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A History of the O’Leary and the Cavanaugh Families – From Kerry to Houston via Oil City

Illustrated depiction of Clarion County oil fields in Pennsylvania from 1877.

This epic story homes in on the descendants of Pat O’Leary, who emigrated to North America from County Kerry in south-west Ireland at the height of the Great Potato Famine. Following his marriage to fellow Kerry emigrant Catherine Maloney, Pat worked on the railroads of New York and Toronto. The O’Leary’s and their seven children then journeyed south to Pennsylvania where they would turn their attention to the rapidly developing oil industry.

The lives of each of those seven children is explored in this account. Particular attention is paid to Pat and Catherine’s first son Michael, and the remarkable life of Michael’s son George, who became one of the most influential figures in Houston, Texas, during and after the Second World War.

Also told are the back stories of two other Irish families who played a key role in the shaping of this dynasty, namely Maloney of Knockalougha, County Kerry, and Cavanaugh of County Leitrim.

 

Contents

 

  1. The O’Leary’s in Paddytown

 

  1. The Maloneys of Knockalougha, County Kerry
  • The Hill of the Mouse
  • Famine & Rebellion
  • Voyage to the New World
  • The Maloney Siblings

 

  1. Of Railroads and Oil  
  • Scanlon’s Station
  • From New York to Pennsylvania
  • Oil City, Pennsylvania

 

  1. Michael O’Leary’s Six Siblings
  • Josie Bray
  • John J O’Leary (1856-1929) – The Builder of Passaic, New Jersey
  • Bridget Whisner (1858-1936)
  • Pat O’Leary (1859-1926)
  • Kate Flahie (1861-1926)
  • May O’Leary (c. 1865- 1945) – The Matron of Okmulgee

 

  1. Michael O’Leary (1854-1906)
  • Toronto to Parker City
  • Philip Larkins and Ann Daly (1832-1892)
  • Ohio to Oil City to Cranberry
  • Lillie O’Leary in California
  • Ireland and America

 

  1. George P O’Leary (1893-1958)
  • Santa Barbara, Kansas and the Western Front
  • Marriage in Texas
  • New Life in Houston

 

  1. The Cavanaugh Connection

    Acknowledgements

Appendix 1: Obituary to George O’Leary (1931-2011)
Appendix 2: Obituary to John C. O’Leary (1932-2020)
Appendix 3: The Douglas C-47

 

 

1.The O’Leary’s in Paddytown

 

 

Newmarket, Toronto, 11 February 1854. At least six people were present in the small Roman Catholic church on the winter’s day that Michael O’Leary was baptised. As well as his parents, Pat and Catherine O’Leary, there were his two sponsors Ambrose Madden and Bridget Maloney and, of course, the priest himself, Fr. M. O’Loughlin. Central to them all was the baby, Michael, born precisely seven days earlier. It was a very Irish gathering but that was unsurprising because everyone except Michael had been born in Ireland. Indeed, Michael’s parents had lived in south-west Ireland until perhaps six or seven years earlier when the ravages of the potato blight had compelled them to take a ship across the Atlantic Ocean to start anew in North America.

The church was dedicated to St John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople who reputedly led the mob that destroyed the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, in the fifth century. The small white timber church where Michael O’Leary was baptised was constructed in 1839 with money gathered from its mostly Irish-born Catholic parishioners. Located on what is known today as Ontario Street West, it occupied a hilltop in St. Patrick’s Ward.

Notice that the ‘village’ of Newmarket will host its first municipal election in 1858.

Toronto’s population is said to have trebled to 60,000 over the course of 1847. The vast majority of the newcomers were Irish Catholics fleeing the horrors of disease and starvation in their homeland. By 1853, the year Father O’Loughlin became parish priest, so many thousands of Irish had effectively been corralled into this ward that it was nicknamed ‘Paddytown’. By and large, these Irish refugees were shunned by Canada’s earlier settlers as ‘penniless paupers’ and likely disease carriers.  Many Irish had buried loved ones in the cemetery by St John Chrysostom; victims of the typhus epidemic which, so rampant in Ireland, also cut swathes through the newly arrived emigrant population.

Thousands died within weeks or months of their arrival in Canada, along with scores of the physicians, nurses, clergy, orderlies and other caregivers who sought to heal the suffering. In the fever sheds erected along Toronto’s waterfront, cheesecloth was tacked onto the buildings to keep out the flies and offer a degree of privacy to those within. Among those to succumb from famine fever in the wake of the ‘Summer of Sorrow’ in 1847 were 42-year-old Michael Power, Toronto’s first Roman Catholic bishop (a son of immigrants from County Waterford), and Dr George Robert Grasett, who died a month after taking charge of the city’s first general hospital. [1]

It is not clear when Pat O’Leary and his wife Catherine arrived in Toronto, but they would certainly have been profoundly aware of the heartache among its Irish community.

They appear to have married in Howell, New York, in the early 1850s and it is unknown whether either of them had previously been in Toronto. Their firstborn child Josie may have been born in New York in 1852. Michael was their second child.

Things were on the up for Newmarket on the eve of Michael O’Leary’s birth. The first train in Upper Canada pulled into Newmarket station in June 1853, providing a direct communication with Toronto along which passengers and agricultural produce – primarily oats, straw and hay – could be exported swiftly to the city markets. The earliest known survey of Newmarket was completed that October, after which a wily farmer by name of Timothy Millard began to parcel his considerable farm into building lots stretching from present-day D’Arcy Street to Botsford Street, and west to Church Street. Each lot was in high demand.

It is unclear where in Newmarket the O’Leary’s lived. Most of Paddytown’s residents had built small log homes with fieldstone fireplaces in which they burned wood for heat. Some had planted gardens of cabbage and potato, or small orchards, or raised barns for livestock. Any surplus produce was sold in the village market.

Like most of the Irishmen in Newmarket, Pat O’Leary worked as a labourer. Perhaps he had some experience of labouring from his previous life back across the ocean when he had lived in County Kerry. He would assuredly have cast his mind back to those early days with mixed emotions. We know not what became of his parents, save that they were almost certainly called Michael O’Leary and Johanna Sullivan and that they were from somewhere in County Kerry in south-west Ireland. Nor do we know when Pat arrived in Canada, but his younger brother Florence O’Leary would also fetch up in Newmarket. Did they arrive together?  However, while Pat O’Leary’s back story remains something of a mystery, we are fortunate to have a little more detail on the family of his wife, Catherine Maloney.

 

A view towards the hill of Knockalougha, County Kerry, showing the blue Lyreacrompane National School.

 

2. Maloney of Knockalougha, County Kerry

 

 

The Hill of the Mouse

 

Map showing Duagh parish with Knockalougha, where the Maloney family lived before they emigrated to Canada.

Catherine O’Leary (1828-1909), the mother of Michael O’Leary, was the third of nine children born to John Maloney (Moloney) and his wife Margaret (née Grane, or Greany). [2] She was also their eldest daughter. The Maloneys lived in Knockalougha, a small, elevated townland in the County Kerry parish of Duagh. [3] Sometimes spelled ‘Knockalocha’, the townland’s name is often translated as the ‘hill of the lake.’ Given that the only lakes up there are bogholes, others have proposed it should be ‘Cnoc luchóg,’ meaning ‘hill of the mouse.’

The Maloney’s home lay somewhere within the valley of the River Smearlagh, which runs through the lower Glanaruddery Mountains, and forms part of a district known as Lyreacrompane. In the early autumn, the brambles along the banks of the Smearlagh are replete with blackberries. In the winter, the female salmon dig into the riverbed for the spawning season. When the Listowel instrument-maker Thady Gunn was preparing the goatskins for his bodhràn drums, he would immerse them in the Smearlagh in order to draw the music of the river into each skin.

This is a landscape of bogland, coarse pastures, rolling fields, oak woods, mountain streams and scattered clumps of purple loosestrife, in which hen harrier, merlin and red grouse dart through the skies. The playwright John B Keane remarked:

 “I fell immediately in love with this strange and wonderful countryside, with the character, colour and language of its people and with its numerous dancing streams. The unbounded freedom of hills and glens amount to sheer paradise … The dominating colour is brown but ever and always it is a brown that is warm and comforting”.

These lands were once part of the vast estate of the FitzMaurice family, Earls of Kerry. In 1762-1763, Knockalougha was among the townlands surveyed for the spendthrift 3rd Earl of Kerry by the Wexford surveyors, Charles and Richard Frizell. At that time, the principal tenant at Knockalougha was Thomas Quill, a Catholic, whose son would become a magistrate for County Kerry.

When Catherine Maloney was a girl in the 1830s, this wild and mountainous region was treated with considerable suspicion by the policemen who lived in the principal town of Abbeyfeale, about six miles [10 km] east of Knockalougha. [4] During the early 1820s, the area had been a hotbed for the Rockites, a notorious secret society whose determination to end British rule in Ireland had been orchestrated through a violent campaign of agrarian unrest. Supporters of the landlord system were routinely beaten up and occasionally murdered. Buildings were burned; cattle and sheep were killed and maimed. In 1822, a troop of soldiers were sent from Listowel to bolster a military post near the Maloney’s home in Duagh. Their attempt to cross the flooded River Feale in a boat met with disastrous consequences; three soldiers drowned.

Eager to control rebellious activity in this hitherto ‘inaccessible’ region, the authorities contracted Richard Griffith to construct several ‘new lines of road’, complete with bridges, including one that opened in 1836 and ran for 12 miles ‘through the heart of the mountains’ from Abbeyfeale to Glin. Abbefeale was henceforth on the mail-coach road from Limerick to the Atlantic harbour at Tralee.

Bust of Daniel O’Connell who was a regular visitor to Abbeyfeale during Catherine Maloney’s childhood. This is a bust in Copeland porcelain after J.E. Jones.

By 1837, as a contemporary account observed, these new roads had brought ‘great alterations’ and ‘much improvement in the condition of the people’, not least as they could now bring ‘their little produce to market.’ As such, most of its population were ‘industriously and profitably employed’, and there was now a hotel, a ‘receiving house’ for post, a police station and ‘some respectable houses’. However, the vast majority of the 5,492 persons in the parish of Abbeyfeale were living in thatched cabins, heated by peat that would have been cut from the nearby bog. Prior to the famine, Ireland’s lowest classes were comparatively better off than many of their European counterparts, with a steady supply of both food (i.e.: potato) and a source for heat and cooking (i.e.: turf).

It is not known how the Maloneys of Knockalougha earned their living. Perhaps John Maloney kept a few cows and supplied some of the butter that went, via Abbeyfeale, to Limerick and the Butter Exchange in Cork which was once the largest exporter of butter in the world.

One wonders if seven-year-old Catherine Maloney went to Abbeyfeale in 1835 to catch a glimpse of Daniel O’Connell, the celebrated Irish politician and statesman. Often referred to as “The Liberator” or “The Emancipator”, the Kerry-born O’Connell had achieved his greatest triumph in 1829 when his campaign to secure the vote for Irish Catholics finally achieved the support of the British government in London. After his first visit to Abbeyfeale in 1835, he would make several trips back to the town with his family over the ensuing years.[5]

Or perhaps young Catherine was more interested in Princess Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso, a wealthy noblewoman from Milan, Italy, who came to Abbeyfeale on 2 October 1839. The intrepid princess became the talk of the town when she hired four horses named Mouse, Jack, Poll and Nancy, along with two drivers, and set off for Newcastle West on her tour of South West Ireland.

 

Famine & Rebellion

 

Digging for Potatoes in the Great Hunger.

This was by no means a golden age for the kingdom of Kerry. The hard times began with a devastating hurricane in January 1839, known as the Night of the Big Wind because it all took place in the dark of night. The growing season that followed was so bad that in June 1840, the Rev Daniel Lyddy, the parish priest, summoned Abbeyfeale’s Catholic parishioners to an emergency meeting in the chapel to consider the plight of 100 destitute families, comprising 600 people. The parishioners resolved to provide for them ‘as far as our means allow us … keeping them from starvation, and enabling them to support themselves and their families for a few weeks longer.’

Things became considerably worse with the onset of the potato blight. In 1845, the first year of the Great Hunger, there was a partial crop failure and about a third of all potatoes were destroyed by the blight. The following years would be the darkest in Irish history. The statistics are difficult to comprehend. A million people are said to have died of disease and malnutrition over the next five or six years. Almost as many emigrated during the same timeframe. In 1847 alone, some 400,000 men, women and children are believed to have died while nearly 250,000 emigrated, primarily to Britain and North America.[6] Typhus, or famine fever, was the main killer, followed by malnutrition diseases like dysentery and scurvy, as well as cholera. The situation was exacerbated by the huge numbers of wretched souls evicted from their mud cabins and forced to wander the friendless countryside, unwashed, starving and riddled with lice and dirt.

