The Anthony McNelis Family

A Family History

This family originated in Kilcar, County Donegal. Most of the family moved to the coal fields of east central Pennsylvania, first to Centralia and later to nearby places like Ashland, Mt. Carmel, Shenandoah, and Mahanoy City. James McNelis went to Greeley County, Nebraska.

For more about other McNelis families, please go to mcnelis.htm

For more about Kilcar, please go to kilcar.htm

Anthony McNelis b. ?-___-1815, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation Coal Miner, m. in Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Catherine Meehan, b. 1830, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, (daughter of James Meehan and Margaret Dunleavy ) d. New York. Anthony died ?-___-1870, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania. The baptismal records for the family in Ireland are in St. Cartha's Church in Kilcar. The family, except James, emigrated from Largymore, a townland about half way between Killybegs and Kilcar, in about 1863. They first went to New York, then New Jersey, and finally to Centralia, Pennsylvania. The latter 3 boys were born in the United States. When the family emigrated, James stayed in Ireland in the care of his maternal grandparents, James Meehan and Margaret Dunleavy. The farm known as the McNelis farm (see James McNelis below) was listed as belonging to James Meehan in the General Valuation records. Since Anthony McNelis's address was listed as Largymore for his oldest son Michael's baptism and Shalwy for his son John's, either the lease was passed to his father-in-law when he emigrated, or his son Michael was born at his wife's mother's house and he lived in Shalwy, or he lived with his in-laws. I am fairly certain that it was the latter. At this time an Edward McNelis and a John Meehan had farms in Shalwy, so the record supports any of the possibilities. Since Edward's son Hugh was the sponsor of Michael, I believe Edward to be Anthony's father. As a matter of interest, the General Valuation records mention 27 other McNelises in the parish of Kilcar, most north and west of the town of Kilcar. The family went to Centralia because Catherine Meehan's sister, Susan Meehan Carr, and her husband Patrick Carr, had preceded them there. Perhaps Anthony's brothers Patrick, Michael, and James also went to Centralia. In any case, parish records at St. Ignatius show a Patrick (husband of Anna Johnson). a Michael McNelis (husband of Margaret Kirwan), and a James McNelis (husband of Grace Burns) there at that time. Anthony died in 1870 or 1871 and Catherine remarried to Richard Joyce on 10-26-1871. They had a daughter Margaret, b. 3-2-1873, who married Joseph Standish in New York City on 6-16- 1909. Maggie and Joseph Standish had 3 children. Richard Joyce died before 1880, leaving Catherine a widow for the second time in 10 years. In the 1870 Census, Anthony's employment was picking slate, and Michael and John were working at the breaker. At the time John was 12. By 1880, Edward, Thomas, and Anthony Jr. were working at the breaker, Anthony by then being 11. Catherine (or Kathleen) had at least one sister, Susan Meehan, who married Patrick Carr, also from Kilcar, and very likely had a sister Mary, who was married to Hugh McNelis, who in turn was probably Anthony's brother. She also likely had a brother John, and perhaps a sister Margaret who were the god parents of their son John. Susan and Patrick Carr had preceded the McNelis family to Centralia. Patrick Carr died shortly before Anthony McNelis and the two families were living together in 1870. Susan Meehan remained in Centralia until her death in 1913. Anthony died in 1870 or 1871 and Catherine remarried to Richard Joyce on 10-26-1871. They had a daughter Margaret. Richard Joyce died before 1880, leaving her a widow for the second time in 10 years. Catherine Meehan probably died in New York.

I. Michael A. McNelis A. b. ?-Sep-1853, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 23-Sep-1853, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, occupation Coal Miner, m. (1) 24-Dec-1882, in Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bridget Connors, m. (2) in Mahanoy City, PA, Anne Stosia Fogarty, (daughter of John Fogarty). Michael died ?-___-1922, Philadelphia, PA. Mike's baptismal sponsors were Susan Meehan, his mother's sister, and Hugh McNelis, his father's brother. He came to the United States as a boy with his parents. Always adventurous, he apparently gave his parents some anxious moments climbing on the rigging during the trip over. He started as a coal miner and after the death of his first wife, went to Washington Territory hunting for gold. He became a citizen in 1887 while still in Washington Territory. Not finding any gold, he returned to Pennsylvania, where he remarried and worked in the mines in Mahanoy City, becoming a foreman. He also was a fireman in Mahanoy City PA. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1904 where he worked building the Market Street Subway. He married A. - Bridget Connors (d. 1883) on 12-24-1882 in Centralia, and subsequently was married to B. - Anne Stosia Fogarty (b. 1851, daughter of John Fogarty from Kilkenny County, Ireland) of Mahanoy City. Like his brother Tony, Mike married a school teacher who helped him improve his skills adequately to get into positions of responsibility in the mines. He was also active in the labor movement, both in Washington and in Pennsylvania. This activity was not particularly safe in those days. The physical danger was part of the reason the family moved to Philadelphia. More importantly, their son John had completed all of the education then available in Mahanoy City, which was eighth grade, and Anne didn't want him to follow his father into the mines. Mike died of miner's lung.

