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The Dennis Enright Family

This story, and one about the Hagerty family, were discovered in an old family bible, says contributor Kathleen Doyle. Her family surmises they were written after May 1921, but before 1934, by Daniel Enright.

Dennis Enright was born in the town of Tarbart, in the extreme north of the County Kerry, Ireland about the beginning of the 19th century. While a young man he worked with his father, who was a blacksmith by trade. In due time he took the business upon himself. This was in the year 1825 -- at which time he married a girl from the County Limerick -- named Margaret Hanrahan. Denny the Smith, as he was known, continued to run the shop for about 20 years, or until his death which occurred in 1845. Besides his wife he left a family of ten children - Vin - John - Thomas - Michael - Phillip - Dennis - Maurice - Edward -- Mary Ellen and Anstice. All of them and their Mother were destined to see the shores of America and find graves in six different states from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

John, the oldest, who learned the Blacksmith trade came to American in 1848 and settled in Vermont, where he worked for E. Howe in Marble Quarry keeping the tools in order. Here he met and married Margaret Hagerty the same year. They came west two years later and settled in Warren, Jo Davies County, Illinois. To this union was born six children - Vin - John - Philllip- Dennis - Anstice Ellen and Mary.

Michael started for the USA in 1849, but contracted ship fever and lived only a short time after reaching Montreal and there he was buried.

Thomas came to Vermont and later made Massachusetts his home, where he married and raised a family. He sleeps today in Gilbertsville, Massachusetts.

Dennis was married in Ireland. His wife's maiden name was Brassel. They came to America in 1855, living a few years in Warren, Illinois and then went to California about 1860. They went to San Francisco but found an earthquake in action and flew from the city for safety - landing in Napa County west of Sacramento where they made their home for a number of years. His wife died a short time after they got there and he had a family of five children on his hands. John- Robert - Michael - Hannah and Margaret. They finally made their home in Sacramento, where he died a few years ago.

[ed note: When I lived in Sacramento in 1986-1987, I could find no trace of this family, although there were other Enrights in the area.]

Maurice came before the Civil War was in Vicksburg, when he should have been in the North, and was conscripted into the Confederate Army. He finally escaped and came North settled in Chicago. He married Kate Donoughon and raised a family of four - Margaret -Charlotte - Lillian and Edward. He was injured in the Rolling Mills in 1886 and only lived a short time. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Chicago.

Edward came from Ireland to Chicago in the early seventies, where he made his home for forty years and never married. He sleeps today with his brother in Calvary Cemetery.

Anstice or Anstasia came to Chicago where she married Wm. Kelly. They lived to an old age, had no family and their now are buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Mary came to Chicago and married Timothy Hallisey. They lived in Missouri for awhile and finally came to Tama County, Iowa, in the early seventies and settled on a farm. They had seven children - Vin - John - Timothy - Margaret - Ellen - Mary - Anne. They have been dead for many years and are buried in Tama.

Ellen came to Warren, Illinois in 1858. She married John Doyle - located in Scott County, Iowa and came to Tama in 1866. They bought a farm and here they spent the rest of their lives. They had a numerous family - Michael - John, - Maurice - Dennis - Peter - Edward - Martin - Anna - Margaret - and Mary. The children are all living but the old folks are at rest in the Tama Cemetery.

Phillip, in whom I am most interested, was born in the town of Tarbart on the Shanon River, County Kerry, Ireland in the year 1829. Here he spent his youthful years on the banks of this might river where the ships of all countries passed on their way from the sea to the city of Limerick - thirty miles more inland and sixty miles form the open sea. Here he became familiar with the flags of many Nations and fell in love with the Stars and Stripes, and longed for the day that he could become a citizen of the wonderful country tit represented. The ambition of the young man of his time were to free themselves from the tyranny of England's rule. The eventful day finally came as all things came to him who waits and prays.

In the spring of 1850, when he was 21 years old the day came that he must leave his old home and family and go to Limerick to take passage for New York City. He had just sufficient money to pay his passage and one pound ($5.00) extra to meet incidentals and take him from New York City to Brandon, Vermont, - his destination.

He finally reached New York without incident or money as he had given his extra money to the young man that took him to Limerick as he decided to go to America. Imaging his feelings when he was ready to step ashore 3000 miles from home in a strange land and penniless. But luck was with him. While looking over the crowd that had assembled at the wharf to meet their expected friends, he happened to see an old acquaintance whom he had known in Ireland years before. He kept his eye on the man and lost no time in meeting him when he got ashore. This man proved to be a friend indeed as he took him in and took care of him for two weeks or more. When he got ready to start for Brandon Vermont, he gave him a $5.00 gold piece to help him along. He had about two hundred miles to go and go afoot, as he could afford no better transportation. He started up the Hudson river with his pack on his back, light hearted and full of hope and ambition. He was a mighty hardy man and the best walker I ever tried to keep up with -- or to get away from. I know for I have tried both and lost both times -- I, of course, was considered younger than he was at the time.

Sometime in the late afternoon he came across a gang of men working on the construction of the Erie Canal. One of the foremen offered him a job at a $1.00 a day. The wage being 4 times as much as he had received at home for similar work he readily accepted and went to work. He stayed there for sometime and when he got ready to go on to this brothers at Brandon, Vermont - he sent the identical $5.00 gold piece back to his friend in New York. After arriving in Brandon he experienced no trouble in getting a job with Elias Howe - the man who worked a marble quarry -- at this time the man that his brother was running the machine shop for. I don't know how ling he worked there but in 1853 he was married to Mary Hagerty -- (my mother). She was a sister of his brother's wife, whose name was Margaret. Time rolled on and in 1854, - April 13 - my oldest brother Dennis was born (named for his paternal grandfather).