The Abbeyfeale Relief Committee, headed up by Father Lyddy, did all it could to control the mounting misery. They gathered whatever funds they could from landlords and the various charitable and benevolent bodies to either help the affected families directly, or to buy potato and turnip seed for them to plant for their future food supply. Campaigns were launched to persuade cattle farmers to turn their land over to crops, and to drain surrounding waste lands to create more terrain for growing crops. However, ‘deepest alarm’ was recorded in March 1848 when the upcoming potato crop was again decimated by the blight. ‘The disease has made frightful ravages and is every day increasing, without any prospect of being arrested,’ warned one commentator.

A huge number of labourers and farmers in the region were now ‘without any subsistence or employment, or the means or opportunity of procuring either one or the other.’ In the autumn, Father Edmund Walsh, parish priest of the church at Brosna, near Abbeyfeale, declared:

‘The potato crop is all, all lost, worse than two years ago … The few potatoes dug are not food even for pigs – being small, wet and distempered.’

The oats were no better; ‘the crop sown is blighted,’ wrote Father Walsh, ‘and half of it will never ripen or attain maturity.’ [7] The priest also produced a telling remark after his attendance at a clerical conference in Listowel:

‘The unanimous opinion was that this would be by degrees worse than any preceding winter – tenants noticed to pay the next September rent; the people’s minds saddened and quite unsettled. Now that their spring labour has come to naught the majority will, “if they can,” sell their cattle and go to America, as they will be seized on ere long by the Landlord or Poor-Law collector.’

This appalling situation was the most likely reason for Catherine Maloney’s departure from Ireland in the late 1840s. As well as her older brothers Michael and John, Catherine had six younger siblings, four sisters and two more brothers, who were all born between 1830 and 1842. [8] At least five of these siblings would emigrate to America; it is possible the entire family left. The population of Knockalougha reportedly fell from 128 to 78 during the years of the Great Hunger. There is no record of any Maloneys in the townland after the 1840s.

As well as fleeing the potato blight, Catherine’s father or brothers may have been embroiled in the political turbulence that exploded across the region when a group called Young Ireland launched its short-lived revolution in August 1848. While its leaders were arrested and awaited trial, the inhabitants of Abbeyfeale boycotted the police when they marched into the town.

‘Afraid to commit overt acts of insurrection, [the inhabitants] adopted a system of passive rebellion most inconvenient to the police – which was refusing to sell them any sort of provisions. At last the police were driven to the necessity of helping themselves to the supplies which they needed, which they did, always placing on the counter the full price of the articles they took with them.’ [9]

At this point, the rebellious spirits from the vicinity came under the leadership of Richard O’Gorman (1821–95), the son of a well-to-do merchant from County Clare, who was a close ally of the Young Ireland leaders. The Limerick Examiner lauded O’Gorman as:

‘… a bold daring spirit, a stranger to fear in any shape, inured to fatigue, and familiarly acquainted with all the ins and outs of the Kerry and Limerick mountains for a distance of 20 or 30 miles … He is a wild, rollicking, hardy fellow, and just the sort of man to maintain a sort of guerrilla warfare, and escape at a pinch, from the toils of his pursuers. It is confidently asserted that he can evade their vigilance for 20 years.’

One morning, he led a group of 130 men and ‘barefooted young lads’ armed with pistols, pitchforks, and crooks in an ambush of the Limerick mail coach a mile east of Abbeyfeale. As the mailbags and guns were seized, John Purcell, the coach guard, asked the raiders what their motive was. “We want to free our country and stop the communications’. The coach passengers were unharmed. At length, O’Gorman shouted ‘File off men,’ and, to the sound of a horn, the attackers melted back into the mountains. Later that day, Mr Galvin, guard of the Tralee mail coach, claimed his coach had been stopped in Abbeyfeale by an assemblage of 3000 armed people under O’Gorman. Galvin said he had been knocked from his seat by someone wielding a gun and that he lay on the ground surrounded by people threatening to ‘shoot him if he dared to offer resistance.’ His mail bags were also seized, as were the guns he and his driver kept. A police force watched the scene unfurl but, ‘afraid to encounter such a formidable body’ they did not intervene.

The authorities offered £300 for the capture of O’Gorman but, with local assistance, he escaped overseas. He later moved to New York where he founded a successful legal practice and became a judge of the Superior Court.

 

Voyage to the New World

 

An advertisement for the passenger ship, Energy, from the Limerick Chronicle of 1848. There is a record of a Catherine Moloney [sic] and her sister Bridget sailing on Energy to New York.

Catherine Maloney is thought to have been about twenty years old when she sailed for North America in 1848-1849, perhaps with her entire family. To pay for their passage across the ocean, they must have had some money, although their father may have sold everything to raise the price of the fare.

If they did sail as one family, they would have shared a single 6-foot square berth for the journey. Quarters were cramped with berths lining both walls, and a narrow table in the walkway between. Passengers lived on their own limited food supplies, provided their own utensils and cooked for themselves. Toilets were practically non-existent.

It is not known which ship they sailed on. The port at Tralee was less than 20 miles [32 km] walk from Knockalougha and was the departure point for numerous boats sailing for Quebec, St John’s (New Brunswick), Baltimore and New York during this period. The famous Jeanie Johnston set off on its maiden voyage to Quebec from Blennerville, by Tralee, on 24 April 1848, with 193 emigrants on board. [10]

There is a record of a Catherine and Bridget Moloney [sic] who sailed from Russell’s Quay, Limerick, on board the Energy, commanded by Matthew Warren. The ship arrived in New York on 8 February 1849. While it is possible this refers to Catherine and her sister Bridget, there is no evidence to prove this. The teenage sisters were described as servants to a ‘gentleman.’ Maybe the gentleman himself was also on Energy.

Sometimes landlords paid for their tenants to leave. For instance, the Persse family commissioned the barque Barbara to bring 260 tenants from their estate to Quebec. They were accompanied by Dr Nicholas Mahon who, like several other doctors at this time, understood the importance of hygiene standards and maintained absolute cleanliness on board. His logbook relates how he brought all passengers up on deck four times a day to exercise and splash salt water on their bodies, while keeping notes of anyone who scratched themselves or displayed suspicious symptoms. The voyage took fifteen days and arrived at Quebec with all 260 passengers in perfect health.

However, other schemes were deeply flawed, most memorably that of another Mahon. Major Mahon of Strokestown, County Roscommon, who arranged for 1,490 of his tenants to sail from Liverpool to America. The vessels on which they travelled became known as ‘coffin ships’ because they transpired to be riddled with typhus, or ‘famine fever’. Almost half of the passengers died aboard ship or in the quarantine sheds at Grosse-Île, an island twenty miles east of Quebec.  Major Mahon was held accountable for their deaths and shot dead with a blunderbuss near his home.

In February 1848, the Canadian authorities provided this statistical breakdown for those who had crossed the Atlantic in the previous twelve months.

‘6,100 perished on the voyage, 4,100 on their arrival, 5,200 in the hospitals, and 1,900 in the towns to which they repaired. The total mortality was no less than 17 per cent upon the aggregate number emigrating, the number of emigrants being 106,000, and the number of deaths 17,300.’

 

The Maloney Siblings

 

Bridget Maloney Flahie, sister of Catherine O’Leary. With thanks to Regina Flahie.

As mentioned, Catherine O’Leary (née Maloney) may have sailed in the company of her family, including her sister Bridget (born in 1830) and brothers Michael, John and Cornelius.

In 1853, her oldest brother Michael Maloney (1825-1912) was married in Newmarket, Ontario, to Bridget McGann. Bridget would stand as sponsor to Catherine’s son Michael O’Leary when he was baptised in 1854. Four of Michael and Bridget Maloney’s nine children were born in Newmarket. They later moved to Kansas City, where their other five children were born, one of whom was named George.

Michael Maloney worked in the oil industry in Kansas and his brother John was also reportedly in the same state at the time of Catherine’s death in 1909. Michael, who outlived his wife, had reached the grand age of 87 when he died of broncho-pneumonia in Kansas City on 5 February 1912. At the time of his passing, he was in the care of the Little Sisters of The Poor who operated the St. Alexis Home for the Aged on the corner of 31st and Locust Street.

Catherine’s sister Bridget, born in 1830, married Michael Flahie; their children were baptised in Canada in the 1850s, after which the family moved to Waterford (Erie), Pennsylvania, where Bridget died. A generation later, their son Patrick Henry Flahie would marry his first cousin Kate O’Leary, younger sister of Michael O’Leary.

Another sister Margaret Maloney, who was sponsor at the birth of John J O’Leary in June 1856 may have been married that same year to John Kenny. [11]

Cornelius Maloney, Catherine’s younger brother, was born in Kerry in 1840. On 12 February 1860, aged 19, he married Catherine O’Connell of Gwillimbury, Newmarket, Ontario.  She died on 26 September 1861, six days after the birth of their daughter Ellen.

 

Broadside advertising the Ontario, Simcoe & Huron Railway, which connected Toronto with the Great Western Railway, and passed through Scanlon’s Station where the O’Leary’s lived.

 

3. Of Railroads and Oil

 

 Scanlon’s Station

 

Gwillimbury was named for the English heiress, Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim (1762-1850), who married Sir John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada during the 1790s.

On 26 July 1851, twenty-two-year-old Catherine Maloney was married in Perkinsville, New York, to Kerry-born Pat O’Leary, a man five years her senior. [12] Their wedding took place in the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Perkinsville’s first Catholic church, which had been completed the previous year. One of their two witnesses was Nicholas Morsch, a local tenant farmer, who owned the land on which the church was built. Nicholas is credited with building the new church, along with Jakob Schmitt. The other witness was Francis Hacich, a Perkinsville shopkeeper. The church evolved into a larger structure, dedicated in 1884 and named Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is still in use today. It is one of a handful of churches in the United States that houses a relic of St. Wendelin (554-617), a German hermit and abbot who is revered as patron saint of country people and herdsmen. Many of the Germans who lived in Perkinsville hailed from the Roman Catholic diocese of Trier (also known as Trèves), now part of Rhineland-Palatinate, located near the border with Luxembourg and within the Moselle wine region.

At the time of their marriage, both Catherine and Pat had an address at Hornellsville (now Hornell), New York, sixteen miles south. [13] It is likely Pat had gone to Hornell to work on the railroads. Known as the “Maple City,” after the large maple trees that once grew through the town, Hornell was on both the New York and Erie Rail Road line, which reached Hornell in September 1851, and the Buffalo and Rochester Railroad, which reached it in November 1852. The Buffalo line was merged into the New York Central Railroad the following year. The legacy of all the Irishmen working on the railroad at Hornell is reflected by the fact that the city now boasts the largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the region.

Pat and Catherine’s first child, Josie, may have been born in New York in 1852 or 1853. However, they had crossed the Canadian border and settled in Newmarket, Ontario, by the time their second child Michael was born in 1854. Pat and Catherine would have two more sons, John J and Pat junior, and three more daughters Bridget, Kate and May, all of whom were born in Ontario.

By the time John J O’Leary was born in 1856, the family was living at Scanlon’s Station in Simcoe County, about 10 miles [16 km] north of Newmarket. This was a flag station of the new Ontario, Simcoe and Huron line, the first railroad in Toronto. As one contemporary put it, the railroad’s ‘value and importance’ to Simcoe County was ‘beyond sober calculation.’ [14] The county was already enjoying a boom with an increasing demand for Canadian produce in the United States, while the Crimean War had ‘greatly increased the price of wheat.’ [15] Their home at Scanlon’s Station seems to have been a single-story frame house. The station itself was named for Mark Scanlon (1797-1874), a native of County Carlow, Ireland, who had established a grist mill and two sawmills along the steam some decades earlier. [16]

In the summer of 1860, the O’Leary’s may have been among those who lined out to watch a special train chug slowly down the track through Scanlon’s Station. On board was the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, who was being shown the sights and sounds of the area. As the royal train reached nearby Lefroy,

‘… it passed slowly, allowing the Prince time to see a party of painted Indians with their squaws, who occupied a small raised platform, on which they were sufficiently conspicuous. An arch of evergreens here spanned the track bearing the inscription, “Long live the Prince.” Throughout the village there was a large display of bunting and other decorations.’ [17]

The nearest church to Scanlon’s Station was in West Gwillimbury. This is where Pat’s younger brother Florence O’Leary was married on 11 May 1857 to 18-year-old Johanna Haggerty, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Haggerty. Catherine O’Leary stood as a witness. Most, if not all, of Florence and Johanna’s eight children were born in West Gwillimbury. Florence remained in Canada until his death at 76 Sullivan Street in present-day Chinatown, Toronto, aged 83, on 24 July 1916. His descendants, some of whom are alive today, included Florence Charles O’Leary (1891-1968), an attorney in Buffalo, New York.

