Was Philip McManus buried with the stranger James Peter Flynn?

Philip McManus (1867-1936) was the youngest child of John McManus and Jane Hegarty and brother of Richard McManus Sr, who emigrated to Boston. Philip is my children’s 3rd great-uncle. John and Jane McManus had the following children:

  • John McManus (1842–1893) – married Mary Jane Henderson, lived in Derry.
  • Richard McManus (1845–1907) – married Catherine Bradley, lived in Boston, died in NY.
  • Catherine(1) McManus (1847–)
  • Mary Jane McManus (1852–)
  • Bridget McManus (1854–) – married Edward Doherty, lived in Derry.
  • Charles McManus (1858–)
  • Catherine(2) McManus (1861–)
  • Margaret McManus (1863–1925) – married Daniel McDaid/McDade, lived and died in NY.
  • Jane McManus (1866–)
  • Philip McManus (1867–1936) – lived and died in Derry, never married.

Philip never married, and in 1901 lived at Fulton Place, Derry with his sister Bridget Doherty and her family, and their mother Jane. Next year his mother Jane passed away, and in 1911 census he is again with the Doherty family but they all have moved to St Columb’s Wells. Philip was a slater, the same as his brother-in-law Edward Doherty and few of the the other McManus men.

Philip died in 1936 and was buried in Derry City Cemetery in plot NB223. He is the first one in the plot, and there are six other family members buried there, last one in 1980.

The puzzling thing was the proprietor of the plot was “Frank Flynn of 15 Marlboro Avenue”

Flynn wasn’t a surname I’ve come across before in the tree, so went digging through newspapers, etc. and using the street address built a tree for him.

I’m pretty sure Frank is Francis Flynn b. 1905 in Belfast. His father was James Peter Flynn, police constable who was born in Dublin, married Elizabeth Mary Murphy who was born in England and had few children born in Belfast. As indicated in his obituary, he seem to have moved to Derry sometime after 1911 census, both 1901 and 1911 census have him in Belfast.

The strange thing is James Peter Flynn died on 26 Aug 1936, a day after Philip McManus, and Philip was the first person buried in the plot owned by his son!

So far I haven’t found any connection between the Flynn and the McManus families. The fact that both men died a day apart is very puzzling! Could they have buried Philip McManus, and his relatives later in the grave of a stranger, both first men buried in the same grave?? Or is it a mixup of cemetery records? I don’t know the answer yet.



Prefab houses come to Derry in 1946

I stumbled across this lovely photo of Annie (McManus) Warren – it’s from 1946 when Derry got their first pre-fabricated bungalowes (her initial is wrongly listed as E).

She was the first one to be handed the keys – look at that beaming smile 🙂

Will have to follow up and find out more…

Edited: very insightful comment below from my husband Arnie, her grandson – on her right is indeed her husband William Edward Warren. And the fact that he was in the military is probably relevant to them being one of the first to be accommodated.

Source: Londonderry Sentinel, 17th Oct 1946, p.4



Richard McManus’ will (1907, New York)

A lovely cousin, Anne, sent me a document few days ago, and little did I know when I opened it that I won’t be getting much sleep that night and will be re-reading and researching the unexpected contents of it till all hours!

She had found the last will of Richard McManus in 1907 – in Brooklyn! This is a great example why one should check all locations and not get stuck in assumptions. Richard had lived in Boston, and the family story was he followed his wife (c.1884) back to USA from Derry and died shortly after – so I searched Boston back and forth, death records, cemeteries – nothing! In hindsight – Richard’s sister Margaret (McManus) McDade lived in New York, so I should have checked there too… but I didn’t until I got the will!

Richard died in January 1907 in Brooklyn, age 63, and was buried in the Holly Cross cemetery in Brooklyn.

His probate documents (29 Apr 1907, full document available on ancestry) tell the unexpected story of the last 25 years of his life…

His probate lists the names and addresses of all people entitled to any portion of his estate – his wife Catherine and a child “Charles”, name being fictitious, as well as his three children John, Richard and Catherine living at 14 Fulton Street, Londonderry.


