Thursday, July 18, 2019

Jeremiah Moynahan - The "Millionaire Ragman"

This week I had the good fortune of being contacted by a 5th cousin who is in possession of a treasure trove of archival materials on the Moynahan family. Having seen a few pages, I became intrigued with "Jeremiah Moynahan" who was the eldest son of Matthew and Honora Moynahan and apparently received a "splendid education" in Ireland.

Excited, I immediately began searching databases for "Jeremiah Moynahan" and I accidentally stumbled across a DIFFERENT Jeremiah Moynahan who lived in St. Louis, Missouri and had a VERY interesting story!

Heirs of Jeremiah Moynahan Are Being Sought

Source: The Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts 10 Jan 1910, Mon  •  Page 9

The story of Jeremiah Moynihan goes something like this:
  • Jeremiah Moynihan died in St Louis, Missouri on January 8, 1910
  • He was destined for a pauper's grave until a key was found that led to a safety security vault
  • The papers reported that Jeremiah Moynihan was a "Millionaire Rag Picker" who died without a will
  • Immediately 1,000 people came forward to claim that they were related to "Jerry" and therefore the rightful heir
  • The courts believed Canadian Benjamin Foster Moynahan who claimed to be Jeremiah's son and was who was born at Bells Corners, Ottawa, Ontario Canada
  • "NOT SO!" said some 50 cousins in Rathmore, County Kerry Ireland, "Jeremiah never married and did not have a son!"
 The Ottawa Citizen Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 22 Mar 1913, Page 17

Curious About What Happened Next? 

I was certainly curious. My brother and sister and I had just visited Rathmore, County Kerry Ireland in the spring and I live a short distance from Bells Corners! I needed to know, who was telling the truth? The Kerry cousins or the Ottawa son?!

New York Tribune; Jan 10, 1910

 A Key Is Found To a Safety Deposit Vault

This is where Jeremiah's story begins: " A fortune of $60,000 in good securities awaits the heirs of Jeremiah Moynihan, an aged ragman .... Apparently in destitute circumstances ... was to have been buried in Potter's Field today but the public administrator found a key to a safety deposit vault ... bonds worth $60,000" 

"Moynihan was eighty years old. He was a miser and lived alone, and, as far as is known,he had no relatives in this country." 

Thousands Claim To Be Rightful Heirs 

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch; 21 Jun 1910; Page 6
Within months, Public Administrator Harry Troll had "received communications which indicate that at least 1,000 persons would like to get a share as relatives of Moynihan."

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch;20 Aug 1912;Page 11
 By the time that two years had passed, the claimants had decreased to 600 and included:
  • An alleged son, Glen Adonis Gilbert of Galena, Ill. who produced a will
  • An alleged cousin Mrs. Nancy Shanahan of Lawrence, Mass. who produced a letter
  • Alleged nieces and nephews - the O'Connors of Oswego, N.Y.
  • Letters from relatives in England, Ireland, Russia and Australia
  • Dozens of abandoned wives and scores of children he turned his back on
  • Half a hundred brothers and sisters and several hundred overlooked nieces, nephews and cousins
None of his St. Louis acquaintances knew very much about him. 
  • Jerry lived at 2022 and later (2100) N. Broadway St. Louis, Missouri
  • Jerry visited Ireland several times and no one knew why
  • Jerry had not worked at anything in the last 9 to 10 years of his life (he died at 80)
  • Jerry had been the driver of an express wagon at one time, and for awhile had a team of his own
  • Jerry was "fastidious about his person and in his habits" (according to the hotel keepers where he lived) and was never seen to "lend, spend or give a nickel away" and never married because when he was "young he had no money and when he had money he was too old"
  • Jerry had planned a trip to Ireland to "give the boys $5000 apiece. I want to give it to them while I am living and not wait until I'm dead. I'd have done it long ago but I wished to see how they'd turn out when they grew up. They're grown now and they're all alright. The money will be a big thing for them."
  • Jerry "always seemed to deeply pity anyone who tried to annoy him. Boarders at the hotel would sometimes try to provoke him when thy were tipsy.....some tipsy fellow trying to start an argument with Moynihan I would turn on the tipsy one , but Moynahan would remonstrate with me. "The poor fellow", he would say, "he hasn't much sense has he?" Then he would shake his head and walk away murmuring. "Poor fellow, poor fellow."
  • Moynihan's greatest hobby (the hotel keeper said) was in trying to encourage people to get along in the world.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch St. Louis, Missouri 13 Mar 1912, Wed  •  Page 4

