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Irish Pioneers in Dallas

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the Holidays we celebrate this year in March. Many of the pioneers in Dallas County came from Ireland.  In case you do not remember the reason we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day every year is because St. Patrick as a missionary brought Christianity to Ireland in 432 A.D.  It was also claimed that he drove the snakes out of Ireland.
Ireland was more or less isolated from other events in Europe and the British Isles for many years.  In the 18th century, Ireland had been under English misrule for five centuries and the Irish lived in hovels with small plots of land subsisting mostly on potatoes.  They mostly worked as indentured servants for the English. Only a small number of Irish had arrived in America in colonial times, as they were not allowed by England to emigrate from the islands. Between 1790 and 1820 the Napoleon Wars stopped much of the immigration to America from Europe.
The first wave of 19th century immigration lasting from 1830-1870 included thousands of English, German, Scotch, French, Dutch, Swiss, and Welch as well as Irish settlers.  Of the two million immigrants who had come by 1860, roughly half were Irish Catholics. 
A mysterious blight had caused the potato harvest to fail for three years in Ireland in the 1840s and over 1 million people starved to death. When they were allowed to leave, over one million others sold their meager effects for the $20 or $30 dollars needed for passage across the Atlantic.  The crossing was an ordeal but anticipation of freedom and opportunity made the dangerous risk worth taking. 
In Dallas the naturalization records from 1872-1900 show that many Irish immigrants in Dallas were wage earners or laborers working for the railroads, or in hotels, saloons or restaurants.  Many worked in construction or as police officers or firemen. Following are a few of the people who were born in Ireland or had Irish ancestors and came to Texas early enough to be called Pioneers in Dallas.

Flynn, Capt. Thomas born in 1833 in Kerry County, Ireland. He fought in the Crimean War and was at the siege of Sebastopol in 1856. He came to America and spent two years in Virginia before arriving in Dallas in time to enlist in the Trezevant C. Hawpe Regiment. He was elected First Lieutenant, later Captain, of that regiment. After the war he came back to Dallas and became involved in the brick manufacturing business. In 1872-3 he was elected City Marshal. This was while Benjamin Long was the Mayor of Dallas.
Captain Flynn’s first wife was Mary Jimmie Coleman (1854-1874) who died after only a short time, while he was in office. With his second wife, Eliza Terry who he married in 1877, he had one son, James (1882-1899). Flynn and family are buried at the Pioneer Cemetery downtown.
Hartnett, Rev. Jeffrey Aloysius was born in Limerick County, Ireland. He was brought to America with his family in 1863. His father was involved in building railroads and Jeffrey learned about construction from him. Rev. Hartnett attended College at St. Mary’s in Kansas. Coming to Texas in 1871. He was the first priest ordained in and for the Dallas Diocese in 1891. Due to his construction experience, he helped build churches in Paris and Ennis. He was made pastor of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in 1892 that eventually had five thousand parishioners. While at St. Patrick’s a new stone building was completed in 1897. This was near the spot where Central Expressway and Thornton intersect now. He was appointed pastor of the Sacred Heart Cathedral and was involved in the construction of the new massive building. (Estimated to have cost $100,000) when it was completed in 1902. It was from there he walked to the “pest house” (which is what the Dallas City hospital was called in those days) to the small-pox quarantine section on a wintry February night to administer last rites. He contracted the dread disease and died several days later just as the epidemic was subsiding in the city.  He was described as a Christian folk hero of the time, a “martyr on duty” and inspired numerous poems and devotional stories.

Kivlen, Kearney J. was born in Sligo County, Ireland and came to Davenport, Iowa. He was a member of a group of eighty-six in the Fenian Excitement who went to Canada to fight for their native country. He came to Dallas in 1876 and formed the Dallas Cooperage Company.  They shipped barrels all over state. One of the partners in his company was Frank Cockrell, son of Sarah Horton and Alex Cockrell.  Kivlen was elected Alderman for the City of Dallas in 1892. In 1915 the family resided on N. Pearl and he was president of the company.

Blakeney, Joseph born in Kildare, Ireland in 1856. When he came to America the family lived in Boston, where he graduated from high school in    Boston in 1875 and came to Dallas the following year. In Dallas he established a bakery and successfully conducted this business for ten years. Blakeney then joined a manufacturing company in 1888 that his brother and father were involved in. He was elected City Assessor in 1891 after a “hot contest” which he won 3030 to 1900.

McDonough, Patrick was born in 1846 in Ireland. When just two years old he and his siblings were left in the care of their grandparents and the parents immigrated to America. After six years they had saved enough money to bring the grandparents and the children to Virginia, where they were working at that time.  The parents finally saved enough money to immigrate to Minnesota where they farmed for thirty-five years.  Minnesota had not achieved statehood at this time. After serving in the Civil War, Patrick worked several places before he arrived in Dallas in 1873. He married Elizabeth Jane Hustead in 1874. They rented land from the Penn family, which is now a part of the 1800 acre State Park in the Duncanville area. In 1881 he purchased 163 acres for his own farm and donated one acre for a school.  He and his wife had six children, one died as an infant. He was a deacon in the Baptist church.