It also goes on explaining:

“… That your petitioner is unable to ascertain whether or not the said deceased left him surviving widow, although your petitioner has made diligent effort to do so.

That your petitioner is informed by Margaret McDade, a sister of deceased, and by Joseph B. Markey, one of the subscribing witnesses to said Will and Codicil and a close friend of deceased before his death,

that Catherine McManus, the wife of deceased, left him about twenty-five years ago while the said deceased was residing in Ireland, in the Kingdom of Great Britain, taking with her a son of said deceased;

that his said wife came to the United States of America, but the deceased had never learned of her whereabouts or those of said son, and has not seen her nor his said son since their separation from him as aforesaid.”


Richard didn’t know the whereabouts of his wife Catherine for 25 years, and the infant son she took with her must have been Patrick Aloyious McManus, born and baptised in Derry on 7th April 1883

(I’m wondering how would he be baptised and his father not know his name? Was it done in secret, or did Richard think Catherine may have changed his name? And why “Charles” – it is not a name that I’ve seen in the family lines before? And finally – the ship manifest for Catherine and her two children Jane and Patrick from Dec 1884 is probably the wrong one, Patrick indicated on his naturalization papers he arrived on 4th May 1883 – which seems more plausable now, he would have been a month old! I’m yet to find that ship manifest)

I will continue looking into this, and feel I may have to go back and re-write some of the previous stories… I still haven’t fully gotten my head around this new twist.



DNA results are in – it’s HEGARTY!


In a previous post  Who was Richard McManus’s mother? I’ve mentioned I struggled to find a baptism record for Richard and to confirm his mother’s maiden name.

That was until a DNA match appeared on ancestry, that lead me to the theory that Richard had a sister Margaret McManus who settled in New York. Thankfully her death certificate listed her mother as Jane Hegarty. So I built a tree for Margaret, found other siblings, but could still not link her to Richard.  And the DNA connection was a bit too distant to be a conclusive proof.

Thankfully, a kind relative who is two generations closer to the ancestry DNA match had agreed to test – and his results just came in this morning. He and J are 2nd cousins once removed!


I can now say, without any doubt, that the theory was correct – Richard’s mother was indeed Jane Hegarty (abt. 1821 – 1902)!

The search now continues to find out more about her other children and other possible Hegarty relatives.

(I’m deliberately not including diagrams for the relationship to protect living people’s privacy)

Edited Mar 2018: I’ve since found paper trail that confirms that Margaret and Richard are siblings, but the first clue was still the DNA.

Richard’s siblings in Derry

Couple of days searching newspapers and comparing records, and I believe I may have found Richard McManus’ siblings who were left behind in Derry with him!

We know his sister Jane (Jennie) and his brother Patrick Aloyious went back to Boston with their mother. Richard had another sister, Catherine and an older brother John – John wasn’t listed in the 1880 census with the family, which initially led me to believe he may had died as a child. But it’s also possible he was visiting relatives at the time, especially since I couldn’t find any death record for him in the period 1874-1880.

As it turned out, John and Catherine were brought up in Derry together with Richard. I’m not sure where did they live as children, haven’t seen them mentioned in the local newspapers.

The first record of them I’ve found is 1901 census. The ages are slightly off, but that’s quite common in those records, and Richard is listed as born in New York. I haven’t found any birth record for him in neither MA or NY, and since the children were little when they were left behind (John was 10, Richard – 7 and Catherine – 3) it’s possible this is either a typo, or his place of birth was remembered incorrectly.

And on another note – I really don’t like the expression “left behind” but can’t think of a better one. “Left” sounds like they were abandoned, while in reality their mother Kate had quite likely fallen on hard times after her husband had died and couldn’t afford the ship fare. I can’t even imagine the heartache…

1901 census, Fulton Place, Londonderry City, Londonderry

John McManus, the eldest brother, was a slater. He died in 1908, age 33, from acute peritonitis. He was still living at 14 Fulton street (place) at the time of his death, never married, and he is buried in Derry City Cemetery.



