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Meet Alexander Molyneaux

From Ballygowan, Ireland

Location of Ballygowan, Ireland

Location of Ballygowan, Ireland

To Bay City, Michigan

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A Dock-Walloper

A person who loads and unloads vessels (ships, freighters, barges, etc). You will also hear them called docker, lumper, loader or stevedore. It's a hard job, but when cargo was moved by hand, it was rough, back-breaking and it could be cruel. It was a job for those who had strong arms and back - who otherwise had few choices in life.

A dock-walloper worked when there was a ship in port and with cargo to be moved. Ships arrived when nature permitted. They might arrive in the morning. Maybe in the afternoon or late at night. A dock-walloper had to be there when the ship was ready and they worked until the job was done. They worked without schedule and were paid as little as possible.

There were no holidays, no job protections and nothing like sick time or health insurance. If you got hurt, you paid for the doctor yourself. If you need time off to heal, maybe your job would still be there when you returned. If not, you waited for somebody else to get hurt.

A Poet

A person who writes poetry. Some people are able to write poetry as a career, those are the ones to whom we give our attention and frequently our respect.

Others write poetry to share their thoughts, feelings and inner-self with those who might listen. Some are seeking to be understood or maybe purging their demons. Others are hoping that their writings will bring respect or a common bond.

Numbered amongst poets are those who hope to trade a slip of paper and a few words for a meal or another drink.

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.

A Compilation from Alexander Molyneaux

The Bay County Historical Society sent us a copy of the Alexander Molyneaux poems. We've placed Alexander's writings on our website with the hope that others will enjoy them as we have.


The Fire of Portsmouth - July 25, 1892

To John Arnolds Bakery at Fifth and Saginaw Sts.

June 19-th, 1864


To Ireland

Our Meeting with a Long Lost Friend

In the Days of Our Youth

An Arabian Wedding Dance

The Vision of the Saginaw River

No title

In Memory of Captain Ben Boutell (Deceased)

Dewey's Victory at Manila - May 1, 1896

To Christmas Morn

Thank you

Once again, we would like to thank the Bay County Historical Society for remembering our search and being kind enough to send us a copy. We deeply appreciate their kindness and the closure it brings.

When you're in the area of , please stop and visit the

Bay County Historical Society &
Historical Museum of Bay County

    321 Washington Avenue
    Bay City, Michigan 48708





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This page was last modified: 01 Aug 2020