Edward Nolan / Ireland

Descendancy Chart: Edward Nolan to William Edward (Bill) Dunn

here for a timeline of historical events that occurred in Illinois during the various dates mentioned below.)

◄ This photo is Mary Ellen Kavanaugh Nolan and Edward Nolan, reportedly circa 1862. 

They were Bill Dunn's 
Irish immigrant maternal great grandparents and my generation's great, great, grandparents. Cousin Dan Nolan is the source of this photo, and it was reportedly taken at their wedding.

Although the top of the flag behind them may be cut off in this photo, we can see 40 stars in it. The U.S. didn't reach 40 states until 1889, long after their marriage, so the event here is in question. In fact, the presence of the flag makes me speculate that the photo might have been taken when they became citizens of the U.S.

Edward Nolan was a farmer in Ireland - and continued farming after coming to the U.S. He emigrated at age 21, departing from Liverpool, England and arriving in New York in September, 1852, on a ship called "Great Western". Ancestry.com reports that it was the first steamship ever to be built especially for trans-Atlantic service.

The timing of their emigration to the U.S. suggests that, like thousands of others in Ireland, they probably left to escape the famine and literal starvation in Ireland that was a result of the potato blight there. He settled in Illinois, and on 3 March 1862, in Grundy County, Illinois, 
married Mary Ellen Kavanaugh, who was born in Ireland and emigrated to the U.S. in 1853.

To put their wedding date into historical context, understand that the 1861 pre-Civil War United States consisted of 34 states, and slavery was practiced in some of them. The Civil War was 1861-1865, and it was in 1861 that president-elect Abraham Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois, for Washington. He would never return to the only home he had ever owned.

Several Deep South cotton states had seceded from the union by February 1861; they were South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These seven states formed the Confederate States of America. Following the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for a volunteer army from each state. Within two months, four more Southern slave states declared their secession and joined the Confederacy: Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. 

An Internet search for "Civil War"+ Illinois provides links showing Illinois involvement in that war, and a site that records the names of Civil War soldiers lists 51 Nolans who served, all on the Union side by the way. However, no Edward is listed. Thus, I don't know whether - or to what extent - the war affected our Nolan ancestors, but they arrived in their newly-adopted country not long before - and were married after - it began.

Sidebar: Elsewhere in this blog are the stories of others of our ancestral families who fought on both sides of that war, including our maternal North Carolina ancestors who fought for the Confederacy, five of whom died while doing so.


Edward and Mary Ellen's GG grandson, Daniel Nolan and his wife Jennifer, have a family tree site that records Ed and Ellen's children as follows:
John Nolan
Anna Nolan
Lawrance Nolan (sic)
Francis Edward Nolan
Sarah Nolan

In her obituary (shown below) these were the children reported as surviving Ellen's death:

■ Mrs. Daniel Donovan [Anna Nolan from above];
■ Mrs. Sammuel McKennard [the correct spelling is Samuel McKeand and this is Sarah Nolan from above];
■ Edward Nolan [Francis Edward from above];
■ Lawrence Nolan [listed above];
■ Mrs. Mary [Nolan] Haggerty [not listed above];
■ Miss Katherine Nolan [not listed above];
■ Mrs. Louise [Nolan] Donahue [not listed above];

■ John Nolan [listed above].

Those in Ellen's obituary but not in the links above were no doubt born after the first list was compiled, which is why they don't show up there. In any event, the first list is incomplete, but has been retained in this blog because of the availability of the links, which provide other information about them and their families.

Here's what the
1880 Census shows for Edward Nolan.

