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The Cavanaugh Family Crest
Courtesy of Ernest Hatton, Jr.


The material in this section is based on information provided by Bart Cavanaugh, the great-grandson of Thomas Cavanaugh and Mary Jordan. Bart and his wife Reggie live in Horseheads, New York, but they and other family members still own land on Irish Ridge in Cherry Township, Sullivan County where Bartís grandparents and great-grandparents were prominent farmers and craftsmen in the thriving 19th century Irish Catholic community. Bart can be reached directly at Bart Cavanaugh.

Note: You may also find of interest the link to the Wikipedia history of tintype photography in the last section about the identity of Henry Cook..

Irish Ridge is now a very sparsely settled hilly rural area southwest of Dushore off Route 87. The hills where the Irish farmers lived out their lives lay north of the old John Gross Hotel and the old mill that stood on Loyalsock Creek in the mid-19th century. It was just to the northwest of Ringer Hill where the Sweeneys and Jordans raised their families, and not far from where Peter McDonald farmed on what today is Jacks Road.


If you take a look at the 1850 federal Census for Cherry Township (, the reason the area is called Irish Ridge would be obvious. It would also be obvious why these families became so closely entwined by profession, marriage and religion. For example, Michael Gallagher and his wife Sarah (Dougherty) Gallagher are listed only three residences below Michael and Catherine Sweeney. They are also just above James Wright and his wife Bridget (Dougherty) Wright. Of course, Sarah and Bridget are sisters, the former five years older than the latter. The second son of the Sweeneys, Martin Sweeney (see Settlers Page II) will marry Julia, the daughter of the Wrights. And Bridget, daughter of the Gallaghers, will marry Henry Cook, whose daughter Sarah Cook will marry Martin, the son of Thomas Cavanaugh. In turn, Mary Jordan, the wife of Thomas Cavanaugh, has a younger sister named Margaret, who in turn will marry Owen, the oldest son of the Sweeneys (see Settlers Page I). It is a virtually endless woven pattern of marriage, culture, shared hardships and pleasures, a common religion, and a common heritage of departure from a homeland overcome by Famine and oppression. This mass mingling continued in death as well as life. The cemetery at St. Basilís in Dushore is a tapestry of Irish life in Sullivan County in the 19th century. For example, the cemetery contains the three tombstones of Michael, Catherine and Patrick Sweeney in its old section. Five graves away on the same row lies Ellen (Gallagher) McGee. In the row in front of this one lies Catherine (Gallagher) Walsh. Both were daughters of Michael Gallagher and Sarah (Dougherty) Gallagher.

Let us start with what we know about Thomas Cavanaugh. He was born in County Mayo Ireland in 1832 and left when he was around 20 years old (1852-1853).

The part or area of Ireland that he left was "Kahalo." Bart has not yet been able to determine exactly where this may have been on a map. It may be a corruption or mis-spelling of Killala for the Killala Bay region that separates County Sligo from Mayo and where many of the Irish Ridge families originated. More likely, it refers to Kahal Parish in County Mayo.

According to Bart, "He came in through Canada, I suspect Montreal because I've noticed a lot of Irish families from Mayo and Sligo came through Montreal. He worked on the Erie Canal. I'm not sure how he ended up in Sullivan County. He worked and saved up enough money to buy a farm on Irish Ridge. I don't know what year Thomas and Mary Jordan were married, but their oldest child was born in 1857. Mary Jordan was only 18 so I would guess 1856."

Thomas was a farmer all his life after marrying; he died on Jan. 29, 1900 at the age of 67 years. His father may have been a judge in Ireland; we don't have a name yet. Bartís family also thinks he came to America with a brother who ended up near Allentown, Pa. The family lost track of the brother.