Will Produced by Illinois "Son" Declared FAKE

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch; Sept 9, 1912; Page 1

By September 9, 1912, the handwriting experts declared that the will presented by Glen Adonis Gilbert of Illinois was a fake leaving all of the 600 "heirs" (represented by 40 lawyers) on even ground to continue with their claims. Most widows and children dropped their claims, and a rival claimant appeared from Canada!

Estate Awarded to Canadian Son: Benjamin Foster Moynihan 

of Bells Corners, Ottawa

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch; March 10, 1913; Page 1
 The Ottawa Citizen Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 22 Mar 1913, Page 17

By March 10, 1913,  Benjamin Foster Moynihan was awarded the $64,000 from Jeremiah Moynihan's estate having convinced the Judge Holtcamp that he was Jerry's son. The facts were as follows:
  • Benjamin Foster Moynihan was represented by lawyers Henry A. Baker of St Louis and Donald MacLean of Ottawa
  • Benjamin was in St Louis for the hearing of the claims
  • Benjamin was a farmer most of his life, worked as a watchman until a few years prior to 1913 and was unemployed with a wife and several children
  • Benjamin produced documents that influenced the judge that included a family bible
  • The judge was also influenced  by Benjamin's facial resemblance to pictures of Jeremiah Moynihan
  • The judge believed that it had been proven that:
    • Jerry Moynihan had settled in Nepean township, near Ottawa
    • Jerry had married Rebecca Pearson in 1849
    • Jerry and Rebecca Moynihan lived with William Foster and his wife
    • Jerry and Rebecca Moynihan had twins in 1850, a boy and a girl
    • The mother Rebecca (Pearson)  Moynihan and the infant girl died
    • Benjamin Foster Moynihan was soon given to the Fosters who adopted him and brought him up as their own son
    • in 1861, Jerry visited the Fosters and addressed the boy as son. Later the Fosters told the boy that Jerry was his father and Jerry Moynihan acknowledged the relationship in letters and papers, some of which were placed in evidence. One of the records was in the family Bible.
    • In 1893, the Judge said, it was shown that Jerry Moynihan met Benjamin in Ottawa, and acknowledged him as his son, and borrowed $500 from him, giving him a note. (the handwriting expert declared the signatures genuine)
    • According to the testimony of Benjamin Foster Moynihan his father was born in Australia and went to Canada in 1849, married Rebecca Pearson who died in childbirth the following February along with her twin daughter
    • According to the testimony of Benjamin Foster Moynihan, a day or two before the death, Mr and Mrs. William Foster had lost an infant son a few hours old and Benjamin was substituted for this child, reared as a Foster and Jerry returned to Australia
  • Benjamin Foster Moynihan was living on Pretoria Ave. when he received the telegram from St. Louis that he had been awarded the estate. He was 62 years of age
Source: The Ottawa Citizen; March 10, 1913; Page 1

The 50 Cousins From County Kerry, Ireland Appeal

The Ottawa Citizen; Nov. 19, 1913; Page 2

In 1913, the Kelliher branch of the Moynihan family in County Kerry, Ireland claimed to have new evidence showing them to be the rightful heirs and disproving the case of Benjamin Foster Moynihan of Ottawa. 

