The O’Connor Family
Descended from King Feredach the Just,
Born in A.D. 75
In the spring of 1995, Dianne O'Connell decided to make
another try at finding additional information regarding her husband Chuck's
grandmother's family -- the family of Margaret O'Connor O'Connell. She sent letters of inquiry to all the
O'Connor families still living in the Vermillion,
Sure enough, a few weeks later, a telephone call came from
J. Byron O'Connor, 82, of Sioux City, Iowa -- not too far from Vermillion,
South Dakota. Mr. O'Connor was full of
stories told to him as a boy about his Aunt Maggie and her "famous"
husband Billy O'Connell -- the sheriff of Flathead Co.,
Soon after, family information and photographs began to flow
Byron reported that the O'Connor family tree of
O'Connor is the name of the family which once ruled Connacht
But the history of Byron’s and Maggie’s O'Connors begins
about 1780 with the birth of Denis O'Connor of Balloughtragh,
Denis O’Connor of Balloughtragh
Denis O’Connor1, born about 1780, married Mary O’Sullivan. Denis and Mary were the parents of:
1. Jerry2, born 21 DEC 1807 at
born 12 FEB 1873;
6. John4, born 24 MAY 1875; “died young.”
7. Margaret4, 5 AUG 1877. Margaret married Michael Fenton, Ventry parish.
born2 APR 1880. Ellen became Sister Margarite Joseph S.N.D.,
Notre Dame Normal Institute, 555
9. Michael4, born 14 SEP 1883. Michael married Nellie Garvey. Michael was principal teacher Ballyferriter school, now retired. Gaelic is the spoken language, all subjects taught through Gaelic at the school. Michael's son, Denis, succeeded him as principal of this school, and is our historian who provided the information on the Irish members of the family. Michael and Nellie O’Connor were the parents of:
1. Timothy4, who became a priest.
2. John4, who became a priest.
5. Bernard4, probably “Lerunah” above.
7. A son4.
Daniel Sullivan family came to
around 1866, as near as I can determine at this date. They came to
O'Connor obviously married Daniel Sullivan in
Mary's brothers to
brothers were also in the Garryowen area.)
I do remember my mother saying they came to Garryowen when Katherine (Aunt Kate)
was a baby. The railroad at
that time came as far as
and the Sullivans walked to Garryowen, a distance of some forty miles. They
homesteaded on a quarter section just
south of the
where the first
Dennis and Josie are buried in the Garryowen Cemetery.
(Sober Dan) was a cooper by trade in
don't know much about the other Sullivan families. I know Dan's brother
lived on the quarter section just south of Dan, but I can't remember his
first name. This family included Con, Tom, Hannah, and Mike.
I can remember my Raddi Dan Sullivan, I remember when he used to
drive the horse and buggy to our farm, a distance of seven miles. He
chewed tobacco, I can remember him cutting a chunk off the plug with
his knife and putting it in his mouth. He had to gum it; as I recall he
didn't have many teeth. When we went into the house for dinner, he
would drop the chunk of tobacco from his mouth into his left hand and
then put it into his shirt pocket. He apparently never chewed on it very
I was four and a half years old when Granddad Dan died. I can
the funeral very distinctly.
to the funeral. I remember the gray hearse and horses and the buggies,
the last of which was coming out of the lane when we turned left (off
what is now Hwy. 770 to go to the Church. When we came out of the
church I couldn't figure out why we walked by the buggy, I was telling
Dad we went too far. The coffin was lowered into a pine box at the
bottom of the grave by straps, then someone got down in the grave and
nailed a cover on the box. A half dozen then shoveled dirt over the grave.
No one left until the grave was filled. I have been back to Garryowen
cemetery many times since that spring day in 1911, to funerals and just
to visit, but my memory of Dan Sullivan's funeral stands out more
clearly than all the others.
We visited the Sullivan home in Garryowen for quite a few years, always
by horse and buggy or wagon or sled. The Sullivans moved into
Vermillion, I think in 1916 or 1917. They bought a house right close to
family resided until the last one, Aunt Josie died in January, 1958. At
one time or another during that time others members of the family there
included Margaret, "Mrs. Fair", who died in 1922; Katherine, who spent
half the time in Vermillion and the other half in
Grandma Sullivan, who died in 1924; and Dennis, who returned to
Vermillion from the Murdo-Kennebec country in 1918 and became a
member of the city police force until shortly before he died in 1947.