Mary (Jordan) Cavanaugh was born September 21, 1838 in the town of Purnilla, County Sligo and died on April 1, 1919 at age 80 on the family farm on Irish Ridge, then being run by her son Patrick. The oldest child of Patrick Jordan and Margaret Walsh, she emigrated with her parents sometime between 1840 and 1844 when Patrick filed his intent to become a citizen in LaPorte.

A picture of the common gravestone of Thomas and Mary can be seen in the Churches and Cemeteries section of this Page under Cemeteries. They are both buried at St. Basilís in Dushore.

The parents of Margaret Walsh also emigrated, believe it or not. Patrick Jordan, Maryís father, lost a leg clearing stumps with dynamite and became a teacher in the area as well as a farmer.

Maryís brother Thomas Jordan was a carpenter who did all the carpentry work for the St. John Neuman shrine at Sugar Ridge near Overton, where many of the Frawley, Byron and Leahy families are buried.

Thomas and Mary (Jordan) Cavanaugh had 11 children

Margaret - born in 1857. Margaret was born with a brain injury she obtained during childbirth. She is in the 1900 census at 42 years old but doesnít appear in 1910. Margaret never married. She died March 5, 1925.

Mary - born Dec. 7, 1858. She was the wife of W.G. Hollister. She is buried in Mt. Carmel, Pa.

Catherine - born May 5, 1861. She was the wife of James F. Murray. She is buried in Williamsport , Pa.

James Ė possible birth date of Dec. 4, 1863. James never married and he lived on the family farm most of his life. He died July7, 1934.

Anna - born on Aug 24, 1866. She became a nun and changed her name to Sister Sebastian. She entered the Sisters of Mercy in New York City and volunteered to go to Kansas City She died there about 1890 on All Saints Day from a high fever. She is buried in the Kansas City area. Her niece, Sister Mary Alicia, daughter of Patrick Cavanaugh, considered Sister Sebastian to be the familyís own personal saint.

Martin Francis - Martin was Bartís grandfather. He was born May 10, 1869. He was a farmer in Cherry Township for many years. He married Sarah Cook around 1898. He moved to Elmira NY around 1922. He died on Aug 20, 1939 and is buried in St. Peter & Paul cemetery in Elmira.

Agnes Ė was born September 29, 1871 and died October 1, 1875.

Bridget - born Dec. 10, 1873. Called "Aunt Bea", she married Michael F. Rouss, born in 1875, in April 1907 and lived in Waverly, NY. They were the parents of: Joseph, Mary, Gert, Catherine and Anna Rouss. Joe and Mary, born in 1909, were twins. Anna became a nun and took the name "Sister Pascal". Bart believes that Bridget is buried in Waverly.

Thomas Jerome- born Feb. 18, 1876. He was married on Nov. 25, 1914 to Mary Lavelle. He lived in LaPorte, south of Dushore, and ran a store; he also was a postmaster. He died in 1938 and is buried in St. Basilís cemetery in Dushore. His wife mary died in 1946. They were the parents of Edgar Cavanaugh, uncle of Bart Cavanaugh; John Cavanaugh, father of Mary C. Cavanaugh who contributes many of the pictures to this site; and Donald "Father Theodore" Cavanaugh, who became a priest. Mary Lavelle, wife of Thomas Jerome, was the daughter of John Lavelle and Margaret Collins (see her picture below). John and Margaret both lived in Cherry, PA at the time of their marriage in November, 1878.

Patrick H. - born on Oct 6, 1878 and married Agnes Hassen (1889-1949) on June 8, 1909. He ended up taking over his father's farm on Irish Ridge. There, his mother lived with him until she died in 1919. He died March 8, 1939 at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA. Both Patrick and Agnes are buried in St. Basilís cemetery in Dushore. Agnes was the daughter of John Hassen, Sr. and Sarah (Gallagher) Hassen. Sarah was the sister of Bridget (Gallagher) Cook and both were the daughters of Michael and Sarah (Dougherty) Gallagher, the original emigrants. Sarah Gallagher died young and her daughter Agnes was raised for several years by Henry and Bridget (Gallagher) Cook. She appears in the 1900 federal census as a thirteen-year old living with Henry and Bridget. Sister Mary Alicia, mentioned above, was a daughter of Patrick and Agnes. In 2006, Alicia was reported by her great-nephew, Bart Cavanaugh, as being alive and well. Here is a picture of Sister Alicia on the occasion of her profession of first vows, probably in the 1950s:

