Early Donahoe Ancestors

On April 21, 1824, Michael Donahoe, the patriarch of the Sauquoit Donahoe branch was born in County Carlow, the Parish of Clonmore in Ireland, to parents who are unknown to researchers. Sometime before October 1852, Michael arrived in the United States, settling in Litchfield, NY. On October 9, 1852, Michael married Ann Paul. According to a letter written by Justin Anthony Donahoe, dated June 4, 1996, their marriage certificate can be found in St. John’s Church in Utica, NY.

Ann Paul, who was born August 11, 1829, was an immigrant from Ireland and had a younger sister, Bridget who was born in March 1835 in Ireland and came to America when she was 20 years old. Bridget lived in Utica for two years until moving in with her sister and Michael Donahoe. After Ann passed away on July 23, 1880, Bridget remained in Michael and Ann’s home with her nephew, William, and acted as servant or housekeeper, depending on which Census record one reads.

Two years prior to her death, Bridget moved with William and his family to Sauquoit, NY. She was known as a good Christian women and a member of the old St. Patrick’s Church in Clayville, NY. On November 2, 1909, Bridget succumbed to a lingering illness and passed away at the home of William and Mary Ann Donahoe in Sauquoit, NY. She is buried in the Old Donahoe plot in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Clayville, NY.


Michael Donahoe's gravesite in St. Mary's Cemetery. Clayville, NY

Rev John Francis Donahoe

Michael and Ann had six children, five boys and one girl: Rev. John Francis, Julia Ann, Thomas P., Joseph Patrick, William Justin, and Edward James.

Rev. John Francis Donahoe, born on September 15, 1853, became a well-known and influential priest who traveled the world spreading the word of God, eventually settling in the Albany Diocese at St. Ann’s Church. He was educated in public schools and at the West Winfield Academy, and had intended to be a teacher. However, Rev. John soon switched to the study of medicine, but did not feel passionate about it either.

After one year, he transferred to Manhattan College in New York City where he graduated with honors and received a Bachelor’s degree. Rev. John then entered the Grand Seminary of Saint Sulpice in Montreal, Canada and remained there for three years as a theological student.

Rev. John continued his studies at the St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, MD and at the end of two years, was ordained by Archbishop Gibbons at the famous Jesuit College at Woodstock, MD. After being ordained, he provided missionary work for Baltimore and then was assigned by Bishop McNeirny to be assistant priest at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where he worked for two years. Rev. John was once again transferred to another parish—St. Paul’s Church in Rock City Falls, Saratoga County, to build up their abandoned parish; he stayed for almost four years. In addition to uplifting the parish and increasing its numbers, Rev. John founded two new churches in Galway, Saratoga County and Broadalbin, Fulton County.

As per the history of St. Paul's Church history via their website, Rev. John became pastor in 1884 and went to Galway, Ireland as a mission and built the church there about the same year. Additionally, as written in an e-book on the history of Washington County, Rev. John was an extensive traveler; he visited the West Indies, Paris, Nice, Genoa, Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan, Venice, Berne, Munich, Vienna, Carlsbad, Cologne, and Brussels.

Rev. John also spent six weeks in Jerusalem. This seven month leave of absence is confirmed in a letter discovered between the pages of Michael Donahoe's bible (1850). The letter is written by an unknown member in the Catholic Church giving John permission, and refers to him as John Francis O'Donahoe.

In 1888, Rev. John was transferred to Salem where he found more hard work, which was something he enjoyed. On June 17, 1899, Rev. John took formal charge of St. Ann’s parish, which was heavily in debt. However, this did not interfere with his plans, for Rev. John delved right into the task of bringing the church back to its former glory, free of debt. Once he had accomplished this, Rev. John set to meet the demands for a religiously progressive parochial school in the Albany area.

Rev. John was actively interested in the spiritual welfare of the Sacred Heart convent in Kenwood, NY. For many years, he officiated services there. Additionally, he was the organizer of several male and female organizations at St Ann’s where he was always enthusiastic about his charity work, his organizations, and his parishioners.