Their lawyer, Warren D. Isenberg set to establish that:
  • Jerry Moynihan never married and that Benjamin Foster Moynihan of Ottawa is not his son
  • Jerry Moynihan was not a "rag picker' as alleged and that he worked as an inbound freight clerk for the Iron Mountain Railroad from 1865 or 1868 until 1893 when he retired
  • When Jerry retired, he never worked again, but lived in different cheap hotels in St. Louis
  • He had a saftey deposit box at the Mercantile Trust Company and, when assigned this box, he had to give the place of his birth and the maiden name of his mother, which he did.
  • Moynihan's naturalization papers said that he was born in Ireland
  • Letter, registered receipts from the Kelliher family in County Kerry show that Jerry Moynihan had sent them $15,000, and visited them, as his cousins in 1905
  • During that visit, Moynahan visited his birthplace at Islanderagh, County Kerry
  • Moynihan paid a mortgage of $500 on the little home then owned by his cousin John J. Kelliher, and reserved for himself a room in the house, which would always be his should he return to live permanently in Ireland
  • The United Sates census report for 1910 shows Moynihan was a bachelor and was born in Ireland in 1831, instead of in Australia and of German parentage as Benjamin Foster Moynihan had testified
  • The will of William Foster (Benjamin's alleged adoptive parent) who died in 1872 refers to Benjamin Foster as a natural son, and to whom the bulk of the Foster estate was left
  • The mortuary and cemetery records at Bell's Corners, near Ottawa, where Mrs. Jerry Moynahan is alleged to have died show no record of either her marriage or her death
  • The records do show that Benjamin Foster (Moynihan) was married twice under the name of Foster and  has children who likewise married under that name

1915: Court Finds 50 Cousins To Be Moynihan Heirs

After the April 1913 ruling in favour of Benjamin Fister Moynahan, two groups, the O'Connors (group of nephews and nieces) of Oswego, N.Y. and the Kellihers (group of cousins) of County Kerry, Ireland launched separate appeals. The O'Connors withdrew after spending $1500 in perfecting their appeal.

In 1915, the Circuit Judge reversed the Probate Court decision and sets aside Benjamin Foster (Moynihan) claim.

Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch; Feb 11, 1915; Page 1
The value of the Moynahan estate after 5 years of litigation was reduced from $64,000 to $52,000 

In the decision, Judge Rassieur described the Kelliher-Moynihan family tree and told what share of the estate should go to each of the Kelliher group of claimants. 

Source:  St. Louis, Missouri 11 Sep 1912, Wed  •  Page 2

Jerry Moynahan Is Buried in Calvary Cemetery, St Louis

This incredible story of "The Millionaire Rag Picker" with its many plot twists and turns and nefarious characters is the stuff of great novels. And it all started with a so-called 'destitute rag picker' who was to be buried in Potters Field until the timely finding of key to a safety security vault was found.

Jeremiah Moynihan was born in 1831 in Islanderagh, County Kerry, Ireland 
son of Humphrey and Mary (Kelliher) Moynahan.
(Source:  Ironton County RegisterIronton, Missouri18 Feb 1915, Thu  •  Page 5) 

May He Rest In Peace


Source: St Louis Post-Dispatch; Sept 12, 1912; Page 1
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch St. Louis, Missouri 17 Sep 1912, Tue  •  Page 4

Lawyer for Irish "Cousins" 

Believes Other Claimants Are Confused

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch St. Louis, Missouri 20 Sep 1912, Fri  •  Page 9
Source:  St. Louis Post-Dispatch St. Louis, Missouri 12 Sep 1912, Thu  •  Page 2

Mrs. Shanahan Argues Her Case

Source: The Boston Globe Boston, Massachusetts 16 Aug 1912, Fri  •  Page 4

Friday, July 12, 2019

Folklore Thursday: The Bealnadeega Ghost

As part of "The Kerry Chronicles" there will be "Folklore Friday" posts featuring stories found in The School Collection. The "Folklore Thursday" posts will be primarily about text from the collections that mention Moynihans or Ó’Muineacháins or stories about places or other events in Kilcummin parish in Co. Kerry. 

This week's "Folklore Thursday" story is about "The Bealnadeega Ghost" who was reported to have killed two men, one of them being Malachy Moynihan of "The Bower", Kerry.

"It is said that in olden times 
there lived in Bealnadeega a Fairy 
and when the people were going from Killarney to Cork 
in cars conveying goods 
they used to meet her on the road. 
When two men used travel together 
she would never attack them, 
but used to always attack a lone man." 

