Catherine Burke was born in County Galway in 1842. She was the daughter of Martin Burke (1807-1873) and Mary Burke (1807-1896). The family was from Killeenadeema in the Loughrea area of Galway, with possible pre-1800 origins in the Woodford area.
The family immigrated to the US in 1849 when Catherine was seven and settled in the Berkshire Mountains area of western Massachusetts, as did many other Irish immigrants of the time. In her teens, Catherine met a young Irish immigrant from County Mayo, Martin Coughter (1835-1901), who had arrived parentless in 1852 at the age of 17 and within six months was working on a large farm of the Macy family (one of whom soon thereafter founded the department store), located on the western side of the Berkshires in eastern New York state. When he asked Catherine to marry him while she was still only 17 years old, her parents were skeptical and initially reluctant to allow the marriage, with Catherine being so young and Martin being seven years older. However, Martin had earned a reputation on the Macy farm as an industrious and reliable young man. His work ethic, position, reputation, and promises to Catherine’s parents eventually won them over. At age 18, Catherine married Martin Coughter in December 1859.
Eventually settling in Pittsfield, located in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains, the couple would raise a family of 13 children, 10 boys and three girls. Though her husband died 25 years before her, Catherine lived to the age of 83. Her own industrious reputation and concern for others long outlived her. Her 1925 obituary reads:
“Mrs. Coughter was a lovable woman and a mother to all the children in the neighborhood. The youngsters called her Grandmother Coughter. She was the center of a devoted family.” Her obituary then closes with the so Irish sounding testament “Her heart went out to all the weary in this wretched world – and yet she seemed as joyous as though grief and death were nought but words. She wept where others wept, but in her own misfortunes found the food of hope. She cared for the tomorrow of others, but not for her own. She lived for today, and in her living brightened all the sky.”
|Date of Birth||1842|
|Date of Death||Dec 1925|
|Townland born||County Galway|