Sister Mary Alicia
Daughter of Patrick and Agnes (Hassen) Cavanaugh
Profession of Vows
Probably Taken in the 1950s
Courtesy of Bettyann Sick Goodyear

John M. - born Oct. 31, 1880. John never married; he went to work in Detroit at a Ford Motor Company plant. Later, returning to Dushore, he worked with his brother Pat on the family farm. In 1909, he moved temporarily to Potter County, PA to work for a lumber compnay there, and was living there in Galeton in 1914 when he served as best man for the wedding of his brother Thomas Jerome and Mary Lavelle. In fact, John Lavelle, Mary's father, died in Potter county in February 1909 and we could speculate that John Cavanaugh went there to take his place. John Cavanaugh died in 1964 and is buried at St. Basilís as well.

Sister Sebastian, formerly Anna Cavanaugh (1866-1890), the 'Saint' of the Cavanaughs who died on mission work in Kansas City.


Aunt Bea Cavanaugh, Wife of Michael F. Rouss.
Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, her great-niece.


Michael and Bridget "Aunt Bea" Cavanaugh Rouss with their twin children Joe and Mary about 1909-1910. Mary is on Bridget's lap; Joe, on Michael's lap.
Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, Bridget's great-niece.


Thomas Jerome "Tom"Cavanaugh
Taken before he lost his arm in a train accident in April 1915. The man on the left is Francis Devanney. Other parties unknown.

Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, his grand-daughter.


Margaret Collins Lavelle, wife of John Lavelle and mother of Mary Lavelle who married Thomas Jerome Cavanaugh. Margaret is buried with two infant children at St. Basil's Cemetery in Dushore, PA. They are Michael (14 months) and Alice (6 months).
Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, her great-grand-daughter.
Date of picture is unknown.


Catherine Rouss and John E. Cavanaugh, First Cousins
Catherine was the daughter of Bea Cavanaugh Rouss and Michael Rouss, and John was the son of Mary Lavelle Cavanaugh and Thomas Jerome Cavanaugh.
Taken in Laporte, PA right before John left for WW II.

Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, daughter of John Cavanaugh.


Anna Rouss (Sister Pascal)
Anna was also the daughter of Bea Cavanaugh Rouss and Michael Rouss
Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, daughter of John Cavanaugh.
Taken in the 1940's.


Don Cavanaugh and Catherine Couklin
Don was the son of Thomas Jerome and Mary Lavelle Cavanaugh; the Couklins were related to the Lavelles in some fashion.
Later, Don became a priest and was known as Father Theodore.

Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, daughter of John Cavanaugh.
Taken in Laporte, PA in the 1920's.


Don Couklin, Mary Couklin. Alice and Mary Smith (sisters), Mary Lavelle Cavanaugh and son Edgar
Don and Mary Couklin were siblings. Edgar was the son of Thomas Jerome and Mary Lavelle Cavanaugh.
Mary Smith was the widow of Patrick J. Collins, whose tragic story we relate below. You can see an earlier picture of her sister Alice in the Picture Bin of the Image Gallery on this Web page.
The Couklins were related to the Lavelle family but we do not know how at this time.

Picture contributed by Mary C. Cavanaugh, daughter of John Cavanaugh.
Taken in Laporte, PA in the late 1920's.



Martin Cavanaugh and Sarah (Cook) Cavanaugh had 8 children.

Joseph Thomas Cavanaugh, although he was actually called "Thomas Joseph", was Bartís father. He was born May 25, 1900 in Dushore, Pa. He worked on his father's farm until the family moved to Elmira around 1922. He married Helen Ghent on July 15, 1947.