The O’Leary’s were still at Scanlon’s Station when their third daughter Kate was born in the summer of 1861. They may have also been there when May, the youngest of their seven children, was born in about 1865. The news from the US during this period would have been constantly astonishing and harrowing. Over 600,000 men, women and children would die in the US Civil War between 1861 and 1865, including tens of thousands of Irish emigrants who had enlisted in the two rival armies. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated the year that May was born.

Closer to home, the O’Leary’s learned of the fire that devastated large parts of Newmarket just before Christmas 1861; there would be more fires in 1871 and 1875. The family undoubtedly also felt the heat when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was famously blamed on a cow that belonged to an Irish couple by name of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary!

The story of the cow was later revealed to have been made up but blaming it on “Mrs O’Leary’s Cow” was actually part of a rising tide of anti-Irish sentiment in North America. This had been exacerbated in 1866 when the Fenian Brotherhood launched two abortive raids from the US on Canada, causing a considerable backlash to Irish Catholics across Canada. Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of Canada’s leading politicians, had been a prominent Young Ireland member in 1848 but he condemned the Fenians. McGee was one of the founding fathers of the Canadian Confederation, which came into being in July 1867. When he was shot dead on his own doorstep the following spring, it was deemed Canada’s first political assassination. With the creation of the Canadian Confederation, the currency changed from sterling to the decimal system with the introduction of Canadian coinage. Business transactions quickly followed suit as the barter system yielded to a cash-based economy.

 

From New York to Pennsylvania

 

Catherine O’Leary and four of her children were living at Carrolton, New York, at the time of the 1880 census.

At some time between 1865 and 1871, Pat and Catherine O’Leary took their young family south across the US border to start a new life. [18] We know almost nothing of their activities during the 1870s save that Catherine was afflicted by an ailment that left her almost entirely blind.

The US economy was expanding at breakneck speed, boosted by the opening of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, which connected the railway networks of the eastern United States with the Central Pacific line that came west from California. Irish emigrants had played a key role in the construction of this industrial goliath. At least three thousand Irish signed up to work with the Union Pacific. Hundreds more were hired in New York and Boston and shipped west to work for the Central Pacific.[19]

Pat O’Leary senior seems to have found work in Titusville, Pennsylvania, which had become the birthplace of the American oil industry when the first successful oil drill was established there in 1861. Five years later, the railroad line had been extended south from Titusville to Oil City, a stronghold of the O’Leary’s in the next generation. Titusville continued to boom during the 1870s and 1880s, despite the loss of almost 300,000 barrels of oil to a fire in June 1880. A newspaper report from 1909 suggests that Pat died in Titusville in about 1880 but no details as to the cause of his death have yet been located. [20]

By the time she filled out the US census form on 1 June 1880, Catherine O’Leary was a widow. Her home was in Carrollton, a small oil station about 50 miles [80 km] east of Titusville, which belonged to the Pennsylvania and Erie Coal and Railroad Company. Built on the ancestral land of the Iroquois Confederacy, the hamlet of Carrollton lay on the southern border of Cattaraugus County, New York, some 220 miles [350 km] south of Simcoe County. The Allegheny River runs through it, while Pennsylvania is just to the south. The nearby ghost town of Limestone was once known as ‘New Ireland’ after a community of famine emigrants from Ireland who lived there and worked in the oil and lumber industries. It is possible that the O’Leary’s were part of this community.

Also in the house on Census Day were her son Pat O’Leary junior, three of her daughters and her two Whisner sons-in-law. Given that so many of her family were staying in the house, one wonders if they were gathered to comfort her following her bereavement.

Michael O’Leary’s whereabouts at the time of the 1880 census are presently unknown but his brothers John and Pat junior were both working with Standard Oil – John in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey, and Pat with the pipeline gang, probably near Carrollton.

 

Oil City, Pennsylvania

 

St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Oil City, where several of the O’Leary’s worshipped and were buried. The twin spires dominate the skyline.

From at least January 1885, Catherine O’Leary and her daughters Kate and May were living in Oil City, Venango County, Pennsylvania. Located in a bend of the Allegheny, at the mouth of Oil Creek, this was to be Catherine’s home for the remaining quarter of a century of her life, while Kate and May also continued to live with her during this time.

Oil City was the central point and terminal station of several of the great railroads of Pennsylvania, and the headquarters of many railroad men at his time. One of the city’s most dreadful experiences came on 5 June 1892 when high floods caused several oil tanks to collapse. A mass of burning oil, distillate and naphtha rushed down Oil Creek into the young city culminating in an explosion that left approximately sixty people dead and destroyed over one million dollars’ worth of property.

According to the Oil City Directory of 1894, Mrs Kate O’Leary (ie: Catherine) had a house at 56 Grove Avenue on the north side of the Allegheny. By 1902, she was living four streets east at 328 Washington Avenue, along with her two daughters. Kate was by then a teacher at the Eighth Ward School, while May, who was working as a clerk in 1902, was soon to commence her career as a nurse.

Catherine died at 328 Washington Avenue on Saturday 2 October 1909, aged 69. Her death was attributed to ‘a complication of diseases after an illness of eight weeks.’ The Rt. Rev. P. J. Sheridan celebrated a funeral mass for the repose of her soul at the nearby St. Joseph’s Church, Oil City, where she worshipped. She was buried in the adjoining cemetery.

Michael was the only one of Catherine’s seven children who was no longer alive at the time. Her other six children attended the funeral – Josie Bray, John J O’Leary, Bridget Whisner, Kate O’Leary (later Mrs Flahie), Pat O’Leary and May O’Leary. She was also survived by at least two of her brothers, Michael and John Maloney of Kansas.

 

CAVANAUGH O’LEARY FAMILY TREE

 

4. Michael O’Leary’s Six Siblings

 

Josie Bray

 

Josie O’Leary’s second husband may have been an English cigar manufacturer.

There’s a certain amount of mystery about Josie, the oldest of the seven O’Leary siblings. Her name was either Josephine or Johanna. Her date of birth is variously given as 1852-3 (the most likely), 1861 or 1863. Equally perplexing, her place of birth was recorded as Canada, New York, and even Oil City. She was married at least twice, possibly three times, but had no children.

No record of her first marriage to George Whisner has yet been located, but she was recorded as ‘Josie Whisner’ in the 1880 census, when living in Carrolton with George, as well as with her mother and three of her siblings. Her sister Bridget (Delia) had married George’s brother William E Whisner, and they were also in the same Carrolton house in 1880. The Whisners are considered in more detail in the section on Bridget.

George Whisner appears to have died by 8 November 1893 when Josie was married in Detroit to an English cigar manufacturer by name of William Lloyd, son of John Lloyd. That said, a line through their marriage record suggests the marriage was annulled. This seems entirely plausible given that William Lloyd was the bridegroom, again, less than four weeks later, in the same place, with his bride named as Julia Tiffany.

A decade onwards, on 27 May 1903, Josephine Whisner, as she referred to herself, was married in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, to Jacob G. Bray (sometimes Brey), a 45-year-old widower from the steel-town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. [21] On their marriage certificate, Josie declared that her husband was no more, presumably meaning George Whisner. Her marriage to Jacob Bray seems to have come asunder as she was described as his widow on the 1906 City Directory for Oil City. In fact, Jacob was still alive. He appears on the 1910 census, living in Chicago with Raphael Bray, one of his sons, from his first marriage.

Josie was referred to as ‘Mrs J. G. Bray’ when her mother died in 1909. Her own date of death is unknown. She was not mentioned in her brother John’s will, written in 1916, so maybe she was deceased by then, or perhaps she had simply fallen out of favour with him.

  

John J O’Leary (1856-1929) of Passaic, New Jersey

 

John J O’Leary’s photograph appeared in the Passaic Daily Herald on 23 July 1912.

John J O’Leary, the second of Pat and Catherine’s three sons, was to become a prominent builder of theatres, public buildings and industrial plants in Passaic, New Jersey. Born in Ontario, he was baptised in West Gwillimbury on 16 June 1856 with his paternal uncle Florence O’Leary and maternal aunt Margaret Maloney standing as his sponsors. Having attended a grammar school in Toronto, he grew up to be ‘a giant of a man’.

His first position was with the Santa Fe Construction Company, a position that brought him to Kansas City.

In 1880, he married Margaret Conner of Ohio in Corry, near Titusville, in north-western Pennsylvania. [22] At about this time, he appears to have been given his first major engineering project, namely ‘cleaning the brush’ of a new pumping station in Wood-Ridge, near Passaic. The station had been constructed by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, when it ran a pipeline all the way from the oil fields of Pennsylvania to the refineries in New Jersey, providing pumping stations about every 20 miles. The Wood-Ridge plant was the last on its line. In later life, John would maintain that the pipe line he laid ‘to bring oil east’ was his true pride and joy. He also apparently became a close confidante and friend of John D Rockefeller, the fabulously wealthy head of Standard Oil.

John and Margaret O’Leary duly settled in Passaic, where they raised two sons, Daniel and John, and a daughter, Elizabeth. Prior to 1917, they lived on the southwest corner of Paulison and Bloomfield Avenues, the house where John’s older brother Michael would die in 1906.

Passaic had been booming since the end of the Civil War, with the assistance of the River Passaic flowing along its eastern border and the completion of the Passaic Dundee Canal in the late 1860s.  By the early twentieth century, worsted mills and textile factories abounded along the riverbanks, employing upwards of 16,000 men and women by the 1920s, primarily immigrants.

Many of Passaic’s largest industrial plants, factories and offices were built by the O’Leary Construction Company, which John founded. The company was incorporated at 37 Irving Place, Passaic, on 14 January 1907, with $1000 and an authorized capital stock of $100,000. John O’Leary went on to build works such as the enormous Gera Mills (originally founded by German woollen manufacturers in 1899) on Eighth Street, and the Passaic Metal Ware plant at 217 Brook Avenue (now the region’s largest kosher shopping mall), where Coca Cola tip trays were produced in the 1920s. [23]

John J O’Leary constructed the plant of the Passaic Metal Ware Company, New Jersey, which manufactured signs and tip trays for companies like Coca Cola.

In 1916, the JJ O’Leary Construction Company was awarded the contract to build a four-storey red-brick factory on Hudson Boulevard for the Hoboken Ribbon Company, owned by William Strittmater, as well as a three-storey brick storage building for the Passaic Worsted Spinning Company on Eighth Street. [24]

In the age of vaudeville and live stage shows, JJ O’Leary’s also constructed the Playhouse Theatre (1914) at 591-595 Main Avenue (now the site of Home Liquors) and the Montauk Theatre (1924) on the corner of Madison Street and Main Avenue. [25]

Its main office was in the O’Leary Building on Prospect Street, which became home to the District Court on 25 April 1921. [26] The company also owned a stone house at 500 Bloomfield Avenue, near the city’s limits. Originally opened as a tavern in 1820 by Thomas Linford, this had been the dwelling house of Harmonis Vreeland, scion of one of Passaic’s original settler families.

John was also on the cutting edge of innovation. In late 1915, he made his garage at 257 Paulison Avenue available to his neighbour Jere L. Wentz, president of the Portable Machinery Company Incorporated of Passaic. Mr Wentz was the designer of the Scoop Conveyor, which he put to the test in John’s garage ‘under limited working conditions.’ Having made ‘a number of changes and adjustments’ in the O’Leary garage, he shifted the machine on to a coal-yard near the freight station of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroad (now the New Jersey Transit Line.) Ultimately, the Scoop Conveyor was capable of loading one ton of coal from ground storage into wagons in less than two minutes. The first order came from the Chase Metal Company of Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1916. [27]

One also wonders how much attention John paid during his time in Passaic to the antics of John Philip Holland, a former Christian Brothers teacher from Ireland, who had worked on his submarine designs in the River Passaic at nearby Paterson, New Jersey, back in the 1870s. Holland’s first submarine was commissioned by the Fenian Brotherhood of America and nicknamed the Fenian Ram, in the hope that it might cause damage to Royal Navy battleships under water. Mr Holland died in Newark, New Jersey, in 1914.

John O’Leary went on to be one of Passaic’s most prominent citizens. A sometime Councilman, he stood as the Democrat candidate for Mayor of Passaic County in November 1907 but was defeated by Fredrick Rollins Low, a fellow engineer.

The Prehn Mansion at 195 Lafayette Avenue, Passaic, which became John J O’Leary’s home in 1917.

