#20″I Have No Brother Now” by Michael Fennell – 1865 b

“I Have No Brother Now”


 Words written by   –  Michael Fennell

 (Author of Erin Shall be Free)

 Inscribed to his son Charles E Fennell

 Music by -P. R. Nicholls


“I have no brother now”

 Oh, mother dear, come near to me

And sooth my aching brow

Since little “Bobby’s” gone above

I have no brother now.

Tell father comes and ease my mind

He knows his father’s vow

For since our little Bobby died.

I have no brother now.

Oh listen dear, you need not cry

To death we all must bow

You still can charm my heart, although

I have no brother now.

The spirit land to which he’s gone

With garlands on his brow

He’s happy there – yet I’m alone,

I have no bother now.

 Attached is a copy in Michael’s hand the rough draft of the poem he wrote to his young son Charles after the death of his youngest son Robert.

I have no brother now - M Fennell

Robert E Fennell died at the tender age of 6 years in the city he was born, San Francisco, California. The obituary in the Sacramento Union states:  Robert E Fennell, son of Michael and Ellen Fennell died age 6 years, 6 months and 22 days, date of death, December 7th, 1865   He is buried next to his older brother William H Fennell who died July 13th, 1863, also at the age of six years.  Both boys are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, CA.

Charles Emmett Fennell, was four years when he lost he second brother and this poem was written from his father heart to help him understate the loss and to always remember his brother Bobby.

Michael & Ellen Fennell had nine children between the years 1841 – 1859. Sadly, only five of their eight children lived to adulthood.





#13 Uncle Paul

Paul John Fennell

b. 8/14/1909 San Francisco, CA
d. 11/1983 Napa, CA

Paul was your typical Irish San Franciscan bachelor. My first memory of my Uncle Paul was that he lived with my grandpa (Martin Fennell), whom he called, “Bud”.  I asked my uncle why he called my grandfather “Bud” and his reply was that they were ” buddies”.  In fact, my grandfather thought his name was Bud until he started school and the Nuns sternly informed him his name was Martin and that was the name he was to respond to and no other.  Uncle Paul also had a tattoo of a hula dancer that read U.S. Navy under her.  I was fascinated by this tattoo and remember always wanting to get a peek of it.

When I say typical Irish San Franciscan, I mean; never married, drank often, spent time at the neighborhood bar and always lived with a sibling for a time then would live with another.  He loved and spoiled all his nieces and nephews.

The third of four children of Martin Fennell and Mary Cobine, living in a beautiful house on Parnassus Ave, along with his maternal grandmother Kate Cobine and Aunt Anne Cobine until she married.  At the age of 12 his mother died and at that time my grandfather 14 had to quit school to drive a milk wagon to earn money for the family and stay home to be with the younger children.  Their father unfortunately was consumed with grief and ran his mason and building business to the ground and lost the house they were living in.  The children were cared for by aunts and uncles in the city, however, they “had each other” as my uncle used to say.

In 1941 WWII – Paul enlisted in the Navy and served throughout the war in the South Pacific.  Five months of service were with the Commander 1st Group Thirteen Amphibious Forces – Iwo Jima.  Also Participating Flotillia Five campaigns in New Guinea.

Uncle Paul & baby Kathleen at baptism in SF

Uncle Paul holding my Aunt Kathy (baptismal pic w/godfather 12/1941) – Kathleen Ann Fennell

Paul must have loved being at sea because as soon as the war was over he signed up with the Merchant Marines for many years.  When he was home for leave (San Francisco) he would stay at my widower grandfather’s house with my dad and aunt.  My aunt told me he would drive her to her dancing lesson, it wasn’t until years later the rumor of his affair with her dance teacher was revealed.  As my mom would say, “still waters run deep”.

In 1965, Paul was out on a ship somewhere and a wire was delivered simply stated –   “Baby Boy Fennell”, born March 15, 7 pounds exactly.  The shipmates surprised my uncle by throwing a party and breaking into the mess for the ice cream.  He didn’t have the heart to tell them the child was his great nephew, not his own.

My Uncle died in Yountville Veterans Hospital in Napa California in 1983.  He is buried in the Veterans Cemetery in San Bruno, CA with his brother Edwin whom also served in WWII Navy.

I love this picture, he was always sitting at the Formica table in my grandfather’s kitchen, smoking a cigarette, having drink and looking at the newspaper.

I feel it’s important to write and remember the ancestors that didn’t have children.  My bachelor Uncle was a hero in war time and fought for our country, he was a strong influence in the raising of my father and aunt when his brother became a widower and he traveled more and had experience that we’ll never know.

