What do Thomas & Bridget Sullivan and
Michael & Margaret (Riley) Degnan have in common?
by Betty J. Palmer
Well according to the 1856 census records they both immigrated from Ireland, the Sullivans arriving here abt. 1851 and the Degnans abt. 1852.
Both families were Catholic, had several children, were farmers and neighbors living in Bolger Hollow, Harpers Ferry, Iowa. Today it is known as Whippoorwill Hollow.
The Degnans children were Mary Ann, Thomas F., John J. and Margaret.
The Sullivan Children were Eugene F., John S., Mary, Elizabeth, Angeline and Margaret.
Out of these children Mary Ann Degnan and Eugene Francis Sullivan were united in marriage on October 2, 1877 at St. Josephs (Paint Rock) Church.
They continued to live and farm in Bolger Hollow. Out of this union came the following children Mary Agnes, Bridget, Thomas F., Michael J., John J., Joseph B., George F., (Jeremiah) William and (Patrick) Henry.
Other interesting things about these families were that they each adopted what was probably an Orphan Train Rider. The Sullivans John Duffy b. abt. 1866 and the Degnans Peter Mullen b. abt. 1867, born in New York according to the 1880 Census.
And Thomas Sullivan went to Deadwood, South Dakota to prospect for Gold.
Michael Degnan served on the Taylor Township Committee formed in December 1853 to organize the Democratic Party in Allamakee County. The 2 other Committee members were David Harper and Otto Langfield. But the most notable thing about Thomas, Bridget, Michael and Margaret was that 5 of their Great-Grandsons were George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert The Five Sullivan Brothers.
- source: Harper's Ferry Happenings, November 2006
- contributed by the author Betty J. (Saddler) Palmer, Great-great granddaughter of Michael and Margaret Degnan
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