Ed. Nolan
Home in 1880: Pilot, Kankakee, Illinois
Age: 45
Estimated birth year: abt 1835
Birthplace: Ireland
Relation to Head of Household: Self (Head)
Spouse's name: Ellen
Father's birthplace: Ireland
Mother's birthplace: Ireland
View others on page
Occupation: Farmer
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Gender: Male

Household Members:
Name, Age

Ed. Nolan 45
Ellen Nolan 38
Mary E. Nolan 16
John Nolan 13
Laurence Nolan 12
Catharine Nolan 11
Anna Nolan 9
Edward Nolan 8
Sarah Nolan 6
Elisabeth Nolan 4

Edward’s birth as shown on his gravestone: 29 May 1832 in County Carlow, Ireland

 Death: 15 Oct 1904 in Joliet, Illinois, at age 72

Saint Patricks Cemetery Joliet, Will County Illinois, USA


[Mary] Ellen’s Obituary

[Mary] Ellen’s obituary, in an undated article in which the publication is not named, reads as follows:

“Elderly Woman Passes Away

Mrs. Ellen Nolan, who has been a resident of this city for the past eleven years, passed away at 2:00 at her home, 34 Forrest Avenue, at the age of 78 years.

Solemn High Mass will be held at St. Agnes church at 9:30 o’clock Friday morning, and thence by trolley to St. Patrick’s cemetery in Joliet. She is survived by eight children: Mrs. Daniel Donovan of Blue Island, Mrs. Sammuel McKennard, Edward Nolan and Lawrence Nolan of Joliet, and Mrs. Mary Haggerty, Miss Katherine Nolan, Mrs. Louise Donahue and John Nolan of this city, also a sister, Mrs. Mary Kenney of Hammond and a brother, John Cavanaugh of Manhattan, Ill.”

The spelling of her maiden name was recorded elsewhere as Kavanaugh, but that name was frequently spelled as Cavanaugh in various places, as in the obituary above. Also, the name recorded as Sammuel McKennard above was Samuel McKeand, a son-in-law who married Ellen and Edward’s daughter Sarah.


In an article from an 1890 book titled, “Portrait Biographical Album of Will County, Illinois Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County…” it says this about John Cavanaugh (see the obituary) who was Ellen’s brother and the great grand-uncle of Bill Dunn:

“JOHN CAVANAUGH. The estate which this gentleman has secured is a monument to his ability as an agriculturist, and a conclusive proof that persistent effort will be rewarded. It comprises three hundred and eighty-eight acres on section 35, Jackson Township, and it needs but a glance to assure the passer-by that here comfort abounds, while thrift is seen in every detail of the work which is carried on. The estate is thoroughly improved, the buildings being especially noticeable for their size, number and convenience.

In County Sligo, Ireland, about 1829, John Cavanaugh opened his eyes to the light, and in the Emerald Isle he remained until he was almost twenty years old. He then went to England, where he remained until the fall of 1851, when he determined to seek a wider field for his energies in the land across the sea. Taking passage for America he landed in New York, whence he went to Albany, sojourning in that city three or four months. He then took up his residence in the western part of the Empire State, making Herkimer County his home for some two years. His next removal was to Will County, Ill., where he has since been a resident, and where he has devoted his attention to agriculture.

One of the most important events in the life of Mr. Cavanaugh was his choice of a companion, and he has no reason to regret his selection. His wife bore the maiden name of Kate Maher, and was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland, November 15, 1838. She was about twenty-three years old when she left her native isle for America, and at the time of her marriage she was living in Wilmington, this county. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Cavanaugh includes ten living children and two deceased. The latter are James E. and Mathew; the survivors are William, Michael, Thomas P., George, Edward, Mary, Lizzie, Maggie J., Julia and Katie A.

The active intellect and quick wit which are proverbial to natives of the Emerald Isle are not lacking in our subject and his estimable wife, and the religious element of their characters is satisfied with the worship of the Catholic Church, in the faith of which they are devout believers. Mr. Cavanaugh has been Commissioner of Highways, taking the interest which all dwellers in the county should in the improvement of the roads.”

Because John and Ellen were siblings, it seems likely that Ellen was from County Sligo, Ireland, as well.

Bill Dunn's maternal grandfather; 
my generation's great grandfather

Francis Edward Nolan, also known as Edward Francis Nolan, referred to himself simply as Ed Nolan in a telegram sent to his son in 1935. To distinguish between him and his father Edward in this blog, I'll use the initials EFN.