The informant of John’s death is Kate Doherty, sister, living at 14 Henrietta St – which was a great clue where to search for Catherine.

By 1911, Catherine (or Kate as she seems to be known as) was married to Manasses Doherty and had one son named after his father.


(Source: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Londonderry/Londonderry_Urban__2_/Henrietta_Street/602335/)

Kate and Manasses were married on 19 April 1908, eight months prior to her brother’s John’s death.


Their first son Manasses was born 29 Jan 1909, and their daughter Bridgit Mary on 23 Feb 1914 – by then the family lived on 80 Bishop St. Brigit Mary died in 1938 when she was only 24. Kate and Manasses had a younger son too, but I haven’t been able to find out his name (he is mentioned in their obituaries)

Kate’s husband was a plumber. He died on 19th Oct 1953.


Kate died less than a year after her husband, in 1954 from “cardiac failure due to coronary thrombosis” at her son’s residence. The death certificate says she is 69, but according to her birth certificate she would have been 73 (her age is consisted on all documents in Ireland, so it’s possible that her relatives estimated her age) She was also buried in Derry City Cemetery.

  1. 1954_death_catherinemcmanusdoherty


Richard McManus is my children’s great-grandfather. I’m not very comfortable writing about him myself as I know very little, and there are people who still remember him well – so hopefully some day we can put some information together and share it! I’ll just say that he was a slater, he married Mary Ann Kavanagh in 1909 and they had a large family.

Thank you very much for reading, and I’d always welcome suggestions or corrections!


Richard and Catherine McManus (part 5) Who was Richard’s mother?

A birth record for Richard McManus would have obviously answered this question, however I’m starting to think that his birth was either not recorded or his year of birth may be completely off (I’ve manually searched St.Columb’s baptisms and can’t find him around that period). So I’ve been using some more creative techniques to try and find Richard’s family back in Ireland.

In his marriage record his parents are listed as John McManus and Jane, and from a possible naturalisation records his date of birth is 17th March 1845. The year of birth is consistent in other documents, so even if the naturalisation is for a different Richard, the year is a good guide. Searching for John McManus in Londonderry was not very useful as it yielded way too many results.

And here come the DNA!

Genetic genealogy involves using DNA to find or confirm relationships between people, and is often used in combination with traditional paper-based genealogy. With the prices of the DNA kits down as low as $80 it is a very fast growing area. The idea behind it is that every child inherits half of their DNA from each parent. Using autosomal DNA one can confirm with quite high certainty all close relationships. It’s also useful for confirming more distant relationships, but the more distant the relationship is, the higher the possibility of an error. Hence, if you are planning on using DNA to prove your paper-based family tree or to break through brick walls – make sure you test the oldest relatives possible.

My husband did an ancestry DNA test couple of years ago, and based on matches with known cousins we’ve confirmed that two of the lines on his paternal side match the paper records as far back as 1850s (the Hensman/Frost and the Wittnebert lines) I’ve been looking into trying to figure out how some of the rest of the people who share DNA with him fit in his tree.

One of his matches on ancestry, I’ll call her J., was a reasonably close match,  who had a small tree.


What caught my eye were the names in her tree – they were all very common surnames for Derry, but all lived in New York. The tree went back as far as J. grandparents, so I thought I’d extend it further back and in next generation the name McManus appeared!

Margaret McManus, b. 1856, baptised 5 Apr 1856 in St Columb’s, Derry city… and the really exciting part – her parents were John McManus and Jane Hegarty! If my theory is correct, J. and my husband are 3 cousins once removed. While the DNA is consistent with this, the relationship is a little bit too distant to be able to conclusively prove it. Thankfully, an older relative had kindly agreed to test,  he is two generations closer, and his results will hopefully be the proof we need.

Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure Jane Hegarty is Richard’s mother, so I’ll continue working on that theory.

