The history of the Sheehans and Dunns


More on Patrick Sheehan and the Machine Gun Corps

Insignia of the Machine Gun Corps

Insignia of the Machine Gun Corps

I posted a while back about some additional information I’d found on our grand-uncle, Patrick Sheehan, who is buried in the Sheehan family plot in the Fenor Churchyard. Patrick was the brother of Ellen Sheehan, and of my grandfather, Nicholas Sheehan. His gravestone indicates that he was a member of the Machine Gun Corps in the British Army in World War I, and his grave is listed in the Commonwealth War Graves directory. The medal card I found online in April didn’t really provide much beyond confirming that Patrick did see active duty on the continent, so I contacted Graham Sacker at the Machine Gun Corps database web site to see if he might have any additional information on Patrick. The response was a bit disappointing (a large number of British military records, likely including Patrick’s, were destroyed when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in 1940), but provided useful background on the MGC, and how Patrick may have ended up in the corps: Read More


A new clue about Patrick Sheehan

Patrick Sheehan Medal CardWith all of the talk about the World War I centenary, it’s appropriate that I recently came across another piece of information about my grand uncle, Patrick Sheehan, who served in the Machine Gun Corps in the war. Patrick was the brother of my grandfather, Nicholas Sheehan, and of Ellen Sheehan. Patrick died in 1919, and he’s buried in the Fenor churchyard, next to the plot containing the graves of his sister Ellen, Ellen’s sons Maurice (Mossy), and Edmond (Kevin), and Edmond’s wife Joan (Wade) Sheehan. Patrick’s gravestone includes the insignia of the Machine Gun Corps, as well as his regimental number, 88773.

patricksheehangraveWhen I first saw the photo Leon took of the graves a couple of years ago, I thought that the number would be a key to discovering more about Patrick, but, unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Just as many American military records were destroyed in a 1973 fire at a St. Louis records center, many British military records were lost when, in 1940, the London building housing them was destroyed in the blitz. It doesn’t appear that Patrick’s records survived that fire.

So I was surprised to discover this “medal card” in the online records hosted by the UK National Archives, that includes Patrick’s name and regimental number. It doesn’t, unfortunately, add a great deal of information on its own. It does indicate that he was eligible for the Allied Victory, and British War medals. These were awarded to all who served in operational units in the war.

The medal card also contains a cross-reference to the actual “medal roll”- in this case, 10 1B58, page 4841. Sadly, the medal rolls themselves are not available online- you have to actually visit the archives at Kew to access them. While the rolls don’t include any detailed information about the individual, they would at least reveal the specific unit Patrick was assigned to, which might provide some additional leads to pursue.


The Story of Daniel Dunn

I don’t know exactly when or where Daniel Dunn, my great great grandfather, was born. Based on later records like census returns and marriage certificates, it was somewhere in Ireland, around the year 1844. His father’s name was also Daniel- his mother’s name was Ann. This information comes from the earliest document connected with Daniel that I’ve found so far, the Cambridge, Massachusetts marriage registry. On July 2 1865, Daniel and Mary Ledwick of Somerville were married. Mary’s parents are recorded as James and Mary Ledwick. Daniel was 20, his bride 19. Read More


Finding Uncle William

When I started researching the family history, I managed to figure out the basics of all of Dad’s siblings except for his brother William. He was Grandfather and Grandmother Sheehan’s second child, born in Worcester in 1904. The only other fact I knew in the beginning was that our cousin Rusty was his daughter. Rusty’s real name was Eleanor, (probably named after Grandfather’s sister) and we used to see her and her husband George Brunt when we’d visit Florida. I remember being confused when Mom told me Rusty was my cousin, because she seemed to be close to Mom’s age (she was born in 1928). To me that made her an aunt, not a cousin!

