THE LYNCH FAMILY OF IRISH LANE – HISTORY SUMMARY
Three children of Thomas and Rose Ann McWilliams Lynch of County Fermanagh, Ireland, immigrated to the United States as adults and lived in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, in the mid-1800s: Patrick, Rose Ann, and Peter. Among their descendants in the 1900s were American regional and national leaders — Monsignor Edward M. Kinney, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, and Colorado Governor Stephen L.R. McNichols. In the 2000s, numerous households in Fitchburg descend from the original pioneer Lynch clan of Irish Lane.
Credit for the founding of the Lynch family of Dane County goes to the brother Patrick Lynch. He left County Fermanagh, Ireland, and arrived in Madison in 1846. (See immigration documents filed in Madison that year). A family story is that he worked for a year in Madison, which was a rural township with a village on the isthmus at the time, and then he moved the next year to the wilderness that became Fitchburg. Patrick Lynch was not on the 1846 territorial census in Fitchburg, but he was on the 1847 census, dovetailing with the story. Wisconsin went from being a territory to a state in 1848.
Patrick Lynch built his log cabin in 1847 at the intersection of what was to become Irish Lane and what was the diagonal cross-country Indian trail that ran in the pioneer days from Swan Creek at what is now Highway MM to Swan Pond on what is today Fish Hatchery Road. His home site was on the south side of Irish Lane, a little over a quarter of a mile east of the intersection with Syene Road. Patrick purchased 120 acres, which is believed to have been thinly wooded in the front and heavily wooded in the back.
Patrick had the distinction of being the first known person to leave Ireland during the Great Potato Famine of 1845 – 1855 and set up a farm in the wilderness that became Fitchburg. Patrick Lynch’s homestead was the third to be established in the greater Irish Lane area, following the Kinneys (who arrived 1844 and settled on the south side of what became Irish Lane about three-quarters of a mile west of what is now Syene Road), and the Hamiltons (who arrived in time to be on the 1846 territorial census, and settled on the east side of Syene Road by a creek about three quarters of a mile south of Irish Lane). The Kinneys and Hamiltons were pre-Famine Irish immigrants. The greater Irish Lane area eventually grew to about twenty-five Irish-American homesteads by 1860. (See reference books at the end of this article).
While Patrick was setting up his homestead, his sister Rose Ann was also getting settled in Fitchburg. Patrick is thought of as the founder of the Lynch family of Dane County in large part because after he built his log cabin on Irish Lane he began writing home to Ireland encouraging his extended family to join him, and numerous relatives took him up on it. Meanwhile, Rose Ann Lynch married a William Hamilton in 1845 in Milwaukee, and this couple was the Hamiltons who settled on Syene Road in time to be included on the 1846 territorial census. However, the numerous Lynch arrivals that Patrick had invited ended up largely staying at Patrick’s house, and so Patrick is credited to this day as being the founder of the Lynch family of Dane County. The new arrivals lived in Patrick’s home until they could get their footing in the larger community.
The following will give an overview of the families of each of the three siblings: Patrick, Rose Ann, and Peter. The source for much of the information below is the notes of Monsignor Edward M. Kinney, who spoke to Lynch relatives and started writing things down from 1931 through 1976, when he passed away. Though the dates below largely have not been checked against government or church birth, death and marriage records, the information has generally proved to have a high level of accuracy.
Patrick Lynch was born around 1820 in Ireland to his parents Thomas and Rose Ann McWilliams Lynch. Patrick emigrated from County Fermanagh, Ireland, in 1846 and went to Wisconsin. When Patrick wrote in the 1840s to his family in County Fermanagh recommending that they come join him, his mother Rose Ann McWilliams Lynch agreed to come. Patrick’s father, Thomas, had already died when his mother, Rose Ann, decided to immigrate. She arrived on Irish Lane at some point before the 1850 census was taken because she is included in Patrick’s household. Patrick’s mother, Rose Ann, was also on the 1860 census at Patrick’s log cabin, but not on the 1870 census, so she likely died before then.