Edward James Donahoe and wife Letitia

Michael's 1863 Civil War draft registration

4 of Michael Donahoe's sons and their cousin Dr. Patrick Donahoe

Starting in January 1915, Rev. John suffered from the pressure and grief that the deaths of Bishop Durke, Monsignor O’Connor, and several other clergy had brought. In February 1916, doctors encouraged him to visit Florida hoping he would regain his health. Rev. John stayed in the South for more than a month; however, he did not improve and he decided to return to New York.

Upon his arrival, it was painfully obvious that he did not have long to live. On August 15, 1915, at 7:04pm, Rev. John Francis died due to the hardening of the arteries, with later developed into Bright’s disease. As stated in his obituary, the end was peaceful and at no time did Rev. Donahoe appear to suffer. He was surrounded by three surviving brothers: Edward, Joseph, and William Donahoe.

Edward James Donahoe

Mary Foster's sister Nellie's marriage certificate

Mary Foster's father William's Military discharge

Michael Donahoe's duaghter Julia Ann's gravesite

As evidenced by the extremely long and detailed obituary written for Rev. John Francis Donahoe, his accomplishments meant a great deal to all those influenced by his devotion to the church and to the surrounding communities. A veil of mourning covered Albany and his parishioners at the announcement of his death. Rev. John is buried in St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, NY, surrounded by other clergy members whose graves encircle a large obelisk with their names etched upon it.

Julia Ann Donahoe was born on July 17, 1855 and passed away on December 8, 1878. She is buried in the Donahoe plot of St. Mary’s Cemetery in Clayville, and shares a spot on the large Donahoe obelisk with her father and mother.

Thomas P. Donahoe was born on June 15, 1857 in Litchfield, NY and died on November 19, 1903 in Cook County, IL.. According to the internment card with Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Chicago, IL, he is buried alone with Edward and Letitia Sullivan Donahoe.

Joseph Patrick Donahoe was born on August 22, 1862, and married Mary M. Foster on an unknown date. They had seven children: Edward Aloysius, Joseph Jr., Mary M., John Thomas, Juel, Dorothy Katherine, and Julia Foster. On May 29, 1926, Joseph died.

Buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Clayville, New York is Michael & Ann Donahoe, Julia Donahoe, Walter Richard Donahoe, William Justin & Mary Ann Donahoe, Justin William & Christine Donahoe, and possibly Bridget Paul (this can't be confirmed, but based on obituary information and the fact that there is an unnamed gravestone with only AUNT engraved on it, we are assuming this is Bridget, Ann's sister.

Michael Donahoe had two brothers: Dennis and John. When Dennis arrived in America, he settled in Litchfield, NY with his younger brother, Michael. As stated by Justin Anthony in the June 4, 1996 letter, he was repeatedly told by Mary Ann Gilloren, his grandmother, that the Donahoes from Litchfield were of no relation and that he should not bother with them.

It is unclear why Mary Ann denied being related to that branch of the family despite evidence to the contrary. According to a brief mention in The Ilion Sentinel dated November 4, 1937, that previous Sunday, Mr. and Mrs. William Donahoe and Paul Donahoe of Sauquoit, and Mrs. Edward Donahoe of Chicago, IL visited Charles B. Casler, who was Nellie Donahoe’s husband (more information available later on).

Dennis Donahoe, Michael’s oldest brother, was born on June 5, 1814 in County Carlow, Parish of Clonmore in Ireland. He married Julia Comfort, who was born on January 7, 1832.

According to a history of Herkimer County, Dennis received $65 a year for driving to Sauquoit once a week to pick up the mail and bring it to the postmaster.

They had five children, three boys and two girls: Ellen, William, , Peter, John, James, and Elizabeth Lison. According to a newspaper article, “Grandfather Donahoe”, aka Dennis, owned a cheese factory in Litchfield, NY, where the family originally lived. Once the cheese making business was no longer profitable, they moved.

In the Old Donahoe plot in St. Mary’s Cemetery, there are three small stones next to Dennis and Julia’s joint gravestone with no identifying information beyond first names: Ellen, William, and Peter.

