Friday, October 7, 2016

Meanwhile, Back in Fort Wayne...

Philip Denehy may have thrown a sixteen-year-long monkey wrench into the probate works when he decided to have his parish priestback in Irelandserve as his executor for a document drawn up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. But in that same decision, he left me a road map back to his Irish heritage and a hope of discovering his family's home, with the concurrent provision of his eldest son's name: Jeremiah Denehy.

He also left me one more gift: that son's name became the father's name with which to trace some other Denehy men who had been showing up in the Fort Wayne households of other relatives. I could now check to see if these extraneous Denehy relatives were actually linked to Jeremiah, Philip's oldest son back in Ireland.

It wasn't long before I had uncovered the name of Jeremiah's wife, too, thanks to search capabilities enabling me to do a blank search with only a father's name for the inquiry. With that approachlooking for unknown people with a father's name of Jeremiah Denehy or DanehyI soon found four people whose father was reported to be Jeremiah (or a fairly recognizable mangling of the spelling thereof), and who also sported the same mother's maiden name: Margaret Kelleher.

The beauty of that search was that these were all Denehy descendants who had eventually also moved to Fort Wayne.

While there may be more in this family than I have found so far, I now know Jeremiah and Margaret had at least four children. And each of these childrenwith only one exceptioneventually died in Fort Wayne and were buried in the Catholic Cemetery there.

All four children had been born in County Cork, Irelandone W.P.A. transcription rendered it "Country Pork"and as if they were telling their father he really needed to come join the rest of the clan in the New World, one by one, they all crossed the ocean and found their way to the new hometown of the man who had designated their dad his secondary executor.

The oldest that I could findhis name not being Phillip a clue that he was likely not the firstborn sonwas Cornelius "Jerry" Denahy. Born in 1873or perhaps 1877, if his death certificate is to be believedhe was in the States by 1891 and claimed to be naturalized. By 1902, he was married to a woman from Ohio named Margaret. By 1910, the couple were proud parents of two children, and also providing a temporary home for his youngest brother, who had arrived just the year prior.

The second child of Jeremiahat least, of those I could findwas possibly five years younger than Cornelius. Born in 1878, this son was James Patrick Denahy. Although the numbers aren't quite a perfect fit, I wonder if this is the James "Danahay" whom I found in Jeremiah's sister Mary Kelly's home in Fort Wayne in the 1900 census. If so, he didn't stay there for long, but used his family's railroad connections to snatch up a job as a conductor for the same company, back in Pittsburgh. His, though, was a tragic ending, dying in Pennsylvania in 1924 of tuberculosis. While he didn't spend much of his life with the Denehy family in Fort Wayne, he did leave a legacy to that city: his only daughter returned there as an adult, serving as Acquisitions Manager for the Allen County Public Library from 1965 to 1980.

The third of Jeremiah's emigrant children was a daughter, Mary Ellen. She may have been the last of Jeremiah's children to emigrate from County Cork. The earliest date I can find any mention of her in Fort Wayne is the entry for her marriage to John Dietsch on May 18, 1911. She remained in Fort Wayne for the rest of her life, dying in 1941.

The last of the children that I could find for Jeremiah and Margaret Kelleher Danehy was Daniel Joseph, born in County Cork in 1889. He, too, found his way to Fort Wayneby 1910 to the household of his brother Cornelius. Ten years later, he married a Fort Wayne gal named Beatrice Ottenweller, and together they raised four children, remaining in Fort Wayne. Not only was he the youngest of all the family I could find, he was also the one who far outlived the rest of his immediate family, dying in 1954.

With four of the children of Philip Denehy's oldest son Jeremiah moved to Fort Wayne, I couldn't help wonder if Jeremiah, himself, might have finally decided to join the rest of the familyor whether there were still others remaining back in County Cork to pull him home whenever he entertained thoughts of moving.

Above: "The Dandelion Clock," by Irish immigrant William John Hennessy, known for his wood engravings used to illustrate poems by renowned American poets in the late 1800s; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. How "cute" that one of the descendants of your target family ended up being in charge of acquisitions for the library. I hope she acquired some personal items for you to explore.

    1. I thought it was a curious turn of events, Wendy. Of course, her obituary didn't mention whether those acquisitions included any for the well-known Genealogy Center at that library. Wouldn't that have been convenient?!

  2. I had the same thought...if your library relative did some may have a windfall one of these days!
    This is a great piece of your family puzzle:)

    1. As Iggy discovered, whether this librarian did any research on the Denehy family or not, there are apparently a number of folks who have been working on researching this line over the years. I'm taking a look at what they've mentioned about their discoveries on genealogy forums.

  3. "Country Pork"??? Obviously not Irish!


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