As to where in County Fermanagh, Ireland, the Lynches had been living, the once-in-a-generation property tax survey known as the Griffiths Survey indicates that the Lynches lived in the Parish of Clones in the eastern part of the county. Patrick’s older brother Peter was still farming in County Fermanagh when the Parish of Clones was surveyed in 1862. The only leaseholds by a Peter Lynch in County Fermanagh were primarily in the Parish of Clones (with one additional leasehold in the adjacent Parish of Galloon). The immigration of Peter Lynch’s family to Irish Lane will be discussed later in this article.
In Wisconsin, Patrick Lynch cleared land and raised wheat on his new farm on Irish Lane to be sold as a cash crop. Around 1860, he purchased a grain reaper, which was a new innovation in farming, since it greatly reduced labor at harvest.
While Patrick Lynch was inviting his relatives to come to Irish Lane, he was also starting a family of his own. On January 14, 1850, Patrick married an Irish girl Catherine Kinney of the Kinney homestead on Irish Lane, a mile west of Patrick’s log cabin. (See records of St. Raphael’s Catholic Parish, which was in downtown Madison from the 1840’s until 2005 when the cathedral building burned down). She was also known as Mary Catherine and Catherine Frances. Catherine Kinney was a daughter of Michael and Mary Golden Kinney, who were married in 1831 in County Mayo, Ireland, and immigrated that year to Canada. The Kinneys operated a farm near Trois Rivieres, Canada, where Catherine was born in August 1, 1833. Michael’s brother Andrew Kinney moved in 1844 to the wilderness that became Fitchburg, and Michael’s family with young Catherine joined them in 1845 on Irish Lane. For more information on Catherine Kinney’s ancestors, see the Fitchburg Historical Society website history summary: “The Kinney Family of Irish Lane.”
Patrick and Catherine Kinney Lynch had four children: Thomas, Michael, Rose Ann, and Mary. Note that the family was following the mid-1800s American naming pattern of naming the first four children after the grandparents. The oldest was Thomas, who was born in 1852 and died in 1870. Michael Lynch was born May 7, 1856 in Fitchburg. (See records of St. Raphael’s Catholic Church). Michael Lynch married Sophie Davis around 1881 and had children: Michael Joseph, Genevieve, George, William, Catherine Hazel, Frederick, and Edward. Michael and Sophie Lynch lived for a time in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where they were early settlers of the area. Other places they lived included Moorhead, Minnesota, and also Detroit (now Detroit Lakes), Minnesota. Sophie Davis Lynch died on October 18, 1918. Several years later, Michael traveled to see his sister Rose Ann Lynch Quinn in Madison, Wisconsin, and he died at her home on June 6, 1923. Michael and Sophie Lynch are buried in Holy Rosary Cemetery in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.
Patrick and Catherine Kinney Lynch’s third child was Rose Ann Lynch. Rose Ann was born May 1, 1858 in Fitchburg. (St. Raphael’s Catholic Church records). She married Nicholas Quinn of Madison on May 6, 1879. Nicholas and Rose Ann Lynch Quinn lived in Madison and had children: Mary, James, Margaret, Thomas, Charles, Catherine, Lucille, Robert, Veronica, and Raymond. Nicholas Quinn served on the Madison City Council starting in 1886. He was a successful contractor constructing foundations, sewers and streets. In the 1920s, Nicholas, Rose Ann, and daughters Veronica and Margaret went on a trip to Quebec to see where Rose Ann’s mother grew up on the one-time Kinney farm near Trois Rivieres. Rose Ann knew how to get to the old Kinney farm in Trois Rivieres because in the late 1800s her mother Catherine Kinney Lynch had taken Rose Ann to see the place. Anyway, in the 1920s visit, Nicholas got sick on the trip and later died. Nick passed away on June 1, 1929 and Rose Ann died July 4, 1942 in Madison. Nicholas and Rose Ann Lynch Quinn are buried in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Madison.
The fourth child of Patrick and Catherine Kinney Lynch was Mary “May” Lynch, who was born in January 1861 in Fitchburg, and was named after her grandmother Mary Kinney. Mary married Mahlon Martin Warner on July 13, 1877, in Canon City, Colorado. Mahlon and Mary Lynch Warner’s children were Lulu, Catherine “Cassie,” and Mahlon, Jr. The family lived in a number of places, including Frederick, South Dakota, and Aspen, Colorado. The father, Mahlon Warner, was a lawyer and later in life was a judge. Mahlon Warner died on January 12, 1924, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mary died in 1930 in Colorado. Notably, their daughter Cassie Warner married a William H. McNichols and they moved to Denver, Colorado, where William went on to become City Auditor for Denver. William and Cassie Warner McNichols’ children included Stephen L.R. McNichols, who served as Governor of Colorado from 1957 to 1963. (See the book McNichols Family History by Stephen L.R. McNichols, Jr., 2019).