  1. Anthony McNelis b. 30-Jul-1883, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania.
  2. John F. McNelis b. ?-Jun-1890, Mahanoy City, PA, occupation banker, m. Mary A. Barnett. John died 22 JAN 1954, Philadelphia, PA. John came to Philadelphia with his family in 1904. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Starting as a bookkeeper in 1913, he worked his way through the ranks at the North Philadelphia Trust Company to the presidency in 1946. He died the day before the bank was to merge with the Girard Trust Corn Exchange Bank.
  3. Katherine McNelis b. 1895 OCT 1895, Mahanoy City, PA, m. John O'Connell. Katherine died 1965.
II. James McNelis b. 1 SEP 1855, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, occupation Farmer, m. 1878, in St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, Margaret (Madge) Byrne, b. 7 DEC 1853, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 7-Dec-1853, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, (daughter of John Byrne and Mary Campbell) d. 8 SEP 1891, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland. James died 10 MAR 1938, Greeley, Neb. James was left behind with his grandparents James and Margaret Meehan when his parents and brothers emigrated. He was 7 or 8 at the time. He and his children emigrated after Madge died. James lived near Largymore on the family plot. His herd was two cows. He also worked as a fisherman. When he left for America, James had only $200. By the time he arrived in New York, having paid the fares for his family, he had only $25. He first went to Pennsylvania and considered leaving the children with his brothers, but instead went to O'Connor, Neb, where Madge's sister, Mary Burns Hanley, and her brothers, Patrick, Edward, Daniel, and Thomas Burns lived. Leaving his children in the care of the Burns families, he went to Leadville, Col., to work in the mines. While working at the smelter in the mines, he damaged his eyes and suffered from heat stroke. This affected his health for the rest of his life. After two or three years, he returned to Nebraska. He began farming the old Doyle place in Freeman Valley for 10 years. In 1906, he moved to Belfast, Neb.(a former town northwest of Greeley) and purchased 840 acres which he farmed and raised cattle on until 1922. He moved into Greeley and bought a store which he and his son Patrick ran. Madge died of kidney infection incurred in childbirth with Patrick. Her godparents were Thomas Cannon and his wife Sarah Cunningham (parents of Dennis Cannon, who married her daughter Margaret).