John McManus and Jane Hegarty were married on 20 Nov 1841 in St Columb’s Londonderry. The witnesses were Daniel Hegarty and Ann Bradley. Daniel is Jane’s brother, more on him later, and I’m not sure yet who Ann Bradley is, but the Bradley surname appears in the godparents for the children. Catherine (Richard McManus’ wife, Jane’s daughter-in-law is Bradley, however I haven’t found a connection between her and Ireland yet, and there are a lot of Bradleys in Derry, so it could be just a coincidence with the name)


John and Jane McManus had a number of children, I haven’t found all of them yet as there are gaps in years  the databases available online, but the children I’ve found are:

  • John b.1842
  • Catherine b.1847
  • Mary Jane b.1852
  • Margaret (1852-1925), married Daniel McDaid (McDade) and lived in New York
  • Bridget b. 1857, married Edward Doherty
  • Jane b.1866
  • Philip b.1867

There are a large gaps between the births of some of the children, so it’s quite possible John and Jane had more children who I haven’t yet found. It’s also plausible that Richard b.1845 is their second son.

Jane was still alive in 1901, age 80, living together with her son Philip in the household of her son-in-law and daughter Edward and Bridget Doherty, Fulton Place.


She is listed as a “boarder” not as a mother-in-law. Jane died a year later, and the newspaper notice of her death mentions she died in Fulton Place in her son-in-law’s residence. She died of “diarrhoea 21 days, exhaustion 5 days”  which I’m guessing would mean dehydration. She was 81 and a widow. She would have been born c.1821 in Derry City.



The newspaper announcement also mentions she will be buried in the Long Tower Burrying ground, so I’m planning to find and contact the cemetery to see if they have any further records, or do they know if any other relatives are buried with her or nearby.

I’m currently looking into the godparents of Jane and John’s children to see if they give more clues about other McManus or Hegarty relatives.

Remember Daniel Hegarty who was the witness in John and Jane’s wedding – he is most likely her brother. I haven’t found much information on him, but I may have found his son – Daniel Hegarty (Jr) born about 1866 and died 6 Jan 1909 of a heart failure, age 46. Daniel was married twice. His first marriage was to Sarah McNulty on 05 May 1887, and they had two children – Daniel (b.1890) and Margaret (b.1896). Sadly Sarah died before 1901 (Daniel was a widower in 1901) and he married a second time – to Caroline McLaughlin on 31 May 1902. Daniel and Caroline had a son Joseph born 1904.

I’ll end this post with one last census record from 1901 which was mis-transcribed and I only found it when I was manually looking through all households on Fulton place where Jane McManus lived in 1901.

1901 census, Fulton Place, Derry

The names and ages of John, Richard and Catherine match the names and ages of the three children of Richard and Catherine who were left behind in Derry. The places of birth are not very clear, but seem like Boston, United State of America (and Richard is listed as born in New York) I will be looking to see where were John and Catherine in 1911 (Richard was married in 1909 and in 1911 lived on Bridge Street.

*** Update:  DNA results came in and confirmed Richard’s mother is indeed Jane Hegarty!


Richard and Catherine McManus (part 4) – more updates

Work has been quite busy lately but I’ve managed to find a bit of free time to keep researching, and have come across some very interesting information. This will be  a long post!

I’ve contacted the Boston City Archives and the North End Boston Historical Society, and both have been incredibly helpful pointing me in the right direction.

The lovely archivist from Boston City Archives also send me this amazing photo of 280 Causeway Street  from 1896. It’s about 15-20 years after Richard had a liquor shop next door (282 Causeway) but you can still see how the place looked at the time.

Looking northeast on Causeway Street from corner of Charlestown Street

(Image source: Public Works Department photograph collection, Collection 5000.009, City of Boston Archives, Boston. Available at:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofbostonarchives/16309843886)

Another great find last couple of weeks was the meaning behind “Revere Hall”, the occupation for Richard in 1880 census, and why in 1880 city directory was he listed as “Butler & McManus”


The answer came from a news article in Boston Sunday Globe in 1881, which not only answered those questions, but provided lots of other useful information to follow up on!


