23 March 2013

Surname Saturday: O'Flaherty

Dennis O'Flaherty .... where did you come from? Born around 1834-1839 somewhere in Ireland, Dennis is not easy to find in his early years. For better or worse, O'Flaherty is a common Irish surname.

I have no record of his parents identity or them immigrating with him. Thus I can safely assume he either came over with older siblings as a child or came by himself as an older teen or young adult. Unfortunately that does not narrow down my search for his immigration records. I do know he and Martha Durkin were married here and the kids were all born here. Since James and Mary were born in 1868, I can probably assume that Dennis and Martha were married circa 1866.

The O'Flahertys are found mainly in Tipperary, Limerick and Clare. (1) The texts I have will be helpful once I get a location. On all his records - that I have found so far - simply state "Ireland" as his birthplace. He was never specific.
Ancestry.com includes immigration records. One record is a potential match. There is a 19 year old Dennis Oflaherty who immigrated 16 April 1853. This would put him born about 1834. Before last week I would have been quick to question this one since my Dennis was born around 1839. However, in a webinar about Irish genealogy on Ancestry.com, the speaker pointed out that names were common in Ireland, O's and Mc's were randomly added or dropped, and people did not worry so much about specific years or ages. 

This Dennis (on the passenger list at right) is from Ireland, having left from the port in Liverpool, England. He came to New York. He was a laborer. The ship was the Ship Universe. (2) No other O'Flahertys were listed on the passenger list.

Once here, his life is pretty easy to document. Census records show the family living in Phoenixville, Chester County. The 1870 census lists Dennis and Martha with only Mary and Hugh living at home with them. Assumeably James has already passed. They also hve an Irish boarder living there - a Patrick Hannegan.

The 1880 Census lists Dennis' age as 45, putting his birth circa 1835. The 1880 census includes the person and his/her parents birthplace but no other immigration information. Both Dennis and Martha were born in Ireland. The children include: Mary, Hugh, Michael, Dennis, Margaret, and Martha. At this point Catherine had not yet been born and James had already passed.

The Boyd's Chester County, Pennsylvania directory, 1904-05 for Phoenixville lists Martha, Katie and Hugh. I fact there are two Hughs listed. Martha is listed as a widow at this time. Hence, we can note that Dennis passed sometime between 1885 (when their last child was born) and 1904. (note - the coloring is Ancestry.com's doing, not mine). The second Hugh is a new name for me.

I remain at the same spot I was - still looking for Dennis' immigration information.

Dennis O'Flaherty married Martha Durkin
1. James (b 1868 twin to Mary)
2. Mary (b 1868 twin to James) - married Patrick Rogers
3. Hugh (b 1869) - married Katherine Dee
4. Michael (b 1871) - married Margaret McQuade
5. Dennis (b 1873)
6. Margaret (b 1877)
7. Martha (b 1879)
8. Catharine (b 1885) - married Martin Walsh/Welsh

1. Begley, Donal F. " R. E. Matheson's Special Report on Surnames in Ireland" Irish Genealogy A Record Finder, pp 225.
2. Year: 1853; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: M237; Microfilm Roll: 124; Line: 5; List Number: 260.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.