|Birth: ||Jul. 28, 1849|
New Jersey, USA
|Death: ||Mar. 14, 1928|
New York, USA
Thomas John Donnelly was the only surviving child of Michael Donnelly and Honora "Norah" Winn Donnelly Williams, both from Ireland. An older brother James probably died as a child. Thomas was born in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey on July 28, 1849 and christened at Saint John Roman Catholic Church in Newark. Thomas' father Michael died a few days before Thomas' first birthday.
By 1855 Thomas was the foster child of John and Mary Dardis, a childless couple from Ireland, and they were living in Cazenovia, Madison County, New York. Mary Winn Dardis was his aunt (his mother's sister). By 1860 Thomas and the Dardis family had moved to the Spencer Township area of Jennings County, Indiana where they farmed. Later (between 1870 and 1875), John and Mary Dardis and Thomas re-joined the rest of the Dardis family in Madison County, New York.
A family tradition (as told by his grandson Thomas M. Donnelly) says that somehow Thomas lost contact with his birth mother. Two years after Michael's death, she married Elisha Williams of Newark and had more children. Thomas had at least three younger half-siblings of whom he may not have been aware.
At age 32 Thomas married Honora "Norah" Heffernan Donnelly from Tipperary, Ireland on October 18, 1881 in Cazenovia, Madison County, and they had seven children: Helen Donnelly Dietz, Mary Donnelly Barrett, Nora Donnelly, Catherine Donnelly, John Dardis Donnelly, Thomas James Donnelly, and Dorothy Donnelly Heintz. They lived in Canastota, Madison County.
In Indiana Thomas had farmed with his foster parents John and Mary Dardis. For most of his life, however, Thomas John Donnelly was a railroad conductor first for the New York Central Lines Railroad and then the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Thomas began work with the Lehigh Valley system February 28, 1882, as a trainman. On April 1, 1884 he was promoted to be a conductor and March 1, 1895 a passenger conductor, a position he held until his death. He died on March 14, 1928 in Madison County at age 78 after years of failing health.
His funeral Mass was at Saint Agatha Roman Catholic Church in Canastota. His nephews were pall bearers. He is buried in Saint James Catholic Cemetery in Cazenovia. Officials and employees of the Lehigh Valley railroad gave him a tribute seldom, if ever before, accorded a Canastota citizen when they went there on a special train to attend the services. Every station on the Lehigh between Canastota and Cortland is said to have been represented among the party of railroad men.
DNA testing reveals the Donnellys are descended from the powerful Irish clan of Ui Neill who claimed the High Kingship of Ireland from the 7th to the 11th century AD. DNA testing also reveals Thomas Donnelly and his direct male descendents are of the patrilineal clan of "Oisin" (pronounced "O-sheen") (Y-chromosome clade R1b). Oisin lived about 40,000 years ago in the Celtic area of Western Europe. Oisin was one of about seventeen men alive at that time from whom all people alive today are descended.
Thanks so much to all the Donnelly and Heffernan family genealogists for much of this information. Any errors, however, are mine alone. Please go to the "edit" link on this site with any corrections or additions. I hope someone can also discover from where in Ireland the Donnelly and Dardis families come. It seems likely they were from a part of old County Dublin that is now County Fingal.
Michael Donnelly (1822 - 1850)
Honorah Winn Donnelly Williams (1827 - 1892)
Norah Heffernan Donnelly (1861 - 1958)*
Thomas James Donnelly (1900 - 1980)*
Dorothy Donnelly Heintz (1902 - 1970)*
Saint James Cemetery
New York, USA
Plot: Section 13-A-227
Created by: Sharlotte Donnelly
Record added: Dec 30, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 5129494