Our Claffey family came from Longford County
Other related Claffee/ Claffy/ Clafy/MacClafferty families came from
Westmeath and Offaly
ALL FROM THE HEART OF IRELAND
This is a modified version of a manuscript published in "Keyhole", quarterly
publication of the
GENEALOGY SOCIETY of SOUTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, April 1995 by Carol Ann Claffey Mounts,
Great Great Granddaughter of ----------- ]
THOMAS CLAFFEY of RANKINTOWN
Our Claffey family history until about 1990, was very sketchy. Living family members
informed me that,
a. the family originally came from Ireland,
b. the family at one time owned much land in West Washington, Pa,
c. my great grandfather William Claffey fought in the Civil War,
d. my great grand mother, Mary Mounts McDaniel Claffey, William Claffey's widow lived
to be 101 years old and at the time of her death was the oldest living citizen of Washington
This presented quite a challenge to a beginning genealogist. As research began, a Thomas
Claffey was identified in the 1840 Fed. Census of Washington County (Somerset Twp) as born
in Ireland. A family picture album held a small scrap of paper with a hand written message, 'Born
in Ireland 1813 age 5 yr', surrounded by four tintype pictures. Three pictures were of children, a
fourth was of two young men. There were no names on any of the pictures, however the
suggestion is that all five of these items are connected.
My husband Glenn presented me with my first important clue. He located the grave of
Thomas Claffey in the old Catholic Cemetery on Locust Ave Extension, one mile North of
Washington, Pa, with the death date of August 21,1883. We headed for Citizens Library to
see what could be found on microfilm records of city newspaper obituaries for that date. We
were very lucky to find an extensive obituary that answered many questions and of course
initiated many more.
Here is a copy of that obituary and accompanying death notice:
August 22, 1883 -- Washington Reporter
'Deaths : Claffey, On Tuesday Aug. 21, 1883, Thomas Claffey of Rankintown (West
Washington, Pa.) of cancer of the face, aged about 70 yr. Meet at his residence at 10
o'clock on Thursday and proceed to the Catholic Church, from this to the Catholic graveyard.'
Same paper, same page,Sources
"Death of Thomas Claffey
Thomas Claffey, whose death appears under the proper heading, was born 1813 in Longford Co., Ireland. At the age of 5 years, he came to the United States. In 1833 he married Christina Sybert, from over the mountains in this state and they at once set up housekeeping in this county, where he has remained ever since. His wife died in 1859, having been the mother of six boys and six girls, four of the former and five of the later are living, five are married and four single. William and
Thomas Claffey live in Rankintown and Mrs. Ann Lennox, a daughter, live in this place. The remainder of the children are not residents of this county.
The deceased married Harriet E. Clark of Washington about two years ago by whom he has an infant daughter living.
He was a contractor on the National Pike for over 50 years and a better workman could not be found. He well deserved the reputation he had as being an honest man. He was baptized when an infant into the Catholic church of which he remained a consistent member til his death."
The two Thomas Claffey's mentioned here are both buried in the Immaculate Conception Old Catholic Cemetery, seven tenths mile north of the present Immaculate Conception Cemetery on Locust Ave Extension.
Burial records for that cemetery cannot be found. It is very possible that Tom's wife Christina Sybert Claffey and others of their children are buried there also. However there are only two tombstones, Thomas Claffey, August 21, 1883 and Thomas Claffey Jr. 1898. These two stones stand on top of the hill under a large maple tree.
Thomas Claffey and his brother John filed Intent to Naturalize as United States citizens on October 19, 1840. They both stated that they were over twenty-one years of age and had lived in the United States at least five years. Thomas Claffey was five years old when he came to America, therefore it is reasonable to assume he traveled with parents and siblings. James Claffey appears in the 1820 census for Alexander Borough, Henderson Township, Huntingdon Co., Pa. His household lists one male, under 10, one male 10/16, one male head of household 26/45, one female under 10, one female 10/16, one female 26/45. Further investigation of James Claffey produced his 'Intent to Naturalize' paper filed in Huntingdon County, Pa. on August 10, 1825. It states that he was born in Longford County, Ireland, was approximately forty seven years old. It further states that he immigrated from Ireland in June of 1817 and arrived in the port of New York in August of that year.
