Monday, April 30, 2012


We started this journey through the tales of the Flannigan family of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan via a chance find of a newspaper clipping in a grandmother’s personal papers. The trail began with a Chicago priest, Father Patrick Michael Flannigan, whose will named three siblings: Richard, John and Agatha.

We’ve already met Richard—well-known in the region due to his professional connections. We’ve gotten to know Agatha as best we could, owing to the fact that she lived a good portion of her life in the household of her brother Richard.

But before we move on to John, let’s take a look at that list of siblings once again—mainly because we now have two mentions of nieces for which puzzle pieces seem to be missing.

Rewinding the data to about 1870, and returning to Greenland, the original homestead for the Flannigan family since the late 1850s, let’s first look at the census record.

Besides the father, James, and the mother, Ellen, the children in the 1870 census ranged in ages from seventeen to nine. Admittedly, these names don’t line up with what was showing in the 1860 census, but let’s take a tally of where we are now. With each one born in Michigan, we see the sons as William, Mathew, Edward, and Richard. The two daughters are Margaret and Mary (whom I am presuming is the one who turned out to be Mary Agatha).

At this point—1870—Richard and his two sisters are enrolled in school. All the others are listed as laborers.

Conveniently coinciding with this record, and helping us to hone in on the date of the Flannigan family’s move from Greenland in Ontonagon County to the city of Marquette, is this 1873 city directory.

Even with the inevitable misspelling of the surname, we can see our family grouping all given with the address as “Washington near 6th.”
            The father, James, is listed as an engineer.
            William, now about twenty, is a machinist.
            Mathew, a nineteen-year-old, serves as printer.
            Edward, listed as “Ed.” at seventeen, is a carpenter.
            Richard, the youngest at fifteen, is a weighter—though most certainly still also attending school

Yet, from the earlier 1860 census, we see there were also sons Thomas, John and James. Could the James in the city directory actually be the entry for the son, rather than the father? And could either of those other “Flanigan” listings at different addresses actually belong to this family’s own John? And what has become of Thomas?

Of the sons listed in the 1873 directory, we find that three of them are no longer alive by the end of the decade. Mathew, the printer, dies of typhoid fever as a single man on November 16, 1875 in Marquette. Barely a month later, and now listed as a carpenter, his unmarried brother William is accidentally shot and dies on December 19. And in 1879, the same year as his mother’s passing, Edward the carpenter exits life on August 6 from the same ailment that eventually precipitates his mother’s demise in November. Of the sons listed in that 1870 census, the only one remaining by the time of the 1880 census is Richard.

What of the others—the ones who left home before the 1870 census? Of the sons for whom we have names, Thomas and James have left no discernible paper trail—most likely cleverly camouflaged by creative spelling tactics. John—the one son we can vouch for—has moved to Colorado. And Patrick, by the end of that decade, is ordained a priest and headed to Chicago. Of the others making up the unnamed list of James and Ellen’s reported “ten sons” we have no clue.

But there were daughters—besides Agatha, a Catherine and a Margaret. And later, there were nieces reported—Katie Cook and Mrs. William Crago—that will help hone our search parameters.

Until those hidden trails reveal some clear direction, though, our next focus will be yet another Flannigan to head to Colorado: John.


  1. It is interesting that you discovered that William was "accidentally shot"...must have been an interesting story behind that little fact!

    One of the previous comments mentioned a Jeremiah Flannigan on one of the Michigan Censuses.

    If that it so then we have found 9 out of the 10

    Patrick Michael Flannigan
    1840 – 1907
    Thomas Flannigan
    1841 –
    Jeremiah Flannigan
    1842 –
    John Flannigan
    1843 – 1908
    James Flannigan
    1847 –
    Catherine Flannigan
    1853 – 1883
    William Flannigan
    1853 – 1875
    Mathew Flannigan
    1854 – 1875
    Edward Flannigan
    1856 – 1879
    Richard Charles Flannigan
    1857 – 1928
    Margaret Flannigan
    1859 –
    Agatha (Mary) Flannigan
    1861 – 1945

    1. Connie, I am really liking that Michigan website I've found, showing the actual certificates rather than transcriptions. I'd like to follow up with a search through local newspapers to see if there was anything more to the report of William's "accidental" shooting. Must have been quite a story.

  2. These above listed are 9 out of ten of the Flannigan SONS!

  3. I seem to recall finding Thomas had a small family and moving to Detroit. If Jeremiah is actually a family member - his twin, ...Robert was it? would be the missing bro'. I suspect this mystery won't be solved until the list from the cemetery with the mausoleum is obtained (if even then).

    Catherine's daughter Catherine was the Crago (if I remember right). Of the gents, it seems like a goodly number of them "had no heirs" (even Richard, since Clement died without issue).

  4. Oh I see!
    Yes it's possible! Will continue to look at this!


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