The California Tormeys
by Michael Tormey, May 7, 2006
My work on the California Tormeys centers on the lives of John and Patrick Tormey, brothers, Irish immigrants and California pioneers of the mid and late 1800s.
While theirs is a rich history, full of drama and excitement, John and Patrick Tormey were not the only Tormeys who made California their home in the nineteenth century. It just happens to be that they were more well-known than other Tormeys, making it easier today, a century and a half later, to assemble historical facts about their lives.
Personal accounts passed down through families tell of two branches of Tormeys who settled in California: The "Black Tormeys" (so called because of their predominately black hair and taller stature) and the "Red Tormeys" (so called because of their predominately red hair and shorter stature). John and Patrick Tormey, were of the Black Tormey branch (as were their lesser-known brother and sisters who also settled in California). They were all children of Patrick Tormey and Mary Rooney Tormey of Crowenstown, County Westmeath, Ireland. The so called Red Tormeys are said to be descended from Jeremiah Darby Tormey and Mary Collins Tormey, who were from Castlepollard, also in Westmeath.
It is believed that Patrick Tormey (the father of John and Patrick Tormey who emigrated to California) and Jeremiah Darby Tormey were brothers. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence to support this but, to date, little documentation has surfaced to definitively prove family relationships. (This researcher has, furthermore, not even found documentation of who exactly the children of Jeremiah Darby Tormey were that emigrated to California.)
If indeed Patrick and Jeremiah Tormey were brothers, as is believed, then the two large branches of Tormeys who settled in California (the Black Tormeys, who mostly settled in the Contra Costa County area) and the Red Tormeys (who mostly settled in the Solano County area) would be cousins.
There is much rich history yet to be unraveled in researching early Tormeys in California. Visitors to this site are encouraged to please contact Michael Tormey if they have any information that would help piece together the missing details.