top of page

The Children of James & Mary: Introduction

Note: to conserve effort and provide continuity, this article draws verbatim on material from a previous entry, on James and Mary Mulfany Cahalan.  All quoted source material is reproduced as faithfully as possible, including original textual errors.


The most complete account we have of the children of James (1808 - 1883) and Mary Mulfahy Cahalan (1819 - 1902) exists in a letter dated 6 March 1963 from Marion Cahalan, their granddaughter, to John McInerney.  Marion seems to have been asked by John, James and Mary’s great-grandson (and so Marion’s cousin), to provide information about the family tree.  


This letter exists in three xeroxed manuscript copies, one reproduced here, and two typed transcripts, one by Joseph Cahalan, James and Mary’s great-grandson and the current author’s grandfather, who added the following introduction:


This is a partial history of the Wyandotte Cahalans prepared by Marion Cahalan in 1963 at the request of John McInerney.  Some of her dates are wrong--she states that the family came to Wyandotte in 1857.  Actually it was 1853. [As noted in the previous entry, this is contradicted by census information.]  Also she states that her father John C. [Cahalan Sr.] was born in 1858.  Actually it was 1859.


The letter, with corrections as noted, reads in full:


James & Mary Mulfahy Cahalan of Nenagh, Tipperary Ireland had seven children: John, Catherine, Anna, Bridget, James M.D., Richard and John C.


Grandfather Cahalan and his eldest son John came to America in 1849 [as noted in the previous entry, this date is probably inaccurate] to get work & earn enough money to bring the rest of the family to America.  They worked around Lima N.Y. where John died probably in his teens & was buried in Lima.  Finally Grandfather had enough money and sent for his family & they arrived and settled in Wyandotte in 1858.  Father (John C. [Sr.]) was born here in 1858 or 59 & named after his eldest brother because of the custom of that period and grandmother’s grief.


Catherine (Aunt Kitty) married Michael Norton--no children.  


Anna married Patrick McInerney & had five children--John F., Jimmy who was deputy sheriff of Wayne County and May and two small children who died of scarlet Fever and your father nearly died of it too.  


Jimmy and May were not married.


Bridget married Patrick Needham and had eleven children.  Molly is the only one living.


Dr. James married Anna Melody and had one son James Emmet.


Richard was not married.


John C. Married Anna Hogan of Hubbardston Michigan and had eight children.






As recorded in Marion’s letter (with dates from a family tree chart produced by Joseph Cahalan in 1986), the children of James and Mary were John (born circa 1838 and died before 1857, as can be inferred from Marion’s letter and a correction to it described in a previous entry; though no record of his birth or death is currently known), Catherine (1841); Bridget, (1845); Anna (1846 - 1916); James, (1850 - 1903); Richard, (1852) - 1909); and John Charles (1859 - 1939).  Since neither Bridget nor Anna are buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, their birth dates were found in census records located through*


No births are recorded between circa 1838 and 1841, though Mary may well have suffered miscarriages or lost children in infancy (which could have been a powerful inducement for the couple to start over in a new country).  A space of four years between the birth of Anna (1846) and James (likely 1850) also exists, though a similar gap of seven years between the births of Richard and John, can be explained by noting that these were most likely the years in which the couple was separated by James’ immigration.  


At this point in the larger family narrative, it would be helpful to provide a page for each married child, treating the lives of those unmarried or (in Catherine’s case) childless as a group until sufficient information becomes available to allow them a page of their own.  


So to continue, please select a link below:



John Cahalan & Catherine Cahalan Norton


Bridget Cahalan Needham


Anna Cahalan McInerny


James Cahalan, MD


Richard Cahalan


John C. Cahalan, Sr.


Marion’s letter and the available census sources, taken together, present us with some difficulties.  Though his tombstone records his birth in 1850, James and Mary’s son James’ birth date is given by census information on (not always a reliable source) as 1852.  Richard’s birth date is also variously given there as 1851, and the same source lists his birthplace (like his brother James’) as County Tipperary.  There is certainly an error in the record, here.  Given the fact that Marion states that James emigrated in 1849, then one son or the other would have to have been born while his father was overseas.  (The dates given by Joseph’s family tree accord with--and are most likely taken from--inscriptions in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Wyandotte, and should be authoritative since they were produced at the direction of surviving family members.) 


What is much more likely, however, is that Marion is in error in giving 1849 as the date of James’ emigration, and that Joseph is thinking of this event--rather than the date of the family’s migration to Wyandotte--when he states 1853.  This speculation has the advantage of explaining the break in the pattern of births between 1852 and 1859.



First published 2 December 2009; last revised 21 May 2019.

bottom of page