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson, the then governor of New Jersey, appointed him to the New York and New Jersey Bridge and Tunnel Commission. [28] Isidor Strauss, a fellow member, was among those who perished when the Titanic sank that same year. Governor Wilson, whose paternal grandparents were from County Tyrone, Ireland, was elected president of the United States at the 1912 election. The purpose of the commission was to consider the construction of a bridge across the Hudson between New Jersey and New York City. Disagreements between those involved meant that the bridge plan was abandoned in favour of a tunnel under the river, which began in 1920. When it opened in 1927, the Holland Tunnel was the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in the world. [29]

In 1917, John O’Leary acquired a beautiful mansion at 195 Lafayette Avenue for a reputed $100,000-125,000, along with most of the old Post Farm where it stood. [30] The palatial mansion was built for Thomas Prehn (1859-1925), president of the Botany Worsted Mills. Considered one of the finest residences in New Jersey, the Prehns sold it after the death of their only son, Thomas Prehn junior, in 1910. In 1925, John offered the house to the city’s Board of Commissioners as a city library, and sought $1,250,000 in return. The offer was ultimately declined.

Between November 1927 and March 1928, the J.J. O’Leary Contracting Company completed the Passaic station, a new railroad station for the Erie Railroad in downtown Passaic, after the previous one was destroyed by fire. Painted with white stucco and a green finish, with mahogany seating for passengers, the new station contained eight individual telephone booths in the waiting room, which boasted a tile floor. [31]

John had been ill for some time when he went to the mineral resort of Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, in the autumn of 1929. In late September, the 73-year-old had a heart attack, after which he returned home to recuperate in Passaic. At 3:30am on Saturday 12 October 1929, ‘with a faint smiling glance upon his wife and children who stood around him, he lay back in complete repose and closed his eyes.’ He and Margaret, who survived him, were about three months short of celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary. [32]

At least fifty limousines, touring cars and privately owned cars accompanied the funeral cortege from the old Prehn mansion where he lived to St Nicholas Church, the Roman Catholic church on Washington Street. ‘Hundreds lined the curbs in Washington Place, Hamilton Avenue and State Street’ to pay their respects. [33] The church itself was ‘filled almost to capacity long before the mournful cortege arrived …  attended by city, county and state officials, and men and women in all walks of life.’ Six clergymen stood by the altar for the ‘impressive services’, officiated by the Rev Joseph Murphy, assisted by the Rev Peter J. Blake of Cambridge Springs, an O’Leary family friend. John was subsequently buried in a private mausoleum in the Holy Sepulchre section of the Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson, New Jersey.

Twelve days after his death, the New York Stock Exchange experienced the largest sell-off of shares in U.S. history, precipitating what became known as the Wall Street Crash.

St Mary’s Hospital, Passaic, where Daniel Joseph O’Leary’s first  wife Mary Agnes worked.

In his will, signed on 19 February 1916, he left most of his wealth to his widow and their two surviving children. He also bequeathed $500 each to his sisters May O’Leary and Bridget (Delia) Whisner, as well as $200 to his brother Patrick. May and Bridget both attended his funeral. John’s will also left money to his sister Kate Flahie but she had died in 1926. His other sister Josie Bray was not mentioned; she may also have been dead by then.

As to John and Margaret’s children:

  1. Elizabeth Mary O’Leary (1882-1939) married Thomas H Hogan in 1907 in Passaic, with whom she had a daughter, Margaret (O’Leary Hogan) Sullivan (1911-2004), who has descendants living today.[34]
  2. Daniel Joseph O’Leary (1885-1947) who worked as a contractor in the firm his father started. He was married in Passaic in 1909 to Mary Agnes Madden, superintendent of nurses at St Mary’s General Hospital, which stood at 211 Pennington Avenue in the Passaic Park section of the city. She died on 2 April 1940. Just over two years later, Daniel was married again, at St Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church in Wickford, Rhode Island. His second wife Margaret (Mary) Kelly was former head of the Latin department of Clifton High School, Passaic, as well as its music supervisor prior to the marriage. Her father was John F Kelly of 11 Whitford Avenue, Nutley. Daniel and Margaret lived at 24 Day Street, Clifton. Daniel had no children by either marriage. He was only 59 when he died in Nutley, N.J. following a heart attack at his real estate office in 1947.
  3. John C O’Leary was born in Bergen, N.J., in 1888 but died as a boy in 1898 in Passaic City.

 

Bridget Whisner (1858-1936)

 

Cecilia Whisner, who married Harry Eelman in 1968.

Pat and Catherine’s second daughter was a woman of multiple names. Christened Bridget, the name of one of Ireland’s patron saints, she seems to have been known as Delia, which is a variation of Bridget. However, she was also known as ‘Adellia,’ as well as ‘Frances’, which is likely to have been her second name. In any case she was born in West Gwillimbury, Ontario, on 25 January 1858. [35] Her sponsors were William Torpie and Mary Monarty.

On 18 December 1878, she married William E Whisner of Clarion County, Pennsylvania, whose brother George would marry Bridget’s sister Josie. Samuel Whisner, the father of the Whisner brothers, had been in Clarion County from the 1840s and worked as a carpenter and joiner. [36] He is likely to have been part of a sizable German community that moved to a part of the Elk township called Shippenville in the 1830s, creating a new world amid the primeval forests of north-western Pennsylvania. William and George’s mother was Mary Ann Gardner of Pennsylvania.

The Whisners were closely associated with Elk, where the first of over one thousand oil wells began drilling in 1875, producing 300 barrels a day at their peak. Hotels, boarding houses, saloons, stores and temporary housing quickly sprang up across the township. Another belt of oil was discovered along the pike at Shippenville in 1885, which may have been when the Whisners arrived. William Whisner would later be described as ‘a lifelong resident’ of Shippenville.

At the time of the 1880 census, Bridget and William Whisner were staying in Carrolton, New York, along with Bridget’s mother, by then blind, her sisters Josie and May, her brother Pat and her brother-in-law George Whisner.

Bridget was a member of the Immaculate Conception Church of Clarion County. The church was completed in 1890 and dedicated by the Right Rev. Tobias Mullen, the Irish-born Bishop of Erie.

William and Bridget celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1928. William died in Shippenville five years later. Bridget fell ill soon afterwards and died in Shippenville on 18 September 1936, aged 79.

She was survived by her son, Harry, and daughter, Katherine Jameson:

  1. Harry John Whisner (1879-1965) was married in Oil City, Pa, in 1908 to Mary E O’Connor. He died in Passaic, New Jersey, leaving one child, James Joseph Whisner (1914-1995) of 41 Byron Place, Passaic, who worked with the American District Telegraph in Clifton, New Jersey. JJ Whisner married Marie Noelita Brady in 1942 and had two children:

i. James W Whisner – born 1943, served with the US Marine Corps in the Vietnam War.

ii. Cecelia Marie Whisner of Clifton was born 1945. In 1968 she was married in Passaic to Harry Robert Eelman of North Haledon, son of Mr and Mrs Harry Eelman of 213 Linda Vista Avenue. A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan University, Buchkannon, Harry Eelman junior worked with Hoffmann La Roche Inc. in Nutley, New Jersey. Harry and Cecilia had two daughters:

a. Clare Ruth Eelman – born 1979
b. Elizabeth Eelman – born 1981 m Scott William Davidson. They have a daughter, Brady Davidson.

  1. Katherine Mary Whisner (1882-1959) was born in Shippensville and married William Seymoure Jameson in 1911. They had no children. She died in Pittsburgh, Pa, in 1959.

 

 

Pat O’Leary (1859-1926)

 

Oil well in action at Preston, Okmulgee.

Michael’s brother Patrick Henry O’Leary, known as Pat, was born in Scanlon’s Station, Canada, on 21 August 1859. One of his sponsors was his uncle Cornelius Maloney, Catherine’s younger brother; the other was Mrs Honorah O’Neill.

By 1876, Pat was stringing telegraph wires for the Standard Oil company in Pennsylvania, before being put on the pipe line gang. Four years later, the 1880 census recorded that the 21-year-old was living with his mother and sisters in Carrolton. His occupation was given as ‘pipeline’ and he is presumed to have been working with the Erie Railway, which connected to the nearby oil station.

He became a mechanical engineer, oil gauger and field man, spending forty-four years with Standard Oil. He was initially with the Prairie Oil and Gas Company, a division of Standard Oil from 1900 to 1911, with which company his cousin and future brother-in-law, Patrick Flahie, also worked. When oil was discovered at Glen Pool, Oklahoma, in 1905, Prairie Oil was one of the companies that quickly built large-diameter pipelines into the area. It seems plausible Pat helped lay the Glen Pool line.

At the time of his mother’s death in 1909, fifty-year-old Pat O’Leary was living in Wakeman, Ohio, an oil town along the Vermilion River. Ohio was the leading producer of crude oil in the US from 1895 until 1902 when Oklahoma took the lead. Three eight-inch pipelines had been laid from Wakeman as part of Standard’s Lima-Indiana pipeline, which connected three Standard refineries in the ‘Middle States’ as well as the seaboard refineries, via the Appalachian pipe-line system. The pipes in the Ohio section were laid by the Buckeye Pipe Line Company. [37]

‘I remember back in Pittsburgh when Lima crude sold for 15 cents a barrel,’ he would remark in 1921. ‘It was sold to the mills for fuel. When it was found it could be refined, no more went for fuel oil. Lima crude had a strong odour of sulphur. One time when we were unloading a lot of it, the citizens petitioned the mayor to stop us from bringing the stuff into town.’

Pat also spent many years working in the Okmulgee district of Oklahoma, where oil had been discovered at nearby Morris in 1907.  His sister May arrived from Oil City in 1913, apparently to look after him, and she would soon become matron of Okmulgee Hospital. Since 1900, the main town of Okmulgee had been connected to the St. Louis, Oklahoma and Southern Railway, better known as the Frisco Line.

By the time of their sister Kate’s marriage in 1915, Pat was living in the oil boom town of Preston, Okmulgee. The population of Okmulgee County increased from 21,115 in 1910 to a high of 56,558 in 1930. A newspaper article from the 1920s claimed Okmulgee City had more millionaires per capita than anyplace else in Oklahoma.

In 1921, the Okmulgee Daily Times declared that Pat was ‘the oldest man in point of service with his company in this part of the country. At the age of 62, he was also ‘the snappiest looking man in the Okmulgee district …. He is not only popular with his co-workers, but well liked by all the producers.’

‘He figures that he is good for a good many more years [with Standard Oil] and that when the time comes when he can’t work and anymore he won’t have to worry about the wolf prowling about his door, for the company will pension him and he will draw a part of his regular pay for the rest of his natural life.’ [38]

Unfortunately, his health deteriorated rapidly at about this time, and he became asthmatic. In about 1922, Pat retired to Cambridge Springs, Pa, where his older brother John also liked to spend time. In March 1926, he attended his sister Kate’s funeral in Oil City. One month later, on 29 April 1926, he succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 64. He was buried in Oil City on 1 May.

Pat was married twice but had no children. He married his first wife Flora Lula Waite in about 1882. She died in 1922 and the following year he married Helen Agnes Lewis (née Gannon), who survived him.

 

Kate Flahie (1861-1926)

 

Kate O’Leary’s photo was published in the Souvenir edition of ‘The Oil City Derrick’ in 1896.

Kate Flahie, the second youngest of the O’Leary siblings, was born at Scanlon’s Station on 21 July 1861. Just over 500 miles [800 km] south, the first major battle of the US Civil War – the First Battle of Bull Run – was fought in Virginia on that very day.

She was baptized on 11 August 1861 at the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Barrie, Ontario. With James Burke and Ellen O’Connell as her sponsors, she was given her mother’s name, Catherine, sometimes spelled as Katherine.

By 1880, she was living with her mother and most of her siblings at Carrolton, New York. She subsequently lived on Washington Avenue, Oil City, from about 1885 through until her marriage in 1915. She shared the house with her mother, who died in 1909, and her sister May, who became a nurse in about 1905.

Kate was a teacher at the 8th Ward School in Oil City from at least 1896 until at least 1914. As her obituary declared, she was “an instructor of recognised ability”. In 1915, the 54-year-old teacher journeyed over 1,240 miles [2,000 km] west to Lamar, Colorado, where she was married on 5 May to her cousin Patrick Henry Flahie, with Father J. A. Bastian officiating.

Patrick Flahie was a clerk with the Prairie Oil and Gas Company, the same company that Kate’s brother Pat O’Leary worked for. His first wife, another Kate (née Lawlor), had died in 1914. Born in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, in July 1860, Patrick had probably known Kate O’Leary during their childhood. His mother was almost certainly Bridget Flahie (née Maloney), the sister of Catherine Maloney O’Leary, while his father was Michael Flahie. The Flahies had later settled in Erie County, Pennsylvania, where Bridget died in 1886/88.

