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Family of Hugh Hanlon

Hugh Hanlon c. 1912
Hugh Hanlon, 1846 - 1933


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O'Hanlon boar facing right Hugh Hanlon, 1846 - 1933 O'Hanlon boar facing left

County Donegal, Ireland to Pittsburgh, PA, USA



Hugh Hanlon was born in County Donegal, Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine. Since there were no birth records kept at the time, we are only sure of his birthday, not the year - but it was probably 1846 or 1847. He was the youngest of five children born to William and Mary Hanlon and grew up on the family farm with his brothers and sisters.

Children of William and Mary Hanlon:

In 1860 Hugh's eldest sister, Mrs. Ann (Hanlon) Long of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, sent him money to pay his passage to the US. Aged 14 he made his way to Liverpool and had raised enough money by March 1863 to sail from there aboard the Cultivator of New York, arriving in New York on 9 May 1863. The passenger list shows him at line 295 as Hugh Hanlon, age 16, occupation Labourer, last address Donegal, destination Pennsylvania. (See Cultivator's passenger list, below - click for larger image.)


1863 Passenger List of the Cultivator of New York
Cultivator of New York
1863 Passenger List

In a letter to the pension office in 1917 Hugh stated that "none of my family came with me, I sailed alone". There were, however, three more Hanlons from Donegal listed on the same page, relationship unknown. Lines 287, 298 and 299 show Charles Hanlon (age 20, labourer), William Hanlon (age 45, Farmer) and Pat Hanlon (child, age 6). All were going to Pennsylvania.


Having arrived in the midst of the Civil War, Hugh stayed only a few months with his sister Ann at her home on Old Walnut Street (later renamed 13th street). He enlisted as a Union soldier to fight with the 4th Pennsylvania Cavalry and was mustered into company A on 19 Feb 1864. He went on to fight in company B under Captain James Grant in the Appomattox Campaign.


Hugh's military papers describe him as:

Age: 18 yrs
Height: 5 ft 8 ins
Complexion: Fair
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Light
Born: Ireland
Occupation: Moulder

Hugh Hanlon's Civil War pension application


Having already received a sabor wound to the head, Hugh's military career ended when he was seriously wounded on 31 Mar 1865. In his own words, he received:

"a Gunshot wound from a minnie ball, entering below the knee of the right leg, passing through & coming out on the left side of the leg at the battle of Dinwiddie Court House, near the South Side Rail Road, March 31st of 65."

He was sent to Judiciary Square Hospital, Washington (D.C.) where he remained for ten weeks before being discharged on Surgeon's Certificate on 7 Jun 1865, recorded as "Hugh Handlon".

On his return to Pittsburgh, Hugh met a locally born girl of Irish parentage, Catherine Cunningham. They were married on 24 Jun 1869 in St. Patrick's Church, Pittsburgh. A year later, on 9 Aug 1870, Hugh (22) and Kate (18) appear together in the 1870 census with a 12 year old girl, Sarah Cunningham, possibly a younger sister or cousin listed as "domestic servant". This was presumably to help Kate as she had just given birth to their first child, William, a week earlier. Baby William's whereabouts are a mystery; one can only presume that he happened to be with Kate's family at the time the census taker visited. The census also shows that Hugh could read but not write.

1870 census: Hugh and Kate Hanlon



By the 1880 census (right), Hugh and Catherine were living on Sheridan Street in Pittsburgh, ward no. 12. They are listed as Hugh Hanlon (age 33, occupation boiler) and Catherine (28, keeping house) with four children: William (10), Thomas W. (8), Mary (5) and Andrew (4).



1880 census: Hugh Hanlon and family


Hugh and Catherine had a total of 11 children, (See right), but half of these died young: Thomas, Mary, Edward, Sally and Margaret are known to have died before 1 Jun 1898.

Mary's death was particularly tragic. Drowned in her early twenties, she left behind her young husband (John Glenn?) and a baby daughter, Margaret. Margaret was raised by her grandparents, Hugh and Catherine.



Children of Hugh Hanlon
and Catharine Cunningham:
  • William J., born 1 Aug 1870
  • Thomas, born 22 Mar 1872
  • Mary, born 17 Sep 1874
  • Andrew, born 3 Mar 1876
  • Edward, born 14 Apr 1878
  • Sally, born 2 May 1880
  • Daniel, born 2 Oct 1883
  • Margaret, born 15 Apr 1885
  • Hugh Jr., born 19 Oct 1887
  • James S., born 7 May 1892
    - see below
  • Catherine, born 15 Jul 1894


When Hugh's granddaughter Margaret got married in 1910, her new husband Stephen Coll moved in with them. Margaret was 18 and Stephen 20. See photo (right) of old Hugh Hanlon with the young couple and newborn baby taken around 1912. The lady standing is Bridget Hanlon, wife of Hugh's nephew Patrick.



Hugh Hanlon and family c. 1912

As the young couple's family grew and Hugh became more elderly they were no longer able to care for him, and by 1917 Hugh was a resident in the "National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers" in Jefferson Township, Montgomery County, Ohio. The 1920 census shows him as Hugh Hanlon, 72 years old, inmate (Enumeration District 222, page 15A).

In 1927 Hugh returned to his native Mullaghduff to spend the Summer with his brother Andrew in County Donegal, Ireland. Andrew's grandchildren remember him as a very old man with a handlebar moustache and a fondness for whisky on pension day! (This was his Civil War soldier's pension from the United States.)

Hugh sailed back on the steam ship TSS Cameronia from Londonderry to New York, arriving back on 18th September 1927.

T.S.S. Cameronia


Hugh's immigration papers on arrival at the Port of New York (page 99, line 7) show him as an 82 year old widower, naturalised as a US citizen by the Court of Common Pleas, City of Pittsburgh on 2nd November 1868. He gave his adderss in the US as 630 Edmund Street, Pittsburgh. (Click on image to see larger image of full page)

S.S. Cameronia passenger list with Hugh Hanlon arriving 18 Sep 1927


On his return to Pittsburgh Hugh moved back with his granddaughter, Margaret (Glenn) Coll and family. In the 1930 census Hugh is recorded living with Stephen and Margaret Coll at 630 Edmond Street, Pittsburgh:

1930 Census: Hugh Hanlon with Stephen and Margaret Coll

Hugh was still living with Margaret and Stephen at their new address, 3466 Pennsylvania Avenue, Pittsburgh at the time of his death on 9 Sep 1933. He was buried on 12 Sep 1933 in the Cavalry Cemetery, Pittsburgh with an official military burial flag.

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O'Hanlon boar facing right James Stephen Hanlon, b. 1892 O'Hanlon boar facing left

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA


Hugh Hanlon's youngest son James Stephen was better known as Stephen since his cousin James Hanlon of the same age lived nearby. (James Hanlon was the son of Patrick Hanlon of Pittsburgh, son of Hugh's older brother, Andy Mor of Donegal.) Stephen was called up for service in the draft for the First World War.

World War I Draft Card

James Stephen Hanlon
Age 25, b. 7 May 1892 in US
Occupation: Laborer
Residence: 604 Bridon St., Pittsburgh
Description: Tall, slender, blue eyes, light hair

We believe Stephen returned to Pittsburgh following the war but have no record of where he lived or his descendants.

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