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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Myles to Go Before I know

Back in 1994, when I first found James Sharkey and family on the census, I was completely taken with the trajectory of his youngest sibling, Myles.  Dominick and Nora started having babies right when they landed around 1871 and finished 19 years later with the birth of Myles Bernard Sharkey in 1890.  The thought of nearly twenty years of spawning exhausts me even from my safe vantage point here in the future.  However, a large family should mean more surviving family-history sources.  Since my great grandfather died young at age 29, I needed to find other lines to connect with, if I was to learn more.

As I mentioned before, that has proved difficult but one of the first lines I followed was that of Myles.  Out of the seven first-generation-born Sharkey children, Myles was the one who most successfully managed the American Dream. You would think Nora would have been quite done with the whole baby thing but, in truth, she seems to have poured her life's remaining energy into nurturing her last bloom.  How else can you explain why five of Myles six older siblings didn't go past the 9th grade in school while Myles finished high school, graduated from Syracuse University and studied medicine at the University of Maryland?  There was time to support him with the other children grown enough to help around the house and taking up trades of their own.

I gave Myles romantic hero status the moment I learned he was born on Valentine's day.  Upon learning he never married, I decided he had been career-driven and had a star-crossed lover whom he only regretted not choosing at the end of his life.  But that is all fantasy, the facts are he registered for the draft in WWI and I believe he must have served because he died in the Veteran's hospital in Bath, NY in 1943 from what I guess was cancer.

In the intervening years, he was a regular at society parties making a good single gentleman to seat with the ladies.  His older sister Mary never married either and, being 14 years his senior, took up the role of lady in his life.  Mary was a milliner but seems to have enjoyed her role as hostess for her brother quite well.  Together, they lived respectfully and comfortably.  I believe the eldest sister in the family, Teresa, who also finished high school and was a teacher, divorced her first husband.  Her daughter seems to have lived with Myles and Mary for a short time as a result.  This always sort of galled me.  If they could look after Lenora, why not look after my grandmother in the orphan asylum? 

It has occurred to me more than once that, perhaps, Myles was gay.  Myles liked parties and was thrown with eligible women often according to the papers of the time, could he really not find one that suited?  I was certain he was handsome and, unbelievably, I found this article the other day.  All things were against me but perseverance because during the early part of the 20th C there were two famous boxers named Sharkey clogging my searches and, in this case, they spelled Myles' name wrong.

But it is him.  As Diana says, "nice eye sockets".    Creepy but cool, I say. I know from his draft registration that the eyes in those sockets were blue and that wavy hair was brown.  I also know he didn't remain a doctor in a hospital or private practice but worked for H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company presumably, as a company physician. 

Myles will always be romantic and tragic to me.  But alas, his line gives me no descendents-- only an interesting glimpse of his life as an immigrant family's success story.


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