(As of this date, July 1999, we now know quite a bit more about this family than when original article was written)
Family for Thomas Claffey is as follows.
James Claffey, born 1778, Longford Co., Ireland, father
Jane Claffey, born ?, Ireland, ? mother, appears as widow in Canonsburg, Pa. 1840
Children of James and Jane
1. John Claffey, born 1800 or 1804, (prob Longford Co.) Ireland
2. ---(female)-- Claffey, born (prob 1810-1817 Longford Co.) Ireland
3. Thomas Claffey, born 1813, Longford Co., Ireland
4. Mary Claffey, born 04/06/1815, Longford Co. Ireland. Died 04/26/1870
married William Donley, brick maker, according to Beers 'History of Washington Co.'
5. Catherine Claffey, born approx. 1830 in Pennsylvania appears in census 1860, 1870,
and 1880 living in the household of her brother Tom, keeping house for him after the death
of his wife Christina.
Thomas Claffey married Christina Sybert (born 1814 Maryland)' from over the mountain in this state. 'Christina was probably from Westmoreland Co. or Uniontown, Pa.
The only information about her (so far) comes from her husband's obituary. She was his first wife, bore him six sons and six daughters and died in 1859. Tom Claffey spent his life working as a wagoner on the 'National Road.' I can find no record of him in literature written about the National Road. Would appreciate information from anyone if his name appears in such articles. A lifetime of work out of doors however took its toll on his health for he died of cancer of the face.
Tom's unmarried sister Catherine moved into his household to keep house for his family for at least twenty one years. In 1880 at age sixty seven, Tom remarried. His second wife was Harriet Clark. His obituary states 'by whom he has an infant daughter living. 'Thomas Claffey died August 21, 1883. Six weeks later, on October 01, 1883, Harriet Claffey gave birth to a son, the fourteenth child of Thomas Claffey.
Thomas Claffey was my great great grand father. I have a duplicate tintype photo of the one described above. I have no absolute proof but believe it to be of Thomas Claffey and his brother John Claffey in 1840 taken about the time they became United States citizens.
Children of Thomas Claffey and Christina Sybert Claffey all born Washington County, Pa only nine of twelve are here recorded, dates are approximate.
* 1. William Claffey Sr., born 07/06/1836, died 03/05/1901 my great grand father,
Civil War Veteran, married Mary Mounts McDaniel, b. 04/07/1847, d 07/30/1948
For More information on this couple GO TO
2. David Claffey, born 1837, died 1912 Groveport, Ohio, Civil War veteran bur. Groveport Cemetery,
3. Jane Claffey, born 1838.
4. Anne Claffey, born 1841, married Lennox.
5. Susan Claffey, born 1844.
6. James Claffey, born 1847, died 1885, at the home of his sister Mrs. Anne Lennox
Civil War Veteran , bur. Soldiers Triangle, Washington Cemetery, Washington PA.
7. Margaret Claffey, born 1849.
8. Katherine Claffey, born 1853.
9. Thomas Claffey Jr., 1856, died 1898, buried near father Thomas Claffey.
Children of Thomas Claffey and Harriet Clark, both born Washington County, Pa.
1. Mary Etta Claffey, born 07/12/1882, died 09/09/1969
married Cyrus Dunn born 11/29/1878, died 02/07/1925.
She is the 'infant daughter living' mentioned in her father Thomas Claffey's obituary.
This couple had four children
A. Mary Katherine Dunn b. 04/06/1903, d. 12/04/1988
married J. Henry Painter b. 10/05/1898, d. 07/28/1980
B. Walter Glenn Dunn b. 05/03/1906
1 st wife Anne Elizabeth Martin b. 03/19/1905, d. 07/05/1957
one daughter Dorothy Elizabeth Dunn b. 08/05/1939
married Sidney Michael Minton b. 01/14/1943
a. Dorothy and Michael have two sons,
2 nd wife, Helen Young Lemon b. 03/23/1903, d. 06/01/1964
C. Mildred Emma Dunn b. 08/24/1908, d. 09/27/1987
married Frank Gerald Rankin b 10/12/1897 d. 05/10/1971
a. Jack Dunn Rankin b. 04/27/1929
b. Paul Gerald Rankin b. 12/14/1932
c. Larry Lee Rankin b. 08/15/1934, d. 11/27/1993
Also 2 step daughters Alice and Frances Rankin
D. Alice Dunn b. 05/04/1910
married Leroy Prigg b. 12/06/1908, d. 05/14/1986
2. Phillip Clark Claffey, born 10/01/1883, died 04/01/1955
[Ed note: This was the 14th child of Thomas Claffey, born 6 weeks after his father's death. I
found record of him in 1900 Federal Census of Washington County Pa. He, his sister and
mother were living in household of his aunt Mary Clark. He is buried in Clark family plot in
There were forty seven years between the birth of Tom Claffey's first son William Claffey
(my great grand father) and Phillip Clark Claffey. A lifetime by some standards of that day. In
those forty seven years, Tom watched as three of is older sons, William, David and James
Claffey went off to fight in the Civil War. William returned from the war, married and had seven
children of his own.
