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
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).
- Anthony McNelis b. 30-Jul-1883, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Bapt: Centralia,
- 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.
- Katherine McNelis b. 1895 OCT 1895, Mahanoy City, PA, m. John O'Connell.
Katherine died 1965.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Anthony McNelis b. 12-Aug-1890, Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland, Bapt: 12-Aug-1890, St. Cartha's, Kilcar, Co. Donegal, Ire.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- William McNelis b. 1892, Residence: Chester, Chester Co., PA. Billy had two
daughters and one son.
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.
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.
- Mary McNelis b. 1896, Shenandoah, PA. Mary became Sister Helen Mercedes.
- 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
- Susan Loretta McNelis b. 1901, Shenandoah, PA.
- Eleanor McNelis b. 1903, Shenandoah, PA, m. Adolf Dimter.
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.
- Sarah McNelis b. July 1889, m. Ellis I. Myers..
- Anthony Raphael (Ray) McNelis b. 10-23-1892, Centralia, Columbia, Pennsylvania,
Bapt: St. Ignatius, Centralia, PA, d. abt 1931, York, PA.
- Catherine McNelis b. Dec 1897, m. Lawrence Berger.
- John McNelis b. 1906, occupation Osteopath.
- James McNelis b. abt 1912, York, PA.
- 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 email@example.com
or at Jim Dunn, 212 E. Irvin, State College, PA 16801.