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0451, Page 008
Image and data © National Folklore Collection, UCD.
"I do not know the tale about the other man 
but he was Malachy Moynihan from the "Bower". 

It was said that one night 
the Parish Priest of Rathmore 
put her on flames in the sky."

The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0451, Page 009
Image and data © National Folklore Collection, UCD.

Where Is Bealnadeega?

Bealnadeega is at Headford, west of Rathmore on the road taken from Cork to Killarney.
Source: WeGo Map
There is a long history of "spirits" in Bealnadeega dating back to 1800. The "Bealnadeega Spirit" was finally banished according to one story told by Mrs. Julia O'Connor to her daughter Hannah O'Connor (Lisheen)

Source: The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0451, Page 270   © National Folklore Collection, UCD.

Malachy Moynihan from the "Bower"

The story talks about a Malachy Moynihan from the Bower. 

I located Gurtanahanebuey "The Bower" in an entry in "The Tithe Applotment Books, 1823-37" 
In the "Bower" Tithe Applotment Books, there are many Mahoneys and Collins and 
Screenshot of National Archives: Tithe Applotment Books 1823-37
Gurtanahanebuey (Gort an Átháin Bhuí Thiar) Gortanahaneboy West is located west of Rathmore on the road to Killarney. It is in the parish of Kilcummin.

Source: Google Maps
Do We Know Anything About Malachy Moynihan?

We do not have any Malachy Moynihan's in our family tree, but this unusual name has popped up now and then. (I will continue to add Malachy Moynihan to this page - if you know of a Malachy, please leave details in the comment section below)

Other references to "Malachy Moynihan" in The School Collection include: 
  • "Cultaman Cronin was landlord of Screathan an Mhill and Mín na g-Ciseach. He died in the Union. Before his death Lord Kenmare bought all his land at a " ceaint " in Tralee bidding against an Englishman who wanted it for grazing purposes. Canon Walsh got Lord Kenmare to do this. There were bonfires that night. Lord Kenmare bought out Malachy Moynihan's interest also". Reference: The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0451, Page 233  Image and data © National Folklore Collection, UCD 
  • "Raithín (small fort) sometimes misspelt Raheen. Area :- 500 acres, 2 roods, 30 perches.
    Fulacth fiadhaidh (burnt stones) in Malachy Moynihan's (10 feet in circumference - called a fort) and in Michael Moynihans (small heaps in field.)
    In Malachy Moynihan's there was once an old mill at Inis An tSean Mhuillin and there is on the Abha Na Sceartan two river holes poll na bo and poll an tairbh.
    Lord Ienmare was landlord of Ráth Bheag and Raithin, Daniel O Connell and Moynihan having a middle interest. Reference: Tagairt Chartlainne  Bailiúchán na Scol, Imleabhar 0451, Leathanach 112  Íomhá agus sonraí © Cnuasach Bhéaloideas Éireann, UCD.
Malachy Moynihan Genealogy 
  • Padraig Doyle reported in 2011: "My Name is Padraig Doyle.I live in Kildare, Ireland I am researching my family history (in Wicklow, Kerry,  Dublin) My Mother is a Moynihan aged ~90 (born 1921;  her father was from Bonane in Kerry. My great grandmother was Hanoria Moynihan born 1841 as Hanoria Murphy in Cul na Cuppogue, Bonane, Kenmare, Co Kerry. Her father was Jeremiah Murphy a farmer and hedge school teachers and she married a Michael Moynihan from Beheenagh, Rathmore, Co Kerry. She died 16th January 1934 and is buried in Kenmare, her husband who died in 16 Nov 1886 is buried in Beheenagh. His father was a Malachy Moynihan and they may have had a farm and a pub near Loo Bridge, which I believe was a station on the railway line. I have a lot more information available if there's any connection or a possibility. I'd Love to hear of any?"
  • Malachy Moynihan Will (Kerry) dated 8 Nov. 1892 (Beneficiary Johanna Moynahan)
  • Malachy Moynihan (age 30) marriage; 24 Feb 1870; Rathmore, County Kerry, Ireland; Father's name Malachy; Spouse's name Johanna Callaghan Mahoney (born 1840; father's name Jerry Callaghan) Record Collection: Ireland Civil Registration, 1845-1913
Malachy Moynihan in burial records:

