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John Donnelly died in Rapid City, South Dakota on 14th May 1904. John was born in 1852 in Co.Armagh (I think Moy, Blackwatertown areas) and sailed to New York in 1872. According to Newspaper articles he appears to have travelled to the Black Hills around 1879 travelling to Lead, then to Myersville and in late 1880 went to Pactola and made his home with John Duffy and his wife at their boarding house. Later he came to Rapid City along with Mr and Mrs Duffy. The Duffys’ would later move on to Grand island, Nebraska. In Rapid City he was engaged in “putting in the city water works”. At the time of his death he had several interests in a number of gold mines.

Another article reports that John never married and had no relatives in America and few back in Ireland. A sister came from Ireland a number of years before his death to visit with him but she contacted typhoid and died in Mahoney City, Pennsylvania. I don’t know if this sister was married.

Why am I interested in John???? My Mother’s (Donnelly) side of the family come from Moy/Blackwatertown in Co.Armagh and her grandfather Peter Donnelly moved to Belfast in 1865 to work in the Mills. I have the family records for the mid 1830s onwards. A cousin gave me a letter recently dated 1906 from a Lawyer in Rapid City to Frank Kerr, Solicitor in Belfast. The lawyer was replying to an earlier letter from Frank Kerr explaining that “he carefully noted what he said” and there was nothing in John Donnelly’s estate to “be distributed among the next of kin”. So, I think someone from America wrote to the Donnelly family in Armagh or Belfast about the death of John, about his interests and estate and the name of the Lawyer handling it. I believe my great grandfather instructed Frank Kerr to write and make a case for the next of kin in Ireland...without any success. But who was John and how is he connected to my Donnelly family. Does anyone Know!

I have three John Donnellys born in Co. Armagh who could fit the bill....

Parish Baptised Father Mother Siblings

Armagh 05/10/1852 James Mary Dunleavey 6

Armagh 05/12/1852 John Jane Quinn 7

Loughgall 26/07/1852 Thomas Catherine O’Brien 0 identified


Thursday 27th September 2018, 07:08AM

Message Board Replies

  • Hi Roy, has Blackwatertown Parish records but they are Civil so start in 1864 I'm afraid.

    There are records for Moy - county Tyrone Diocese Armagh but he's not there.

    Do you know his religion?

    I checked the RCBL's C of I parish lists and there are no tecords for Blackwatertown but there are for Moy: births 1625 to 1880; marriages 1826 to 45 and Burials 1826 to 1880. However if you're in the states you'll need to get someone to look them up for you unless you visit of course.

    If R C the National Library has the parish records freely available at Nothing for Blackwatertown but a search for Moy brings up Clonfeacle and there are baptisms & marriages from 1814 to 1881



    ColCaff, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 28th September 2018, 04:19AM
  • Thank you for the reply.  The family were RC.  I am in the north of Ireland, just 1/2 hour away from Moy/Blackwatertown.  The early online parish records for Clonfeacle are in a bit of a mess.  I got the info on JDs born in 1852 from the Cardinal O'Fiach Library in Armagh.  But none of this will help with making the connection to my Donnellys.  I was hoping someone from the area would read it and make the connection!!!!


    Friday 28th September 2018, 05:45PM