Uncle Paul in grandpa's kitchenscan0001


#11 Mary Charlotte Cobine

Mary Charlotte Cobine

b. 11/1882 New York City

d. 2/17/1921 San Francisco, CA

 When I started my family research, years ago I felt very alone on my fathers.  The only surname I knew was my father’s surname and his mother’s maiden name.  Thanks dad.  Unfortunately, not many relatives on that side of my family are still alive.  First time I saw the surname Cobine was on my great Uncle Paul’s birth certificate, mother’s name, Mary Cobine, born NYC.  So the hunt began. I found only one Cobine family living in Oakland, California (across the bay from San Francisco, where my grandfather was born).  The 1900 US Fed Census reflected Mary Charlotte Cobine age 19, living with her father John Cobine, mother Catherine Cobine and younger sister Anne Cobine 13 years.  Both girls were born in New York City.  This was the first record I found of the Cobine family in California, I did, however, find much on John Cobine living in Oakland & San Francisco from 1875 forward.  It may be possible that John moved out from New York before the family to establish his business or perhaps he was back and forth, but never mind this is about his eldest daughter Mary.

 Unfortunately, I have found no records of this Cobine family in New York City, all California records indicate that both girls, Mary and Ann were born in New York City so the story of Mary begins in Oakland, California at 19years of age.

 Mary and Ann are mentioned often in the Oakland Society pages attending many events, weddings, teas etc.  There is on event in particular that stands out because this is where I believe your Mary Cobine meets her husband Mr. Martin Fennell of San Francisco.

The Summer of 1901 the Cobine ladies, mother and daughters were “summering” in Napa California at Wegner Villa. August 1901 a ball was given by the guest of Wegner Villa, ferns, palms and Chinese lanterns were displayed.  The music and food were wonderful and a grand time was had by all.  Among the guest, Mr.& Mrs. J Cobine (Catherine), Miss Mary Cobine, Miss Ann Cobine and Miss Annie Fennell and Martin Fennell.  It is clear to me that the summer of 1901 my great grandparents met.  There are many other Society Events documented in the Oakland Tribune and Mary Cobine and Martin Fennell are both in attendance, also Martin’s sister Anne seems to be tagging alone at most as well.

 This was an ideal match, the son of a San Francisco Police Officer and the daughter of a San Francisco Saloon owner.  Both tittering on just the right side of the law and the left side of, well, let’s just say, “not the law”. 

 On November 13 1905 a Marriage license was issued in Oakland, CA for Mary C. Cobine age 24yrs and Martin Murray Fennell age 32.  The formal service took place earlier that week at St. John’s Church in Berkeley, CA.

 Martin & Mary moved to San Francisco and had four children – Marion, Martin Murray Jr., Paul and Edwin.  Martin was in a construction business with his brother James and they bought a house on Parnassus Street and sent their children to St. Agnes Elementary, as good Catholics do.

 The 1906 earthquake hit and no damage was done to the house on Parnassus and the Fennell Brothers Construction did very well, after the dust settled and people were ready to rebuild. 

In 1910 Mary’s mother Catherine and sister moved in with them and in 1912, Catherine passed away and Ann married a gentlemen from Kansas, Howard Anderson and moved to Wichita, Kansas to live out her life.

 Mary died suddenly and too soon for both husband Martin and her very young children, the eldest twelve years and youngest 3 years.  On February 17, 1921 Mary died of some sort of heart failure.  Martin never got over the loss of his wife and did not deal with his grief well at all, leaving the children for days alone or with family members.  His business with his brother ended do to “difference”, which was probably his never ending grief and eventually, they lost the house.  The family that purchased the house allowed the children to remain in the lower floor, however Martin moved out and lived with his widowed sister Maggie.  Martin Jr.(my grandfather) had to quit school in the 7th grade and start working to make money for the family. 

I have attached Mary’s obituary because there is a bit of a mystery with the name Marnell, who are they and what relationship do they have with Mary?  OK, anyone can answer this.

SF Chronicle (1869 to current files)

ProQuest Historical Newspapers


June 28, 1921 (pg 6)


FENNELL – In this city , June 27, 1921 Mary C , beloved wife of Martin M Fennell, loving mother of Marion, Martin Jr., Paul and Edwin Joseph Fennell, and sister of Mrs. Howard P Anderson and John, Michael, James Marnell, a native of New York City. (New York paper please copy)

Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral tomorrow (Wednesday June 28th, 1921 at 8:30 o’clock a. m. from her late residence 56 Parnassus Ave , thence to St. Agnes Church, where a requiem mass will be offered for the repose of her soul, commencing at 11 o’clock.  Intermit to Holy Cross Cemetery.


