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Our family in Ireland in the early 1800s

Dominic Flanagan was born in 1800. We believe he was born in county Roscommon, which seems plausible given the high concentration there of the Flanagan family name. In this area of Ireland the Catholics were poor tenant farmers under British landlords. By the 1800s the Catholic Penal laws had been repealed but it was not until 1828 that Catholic emancipation was passed. As a result, records from this time are scarce and disorganized. In the Catholic Parish of Loughglynn, or Lisacull, on Feb 6 1826 a Dominic Flanagan married Bridget Dougherty, and on 22 May 1841 Patrick Flanagan was born to Dominic Flanagan and his mother Bridget.


On 14 August 1810 in the far north of Ireland, John Devlin and his wife Rose McLaughlin in Iskehene had their firstborn son, John, in a cottage named Cutt, on the far side of Inneshowen, in County Donegal. His mother Rose was from Glenelly, a small town near Moville further north on the Inneshowen peninsula. Cutt was about four miles from the city of Derry, known to British Loyalists as Londonderry after it was granted to the city of London in the late 1500s as a ward. John’s father and his uncle George occasionally supplemented their living by distilling poteen, or Irish whiskey and selling it into Derry.  They were supposedly chased from Ireland by the British Revenoors (tax collectors) around 1830.

On July 20, 1816 in the city of Kilkenny, Ellen Delany was born to Martin Delaney and Mary Mahoney, in Kilkenny. She was baptized in the Catholic parish of St. Canice, and the family address was listed as Greensbridge, in the Irishtown section of Kilkenny. Irishtown in Kilkenny is settled around the great 13th century Norman cathedral of St. Canice’s, which at the time of Ellen’s birth was run by the Anglican Church of Ireland. Kilkenny is situated on the River Nore, and at the turn of the century the town’s economy had been transformed from granaries to woolen mills, and by 1821 there were eleven woolen mills operating, with the primary product being woolen blankets. During the 1820’s the British passed legislation that repealed the system of tithing to the Church of Ireland, they relaxed restrictions on the ownership of land by Catholics, and they allowed for the first time in 300 years the operation of the Roman Catholic Church. Martin and Mary are buried in the Thornbush cemetery (left).


In 1838 Ellen married Patrick Fox. Their daughter Mary was born Jan 17, 1840, and she was baptized in St. Canice’s Roman Catholic church. The present St. Mary’s church building is built about 500 meters from the Cathedral, and the building was completed in 1840, so Mary was born into a period of resurgence of the Catholic church and we imagine her to have been one of the first to be baptized in the new chapel (pictured right). Three more children were born to Patrick and Ellen in Kilkenny.


In March 1811, in Benburb, Tyrone, the site of the 1646 defeat of the British by Owen Roe O’Neil, Hannah O’Neil was born to James O’Neil and his wife Nancy Hagen. James’ father is Barney O’Neil. Not much is known of Barney and his family, and whether his ancestry connects with the Great O’Neil of Tyrone. Hannah and her brother Frances will leave Tyrone and be in Glasgow Scotland in 1835.




John’s eldest brother Edward died at sea in 1820, and according to his handwritten record in the family bible John Devlin arrived in Quebec in 1832 with his Father John and his brothers George and James, and perhaps with other siblings Michael, Rose, and Grace.  He reports that his father died much later in Quebec, his brother George stayed in Quebec and moved to the US in year 32 (perhaps at age 32?), and his brother James died in Quebec.  John later traveled to Glasgow where he married Hannah O’Neil on June 25, 1835 and where his first children were born. His eldest, Edward, was born in Glasgow November 25, 1835. The following family birth records of John Devlin also show the movement of the family for the next two decades:

Son Edward was born Nov 21, 1835 at Glasgow

Daughter Grace was born August 8, 1837 at Glasgow

Son James born 1839 in Glasgow, died young

Daughter Agnes was born Sept 2, 1841 at Glasgow

Daughter Rose was born May 26, 1843 at Glasgow

Daughter Mary was born Nov 5, 1844 at New York

Daughter Hannah was born Nov 6, 1846 at Milwaukee Wis.

