Genealogist Amy Johnson Crow, who blogs at No Story Too Small, has set a challenge to write about one ancestor each week. I’ve decided to take up that challenge to wake up my (somewhat) languishing blog, but to honor my ancestors. I plan to post every week on Sunday, and I encourage others to join the challenge with me.



I didn’t pay much attention to Thomas J. Lowry, age 15, in Fallbrook, Tioga County, Pennsylvania in the 1880 census. I was much more focused on my great-grandfather, who was a boarder in the Lowry family home. My great-grandfather had only been in America for a couple of weeks by this time, and he probably stayed with the Lowrys because he knew them in Scotland, where he lived before his arrival in America.

The Lowrys had 5 children, some born in Ireland and others in Scotland; son Thomas James was their oldest. His father, Campbell, like my great-grandfather, worked as a coal miner. In 1871, when my great-grandfather was living in Ayrshire, Scotland, the Lowrys were there too, which leads me to believe the families likely knew each other before coming to America.

My great-grandfather first came alone to America, with his wife and children following 4 months later. When my great-grandmother came, she brought their 4 daughters and 1 son. One of the daughters, my great aunt Sarah Judge, was half Thomas’ age.

It could be that Sarah also stayed in the Lowry home with her parents and siblings after the rest of the family got to Pennsylvania in 1880, unless my great-grandfather had found a place of their own to move into. If she didn’t stay with them, I am sure that my great-grandfather’s connection to the Lowrys ensured she met Thomas. She might have even known him in Scotland. Ten years later, she married young Thomas J. Lowry, and they named their first child Campbell, after Thomas’ father.

They had 6 children together and lived all of their married life in Hamilton, Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Thomas worked in the coal mines until he retired as a foreman for the Morris Run Coal Company. He died in 1935 when he was 69 years old, and wife Sarah outlived him by 30 years until her death at the age of 90.

I wonder—was it love at first sight?