Cornelius J. Harrington (1802-1878)

The Story of Cornelius J. Harrington – From Killarney to Dushore (1802-1878)

Maureen Quinn Dwyer, USA

Ice cream! Who does not love ice cream? I think my love of ice cream is in my genes. This love was reinforced by my visits to Dushore, Pennsylvania in the 1960s.

My maternal great aunt and uncle, Mildred Harrington Snyder and Abraham F. Snyder, lived in Dushore. My “Uncle Abe” ran the family business, the Foremost Dairy Company, which sold delicious ice cream! The predecessor company to Foremost was Harrington and Company which had its Harrington’s Ice Cream. I do not believe I have enjoyed eating ice cream as much as I did in Dushore. These wonderful memories are thanks to my maternal great great grandfather, Cornelius J. Harrington.

Cornelius J. Harrington was born in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland in September 1802. His parents, Patrick and Nora Sweeney Harrington, likely were poor tenant farmers in County Kerry. Cornelius immigrated to the United States in 1827 after the death of his first wife. He immigrated with his young son, Jerry. “Old Cornelius,” as he later was called, initially lived in Berwick, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where he worked on a nearby canal. Then, in 1828, he settled in Dushore, Cherry Township, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania (at that time part of Lycoming County) on the Fred Saxer farm. Cornelius is believed to be the first Irish Catholic to settle in Cherry Township. (The first permanent settler of Cherry Township had settled there only three years before.)

Cornelius married Mary Ann Litzelswope in 1829. Mary Ann was born in April 1815 in Mittenminseln, Germany. She was the daughter of Joseph and Anna Marie Litzelswope, who were the first German Catholics to settle in Cherry Township. On September 4, 1832, Cornelius signed a Declaration of Intention to become a citizen of the United States. At that time, he renounced “forever all allegiance to every foreign state – in particular the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.”

Over the next several years, many other Irish immigrants settled in Dushore, Cherry Township in an area that was referred to as the Harrington District. Cornelius and Mary had twelve children, eight daughters and four sons. Their first daughter was born in 1830, and the last daughter was born in 1858. Their fourth son, James H., and my maternal great grandfather was born in 1851. Two of their children died in infancy.

According to the census records, Cornelius described himself as a farmer. It is noted that he was able to read and write, although Mary Ann could not. Cornelius purchased 400 acres of land at a tax sale. Also in February 1840, he purchased 196 acres of land in Cherry Township for $100! By 1850, he stated that the value of his real estate was $700. In 2016, Cornelius’ real estate would have a value of approximately $6,000,000. A picture of the Harrington Homestead from about 1900 is shown below along with a Harrington Ice Cream truck. (These photos were contributed to the Sullivan County, PA Genealogy Project by my first cousin once removed, Frank M. Snyder, for Snyder and Harrington: A Pictorial Family History.)

 Homestead
Harrington Homestead from about 1900

Cornelius must have been a man of many talents. In addition to his farming activities, he served as Sullivan County Coroner in 1852. Cornelius also helped his son James found the dairy business in the county. By the early twentieth century, that business grew to be one of the largest dairy and creamery businesses in the northeastern United States. Cornelius and Mary Ann’s children and grandchildren became very prominent residents of Dushore and Sullivan County, Pennsylvania.

Cornelius died on July 6, 1878 in Cherry Township at the age of almost 76. His obituary mentions that he was “among the earliest residents of Sullivan County, having lived here for upwards of 50 years.” He is buried in St. Basil’s Cemetery in Dushore, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania.

Harrington's ice cream truck
Harrington’s ice cream truck

Cornelius had great courage in immigrating to an unknown and very remote area of Pennsylvania more than 190 years ago. In fact, when Sullivan County was founded in 1847 by the separation of part of Lycoming County, the population was less than 4,000. It still is the second-least populous county in Pennsylvania with less than 7,000 residents according to the 2010 census. Because of Cornelius’ successful farming business his son started an important dairy and creamery business that gave me and many others delicious memories.

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