Furniture Company and the Mary L. Poultry Company.
John moved to Sidney and purchased the ground she reins from for
$5000 on November 17,1884.
began in 1885 and it was finished in 1886, said to have cost $10,000
to build. She has 22 rooms, each downstairs room finished
extensively with beautiful hand crafted walnut, cherry, mahogany, or
maple wood. Each room being different in grain, color, or design.
The woodwork throughout the home
was done by highly skilled wood artisans of the time, the majesty
and detail in each room are Smithsonian class masterpieces. On the
main level a unique free standing staircase of wood magnificence
leads to the second floor. On the second floor there is a spiral
staircase that leads to the roof.
She is widely known as
Bonnyconnellan Castle. And the story goes that she is believed to be
patterned after a castle in John's homeland of Cork County, Ireland.
John lost the house in 1904 when
the German American Bank failed, and upon closing its doors all
depositors lost their holdings. The castle was then sold to Col. J.
B. Tucker in 1907. John left the area after losing his empire and is
said to have died penniless in 1917.
That's pretty much the story of
the castle and how it got here according to past researchers. Not
much more is known about John except small bits and pieces, it is
said he was born in Columbus Ohio and was a wise businessman who
lost it all with the failure of the bank.
genealogy for many years now, and having a love for history, the
above story just wasn't enough for me. There are to many holes in it
and so many missing details. Things like who were John's parents,
and where did all the money come from?
Him being a good businessman is
based on what is known of his existence in Sidney. I wanted to know
what happened before he came to Sidney. Where did this talented
businessman get the $5000 to buy the land, $10,000 to build the
castle, and who knows how many tens of thousands it cost to build
the Sidney School Desk Factory.
So I myself set off on a quest, a
quest to find John before Sidney. Learn about him and his family.
And set the record straight on just how we came to be blessed with
our unique castle-like building. Here is what I found....
manifest of the Niagra arriving in New York on Feb. 12, 1849
Parents were Timothy and Elizabeth Loughlin. Timothy and Elizabeth
had a small family of two boys, James and Joseph, and a baby on the
way. It was 1849, at the height of the Irish potato famine. Potatoes
were the main stable of the Irish food palate. Families were
starving all across their country.
It was decided that in order to
give their family a chance at a better life, that they should do as
many Irish families were doing, and that was to go to America. So as
was customary in this situation, Timothy left his family behind and
went off to America to make things ready for their passage. Timothy
arrived in New York onboard a ship named the Niagra on February 12,
1849. (see ship manifest to the left) Also on this manifest is
Timothy's occupation, stone mason.
|In August of 1850,
nearly a year and a half later Timothy appears for the first time in
the U.S. Census pages. He is living in Lockport, Niagra County, New
Lockport was a small town mainly
consisting of Scottish and Irish immigrants, brought in to work on
the Erie Canals.
During this time in New York
Timothy saved every penny he could to arrange for the passage of his
wife and now 3 children, since Mary was born in 1849 after he left
for America, he had to save to get them from Ireland to America. He also had to
save up for lodging and travel and the new beginnings of his family.
census of Lockport, Niagra County, New York
census of Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio
Timothy had his family in America with him and he was able to start
planning passage down into the heartland of America. And the family
was now growing as Elizabeth was pregnant. In 1852 while on the
journey from New York to Columbus John was born, technically born in
Canada, his first home was in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio
In 1860 the Timothy Loughlin family
can be found living their American dream of a life in a land of no
famine. By this time the family has grown to a family of eight, with
the additions of Elizabeth and Agnes. You can see in this document
that Timothy is working as a stone mason.
They may have been living the
American dream, but you can bet they were missing and dreaming of
their homeland. The lush beautiful green countryside of Mayo County,
Ireland. Their homeland with all of its majestic and historic
castles. Timothy being a stone mason from Ireland had probably often
as a child admired those castles. And more than likely wasn't
impressed with all of the clean lined square boxes people called
houses in this fairly new and evolving country. He would tell the
children of the huge magnificent castles in their homeland.
|In 1865 Joseph moved
to Indianapolis and can be found in the city directory as being a
bricklayer. It appears Joseph followed in his fathers footsteps and
carried the trade thru another generation. (see directory page to
The family is
dealt a huge blow in 1866 with the death of Timothy. The family is
now without the man who got them this far, all alone in this
country. Joseph convinces Elizabeth to move the family to
Indianapolis. Elizabeth can be found as a widow in the 1867
directory of Indianapolis, Indiana. (see directory page to the far
Joseph Loughlin in
the 1865 Indianapolis directory
Elizabeth Loughlin in the 1867
|In 1870 you can find
Elizabeth as a widow with her family. John is listed as being employed as
a moulder. A moulder is someone who creates the molds that cast iron and
brass are poured into.
quickly moved up the ladder and learned the ropes as he went. He took on
the challenges of life just as his father did, with his strong Irish hands
and a pocket full of determination.