About "The School Collection"

"The Schools Collection" is a collection of folklore compiled by schoolchildren in Ireland in the 1930s.
Collecting Stories:
The Photographic Collection, M010.18.00108
Image and data © National Folklore Collection, UCD
 Approximately 740,000 pages (288,000 pages in the pupils’ original exercise books; 451,000 pages in bound volumes) of folklore and local tradition were compiled by pupils from 5,000 primary schools in the Irish Free State between 1937 and 1939.

I am forever grateful for the National Folklore Collection (NFC) for collecting, preserving and disseminating the oral tradition of Ireland.(and these informants CLICK HERE)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

"Try Where the Old Chapel Was at Freemount” .

For decades we have been collecting our ancestor's stories by tracking their footsteps since they first arrived in Canada and America in the early 1800s.
In 2019, our brother Pat Moynahan sponsored our very first trip to Ireland so that we could  search for our ancestor's stories there.  
We have many stories to share and we are calling them our " Kerry Chronicles" 

The three cemeteries that we visited in count Kerry 2019
 This is the story about our visit to the Freemount cemetery which was the second cemetery that we visited in county Kerry in 2019 and here is what we found.

The gate for the Freemount cemetery
When we visited St. Joseph's cemetery in Rathmore, the Parish secretary told us to try the old cemetery where the old chapel was in Freemount and gave us directions to get there. She suggested this because our Moynahan/Moynihan ancestors left the area in the 1820's.

Pat and Kelly at the Freemount cemetery in county Kerry

 In the National Folklore Collection below, there is mention of Freemount in the early days:

"Cnoc An Lisín (the hill of the little fort). Called "Freemount" during Anglicising period. Area: 185 acres 2 roods 37 perches.
Traces of the lisin or little fort may still be seen in James Mahony's. The Moynihans (related to the O'Connells of Derrynane) were agents or middlemen of Captain Fagan of Cork and lived at James Mahony's. They were responsible for "freemount". Here is the cemetery of Sean Sheipéal meaning "old chapel" and for a while so called Darby Moynihan a very old man, who died lately said that (as one would naturally expect) these were priests buried here."
Archival Reference  The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0451, Page 099  © National Folklore Collection, UCD

" It is stated that he even knew their names. Cemetery wall was built by the guardians of the poor about 1810. Stones of the old chapel were put into the wall. But there are two heaps still remaining. The two oldest graves are the McCarthys of Minte Oga (d. 1854) and Brosnans of Minte Oga (d. 1833). There are no tombs. "People are leaving here now and going to the New Ground in Rath Mhor". The most interesting thing in the little cemetery are the unmarked graves side by side of the Donnellys the victims of the moving bog of 1906 in Gniomh Go Leith parish"

Archival Reference  The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0451, Page 100  © National Folklore Collection, UCD
 Laurence Dunne Archaeology are the foremost specialists in graveyard surveying in Kerry. For several years they have undertaken highly detailed GPS surveys mainly of historic graveyards for Kerry County Council.

In 2012, they surveyed (41) Freemount (-near Barraduff, Rathmore, RMP KE068 00)

 And what that means is that there was a map indicating the path, grave settings, inscribed headstones, and uninscribed markers.

Of the inscribed headstones, Moynihan headstones were found at:
  • 9 Moynihan (B-3)
  • 10 Moynihan (C-3)
  • 11 Moynihan (C-3)
  • 26 Moynihan (B -2)
  • 27 Moynihan (B-2)
  • 34 Moynihan (A-2)

Of Rathbeg
Died Nov 10 1898
Aged 83 Years

And Friends

But Not

Erected By
To The Memory Of
His Beloved Father
Died Augt. 1st 1887
Also His Mother
Died Nov 1st 1897

In Memory Of
Stagmount Died
Knocknacoppul 1936
Wife HANNAH 1940
Cornhill 1940.