Informing its readers of the Flahie’s marriage in 1915, the Oil City Derrick observed: “She is known as a woman of charming personality whose many friends hope for her a long and happy married life.” Patrick and Kate settled in Humboldt, Kansas, a town that had famously been sacked twice by Confederate sympathizers in the Civil War. Alas, the marriage did not pan out and in January 1921, Kate filed for divorce.

She subsequently lived for a time in Franklin, Pennsylvania, before moving to Oklahoma City, not far from Okmulgee Hospital, where her younger sister May was now matron. Kate died at her home in Oklahoma City on 20 March 1926, aged 65. Her body was brought back to Oil City via Pittsburgh for burial in old St Joseph’s Cemetery. It seems likely May accompanied the coffin during its long journey east. The Rev JJ Cannon officiated at her funeral, while four songs were sung, perhaps by Kate’s past pupils – Mary Dwyer, ‘Ave Sanctissima’ and ‘One Sweetly Solemn Thought’, Medora Weaver, ‘Ave Maria’ and a Miss Weaver ‘Peace Be Still.’ As well as May, other attendees included her two surviving brothers, John and Pat, and her sister Bridget (Delia) Whisner, as well as John’s wife, Margaret and Bridget’s husband, William.

 

May O’Leary (c. 1865- 1945) – The Matron of Okmulgee

 

Postcard of the Okmulgee City Hospital where May O’Leary was matron.

Born in Canada circa 1865, May was the youngest of the O’Leary siblings. She seems to have devoted much of her life to her mother, with whom she lived at 328 Washington Avenue, Oil City, until Catherine O’Leary’s death in 1909. At the time of the 1902 census, she was working as a clerk. She became a State Registered Nurse shortly afterwards, probably through the Oil City Hospital and Training School for Nurses, established 1891.

With the death of her mother, her attention turned to her brother Pat who was living in Okmulgee, capital of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, in Oklahoma. She moved to the area in 1913 and was soon appointed head nurse of Okmulgee City Hospital. The city’s first hospital was a brick house on Muskogee Avenue, north of Greasy Creek, but it had moved several times since, before settling downtown on 8th street. May made her mark in early 1914 when the son of a prosperous farmer from nearby Beggs contracted typhoid and was stricken with locked bowels. A doctor who performed a successful operation on the youngster was ecstatic in his praise of May O’Leary:

Why, the work that lady did in that case I never saw equalled. She not only knows her business, but she simply made sacrifices which are seldom seen made by a nurse. The case called for work and attention which very few, if any, would have undertaken without help. I want you to tell the people about it, because it too often happens that people do not credit then the nurse in case like this with the full benefit that good nursing gives in the class of cases. We doctors get our share of credit for difficult cases, but I want to have the people see in this instance something of the good it is to the community to have the well-managed hospital which Miss. O’Leary is running.”

By 1915, May was matron of the hospital. When she went for a two-month sojourn in Kansas and Colorado that summer, the Okmulgee Daily Democrat hailed her as ‘a most admirable lady [who] had laboured incessantly for the improvement of the hospital.’ In November 1915, she took to the mineral baths of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, ‘for a protracted indisposition with which she has been suffering.’ She evidently recovered as she was recorded in living at 408 East Seventh Street, Okmulgee, in 1926.

May outlived her sister Bridget, who died in 1936, and so became the last of her O’Leary siblings. She moved to Passaic in 1943 where she died on 10 March 1945, while staying with her nephew, Harry Whisner, and his wife, at 60 Howe Avenue.

 

On 15 June 1886, Lillie Larkin married Michael O’Leary at Parker, Armstrong County

5. Michael O’Leary (1854-1906)

 

Toronto to Parker City

 

Born in Canada on 4 February 1854, Michael O’Leary was the eldest son of Pat and Catherine (Maloney) O’Leary, first generation emigrants from County Kerry, Ireland. He was baptized on 11 February 1854 by Father M. O’Loughlin, in St. John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, which was part of the Diocese of Toronto. His sponsors were Ambrose Madden and Bridget Maloney. Bridget was almost certainly the new bride of his uncle Michael Maloney, who had married a Bridget McGann in Newmarket in 1853.

Michael grew up at Scanlon’s Station where his father worked as a labourer while his mother raised him and his six siblings, Josie, John, Bridget (aka Delia), Pat junior, Kate and May. He was likely to have been in his teens when the O’Leary family crossed into the US sometime between 1865 and 1871.

Michael’s whereabouts at the time of the 1880 census are presently unknown. His mother and five of his six siblings were at Carrolton, New York, while his brother John appears to have been working in and around the Pennsylvania oil fields.  Michael was to be closely associated with Oil City, which became home to his mother and sisters in the mid-1880s.

A record from the Oil City Derrick suggests he was living in Parker City from at least January 1885. Also known as Parker’s Landing, the city lay on the banks of the Allegheny in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, 43 miles [70 km] south of Titusville. [39] On 15 June 1886, Michael was married in Parker to Lillie Larkins (1860-1937). The bride celebrated her 26th birthday that very day. Michael was four years her senior. [40]

 

Philip Larkins and Ann Daly (1832-1892)

 

Born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, in 1860, Lillie (Elizabeth) was the second of three children born to Philip Larkins (sometimes Larkin), an Irishman, and his wife Ann. Her mother was born Ann Daily, aka Daly, in Bangor, Maine, on 7 March 1832 and lived in New York for quarter of a century. Ann’s sister Ellen Grace Daly (1828-1908) married Thomas Jefferson McBride (c. 1830-1888) and was living in Parker City at the time of Michael and Lillie’s marriage. Their daughter Laura McBride (1856-1923) was born in Pennsylvania and married James S Cooper.

In the late 1850s, Ann married Philip Larkins, with whom she had a son James, and two daughters Lillie and Edith. Although Philip was sometimes recorded as having been born in Pennsylvania, he gave Ireland as his place of birth on the 1860 census. At that time, he and Ann were living in Conewango township, Warren County, Pennsylvania. Philip may have been one of the Irish who helped build the Sunbury and Erie Railroad, which had lately been completed from Erie to Warren. The township was also home to “Falconer Woolen Works,” established circa 1848, as well as a hotel, a post-office, a lumber yard and two or three small stores for the sale of groceries, hardware, flour, and feed.

Living with then in Conewango in 1860 was their two-year-old son James, who may have been born in Ohio, and baby Lillie. A second daughter Edith was born in 1864 (Civil War).

Philip is assumed to have been dead by 1891 when Ann Larkins moved to Oil City where she lived at 11 Pearl Avenue. This was the home of her daughter Lillie and son-in-law Michael O’Leary, and the family were likely regular visitors to the nearby St Joseph’s Church. She was settling in well, and making new friends, until the summer of 1892 when the sixty-year-old contracted a cholera morbus. Within a week, despite ‘all that medical skill or tender nursing could accomplish, she sank steadily and died’ at Pearl Avenue on 27 July 1892.

Her son James P Larkins, then living in Oakdale, Pennsylvania, was notified by a telegraph and is thought to have attended her funeral at St. Joseph’s two mornings later. Her daughter Edith joined the nuns and was later recorded as Mother Mary Clotilde of New Rochelle, New York.

 

Ohio to Oil City to Cranberry

 

Michael O’Leary’s death was announced in the Passaic Herald on 29 October 1906.

Michael and Lillie were living in Ohio when their daughter Edith Ann O’Leary was born on 16 March 1888. [41] The girl was named Edith, after Lillie’s younger sister, and Ann, for Lillie’s mother.

By 1892, Michael, Lillie and their daughter Edith were living at 11 Pearl Avenue, Oil City, where Lillie’s mother Ann also resided until her death of cholera that summer. Lillie became pregnant again soon afterwards. Her only son George was born on 17 March 1893, St Patrick’s Day. [42] He was probably born in Oil City although George would later cite his place of birth as Bradford, another booming Pennsylvania oil town, 80 miles [130 km] north-east of Oil City.

On 22 January 1897, Lillie took an action against Michael for non-support at the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace of Franklin County. The case was referred to by the Oil City Derrick three days later.

The family may have been reconciled as the 1900 US Census records that Michael, Lillie and their two children were living together in their own home at 7 Division Street, Cranberry. Named for the wild cranberries that flourished along the banks of Brush Creek, Cranberry was an agricultural township north of Pittsburgh, in western Pennsylvania.

Michael was listed as a bookkeeper on the 1900 census. He was most likely recording agreements regarding goods and services connected to the railroads and the oil industry. The advent of railroads, with its complex jigsaw of distribution networks, schedules, fares and rates, had introduced a new age of accounting to the US. As such, Michael was presumably getting to grips with terms such as cost estimates, operating ratios, production reports, balance sheets, cash flow statements and other such metrics.

It seems likely Michael left his family soon after the census, possibly to live with his brother John in Passaic, New Jersey. He was not listed in the 1902 Oil City Directory, at which time Lillie had rooms at ‘12 Petroleum Street.’

Michael O’Leary died aged 52 on Monday 8 October 1906, while staying with his brother John at 275 Paulison Avenue, Passaic. His funeral cortege departed from John’s house, while his body was later taken east for internment in Oil City. [43]

 

Lillie O’Leary in California

 

Postcard of the William Penn Hotel, Houston, where Lillie lived.

In 1909, Lillie O’Leary took her children west to the warm, dry climes of California and start anew. By the time of the 1910 US Census, the fifty-year-old widow was one of 1,056 people living in Township 10, Santa Barbara, as were Edith (19) and George (17). [44]

If the younger O’Leary’s had hoped for a less oily address than their former abode on Petroleum Street, Oil City, they were to be disappointed. Their new home stood on Oil Field Street, a nod to the giant Santa Maria oil field which had been discovered in the ‘rancho’ lands outside Santa Barbara in 1901. William Warren Orcutt, the petroleum geologist who made the discovery, was then dispatched by the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) to create a town to house the rapidly expanding workforce in the area. Unocal insisted on naming the town Orcutt in his honour.

The Santa Maria oilfield reached its peak in 1908, producing 8.7 million barrels. By then, there were 1,000 people living in Orcutt, complete with saloons, hotels, and restaurants. Lille and her children seem to have settled in Orcutt in the summer of 1909. Like their father, both George and Edith found work as bookkeepers. However, tragedy befell the family on 12 April 1914 when 23-year-old Edith died in Orcutt.

In the summer of 1915, Lillie O’Leary was recorded as one of the two judges for Orcutt Precinct. [45] She later joined her son George in Corsicana, Texas, and was with him when his engagement to Catherine Cavanaugh was announced in Wichita Falls in 1927. She died ten years later, on 15 January 1937, while staying with George and Catherine at 2002 Branard Street, Houston. At the time of her passing, her address was given as the ten-storey William Penn Hotel on Texas Avenue, Houston.  She was buried in the city’s Forest Park Cemetery.

 

Ireland and America

 

On Sunday 5 June 1919, one of the most magnificent events in history occurred when Captain Alcock and Lieutenant Brown crash-landed into a Connemara bog. The duo had just flown 1,880 miles from St John’s, Newfoundland. Not only was it the longest distance yet flown by man but it was also the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight between America and Europe.

During all this time, America and Ireland kept getting closer. With the invention of longitude and Ben Franklin’s breakthrough on how best to use Gulf Stream, the journey-time across the Atlantic had been reduced to less than four weeks by the close of the eighteenth century. In 1838, the paddle-steamer Sirius left Cork Harbour and reached New York after a record-breaking eighteen days. Indeed, such a relatively short journey meant that during the Great Hunger, numerous ships sailed from the US, laden with food and provisions that were supplied by the Irish diaspora in America.

In 1858, the first transatlantic telegram was successfully sent via 2500 miles of underwater cable from Valentia Island off the coast of County Kerry to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland. In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi, a kinsman of the Jameson whiskey distilling family, made the first transatlantic radio communication between Ireland and America. By 1907, a regular transatlantic radio-telegraph service was in operation. ‘Have I done the world good, or have I added a menace?’ Marconi would later wonder as the radio went mainstream.

In 1919, the first spoken words were transmitted across the Atlantic from the seaside town of Ballybunion, County Kerry, about 18 miles [30 km] north-west of the Maloney’s homeplace in Knockalougha. At that time, the quickest sea crossing between Ireland and the US still took the bones of a week. Everything changed that autumn when John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown completed the first ever non-stop transatlantic flight, crash-landing in a Connemara bog after flying over 1,800 miles [3,000 km] across a featureless ocean, with blizzards pelting them in their open cockpit. As the first startled witnesses to the crash ran towards the peat-drenched airplane, Alcock stood up from his seat, removed his goggles and announced: ‘We are Alcock and Brown. Yesterday we were in America’. The older generation were particularly stunned. The voyage to America had always taken weeks. And yet this flying contraption had done it in sixteen hours. America was suddenly less than a day away.

