Family stories relate that the “Omaha Fitzpatricks” came to the United States sometime in the middle of the 18th century. Family legend on the Mathew Fitzpatrick side of the family including one verbal source (my father Edward Fitzpatrick) stated that there were three brothers and that they may have even killed a British soldier. A second verbal source (Betty Hawman) was also independently told that there were three brothers and they had “biblical” names. This has subsequently been confirmed by multiple lines of research on Ancestory.com and Bobbi McCaffery, who has married in to the David Fitzpatrick side of the family. She has been doing research on the Fitzpatrick brothers and has amassed an amazing amount of genealogical research on the Fitzpatrick family.
Genealogical research from multiple sources now confirm that all three brothers immigrated from and were probably born in County Waterford in Ireland. There is strong family historical and even some documentation that they came from Dungarvan which is a coastal town in County Waterford. There are now a number of documents that prove that “Fitzpatricks of Omaha” are all descended from Mathew Fitzpatrick (c1807 – c1869) and Mary Lynch (1819 – 1887) that will be discussed in more detail in a later blog.
The middle brother, David Fitzpatrick (1815 – 1893), is known to be born in County Waterford in Ireland where he married Catherine Foley (c1805 – 1894) in Dungarvan. In the genealogic records, her date of birth is highly variable depending on the source and could be anywhere from 1796 (unlikely since that would make her 19 years older than her husband) to 1810. One document identifies her as being 10 years older than her husband which would make 1805 a likely birth date. They had three children that were all born in Ireland, Catherine (died at age of 3 in Ireland before 1852), John W. also known as “Big John” (1844 – 1893) and Patrick D. (1849 – 1932) also known as “Big Pat”. Patrick is known to have been born in Dungarvan in the County of Waterford. David is known to have arrived without his family in New York 15 March 1851 on the ship George Green that sailed out of Liverpool. He got a job in construction working on the Illinois-Michigan Canal and eventually sent for his family. He waited in New York for his wife and children but the ship was delayed and he needed to return to work. He arranged for an unknown relative to be on the alert and meet his family but the plan went awry and Mary Fitzpatrick arrived with John (3 years old) and Patrick (1 year old) on the ship Kossuth on 29 March 1852 in a new country and no one to meet them. In the confusion, John wandered off and disappeared further compounding Catherine’s misery. According to family stories, Catherine was found holding baby Patrick and crying on a doorstep by an Irish policeman. The story has a happy ending as this policeman, found suitable lodging, food for the family, the missing John and the relative that was supposed to meet them. Great story! David and his family moved to Peru, Illinois by 1860. They were known to have taken in boarders. Of interest, Michael Foley and other members of that family that are surely relatives of Catherine Foley are found in an adjacent dwelling. The Fitzpatrick and Foley families appear to have been very close.
John Fitzpatrick (1821 – died between 1864 and 1870) was born in Dungarvan in County Waterford. He married Mary Foley (1820 – 1884), who is also thought to be born in Dungarvan. She is most likely the sister or close relative of Catherine Foley and Michael Foley (see above). Their exact date of arrival in the United States is not known. In the 1850 federal census of Haverstraw, New York, which is in addition to listing Mathew Fitzpatrick as head of the household, it also lists a second Fitzpatrick family, composed of John and Mary Fitzpatrick who are also from Ireland and are most certainly the younger brother and his wife. She is known to have died on 9 June 1884 in Walton, Lee, Illinois and is buried in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Campus, Livingston, Illinois. They known to still be in Haverstraw, New York in 1853 as they have two sons, John H. Fitzpatrick, known as “Little John” and Patrick Joseph Fitzpatrick, known as “Little Pat” that are both born in that year in Haverstraw. There is no documentation to indicate whether or not they are twins. Sometime between 1853 and 1864, they move to Livingston County in Illinois. There are numerous known descendants of this branch of the family, particularly in Illinois.
In the next blog, we will start to expand on what is known about our direct ancestor, Mathew Fitzpatrick.