The Creaghe Name in the United States - Creaghe Family Historical Society
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The Creaghe Name in the United States

09 Aug The Creaghe Name in the United States

By James Corning (1919-200)
ca 1997

The Creaghe name in the USA dates back to 1872 when St. George Creaghe (1852-1924) and his brother Gerald (Paddy) Creaghe (1856-1880) left their parents’ home in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland and settled in Apache County, Arizona Territory after one-year sojourn in the mining camps of western Colorado. They were citizens of Great Britain as all of Ireland was then under British control and had been for seven centuries.

In Arizona they went into the cattle business on a ranch at Coyote Springs, east of Round Valley (later, Springerville), Apache County and were successful. St. George (my mother’s father) also held public office several times. In the 1870s territorial Governor Fremont appointed him to the Board of Supervisors. In the 1880s and 1890s he was elected assessor then treasurer, and was twice elected sheriff of Apache County. His brother was ambushed and killed in 1880 on the lonely trail south of Springerville carrying US mail.

In 1877 Grandfather (St. George) married Sara(Serapia) Bazian whose father was a lawyer. Both of her parents were descendants of colonists who left Spain for the New World, much of which was under Spanish domination. From this union have come all of us descendants of six of their 10 children. The six were in Anita[Anna] Creaghe Hillyer (1878-1969), wife of Granby Hillyer; Gerald F. (Jack) Creaghe (1879-1941), husband of Nancy McClain Creaghe; Richard F. (Dick) Creaghe (1882-1940), husband of Nan Spivey Creaghe; Ethel Creaghe Corning (1889-1966), wife of James G. Corning; Lola Creaghe Gordon (1893-1956), wife of Arthur C. Gordon; and Lawrence P. Creaghe (1891-1961), husband of Nell Bundick Creaghe. The four unmarried children were Madge (1887-1943), Helen (1886-1910), Sydney (Toby) (1896-1921), and Mary, who died in infancy. All of the above persons and their spouses lived and died in the 1852-1977 time period. All are buried in Fairmont Cemetery, Lamar, Colorado, except Anita[Anna] and Granby Hillyer (Denver) and Paddy Creaghe (Arizona).

The writer (James Corning, born in Lamar, February 9, 1919) remembers a few things about Grandfather: his tall, lean, “Old West” appearance, his English-Irish ways and speech and his blue-green eyes. I also remember riding in his Dodge touring car, watching him puff clouds of pipe smoke from his leather rocking chair in his living room, and listening to his family conversations. Grandmother always called him “Mr. Creaghe”, and he called her Sarah. Both were held in high esteem by their children and in-laws.

Of their 10 children, three were before my time: Toby, Helen and Mary. The other seven I knew very well and saw them often. I would describe all of them as colorful, fascinating and very independent in spirit. This description also applies to those they married – Granby Hillyer and Arthur Gordon, both very successful lawyers; my father (James G. Corning), a farmer; Aunt Nan who was elected Prowers County Superintendent of schools after late uncle Dick died in 1940; Nancy McClain who taught school [at the] old Pioneer [School] in Lamar in the late 1920s; and Nell, a housewife. I also knew Nell’s mother, Mrs. Bundick, who was one of the most gracious and refined women I have ever known. I last saw Mrs. Bundick in 1961.

All of the Creaghes had a good sense of humor and were committed to upholding high standards and providing good homes for their families. All of them were in the social whirl in old Lamar! Hillyers moved away to Denver in 1923 and had a lovely three-story brick home at 841 Washington.

It has always fascinated me that part of the Creaghe family in Lamar was Catholic and part was Protestant; that Grandfather, a lifelong Episcopalian (Anglican), and two of his sons (Jack and Larry) were Free Masons; that the children of the three sons were Episcopalians and Methodists; and that the nine children of the three Creaghe daughters were Catholic. There were the usual family disputes, but not once did I ever hear any arguments over religion. Close family ties crossed over religious lines. For instance, Uncle Jack, a 32nd degree Mason, and Aunt Madge, staunchly Catholic and daily communicant, were the closest of friends all through the years. Both lived on at the old Creaghe house with Grandmother after Grandfather died in December 1924. Uncle Jack left when he married Aunt Nancy in 1929. Aunt Madge, who was never married and was clerk of the District Court, lived on in that wonderful old home until her death in 1943. Grandmother died in 1936. It was always interesting to me that Arthur Gordon was a Congregationalist; Aunt Nell an Episcopalian as was Uncle Larry (Lawrence P.), her husband; Granby Hillyer a Southern Baptist and Mason; Aunt Nancy a Methodist as were Aunt Nan and my dad (James G. Corning) whose brother and brother-in-law were Methodist ministers.

