John O'Callaghan (sometimes written Callaghan) was born on 24 June 1814 in Crossmolina, County Mayo, Ireland. He married Bridget Syron, also of County Mayo, about 1833. Her exact surname is uncertain, as all the following variations have been found in different documents – Tyrone, Siron, Tyrell, Bryan, and Ryan. According to the age given at death, Bridget also would have been born about 1814.
Crossmolina town is divided into two almost equal sized sections by the River Deel and sits on the northern shores of Loch Conn. It currently has a population of about one thousand. The surrounding parish of Crossmolina with its ancient cloisters and its old world castles, its scenes of sanctity of destruction and tragedy is an area rich in historical interest. It is about 180 miles from Dublin.
Around 1842, John and Bridget migrated to Canada. This was at the height of the Irish Potato Famine when many were leaving to stave off starvation and start a new life with the hope of financial stability. They came with their three children - Ellen, age 8; John, age, 6; and Michael, age 2. It is very possible that they had to pass through Grosse Isle first as this was the quarantine station for ships coming to Canada after 1837 since during the 1830’s there was a raging epidemic of cholera onboard the incoming ships. Shortly after arriving, a second daughter, Elizabeth was born and baptized in 1843 in Lachine, Quebec which is just to the west of Montreal. John went into business supplying meat to men working on the Beauharnois Canal, which was near Salsberry-de-Valleyfield, and which emptied into the St. Lawrence River.
Upon the completion of the Montreal area canal project, the family moved to what is now St. Catharine’s, Ontario, where construction of the Welland Canal was starting. This was actually the second of the four versions of the canal (which was completed in 1845), and entered Lake Ontario at Port Dalhousie. Evidence of its existence may be seen today in the old stonewalls lining the end of the Dalhousie Harbour, as far as Lakeshore Road. The fourth and present canal’s Lake Ontario entry is to the east, at Port Weller, with the Lake Erie access at Port Colborne. The second canal had another optional Lake Erie access at Port Maitland, via the Wainfleet Canal diversion. John carried on the same meat supply business here as he had in Quebec.
In 1850, John and Bridget moved to Norwich Township, in Oxford County, Ontario (known as Canada West at that time). They lived here for fourteen years, where John went into business buying cattle and farming. The 1851 Census of Canada West lists John as head of household and a farmer in Norwich, born in Ireland, who will be 37 on his next birthday, his surname is misspelled as Calligan. He and his wife, Bridget, and their seven children (Ellen, John, Michael, Elizabeth, Peter, Frank, and James) were living in a log house (as opposed to a log shanty or lean-to, which was the common “starter house” of the time). The census of 1861 in District 2, North Norwich, Oxford County, listed John as a 47-year-old farmer, born in Ireland, Catholic, and living with his wife, Bridget, and their nine children in a two-story frame house. Son, Michael is not listed with the family, so it may be possible that he died in childhood. Daughters Maria and Bridget were born in the past ten years.
For several years in the early 1860's, John farmed in Dereham Township, also in Oxford County. In the 1862 Dereham directory, he is listed as living on Concession 2, Lot 11. In 1867, Canada West became Ontario, a province of the new country of Canada.
The family’s final move was to Ingersoll, Oxford County, around 1869. Here, John became a very successful merchant dealing in meat, groceries, liquor, etc. and carried on business in a site formerly owned by a Mr. Phelan. John built a large brick building for his business on the west side of Thames Street and north of Charles Street. It still stands today. The clerk in the Pizza Pizza shop in the building recalls hearing it “used to be a butcher shop”. In fact, the 1894 Ingersoll Directory lists this lot as the O’Callaghan Brothers Meat Market operated by John’s sons James, Frank and George. In 1874, John purchased the McMurray House, a rather large hotel on the corner of Thames and Oxford Streets and in 1876 he bought the “Stables”. Presumably the stables refer to the livery stables known to be near the same corner.
The Ingersoll census of 1871 lists John as 56 years old, a merchant, born in Ireland, Catholic, literate, and living with his wife, Bridget, and five of their children (Frank, James, Maria, George, and Bridget). It appears that almost all of the children are listed as 3 - 4 years younger than in previous censuses, so information might have been provided by someone other than the direct family members.
Census and other records refer to John as “John O’Callaghan, Esq.” or “John O’Callaghan, Gentleman”. These expressions were not used lightly in the 19th century, especially in official documents. They are both old terms imported from England which indicated an individual of wealth, stature, and influence, and most important, a property owner of some consequence.
John was widowed in 1885 when Bridget passed away at the age of 71 on the 17th of September. The death registration states that she died from bronchitis and chronic liver disease that she had suffered from for the past year. She was buried in Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Ingersoll on the 19th.
Six years later John appeared on the Canadian census of 1891 in Ingersoll as 76 years old, widow, born in Ireland, parents born in Ireland, occupation is a Gentleman. The 1894 and 1895 Ingersoll directories list his residence as the west side of Thames, 4 buildings north of Charles. This would be next door to the O’Callaghan Brothers Meat Market. I suspect that by now the boys have taken over the meat business and John was in the “business of offering advice”.
