Luke Orr taken circa 1870-1890
Luke was born on a farm outside of Armagh in Northern Ireland in 1845. He was one of nine children, five boys and four girls. Life at best was hard in this somewhat barren country and the year Luke ... show more
Luke was born on a farm outside of Armagh in Northern Ireland in 1845. He was one of nine children, five boys and four girls. Life at best was hard in this somewhat barren country and the year Luke was born there was a potato famine that compelled about half of Ireland's population to go to America. It must have been the reason for sending Luke, at the age of nine, to America to stay with his mother's brother in New York. He embarked alone on a sailing vessel that took three months to reach this country.
He stayed in New York for some time learning the dry goods business from his uncle. In the 1860 census he is listed as living with his brother Matthew in Scranton, PA. At the age of eighteen, we find him in business for himself in Pittston, Pennsylvania. He probably came in contact with the Sharps family through buying woolens for his store. When twenty-six years old he married Elizabeth Sharps, a daughter of one of the prominent local families.
After some time they moved to New York and he and his brothers went into business together. They had a very nice dry goods store, but separated for some reason and Luke started all over again in Brooklyn. This was after James Clinton was born. However, luck was against him. His son, James Clinton, was playing with match's one day and set fire to two apartments and the store, which was only partly insured. He was very discouraged, so he took what was left and moved to Buffalo, New York. Things did not go so well here either and they finally moved to Chicago.
In 1889, after being married for nineteen years, he and his wife went back to Ireland for a visit. In 1893, he was a reporter for some Irish papers at the World's Fair in Chicago, and in 1898, when his youngest child was fourteen, he left home. Apparently, he had never been able to get going well in business in Chicago. The last that was heard of him was that he had gone to live in Seattle, Washington. He wanted his daughters to come and live with him, but they refused.
He was apparently a very likable, pleasant person. A good mixer and a bit of a "Beau Brummel" type. His morals were above reproach with regard to drinking, etc., but his weakness for a woman was no doubt the influencing factor in his life.
He earned plenty of money but spent it just as fast. He had beautiful clothes, white vests, silk hats, etc. He was so stylish that (according to his daughter) they called him the "dude of Scranton". "No doubt he was too big for his shoes", she says. This was probably in his younger days although there are several instances later on, in which he showed himself almost too generous for the good of the family. He was careless about money and very happy-go-lucky.