Family History, Census Records, Death Certificate, Ireland
John Thomas Whelehan1852

John Thomas Whelehan 1852

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Place of migration
Migrated to/Born in USA

John Thomas Whelehan was born in Curristown, Killucan, Westmeath in November 1852. He was baptized Catholic on November 7, 1852 by his parents John Whelehan and Mary Shaw. Godparents for John were Joseph Shaw and Mary Dan. John's father was a tenent on a little farm in Killucan where he and Mary raised 8 children during An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger: Michael, Judith, Mathew, Mary, Anne, Margaret, Elizabeth, John, and Teresa. Michael, the oldest son remained in Ireland while Mathew and John immigrated to America, Mathew in 1867 and John in 1869.  He was16 years of age when he emigrated, travelling first to London where he worked in a haberdashery to earn his passage. He finally arrived in New York on April 24, 1869 and five years later became a U.S. citizen on October 10, 1874. John lived in New York from 1869 until 1882  working first in a tile factory and then as a streetcar operator. He married Annie Igoe from Honesdale, PA about 1881 and she gave birth to their first child on February 28, 1882. Sadly, their newborn son, John, died on July 18th of the same year. John and Annie, still grieving, left New York for Chicago, IL on September 12, 1882.

John and Annie set up homestead on the southside of the City and John became a policeman in the Stockyards District. He was 6'4' in height and made an imposing policeman. Annie died shortly after losing another baby in childbirth in January 1892. John was left to raise 3 children by himself. He then married a widow of another Chicago policeman with 2 children in 1895. Catherine McMahon (nee Davis) was born in Chicago in December 1858 and survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 as an orphan with her brother John and sister Elizabeth. John and Kate brought 5 more children into the world, 10 children in all. John often remarked, "Look Ma, Mmy kids and your kids are fighting  with our kids." Kate died on November 7, 1931 and  John Thomas Wheeler died on March 14, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. Both were buried along side of their first spouses.

John's brother, Michael, stayed in Ireland while Mathew and John immigrated to America. Mathew came to New York and was a foreman for a railroad gang in New York. He missed a train heading to Chicago and was killed when he attempted to catch the train using a hand cart. He was coming for a visit with his little brother. One of Mathew's daughters married and had several children. One of her sons became a priest and served the St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

John’s son, Mathew, mentioned other Wheeler relatives in the Chicago area. Specifically, he mentioned a Paul Wheeler who was a Captain on the police department. His relatives settled in Dupage County, Illinois many years earlier. Their relatives trace back to Lynn, Gainestown, Westmeath. I believe they are his cousins.

Additional Information
Date of Birth 11th Jan 1852 (circa)
Date of Death 15th Mar 1933 (circa)
Mother (First Name/s and Maiden) Mary Shaw and John Whelehan were married in Taghmon, Westmeath, Ireland on 26 Jun 1834. She was reported to be related somehow to George Bernard Shaw. All of there children were verified through Catholic Parish Registers.


  • Hello, There's a news article about Patrick Wheeler driving a horse and wagon and being seriously injured in the Evening Star (Wash. DC), 2 September 1887. This year differs from JT Wheeler's story. If you post your email address, I will send you the article. Patricia


    Sunday 10th June 2018 06:59PM
  • Thank you Patricia. My email is


    Monday 11th June 2018 12:10PM
  • Do you know when Paul Wheeler was a Captain on the Chicago Police Force?  Nearly all my Bonfield ancestors served on the Chicago Police force between the mid 1800's into the early 1900's.  My 2x great uncle was Inspector John Bonfield (quite a colorful character from what I have learned, and became infamous for his involvement in the Haymarket Riot of 1886).  Perhaps they were acquainted with Paul Wheeler?


    Cathi Murphy

    Cathi Murphy

    Tuesday 12th June 2018 02:53AM
  • Relative to Paul Andrew Wheeler, Captain on Chicago Police, his uncle was Joseph Shaw - godfather to John Thomas Whelehan. Joseph Shaw, from Taugamon, Westmeath was Mary Shaw's brother. Mary Shaw was John Thomas Whelehan's mother.


    Sunday 4th July 2021 02:10PM
  • Coming to Ireland with my son this coming summer and hope to see where my ancestors came from in Killucan and where many lie today. Any suggestions on the best way to find these locations?


    Wednesday 29th December 2021 04:22PM

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