The Children of John and Johanna Dwyer

Johanna Dwyer was about 85 when she reported to the census taker in 1900 that she had had 10 children, of whom 8 were still living. We can account for 9 of these children; the identity of the 10th child is unknown.

1. Catherine Dwyer, born around June 1834

Catherine, called Kate, lived at home until at least 1870; the census of 1870 reported that she was then 36 and living with her mother and brother David in Clinton. The census also indicated that she could read and write, so she must have had some education. She did not appear in the 1880 census. According to family records, she traveled west to work -- she may have joined her brothers in Iowa for a time. One day she sent a postcard saying she was going to Australia. The family never heard anything further from her so assumed she had fallen ill or had an accident and died. [1]

2. Edward Dwyer, born around 1836

Edward moved west; see the chapter entitled Westward Migration for his story.

3. James Dwyer, born May 1838

James (sometimes referred to in church records as Jacob) was the only one of the Dwyer brothers who never moved west. He remained in the Chateaugay area and married Julia Anna Cantwell on May 15, 1867. Julia had been born in May 1846, the daughter of Martin Cantwell and Helen Dowd. They settled on and worked a farm in Clinton County — it is not clear exactly where this was but it may have been his father’s original farmstead.

According to the 1900 census, Julia had 7 children of which, by then, 4 were surviving. We know of the following children:

- Martin G., born January 26, 1868; he died in 1901.

- Maria Catherine (Mary), born February 3, 1869. She died on July 13, 1877, at the age of only 8, of diphtheria. According to the newspaper, her death came “after a week of intense suffering, during which her patience won the admiration of all who witnessed her agony.” [2]

- John Edmund, born February 19, 1871; [3] he died in 1940.

- David, born around 1878; [4] he died in 1933.

- Edward, born in 1883 and died in 1894.

- Joseph Patrick, born in May 1888; he died in 1940.

Julia’s parents Martin and Helen Cantwell also lived with the family (when the censuses were taken in 1870 and 1880). In 1875, James participated in a beneficial literary association, helping students in the “promotion of good literature in general and rhetoric in particular,” though debates. [5]

James died at his home in Clinton at the end of May 1909, at the age of 72. [6] After James’ death, Julia moved off the farm to Cherubusco village, to live with her son Joseph. He later moved to Malone and she accompanied him. Joseph had two children, Rita and Robert. In 1922, she moved to Chateaugay to live with her other son John E. Her son David had moved to Portland, Oregon. Julia died on June 16, 1922. She was buried in St. Philomena’s cemetery in Cherubusco. [7]

4. John D. Dwyer, born February 14, 1841

John D. moved west; see the chapter entitled Westward Migration for his story.

5. Henry Dwyer, born 1843

Henry is believed to have died at a young age, before the family emigrated from Ireland.

6. Bridget Dwyer, born June 6, 1844

Bridget married John Leonard on January 11, 1876. John had been born in County Cork in September 1842, the son of Owen Leonard and Ellen O’Connell. He had immigrated the same year as Bridget and was a farmer in Benson, Vermont. They had the following children:

- Johanna, born 1877.

- Owen John, 1880-1917.

- Kathryn M., 1881-1973.

- Nellie Agnes, born February 1883; she became a teacher and was still living with the family at the time of the 1910 census. [8]

- John Edward, born May 1884.

- Michael, whose birth is listed as 1884, though this may be incorrect.

John died in 1912. Bridget died on April 19, 1924 at the age of 79, the cause listed as “general debility” that had been going on for two years.

7. Michael Henry Dwyer, born September 20, 1846 (according to the Irish parish records, or 1847 according to the census records and death certificate)

Michael moved west; see the chapter entitled Westward Migration for his story.

8. Patrick Dwyer, born about February 1850 (baptized February 10, 1850)

It is not clear what happened to Patrick Dwyer, who was a baby when the family immigrated from Ireland. However, given that David went to Leadville, Colorado to work in the early 1880s, and David's son Jack did the same in 1909, we speculate that their connection to Leadville may have been Patrick. Like his brothers Edward, John and Michael, he may have headed west -- and ended up even farther away than the others. In the 1870s and 1880s, Leadville was a boom town, one of the world's largest and richest silver camps, and filled with silver speculators and miners hoping to strike it rich. Patrick may have joined this wild party.

9. David Dee Dwyer, born August 26, 1854

David moved west before returning to Chateaugay; his story is in the chapter entitled David Dwyer and Helen Sheehan.


[1] Margaret Looby, Chateaugay Days.

[2] Plattsburgh Republican, July 21, 1877.

[3] St. Patrick’s Parish records, Chateaugay, NY.

[4] U.S. Census, 1880.

[5] Plattsburgh Republican, January 23, 1875.

[6] Chateaugay Record, May 20, 1949.

[7] Chateaugay Record, June 22, 1923.

[8] US Census, 1880, 1900, 1910.

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