As the Nineteenth Century dawned, our Coogan family lived in the Lake Muckno/Castleblayney area of County Monaghan. Because most records from this era have been lost, we were forced to deduce this using the following evidence:
(1) Available North American records, including obituaries and cemetery stones, that all stated this family came from County Monaghan. At the same time, we discovered that the surname for our family may have originally been Cooghan. Research in Canada indicated that other persons with that surname emigrated from County Armagh.
(2) A statistical analysis of the Griffith's Valuation. While this survey of landowners (taken between 1848 and 1864) probably did not list our Coogan relatives, it is striking to note that there was only one location in County Monaghan where the (related family) surnames of COOGAN, MCCABE, MCCONVILLE and O'HARE were all found together: Muckno Parish.
(3) Family anecdotes, especially those of the Lynch family, hinted at connections with the home of Lord Blayney, located on the shore of Lake Muckno. In addition, a cemetery marker found in St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery (in Kingston, New York) was even more specific: the tombstone for Michael Lynch, a relative of the family through Terrence "Farmer"'s wife, Elizabeth J. Lynch) recorded that he was a native of Longfield (determined from a review of Tithe Applotment Records to be in Muckno Parish), County Monaghan. Elizabeth herself was reportedly born in County Armagh. Even on the other side of the family, the evidence hints at a similar origin: the tombstone of Owen "Trader"'s sister-in-law, Catherine O'Hare Kelly (in Cote des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec, Canada) also provides evidence that he came from the region around Lake Muckno. Family lore has always maintained that Catherine and Ann O'Hare emigrated from Ireland with the Coogan family.
(4) Though most of the family arrived in North America before the era of regularly recorded vital record events, one member (Hugh "Elder") remained in Ireland longer than the rest of his relatives. His late arrival (1853) was a fortunate event for our family researchers, since it increased the changes that Hugh would appear in extant Irish Records. One current theory, based on searches in baptism records recorded in County Armagh prior to the immigration records, is that Hugh may actually have been living near/with McConville relatives in/near Crossmaglen, Creggan Parish (adjacent to Muckno Parish, County Monaghan).
Even with only the clues listed above to guide us, it seems nearly certain that the Coogans and their close relatives lived on both sides of the Monaghan/Armagh border, as seen on this detailed map. The evidence seems to support the locations below:
It is possible that our family is related to the Coogan family descended from the MacEochagain Clan (Gaelic for "possessing horses"). The fact that one of the earliest Coogans in our family was a horse trader could be significant.
EMIGRATION TO NORTH AMERICA
There are several reasons why the Coogans and their relatives would have left Ireland, but the most obvious one was the impact of the Famine of the mid 1840s. Records from Castleblayney indicated that "the populace of the Muckno Parish was decimated by starvation and plague deaths during this time." It is no surprise, then, that our ancestors began their exodus in that decade.
The first wave of emigrants went through Canada (a cheaper alternative to New York City) and one Coogan even settled permanently in Griffintown [an Irish-immigrant quarter of Montreal, Quebec]. However, most members of our family went directly to the United States and chose Kingston (Ulster County), New York, as their new home. This area was well known for its farmland - and later for its stone quarries. One Coogan began a hotel business that sustained his family for nearly 20 years. Most of the later descendants entered the stonecutting trade, cutting stone for government buildings in Albany and (possibly) for the Brooklyn Bridge.
THE FAMILY SCATTERS
Sadly, the Coogan family was completely divided by economic troubles in the early 1870s. They were forced to sell their hotel and leave Kingston. Because of their financial difficulties, even very seemingly remote parts of the country began to sound more promising. Several of the Coogans moved to Iowa, where they established successful farms. The rest moved to the New York City area - primarily Brooklyn. By 1930, only one family member with the Coogan surname actually still resided in Kingston - although descendants of the family remain in Ulster County to this day.
Fortunately, the families did not completely lose touch with each other. This was mostly because because descendants of Owen Coogan (who had moved early to Montreal, Quebec, Canada - and later to Roxbury [suburban Boston], MA) and descendants of Patrick Joseph Coogan (whose family moved to Brooklyn in the mid 1870s) remained close. For the next 80 years, there was constant interaction between Boston, Montreal, and Brooklyn. A series of family meetings, mostly for funerals, took place in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The family members in the East fondly remembered "the brothers who went West" (as they called them) but apparently had no correspondence with the Iowa branch.
By the 1950s, even the Massachusetts and New York families lost contact. As older relatives passed away, there were fewer descendants who recalled the close bonds - and relations subsequently faded. By the 1970s, no one in any of the seven descendant families of this website knew members of the others. One glimmer of hope remained: the genealogy research done by Dottie Coogan helped to retain knowledge of the connection of the Brooklyn and Boston branches.
REUNITED WITH THE INTERNET
With the help of the internet (and a great deal of luck) we have reconnected living members of four of the seven descendant families. It is likely that there are living members of a fifth branch - we remain hopeful that someone in that family will find this website!
It has taken extensive research of Census, City Directory, and Vital Records to build this website. Many members of the family have contributed their stories, records and photos. One of our biggest breakthroughs came in 2006, when we confirmed family connections using a Y-DNA test. Even with all of the successes, though, we still have so many unanswered questions!
Maybe YOU have the information we need! We welcome your ideas and suggestions. Keep visiting to follow the progress of our research!