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A Donlin Family History by Dan Jensen
Michael Patrick Donlin and Bridget Carmody

Michael Donlin was probably born in 1837 or 1838, though each year from 1836 to 1840 is supported by a document as a possible birth year. His gravestone[17] says he died at age 82, implying he was born in 1836. The 1910 census[18] indicates that he was 69 years old at the time, implying that he was born in 1840.

1837 appears to be most likely because (1) Michael's obituary[19] states that he was born in 1837, (2) the Donlin family Bible states that he was born in 1837, and (3) the 1870 Federal Census[20] indicates that he was age 32 at the time.

1838 appears to be somewhat likely because (1) the certificate of his first marriage[21] indicates that he was age 23 in January 1862, and (2) the 1885 Iowa State Census[22] indicates that he was age 46 at the time.

The 1900 census[23] indicates that Michael was born in September 1839, and that he was age 60 at the time.

Michael Patrick Donlin appears to have lived in Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts from autumn 1861 to sometime in 1865. It's likely that Michael had been in America only a few months when he married Bridget Carmody in January 1862. Though Michael's obituary[24] states that he immigrated in 1857, both the 1900 census[25] and the 1910 census[26] state that he immigrated in 1861. This may explain why we haven't found Michael in the 1860 federal census.

If Michael did immigrate in autumn 1861, then it follows that he immigrated well after the Civil War began. This also suggests that Michael never lived anywhere in Massachusetts beside Springfield, because he would have been in America only about three months before he married Bridget Carmody[27], and also because the state of War would have required that he do something to support the Union when he arrived.

It is likely that Michael worked at the Springfield Armory as a night watchman, as mentioned in his obituary[28], from 1861 or 1862 to spring 1865. The obituary states that he held this job for three years. His marriage certificate states that he was a laborer (in January 1862), but he was in Springfield and it was wartime so it is somewhat likely that whatever his job was it was at the Armory. He may have chosen to move to Wisconsin once the War ended (May 1865), as his services may no longer have been needed by the Armory at that point in time.

Bridget Carmody

Bridget Carmody Donlin
Bridget Carmody Donlin.
Photo courtesy of Esther (Donlin) Hamilton of Merrill, Iowa.

When Bridget Carmody Donlin died at age 37 in the Spring of 1877, she left seven children under age 15. After 35 more years only one of those children would still be living. That was her youngest son Frank, who was a mere three years of age when Bridget died. Frank’s older brother Joseph was nine when their mother died, and Joseph had eight children to pass his stories down to, but Joseph’s oldest was only 19 when he died. Passing down family histories can be difficult under such circumstances.

According to her tombstone, Bridget was born in Kilmore, County Clare, Ireland on 11 April 1839. We have determined that this Kilmore is in the Parish of Killokennedy, just North of Limerick. Bridget's marriage certificate[29] indicates that her parents were John and Catherine Carmody. A couple matching these names lived in Lancaster, Wisconsin (where Bridget resided) in 1870 and 1880. They were in the expected age range[30], so it is very likely they were Bridget's parents. A John and Catherine Carmody were also in Springfield in 1857[31], five years before Bridget's marriage to Michael Patrick Donlin in that same city.

The Carmody Migration, ca. 1847–1865
The story begins in the vicinity of Kilmore, County Clare, Ireland at sometime during the Great Famine, when James Carmody, one of Bridget Carmody’s uncles, departed for Massachusetts. By 1850, James and his family are in Chicopee, Hampden County. After a couple more years, James and family move to New York.

It is likely that Bridget’s parents John and Catherine Carmody emigrated with James Carmody, but we have yet to document their presence in America before 1857. At that time, they appear in Springfield.

James moved his family once more in 1854–5, this time to Lancaster, in Grant County, Wisconsin. By 1860, James Carmody’s nephew Thomas Carmody arrives in Lancaster from County Clare. James’ brother (and Tom’s father) Michael arrives in Boston from Broadford, County Clare at some undetermined time.

During the Civil War, John’s daughter Bridget marries Mike Donlin from western Clare. By the end of the war, Mike and Bridget have a family of their own, and they head off to Lancaster with Bridget’s family to live near her Uncle James and Cousin Tom. Perhaps Michael and his family moved from Massachusetts to Wisconsin at about the same time.
Michael and Bridget raised their family in the Lancaster, Wisconsin area for over ten years, until Bridget died at age 37. They had seven children that we know of. All but one, a girl named Alice, survived Bridget. Their two remaining daughters died of diphtheria as children.

Michael married Delia H. Powers eight months after Bridget died. Delia was age 18 at the time, just three years older than Michael's son Jim.

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