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The McCoy's and Rooney's. Beaver County Connections

By Patrick Riley

Milestones Vol 33 No. 4

My grandmother, Mayme Morrow (1898-1993) was the daughter of Josephine Miller and Samuel F. McCoy. I have been hearing stories about the McCoy's and Rooney's since I was a small child. The following is what I have pieced together from these stories and independent research.

On December 5, 1901, Dan Rooney purchased Lots 26, 27 and 28 from the Allaire Land Company for $1050.00. These lots are located in Monaca, Pennsylvania bordering Beaver Avenue and Colonial Street. On May 26, 1904, Mr. Rooney purchased Lot 29 in the same plan for $400.00. On September 26, 1904, Daniel and his wife Margaret sold the lots (26, 27, 28 and 29) to Mr. F.L Hasdorff from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for $16,000.00. On the original deed it shows F.L. Hasdorff, no first name given. This possibly could be Frederick L Hasdorff from West Virginia, the treasurer of a brewery. Further research will have to be conducted on this matter.

My grandmother's family lived up Mixture's Hollow, which was located between McGovern Boulevard in Crescent Township and Five-Points in Hopewell, Pennsylvania. The McCoy family lived on one side of the street and the Rooney's lived just opposite. It is unknown when the Rooney's moved there but my grandmother was 6-8 years old so it would have been 1904-1906. Catherine Rooney, Dan's mother ran a boarding house/tavern called Rooney's Hotel and the rest of the family helped her run the business. This hotel was located adjacent to the railroad tracks at the end of Hindmarch Street in present Glenwillard. In those days the area was known as Wireton and many old-timers still refer to that area as such.

Josephine McCoy (1877-1954) and Margaret Rooney (1881-1967) were neighbors and close in age. They were both devout Catholics, and were involved in getting a Catholic Church for the area. Catholics in those days had to go to Sewickley for church services. When my grandmother was young, Dan and Margaret Rooney were chosen to be her Godparents. The McCoy children were Kenneth (b. 1896), Mayme (1898), Edna (1902), John (1904), Dorothy (1906), Mary (1908) and Joseph (1910). The Rooney's were Art (b. 1901), Daniel (1903), James (1905), John (1908) and Vincent (1909).

My grandmother always said she felt bad looking through the kitchen window and seeing the red-haired Rooney boys crying their eyes out doing dishes. In those days everyone had chores to do! She always used the term boys, so more than one Rooney boy lived there at the time. Mayme and Kenneth would often keep an eye on the young Rooney children. She said she would often walk with Art to a little general store located on Jeanette Street and McGovern Boulevard, a mile or two from Mixture's Hollow. There they would buy penny candy and sit on a bench out front by the old horse hitching post. She would tell Art stories of how, when he would get older, he would own a train made of gold. In these days the McCoy's were as poor as the Rooney's.

When meetings were held in 1910 to raise funds for a new church, the committee would meet at the Neilan House in South Heights, the Eberle Home or the Rooney Hotel. On March 13, 1910 the building committee met in Rooney's Hotel and it was decided a dance would be held to raise money in April. Miss Neilan offered a diamond ring to the person who could raise the most in cash donations. Agnes Rooney (Dan's sister) was awarded the prize. Over $1000.00 was raised and a Woman's Auxiliary was formed with Josephine McCoy as President. Josephine's brothers Joseph, George, Edward, Guss and John were also involved. The Rooney's were also one of the charter families. John Morrow (my great-great grandfather) donated the stone for the foundation. The church was to be named St. Catherine of Sienna after Mrs. Catherine Hoevler who donated the alter. The first mass was held at the new church on August 15, 1910.

Kenny McCoy would often hunt and trap to help the family. He was out hunting rabbits alone when his gun went off as he crossed a fence and killed him. Nobody could find him for days in the deeps woods. My grandmother prayed and prayed for a sign and one night she saw Kenny near a fence. She knew right where that was and the next day they found Uncle Kenny. Kenny McCoy's was the first funeral in the new church. My grandmother was crushed by Kenny's death and never spoke of him without getting upset.
Nobody can pinpoint the exact date that the Rooney's moved, but it must have been the summer of 1910. The area has changed and memories fade. The location of the Rooney Hotel is now a modern home. The hotel allegedly burned down many years past. When Duquesne Light expanded its facility and widened Route 151, the small cluster of houses were destroyed on Mixture's Hollow. The old general store is now a residence. Once in a great while someone mentions Wireton.

In a recent conversation with Al Kephart, a longtime resident of Glenwillard, he said Art Rooney would occasionally show up at Mariano's Bar (near St. Catherine's) and quietly sit in the corner smoking a cigar. Was he visiting the old neighborhood and reminiscing? Did he know that he was just two houses down from Mayme's sister or that my Uncle Jimmy Gilligan the boxer (featherweight, 1931-1942) lived just next door? I wonder if he remembered sitting at the store or the McCoy's and those hard days so long past. We may never know, but long ago our families crossed paths and to this day the Rooney's are fondly remembered by the old-timers in Wireton and of course the McCoy's.


Ruanaidh, The Story of Art Rooney and his Clan. Art Rooney, Jr., Geyer Printing Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 2008.

Beaver County Courthouse, Recorder of Deed, Beaver, Pennsylvania.

Souvenir of the Pearl Anniversary of St. Catherine of Sienna Church, Wireton, Pennsylvania, 1942.

Al Kephart, Regina Morrow Riley and Mayme Morrow Deaver, personal Communication.