On the Thursday evening of October 2, 1902 at fifteen minutes to seven, John was celebrating the visit of his son John, who lived in Michigan, and whom he had not seen for some time. He was in conversation with his youngest son George, when he turned to cross the street. He was on his way to an evening mass at Sacred Heart Church, about two blocks away. George called out to him to warn of an approaching CPR work train. John turned and waved, as though to say he was safe. The train was closer or faster than he had estimated it to be. He was struck by the locomotive, and died a few minutes later.
The Ingersoll Daily Chronicle called John “one of the best known men in Oxford County”. He was 88 years old. His address was given as 88 Thames Street. He was buried on the 5th of October, 1902 in Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery, Ingersoll, Oxford County, Ontario, Canada. John and Bridget are buried together in Section B, Row F.
In a will written on October 17, 1899, John left the majority of his property to his sons James and George. Sadly this appears to have caused a rift between the children as court records indicate that John, Maria, Ellen, Elizabeth, and Frank were plaintiffs in a case to contest the will. Sons George, James, and daughter, Bridget were listed as defendants. It appears the will was found to be valid and John gave up his executorships to the will, while James and George retained theirs. It is not known if this caused permanent damage to family relationships.
This is the transcription of the will and probate record:
#3741, Page 143 -144
Canada, Province of Ontario
In His Majesty's Surrogate Court County of Oxford.
Be it known that on the Fifteenth day of November in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Two Letters of Administration Pendente Rite (?) of all and singular the property of John O'Callaghan late of the Town of Ingersoll in the County of Oxford, Esquire, deceased, who died on or about the second day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Two at the said Town of Ingersoll leaved a will bearing date seventeenth day of October A.D. 1899 and who at the time of his death had a fixed place of abode in the town of Ingersoll, in the said County of Oxford were granted by His Majesty's Surrogate Court of the County of Oxford to the London and Westen Trusts Company (Limited) of the City of London in the County of Middlesex, the party applying for administration at the request of John O'Callaghan (the eldest son of the deceased) Maria Dwyer, and Ellen Sage three of the plaintiffs in an action now pending to set aside the said will wherein John O'Callaghan, Maria Dwyer, Ellen Sage, Bessie Quigley and Frank O'Callaghan are plaintiffs and James O'Callaghan, George O'Callaghan, and John O'Callaghan Executors of the said will and James O'Callaghan, George O'Callaghan, and Malinda Doty are Defendants. John B. Kilgour the Present of the said The London and Western Trusts Company (Limited) having been first sworn faithfully to administer the property of the said John O'Callaghan, deceased, and as to the residue thereof under the direction and control of the High Court of Justice by paying his just debts according to law and to exhibit under oath a true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the said property and to render a just and true account of their administration when required by the Law to do so. Signed, Registrar of said Court.
#3746, Page 151 - 152
Canada, Province of Ontario
In His Majesty's Surrogate Court of the County of Oxford
Be it known that on the twenty-ninth day of November in the year of our Lord One Thousand Nine Hundred and Two the Last Will and Testament of John O'Callaghan of the Town of Ingersoll, in the County of Oxford, and Province of Ontario, Esquire, deceased, who died on or about the Second day of October, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Two at the town of Ingersoll in the County of Oxford, a true copy of which said Last Will and Testament is here under written and that the administration of all and Singular the property of the said deceased and in anyway concerning his will was granted by the aforesaid court to James O'Callaghan, of the Town of Ingersoll, in the County of Oxford, Cattle Dealer, and George O'Callaghan, of the said Town of Ingersoll, Cattle Dealer, two of the executors named with said will. John O'Callaghan, the other executor named in the said will having renounced all his right and title to Probate and execution of the said will, they the said James O'Callaghan and George O'Callaghan having first been sworn well and faithfully to administer the same by paying the just debts of the deceased and the legacies contained in the will so far as they are there unto bound by law and by distributing the residue (if any) of the late property according to law and to exhibit under oath a true and perfect Inventory of all and Singular the said property and to render a just and true account of their executorship whenever required by the Law to do so. Signature of the Registrar of said Court
This is the Last Will and Testament of me John O'Callaghan of the Town of Ingersoll, in the County of Oxford, in the Province of Ontario, Esquire:
1. I direct that my just debts and funeral and testamentary expenses be paid out of the estate by my executors herein after named.
2. I declare that I have provided as I desired for my sons John O'Callaghan and Frank O'Callaghan and for my daughter, Maria Dwyer.
3. I give devise and bequeath to my daughter, Ellen Sage the sum of One Thousand dollars, to my daughter Bessie Quigley the sum of One Hundred and Fifty dollars, to my daughter Belinda Doty the sum of One Hundred Fifty Dollars, to my son James O'Callaghan the sum of One Thousand dollars and to my son George O'Callaghan the sum of One Thousand Dollars. All aforesaid legacies are to be paid in one after my decease and are to form a charge upon my real estate until paid.