Book of Freemount Burials (1925-1983)

There is information about the Moynihans at Freemount

There is still much more research that needs to be done in this area and this page will be updated as I locate and more details

GPS Coordinates: 52.0769500, -9.2760500 
Coordinates:   52°4'36"N   9°16'33"W

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Announcement: The Kerry Chronicles

My brother Patrick at the Rathmore cemetery in Kerry, Ireland in spring of 2019
For decades we have been collecting our ancestor's stories by tracking their footsteps since they first arrived in Canada and America in the early 1800s.

In 2019, our brother Pat Moynahan sponsored our very first trip to Ireland so that we could  search for our ancestor's stories there.  We have many stories to share and will start with "The Kerry Chronicles" (and later the Galway, Clare, and Cork Chronicles ).

We are launching "The Kerry Chronicles" because we found new information in large part because of an unplanned stop at O’Carroll's Cove Beach Bar & Restaurant.

 The Moynahans, Moynihans, and Ó’Muineacháins

In June 2019 we stayed one night in Kenmare, Co. Kerry and we decided earlier to take a drive along Kenmare Bay. We eventually stopped at O’Carroll's Cove Beach Bar & Restaurant  for supper. (O'Carroll's was established in 1984 by the O’Carroll family and to this day is still owned and managed by them!

Driving from Kenmare to O'Carroll's Cove Beach Bar & Restaurant
The owner told us stories about other visitors to O'Carroll's who were in Kerry to also locate their ancestors and when he heard that we were looking for (among many names) the "Moynahans", he said "You won't find Moynahans around here. You should visit Rathmore - that's where all the Moynahans are!"

Kilcrohane, Kenmare and Kilcummin in Co. Kerry. The adventure begins!
When our 3rd-great-grandfather Denis Moynahan married Catherine Roach in Detroit in 1833, the french records recorded his birthplace as "Kilcrohane" and "Himeguenay" which I believed to have meant Kilcrohane near Sneem (see red box above) .... thus our drive along Kenmare Bay.

When the O'Carroll's directed us to Rathmore (which is situated in the parish of Kilcummin in the Barony of Magunihy), it became immediately clear at our first stop (the Rathmore cemetery) that we were definitely in Moynihan territory!  Could it be that "Kilcrohane" was supposed to be written as "Kilcummin" and "Himeguenay" was supposed to be "Magunihy"? So it seemed.

The Kerry Chronicles

The "Kerry Chronicles" will be the file where we will keep all of the stories that we have collected while visiting the Co. Kerry in 2019 as well as stories that have come to us since.

Two important sources of information and research will be the National Folklore Collection of Ireland and " O'Kief, Coshe Mange, Slieve Lougher and Upper Blackwater in Ireland". (16 Albert Casey)

Both Dr. Casey and the National Folklore Collection are treasure troves of information from the areas of County Kerry where there are many Moynihans and Ó’Muineacháins and many others.
Dr. Casey collected stories in the area that our ancestors lived.

Collecting Irish Folklore using an ediphone. Spuncán, An Coireán, (c.1936.) in South Kerry
Stories Collected While Visiting Kerry

The three cemeteries that we visited June 2019
We visited three cemeteries when visiting in June 2019 and we will be posting the photographs over the next few weeks:
  1. Visiting Rathmore Cemetery: To be posted
  2. Visiting Freemount Cemetery: To be posted
  3. Visiting Nohoval Cemetery: To be posted
 Stories Collected About Kerry Folk 

The Folklore Collection has many Moynihan stories

  1. OTD: Bernard Moynihan: Shot June 30, 1921
  2. Folklore: Hedge School: “There was a hedge school in Shanballa. It was on Jer Moynihan’s Farm. The teacher of this school was called Moynihan “Master”. He was born in Shanballa ..... Some of his people are buried in Nohoval graveyard.” (To be posted)
  3. Folklore: Macha an t-Samhraidh “Summer Milking Place” Co. Kerry  (To be posted)