Daughter Bridget was born Nov 21, 1848 at Milwaukee, Wis.

Son John was born June 10, 1853 at Winnabago, Wis.

Catherine was born June 5, 1856 at Winnabago Wis.


The family records also indicate that the family was accompanied to Wisconsin by Hannah’s brother Francis and John Devlin’s sister Mary. Edward Devlin was a young man by the time the family moved to Winnabego, Wisconsin. They lived in a log cabin next to an Indian reservation, where they had oil paper for windows and the Indians would open the curtains and stick their heads inside. They had little money and did not wear shoes indoors during winter. During summers Edward worked along the Mississippi and sold patent medicines, and he had the occasion to watch the second Lincoln-Douglas debate on August 7, 1858 in Freeport, Illinois. Soon thereafter the family learned of the growing business opportunities in a new mill town in Massachusetts, and they moved again to Lawrence, Mass, where they remained and made their living in the grocery business.


In 1849 Patrick Fox, his wife Ellen, and their children Mary, Katherine, Patrick, and Anne left Kilkenny and settled in Lawrence Massachusetts. Patrick Fox was listed in the Lawrence City directory as a Hatter, suggesting that perhaps he brought with him skills from the mills of Kilkenny and chose to settle in Lawrence because his skills were in demand there.  Among other settlers in Lawrence close to the family were the Delanys and the Mahoneys, perhaps cousins of Ellen.


Around 1856, 15 year old Patrick Flanagan left Ireland for Ashton upon Lyne, near Manchester England, where he sought employment in the cotton mills. One year later, 1857, he sailed for America and settled in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where became employed at the Pacific Mill, the largest employer of the day. In 1860 Patrick was shown in the US Census in Lawrence as a boarder, age 20, together with Dominick Flanagan, age 60, presumably his father.


Civil War – Connecticut 1st Heavy Artillery Regiment

Patrick enlisted in the 4th Connecticut Heavy Artillery on May 22, 1861 and served for four years. His company participated in the siege of Yorktown, the battle of Hanover Courthouse, VA, the defenses of Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC, and in 1864-5 in the siege of Richmond. During this latter period Patrick contracted Malaria at Bermuda Hundred along the Appomatix River. Refer to Appendix 5 for a history of the Regiment written by E. B. Bennett, and there are also descriptions of Patrick’s service in his own words within his pension transcripts in appendix 1. Patrick Mustered out September 25, 1865 and returned to his home in Lawrence, MA, where he took the occupation as a dresser at one of the large cotton mills, the Pacific Mill. Patrick was a member of the GAR Post #39, which was the Grand Army of the Republic veterans association.


Lawrence in the 19th Century

Lawrence, Massachusetts was incorporated as a town in 1847 in the same year the Essex Corporation completed the 1650 foot dam across the Merrimack. In 1852 Lawrence was incorporated into a city, with population of 16,000, and four fabric mills were operating using water power from the Merrimack; the Washington, Pemberton, Atlantic, and Pacific Mills. At its height in the 1870s, the latter employed over 3,500 people and was believed to be the largest industrial concern in the world.


Patrick and Ellen Fox arrived in Lawrence in 1849 and Patrick was employed as a Hatter they had four children born in Ireland; Mary 1840, Catherine 1842, Patrick 1844, Ann 1846. Also Anastasia was born 1855 and Martin born 1859.  Ellen died in 1901.  Patrick Jr. died in 1909 and was survived by three sisters Mary Flanagan, Miss Stasia Fox, and Sister Sienna Mother Superior at Syracuse, NY. 


In the late 1850’s, John Devlin moved with his family to Lawrence and began in the grocery provisions business. The Devlins opened first in the Pantheon market (pictured right).