1900 census records him as living in Joliet, Illinois and his occupation was "shearer - tin plate", which sounds like he worked in a steel mill at that time. He was recorded on his daughter Hazel's 1917 marriage application as being a machinist, one of his obituaries refers to him as a retired machinist, two of his granddaughters told me he was a custodian at a Catholic school in his later years, and one of his obituaries refers to him as having been a maintenance man for a Catholic parish.

He was married three times - and widowed three times.

Marriage # 1:

Maiden name:
Mary E Ring

Date married:
■ 21 September 1898, in Will County, Illinois
■ Witnessed by Edward Ring and Nellie Delaney

Date of her death:
Mary Ring Nolan apparently died on or shortly after daughter Hazel's birth on August 31, 1899, based upon the 1900 census showing EFN as a widower 9 months after Hazel’s birth.

■ Mary's name: Hazel’s baptismal certificate and Illinois marriage records;
■ Marriage: License from Will County; married by Catholic priest in Joliet, IL;
■ Death: Mary’s date of death not documented.

Children of this marriage:
Hazel Loretta Nolan (married names Dunn, then Youngs)


Marriage # 2:

Maiden name:
As we’ve found with others’ historical records, there are variations in how her name is recorded. We've seen it show up as Johanna, Joanna and Josephine, with her maiden name being Fitzgerald.

■ Her son John Bernard’s birth record lists her as Johanna Fitzgerald Nolan, but she signed the document as Joanna – no “h”.

■ Her son Harold Joseph’s death certificate records his mother’s name as Josephine.

Our genealogist friend Molly reported that those names – and more - were often interchangeable in Irish families, which appears to be the reason for these differences in the records.

Date married:
Assumed to have been after the 1900 census but before 10/1903, when twins were conceived (see below). The marriage record has yet to be obtained.

Date of her death:
Presumably after her son Harold Joseph was born on 11/29/07 and before the 1910 census, where she doesn’t appear, and where her and EFN’s children are living with relatives, as discussed below.

On another page of this blog we have a photo of EFN with Hazel and the three children he and Johanna had together, but Johanna is not in the picture. This suggests that she may have died by that time. The baby appears to be eight or nine months old, so the evidence suggests that her death occurred between November, 1907 and July/August,1908.

Children of this marriage:
Cousin Dan Nolan’s wife Jennifer says, [After Hazel], “We believe that all the kids except Eileen and Patricia came from wife # 2, Josephine.” They would be:

■ Agnes (whose twin brother apparently died shortly after birth, for we have a birth record of them being born as twins, but no other record of him thereafter);

■ John Bernard Nolan;

■ Harold Joseph Nolan (who became Dan Nolan’s grandfather).

These children and Hazel are in the photo of EFN and his family referred to above.

EFN’s granddaughter, Mary Jo Nolan Tongue, reported that EFN was devastated after losing his second wife - and felt terrible that he was unable to take care of all his children afterward. That's why, according to Mary Jo, he had to “farm them out to different relatives”.

EFN's daughter Hazel lived with her grandmother - EFN's widowed mother, Ellen Kavanaugh Nolan - in Chicago Heights, Illinois;

■ His son Harold Joseph lived with EFN's sister - Mary Nolan Haggerty - down the street from Ellen in Chicago Heights;

■ Agnes and John Bernard stayed with their twice-widowed father, living with his
sister - Sarah Nolan McKeand - and her family in Joliet, Illinois.


Marriage # 3:

Maiden name:

Her maiden name was Margaret L O'Neil - born July 29, 1884 in Illinois, the daughter of Roger O'Neil, born in Ireland and Ann Riley O'Neil, born in Ireland.

Date married:
■19 Oct 1910 in Will County, Illinois;

■ Witnessed by John F Kelly and Catherine Nolan.

Date of death:
Genealogist friend Molly reported that the Illinois Death index says “1935-01-14, Will [County], Joliet”. This is confirmed by her obituary.

Margaret O'Neil Nolan's Obituary

Margaret's obituary appeared in the Joliet Herald News on 14 January 1935. It's interesting to note that it contains neither a reference to her maiden name nor to her first name, just her married name.