Time went on and there being few chances for young men of small means - as an agricultural state Vermont stands very low - the call of the west where land was cheap and fertile appealed to him as he was much inclined to agricultural pursuits. He decided to make the move and in 1855 he landed in Warren, Jo Davis County, Illinois. Here they remained for five years during which time he became familiar with the business of farming, being employed in that capacity in its different stages, but of course for other people.

During the sojourn in Warren, three children came to add joy and care to the home, namely Margaret - Mary - and Daniel - to the responsibilities increased. Once it became more apparent to the provider that in order to obtain the necessary means of current maintenance and accumulate a nest egg for the rainy day, he must cease to be a common laborer and secure a piece of good rich land he had heard so much of away out in the wilds of Tama County, Iowa. So it was again his move. He got a yoke of oxen, a covered wagon and took Horace Greeley's advice and on the last day of March 1860 bid goodbye to Warren and many dear friends and neighbors. He climbed aboard the Prairie Schooner and pulled anchor, cracked the whip, headed for what is now known as East Dubuque where they arrived that night. They had old friends there by the name of Most. Mrs. Most - one Nancy Shea - was an old friend and a distant relative of Mother's and they were girls together in Ireland.

The following day, April first -1860 - after considerable trouble and excitement they succeeded in crossing the river. There were no bridges on the Mississippi river in those days and a might poor excuse for a ferry at Dubuque. When they got in midstream, one of the cows they were bringing along, got extremely unruly and jumped off the ferry plunk into the water -- and water is generally plentiful in April. Well - in she went and Uncle Dan after her on horseback (he had come along to help). After much bother he succeeded in landing her on the Iowa side - some little distance down the river. This was a real April first but he finally got things lined up again and took the old trail toward Farley and Cedar Rapids, and after seven days grind camped for the last night on a high elevation not far from the Iowa river and about two miles from Eureka (New Haven) on the 8th day of April. The next day he had only about five miles to go on the west line of Richland Township where my grandfather - Daniel Hagerty - had build a house in 1856. At last they had found the country destined to become their permanent earthly home where amidst the trials and privations but with willing hands and hopeful hearts they overcame all obstacles, never forgetting or neglecting their obligations to God - the only source of real satisfaction and comfort which the cruel hand of tyranny could not deprive them of in their old homes beyond the sea.

We lived with Grandpa a few months but the spring of 1861 found us domiciled in an old log cabin about 3/4- miles west of the Helena store (Mrs. Vogle ran the store). The cabin belonged to a man by the name of Taylor, who lived only a short distance from us and kept a lot of sheep. My first introduction to the sheep business was the day an old ram butted me up against the side of the log house - I escaped however without permanent injury but it seems I have never been able to relish mutton, and I am unable to attribute it to any other cause - some impressions are, no doubt, everlasting.

There seemed to be quite a settlement here and the old state road went by our place. It was the artery for transportation from western Tama and Marshall Counties to Iowa City at that time. Many teams passed going to and returning from Iowa City usually had loads both ways -- products of the farm or merchandise. A man by the name of Clem ran a tavern or public house a short distance from us and he had a big business. The war broke out in April 61 and a great many of the young men enlisted and marched away, some never to return. There were numerous fatherless children and many widows around Helena when the war was over, even if it was a new country.

These were terrible times and especially in a country in the making - no work - no money. We worked many a day for fifty cents and walked 4 miles morning and night to get the job, and then only get dinner at the job.

We lived in the old log cabin for 2 1/2 years. My brother Jack was born there on the day that Fort Sumpter was fired on April 19, 1861. Maurice was born there the last of August, 1862. In the meantime Father build a small house on some land close to Grandpa's. It was in the timber and we moved into it in 1863. Here we resided until the fall of 1865 when we moved into our own home out on the prairie where they had bought forty acres of new land, broke up ten acres and built a small house. I remember distinctly the day we moved into our new home. It was alone on the prairie - not a solitary tree to break the sameness on all sides, just the house - a little stable -- a couple of grain stacks and a well in the slew. One thing I noticed with a particular satisfaction there wasn't even a rod to lick a kid with but they grew fast. That which impresses me most as I sit here now in reflection and visualize the scene and even recall the words my Mother spoke when she first crossed the threshold after being seated she said to my Father - "At last, Thanks be to God, we are under our own roof!" It takes years to fully comprehend - let alone understand the meaning of the sentence. After the anxieties of ten years of shifting and moving - they had at last reached their goal. In natural man there is something, instinct or whatever you may call it, that prompts him to strive to secure a place that he can truly call his own - not by gift or otherwise but attained by the sweat of his own brow - such a place - be it ever so common place is truly home.

Now ten of our family domiciled in our new home - Anstasia - Nell having been born in the house we recently vacated, pretty small house but we managed to get by and were all healthy and happy.

There were ten acres broke - this was put into wheat and garden stuff. This was in 1866. Our only team was a yoke of oxen, Buck and Berry. They were all broken and we used them for all farm work as handily as horses. We had a small sod breaking plow and broke the balance of the forty acres and started general farming as it was done in those days. Wheat and corn were the principal crops. Wheat was most essential as we had to have bread and there was usually a market for the surplus which was sold to new settlers for food and seed and it only took three days to deliver a load to Iowa City - sixty miles away.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- [ed. Note: this was probably written by Daniel Enright (1859-1934), son of Philip Enright and Mary Hagerty, and nephew of Ellen Enright Doyle. It was probably written between May 1921 (after Ellen Doyle died) but before 1934 (when the author died).]

Transcribed and contributed by Kathleen Doyle.

Also see the related family Hagerty.


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