Monday, May 22, 2006

Famous Cullens

There aren't very many.

There is Countee Cullen, the Harlem Renaissance poet, but Cullen wasn't his birth name (see below).

There was Bill Cullen, the game show host. My great-aunts thought he might be a cousin but I don't think so. But maybe that means that their uncle Joseph had a son named William or Bill, we have lost track of his children.

There is Lord Cullen, who is/was the highest judge of Scotland.

There is Dr. Heidi Cullen on the Weather Channel.

There is Charles Cullen, the nurse/serial killer in New Jersey.

Here are some more suggested by readers of this blog:

Alice (McLaughlin) Cullen, of Glasgow, a leader of the local Labor Party and the first female Roman Catholic member of the British Parliament.

Bill Cullen, successful businessman (Renault Ireland), author and philanthropist.

Bernard Cullen, author and Professor of Philosophy at Queen's University, Belfast. His biography (scroll down)

Who else?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Southern and Protestant Cullens

I think of Cullen as a typical Irish-American surname, with our ancestors emigrating during the potato famine in the 1840s and until the early 1900s, settling in the northeast/midwest, ending up in big cities even if that's not the first place they came to in America.
But I think there might be earlier Cullens in America, maybe from Ireland maybe from England, probably Protestant.
Probably one of the most famous people named Cullen wasn't really a Cullen:

Countee Cullen was very secretive about his life. According to different sources, he was born in Louisville, Kentucy or Baltimore, Md. Cullen was possibly abandoned by his mother, and reared by a woman named Mrs. Porter, who was probably his paternal grandmother. Cullen once said that he was born in New York City - perhaps he did not mean it literally. Porter brought young Countee to Harlem when he was nine. She died in 1918. At the age of 15, Cullen was adopted unofficially by the Reverend F.A. Cullen, minister of Salem M.E. Church, one of the largest congregations of Harlem. Later Reverend Cullen became the head of the Harlem chapter of NAACP. His real mother did not contact him until he became famous in the 1920s.

But Rev. F.A. Cullen seems to be an illustrious African-American Cullen. Where was he from?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cullen as a German surname?

It could mean "From Cologne":

this link at

Geographical Surnames - Derived from the location of the homestead from which the first bearer and his family lived (Leon Meer - Leon from by the sea). Other geographical surnames in Germany are derived from the state, region, or village of the first bearer's origin, often reflecting a division in tribes and regions, i.e. low German, middle German and upper German. (Paul Cullen - Paul from Koeln/Cologne). Surnames preceded by "on" are ovften clues to geographical surnames, not necessarily a sign that an ancestor was of nobility as many mistakenly believe. (Jacob von Bremen - Jacob from Bremen)

McGirr from Clogher, Tyrone

I've been corresponding with a woman named Ellen, who is researching her McGirr family (changed their name to McGarr) and McSorley from Clogher civil parish, County Tyrone, which is where my Cullen ancestors came from.

Here's some information on her McGirrs. Does anybody match this family?

Name became McGarr (I believe upon) arrival in US.

John McGirr & Susan McIlroy (or McIlray)

parents ofPatrick McGirr b 1840 Tyrone married Ellen McSorleyapprox 1866 in Ireland.

Children born in Dromore, Clogher Parish, Tyrone
Unnamed male 3 Nov 1867*
Mary - 25 March 1869
William - 2 November 1870**
Peter - 10 March 1872
Margaret - 3 September 1874
* might have died at childbirth and not named
** - my grandfather

I haven't been able to track down William's siblings in Ireland and don't know if they ever left Ireland.

Patrick and Ellen's marriage records could not be located. Suspect married in RC Aughintaine Church but apparently no records were kept until 1870.

Patrick, Ellen and William arrived New York City 6 June 1888 on the "State of Nevada".

William naturalized in 1984 married Delia Dougherty 28 August 1898 in Manhattan.

Children born in Brooklyn, New York
Mary b 1901 died 1958
Ellen b 1902 died 1904
Joseph b 1907 died 1952
Francis X. b 1914 died 1993.

William died in the flu epidemic on Jan 26, 1917.
Delia died at age 67 in Brooklyn, NY. She was born in Donegal.Of William and Delia's children only Mary, John and Frank had children. I grew up on Long Island which is where some of your later McGirr's lived.