 

Black soldiers from the 806th Pioneer Regiment, in which George O’Leary was a first lieutenant.

 

6. George P O’Leary (1893-1958)

 

 

Santa Barbara, Kansas and the Western Front

 

George Philip O’Leary was born on Wednesday 17 March 1893 in either Bradford or Oil City, Pennsylvania. (He provided both options on his children’s birth certificates.) The only son of Michael O’Leary and Lillie Larkin, he was likely given his middle name ‘Philip’ in honour of his maternal grandfather, Philip Larkin. He would also use the name ‘Patrick’, perhaps after his paternal grandfather Patrick O’Leary, or because he was born on St Patrick’s Day.

USS Powhatan steaming in a trans-Atlantic convoy, November 1917.

After an unsettled childhood in Pennsylvania, during which his father died, he was in his mid-teens when he accompanied his mother and older sister Edith to Santa Barbara, California. By 1910, aged 17, he was working as a bookkeeper for one of the oil companies that was prospering on the Santa Maria oil field. George’s older sister Edith was also a bookkeeper prior to her premature death in April 1914. They may have worked for the Continental Oil and Transportation Company, owned by Standard Oil, with which their uncle John O’Leary had been closely associated. In 1911, Continental Oil was spun off from Standard Oil during the Standard Oil divestiture and would later become Conoco, now the Houston-based multinational, ConocoPhillips Company.

George became so adept at sourcing and providing oil and gas well supplies that, by February 1917, he was manager of the California National Supply Company in Orcutt. In that month, he went to Tulsa, the booming Oklahoma oil town, to visit his friends Rudolph Webb and P. Jones. Mr Webb, a gasoline engineer and former superintendent of the American Gas Company at Orcutt, was manager of the Santa Maria Oil Fields Ltd.

George was evidently taken with life in Oklahoma as he and his mother then moved to Tulsa. By May 1917, he was manager for the Republic Supply Company of California in Yale, Oklahoma. When the United States entered the First World War that same month, the blue-eyed, brown-haired young man was among those who enlisted. He was sent to the officer’s training school at Camp Travis, near San Antonio, Texas. His mother seems to have lived nearby. Over 300 men from the Santa Maria oil fields had enlisted by May 1918 when George passed out of Camp Travis with high honours, ranked 10th of 500 cadets.

Commissioned as a second lieutenant, he was assigned to the 806th Pioneer Infantry, Company L, a company of African American recruits from Kansas. They sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey, on USS Powhatan on 15 September 1918.

The 806th was assigned to build an ammunition depot in the Belleville/Metz region, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, part of the final Allied offensive of World War I. George had by now been promoted to 1st Lieutenant but, not long after his arrival in France, he sprained his ankle. He then contracted pneumonia, which may have been linked to the influenza known as the Spanish Flu. Lillie was living back in Santa Maria at this time and her heart must have turned when the Santa Maria Times of 18 December 1918 declared that he had been ‘very ill in a hospital in France for six weeks.’   However, a letter she received soon afterwards assured her that he was fine. He also applauded his African America troopers as ‘wonderful soldiers, all of them.’ On 8 July 1919, George and his men boarded USS Manchuria at Nazaire, France, and voyaged back to New York. The following month, he reunited with Lillie in Santa Maria.

Tulsa would be the setting for the worst race riots in US history in the summer of 1921. It kicked off when a young black man named Dick Rowland was accused of having man-handled a white girl in an elevator. When rumours went out that young Rowland was going to be lynched, a group of black men went to confront the white mob outside the courthouse. Given that George had commanded black soldiers in Europe during the war, it is notable that some of those black men who went to the court house were veterans. Indeed, the spark that ignited the riots was a gunshot that went off when a white man attempted to disarm a tall black veteran. Over 35 blocks of Tulsa’s prosperous black Greenwood neighbourhood were burned and at least 75 people killed. It is not known if George was still in the area at this time.

 

Marriage in Texas

 

A Little Bit of Heaven, which George sang on St Patrick’s Day, 1927.

After the war, George worked in the sales department of the Continental Supply Company at the Corsicana oil field in Texas. His mother lived with him. In 1924, he was transferred to become district manager of the company’s branch at Wichita Falls, Texas. He arrived in October 1924 and initially lived at the city’s Texan Hotel before taking rooms at 1627 on 10th Street. His mother followed him out to Wichita Falls and stayed at the Hotel William-Mary, where George would also reside in 1927.

George’s Irish ancestry was clearly never far from his mind. On St Patrick’s Day 1927, his 34th birthday, he was listed as among ‘the best Irish talent in the city’ when the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Daughters of the Church of the Sacred heart hosted an Irish evening at the Wichita Club. He gave a solo rendition of ‘A Little Bit of Heaven,’ the song made famous by the Irish tenor, Count John McCormack.

On 13 October 1927, the engagement of Mr. George O’Leary and Miss. Catherine Bridget Cavanaugh was announced in the Wichita Falls Times, an event that was formally marked by ‘a pretty bridge luncheon at the nurses’ home of the Wichita Falls Clinic hospital,’ Texas, where Catherine Cavanaugh worked as an anaesthetist.  ‘The reception suite was attractively decorated in white and yellow and the color scheme was carried out also in the table decorations.’ George’s mother Lillie O’Leary was present for the occasion.

The couple were married at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Wichita, Texas, following an 8 a.m. service on Wednesday 26 October 1927 ‘in the presence of friends and relatives.’ I think that’s the earliest wedding I’ve ever heard of. The ceremony was conducted by Father Lawrence Hoyt (1877-1952), the Benedictine administrator of the Sacred Heart Church, who also celebrated the High Mass that followed. The bride wore ‘a lovely gown of maroon transparent velvet with trimmings of ecru and hat of gold lace’, and entered on the arms of Dr James W Powers (1884-1930), a colleague from the prenatal department. Miss Grace Leahey was her bridesmaid, while Charles King was George’s best man.

The guests then assembled for a wedding breakfast at the nurse’s home. Following a honeymoon to San Antonio and other parts of South Texas, the couple made their home at 1668 Dayton Street, Wichita Falls. Their first child Katherine Edith O’Leary was born in Wichita Falls at 6pm on 9 October 1928, with Dr W. L. Parker as the midwife. By that time, George and Catherine were living in Houston. Perhaps Catherine preferred to have her baby in the clinic she knew so well, but her husband had his eye on Houston as their future base.

On 10 January 1931, Catherine gave birth to a son, George Jr, in Houston. A third child, John Cavanaugh O’Leary, known as Johnny, was born in Houston on 29 April 1932.

 

New Life in Houston

 

George O’Leary was pictured in the Oil City Visitor on 15 February 1952.

In 1927, George O’Leary joined the Elm Specialty Company, a Dallas-based oil well and tool supply business, as a partner with John E Elms. However, the partnership was dissolved on 16 August 1928, after which George and a couple of other salesmen began working independently out of a single room office, supplying local businesses. [46]

On the eve of the Wall Street Crash in 1929, George O’Leary founded the Houston Oil Field Materials Company (HOMCO), an oil field supply and service firm, with himself as president. [47] The business was based in Houston at 2019 Sul Ross Avenue, and later at 1524 Maury Street. In 1934, premises were also constructed in Sullivan City, Texas, near the oil field in the south-west of Hidalgo County.

By 1939, HOMCO had over 200 employees. It was supplying stores from the Mississippi to the Rio Grande to the Permian Basin in western Texas and New Mexico. There were also subsidiaries in California and Arizona. The company headquarters had already been enlarged four times to keep up with the change. In 1940, they moved into new 15,000 square foot, brick-built, air-conditioned headquarters, offices and shop at 2101 South Wayside Drive in East End, Houston.

In April 1939, Houston hosted the hugely successful Oil World Exposition, which was considered the greatest oil show in the city’s history. And who should close the event? Only George and Catherine O’Leary with a singalong, as noted by the Houston Chronicle:

‘A community sing in Sam Houston Coliseum Music Hall, with Mr and Mrs George O’Leary leading exhibitors and oil show visitors in such old familiar songs as “Auld Lang Syne,” “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet” and “School Days,” was the last scheduled event on the program of Houston’s 1939 oil show.’

With the US’s entry into the Second World War, HOMCO quickly made the transition from supplying oil field cutting and fishing tools to airplane landing gear. They were specifically focused on the production of main landing gear shock struts for C-47 cargo planes. In return for their efficiency, the company was awarded the prestigious Army-Navy “E” Award in 1944. (See Appendix 2). Two years later, HOMCO purchased the Briggs-Weaver Machinery Company of Dallas, one of the oldest distributors of industrial machines and supplies in the state. The Briggs-Weaver capital stock was sold to a group of Dallas investors, including Ashley DeWitt, in 1952.

Catherine O’Leary was pictured alongside her children Katherine, George junior and Johnny for the Houston Chronicle, 20 April 1937.

George and Catherine continued to sing at public events, as soloists and together. Catherine, a parishioner of St Anne’s Catholic Church, Houston, was a member of the church’s Altar Society. George was a very active member of Houston’s Catholic lay community. He chaired a $3 million building fund, which constructed the new St Mary’s Seminary in a 50-acre wooded tract on Memorial Drive. The seminary opened in 1954.

George kept his musical side up. During the war years, a friend recalled how he used to sing Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Stardust’ while he helped wash dishes at the Stage Canteen in the basement of Houston’s Auditorium Hotel. In 1945, he was elected to the board of directors of the Theatre Guild of Houston.

George’s cultural prowess was also reflected in his election as the first president of the Inter-American Club, formed at 1524 Maury Street, Houston, which championed ‘Latin-American’ culture in the city. [48] In 1958, HOMCO opened a subsidiary in Venezuela, with purpose-built offices and warehouse in the oil-rich region of Maracaibo Bay (Zulia). The O’Leary surname was held in high regard in Venezuela on account of the General Daniel Florencio O’Leary (1801-1854), the son of a butter merchant from Cork, who served in the Venezuelan Liberating Army under Simón Bolívar.

In 1940, George purchased a ‘rock and log’ cottage on the banks of the Medina River at Highland Waters near Bandera in the Hill Country. The climate here was better suited to their eldest son, George junior, who was asthmatic. To the north of Highland Waters, the O’Leary’s also had a 900-acre ranch at Kerrville, which they sold in 1944 or 1945. In January 1945, they bought a two-storey, brick residence at 3263 Del Monte, River Oaks, Houston, from Henry J Gazin for $45,000. In October 1945, George bought a 370-acre farm near Alief, west of Houston, where he placed ninety Aberdeen Angus cattle as the basis for a stock herd.

George was also honorary president of the Houston Golf Association, founded in 1946, while Catherine was secretary of the River Oaks Women’s Golf Association.

Catherine died in a ‘local hospital’ in Houston in 1947. She was outlived by her husband and all six of her siblings. She is buried in the Catholic Garden of Gethsemane area of Forest Park Cemetery in Houston. On 2 June 1848, George was married, secondly, to Mrs Gladys (Messa) Lassiter (1899-1975) in Houston. Born in Barcelona, she was the daughter of Ortiz Messa and Melida/Melinda Ortiz.

Advertisements for HOMCO.

George remained president of HOMCO through until his sudden death from a heart attack on 12 December 1958, aged 65. [49] In his final months, HOMCO opened Alaska’s first oil industry servicing depot in Anchorage, with ‘a full line of directional tools, fishing tools, bumper jars, overshots, bumper subs and a string of wash pipe.’ [50]

George O’Leary was buried in the Catacomb Mausoleum at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston. His second wife has a crypt above his. (See here.)

As to their children, Katherine married Rueben G Rogerson and died in 2013. George married Joan Davis, with whom he had six children, and died in 2011. (See Appendix 1.)

Johnny, aka John Cavanaugh O’Leary (1932-2020), co-founded the oil and gas exploration company Intercoastal Operating Company in 1960, focusing on the inland Texas coast.

By his marriage to Cornelia Agnes Cullen, Johnny was father to Nina O’Leary Zilkha (who married Michael Zilkha), Alisa Erin O’Leary, and John Cavanaugh O’Leary, Jr. (who married Blanca Alicia Uzeta O’Leary.) (See Appendix 2.) Nina and Michael have a son, Daniel Michael Zilkha, while John and Blanca are the parents of John Cavanaugh O’Leary III.

 

The Houston Chronicle announces the Oil World Exposition, 1939, with George’s photograph amongst the ‘Who’s Who’ of the oil industry’s leaders.

 

George O’Leary, in bow tie, second from right, shortly after his appointment to the new Theatre Guild of Houston, pictured alongside Milton P Laurent (petroleum engineer), Thomas Reilly (guild president) and Ralph Mead (director of theatre productions) in the Houston Chronicle, 14 June 1950.

