The O’Malley Family

My father’s mother, Geraldine O’Malley DeBacker, died the year that I was born. She came from a family of all girls and she was the youngest of the six daughters of Patrick O’Malley and Molly Hooks. I knew from my father that Patrick O’Malley had been a railroad conductor in Kansas and that his family had settled in Minnesota after coming over from Ireland. What I did not know at the time was that his family had actually first settled in Canada and they later migrated to Minnesota sometime before the Civil War. Solving this puzzle involved working backwards through the census records starting with the 1920 census. Around 2004, I found the parents of my grandmother, Geraldine (O’Malley) DeBacker, in the 1920 census in Atchinson, Kansas: Patrick O’Malley, age 67 (?), railroad conductor, birthplace Canada, and Mary O’Malley, age 63. In January 2005, I found them in the 1910 census in Atchinson, Kansas: Patrick O’Malley, age 60, railroad conductor, birthplace Canada, and wife Mary O’Malley, age 53 (both married 34 years).

The 1910 census record lists Geraldine O’Malley, age 17, and 3 of her older sisters. It also list two sons whom I had never heard of: Harold age 15 and Emmach age 14. Both my Uncle Dick and Aunt Geraldine gave me a list of six girls and their names – no sons. Therefore, I have determined that these boys listed as sons of Patrick are an example of a census mistake. I think that these two boys are actually grandsons – sons of an older (divorced, widowed, or possibly deceased) daughter – either Martha who is listed or Harriet who is not listed.

I also found the family listed in the 1900 census in Omaha, Nebraska: Patrick O’Malley, age 49, railroad conductor, birthplace Canada; Mary, age 43. It lists five of the six known daughters (Geraldine is age 8 then) and it does not list any sons (Harold and Emmach would have been five and four years old at the time). The most interesting thing that I find in the 1900 census is that Patrick immigrated to the US in 1855. This was 15 years earlier than I had thought that they emigrated from Canada.

I knew that the O’Malley family eventually settled in Minnesota and this was thought to be most likely in the late 1860′s, after the American Civil War and the pacification of the Sioux. If the family came to the US in 1855 they should have appeared in the US census record in 1860, but I did not expect to find them in Minnesota as earlier as 1860. An early search of the 1860 census records for the O’Malley family turned up a few possibilities, but nothing that I found really matched what I have recorded in the way of names, ages, and place of birth. Candidate families were found in Chicago, Boston, up-state New York (Chautauqua), and New York City. Definitely by 1870 they were in Minnesota – Patrick and Mary were married in Minnesota and one daughter was born there, but a search of the 1870 census for O’Malley and variations of the surname did not find them. In fact, I only found a Thomas O’Malley, a 21 yr old soldier at Fort Ripley, Minn. There is an indication that parts of the census of Minnesota in 1870 are either missing or not readily available. Some of the daughters of Patrick O’Malley were born in Iowa in the 1880′s and the family had settled in Kansas by the early 1890′s and lived for a while in Omaha, Nebraska, but I was not able to locate the family in the census records prior to 1900. However, I did not give up and a few years later when searching the 1860 census once again, I finally found the O’Malley family on a farm near Austin, Minnesota.

Patrick’s father, Martin O’Malley was born about 1820 in Ireland. He immigrated circa 1840 to Canada. He married Anna Kirby (b. abt. 1820) circa 1841. He immigrated to Minnesota circa 1855 from Canada. He was a farmer in Minnesota in 1860. He and Anna Kirby appeared on the census of 1860 & 1870 in Austin PO, Brooklyn Township, Mower Co., Minnesota., He died say 1890 in Minnesota.

The O’Malley name is Norman in origin and dates back at least to the time of Henry II of England (grandson of William the Conquer) and the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1170 AD. It was the Norman conquerors of the British Isles that introduced the widespread use of family surnames. The name means literally “son of the hammer” and probably descends from a Norman lord that ruled County Mayo in the 12th century. Probably the most famous (or infamous) O’Malley in history is the Irish female pirate, Grace O’Malley (Granuaile). There is little doubt that the family of my grandmother came from Ireland, but from where exactly in Ireland is not known. We know that they came to America by way of Canada; my great-grandfather, Patrick O’Malley having been born near Montreal, Canada around 1851. I had always thought that the family most likely came to the Americas in the late 1840′s because of the potato famine that devastated Ireland from 1847 to 1849, but it appears that they migrated to Canada in the early 1840s before the famine.

In January 2006, I was able to locate the family of Martin and Anne O’Malley in the US Census of 1860 in Brooklyn Township, Mower Co., Minnesota. Brooklyn Township is now Windom Township and this would place them in the area of Rose Creek. Further research possibilities include St. Peter’s Church records and St. Peter’s Cemetery (both in Rose Creek). In addition, I found their son Peter O’Malley in this same locale in 1900.

