Tully Family History

Our Early History is snapshot of where Joseph Patrick Tully came from and brings forward some of the forces that shaped his life and outlook.

Our family history really begins for us in Ireland, circa 1850, when William John Tulley was born near Donegal, Ireland. We know very little about our Irish history other than William immigrated to the United States in about 1870, according to some census records.

On July 8th,1878, William married Mary-Jane Andrews of Bridgeport Connecticut. The young couple settled in Wisconsin, near Delavan.

This is the only picture I am aware of showing William John Tulley and Mary-Jane Tully….Clearly, it appears to be an early ‘composed’ picture of them when they were in their later years.

William John and Mary Jane Tulley

Mary-Jane Tully (Andrews)                                 William John Tulley

Born: Aug 4, 1855                                                      Born: Circa 1850,   Bridgeport, Connecticut                                        Donegal, Ireland

Died: July 18, 1930 Chicago, Illinois           Died: Alive in1920 (Wis.

Census 1920)

William and Mary-Jane were hard working, farm folk and somehow managed to purchase farmland, where they began to raise their family.

It is interesting to note that William spelled his name as Tulley and Mary-Jane used the more familiar Tully spelling. Apparently she believed that using the ‘e’ was ‘putting on heirs’, suggesting that William had simply added the ‘e’ to his name for status. However, many official documents exist showing both spellings for both of them, suggesting that the ‘e’ was added or dropped routinely.

Of even more interest is the fact that their children used either, and possibly both, spellings as they wished. There is much evidence to suggest that we Tully’s have a history of choosing and adopting a name that we like, both in the terms of a surname as well as given names. One does not have to dig too deep to find members in our current family who have decided to use a name that they like better than their given name.

Between 1879 and 1897 Mary-Jane gave birth to 11 children. Again, the surname spellings are as they are recorded in our family documents.

To get a sense of what the sibling relationships were like for Patrick Joseph, (grandfather to the first cousins and great grandfather to the second cousins) when he was growing up, I have calculated the approximate ages of his brothers and sisters when he was 5, 10 and 15 years old. By looking at the relative ages, you can make an educated guess as to who he might have been close to.

Ages of siblings when Patrick Joseph was:            5yrs    10 yrs 15yrs

Kathleen Tulley                     July 14, 1879                      17      22       27

Ellen Tulley                            May 20th 1981                      15      20       25

John Tully                              March 8, 1883                        13     18       23

James Tully                            September 9, 1884             12     17       22

Christopher Tully                  July 6, 1886                       10     15       20

Margaret Tully                      April 12, 1888                    8        13       18

Edward Tully                         June 3, 1890                         7        12       17

Patrick Joseph Tulley         February 14, 1892        5        10       15      

Dominick Tully                      February 1, 1895      died at aprox 1 year

Bernard Tully                         March 14, 1896              Died in early  years

Adeline Tully                         March 28, 1897               –              5          10

It is not hard to understand why Patrick Joseph or ‘Joe’ as he decided to call himself, and his older brother ,Edward, became business partners. They were only a year and a half apart in age and all of their other brothers and sisters were significantly older. As a result, they literally grew up together and were the best of friends from birth. Likewise, his slightly older sister Marge (Margaret) was a mainstay in his early life when he left home to work in Chicago. It was Marge who was able to get him to take some night school courses while he lived with her in Chicago.

By all accounts, growing up in the home of William and Mary-Jane was a wonderful experience. Without the electronic devices and the instant communications we have today, farm life in the late 1800’s was very isolated. In addition to sharing in the farm chores, the children would have depended on each other for companionship. Most certainly, they also lived their early lives in close association with nature and the animals they had on the farm. This is likely where Patrick Joseph, the founding father of our branch of the family, developed his great passion for hunting and fishing.

My father, Bill, son of Patrick Joseph and head of Tribe William, often spoke about his father’s love of hunting and fishing and recounted many stories of adventures while hunting and fishing in Ontario’s north country or at one of the many hunting and fishing cabins that Grampa Tully owned over the years. What always came through in the stories was Grampa Tully’s love of the outdoors, his enjoyment of being with his children and his wonderful sense of adventure.

While William and Mary-Jane, are our Great or Great-Great Grandparents, depending where you are in the family tree, it is sad that we do not really know a lot about them. Patrick Joseph left home at an early age and initially travelled throughout the United States.

My father, Bill also referred frequently to the fact that his father left the Tully farm when he was only 13 years old. We do know that he worked in Chicago selling magazine subscriptions door to door for a while and while there, lived with his older sister Marge whom he was apparently very close to. Marge was able to get him to attend night school while living with her.

At some point he was on the move again while he was still quite young. While in his late teens, he and his brother Ed teamed up and developed their skills as salesmen. One of the stories Dad often repeated over the years was of a young Joe Tully hiring native children in the southern United States to go into the swamps to collect wild orchids for him. He paid the children 3 cents a piece for the flowers and then took them to local carnivals or fairs where he sold them for $1.00 each. His ‘pitch’ was to target young men who were accompanying pretty girls at the carnival or fair and challenge them to demonstrate their love of their sweetheart by giving them one of his beautiful, exotic and expensive orchids. The story goes that his orchids always quickly sold out.

As time passed, the two brothers became exceptionally good at their selling and promoting skills. Their business evolved into promotion company that would represent manufacturers that had new and innovative products that needed to be introduced to the public. As their reputation grew, so did their income and standard of living. They began working in the major cities in the U.S., stayed in the best hotels and then they met two sisters…….

Ed and ‘Joe’ Tully crossed paths with Myrtle and Veda Popham, two young ladies who had come down from Vancouver to find work . Both were well educated, bright and attractive…..Ed was the first to fall under the spell of Veda and they married in Seattle Washington on December 18, 1914.

Joe was a little slower, or possibly it took Myrtle a little longer to make up her mind….She once told me that Joe wanted to get married in a hot air balloon at the San Francisco Worlds Fair which started on February 22, 1915. He apparently thought it would be a great start to their life together……..She obviously disagreed about the balloon, but they were married ‘on the ground’ in a civil ceremony on February 26th 1915 four days after the start of the year long San Francisco Worlds Fair and two months after ED and Veda married in Seattle.

Then the business really takes off……. Continued in ‘Joe and Myrtle…..’



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