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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Michael Flanagan Part 5

John Flanagan, Michael’s father, from Ireland to Michael Flanagan in Napa, CA, April 1890…

“Dear Michael, I am sorry to have to inform you that your brother Peter died on the 2nd of this month after one weeks illness, and was buried on Friday last (Good Friday). He leaves five young children three girls and two boys the youngest a little boy called after me only born one week before he died.”

John Flanagan (b. 1805, Co. Louth, Ireland) wrote to his son Michael for the second time in just a few weeks to advise of the death of the third family member from the recent influenza spread. Michael’s and Patrick’s brothers John and Peter, plus their uncle Patrick (John's elderly brother), had all passed away on the Flanagan Farm in Ireland. This left no remaining adult males to continue the family farm operation in Ireland, except their father John, who was now 85 years old.

“…Now I have no person to look after the business but myself I would wish very much and I may say also add it is the wish of Mrs. Flanagan that you would if possible come home and live with us. If you cannot make up your mind to come and live with us at least until after my death. I would very much like to see you before I die. If I thought you were married or had a family to provide for I would not ask you to come home. If you do come let me know when you write what time it will take you to get here……Hoping you are all in good health a blessing I enjoy thank God.
I am Your fond father John Flanagan

When I read the letters from Ireland to Michael Flanagan in Napa, I can’t help but feel the sadness. The letters are very expressive demonstrating a strong sense of family, an obvious importance of the Catholic religion and faith in God.

So you may ask yourself at this point about how quickly Michael was able to get back to Ireland. Well it was not exactly that easy for him. Michael had obligations. He worked for Judge Stanly as his head foreman. In other words, he pretty much ran Stanly’s ranch and estate next to the Flanagan Ranch in Carneros. Judge Stanly was a weathly and politically connected resident of Napa County. Every time I drive on Highway 29 just past the southern crossing, I glance over at the row of Eucalyptus trees that line the main drive of the Stanly Ranch near the intersection of Highway 12 in the Carneros area of Napa. The property is still vineyard now owned by someone else.

Michael did write back to his father in Ireland. He indicated that he could not leave right away. He was working at the Stanly Ranch and had obligations there. He also wanted to visit his brother, Nicholas, in Corning, California, before he left to go home. It does appear that he made it home to Ireland by June of 1890. His intent was to stay for a while and then come back to California. Having been in California for almost 20 years, he had grown accustomed to the wonderful weather, especially in comparison to the weather along the Irish Sea. Michael had also become a naturalized citizen of the United States.

To be continued………

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