Ambrose Francis Geoghegan was baptized in Clonakilty, Darrara parish, on 31 December 1848. He was the son of John Joseph Geoghegan and Margaret Blake, who had married in Clonakilty on 12 April 1845. Margaret was the daughter of John Blake and Peggy Fitzpatrick, and was baptized in Clonakilty on 1 February 1816. John Geoghegan appears in Griffith’s Valuation in 1853 as living in Kilgarriff – Clonakilty.
Ambrose’s father John immigrated to the United States in the early 1850s with his four brothers, of which one went on to live in Australia. John Geoghegan settled in Orange, New Jersey. Uncle James Geoghegan, who had married Mary Delahunty in Clonakilty, immigrated to the USA and settled in Piqua, Ohio. Ambrose immigrated in November 1856 with his mother Margaret and his sisters Mary Anne and Margaret, joining his father in New Jersey. Three more children were born in New Jersey – Catherine, John, and Thomas.
John Geoghegan fought in the American Civil War in the 2nd New Jersey Infantry, Company D, and was in numerous battles, including at Gettysburg in 1863. John died on 16 July 1892 in the Home for Disabled Soldiers in Kearny, Hudson, New Jersey.
On 11 October 1872, Ambrose Geoghegan enlisted in the United States Army and fought in the “Sioux Expedition” during the Indian Wars. He was honorably discharged with a notation of having “good character” on 17 June 1877 at Fort Sheridan, Nebraska. The US Army decided to shorten the Geoghegan surname to “Gegan.” And so it remained for this American branch of the family to this day, with only a few members deciding to return to the original spelling.
After his military service, Ambrose traveled further west to San Francisco, where his sister Margaret and her husband Andrew Coffey, and his youngest brother Thomas had settled. With Andrew Coffey, Ambrose and Thomas worked in the wool trade until 1886, when Ambrose married the wealthy daughter of a San Francisco lawyer, Edith Rodrigues Brandon. He and Thomas then worked in San Francisco for the Royal Insurance Company of London. In 1888, Ambrose and Edith’s son Ambrose Francis Gegan II was born, who grew up to marry Winnie Holleran, whose family was from Moycullen parish in County Galway.
Unfortunately, their happiness as a family was cut short, when Ambrose died on 30 January 1891 in San Francisco of consumption. His brother Thomas also died of the disease in 1894. Their sister Margaret and her husband Andrew Coffey both had died by 1887. Their mother Margaret died in 1896.