My Grandparents

My grandfather, Pierce Stephen Corden (b. April 8, 1872), was the first Corden born on Wall Street off East Main St. in Waterbury, CT. He was the tenth child of eleven born to my great-grandparents, Henry and Bridget Mitchell Corden. Five years later, Bridget at age 45 gave birth to Joseph, her eleventh child. Seven years later, an exhausted Bridget passed away. She was 52 years old.

In 1892, at the age of 20, Pierce was working for the Scovill Manufacturing Company. The following year, he obtained a job as a collector for the Peoples Industrial Insurance Company. In 1894, he began working at the Waterbury Clock Company on North Main Street. Pierce would continue working there until 1904.

Sometime prior to 1901, Pierce married my grandmother, Catherine McCormack (b. April 26, 1875) from Plymouth, Connecticut. She was the daughter of James and Sarah (Collins) McCormack. Sometime in the late 1870s, an event occurred within the family that forced Catherine and her sister and brother to be split up and raised by others.

Catherine was raised and cared for by the Guilfoile family of Bishop Street in Waterbury’s North End. She remained with the Guilfoiles until her marriage to Pierce Corden in 1900. After the wedding, the Cordens, made their home at 44 Wall Street. This house would become known as the Corden homestead.

Pierce and Catherine had three children in three years: Henry, Mitchell, and Mary. Many more would follow.

In 1905, Pierce, now referred to as PS, purchased a grocery that became Corden’s Market. The new store was at the junction of East Main St. and Wolcott St. and was directly across the street from Sacred Heart Church. The property had been used as a grocery store since 1877 when John McKane conducted business there. In 1883, John H. Lawlor operated a grocery at the site. By 1887, Thomas F. Ryan carried out business there under the name East End Grocery and Liquor Store. Then John F. Whalen acquired the building and business. He later sold the business to PS but kept the ownership of the building.

Between 1906 and 1914, my grandparents had six children with one, Genevieve, passing away at age 13 months. My father, Augustine, was born in 1911.

PS continued to operate his market for the next 45 years, with the help of his sons and his only sister, Annie, before retiring at the age of 78 in 1950. During the following years, Corden’s Market would operate the lunch room at Sacred Heart High School. The store also operated the concessions at Hamilton Park during ice skating season and at Scovill’s Dam during the swimming season.

Catherine died on December 8, 1939 and the newspaper, the Waterbury Democrat, had this to say about her: “Mrs. Corden was a devoted mother and the welfare of her family was always foremost in her mind. She was held in high esteem by her neighbors and friends and frequently aided others less fortunate than herself.”

Rev. John Dial of Sacred Heart Church celebrated the funeral mass for Catherine and was assisted by three priests, one of whom served as master of ceremonies. In addition, there were ten priests from Thomaston, Bridgeport, Manchester, and Hartford seated in the sanctuary. Burial was in the new St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

Pierce died on December 2, 1951 and was buried next to his wife, Catherine, and daughter, Genevieve.

I have no memory of my grandmother since I was born in 1938, a year before she died. I have a few memories of PS. One thing that stands out in my mind is that he was confined to a wheel chair because of the loss of both legs to diabetes.

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