Additional information on siblings of Thomas Claffey. Dates are approximate.
Tom's brother John Claffey born (1800 or 1804 Ireland, Came to U. S. 1817)
[Ed note: On the question of John Claffey's birth year. On 1820 Census Huntingdon Co,
PA, he is listed as between ages of 10-16, (thus prob b. 1804). 1860 Fed Census
Westmoreland Co Pa, his age is listed at 60 years. (thus b. 1800).]
John moved to Westmoreland County, Pa, (North Huntington Twp. Irwin's Station),
worked as a coal minor, married Susan (? Jeeter) born 1824 in Pa.
Children of John and Susan Claffey were all born in Pa as recorded in the 1860 Fed. census
1. Margaret, born aprox. 1842
2. Annie, born aprox. 1852
3. John, born aprox. 1856
4. Thomas, born aprox. 1859
Tom's older sister Susannah Claffey, born in Ireland ( female child of James between ages
10 to 16 in the 1820 census) married Jacob Mulvahil in 1823, Huntingdon Co, PA about the
time rest of family moved on to Somerset Twp., Washington Co, PA. No further information.
Tom's younger sister Mary Claffey, born Ireland 04/08/1815 died 03/19/1880 remained in
Washington, Pa. all her life. She married a brick maker,
William Donley, b 10/05/1815, died 04/26/1870
This is the family that founded The Donley Brick Yard still operating in Washington, Pa
although the business has changed hands many times in the past one hundred and sixty years.
Both are buried in Washington Cemetery.
Children of William Donley and Mary Claffey Donley are
1. William Donley Jr., born 1837
2. Thomas Donley, born 1843, died before 1893
3. Samuel B Donley, born 1846, married Eliza McQuay
4. Mary C. Donley, born 1847, married Luther Miller
5. Margaret Donley, born 1849, died before 1893
6. Ellen Donley, born 1851, married S. B. Sumney
7. George Donley, born 1855, died 1925
8. Charles Donley, born 1857, died 1916
9. John Donley, born June 1860, does not appear in 1870 census.
10. Robert Donley, died before 1893
Why did James Claffey not follow through with naturalization after filing a petition to become
a United States citizen? If he had done so, his wife and children would have automatically
become citizens. That must not have occurred, for we see Thomas and John both filing similar
petitions to become US citizens in 1840, in Washington Co., Pa. after having lived in this
country for several years. Tom was at that time aged 27 years and John nearly 40 years of
Where were they in 1830? I can find no record of them, nor can I find record of James
Claffey from 1825 on.
One distant relative relates that she was told 'two brothers born in Ireland, came to America
together when young and went their separate ways'.
[Ed Note: This question has now been answered: 1830 Fed Census Strabane Township,
Washington County shows a James Chaffey with all family members corresponding to ages of
James Claffey Family. Also Strabane Township is very near Canonsburg, Pa where Jane Claffey
is found living as a widow in 1840 Fed Census. (Could there have been other relatives there????)
James Claffey is recorded as paying taxes both 1834 and 1835 in Sommerset Township,
Washington County. His name appears on the tax record for 1836 but has a line drawn through.
This is the year that he died. Those same tax records show Thomas Claffey paying taxes in same
location until 1843 when he moved to West End Washington, Pa.
** Another interesting find in those Sommerset 1820's tax records is the name
Richard McClaffey. This will require more research :-) ]
[Ed note: Graves and legible tombstones have been found for both Jane and James Claffey in
Donegal Township, Washington County. To read more about this GO TO ]
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