"Brief Illness Proves Fatal to Mrs. Edward Nolan

Mrs. Edward Nolan, 50 years old, died this morning at het home, 214 Campbell street, after a short illness.

Mrs. Nolan was born in Joliet and lived here all her life. 
Survivors are her husband; two sons, Harold and Bernard of Joliet; three daughters, Eileen of Joliet, Mrs. Hazel Dunn of Chicago; Sister Jane Patricia of Detroit; three brothers, John, Joseph and James O'Neil, all of Joliet.

Funeral services will be conducted from the home Wednesday morning at 9 o'clock to St. Patrick's church at 9:30 o'clock. Burial will be in St. Patrick's cemetery."


■ The 1920 census shows Margaret as EFN’s wife, and the children match up, as seen below (Hazel was married by this time and on her own).

Household Members:

Edward Nolan, machinist, 45
Margaret Nolan, 39
Agnes Nolan, 15
John B Nolan, 13
Harald Joseph Nolan, 12 (sic)
Eillen Nolan, 8 (sic)
Patrica Nolan, 1 & 2/12 [14 months]

■ The date of death matches EFN’s telegram to son Harold Joseph regarding Margaret’s death. Her death certificate contains her date of death, as well as the names and place of birth of her parents.

■ In addition, the Illinois birth record from Will County for daughter Ann Patricia, below, shows Margaret's maiden name.

Children of this marriage:

■ Eileen Nolan;
■ Ann Patricia Nolan.

One of EFN’s obituaries reports only that he was the husband of the late Johanna, and we've discerned that the obituary was probably submitted by one of Johanna's children to a publication that was a small local newspaper in Roseland, Illinois. It appears that Johanna's name was used in that obituary because she was known in that area, even though his last wife was Margaret O’Neil Nolan.

Dan and Jen Nolan have been working on the Nolan family tree for years, and have done a phenomenal job with it. For a wonderful look at our cousins in the Nolan clan, click
here and here. Clicking on this link
will take you to Dan and Jen's site.

This family was Catholic, actively so. In fact, one of EFN's daughters entered a convent at age 14 and became a nun. Dan Nolan reports that she was the daughter whose birth name was Agnes. However, as nuns did in those days (and may still do), she adopted a new name – Sister Jane Patricia – and served as a nun for 51 years until the time of her death in 1975.


Francis Edward Nolan's Obituaries
One of EFN's obituaries, a copy of which was received from his granddaughter, Mary Jo, is transcribed below. The paper's name is not included in the article, but the date would have been in May, 1955.

"Francis Edward Nolan

Funeral services for Francis Edward Nolan, 74, of 233 W. 111th pl., were held Monday, May 23, in St. Patrick's church. Burial was in St. Patrick's cemetery. Mr. Nolan died Saturday, in his home of coronary occlusion. Cooney Mortuary was in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Nolan was born Apr. 11, 1880, in Chebanese, Ill., and had been a resident of this community 10 years. He was a retired machinist for the American Steel and Wire Company. Mr. Nolan was the husband of the late Johanna; father of Mrs. Darrow Young[s]
of Chicago; sister of Jane Patricia, O.S.P., Bernard, Joseph, and Mrs. Eileen Kloppers."

However, the obituary writer erred in reporting about Jane Patricia. She was not his sister, she was his daughter - the nun, Sister Jane Patricia, and O.S.B. was the acronym for the order with which she served, the Order of Saint Benedict.

Another obituary, published in the Joliet (IL) Herald-News, Sun, May 22, 1955 - reads as follows:

"Edward Nolan, Former Parish Employe[e], Dies

Edward F Nolan, formerly of 518 Campbell St., died early Saturday at his home at 233 West 111th St., in Roseland. Death followed a prolonged illness.

Mr Nolan had lived in Roseland for the past 10 years. A native of Chebanse, he made his home in the Joliet area for about 50 years prior to moving to Roseland in 1945.

For 25 years he served as a maintenance man for St. Patrick’s parish. He retired 10 years ago. Prior to his employment by the parish, he served as a machinist at the American Steel and Wire Co.