William married Helen Gaffney sometime in the early 1920′s. In addition to Rusty, they had another daughter, Mary, born in 1926. In later years, Mary lived in Grafton, and I remember visiting her house with Mom and Dad when I was younger. There was also a son, Thomas, born in 1929, who became a very successful lawyer and insurance executive. The family appear in the 1930 census, living in Worcester. William was 25, and worked as an office clerk at a “loom works”, probably Crompton & Knowles. That was the last record I could find prior to the 1940 census being released in 2012. Read More


My DNA gets refined

A year or so ago I had my DNA analyzed by in the hopes of learning more about our family’s history. The results were slightly underwhelming- but the other day I received an updated analysis that’s pretty interesting. Read More


May 26 1877- Grandmother Mary Casey Sheehan is born


Ballaghavorraga (Ballymarket), County Waterford. Photo from Google Street View

One hundred and thirty six years ago today, on May 26 1877, Mary Casey was born in a little village called Ballaghavorraga (or Ballymarket) in County Waterford. Mary was the sixth child born to Michael and Anastasia (Morrissey) Casey. In 1891, at the age of just 14 years, Mary emigrated to the US, settling in the railroad village of Mechanicville NY, where she worked as a domestic servant in the home of a prominent factory owner.

Several members of the Casey, Powers and Sheehan families moved to Mechanicville in the following years, including, in 1901, Nicholas Sheehan. Mary and Nicholas were married in Mechanicville on May 21 1902. Their first child, Francis Patrick Sheehan, aka “Uncle Frank” was born in Mechanicville the following year. Shortly after that, the family moved to Worcester, where Nicholas’s brother Edward (“Uncle Ned”), and sister Bridget had settled.

Nicholas and Mary lived in Worcester until 1951 when they retired to Florida, along with their daughters May, Helen, and Kathleen. Mary died in Coral Gables Florida in 1962.

Mary Casey – I15 – Individual Information – PhpGedView.


Happy Birthday Uncle Bud

unclebudEarl Lernard Dunn was born on this day in 1926, in Winchendon, Massachusetts.


May 6, 1853 Catherine Creegan is born…

Catherine Jane (Creegan) Farrar

Catherine Jane (Creegan) Farrar

Mom’s maternal grandmother, Catherine Creegan, was born on this day in 1853 in Rhode Island, most likely in Providence. Catherine is the woman in the photograph that Mom kept in the living room. To say that Catherine had a tough life would be an understatement. Read More


From Mom’s online condolence book

April 11, 2013

So sorry to read that Mrs Sheehan passed away. She was my 6th grade teacher in the Manchaug School in 1952. I met her in Whitinsville about 15 years ago and even though I had not seen her in 45 years I knew who she was. I spoke to her, told her my name, and said I was sure she would not remember me. ” Of course I remember you, you lived on Lackey Dam Road and had a younger brother Tom who was also my student” was her reply.

She was one of the special teachers I always remembered.

Carol Hutnak Gogolinski Read More


On this day: April 21, 1676- The death of Nathaniel Seaver

When I wrote about our ancestors who fought in the Revolution, I said I suspected we had some French and Indian War veterans in our family tree, but didn’t know for sure. I still don’t, but I did come across a record of a family member who served (and died) in an even earlier conflict, King Philip’s war:

397px-SudburyMA_FightMarkerNathaniel [Seaver], son of Robert and Elizabeth (Ballard) Seaver, was baptized in Roxbury, January 8, 1645, and was slain by Indians in the battle of Sudbury, Massachusetts, April 21, 1676, during King Philip’s War. He was one of ten Sudbury men who were killed on that day and served in Captain Wadsworth’s company.

The site of the battlefield where Captain Wadsworth so long held the Indians at bay is on what is now called “Green Hill.” While an attack was being made on a small body of eighteen minute-men under Edward Cowell, Captain Wadsworth and his company came upon the scene and seeing a small party of Indians rushed forward with impetuous haste and were caught in the usual ambuscade, for when within about a mile of Sudbury they were induced to pursue a body of not more than one hundred Indians and soon found themselves drawn about a mile into the woods, where on a sudden they were encompassed by more than five hundred, and were forced to a retreating fight toward a hill where they made a brave stand for a time (one authority says four hours) and did heavy execution of the enemy until (Hubbard says) the night coming on and some of the company beginning to scatter from the rest of their companions were forced to follow them, and thus being surrounded in the chase the officers and most of the company were slain. It is said that the savages set fire to the woods and thus forced the disastrous retreat, and only thirteen out of the entire company escaped to Noyes’ mill.

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register,: Volume 40 1886