I can honestly say that my mother (Ethel Creaghe Corning) and Dad loved the entire Creaghe family and throughout the years maintained good relations with all. Dad always enjoyed a drink and a visit with the Creaghe men and Granby Hillyer. Arthur Gordon did not drink but he and Dad spent many wonderful hours together “talking sports” and listening to ball games on squawky radios. Mother and Dad were with Toby Creaghe and his girlfriend when Toby was killed by a car on a rainy night in Lamar in 1921. The news accounts in all three Lamar newspapers said that the funeral was the largest in the history of Lamar.

The funeral for Grandfather[St. George] in 1924 was held at the Creaghe home with an Episcopal priest from La Junta presiding as at that time there was no Episcopal Church in Lamar. The news articles said that his fellow Masons attended the funeral in a group. Grant Stearns-Smith reported in a page one article in Lamar Daily News in 1961 that Larry B. (son of Lawrence P.) Creaghe donated Grandfather’s Masonic jewels and apron from Donoughmor Lodge in Ireland to the Lamar Masonic Lodge where it is in a glass display case.

In 1969 I began corresponding with an Athlone, Ireland, businessman, Mr. William Case, whose home I visited in 1978. As an officer of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Dublin, Mr. Case researched old records and found that Grandfather had been granted a dispensation to join the Masons before age 21, before leaving for the U.S. The lodge he joined was his father’s lodge at Clonmel. This lodge still exists as Tipperary Lodge. Although I have never been a Mason, Mr. Case showed me all through the centuries-old, three-story Grand Lodge on Molesworth Street in the best part of Dublin, not far from the Royal Hibernian Hotel and Leinster House. I signed the guest register and, as a sign of goodwill, put a donation in the collection boxes for the Masonic Boys’ School and the Masonic Girls’ School in Dublin, capital city of the Republic of Ireland and city of English, Irish, Protestant and Catholic traditions and culture.

Grandmother and Grandfather Creaghe moved to Lamar from Apache County, Arizona, in 1898. Their 10,000-acre cattle ranch in Baca County, Colorado, and Cimarron County, Oklahoma, was lived on, operated at different times by the Creaghe sons, Jack and Dick and their families. Uncle Jack’s daughter, Geraldine Cuneo of Albuquerque, has much information on Grandmother’s family history in Syria, Spain, and Spain’s colonial empire in North and South America, obtained from Grandmother’s great nephew in Albuquerque, Mr. Isauro Bazan (retired from diplomatic service). Grandmother’s father and her brother, Jauquin Bazan, were prominent in the Southwest. A cousin, Miguel Otero, was territorial governor of New Mexico and was author of the book My Life on the Frontier. One of her sisters, Emma, married a Mr. Freudenthal (Jewish and an owner of New York Times).

In the many times I was in the Creaghe house, I never once saw Grandmother when she was not in formal attire. I have often wished that I had asked many more questions about their early days in Apache County and the towns of Springville and St. Johns. She always said eastern Arizona was the last refuge of the outlaws. Did they know the Erps, the Clantons, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday, Clay Allison and Tom Horn? I don’t know. I never asked. But they surely knew Colonel Goodnight, Sheriff of adjoining Navajo County, and Commodore Owens, Sheriff of Apache County; each of whom has a whole chapter in the book Fighting Men of the West by Diane Coolidge. County records show that Grandfather defeated Commodore Owens in the 1889 election for Sheriff. Owens was seeking re-election. If any of you readers are ever in St. Johns, Arizona go to the Sheriff’s office. There you will see two pictures of Sheriff Creaghe – a single portrait and a group photograph with seven deputies, one of whom is Commodore Owens.

This article was taken from Helen Gordon Moore’s book put together in 1997. It is verbatim except for a few clarifications and corrections.

SBC, August 9, 2015.

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