There was a large Irish immigrant population in Lawrence and as in many other cities the close of the civil war gave rise to a new movement toward Irish independence and the organization of the Fenians. Referring to confederate arms collected by the Fenians, the Lawrence Sentinel reports “Many of them were captured from the rebels on the battle-field, and have the stamp of the British Government upon them. It would be but poetic and retributive justice to turn these implements upon the power that furnished them to the enemies of America with the benevolent intention of aiding to overthrow the republic (of Ireland)”. Young Edward found a role first as President of the Irish Benevolent Society, and later was elected CENTRE of the City of Lawrence of the Fenian brotherhood on May 1, 1866 (right). The CENTRE was the organization’s leader for the particular area of responsibility. On June 1, 1866 the Fenians organized a nation-wide army of Union Civil War veterans of Irish descent and mounted two armed attacks on Canada led by General John O’Neil (no relation?) in an attempt to capture territory that could be exchanged with England for the freedom of Ireland (refer to appendix 6). A second attack was mounted in 1870, but by then perhaps Edward was otherwise occupied as in that year Edward married Agnes Duncan, and they went on to have seven children: John 1870, Mary 1871. Edward 1874, Jimmy 1875,  Agnes 1877, Isabelle 1880, George 1882.


The family grocery business grew over the years, and they later opened their own store at the corner of Oak Street and Jackson (pictured right 2002), and they owned the house around the corner at 40 Oak Street (left). The Devlins were important grocery wholesale distributors in Lawrence and they also apparently amassed several real estate holdings in town as well.


Edward’s sons Edward and John were involved in the business. Edward Jr. was later editor of the Lawrence Morning Eagle. Jimmy married Elizabeth Stacey. He died young of a heart attack and Elizabeth subsequently married Edward. Mary married George Sirois, and Agnes married Dominic Flanagan.  The Devlins have a large family plot at the Immaculate Conception Cemetery.



Patrick Flanagan returned from the war in 1865 to Lawrence and took employment at the Pacific Mills, where he worked as a dresser. He married Mary Fox in 1868, and they had seven children, only three of whom survived; Dominick (1869 - 1941), Joseph (1870 – 1873), Ann (1872 – 187?), Mary Ellen (1874 – 1876), Catherine (1876 - ?), Augustine (1880 – 1884), and Agnes (1884 - 1966).  The family lived at 358 Oak Street, which is a location that has been re-developed with a new High School.


Patrick Flanagan described himself as a quiet man who doesn’t get out around town very much. His closest personal reference was his next door neighbor Maurice Mahoney, who could well have been also a cousin of his wife. In fact, Patrick appears to have suffered greatly from the debilitating effects of Malaria contracted in the service. His brother-in-law Patrick Fox said that “he was not a man that complained very much, although he was a patient sufferer”. He had frequent attacks of chills which would keep him from his work. His overseer at the mill reported that he was frequently sick and only worked 2/3 of the time. Patrick left the Pacific Mills on two occasions. In 1876 he changed to the Everett Mills for a short while, and then was unemployed for a spell because in his words, “new inventions turned out the machines I used”. He did return to the Pacific Mills, and in 1881 just after Garfield was assassinated he changed to the Arlington Mills (right). He applied for his pension in 1883, which was granted. His obituary mentions that he operated a variety store at 218 Hampshire Street.


Patrick Flanagan suffered declining health; he had circulation problems in his legs and he suffered a stroke in 1888, after which his signature could only be the mark of the “X”. He died in 1898 and is buried in St Mary's Cemetary in Lawrence, in a Fox family plot (left). His widow Mary lived until 1920. At the time of her death she was living at the home of Dr and Mrs Mulholland at 10 Tremont Street, and she operated the small store just around the corner on Hampshire Streeet.


Of their surviving children, Agnes Flanagan married Dr. Bernard Mulholland of Lawrence. They had two daughters; Mary (1905 – 1972) who married Thomas Noonan and they had no children; and Catherine Mulholland (1908 – 1990) who did not marry. Catherine Flanagan married William Barrett and they settled in Revere, Massachusetts and had six children. Dominick Flanagan became a letter carrier in Lawrence, with the Devlin family home apparently on the route. During these rounds he met young Agnes Devlin, and they were married in 1897, she was 19 or 20, and he would have been 28. They had four children, George (1898 - 1972), Augustine (1899 - 1979), Mary (Emerson)(1903 - ?), and Louis (1907 – 1993).