A few years after Patrick and Catherine Lynch’s four children were born in Fitchburg, Patrick died in 1864, likely on October 7th. Patrick Lynch’s grave is in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery in Madison. Catherine Kinney Lynch raised the children and ran the farm until 1870 when she married William Halpin (or Halfpenny), a neighbor who had been helping her around the homestead. (Federal census for Ellendale, North Dakota, 1900). William was born in March 1841 in Ireland and lived on a Fitchburg farm just south of the Byrne Road marshes. He moved to Catherine’s Irish Lane farm, but by 1874 they had moved to Madison. (See her brother-in-law James Sheridan’s Civil War pension record). Note that Catherine still had some involvement in the Irish Lane farm as late as 1875, because she is on the 1875 state census in Fitchburg. Today, all that is left at their Irish Lane farm is a well casing and a garage, and the site is known to this day as “Patrick Lynch’s homestead.”
In October 1875, Catherine and William Halpin had a daughter Catherine, or “Kitty,” who later married a Knute Strand. In this era, the Dakota Territory was opening to settlers, and Michael Lynch, Catherine’s son by her first marriage, decided to move west. Catherine and William Halpin and their daughter followed Michael and a friend of Michael’s. They lived in many small towns as they headed west according to a family story. (For possible landholdings, see 1876 and 1886 plat maps of St. Joseph, Erin, and New Richmond townships near Hudson in northwestern Wisconsin).
When the Halpins and Michael Lynch reached Aberdeen, South Dakota, Michael eventually moved on and the Halpins stayed in the region. The Halpins bought land northeast of Ellendale, Dickey County, North Dakota, in Kenter township. In 1901, they bought additional land in Ellendale township just across the state line from a farm in South Dakota that was owned by Catherine’s cousin, Harriet Kinney Matthews. (1900 federal census; Register of Deeds).
By 1903, the Halpins were living in a home in nearby Albion township. (Interview with Veronica Partune, daughter of Rose Ann Lynch Quinn, in 1983). William Halpin preceded Catherine in death. Catherine passed away on February 7, 1906. (Death certificate). They have a large grave marker in the Ellendale cemetery. Knute and Kitty Halpin Strand, who had a son John, later moved to Arkansas for health reasons. The Albion township home of William and Catherine Halpin was said in the late 1900s to be still standing, but boarded up. A couple of abandoned farm buildings remained on the Ellendale township property.
Having reviewed the story of Patrick and Catherine Kinney Lynch, the next of the three Lynch children of Thomas and Rose Lynch that immigrated to Fitchburg was Patrick’s sister Rose Ann. Rose Ann Lynch was said to be younger than her brothers Peter and Patrick. Her marriage record suggests she was born around 1821. (See Milwaukee Vital Records – Marriages). Rose Ann married an Irishman William Hamilton on September 17 or 18, 1845, in Milwaukee. As noted, William and Rose Ann Lynch Hamilton had set up a homestead on the east side of Syene Road by a creek about three quarters of a mile south of Irish Lane in time to be on the 1846 territorial census. Along with operating the family farm, William Hamilton served as treasurer of Fitchburg in 1860. William and Rose Ann Hamilton had 10 children, several of whom died young. Their first child was Mary Hamilton, who married Thomas Lacy of Fitchburg and had children – Thomas, James, George, Elizabeth, Mary, and Rose. William and Rose Ann Hamilton had a son James who married a Dora O’Toole and had children – Dora, Rose, James, and William. William and Rose Ann Hamilton also had two sons that died as infants, each with the name William. Their next child was Catherine, who married Matthew Conlin of Madison and had children – William, Rose, Elizabeth, Matthew, and Ray.