4. I give devise and bequeath to my son John O'Callaghan the sum of Five Hundred dollars in trust for the use of my daughter Belinda Doty and I direct my said son John to expend the same for the benefit of my said daughter in such a manner as to be free from the debts or control of my said daughter’s present or any future husband the same to be paid him in one year after my decease and to form a charge upon my real estate until paid.
5. The legacies above given are not to bear interest.
6. I give devise and bequeath to my son James O'Callaghan and George O'Callaghan all the rest, residue, and remainder of my real and personal estate to hold to them in equal shares.
Lastly: I hereby nominate and appoint my sons John O'Callaghan, James O'Callaghan, and George O'Callaghan to be executors of this my will hereby revoking and making null and void all wills by me at any time heretofore made.
In witness whereof I have hereunto to set my hand and seal this Seventeeth day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Ninety-nine.
Signed, Sealed and Published and declared by the said testator as for his last will and testament in the presence of us present at the same time who in his presence at his request and in the presence of each hereunto subscribe our names as witnesses.
Signed and sealed by John O'Callaghan
Signed James F. McDonald
Signed J. John McDonald.
As previously mentioned, John and Bridget had ten children. With the exception of Elizabeth, who was my ancestor, relatively little is known about the O’Callaghan children.
We have seen that George, James and Frank were in the meat business as owners of the O’Callaghan Meat Market in Ingersoll. George married Mary Donnelly, apparently unrelated to the notorious Donnelly family in nearby Lucan. They remained in Ingersoll and had four children. James married Kate Carroll and they also had four children. At some point, they relocated to Detroit. It appears that Frank never married and remained in Ingersoll until his death in 1913.
Michael married Ann Diggles and they moved to Chicago where they had three children. Michael died at the early age of 49. Peter is not mentioned in John’s will, so it is assumed that he predeceased him. The last Ingersoll census that lists Peter is in 1861 at the age of 17. Oldest son John was married twice - once to Anna Ramsey Ward and once to Rosina Braendle Smith. It is not known if there were any children in either marriage. John died at the age of 84 in Clare, Michigan.
Daughter Ellen and her husband, Redmond Sage, a successful farmer in the Norwich area had twelve children, interestingly calling the last born, on July 4th, 1875, George Washington Sage. Ellen died in Ingersoll at the age of 94.
Elizabeth married first, John Gibbons, and following his death, married Patrick Quigley. Elizabeth and John had three children and for ran a grocery store and inn in Goldstone until John passed away at an early age of tuberculosis. Following the separation from her second husband, Patrick, Elizabeth and her children moved to Hamilton in the early 1900’s. (see separate biography)
Maria married William Dwyer, a stonecutter and member of a family in the business. One would suspect that the fine red stone markers at the O’Callaghan, Dwyer, Sage, Hanlon, Donnelly and Carroll graves would be a result of this family connection. Maria and William had at least nine children and it appears they eventually settled in London, Ontario.
Finally, Malinda, also known sometimes as Bridget, the youngest of John’s children, married Darius Francis Hincks (Frank) Doty, son of Edwin Doty and Bridget O'Reilly on the 22nd of November 1882. Although the Sacred Heart Church records in Ingersoll list Malinda's name as Bridget, it is believed by the writer that this was a possible transposition error by the priest. Malinda's mother's name was Bridget and in all other documents we have found (marriage, census, death, her father's probate record) she is listed as Malinda. Malinda and Frank had seven children and eventually migrated to the USA (Buffalo, N.Y., Michigan, and Ohio). Their oldest child, Edwin O'Reilly (b. 22 Aug. 1883), married Ida Mae Fitch and they had three children, Magdalene, John O'Reilly, and Isabelle Blanche. Edwin died in Lorain, Ohio, in 1920 at the age of 36. Malinda's second child, John, was born in Michigan, in July of 1886, and died in Cleveland, Ohio on the 19 Feb 1912 at the age of 25. All that is known of the next two children is that daughter, Mary, was born in Ingersoll, in Nov. 1888 and Cathleen in Jan 1891. Daughter Magdalene, born in 1893, married a Harry Lyons in Ohio in 1916. The last two children were twins. Marguerite and Frank were born in Buffalo in May of 1898. Marguerite married Edward Kelly in 1919, but she died an early death in 1921 at the age of 23. Twin, Frank, died early also at the age of 38 in March of 1937. Malinda died on the 20th of July, 1934 at the age of 76 having been predeceased by three of her children and her husband (Frank died in 1931). Both Malinda and Frank are buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.
These pictures were found among Dorothy Monogue Peters keepsakes and we believe them to be pictures of some of the children of John and Bridget. If anyone can identify, please contact me.
Written January, 2009 by Patricia Monogue Balkcom, g-g-g-granddaughter, with past research help by the late Al Pryor.