For some reason unknown to me, none of mother's brothers Tom, Pat or
Dennis ever married. My mother and two of her sisters, Mary and
Margaret were the only ones in that family who married. The Sullivan
name from this family passed into eternity when Dennis Sullivan died in
1947. Perhaps this bachelor state was somewhat typical of the Irish in
Of the other Sullivan family, Sober Dan's brothers Tom and Mike were
married. I have a better recollection of my Grandmother Mary O'Connor's
family, perhaps because there were more of them that lived in South
In my Grandmother's family there were seven boys and one girl. All but
Mary was Tim, Tom, Pat, John, Jerry, and James. Dennis stayed in
Daniel and Mary (O’Connor) Sullivan were the parents of:
J4, born 15 DEC 1861 in
born 12 DEC 1863; died
born 1 DEC 1872 at
Leroy (Dutch) 5, born
1. Mary6. Mary was Grace’s daughter by a previous marriage. She was five years old at the time her mother married Dutch Blair. Blair formally adopted Grace "sometime in the late forties."
2. John6, born
born MAY 1877 at
4. Thomas3, born 15 DEC 1840; married Catherine Dowd. Called "Smashem" Tom. Tom and family lived in the Vermillion area. Tom and Catherine O’Connor were the parents of:
who married a
Mary N. O'Connor
Jeremiah J. O'Connor
Mother of 13 Children
The fact that Jerry O'Connor lists himself as having 13 offspring in a letter written in 1932, leads us to believe that this is the tombstone for his wife Mary, who died at age 50.
O'Connor wrote a letter to his nephew Michael in
was born in Ballyferriter. He bid adieu
to the village on 5 AUG 1875
and arrived in
John and Thomas O'Connor were living on a farm in
the expiration of this time, Jerry started for Dakota, at the bidding of brother
Pat. Jerry taught school there for two
years and then bought a farm
and got married. He worked the farm for
43 years before selling it and
moving to Vermillion, S.D. He resided at
Vermilllion for two years and
then re-located to
gave this run down of his and his siblings' offspring: Two
of John's sons are priests in
Tom's offspring: 8.
Mary's offspring: 8.
Pat's offspring: 17 (our records only list 16).
James' offspring: 4.
Tim's offspring: 7.
Jerry's offspring: 13.
Total: 63 cousins.
Jerry's assessment was that there was an O'Connor family member living in every state of the union. It is, indeed, mathematically possible. We only know the names of four of Jerry and Mary O’Connor’s contribution to this population boom:
1. Joe4, known as "Sheller" Joe.
who married John Walsh and moved to
4. Annie4. Annie married Bill Ballard and lived on a farm about two miles from Dutch Blair's family near Garryowen.
2. John4. "Jack" O'Connor married a Lee. The Lees lived next door to Dutch Blair's grandmother in Vermillion. Doc Lee was Jack's brother-in-law, he reports.
Pat married Margaret Kyte and moved onto the Sullivan farm in 1917 or thereabouts.
Dutch Blair was sure he was living there on
4. Josephine4. Josie died of tubuculosis in the 1930s.
6. Veronica4. Veronica married Phil Oden.
7. Bernard4. Bernard died of tuberculosis in the 1930s.
2. Patrick2, born
3. John2, born
4. Joanna2, born
5. Joanna2, born
(Jerry2, Denis1) O’Connor
was born 20 MAY 1843 at Balloughtragh, County Kerry, Ireland; married about
1870 Margaret Manning; died 1903 at Union County, SD. Margaret was born FEB 1852 at
In the 1880 census for the Dakota Territory, the Patrick
O'Connor family consisted of Mary A., 9; Margaret J., 7; John, 6; Ellen, 5;
Catherine, 4; and Patrick and James, age
2. All the children were listed
as born in the
Patrick O'Connor moved to Kalispell, after half of the family was decimated by tuberculosis, three of the family being deceased in the year 1902, namely the Mother Margaret, Patrick and Ruth Viola. The Elder Patrick took what was left of the family to Kalispell where he had purchased a farm.
In 1903, Patrick suffered a heart attack and died while he and his son Timothy Francis were returning home in a horse and buggy. The body was shipped back to Garryowen for burial. This information came from a J.J. O'Connor who said he guessed he knew what he was talking about because he helped escort the body from Burbank, South Dakota, to the Garryowen Cemetery where he was buried along side wife Margaret, Patrick and
Ruth Viola. No marker for many years -- but sonar check indicates body is there. J. Byron O'Connor had a stone erected later.