Their children are Bridget, Kathleen and Bartholomew. Thomas Joseph died on July 5, 1962 and he is buried next to his father and mother in St. Peter & Paul's Cemetery in Elmira, NY.







Michael Jerome ("Jerry")

Homestead of Thomas and Mary Cavanaugh on Irish Ridge. The house sat at the top of Rock Run Road in the Cherry area. The building to the right of the main house is an old summer kitchen where cooking was done to keep the house cool in the summer. Out back was a large cow barn and also a horse barn. Mary lived here until her death in 1919 and Patrick, her son, continued to farm here after her death



The Farmstead of Martin Cavanaugh and Sarah (Cook) Cavanaugh on Gainer Hill Road.. They bought the 98-acre farm in 1903 and raised a family there. In 1996, the old building was taken down, but Cavanaughs still own the land on which this farm home stood.


1912: The family of Martin Francis Cavanaugh and his wife Sarah (Cook). The children are Raymond at the left, Joseph Thomas("Thomas Joseph") behind him, Ann on Grandfather Martin's lap, Eugene in the middle in the back, Martin in front, then Grandmother Sarah, Mary in front and Harry in back. At this time, Michael Jerome ("Jerry') born in January 1913 is not yet born and therefore not in the picture.


Sarah Cook was the daughter of Henry Cook (born July 4, 1828, probably in the Philadelphia area) and Bridget Gallagher. Henry is believed to have come from Philadelphia to a farm in Forks some time before his marriage to Bridget. Henry and Bridget married in 1864. He died in 1910. Henry and Bridget had the following children:

Michael, born March 3, 1865

Henry B., born October 11, 1869, married Catherine Foley

John P., born August 9, 1877, married Mary McDonald

Johannah ("Hannah"), born January 2, 1867,married Henry Middendorf

Sarah, born September 7, 1871, died October 20, 1933, married Martin Cavanaugh

Bridget, born July 7, 1873 in Forks Township, married John Collins, born 1872 in Cherry (per George Strebyís History of Sullivan County). John was the son of John Collins (1830-1922), and may have been a nephew of Margaret Collins Lavelle.

Their children were:

Marcella, born between 1892 and 1898
Marie, born March 1898
Catherine, born 1901
Bridgetta, born 1903
Veronica, born 1905
Bernard, born 1907
Theresa, born 1907
John, born 1911
Joseph, born 1913

Note: The preceding list was contributed by Bart Cavanaugh via Don Collins in April 2001, with the exception of Marcella who is listed along with Marie and Catherine in the 1903 Streby's History.

James, born 1875
Joseph, born June 24, 1879, died October 19, 1950

There is a historical tragedy in the Collins family into which Bridget Cook married, as is so often the case with the men who worked the forests, railroads and mines of Sullivan County one hundred years ago. Patrick J. Collins, the brother of John Collins (husband of Bridget Cook), worked in the Murray mines and suffered a broken back in a rock fall on March 6, 1909. He died three years later at his home in Lopez on March 20, 1912 from his injuries. The accident and its tragic outcome resemble so starkly the death of Steven Cummings, husband of Ellen "Nell" Sweeney (Bob Sweeney's great-aunt) in a fall while working as a bridge builder, as well as the death of Owen Sweeney's son, Martin P. Sweeney, in 1918 at Bernice when he was struck at night by a coal train. We can only imagine how dangerous were the lives of our laboring ancestors. Here is a picture of the funeral card for Patrick Collins (April 18, 1875-March 20, 1912). It was printed in Detroit, Michigan. Patrick was married to Mary Smith, who ran a grocery store and subsequently married William Lawson.