#5 Marriage of Martin Fennell to Anne Murray

Martin Fennell    to      Anne Murray

Born approx. 1830                      Born approx 1842

11/19/1899 SF, CA                      11/2/1906 SF, CA

Both Natives of Birr, King County, Ireland

4/11/1859 Married San Francisco, CA

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake created a lot of challenges for me in researching my ancestors.  The City Hall & City and County Offices were all burnt to the ground along with birth, marriage and death records.  Many of the churches were also destroyed in the quake & fires that followed.   I’ve relied on business and residential directories, news articles, census reports as my main research method.  Working backwards from my grandfather to his grandfather has been quite a chore.  My favorite find was the Marriage Announcement of Martin Fennell to Anne Murray in the Sacramento Bee, dated April 14th 1859.

Simply stated under the title – MARRIAGES:  In San Francisco, April 11, 1859, Martin Fennell to Anne Murray.

Trying to go back farther was a little more difficult; I needed both Anne & Martins parent’s names and/or names of siblings to help me go back further. How and when they arrived to San Francisco, did the families know each other in Ireland or did the families travel from Ireland together.   I wanted a wedding announcement that named the parents of the bride and groom and any other families members that may have been part of this event.

I posted a message on the SFgenealogy website regarding any idea’s anyone would have for my further search and a very nice women from the Daughters of the American Revolution Society in San Francisco sent me a copy of the this record  – Vital Records from San Francisco Dailey Bulletin 1858, 1859 Vol II:

This was extremely helpful, giving me the church name – St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco, it also told me both Anne & Martin were residence of San Francisco.

I spent days in the Catholic Archives and St. Mary’s archive, however, no real luck in busting this wall back further.

Martin & Anne lived full lives in San Francisco with their four boys and four girls.

Martin was a Police Officer when the San Francisco Police was first established, he also was part of the volunteer fire and a member of the Knights of St. Patrick.  Martin & his brother Michael were both builder and mason’s and had contracts with the city to help work on some of the beautiful buildings still standing today.

Descendants of Martin Fennell & Anne Murray: all born in San Francisco, CA


William P. Fennell

3/1860 San Francisco, CA

2/23/1917 Oakland, CA

Mary A, Fennell

9/1861 San Francisco, CA

Margaret “Maggie” Fennell

abt 1863 San Francisco, CA

James S. Fennell

10/16/1864 San Francisco, CA

3/8/1943 San Francisco, CA

Elizabeth T.  Fennell

8/1866, San Francisco, CA

8/19/1951 Alameda, CA

Anne A Fennell

5/19/1869 San Francisco, CA

9/39/1950 San Francisco, CA

Martin Murray Fennell

4/12/1873 San Francisco, CA

1/12/1941 San Francisco, CA

John R. Fennell

abt 1876 San Francisco, CA

2/16/1918 San Francisco, CA

#3 Edward Fennell & Minnie Murphy Scandal

Edward G. Fennell
b. 1875 California
d. 1889 San Francisco, CA
(son of Patrick Fennell b. 1862 Ireland d. Astoria 1882 & Margaret Luddy)
Edward was the eldest of the three children of Patrick & Margaret Fennell.

Edward lost his father at the early age of 7 years. Patrick Fennell b. Ireland 1862, died on board a steamship named “Oregon” as the second engineer in 1882. Per his obituary reads he just “dropped dead”.

I love to research archive newspapers and follow stories – such drama. . .I’ve been researching the Fennell surname in San Francisco, CA finding how they are all related to one another. Here is a great story that was headlining the papers for a about 11 months.

The news article tells it better than I could ever possible.

The Scandal of Minnie Murphy & Edward Fennell:
Feb 12 1889 – Daily Alta California:
“A Shooting Affray” Minnie Murphy Attempts to take the life of Edward Fennell”
Edward Fennell, employed at the Harbor Commissioners, nearly escaped his life Sunday night. In the company of his wife Mary, he was paying a visit to his mother who lives on Noe Street, San Francisco, CA.
At the corner of Sanchez & 24th Minnie Murphy, a domestic employee of Dr. Nelson W. Bardue, approached Mr. Fennell and stated “ I guess I’ll take one last look at your beautiful face”, pulled out a pistol from her dress pocket and fired three shots at him.
One of the balls, passed through his hat, missing his head and the other two did not even come close to his person. Lucky for Edward Fennell, Ms. Murphy is a terrible shot.
Ms. Murphy fled the scene.

According to friends and family, about three years ago Minnie Murphy fell in love with Mr. Fennell. Mr. Fennell took full advantages of young, naive, Minnie Murphy and then refused to marry her,when he got her in the “family way”. Her father was in such a rage at the news of his daughter condition that a vein in his head exploded, causing his death.
Not long after this scandal did Mr. Edward G. Fennell marry Ms. Mary “Mamie” Mullaney.

