Named with love

Week Three of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Prompt:     
What unusual names are in your family tree? 

Patrick Valentine Maloney

At 6:45 p.m. on February 1, 1939, Patrick Valentine Maloney died just two weeks short of his 48th birthday. It had snowed two inches that day, bringing the snow cover to 20 inches in Michigan's Upper Peninsula town of Ishpeming, where he lived most of his life and at the time of his death. It’s unlikely Patrick noticed any of that. He died from cancer of the lip and face, which had been treated for 18 months. He had surgery for it on August 17, 1937, but his cancer metastasized, forcing him to stop working on February 1, 1938. He was ill the last year of his life with septic absorption due to the metastasis.

Patrick was born at home to Joseph and Rose Dee Maloney on February 14, 1891, in Ishpeming, Michigan. While I thought Valentine was an unusual middle name for a man, it made more sense when I saw he was born on Valentine’s Day. 

Rose Dee Maloney who got the best Valentine of her life in 1891

In doing further research about Patrick, I found out his nickname was Tad, so I went looking to see if I could find out where that moniker came from. So far, I have been unsuccessful, but guess that it may have been his two older brothers that pinned him with that. 

Patrick was the fourth of seven children—a middle child. He had two older brothers and an older sister and two younger sisters and a younger brother. In 1900, he still lived in the home where he was born—316 Brunnan Street.

In 1910, Patrick is living at his family's new home on 325 W. Ridge in Ishpeming. He is working as a diamond drill helper in the iron mining industry. According to Mining World, Volume 32 from 1910: A diamond drilling crew usually consists of two men, one driller and one helper or tool dresser, with each crew working a 12-hour shift.

In 1912, Patrick, still living at home, is working as a pitman for Lake Superior Mine. An Internet search did not provide any insight for me about what a pitman’s job was, so I turned to Iron World, an iron mining interpretive center in Chisolm, Minnesota. The research center did not have details about this either, but its director called her husband, a former iron miner. He said a pitman was either a laborer in the pit or someone who changed oil in the rigs, such as steam shovels or trucks. The term is no longer used in iron mining.

 In 1916, Patrick works as a fireman, but the company he works for is not listed. Could it be the fire department, or are there firemen who work in the mines? 
His 1917 draft registration reveals he is working for the Oliver Mine Company in Hibbing, Minnesota as a steam shovel fireman. His cousins, Thomas D. Maloney and John P. Maloney of Hibbing were both steam shovel engineers at the time and likely worked for Oliver Mine, as well. Perhaps they  put in a good word for their cousin from Michigan.

After registering for the military, Patrick is called to duty on the USS Caldwell as a Fireman First Class. He serves in World War I (WWI) from February 18, 1918 to January 20, 1919. The USS Caldwell was the lead ship of her class of destroyers built for the United States Navy in the 1910s. The ship served as as a convoy escort in the Atlantic for the United States Navy toward the end of WWI, the same time Patrick would have been aboard.

USS Caldwell

In 1930, Patrick is back at 325 W. Ridge in Michigan working as a steam shovel operator for Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, where he will work for the next eight years. It's the company where Patrick ends his career. Six months following his surgery for lip and face cancer he becomes debilitated with sepsis, which causes a break down in the body's ability to fight infection. It often attacks multiple organ systems in the body that causes death.

I wonder if Patrick's cancer may have been caused by the jobs he held. The particulates he was exposed to in the iron mines? Residual effects from the smoke and soot of fires he fought? I'll never know and Patrick probably didn't know, either.

Patrick Valentine Maloney never found a valentine of his own to marry. Besides moving to Hibbing and working for Oliver Mine for a while, Patrick lived his entire life at his family home in Ishpeming. But he didn’t just work and go home. His obituary reveals he was also a man of deep faith and an active member of his community.

Patrick V. Maloney Dead

St. John's Church, Ishpeming, Michigan
Patrick V. Maloney died at his home, 325 W. Ridge street, Wednesday evening, at 6:45 o’clock. Mr. Maloney was born in Ishpeming, February 14, 1891. For a number of years, he was employed on the Mesaba range and for the past eight years worked here as a steam shovel operator for the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron company. Mr. Maloney was a member of the local Knights of Columbus society and the Holy Name society. He was an honorary member of the Ishpeming fire department and belonged to the Elks lodge of Hibbing. He was an ex-service man, having served two years overseas during the World War. Surviving are three brothers, Thomas J., William F. and Joseph M., all of Ishpeming, and two sisters, Catherine, of Ishpeming and Mrs. S. N. Schaad, of Columbus, Ohio. Funeral services will be held Saturday morning from St. John’s church at 10 o’clock with the Rev. Henry Kron officiating.


  1. Hi. I believe a steam shovel fireman would pretty much be the same as on a train - shoveling coal into the fire. Coal dust could also be the cause of his illness.


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