It’s clear from the newspaper clipping that Butler in 1880 city directory reference is to T.C.Butler, and him and Dick McManus were associated with Revere Billiard Hall, which seems to be an entertainment establishment. Boston has a huge databases of historical documents and photos online, so I will be searching through those to find out more about Revere Hall, when did they take over and when did they stop working there.

There is a photo on flickr of Revere House, circa 1880-1915, which may be the same place where Richard worked.

Revere House

(Image source: Public Works Department photograph collection, Collection 5000.009, City of Boston Archives, Boston. Available online:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofbostonarchives/22964071586/)

The above clipping provided two more very useful pieces of information. First, that Richard was abroad on 27 Feb 1881 (possibly Derry?), expected to return within days – which gives me  a time frame to search for passenger listings for this trip (and with a bit of luck he may have travelled with his wife and children, so may get more information about them too). And from another newspaper clipping we see he had returned by 11th March, and he seem to have been a very popular guy among his friends!


The second, more interesting piece of information is that he was associated with George H. Homster – he was his “backer and trainer”. Hosmer was a “champion oarsman” as one paper refers to him, and Richard seemed to have had a keen interest in rowing.

I’ll write more about Hosmer and Richard’s relationship in a separate post, but this may be another reason Richard travelled so much, he most likely attended the competitions which were all over USA and Europe. I’m not sure for how long was Richard associated with him, but Hosmer died 23rd Aug 1900 in Boston.

For now, here is one amazing document related to his hobby – in 1880 Richard McManus got a patent for an improved design of an oar with a perforated blade (patent number 230314, Jul 20, 1880) and Hosmer was one of the witnesses. Richard obviously had a very keen interest in rowing! (And wonder if there are any outstanding royalties his descedents can claim:) )


Source: Google patents, Publication number US230314 A, Publication type Grant, Publication date Jul 20, 1880, Filing date May 31, 1880, Inventors Richard Mcmanus, Available online: https://www.google.com/patents/US230314

More on this story to come!

I also found a bit of information on the whereabouts of Kate McManus after her return to Boston – she was alive and living at 65 Charter street, Boston, in April 1892. Her daughter Jennie died age 13 from meningitis on 12th April 1892 at “City hospital, 65 Charter st”, I already had the death civil record, and had assumed this is the hospital address.


However, I was wrong – apparently the day before Jeannie died,  a man was arrested for attempted break-in at Kate McManus’ residence at 65 Charter street. Such a sad run of events.


Richard is not mentioned in either newspaper notices, so he had most likely passed away by then, which corroborates the story remembered by the family. One interesting thing in the death notice for Jeannie is the last line “Haverhill papers please copy.” Notices like that were aimed to papers in towns where family or friends lived, so most likely Richard and Kate had family members or close friends living in Haverhill in 1892. I haven’t been able to find who are they yet, but will keep searching.

And finally – seems that the ship manifest for Kate Dec 1884 for her return from Derry to Boston with Patrick and Jane is likely the correct one. A search on the internet showed that in those days the travel times were fairly quick, a ship could cross the Atlantic in 7-10 days. So it’s possible for Kate and the children to have arrived on 22 Dec 1884 (travel time on this ship Cephalonia was about 10 days, so she would have left around 12th Dec), and if she had fallen ill, possibly on the trip, to send a cable back to Ireland, and for her husband to board the next available ship.

There is a record of Richard McManus arriving on ship Oregon in New York on 13 Jan 1885 – the average time with Oregon was around 7 days, so he would have boarded around 6th January. The short timing would also explain why he had no time to organise and bring the rest of the children with him, he may have had to board on standby, possibly even from a different port than Derry.

Cephalonia,  Cunard Line steamship built 1882 at Birkenhead by Laird Bros. Source of the image: norwayheritage.com
Oregon, Guion Line steamship built 1883 at Glasgow by John Elder and Co. Later sailed for Cunard Line. Source: norwayheritage.com

That’s the main updates on the McManus from the last couple of weeks.

Next post will be about Richard’s possible siblings in Derry, and how I’m using DNA to hope fill the paper trail gaps and prove his mother’s maiden name.