Minnie is now 18 years of age and has fled a crime scene and is not to be found . Her father is dead and mother an inmate at Napa Asylum for the insane. Her sister resides in San Francisco also as a domestic.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of one Minnie Murphy for the attempted murder of Edward G. Fennell, her former lover.

Police are unable to find Minnie Murphy. Officer Clifford & Dalton have been given this as a special assignment to arrest the young women and have been unable to arrest her. It is the opinion of her married sister, whom, lives at the corner of Castro & 25nd, that she has left San Francisco. According to residence of the Mission District, defraying the expenses of a trial will be no problem for Ms. Murphy. A purse has been subscribed by the residence and two very well known property owners and they are ready to go bonds to keep Minnie Murphy from jail.

Feb 20, 1889
Minnie Murphy Surrenders Herself – Minnie Murphy will answer for the shooting of Edward Fennell – the case never went to trial
Ms. Murphy surrendered herself to the City Jail for the charge of Assault with a Deadly Weapon. She was promptly released with a bond of $2000.00, paid by her employer, Dr. Bardue.
Minnie Murphy expressed that Mr. Fennell seduced her about a year ago, and after she became a mother of his child, he refused to marry her. She stated that she saw Mr. Fennell & his wife walking along and called over to him to prepare himself, because she was planning to kill him. She drew the fire arm, however, she stated she was so upset and she could not remember to aim. Two of the bullets went wide by the mark (Mr. Fennell) and the other clean through his hat.

Feb 25, 1889 – Charges Dismissed
The charges of Assault with a Deadly Weapon have been dropped. Another charge of threatening the life of Mrs. Fennell was booked against the girl. She was immediately released with a bond of $1000.00 paid by Dr. Bardue & Mr. McPherson.

March 9, 1889 – Minnie Sue Edward Fennell
Minnie Murphy, whom shot at Mr. Edward Fennell on Jan. 10th has now filed a suit against Mr. Fennell for $10,000.00 for damages of an alleged seduction. Now Eighteen year old Minnie claims that under the promise of marriage, Fennell has ruined two years of her young life. After Mr. Fennell was done with Ms. Murphy he left her with child and married Mary Mullaney.

Suit for grounds of Seduction – Minnie’s story – She was born in San Francisco, CA and now at the age of 18yrs, her father dead and mother in Napa Insane Asylum. She has one older sister and five younger siblings. She met Edward Fennell, now about 24yrs, over a year ago. He often went to her home. They became intimate with the promise of marriage. She soon found herself in a “delicate situation”. He then again promised to marry her. The night of Sept 20, 1888 she was to meet him at the corner of her street, she waited for hours. She then went looking for him at a friends home, it being late she was invited to stay and that night the child was born prematurely, Sept 20, 1888 . No doubt the early labor was caused of stress to the mother from Fennell’s lack of responsibility.
The child died shortly after birth and the following morning Edward Fennell and his mother arrived to claim the child as a Fennell. Took the body of the wee babe to bury in the Fennell Family plot. Minnie to this day does not know where the babe is buried.
Minnie states she was quite ill after the baby and remained at the home of friends, Fennell did not come by to see her during this time. Minnie states “When I was feeling better, I met him after his work and pleaded that he keep his promise of marriage. He smiled coldly and stated that he already married Mary Mullaney to get her house and lot. Later I found out he had been telling tales of me to ruin my reputation even further. When I confronted him with these, he of course denied them. Then one night I came across him and his wife, I only wanted to scare them with the gun.”

San Francisco, CA – Dec. 12 1889
Edwards Fennell’s Death – A Guard Dies from the effects of a shooting.
Edward G. Fennell age 24yrs– a guard at the Industrial School was shot and killed by Joseph Hughes, yesterday morning. Fennell has just returned from hunting and set his shotgun down by the stable wall. Hughes was examining the piece when it went off accidently entering Mr. Fennell through the right side of his body. Prior to his death, Mr. Fennell exonerated Mr. Hughes for his wound and impending death.

SF Chronicle – Fennell and Hughes went to school together
Hughes was a prisoner at the House of Correction doing his duties at the stable. Fennell, a guard. Hughes and Fennell were former schoolmates and friends and when Hughes went to prison for smuggling whiskey Fennell used his influences within the city system to give Hughes light duties at the facility.
Fennell ordered Hughes to lay down the gun, however, a load explosion went off and Fennell was struck in the chest by a bullet. Captain Foley of the House of Correction exonerated Hughes, that the shooting was accidently fired and Fennell should not have brought a shotgun to the stables of the Institute. Fennell is well known for his Buckley Politics and ran the district of 24th and Noe Valley. He had trouble some time back with one Minnie Murphy, however, all accounts were dropped.