Garrett, Alexander - Bishop of the Episcopal Church was born in Sligo, Ireland in 1832. His father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all rectors of the same parish in Ballymote, Ireland. Alexander was the youngest of fifteen children that the Rev. John Garrett and Eliza Fry had. Five of their sons became ministers of the gospel. Alexander went to school in Dublin and college at the University of Dublin, while educating himself for the ministry. After completing his studies he was ordained in 1856, He served three years in East Worldham, England and then spent the next ten years as a missionary on Vancouver’s Island on the northwest coast of America. He was rector of St. James Church in San Francisco – 1872 and became rector of the cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska. He was elected Bishop of Omaha for a short time before coming to Texas in 1874 as missionary bishop.  His territory was over 100,000 square miles. When he arrived there were only three churches – all small wooden buildings. He had married in 1854 and he and Lelitia had four children, only two survived.
While serving in the Northwest in his missionary days, the Garretts had a daughter that was kidnapped by the Indians.  Mrs. Garrett was never quite the same after that tragedy. They had a son in Dallas who did not follow his father’s tradition to be a clergyman.  Harry, called Dad Garrett, became an electrical genius and became a technical specialist for the Fire Department evolving most of the signal systems in the police as well as the fire department that were in use in our town for many years. 

Dunne, Edward J. – Bishop was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1849.  He was assigned to Dallas in 1892 from Chicago where he had served for many years. He labored for eight years to solicit thousand of dollars plus using the $35,000 he brought with him to Dallas to erect a beautiful Cathedral. The Sacred Heart Cathedral, estimated to have cost over  $100.000, was a “monument to his energy and zeal.”
Another of his great ambitions was the establishment of Holy Trinity College in Oak Lawn. This was the forerunner of Jesuit High School and University. His health was fragile and he died quite unexpectantly in 1910.

Galloway, Benjamin F., was born 1833 in Virginia.  His parents came to America from England and Ireland. His grandfather Marshall Galloway participated in the War of 1812. The maternal grandmother as a little girl was playing on a wharf in Ireland when she was induced by some sailors to board a ship that was docked nearby. Her mother was quoted as saying she was appalled to see the ship set sail and she could only see her daughter's little red dress as the ship sailed for America. The lady worked for years as an indentured servant and later married Marshall Galloway. They had twelve children. She died in 1870. The Galloway farm was in Mesquite on land near Town East.  As a matter of fact, Shepler’s was built near the site of the homeplace, which was moved down Highway 80 to a new site on the land that had previously been settled by the Coats family off East Fork Rd.

Turbeville, William of Irish descent. Recently in the news as the site of his burial was on property that is now under the Convention Center.  He died and was buried on the family’s land.  When Nancy Turbeville sold three acres of her land to the City of Dallas, Mayor Ervay’s name is on the deed, she reserved one-eighth of an acre as the gravesite of her husband.  It is very questionable as to how the City ever got title to this land with this exception on the deed. 

Reagan, Phillip Rev., was born in Massachusetts in 1865.  His parents had come to America from County Cork in 1852. Phillip received his education in Massachusetts and came to Texas where he was ordained. In 1892 he began his work at the Pro-cathedral of Sacred Heart.

Flint, James, volunteer for fire company – In June 1873 a call was made by the Dallas Herald, then a daily paper, for the citizens of Dallas to come together to organize a volunteer fire company as the city was not sufficiently large to support a company with salaries. James was one of these first fireman.

Michael Roe was an early immigrant who by 1875 was running the “Old Corner” boarding house and saloon near the intersection of the H&TC and the Texas and Pacific railroad lines, that had only been in Dallas a few years at that time. After Michael died his wife Mary and another family member John Cullen continued to run the boarding house/hotel. James Roe, the son of Michael and Mary, worked for the city as a driver for the Dallas Fire Department and in 1905 as Captain of Engine Company No. 7.  After a brief stint as proprietor of the Planters Hotel and Bar in the cotton gin district on East Elm Street, James returned to the city as a police sergeant at City Hall in 1915.

Thomas King came to America from Ireland and served as a deckhand on Mississippi riverboats before and after his time as a Union soldier  – and  prisoner of war. He married Irish native Mary Cone and they were in Dallas by 1883. Thomas established a roofing business and was elected president of the Irish American Social Club. The Club was one of the many religious and fraternal organizations that Catholics established in Dallas.  Another organization was the Catholic Knights of America, founded by 15 ”friendly sons and daughters of St. Patrick” which provided aid and housing assistance for needy families.  


Fleming, John G. – Irish émigré who had been drafted into the Union Army during the Civil War read in a journal devoted to the paper manufacturing industry about a plant that was for sale in Oak Cliff. In 1893, Fleming moved to Dallas, contacted J.B. Adoue, a North Texas Banker, borrowed $10,000.00 from the bank and became the owner of the Texas Paper Mill. His entire family was involved in this successful company in Oak Cliff for many years. This is said to be the first manufacturing business in Oak Cliff.

Compiled by Frances James




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