Birth date and death year for Patrick O'Connor are the ones
given in the material provided by J. Byron O'Connor of
Byron also provided us a photograph of the homestead of Patrick and Margaret (Manning) O'Connor, located one quarter mile east of Garryowen Church, and one quarter mile off the main road (south), Union Co., South Dakota.
Margaret, wife of Patrick
Margaret Manning was born in 1852 somewhere in
Margaret Manning O'Connor was the mother of 16 children. She shows up in the 1880 census for Brule twp. Union Co., Dakota Territory, with her husband Patrick O'Connor, and the first seven children: O’Connor, Patrick, husband, 34 b. Ireland; Margaret, wife , 29, b. Ohio; Mary, daughter, 9, b. Dakota; Margaret J., daughter, 7, b. Dakota; John, son, 6, b. Dakota; Elen, daughter, 5, b. Dakota; Catherine, daughter, 4, b. Dakota; Patrick, son, 2, b. Dakota; and James, son, 2, b. Dakota.
The remaining nine children are of listed in the 1900 census
Margaret Manning O'Connor was mentioned in the will of her father John W. Manning who died in 1885. She received one dollar from the estate plus one bay mare named "Puss."
Following Margaret's own death in 1902, from tuberculosis,
her husband Patrick moved the remainder of the family to
Patrick and Margaret (Manning) O’Connor were the parents of:
1. Mary Ann4,born
Carlsbad -- Elmer E.
Miller, 85, of
1. Margaret P.,
2. Audrey F.,
2. Margaret Jane4 (wife of William Henry “Billy” O’Connell).
3. John Joseph4, born
4. Nellie A.4, born
5. Katherine C. 4, born 1 DEC 1876; died 1905.
6. Patrick4, born
7. Jim4, born
8. Jeremiah Austin4, born
the age of 82, Byron was our primary O'Connor family researcher. He is
a member of the Garryowen, Union Co.,
Byron and his first wife had two children. Byron and his second wife did not have children, but she brought five of her own to the marriage. Together, in 1995, they had 18 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Byron writes that by 1902, half of the family of Patrick and Margaret (Manning) O'Connor and half the members of his mother's family (the Glass family) were decimated by tuberculosis. His Aunt Maggie O'Connell died of tuberculosis, as did his own mother.
"I was seven, my sister Stella four, and our brother was 18 months old, when our mother passed away, and like so many of both the Glass and O'Connor families, from tuberculosis.
father filed for a claim out at
"My father did not change jobs, but visited us regularly. We were very fortunate as my mother had three married sisters within a ten mile radius of Garryowen -- and I love the farm, working with horses and farming, in general.
"After high school, my father re-married, Margaret Laudenthin. My brother, Patrick Lawton, was adopted by one of his Aunts and during school years my sister and I were sort of moved from pillar to post. We couldn't wait to get back on the farm during vacations and the summer months.
"We lost Patrick to Brights disease; Stella was practically adopted by a loving family; and I finished my education "in the school of hard knocks."
"My first wife, Elizabeth, fought cancer for eight years.
granddaughter (Cynthia) single-handedly took on the mighty forces of
A.T. & T. She was the only woman,
thirty years of age, as chairman of
the negotiating commttee, who kept them in line as secretary of Local 7101,
1. Keista Lynn8, born 22 APR 1976,
Patrick5, born 1913 at
9. Agnes Irene4, born
Byron O'Connor writes in 1995: "I'm sending the address of a cousin in
10. Teresa Rose4, born 16 APR 1885; died 1901.
11. Michael Charles4, born 1 DEC 1886; died in 1945.
12. Alice Elizabeth4, born 26
APR 1889; died in 1919.
13. Loretta Rachael4, born 15
FEB 1891; married a man named Ouellette; died in 1972 at
14. Timothy Francis4, born
15. Viola Ruth4, born
16. Laurina Veronica4, born
Margaret Jane O’Connor
Wife of William Henry ‘Billy” O’Connell
Here ends the story of Margaret Jane “Maggie” O’Connor’s roots and extended family. Uncle Jeremiah was right, through all the struggle, pain and disease of the western frontier, the family had grown and prospered. There was, no doubt, an O’Connor in every state of the union.
Maggie’s own story is contained in the William Henry “Billy” O’Connell narrative.
What comes next is the story of Claudia Irene Lewis’s roots. It was she who married Billy and Maggie’s youngest son, John Willard O’Connell.