Sunday, August 21, 2016

Black Sheep Sunday: Edward Callahan of Galena, IL

The first time we meet Edward Callahan in America is when he purchases land in Galena, Jo Daviess County, Illinois in September of 1845. The following year, he weds Mary Riley in Galena on 23 May 1846.

Edward, four of his brothers, and his sister all came to Illinois. The brothers lived out their lives in Illinois, the sister spent the rest of her life in Nebraska, but it was Edward - my husband's third great-grandfather - who had the most tumultuous life.

The Callaghan or Callahan family of County Fermanagh was part of the mass emigration away from Ireland when the potato famine hit. Six of the children of Thomas Callaghan of Annagulgan came to the U.S. Five settled in well. Edward seemed to also have everything going for himself - property, a wife and children - until 1859.

On August 31, 1859, Edward's wife Mary died at the age of 35 in her home. What happened?

It wasn't the usual culprit - disease or difficulty in childbirth. The report was that her husband had possibly beaten her while he was drunk, even perhaps struck her over the head with a leaf from a black walnut table. Mary remained "insensible" throughout the night, and died early the next morning.

Although the newspaper reports throughout early September 1859 show that Edward was arrested, jailed, and then released when the sheriff could not find evidence of violence against Mary, Edward decided not to stay in Galena. In November of 1860, he went to the courthouse with two of his brothers, whom he appointed his power of attorney.

The next record of Edward is in 1863, when the The Galena Gazette reports that Edward returned from Pikes Peak and got into a scuffle in town. He was injured by a gunshot from the sheriff and arrested with two of his brothers. The three brothers went to court the following month and paid fines for the disturbance. It's possible Edward was chasing the gold rush in Colorado - we don't really know.

After 1863, however, he left Galena again for good.

What became of Edward Callahan of Annagulgan, Roslea, County Fermanagh and Galena, Illinois? We don't know.

My husband's 1st cousin, once removed, has researched the family extensively and was kind enough to share many family documents with me beyond what can be found online. It's possible Edward simply disappeared and we just don't know what became of him. Another possibility is he returned to Ireland, as there is a record of an Edward Callahan who married back in "our" Edward's hometown to Catherine McCaffrey in 1867. That Edward went on to Australia and had two daughters, both of whom ended up in Massachusetts.

How can we connect our Edward with the one who emigrated to Australia? Because of an 1899 of Edward's brother, James, which lists his siblings, nieces and nephews. The will lists not just the five children Edward and Mary had in Galena, but two additional daughters of the same name as the Edward who married in Roselea in 1867.

The first is Susan Callahan, whose marriage in Hanover, Plymouth County, Massachusetts to Bernard Degan lists her as a daughter of Edward Callahan and Catherine McCaffrey. It verifies she was born in Australia. They lived in Weymouth, Massachusetts.

The second is Catherine Callahan, sometimes Kathleen, Callahan, who did not marry, but did have a child named Grace Theresa Callahan, who married Oscar Tipping.

Finally, there is an Edward Callahan who died in 1895 in Errasallagh, in County Fermanagh near Roslea.

The return to Ireland is still conjecture and we may never know what became of Edward, but it's interesting and a little sad to look back at his life. Edward's five children, two of them very young (one a newborn!), lost their mother and then their father left them not long after that. It's a good thing Edward had a "village" to raise his children, thanks to his brothers.

That Irish temper really got the best of Edward, it seems!


Copyright (c) 2016 Wendy L. Callahan

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