Family Lineage

Our family can trace their roots on this land back to 1856. We have tried to document the history of the family property by piecing together pictures, articles, historic records, and family stories. The following is a brief accounting of the family origins and lineage as it relates to the ownership of the Elba farm property. This description may take slight detours to follow lineage relating to other family property ownership in the surrounding areas.

John Cronin (1822-1904) immigrated (in 1856) from County Cork, Ireland with his wife Mary Phelan (1827-1867) and his brother, Bartholomew Cronin (1828-10/14/1897). They left a sister, Kate, in Ireland. John and his wife purchased the Elba property upon arrival on a government grant.

 John Cronin (1823-1905)

Mary Phelan (1826-1867)

John's brother, Bartholomew, married Nora O'Connor who was also born in Ireland. It happens that Nora and Bartholomew left Ireland on the same ship and arrived in Detroit before ever meeting. They both farmed in Elba and retired to Lapeer city. They had three surviving children; Daniel, James, and Mary Ann. Daniel married Nora Halpin but were not survived by any children, Mary Ann never married, we are uncertain if James was survived by any children. This branch of the family tree may have ended here.

1874 Plat Map showing John Cronin land ownership (yellow) and Bartholomew ownership (green).

John and Mary had five children on the Elba farm; Jeremiah (1859-5/26/1929), Edward John, Bartholomew, Mary Ellen (1866-1944), and Michael Patrick Cronin (1863-1942).  Mary Phelan died within a year of giving birth to her youngest, Michael. The children were raised primarily by their father.

Jeremiah Cronin (in buggy) & Michael Patrick Cronin (next to buggy)
Circa 1900

Left to Right, Mary Ellen, Michael Partrick, Edward, & Jeremiah Cronin
in front of the Elba farm house.

Bartholomew passed away at a young age. Jeremiah married Hannah Moynihan of Detroit, they moved off the Elba farm to live at a different farm in the area and had a baby that died in infancy.

Michael Patrick Cronin married Julia Agnes Stack (1879-1949) from Detroit in 1911 (six years after his father's death) and brought her to live in the house with Edward John and Mary Ellen, neither of whom ever married.

Julia Agnes Stack & Michael Patrick Cronin
Wedding Photo, 4/15/1911

Michael and Julia had five kids; John Michael (1913-1990), Mary Elizabeth, Catherine Julia, Theresa Eleanor Cronin, and finally Eugenia whom died shortly after birth.

Left to Right, Catherine Julia, Mary Elizabeth, and John Michael Cronin
Elba Farm House, 1916

Julia holding Theresa with Mary, John, and Catherine
Elba farm house, Date Unknown

Left to Right, Jeremiah and his wife Hannah, John Michael Cronin (child), Unknown man.
Unknown Location, 1925
The four kids, their parents, as well as an aunt and uncle (8 people) were all residing in the house for a time. Edward and Mary eventually passed away. Michael and his wife Julia remained at the Elba farm property.

Of the four children eventually the sisters married and moved off the farm to live with their husbands. Catherine Julia married Andrew J Liska and had 3 children in Traverse City. Theresa Eleanor married Ralph O Fleming of Findley and had two sons in Lapeer.

John Michael Cronin remained at the Elba farm and married (in 1945) Margaret Adams (1919-2011), she came to the Elba farm property to live with him.

John worked for the USDA soil conservation division, retiring in the early 70's. John and Margaret had three daughters; Eleanor Ann, Mary Margaret, and Sharon Julia Cronin.

Margaret & John Cronin 25th Wedding Anniversary, 1970

 Left to Right, Mary Margaret, Eleanor Ann, Sharon Julia Cronin
Elba farm house, 1974

As time went on John placed the Elba farm assets into a family trust for the benefit of his wife.

All three of John and Margaret's daughters married and moved off the farm. Eleanor Ann married Larry Kelsch, they had two daughters Jessica Ann (1980) and Lauren Kristin Kelsch.

In the early 1980s John sold about 40 acres of the 80 acre property to ensure support for his wife. With John's passing in 1990 the trust passed to his wife Margaret and was reformed as "The Margaret Cronin Trust" for the benefit of Margaret and her three daughters.

Ailing health required Margaret to be placed under observational care away from the farm in 2004. Family visited the empty farm house occasionally.

Unoccupied, the farm house was burglarized and subject to animal infestations. Eleanor's daughter, (Jessica) and son in law (David) visited the farm house to make repairs with increasing frequency.

Jessica and David partially moved to the farm in 2007 to take care of the property on a more full time basis. In 2010 the two vacationed to, and were married in Dornoch, Scotland.

Jessica and David had three children; Aiden (12/28/2010), Declan (2/26/2013), and Ronan (2/24/2018) Rosemary.

David and Jessica maintained a primary residence in Sterling Heights, MI while acting as live in caretakers to the farm property. As time went on David and Jessica developed an affection for the family history of the farm. Their desires grew for renovation and historic preservation of the family lineage on the property. With the death of Margaret in 2011 the trust assets were to be sold.  December 31st, 2012 Jessica and David purchased the entirety of the remaining farm assets from the family trust.

Upon purchase of the property David and Jessica began a renovation project in 2013 to add onto and restore the condition of the farm house, barn, and land. You can learn more about how the house has evolved on the House History page.

David and Jessica Rosemary; and their three sons reside on the remaining 40 acres of property to this day.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I have heard bits and pieces of this over my life but was never able to put it all together. Now it makes sense. Glad you all are enjoying the farm.
    -Tina M.

  2. Hello Jessica,

    I have enjoyed reading your website. We are planning on remodeling our 100 year old farmhouse this summer. We live here in Minnesota and your remodel looks very similar to what we have planned. After looking through your photos I have a few questions if you wouldn't mind? Our house also has a fieldstone foundation. How did you tie in the new foundation to the existing foundation? I have asked so many different people and received many different opinions. It looks like you also had some challenges with this area? Would you have any suggestions on matching in with the old foundation if you had to do it again? Also, what type of material did you use on the ceiling of your covered porch? I planned on using a vinyl beadboard type of material. I like the way yours turned out, could you tell me what it is?

    Thanks for all your help.

    1. Sorry for the delay. The new basement is a cinder block foundation. This butts right up to the old stone foundation and is tied together with mortar just like any other rock work. We also maintained a structural base with the old foundation meaning that it becomes wider/thicker as you go lower. This does cause it to stick out more where it meets the new foundation but it’s only in a couple of spots. The new porch roof is an aluminum trim product. The bead board looking ceiling is a series of panels held in place with channel pieces on each side.

  3. Hi!
    My name is David Busch.
    My great grandfather was a relative of yours: Bartholomew Cronin.
    He was a fireman in Detroit.
    I believe my mother Rosemary Busch has contacted you before.
    She says she used to visit your home as a child.
    He maiden name is Mackey. Her mother was Genevieve Mackey - Bartholomew's daughter. Genevieve married James Mackey - another Detroit fireman. Anyway... we are trying to find Bartholomew Cronin's residential address in Detroit prior to when they lived on Pearl Street. Do you have to know? or have any photos of Bartholomew Cronin and or his family?
    Dave Busch