  1. James J. McNelis b. 26-Jan-1879, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, occupation Farmer, m. 24-Nov-1910, in St. Michael's, Spalding, Bridget J. (Hannah) Caffery, b. 19-Jul-1885, (daughter of James Caffery and Mary Sullivan) d. 21-Jun-1962. James died 23-Jan-1966, Greeley, Neb. James lived near Greeley where he farmed. He also had a well drilling business for a while. For some reason James Caffery dropped the "t" from his name.
  2. Margaret McNelis b. 7 FEB 1881, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 7-Feb-1881, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, m. 12-Nov-1899, in Greeley, Neb, Dennis Cannon, b. 2 APR 1861, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, (son of Thomas Cannon and Sarah Cunningham) occupation Farmer, d. 2 JUN 1948, Greeley, Neb. Margaret died 4 MAY 1962, Greeley, Neb. Margaret McNelis's baptismal sponsors were James McLafferty and Unity Meehan. Dennis: The Cannons farmed near Greeley. Dennis Cannon was a neighbor of his wife's family in Ireland before coming to Nebraska. He also had at least two brothers and one sister in Greeley. He was a close friend of his father-in- law, James McNelis, and the two of them used to sit drinking tea and talking in Irish Gaelic in Nebraska. Dennis came to America after his brother John sent him the fare. John had been working on his uncle's farm in Marysville, MO. He and John worked on the farm and as peddlers to earn extra money.
  3. John McNelis b. 11-Apr-1883, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 11-Apr-1883, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, occupation Carpenter, m. 21-Aug-1907, in St. Michael's, Spalding, Mary Bernadette Snell, b. ? Oct 1884, Spalding, Neb, (daughter of Edmund Snell and Mary Crawford) d. 27 JAN 1973, Phoenix, Ariz. John died 3 MAY 1963, Phoenix, Ariz. Mary Snell was the daughter of Edmund Snell (b. 1845 in County Cork, Ireland) and Mary Crawford(b. 1849 in County Tipperary, Ireland). Edmund came to America in 1842 and Mary came as an infant. They married in 1869 in New York. They moved to Spading in 1878 from Prairie due Chien Wisc. and lived in a sod house at first. Jack and Mary lived in Spalding, Neb where Jack had a blacksmith shop. The family moved to Joplin, Missouri in 1922. In 1942 or 43, Jack and Mary moved to Phoenix, following their son Jim, who had moved there in 1940. Jack was a carpenter and a maintenance man in a hotel. John's godparent's were Thomas and Sarah Cannon.
  4. Mary Teresa McNelis b. 19-Jan-1886, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 19-Jan-1886, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, m. 18-Apr-1910, in Greeley, Neb, Dennis Donovan, b. 24 OCT 1880, Rantoul, Ill, (son of Jeremiah Freund Donovan and Margaret Ryan) d. 30 MAR 1972, Greeley, Neb. Mary died 8 APR 1967, Greeley, Neb. Mr. Donovan, son of Jeremiah and Margaret Ryan Donovan, had come to Greeley County in 1884. The Donovans farmed until 1950 when they moved to town. Jeremiah Donovan (b. 8-12-1850, m. 5-8-1879,County (?)Pesotown, Ill., d. 6-3- 1941, Greeley, Neb., son of Dennis Donovan and Ellen Fruend) originally came from Clonmell, County Tipperary. His wife Margaret Ryan (b. 2-18-1857, d. 11- 1-1921, Grand Island, Neb., daughter of James Ryan and Mary Davlin)was from Newton Parish, Anacarity, Thurles, County Tipperary. Mary's godparents were Daniel and Mary Byrne.
  5. Catherine Veronica McNelis b. 3 MAY 1888, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 4-May-1888, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, m. 26 FEB 1919, in Greeley, Neb, Charles Louis Walsh, b. 14 JAN 1890, Wheeler County, Neb, Bapt: St. Michael's, Spalding, (son of Joseph Walsh and Catharine Monarch) occupation Farmer & carpenter, d. 15 JUL 1970, Sioux Falls, SD. Catherine died 16 JUL 1954, Grand Island, Neb. Catherine Walsh came to America as a three year old with her father and brothers and sisters after the death of her mother. Kate died in 1954 of leukemia. Kate's godparents were Edward and Mary Byrne. Charles Walsh was one of 14 children. He grew up on a farm in Wheeler County Nebraska, near Spalding.
  6. Anthony McNelis b. 12-Aug-1890, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 12-Aug-1890, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire.
  7. Patrick McNelis b. 2 SEP 1891, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 2-Sep-1891, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, occupation County Clerk, m. 22-Aug-1955, Eva Brown, b. 1 NOV 1900, d. 18 MAR 1981. Patrick died 23 JAN 1966, Greeley, Neb. Pat was left in Ireland when the rest of his family emigrated, and came over as a 16 year old. He and his Aunt Kate Byrne and Uncle Jimmy Byrne, his late mother's sister and brother who had raised him, came over on the Caledonia, sailing from Londonderry, Ireland on 7-29-1907 and arriving in New York on 8- 7-1907. His Aunt had lost an eye in her youth and was refused entry. As a result, she and her brother returned to Ireland. Patrick was met at the boat by his father. After his Aunt and Uncle left he found himself in a strange country in the company of strangers (his father had last seen him when Patrick was 2). Patrick apparently said nothing for a week. Patrick had a grocery store until becoming the County Clerk of Greeley County from 1938 until his death. Patrick's godparents were John and Mary McBreaty.
III. John E. McNelis. b. 17-Sep-1857, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 17-Sep-1857, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, occupation Coal Miner & Stone Mason, m. 21-May-1883, in St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, Mary Anne Haggerty, b. ?-Jul-1861, PA, (daughter of James Haggerty). John died bef 1900, Pennsylvania. John's baptismal sponsors were John Meehan and Margaret Meehan. He worked as a coal miner in Centralia for many years. He apparently died in coal mining accident between 1892 and 1900.

