Luke Orr taken circa 1870-1890

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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.
at Unknown, Unknown, New York or Pennsylvania USA


Julie Wilde My greatgrandmother was Margaret Orr and was born around 1860 to 1865, I think she was born in Donegal, but lived in Belfast, with her husband Alexander Lyttle, he was a lithographist, they had 14 children, my grandmother and her twin brother were the last to be born in 1907, apart from 4 children the others went far and wide around the world, I am very interested in Luke's photo because the photo I have of my greatgrandmother shows a family likeness, I also look like my greatgrandmother, but where she had dark hair, I am a red head, with blue eyes, and so are a lot of the other great grand children, I wonder if there is a connection, if you are interested I will get my son to upload a picture of my greatgrandmother so you can see if you think there is a likeness.
Aug 12, 2007 · Reply
Willliam Orr Hi Julie, sorry it has taken so long to answer this but I've had many family issues that have taken most of my time the past few years. I have done further research on Luke Orr and have decided he was born in Omagh, not Armagh and I think I have identified most of his siblings who were as follows. Mary, Elizabeth, Jane and one female who is unknown, then, Luke, Robert, Joseph, Matthew, and either William or David. Most of them migrated to New York and one of the daughters, Jane married a Henry Maxwell in New Jersey. Another of the daughters, Mary married David Gordon from Nebraska and the other two daughters I know nothing about.
Jan 15, 2012 · Reply
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