The Funeral Card of Patrick J. Collins, March 20, 1912


Henry Cook and an Unsolved Historical Mystery

There is an added element of mystery to the history of the Cook ancestors of Bart and his siblings. At the end of this Cavanaugh history is a reproduction of an old tintype picture of "Henry Cook". He is seated beside an unknown man who is believed, however, to be John Sweeney, the son of Owen And Margaret (Jordan) Sweeney. This identification is based on comparison to a separate picture (which you can see in the Picture Bin in the Image Gallery on this Page) of John Sweeney. The Picture Bin also contains a different picture of Henry Cook taken with another man named Henry Fill. The historical problem is this: "Which Henry Cook is this man? Is it Bartís great-grandfather born in 1831 or Bartís great uncle born in 1869? Or perhaps an unrelated Cook altogether?" Bart has believed for years that this man was his great-grandfather. Part of this belief is based on family anecdote. However, there are other factors. Letís have Bart Cavanaugh speak for himself:

"About my unknown man picture, I stopped at a photograph store in Elmira which is owned by a man who is in his 70's. I asked him to look at the tintype picture and tell me when he thought it was taken. He said it should be between 1860 and 1875, and that glass was used after tin, then photopaper started around 1890. He told me to go to the Library and try to look up the history. Tintype started in the mid-1850's and its peak years were 1860 to 1863. The last production made from tin film was in 1867 but tin was used in various other forms up to the 1930s. Glass plateís peak years were 1860 to 1890. That is what they were using at the well-known Och and Hays studio in Towanda where many Sullivan County people went for marriage and other pictures. If we could fine out the age of Henry Fill, it would help to figure out the true age of the pictures and therefore which Henry Cook we have.. I have two other tintype pictures which have unknown men in them. If you look at the corners of some tintype you find they are cut at a sharp angle. Some of the pictures in the Sullivan County Web Page Image Gallery show this trademark. I mention those of Henry Fill and John Sweeney together, and Henry Fill by himself. The presence of this cut angle may also help us with the date. I also have a photograph of my grandmother Sarah (Cook) Cavanaugh with what looks like two of her sisters and a brother from what must be around the mid- 1890's. So, I think the ĎHenry Cookí pictures are too old for Henry B. Cook, my grandmotherís brother. We need to find Henry Fill."

An alternative perspective would go like this. Henry Cook was born on July 4, 1831. In these pictures, "Henry Cook" appears to be somewhere around 30 to 40 years old at the most. If Owenís son John Sweeney, who was born on Nov. 28, 1878, is the other man, then the older Henry Cook would have to be at least 65 years old. There is yet another reason for believing that this picture is unlikely to have been one of a man born in 1831. That is because the technology for pictures like these ones were really created just about the time of the Civil War, not much before then. You can see the first flowering of this type of photography in Matthew Brady's famous Civil War Pictures. The earliest of the Picture Bin group that can be verifiably dated is 1868. So, there is strong circumstantial evidence that we are looking at Henry B. Cook, the son and Grandmother Sarah Cook's brother. Furthermore, John Sweeney could only have been a contemporary of Henry B. Cook, the younger man.

The mystery could easily be solved by learning the identity and birth date of Henry Fill.




Who is Conrad Cook?

"There is a Conrad Cook and children in the Sullivan County census about the same time as Henry Cook and his children. No one has so far been able to put the two families together. Henry Cook must have had family in the United States country because he was born in New York State. We do not know where. My uncle who died in 1974 told his daughter that Henry would raise horses and take them to Philadelphia to sell. Supposedly, one time after he had sold horses, Henry and his brother were robbed and his brother was killed during this robbery. We have not found any direct confirmation for this story. I have been wondering if Henry might have come to Sullivan County to purchase horses to take back to Philadelphia before settling in Sullivan County later."

--Bart Cavanaugh e-mail on November 2, 1999


Mysterious Picture of Henry Cook. The man to the left may be John Sweeney, son of Owen Sweeney. If so, this is probably Henry B. Cook born in 1869 as opposed to his father, Henry Cook, born in 1831.