 

7. The Cavanaugh Connection

 

 

Catherine O’Leary’s photo appeared in the Houston Chronicle on 20 June 1947.

Catherine Bridget Cavanaugh, the wife of George O’Leary, was born in Pennsylvania on 11 July 1897 and grew up in either Lynn township in the east of the state, or Lilly, a borough of eastern Cambria County, located in the valley of the Little Conemaugh River, near its headwaters.

Her father John J Cavanaugh was born on 24 March, probably in 1854, in the English town of Prescot. Famed for its watch and clockmaking in the 19th century, Prescot stands about 10 miles [16 km] east of the English port of Liverpool. Patrick Cavanaugh, John’s father, was an agricultural labourer from County Leitrim, Ireland, while his mother Bridget is thought to have been a Casey, also from Leitrim. Patrick and Bridget moved to England shortly after the birth of their eldest child, James, in 1846. It is likely that they, like the O’Leary and Maloney families, emigrated on account of the Great Hunger. Liverpool became so congested with Irish emigrants that by 1851, twenty per cent of its population as Irish-born.

By the time John was born, the family lived at 30 Fazakerley Street, The Lough, on the east of Prescot, close to the present-day Black Horse Inn. As well as James, John had three more siblings who survived childhood, Mary (born c. 1852), Patrick (born c. 1858) and Ann (born c. 1860), while a third sister Margaret died as a baby in 1852.

On 11 July 1880, John was married in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin, Prescot, to Martha Stacey. Born in Ireland, probably Waterford, but possibly Wexford, she appears to have been the only child of William Stacey, a labourer, and his wife Martha (née Rosemier?). Her family had emigrated to England in the 1860s and fetched up in Lancashire, not far from the Cavanaughs of Prescot.

John and Martha Cavanaugh would have a family of seven children, three boys and four girls, of which the future Catherine O’Leary was the second youngest. Their first children were born in Prescot, but the family emigrated to the USA in about 1884. Catherine’s older brother Charles was born in Cambria, Pennsylvania, on 15 May 1885.

Tom (1880-1958), the firstborn son, settled in Buffalo, New York, while Charles (1885-1907) and Jack (1886-1964) both lived in New York City. Tom and Charles have descendants alive today. As to her sisters, Margaret Veronica (1891-1984) married Emerson Martin Dunn (1887-1976); Mary Jane (1882-1963) married Jack Spargo, of Pittsburgh, PA; and Martha (1898-1967) married Jack Stewart of Port Marion and, later, Cumberland. The Cavanaugh sisters are also likely to have descendants alive today. [51]

The cover for the sheet music for the song “I Love You Truly”, a parlour song written by Carrie Jacobs-Bond and released in 1901. Catherine sang it at a friend’s wedding in Wichita Falls in 1926.

The Cavanaugh family home at 360 Flowers Avenue, Hazelwood, Pittsburgh, 2019.

The Cavanaughs grew up in Pennsylvania where their father John worked as a traveling agent for a dental firm. In 1903, the Cavanaughs moved to 360 Flowers Avenue, Hazelwood, a bustling suburb of Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Catherine’s uncle Patrick Cavanaugh married Mary Conlin in 1884 and had four children, three of whom also emigrated to the US. Descendants of Patrick and Mary are alive today.  1884 was also the year in which Catherine’s aunt Ann Cavanaugh married James Conlin, a brother of Mary, with whom she had three children. Their eldest son Joseph Conlin (1885-1917) was killed fighting on the Western Front.

Like her husband George O’Leary, Catherine would lose her father in 1906. The Irishman was struck by a train at Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, early on the evening of 13 February. He was rushed to West Penn Hospital where he died the following morning from internal injuries, as well as a head fracture. At the time of his death, Tom was working as a crane-man, Charles as a machinist and Jack as a labourer.

After John’s death in 1906, Martha remained at Flowers Avenue until 1908 when she, along with Catherine and three more of her children, moved east to 5017 Lafayette Street, Swissvale, where they were recorded in the 1910 census. Martha outlived her husband by a decade, dying on 3 October 1916 at 5017 Langhorn Street, a short distance from her original Flowers Avenue home, near the Monongahela River.

Catherine studied as a ‘Pupil Nurse’ in Pittsburgh’s Mercy Hospital (now UPMC Mercy), founded in 1847 by the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, an Irish order.  Having graduated in April 1922, she had made her way to the Wichita Falls Clinic-Hospital in Texas, where she was working as an Anaesthetist by 1927, with rooms at 1305-09 7th.

Catherine was evidently at Wichita Falls by Christmas 1926 when she played Wagner’s famous ‘Wedding March’ at the wedding of one of her fellow nurses. At the same event, she sang ‘I Love You Truly,’ which had lately been a hit for the Italian-American soprano Dusolina Giannini. It seems this love of music is what led George O’Leary and Catherine Cavanaugh’s paths to cross. On 11 January 1927, they both performed at a meeting of the Knights of Columbus in Wichita Falls. The couple, both proud scions of emigrant families from Ireland, were married nine months later.

 

Martha Cavanaugh home at 517 Langhorn Street, Pittsburgh.

 

Acknowledgements

 

With special thanks to John & Blanca O’Leary and Nina & Michael Zilkha. Thanks also to Maria O’Brien, John Power (designer), Fintan O’Callaghan (Impress Printing Works), Genie Flahie, Kay O’Leary, Joe Harrington (Irish Rambling House, Knockalougha), Janine Harris-Wheatley (Tecumseth & West Gwillimbury Historical Society), Kay Caball (My Kerry Ancestors), Mark S Auerbach (City Historian, Passaic City), Bryan MacMahon, Ally Bunbury and Grace-Ann Fallon.

 

 

Appendix 1: Obituary to George O’Leary (1931-2011), Houston Chronicle, Chronicle, 26 July 2011.

 

George O’Leary

George Michael O’Leary ended his struggle against Alzheimer’s and died peacefully on Monday, July 25th, 2011. George was born on January 10, 1931 in Houston Texas and is the son of Katherine Cavanaugh O’Leary and George P. O’Leary, both deceased. George left Houston to live in the Texas Hill Country at the age of 7 due to asthma, and attended San Antonio Military Academy, Moye Military Academy, and finally attended public school in the town of Medina, Texas while living on his father’s nearby ranch.

He returned to Houston after the death of his mother at age 14 and attended St. Anne’s Catholic School and St. Thomas High School. During his teenage years, he taught tennis at River Oaks Country Club. Subsequently, he attended Virginia Military Institute and graduated from University of Houston with a BS in geology. After graduation, he worked for his father’s company, HOMCO, where he learned the basics of the oil industry, including directional drilling which was in its infancy in those days. He went on to establish a successful career in sales of oilfield materials and supplies.

He was a member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church where he was an alter server as a child. He also served as a Director of River Oaks Country Club. George was a passionate tennis player, golfer and hunter. His other love was raising cattle and waging war against mesquite. After retirement, he volunteered at St. Joseph Hospital greeting visitors with his warm smile. Later he was a participant at The Amazing Place.

Proud of his Irish Heritage, George had the gift of gab and enjoyed bantering with friends and family. He was known for his outgoing personality and never met a stranger. George is survived by his wife of 59 years, Joan Davis O’Leary; his six children, Kathleen Moore and husband Henry, George Michael O’Leary Jr. and wife Lisa, Tom Davis O’Leary and wife Vivian, David Parker O’Leary and wife Sarah, Patrick Martin O’Leary and wife Molly, and Mark Cavanaugh O’Leary and wife Rachel; thirteen grandchildren Catherine Moore Thompson and husband Skylar, Laura Moore, George M. O’Leary III and wife Lesley, Patrick Conner O’Leary, Mary Elizabeth O’Leary, Tom Davis O’Leary, Grace Margaret O’Leary, Evan Edward O’Leary, John Clay O’Leary, Parker Gray O’Leary, Davis Donovan O’Leary, Ryan Cavanaugh O’Leary, and Megan Caroline O’Leary; his sister Katherine O’Leary Rogerson; brother John Cavanaugh O’Leary and wife Francis; brother-in-law Tom Martin Davis, Jr. and wife Jan; sister-in-law Nina Davis Gray and husband Elisha; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Appendix 2: Obituary to John C. O’Leary (1932-2020), Houston Chronicle, 28 June 2020.

 

John Cavanaugh O’Leary

John Cavanaugh O’Leary passed away on Wednesday, the 24th of June 2020, while under the loving, inpatient care of Houston Hospice. He was 88 years of age. He was born on the 29th of April 1932, and was a lifelong resident of Houston.

John grew up attending St. Anne’s Catholic Church and School where he was an altar server as a child. He graduated from St. Thomas High School where more than once he had his knuckles rapped by the nuns. While at St. Thomas, he was active in sports and was the quarterback on the football team. He completed his undergraduate degree in Geology at night school at the University of Houston while studying at home with his one-year old daughter Nina pestering him for attention and pulling his homework onto the floor. During the day and after graduation, John worked for his father at the family’s oilfield tool service company, HOMCO, where he learned the basics of the oil industry, including directional drilling, which was then in its infancy. He co-founded oil and gas exploration company Intercoastal Operating Company in 1960, focusing on the inland Texas coast.

John was proud of his Irish heritage and was known for his humor and Irish charm. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and was chair of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for several years at a time when it was properly held downtown on the actual day – March 17th.

John was an avid golfer. At times, he would take his son Cavanaugh, who occasionally learned some colorful words after watching his father hit the ball. John still enjoyed watching golf on TV once he was no longer able to play. He was active with the University of Houston football program during the Bill Yeoman years and watched every home game from a skybox in the Astrodome that he shared with a number of close friends, sometimes bringing his daughter Alisa – Go Cougs!

As a young adult, John coached high school football in underserved schools and neighborhood parks. For many years he was involved with Meals on Wheels.

John is predeceased by his parents, George Patrick O’Leary and Katherine Cavanaugh O’Leary; his brother, George Michael O’Leary and his sister, Katherine O’Leary Rogerson. He is survived by his wife, Frances Sharp O’Leary; his children, Nina O’Leary Zilkha and her husband Michael, daughter, Alisa Erin O’Leary, and son, John Cavanaugh O’Leary, Jr. and his wife Blanca; his stepdaughter, Frances Haden Alexander and her husband Ben; his grandchildren, Lucinda Louise Francis and her husband Andrew, Daniel Michael Zilkha and his wife Jane, John Cavanaugh O’Leary III, and Wesley Haden Alexander; three great-granddaughters, Cecilia Anna Francis, Imogen Cristina Francis, and Genevieve Leila Zilkha; and a number of nieces and nephews and their children.
John’s family would like to give special thanks to his wonderful and devoted caregivers Donna Davis, Mary Rodriguez, Valerie Rodriguez, Sofia Azuike, and Mabel Omagorosire, and Doctor Amy Mynderse and Maddie Bunch RN.
The family will gather for a private interment on Monday, the 29th of June, at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
Serving as honorary pallbearers are John Cavanaugh O’Leary Jr, John Cavanaugh O’Leary III, Michael Eliahou Selim Zilkha, Ben Mortimer Alexander, Daniel Michael Zilkha, and Wesley Haden Alexander.

 

Appendix 3: The Douglas C-47

 

Douglas C-47 Skytrain

In 1944, George O’Leary accepted an Army-Navy “E” Award on behalf of the Houston Oil Field Materials Company (HOMCO), presented in honor of the company’s production of main landing gear shock struts for C-47 cargo planes during World War Two. According to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans:

‘The Douglas C-47 was used as a cargo transport to fly the notorious “Hump” over the Himalayas, as well as an assault aircraft carrying paratroops and towing gliders into combat. Known also as “Skytrain,” “Dakota” (British designation), R4D (U.S. Navy) and “Gooney Bird,” the Douglas C-47 (USAAF) went through many modifications during its long service life, largely with respect to engine power ratings, but also with structural modifications for specific tasks like reconnaissance and navigation training. It was even tested as a floatplane and as an engineless glider, a task it performed well, but too late in the war to matter. By war’s end, 10,692 of the DC-3/C-47 aircraft had been built. From its pioneering of military airlifts over the Hump, to its perfecting of the technique during the Berlin Airlift, the C-47 has been prized for its versatility and dependability, factors that explain its remarkable longevity as an active carrier worldwide.

