Alexander Molyneaux, Jr.
Alexander Molyneaux was a dock-walloper and a poet.
He was born on Saint Patrick's Day, in 1858 - a son of Ireland. Born to a small farm located in the townland of Ballygowan, on the
Kilmorey Estate, in County Down. The farm lies west of Kilkeel and within view of the mudflats and salt marsh of Carlingford lough. As with
anyone born Orange in a Green world, he was a polarizing person. From the family stories that have been passed around, it is easy to be angry
with him and equally easy to consider him a friend.
The little we know of him comes from family stories and certain to be a mere shadow of the real person. Even something as simple as
his name varies: in many places he is called Alec and in others, he is Alex. Myself, I prefer Alexander. As you read his writings, remember that
he was a bit of a scoundrel and drank too much. Also remember, most of all, that he was a poet.
Thomas, his older brother, emigrated to the United States and settled in
Bay City, Michigan.
In his new home, he became a successful and respected landowner. Alexander followed Thomas to
and found work by running a livery. While they kept the family ties, it seems that Alexander never fulfilled the
expectations of Thomas.
Just a few years after arriving, the 26-year old Alexander married 22-year old Anna Doyle (1862-1896). They were married at the
First Presbyterian Church on September 24th, 1885 by Reverend Wight. Since Alexander was a Protestant and Anna was Catholic, it's probable that
the marriage would have gone against the wishes of her family. I think that there's a hint of this in that they married on a Thursday and the
witnesses were the Reverend's daughter and the maid for his household.
From their marriage they had four children:
Gertrude (1886-1964), Kathryn 'Kitty' (1889-1963), Sarah (1891-1960) and Charles (1893-1992). Although he never found the success or respect that
Thomas had, he could provide just enough for his family.
In 1896, Anna died while in childbirth with their fifth child - the child did not survive. Barely able to care for his family when
times were good, things fell apart for Alexander. Anna's family fearing either a pauper's burial, or worst yet, a Protestant burial, arranged for
her to be buried at Saint Patrick's Catholic Cemetery. The two older children were taken in by family (or friends) and the two youngest spent a
short time in an orphanage.
Alexander continued to live in Bay City for most of his life. When he reached his 80's, he would
spend winters with family in Detroit.
Alexander passed on December 4th, 1938. He could not be buried with Anna, but was buried nearby in Elmwood Cemetery.
During his years, he wrote poetry. At one time, the family had a bound collection of his poems - but they have been lost. A search
has been made to find a copy, but without success. It's believed that many years ago, a copy of the book was sent to the
Bay County Historical Society, but they haven't been able to find it.
That said, a member of the Historical Society recently found a collection of Alexander's poems. We are very fortunate that the
Society remembered our search and were kind enough to send us a copy. Most of the poems from this collection are new to us.