By Matt Schepeler
You can learn a thing or two
from a death certificate…
It is a small world.
Tony Nichols, a friend I have corresponded with for many years through the paper, sent me a death certificate of a relative of his, Humphrey Egan, signed Nov. 5, 1916 by my grandfather, Dr. Cortlandt Schepeler, who was the physician in Brooklyn for years. Dr. Schepeler delivered many (many, many) babies over his tenure, and also saw quite a few people draw their last breath, although I am not sure if that was the case with Humphrey Egan.
Humphrey Egan, whose death certificate is above, sold the land in which St. Joseph’s Shrine was built, shown below in a file photo, for $1.50, which won’t buy you a large cup of coffee in many gas stations today.
Tony tells me that Humphrey, a farmer, was one of the seven Egans who came from Ireland to the United States, probably New York first, and then west to Michigan. The seven were five men: Edward “Ned” Alexander “Sandy” Humphrey, James, and Peter Egan and then two sisters Mary Ann “Amy” and Catherine “Kitty,” who married Brightons in the area – another family that was instrumental in settling the Irish Hills.
Yes, Egan Hwy. bears the name of the Irish immigrants, and here is another nugget.
Tony says that Humphrey sold the land for the present St. Joseph Shrine to the Archbishop of Detroit. The land included approximately 1and 92/160 of an acre, for $1.50 on October 14, 1851. This was recorded in Lenawee County register of Deeds on Jan. 13 1852 as attested by Thomas Mosher, notary public.
According to my grandfather, Humphrey died from a stroke at the age of 75, which was a pretty good life back then, especially for an Irish immigrant that likely saw his share of adventure and hardships in his travels through life.