The National WWII Museum’s C-47, serial number 42-93096, was built at the Douglas Aircraft Manufacturing plant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “096” was delivered to the US Army on April 8, 1944, at which time it was assigned to the 806th Army Air Force Base Unit at Baer Field, Indiana. The following month “096” was assigned to the 8th Air Force and transferred to the European theater of operations. Immediately after arriving in England on May 28, 1944, the aircraft was transferred to the 9th Air Force. One week after arriving in England, “096” carried pathfinders from the 82nd Airborne Division into the Normandy Invasion. The plane then dropped pathfinders from the 101st Airborne Division into Holland during Operation Market Garden. “096” also flew with the rest of its group to drop supplies to the 101st in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. During this mission “096” sustained minor damage from German ground fire, but the plane was repaired and placed back in service in a matter of days. The plane’s final combat mission occurred on March 24, 1945, when it dropped paratroopers from the 17th Airborne Division across the Rhine River during Operation Varsity.’

 

End Notes

 

[1] Thousands of Irishmen who arrived during the early years of the Great Hunger enlisted in the US Army following its invasion of Mexico in 1846. A number of these Irish conscripts switched sides and joined the San Patricios, an elite infantry battalion that served for Mexico during the war. Among them was Santiago O’Leary, a captain of the San Patricios.

[2] The family name was often spelled as Moloney or Molony in Knockalougha in the early 1800s and appears as such on several baptism records for John and Margaret’s children, including Catherine and Bridget, right up until 1842 when Thomas was born. To keep things simple, I use the ‘Maloney’ name in this account as that is the spelling they primarily used in America.

[3] Catherine Maloney’s name was sometimes spelled as Katherine, and I believe she was known as Kate. I have opted to call her Catherine, to distinguish her from her daughter Kate, and to spell her name as Catherine in this text.

[4] The 18,150-acre parish of Abbeyfeale was named for a Cistercian abbey founded in 1188 by Brien O’Brien, parts of which were incorporated into a thatched chapel that would have stood on Abbeyfeale’s Square during Catherine’s childhood. About a mile from the village were the ruins of Purt, or Portrenard, Castle, built by a branch of the FitzGeralds ‘to command the pass’ of the River Feale. Most of the parish of Abbeyfeale was pasture but ‘a considerable portion’ of marshy ‘waste land’ and turf bog was ‘gradually being brought into cultivation’ by 1837, and ‘the system of agriculture is steadily improving.’ Fairs were held annually on 29 June and 24 September, chiefly for cattle, sheep, and pigs; and also on the first Tuesday in each month. There were also cattle fairs held at Portrenard Castle on the May 2, July 18, Oct 13 and Dec 15. Most of Abbeyfeale town actually lay across the border in County Limerick; the River Feale served as its border with Kerry.  At least thirty people had drowned attempting to cross the river before a new bridge was constructed at Abbeyfeale, connecting Counties Limerick and Kerry. Between 1844-47, a new parish church was built in Abbeyfeale’s Church Street on the site of what is now St Mary’s Boys National School. Dedicated to St Mary, the new church would become known locally as “The Famine Church”.

[5] Daniel O’Connell made his first known visit to Abbeyfeale on 21 January 1835. Over the next seven years, he and his family frequently returned to the village, staying at “Leahy’s Inn” on The Square.

[6] Christine Kinealy, ‘Food exports from Ireland, 1846–47’, History Ireland, vol. 5, issue 1 (spring, 1997), p. 32–6.

[7] Father Walsh’s remarks were published in the Cork Examiner, copied to the Boston Daily, 13 September 1848. ‘Nothing but the most energetic measure – the employment of all resources of the Empire and shipping in importing corn can save a third of the population of Ireland from famishing this year,’ he predicted.

[8] The nine Maloney children were:

  1. Michael – Baptized on September 19, 1825
  2. John – No record as yet located but he was mentioned in Catherine’s 1909 obituary
  3. Catherine – Baptized on March 30, 1828
  4. Bridget – Baptized on September 28, 1830
  5. Johanna – Baptized on May 15, 1833
  6. Margaret – Baptized on March 24, 1835
  7. Mary – Baptized on August 27, 1837
  8. Cornelius – Baptized on February 16, 1840
  9. Thomas – Baptized on May 27, 1842

[9] Kerry Post, quoted by The Cork Examiner on 11 Aug 1848.

[10] Over the next seven years, Jeanie Johnston made 16 voyages to North America, sailing to Quebec, Baltimore, and New York, and delivering upwards of 2500 Irish emigrants safely to the New World. The fare to Quebec on Jeanie Johnston was £3.10, which represented close to half a year’s wages for an Irish labourer at the time. The average length of the transatlantic journey was 47 days, or seven weeks. On one trip from Tralee to Quebec in April 1852 she carried a incredible 254 passengers. To put this in perspective, the replica ship now has a day cruise maximum capacity of 60.

[11] Based on a written piece of information sent to me by Regina Flahie.

[12] A Latin record of their marriage sent by Genie Flahie was translated by Maria O’Brien as: ‘Patrick Lari , 27-year-old, catholic of faith, has domicile in co. Kerry in Ireland, now inhabited in Hornellsville, co. Streuben, NY and Katharina Maloni, 22 years old, catholic faith, residing in co. Kerry Ireland now lives in Hornellsville, co. Streuben, NY got the oath of marriage without a statement? Here the earth lacks the abode of igniter vagabonds???????? , Witnesses: Francis Hacich, shopkeeper of Perkinsville, co. streuben, catholic faith and Nicholas Morsch, tenant farmer of Perkinsville, co. streuben, catholic faith.’

The death certificate for Pat and Catherine’s daughter Bridget suggests Patrick O’Leary  was known as Pat.

[13] In 1852, the community of Hornellsville became the incorporated Village of Hornellsville and in 1888 became the City of Hornellsville. It changed its name to the City of Hornell in 1906. The City of Hornell is surrounded by the Town of Hornellsville.

[14] Transactions of the Board of Agriculture of Upper Canada (Ontario), Volume 2 (1858), p. 6.

Simcoe County, where the O’Leary’s lived in the late 1850s, took its name from, while Gwillimbury was named for the English heiress, Elizabeth Posthuma Gwillim (1762-1850), who married Sir John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806), who had been the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada during the 1790s.

[15] Andrew Frederick Hunter, ‘A History of Simcoe County,’ Volume 1 (Simcoe County Council, 1909), p. 326.

[16] Mark Scanlon was made a JP for the area in 1847 and died on 26 June 1871, aged 74. Although recorded as Scanlon’s Station in various baptismal records for the O’Leary children, it was also spelled as Scanlon Station and Scanlons Station. Scanlon’s Station was later abandoned. It seems to have been operational as late as 1890 when a track plan was drawn for it. However, it does not appear in a G.T. Railway timetable of circa 1902.

[17] ‘Visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to the British North American Provinces and United States in the Year 1860’ (H. Rowsell, 1861), p. 254.

[18] In the 1900 US Census, both Kate and May record their entry into the US as 1872 while their mother Catherine records hers as 1848, which would be her referring to when she first came to the US. However, in the census of that year Michael and John J record 1860 as the year they arrived, which we know to be incorrect as they were recorded in the 1861 Canadian Census, while Pat Jr records it as 1865. Then in 1920, May records the year of entry as 1865.  Also, the family were not recorded in the 1871 Canadian Census thus must have entered the US between 1865 and 1871.

[19] The Irish contribution to the architectural landscape of the US is also exceptional. Many of the old cities of the antebellum south were constructed by Irishmen. So too were the canals that run through Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and elsewhere. So was the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge while the tunnels of the New York subway are the legacy of Irish ‘sandhogs’, or urban miners. The streetscape of San Francisco is the legacy of Wexford-born planner Jasper O’Farrell and Limerick-born construction engineer Michael Maurice O’Shaughnessy.

[20] Oil City Derrick, 4 October 1909.

[21] There was a glassworker of that name with an address at 297 Arch Street, Pittsburgh.

[22] Corry was spelled as ‘Corey’ on Margaret’s obituary.

[23] The Gera Mills were founded in 1900 by Christian Bahnsen, and named after the Saxton town of Gera woollen mill. He was sent by the firm of Ernst F. Weissflog of Gera who had bought a site for a large factory in Passaic, N. J. In 1926 it was central to the Passaic textile strike when over 15,000 woollen mill workers downed tools in the first Communist-led work stoppage in United States history.

The Passaic Metal Ware Company was established by a tin knocker named Max Gurtman in 1911. It produced and manufactured serving trays, tin over cardboard sign, and self-framed tin signs for various companies and industries including Coca-Cola, Hires Root Beer, Pabst Brewing Company, Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company, Foltz Maid Coffee, and Scandinavian-American Line Ships.

[24] Real Estate Record and Builders’ Guide, Volume 97, p. 820.

[25] Mark S. Auerbach, ‘An Overview of the History of the City of Passaic, New Jersey’ (1998). The Playhouse Theatre opened for legitimate stage productions in 1914. It quickly became a vaudeville theatre, before becoming a movie theatre. The theatre was never fitted with air-conditioning and employed two huge fans on both sides of the stage to ‘cool’ the audience. Often the noise of these fans interfered with the hearing of softer dialogue. The Playhouse Theatre was later operated by the Warner Bros. chain. Closed by 1956, in November 1956 there was an attempt to reopen it as a skating rink named Skate-O-Rama, but ran into problems with insufficient parking. The Playhouse Theatre was later demolished.

[26] William Winfield Scott, ‘History of Passaic and its environs’ (New York : Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1922).

[27] William Winfield Scott, ‘History of Passaic and its environs’ (New York : Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1922).

[28] The Club Journal, Volume 5 (Automobile Club of America, 1913), p. 827.

[29] The Holland Tunnel was named not for the Irish inventor of the submarine but for Clifford Milburn Holland, the civil engineer from Massachusetts who oversaw the project prior to his unexpected death from a heart attack in 1924, aged 41.

[30] It was known at the Post Farm after an early Dutch settler, Adrian Post.

[31] Passaic Daily News, 12 Nov 1927, page 5.

[32] Passaic Daily News, October 12, 1929

[33] Passaic Daily News, October 15, 1929

[34] Margaret O’Leary Hogan was born in 1911 in Passaic and died in 2004 in Passaic. In 1939 she was married in Passaic to John Francis Sullivan with whom she had three children:

  1. Linda Jane Sullivan (twin) – born in 1943 m Bruce J Deusinger
  2. Jane Frances Sullivan (twin) – born in 1943 m Richard Alan McCue born 1962
  • John Francis Sullivan Jr – born abt. 1947 m Joanne Elizabeth Gantner in 1975

[35] Bridget was baptized on 8 February 1858.

[36] There is no mention of William, Bridget or George in an authoritative ‘History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania’ by Aaron J Davis, published by D. Mason and Company in 1887, although the author does refer to their father Samuel Whisner.

[37] Report of the Commissioner of Corporations on the Petroleum Industry: Position of the Standard oil company in the petroleum industry. May 20, 1907. (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1907), p. 141-142.

[38] Okmulgee Daily Times, 20 March 1921.

[39] Oil City Derrick, Jan 20, 1885.

[40] John J Quigley, Minister of the Gospel (and Justice of the Peace), officiated at Michael and Lillie’s wedding. The church may have been called St Mary’s.

[41] Edith Ann’s 1914 death record puts her birth 16 March 1891, which would coincide with her year of birth in the 1910 census, but she was recorded in the 1900 US census as 12 years of age thus her birth year would have been 1888.

[42] George is recorded as having been born on 17 March 1893 on his headstone at Forest Park Cemetery, Houston, Texas. On his below 1917 WWI Registration Card, his date of birth is given as 17 March 1894. It is not uncommon for someone to be recorded on the latter records as exactly one year younger than their actual age.

[43] Passaic Daily News and Herald, October 29, 1906.

[44] Although their address on the 1910 US census has been transcribed on Ancestry as Township 9, upon closer inspection of the actual record below, it is in Township 10 with a line struck through Orcutt Precinct. See: ‘Supplement for California – Population, Agriculture, Manufactures, Mines and Quarries’ (1910), p. 579, via website.

[45] The Lompoc Record, 6 August 1915.

[46] Having described himself as a ‘salesman’ in 1928, George opted for ‘oil well supplier’ when stating his occupation on the birth certificate of their second child, George Jr, in 1931.

[47] The Oil and Gas Journal (Petroleum Publishing Company, 1954), p. 73; World Oil, Volume 148 (Gulf Publishing Company, 1959), p. 266.

[48] United States Associations on World Trade and Affairs, Industrial Series, Issue 70, p. 69.

[49] Poor’s Register of Directors and Executives, United States and Canada, Standard & Poor’s Corporation, 1959, p. 50.  George was succeeded as acting president of HOMCO by Hugh Q. Buck, the company’s general counsel.

[50] Independent Petroleum Association of America Monthly, Volume 29 (1958), p. 32.

[51] Details of the Dunn family can be found on FamilySearch.org here.