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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees with gold and silver leaves by artist Robin Starke is located just outside the Eleanor & John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the "Oklahoma Family Tree" memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history will be preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. This is a great way for your family to make history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Moran Family

Michael John "Mike" Moran was born on October 28, 1885, in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, Ireland. He was the sixth of twelve children born to Michael "Mickey" and Bridget Byrne Moran. The family arrived in New York from Ireland aboard the S.S. Furnessia on April 3, 1903. Mike apprenticed as a bricklayer in New York.

About 1914, the Moran family heard about free land in Montana and moved there to stake a claim. Homesteading laws required settlers to build a cabin, farm the land, and remain there for five years. Yet the Morans, who had lived most of their lives in sunny Ireland, failed to realize how cold it could be at their homestead near Havre, Hill County, Montana, just south of the Canadian border. Shortly after building his cabin and stocking it with provisions, the snows came, and he was snowed in throughout the winter. When the spring thaw finally arrived, he abandoned his claim and his family returned to New York. Mike remained in Montana to work for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company in Great Falls. He also worked as a contractor to build houses and one hotel.

When Mike met a lovely young lady with big blue eyes, he forgot all about the snow. Her name was Frances Marie Cullen, and she was the first of her family born in Great Falls. Her parents, Thomas and Catherine (née Coyle), suffered during the Irish potato famine, and they migrated to northeastern Pennsylvania between 1845 and 1850. Thomas and Catherine had lived on adjacent farms in Bradford County and married. Before migrating to Great Falls, they had three children: Clara; Frederick; and Arthur. Frances and Beulah were born in Great Falls.

Mike and Frances were married on October 28, 1885. Their three children included Marylois (b. 1916); Thomas Michael ("Tommy," b. 1918); and John Cullen ("Johnny," b. 1920). In mid-1920, the family moved to Denver, Colorado, where Mike worked as a contractor to build houses. Misfortune took its toll when Mike suffered from a ruptured appendix. The family's troubles continued when Frances's mother, Catherine Cullen, who lived with the family, became ill and died. In 1926, seven-year-old Johnny became ill with rheumatic fever and was bedfast for fourteen months. After his recovery, his doctor advised his parents to move from Denver, as the thin air would threaten the child's survival.

After four years of health-related expenses, the Mike and Frances decided to move to Oklahoma City, where several of their friends were then living. Mike was the first to go; Frances followed shortly thereafter with the children and household belongings. She was supposed to leave the family pet, a big black Chow, in Denver. The air surely turned blue when Mike met the train and saw the dog bounce out of the baggage car.

The Morans' first home was near St. Joseph's Cathedral at 4th and Harvey in downtown Oklahoma City. They subsequently enrolled their children in St. Joseph's School.

Now settled in Oklahoma City, Mike resumed his trade as a house builder. Even though he had a damaged heart from his illness, John Cullen graduated from the University of Oklahoma Law School, became a lawyer, and practiced law for 43 years in Oklahoma City.

All three Moran children were buried in Resurrection Cemetery in northwest Oklahoma City. Marylois was buried beside her husband, Ralph A. Dreiling, and Thomas Michael was buried beside his wife, Mary Jo (née Keough). Mike and Frances were buried in Fairlawn Cemetery at NW 30th and Shartel.

The Morans liked to subtract a few years from their ages. Mike now rests in peace, as his tombstone, death certificate, and newspaper death notice give his date of birth as October 28, 1887, two years before he was actually born.

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