Boyhood Friends from Donegal

The information on this page was compiled by John D McLaughlin and forms part of the Donegal Genealogy Resources Website

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Also see McLaughlin - McMenimen Documentation


  Dougherty, Iowa is a little farming town in north central Iowa a little south of Mason City.   Today it's in the middle of the Iowa plain well off from the main highways.  If you didn't know it was there you would never find it   More than anything else it resembles an old western ghost town with a few blocks of shabby buildings now mostly vacant and surrounded by a small residential district.   On the edge of town is a Catholic school, now shuttered,  St;. Patrick's Catholic church and the cemetery.  Surrounding Dougherty is mile after mile of large farms and corn fields.

  A sign painted during their recent centennial celebration of Dougherty in 2000 welcomes the infrequent visitor to "Little Ireland," a reference to the mostly Irish farmers who settled in Dougherty beginning with Dan Dougherty, who then lived in Philadelphia, PA. but had travelled to Iowa in 1856 to file on public land recently opened for settlement by the U.S. land office.

  Dan Dougherty was born in Cloncarney, Conwal parish, Donegal, in 1829, the son of Hugh Dougherty and Mary (Malloy) Dougherty.   In 1848 he married Mary Gallagher, the daughter of Patrick and Mary Gallagher of Trenta, Conwal parish,  and in 1851 immigrated to the U.S., landing in Philadelphia, where he worked in an iron foundry.  A few years later he moved to nearby Montomery Co., to Norristown, where he again worked in an iron foundry.  In 1856 he moved briefly to Decorah, Iowa, filed on a large tract of land at the U.S. land office in that city and then returned to Norristown.  In 1858 he moved west to Iowa for good, farming for a time in Clayton County before finally settling on his own land in Cerro Gordo County in 1863.   When the railroad came through in 1900 the newly established town was named Dougherty in his honor.
  Dan Dougherty died in 1911 and is buried in the small but well-kept cemetery behind St. Patrick's church in Dougherty, Iowa.  His tombstone reads: "Born in Clooncarney, Co. Donegal, Ireland."   Clooncarney is an older, variant spelling of Cloncarney (the modern form of the townland name). 


 ()Note: for info on Dan's brother James, see the Townland Notes for the 1901 Cloncarney census)


  Across the street from the Dan Dougherty homestead is the farm of Daniel McLaughlin, another Irish immigrant, whose tombstone in St. Patrick's Cemetery states he was "born in Co. Donegal."   Daniel McLaughlin took a twisting path to Dougherty, which included a stay in Norristown, PA.,  a removal to Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin where his brother John lived on a farm in Friendship township, a tour of duty during the Civil war, a brief stint as the owner of a grocery store in Fond du Lac, and finally a settlement in Dougherty, Iowa between 1876 and 1880..   He caught pneumonia in the Civil War in his capacity as a wagoneer, exposed to inclement weather, as he states in his application for a military invalid pension in later life.  His neighbor Dan Dougherty filed an affidavit on his behalf in this pension records.


29 Aug. 1883
State of Iowa
Floyd County


This is to testify that I have known Daniel McLaughlin from boyhood until the year 1858 and that he did work for me several years at the Iron Furnace and that he was at all times considered an able-bodied man while he worked for me and always considered to be a very healthy man never complained of any disease until I met him after he came home from the U.S. Service he was complaining then of lung disease. I have been called to go see him when it was thought by me and all present that he could not live one hour. I consider him a broken down man and from all I know of him he contracted his disease or diseases in the U.S. Service.
I further say that I am not interested in any manner in this matter further than when called upon to make a true statement.


signed: D. Dougherty
Subscribed and Sworn to by D. Dougherty
before me this 29th day of Aug. 1883


  Daniel McLaughlin was born in the townland of Rathdonnell, Kilmacrenan parish, Donegal in about 1832.  Although in different parishes, Rathdonnell and Cloncarney are quite close to each other.  They probably attended the same school in Donegal which is how they came to know each other "from boyhood."


   Many of the other Irish settlers in Dougherty came from Co. Donegal, including Neil Boyle, whose tombstone states he was born in Dungloe, Co. Donegal, in 1847; Daniel Coyle, in 1824; Nicholas Cunningham, 1834; Charles McConlogue, 1822; Dan McDonnell, 1840; Daniel McGee, 1844; John McMenimen, Meenadoan, 1828;  Other names in St. Patrick's Cemetery, although Donegal is not listed as their homeland, are certainly common Donegal names, including James Breslin, 1862;  Niece Campbell, 1847, who is known to have made a trip home to Donegal late in life to visit relatives and friends;  Bernard Cassidy, 1856; Patrick Gallagher, 1856; James Hogan, 1855; Charles McKigney, born 1826 in nearby Derry Co.;  Bridget McCarron, 1861, wife of Niece Campbell; Cornelius O'Donnell, 1857; Dan O'Donnell, 1840; and Mary Sweeney, wife of D., ca. 1844.


  How many of these Irish settlers from Donegal may have known Dan Dougherty "from boyhood," as did his neighbor, Daniel McLaughlin, is unknown.  The tombstones in St. Patrick's Cemetery also record birthplaces in other parts of Ireland, from Tyrone to Fermanagh to Co. Cavan.  There were also several later migrations of Irish settlers to Dougherty, from Wisconsin and the mining country of Pennsylvania.  One family we know was also connected to the Dan Dougherty family was Nicholas Cunningham, whose wife Fanny was a niece of Dan Dougherty's wife, Mary Gallagher.  They came to Dougherty from the Pennsylvania mining country and may have influenced others to settle in Dougherty as well.


John D. McLaughlin




Neice Campbell was the son of Patrick Campbell, Craghy, Templecrone

Bridget McCarron was the granddaughter of Bryan McCarron, Oughtmeen, Templecrone



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