Peter O’Malley was born in September 1842 in Canada. He appeared on the census of 1860 in the household of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby in Austin PO, Brooklyn Township, Mower Co., Minnesota. He married Anna ___ in 1866 in Minnesota. He and Anna ___ appeared on the census of 1900 in Rose Creek, Mower Co.,, Minnesota.

Michael (William?) O’Malley was born circa 1845 in Canada. He appeared on the census of 1860 in the household of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby in Austin PO, Brooklyn Township, Mower Co., Minnesota.

Anna ___ was born in December 1846 in Canada. She married Peter O’Malley, son of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby, in 1866 in Minnesota. She and Peter O’Malley appeared on the census of 1900 in Rose Creek, Mower Co., Minnesota.

Katherine O’Malley was born circa 1848 in Canada. She appeared on the census of 1860 in the household of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby in Austin PO, Brooklyn Township, Mower Co., Minnesota.

James (Matthew?) O’Malley was born circa 1849 in Canada. He appeared on the census of 1860 in the household of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby in Austin PO, Brooklyn Township, Mower Co., Minnesota.

Patrick A. O’Malley (g-grandfather) was born in January 1851 in Canada. He emigrated in 1855 from Canada. He appeared on the census of 1860 in the household of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby in Austin PO, Brooklyn Township, Mower Co., Minnesota. He married Mary A. Hooks, daughter of Owen John Hooks and Rebecca O’Flaherty, in February 1876 in St. John’s Catholic Church, Rochester, Minnesota. He lived in Iowa between 1880 and 1890. He and Mary A. Hooks appeared on the census of 1900 in Omaha, Douglas Co., Nebraska. He was a railway conductor for Missouri Pacific Railroad in Kansas from 1900 to 1920. He and Mary A. Hooks appeared on the census of 1910 in Atchinson, Atchinson Co., Kansas. He and Mary A. Hooks appeared on the census of 1920 in Atchinson, Atchinson Co., Kansas. He died in January 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Mary A. Hooks was also known as Molly Hooks. She was born circa 1856 in New York. She appeared on the census of 1860 in the household of Owen John Hooks and Rebecca O’Flaherty in Constantia, Oswego, New York. She was a domestic servant for a wealthy merchant in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1870. She married Patrick A. O’Malley, son of Martin O’Malley and Anna Kirby, in February 1876 in St. John’s Catholic Church, Rochester, Minnesota. She died on June 29, 1929 in Hastings, Nebraska.

Patrick and Molly O’Malley had six daughters:

Martha O’Malley was also known as Mattie. She was born circa 1877 in Minnesota. According to her nephew, Richard L. DeBacker, she was a buyer for an Omaha dry goods store, never married and died rather young. She was a sales lady in Omaha, Nebraska, circa 1900. She appeared on the census of 1910 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Atchinson, Atchinson Co., Kansas.

Harriet O’Malley was also known as Hattie. She was born circa 1879. She married Ben Steinberg before 1910. She married Mr. Henry circa 1912.

Kathryn O’Malley was also known as Kitty. She was born in September 1880 in Iowa. She appeared on the census of 1900 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Omaha, Douglas Co., Nebraska. She appeared on the census of 1910 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Atchinson, Atchinson Co., Kansas. She married Frank Wormely after 1913.  She lived in Griswold, Iowa, circa 1940.

Mary Loretto O’Malley was also known as Dot. She was born in February 1885 in Iowa. She appeared on the census of 1900 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Omaha, Douglas Co., Nebraska. She married Joseph McCrum before 1910. She lived in Atchison, Kansas, circa 1940. She died in June 1947 in Atchinson, Kansas, at age 62.

Helen O’Malley was born in March 1887 in Iowa. She appeared on the census of 1900 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Omaha, Douglas Co., Nebraska. She appeared on the census of 1910 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Atchinson, Atchinson Co., Kansas. She married Ira T. Kelly after 1910. She lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa, circa 1940.

My grandmother, Geraldine Gertrude O’Malley was born on April 2, 1892 in Hiawatha, Kansas. She appeared on the census of 1900 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Omaha, Douglas Co., Nebraska. She appeared on the census of 1910 in the household of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary A. Hooks in Atchinson, Atchinson Co., Kansas. She married Leopold Joseph DeBacker, son of August Vital Francois Joseph DeBacker and Della Gaume, on June 21, 1918 in St. Marys, Kansas. She died on March 29, 1955 in Hastings, Nebraska, at age 61.