After the death of his mother in the
early 1870's John moved to Hamilton, Ohio when the company he worked for,
the Variety Iron works of Indianapolis, moved its foundry to Hamilton in
1873. John was the superintendent at the Variety Iron Works of Hamilton.
Variety Iron Works was knows for making castings for school furniture.
It's here in Hamilton that John meets
the love of his life, Eliza Perry, a widow who moved to Ohio from Indiana
after the death of her husband.
|I have yet to see anyone
say anything about Eliza and her part in our castle. I'm not sure why they
haven't, but I'm going to change that. She was after all, the queen of
that castle, and here is her story.
Eliza was born in Pennsylvania in 1834, the
daughter of Henry Rider and Susan Messmore. before 1850 the census pages
were just tally marks in columns indicating ages and genders.
In 1850 Eliza first appears in the
census pages. You can find her in the home of her parents at the age of
16. Her brother Isaac and his family live next door. Eliza's Father and
her brother are listed as being merchants. Nellie from Little House comes
to mind. Henry's home is valued at $2000, roughly the equivalent of
$200,000 in today's time.
||It appears a family tragedy
happened in the 1850's because Eliza's brother Isaac is no longer found in
any of the records. Isaac, his wife, and his daughter all disappeared.
Isaac's son Henry is the only one of his family that made it thru the
1850's. He can be found in the 1860 census in the home of Eliza's parents.
Eliza's father, Henry, is still listed
as a merchant. His home is valued at $3000 and personal belongings at
$7000. Henry was a very successful merchant, that was quite a bit of money
|In 1860 Eliza can be found
with her own family. Her husband Russell Perry, and children Leonidus,
Cortez, and Byron. Russell is listed as being a Lawyer. His home is valued
at $500 and his personal belongings at $1200.
In 1861 Eliza lost her father. Henry died
on January 5, 1861, leaving behind his wife Susan, his daughter Eliza, and
a grandson Henry.
Russell was a successful and well liked
attorney and he entered the political ring. in 1863 he can be found in the
Indiana House of Representatives, representing Fayette and Union counties.
|In 1870 Russell and Eliza
are still in Brownsville, Indiana. Russell is listed as an Attorney at
Law. His home is valued at $1200 and personal belongings at $1500. A week
after this census was taken Russell died. It was after Russell died that
Eliza moved to Hamilton according to the "History of Shelby County,
Ohio" by A.B.C. Hitchcock.
There she met a young ambitious Irish
man, John Loughlin. They had so much in common, they had both been
thru a lot of hardship, they needed each other soulfully. Even though he
was 18 yrs younger, he who would sweep her off her feet with talks of
being the queen of his Irish castle.
|In 1876 John and Eliza
joined forces and were married. By 1878 they were living in Sidney, Ohio
with dreams of building their own lives together and Eliza was pregnant
with their child.
In the 1880 census you can find John and
Eliza with their newest addition, a 2 year old little girl named Mary.
Also in the house is Eliza's son William Perry, as well as Eliza's mother
John is listed as a school desk
manufacturer even though his new business was still under construction.
The Sidney School Furniture Company would begin production in February of
|The Sidney School Furniture
Company quickly became one of the top school desk manufacturers in the
country. The business did so great that in 1882, only a year after opening
the doors, they built an addition to meet their growing needs.
In November of 1884 John purchased some
land on a hill overlooking Sidney. Having grown up in his Irish family of
stone masons and brick layers he knew the dream was possible. He would
build that castle his father and brothers always talked of building. He
would accomplish his father's dream. And at the same time he would making
Eliza the Queen of his castle like he had always promised her.
In the spring of 1885 construction would
begin. John would build the most majestic and most magnificent home around
and it would overlook all of Sidney, he could even see the roofs of his
factory from his front porch. In 1886 the dream became reality when
construction was completed and they moved in.
|I have seen this castle
called a few different variations of Bonnyconnellan. And there are just as
many claims to it being named by a friend or named after a castle in Cork
County, Ireland. I am going to add another theory to the pile, one that I
think holds the best angle of them all.
name Loughlin comes in many Irish variations. Loughlin, Laughlin,
Mcloughlin, Mclaughlin, O'loughlin, O'laughlin, & others. In the mid 1800's the Loughlin
surname were mainly concentrated in the County of Mayo in Ireland.
I believe the real name has been lost in
translation and human error. In the County of Mayo, Ireland is the only
place on the map you can find anything close to Bonnyconnellan. It's a
town called Bonniconlon. The proper Irish spelling is Bunnyconnellan.
Homeland of Timothy?
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