According to The Utica Weekly Herald, on March 15, 1865, in Litchfield, NY, Dennis’ daughter’s dress caught fire after getting too close to the stove. Obviously panicked, the young girl ran into the street screaming. By the time she was found, “she was a corpse before assistance could reach her”. They do not give his daughter’s name; however, based on the stones found in the Old Donahoe plot, it can be assumed that this is Ellen.

Nellie (Casler), James, and Homer (1940's?)

Michael Donahoe's brother Dennis's gravesite

Michael Donahoe's brother Dennis's son James gravesite

William and Peter may have also died as young children since they are buried with their parents and young sister, Ellen. Nothing is known of William other than his name. His brother, Peter Donahoe was born in 1865 and died before 1875, for a Census roster was administered and his name was not on it.

James Donahoe was born on July 16, 1861. On May 7, 1891, he married Ruth Comes. James and Ruth had four children, three boys and one girl: Leon, Nellie, Glenn, and Homer.

After Dennis retired from the cheese making business, the family moved a short distance away from the original farm. Since the cheese factory they owned was on leased land, James offered to sell the structure they had built to the owners before relocating.

The owners hesitated, perhaps assuming the building would come with the land when the lease expired since who would expect anyone to move a large building; however, they did not count on the stubbornness of the Donahoes. The land owners did not buy the building so the Donahoes took it down piece by piece and moved it to their farm where it was incorporated into the existing barn.

In 1836, John, the youngest of the three Donahoe brothers, was born in Ireland. Although a specific county or parish has not been found, it can be assumed that John lived with Michael, Dennis, and their parents in County Carlow, Parish of Clonmore in Ireland. On an unknown date, John married Elizabeth LNU, who was born in Ireland in 1840. According to records, Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, Patrick Joseph, in America, indicating that they arrived prior to 1879.

Their oldest child, Dr. Patrick Joseph, was born on July 11, 1879 in Litchfield, NY. He was a graduate of the LaSalle Military Academy studied medicine at the Albany Medical school where he graduated with honors. He was also the vice president of his 1905 class.

After serving his internship in the Jersey City Hospital, Patrick practiced for a year in Hudson and took a post-graduate Eye, Ear, and Throat course at New York University. In 1907, he moved to New Hartford, NY. For thirty years, Patrick was on the staff at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and a former president of the staff. In addition, he was the attending physician for the St. John’s Orphan Home.

In 1910, Patrick married Mary Corbett, who was born around 1866. They had two children: John F. who was born around 1910, and Mary Elizabeth. According to Justin Anthony, John had a mental illness and spent most of his life in the Utica State Hospital, aka the Utica Asylum for the Insane.

Mary Elizabeth was born January 22, 1912. She graduated from New Hartford High School and Syracuse University’s School of Fine Arts. She also studied art abroad with the International School of Fine Arts. For two years, Mary worked with the Red Cross and during that time, she spent many months in Europe establishing Red Cross Clubs.

In March 1944, Mary left Utica for Haverfordwest, Wales, where she ran a Red Cross Club herself. From January to March of 1945, she lived in Paris and for the final months of 1945, she spent time in occupied Germany.

Mary taught art at schools in Bainbridge, NY and Napanoch, NY, and at Thomas R. Proctor High School in Utica, NY, New Hartford High School in New Hartford, NY, and Davis High School in Mt. Vernon, NY. She was a member of the Evangelical Church in New Hartford and the Syracuse Alumni Group.

On January 14, 1953 she passed away; she was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. According to Justin Anthony, the only thing he knew of Mary Elizabeth was that she was a redhead and died of cancer.

Patrick Joseph was a member of St. John the Evangelist Church, its affiliated Holy Name Society, and of the county, state, and national medical societies. On May 5, 1943, he passed away unexpectedly at his home at 2816 Genesee Street, New Hartford.

John, Sr. died in 1885; Elizabeth, his wife, died in 1922; and Elizabeth, their daughter, was born in 1882 and died in 1884. All three are buried together in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Clayville, NY, but not in the Donahoe plot where Dennis and Michael’s families rest. It is unclear what happened within the family to cause this possible rift. Or perhaps it was merely a logistical issue since the old Donahoe plot is rather crowded at this time.

Michael Donahoe's brother John's son Dr. Patrick J's gravesite

source: primarily Jaime Lamberto narrative, 2014