His wife, the former Margaret O’Neil, preceded him in death.

Surviving are three daughters, Mrs. Darrow Young[s], of Chicago; Sister M. Jane Patricia of the Dominican Order at East Lansing, MI; and Mrs. Louis Coppers of Joliet; two sons, Bernard of Joliet and Joseph of Chicago; and 12 grandchildren.

The funeral will be from the Fred C. Dames funeral home Tuesday at 9 a.m. to St. Patrick’s church for a requiem mass at 9:30 a.m. Burial will be in St. Patrick’s cemetery. Friends may call from 2 to 5 and from 7 to 10 p.m. today and Monday."


birth: 11 Apr 1880, in Illinois

His death: 21 May 1955, in Illinois

It's curious that although EFN lived for 15 years after his first great grandchild in the Dunn line was born - and we lived reasonably close to where he lived - there was never any relationship established with the five East Chicago Dunns before his death. In fact, until the assenbling of our Family History, which started in 2007, I'd never even heard of him

Bill Dunn's mother; 
my generation's paternal grandmother

Hazel Loretta Nolan was EFN's eldest child, and as mentioned above, her mother, Mary Ring Nolan, died giving birth to Hazel - or shortly thereafter. We know this because Hazel was born 31 August 1899 and the June
1900 census records EFN as being a widower and Hazel being nine months old. Also showing in the household at that time is Mary Ring's sister, Sadie Ring (aka Sarah). She is listed as sister-in-law and housekeeper. Thus it appears that she came to stay with the family to care for Hazel, at least for awhile.

Hazel once told a member of our family that she lived with relatives for several years before her marriage to Eugene Michael Dunn in Lake County, Indiana in 1917. As mentioned above, that's confirmed by the 1910 census, which records Hazel as living with her widowed grandmother, Ellen Kavanaugh Nolan. Although he married again and had other children, EFN apparently never brought Hazel back to live with him.

Cousins Mary Jo Nolan Tongue and Patricia Nolan Roach - who are Hazel’s nieces - reported that Hazel and a cousin whom the family called “Tootsie” eloped together with their respective husbands-to-be. Hazel's marriage certificate records her occupation as "stenog"[rapher]. After her marriage, Hazel was first a housewife and later worked as a retail sales clerk in stores in Chicago after Eugene abandoned her and her two small children.

Some years later she remarried, this time to Darrow Youngs, who was a salesman for a candy company and who also had children from a previous marriage. It's interesting to note that Hazel never owned a car. Nor, to the best of my knowledge, did either of her husbands (at least while they were married to Hazel). They depended upon public transportation and/or rides from others to get where they needed to go.

While in Chicago, where she spent most of her life, she lived in rented apartments. In her later years she lived is a house owned by her daughter, for Hazel, who lived to be age 95, never owned her own home. She lived that long after surviving both colon cancer and breast cancer long before today's sophisticated medical treatments became available.

Hazel and Eugene's children were William Edward Dunn and Rita Jane Dunn. Hazel and Darrow had no children of their own.

Hazel’s birth: 31 Aug 1899, in Chicago, Illinois

Death: 29 Oct 1994 in Dyer, Indiana, at age 95

William Edward Dunn; my generation's father

Known as Bill, he reportedly dropped out of school at about age 13 to earn money to help support his mother and younger sister, who would have been three years old at the time. This was deemed necessary because of his father, Eugene, abandoning the family.

As an adult he went from working at a White Castle restaurant (where he met his first wife, Fleeta Claire Jones) to being a laborer in a steel mill and then to becoming the owner of a bakery and a small chain of donut shops in northwest Indiana. Click
here for more details about his life.

Birth: 07 Jul 1918 in Chicago, Illinois

Death: 29 Dec 1986 in Hammond, Indiana, at age 68

Bill Dunn was the father of Patrick, Timothy, Cory, Toby, Molly, Karla, Linda and Laurie Dunn. He was also the stepfather of Diane, Steve, and Carol Wells and played a father role with the children of Ann Girski (the mother of Laurie), with whom he lived for several years before his death.

Last updated 10/10/2011

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