This website is dedicated to eight immigrant Irish families: Moran, McCaffery, Cummins, Geary, Martin, Donohue, Duffy, McLaughlin. In the mid 1800s, the tsunami of famine uprooted and catapulted them across the Atlantic. These family branches took root on the shores of Iowa.
Moran & McCaffery Anthony Moran (1834-1909) was born in County Mayo, Ireland. Circa 1855, he came to America, worked the coal mines in Pennsylvania, and had a first wife (Mary McGraw) who died and left him with young children. On Anthony’s 1863 Civil War Draft Registration he is married and a miner in Ashland, Pennsylvania.
Bridget McCaffery (1846-1916) was born in County Mayo, Ireland. According to her obituary, she left Ireland when she was 14 years old and came to America with a brother. They settled in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania. In 1867, Bridget McCaffery married Anthony Moran.
In the 1870 census, the family is living in Ashland Middle Ward, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania. Head of household is Anthony Moran, age 40, occupation: Dry Goods Dealer; his wife Bridget, age 23, occupation: Keeping House; Martin, age 13; Mary, age 8; Michael, age 6; and Lela, age 2.
In the 1880 census, we pick up the family in Melrose Iowa. Magically, Bridget has aged only 7 years to 30 years old. Anthony is 50, occupation Foot Potion Peddler; daughter Mary is 18, occupation Servant; son Michael is 17, occupation Laborer. Martin and Lela are not listed. However, Anthony, age 3, and Joseph, age 9 months have joined the family. In 1883 Anthony and Bridget have another son William.
Anthony Moran and Bridget McCaffery Moran lived in Melrose Iowa until Anthony’s death in 1909 and Bridget ‘s death in 1916.
Cummins & Geary John Cummins (1797-1872) was a native of Maynooth County of Kildare Ireland. He married Ann Cummins (1805-1875) in Ireland. Their children were born in Ireland: James B. (1835-1915), Patrick (1835-1915), and Ann (circa 1842). They left Ireland about 1856 and by the 1860 census, John and Ann are farming in Monroe County Iowa.
Joanna Geary (1846-1925) was born either in New York State or Pennsylvania. Her parents were Irish immigrants who came to Canada before coming to the United States. Two of her older siblings reported their birthplace as Canada. Family lore has them coming west in a covered wagon. In the 1850 census Johanna is 8 years old, living in Keokuk Iowa with a mother, father, brother, and sisters. Her father Edward Geary was a “walking boss” for the railroad who died of cholera around 1855. Later her mother Margaret married a man named Dempsey who farmed in Monroe County Iowa. Joanna is living in Monroe County with her mother and stepfather in the 1860 census.
James Cummins and Joanna Geary married at St. Patrick’s church in Georgetown Iowa on October 13, 1866.
By 1883 James and Joanna have 10 children: twins Elizabeth [Sinnott](1867-1939) and John (1867 – ?), Michael (1870-1965), Edward (1871-1952), Anna [Roan] (1872-1957), Mary [McGrath] (1875-1926), Nellie [Carmody](1878-1970), James S. (1880-1970), Margaret [Moran] (1881-1941), and Emmett (1883-1970).
Duffy & McLaughlin In 1857 Patrick Duffy(1804-1889) and Alice Burns Duffy(1812-1863) came to America with 14 of their 15 children. The eldest son, Michael, had immigrated a year earlier. They joined Michael and lived in Independence Iowa until 1860 when they purchased property in Lester Township, Black Hawk County, Iowa. Father Patrick and sons farmed adjoining 160-acres along a road that is today named Duffy Road.
A daughter Mary (1834-1858) died shortly after arriving. The mother Alice Burns Duffy died in 1863. Catherine Alice (1832-1877) married first a Shannon and then a man named Woods. The father Patrick, remaining daughter Bridget, and 12 sons lived long lives: Michael (1835-1918); John (1836-1930); Patrick (1841-1930); Bridget (1842-1926) (married Thomas Duffy – no relation); James (1843-1925; Francis (1844-1928); Owen Sylvester(1846-1927); Hugh(1847-1938); Peter Henry(1849-1949); Mathias(1850-1925); Edward(1852-1938); Thomas (1854-1949); Joseph (1856-1924).
Margaret McLaughlin was born in Ireland in 1842. She left County Armagh, Ireland, in 1858 at the age of 16 for the United States. She lived in Boston for five years and in September of 1863 she moved to Independence, Iowa.
Margaret McLaughlin and John Duffy married in 1864. They had 10 children: Alice [Foisy] (1865-1910), Felix (1866-1940), Anna [Erler] (1868-1904), Margaret [Bowen](1869-1953), Elizabeth (1870-1884), Ellen Frances [Martin] (1875-1964), Florence [Koehl] (1876-1907), Rose (1877-1884), Ada [Martin] (1880-1968), Burt (1883-?).
Martin & Donohue Michael Martin emigrated from County Galway, Ireland as a young man, probably about 1850, and settled in New Richmond, Wisconsin, a farming area heavily populated by Irish immigrants. He married Catherine Donohue in New Richmond. She had also emigrated from Ireland.
In 1876 Mike and Catherine and their young children moved to Wall Lake Iowa where Mike farmed 640 acres and raised Aberdeen Angus cattle. He is credited with bringing the breed to Iowa. Their children were Dan, Francis, Clarence, George, Charles, Nora [Kempker], Catherine [Holland].