  1. Catherine McNelis b. 24-Mar-1884, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, m. Patrick Moran, b. ?-___-1884, (son of John Moran and Mary Hannan). Catherine Residence: Ashland, PA.
  2. Anthony McNelis b. 20-Apr-1885, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, occupation laborer in coal mine, m. 15-Nov-1909, in Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Margaret Flanagan, b. 1891, (daughter of Mr. Flanagan and Miss Kinney) d. 1950. Anthony Residence: Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania. The information about the descendents of Anthony and Margaret was gathered by Rob Felmey. Tony was going to visit his wife in the hospital and jumped a train. He fell off and lost his leg. Margaret: Margaret died of diabetes. After she lost her leg, she lost her will to live.
  3. James McNelis b. 9-Dec-1886, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, occupation Stationary Engineer, Mine, m. 18-Jun-1913, in St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, Anna Hayley, b. ?-___-1887. James Residence: Mt. Carmel, PA. James moved to Plainfield, NJ after living in Mt. Carmel.
  4. John McNelis b. 15-Apr-1889, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA. After the death of his father John was apparently raised by some relatives. In the 1900 Census he is not living with his mother although she indicates he is alive. He is not remembered by family members so it is possible that he did not live to maturity.
  5. Marie McNelis b. 20-Jun-1890, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, m. 25-Feb-1914, in St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, William Doyle, b. ?-___-1890, occupation Fire Boy in coal mine. Marie Residence: Strong, Northumberland, PA. The Doyles lived just outside of Mt. Carmel in Strong.
  6. William McNelis b. 1892, Residence: Chester, Chester Co., PA. Billy had two daughters and one son.
IV. Anthony McNelis b. 28-Aug-1859, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 28-Aug-1859, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire, d. bef 1862. Anthony obviously died as a child since a later child was also named Anthony. His godparents were Arthur Hamill and Bess Dunleavy.

V. Edward J. McNelis J. b. ?-___-1864, New York, occupation Insurance, m. (1) Catherine CarrCarr, Catherine, m. (2) in Shenandoah, PA, Ellen McNelis, b. 1868, Shenandoah, PA, (daughter of James McNelis and Mary McHugh). Edward died 9-Jan-1919, Philadelphia, PA. Ellen McNelis was the daughter of James McNelis and Mary McHugh. Her family was apparently also from the Killybegs area. After working in the mines in Centralia, Edward moved to Shenadoah, PA where he was in the insurance business. In 1918, the family moved to Philadelphia so that Edward could work for Philadelphia Electric Company.

  1. Mary McNelis b. 1896, Shenandoah, PA. Mary became Sister Helen Mercedes.
  2. Catherine McNelis b. 1898, m. (1) John McBride, m. (2) Adolf Dimter . After John McBride died and after her sister Eleanor died, Catherine married Adolf Dimter, Eleanor's widower. They live in Mt. Ephraine, NJ
  3. Susan Loretta McNelis b. 1901, Shenandoah, PA.
  4. Eleanor McNelis b. 1903, Shenandoah, PA, m. Adolf Dimter.
VI. Thomas McNelis b. 14-Oct-1865, occupation Merchant, Tiling Floors, m. Mary M. Daley., b. 22-Feb-1868, Pennsylvania, d. 21-Jan-1951, Philadelphia, PA. Thomas died 15-Feb-1937, York, PA. Tom's tile business was apparently very successful. His grandson recalls his chauffeur and large automobile. He also owned a candy factory. Tom and his family went first to Philadelphia and then to York, PA. In 1900, his wife's brother, Michael J. Daley, and her two sisters, Alice V. Daley and Theresa B. Daley lived with them.

  1. Sarah McNelis b. July 1889, m. Ellis I. Myers..
  2. Anthony Raphael (Ray) McNelis b. 10-23-1892, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, d. abt 1931, York, PA.
  3. Catherine McNelis b. Dec 1897, m. Lawrence Berger.
  4. John McNelis b. 1906, occupation Osteopath.
  5. James McNelis b. abt 1912, York, PA.
VII. Anthony J. McNelis J. b. ?-___-1867, New Jersey, occupation Barber & Osteopath, m. 3-Jul-1893, in St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, Margaret M. Moran ., b. 1870, New Jersey. Anthony died 23-Apr-1932, Philadelphia, PA. Tony was a barber before graduating from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathy, 1-12-1909. He owned an 8 chair barbershop, which was amazing to his relatives in Nebraska, where a single chair barbershop would be the norm. For someone who was working in the mines as a 12 year old, his medical training was quite an accomplishment. His success was to a great extent the results of his wife Margaret's efforts. A former school teacher, she improved Tony's academic skills adequately for him to resume the education that he had interrupted as a boy. They adopted one daughter.

  1. Mary C. McNelis. b. abt 1910, Philadelphia, PA.

If you think this is your McNelis family, I have more information about about later generations. I welcome any comments, criticisms, additions, or corrections. Please write me at or at Jim Dunn, 212 E. Irvin, State College, PA 16801.