William and Rose Ann Lynch Hamilton’s next child was Rose who married a Michael Leahy, and they had children – William, Stephen, John, Robert, Michael, and Margaret. Significantly, the oldest son William grew up to be Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, who was Chief of Staff to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II in the 1940s.
William and Rose Ann Hamilton’s following child was named William, though he died young as did his two brothers William before him. The next child was Margaret, who married and lived in Iowa, having children – Ethel, William, and a third child. William and Rose Ann Hamilton also had two more sons Thomas and William (the fourth brother of his name).
While the ten children of William and Rose Ann Hamilton were born on the Syene Road farm from the late 1840s through the 1860s, by 1870 the household had moved several miles northeast to Blooming Grove township, which is located around the modern-day City of Monona. (1870 federal census). The mother of the household Rose Ann Lynch Hamilton died of cancer in September 1870 in Blooming Grove township. (Federal census mortality schedules). It is said that the father William Hamilton served as treasurer of Dane County for many years. He was on the federal census in 1880 at Lake View in eastern Fitchburg, and is believed to have died on May 20, 1880.
Thomas and Rose McWilliams Lynch’s third child to immigrate from Ireland to Dane County, besides Patrick and Rose Ann, was Peter Lynch. Peter was born May 15, 1800 (as written on his gravestone) in Ireland, and was considerably older than his siblings. Peter Lynch married Bridget McQuillen in Ireland, and they had seven children who grew up in County Fermanagh, likely in the Parish of Clones as explained above using tax records. The seven children were James, Rose, Alice, Thomas, Bridget, Mary, and Elizabeth.
Peter Lynch’s wife Bridget McQuillen Lynch died young in County Fermanagh, Ireland, sometime before 1852. A family story is that she died in the Great Famine, which went from 1845 to 1855, though she may have died from a particular illness during the Famine.
In any event, since Peter’s brother Patrick was writing to him from Irish Lane encouraging his family to come to Wisconsin, Peter began sending his children to America. The first two of Peter and Bridget Lynch’s children to arrive were Alice (age 15) and Thomas (age 13), who reached Irish Lane in 1852. That event was significant because the difficulties that Alice, who later married Michael Kinney (1838-1912), and Thomas faced crossing the ocean together formed a strong bond between them. For generations to follow, their Kinney and Lynch descendants in Dane County regarded themselves as being part of twin families because of this bond created long ago.
All seven of Peter Lynch’s children eventually moved to America, and a number of them became farmers in the large Irish community of Westport township, north of Madison. After six children reached Dane County, the father Peter Lynch retired from farming in Ireland and emigrated with his daughter Rose in 1864. Their boat first stopped at Liverpool, England, before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. According to a family story, the day that the boat left Liverpool, Peter’s brother Patrick died on his Irish Lane homestead.
Peter Lynch lived in Dane County from 1864 to 1895, when he died at the age of ninety-five years. During his retirement years, he would stay three months of the year at each of four of his children’s farms in Dane County, including the Irish Lane homestead of his daughter Alice and her husband, Michael Kinney. Peter Lynch died in Westport, Wisconsin, and is buried there in the Catholic cemetery. His grave is marked by a large monument.
A summary of the seven children of Peter and Bridget McQuillen Lynch follows. It is believed that their son James Lynch was born around 1834 in Ireland. James immigrated to Fitchburg in the 1850s, and he appears on the 1860 census as living and working as a day laborer at the Charles Palmer farm, northwest of the intersection of Fish Hatchery and Whalen Roads. On July 24, 1861, James Lynch married Margaret Casey. They bought land off Highway Q in the southwestern part of Westport township and started farming. James and Margaret Lynch’s children were Bridget and Peter. The mother Margaret Lynch died on March 26, 1898, and the father James died on October 31, 1908, in Westport.
Peter and Bridget McQuillen Lynch had their daughter Rose Ann around 1836 in County Fermanagh. She immigrated to Irish Lane in Fitchburg in 1864 with her father Peter. Rose Ann Lynch married Irishman Timothy Gannon on January 11, 1864. (St. Raphael’s Catholic Church records). Timothy and Rose Ann Gannon lived at a number of places around Dane County including Dunn and Verona townships. Their children were John, Timothy, William “Billy,” Alice, and Mary Ellen “Nellie.” The father Timothy Gannon died on March 9, 1907. Rose Ann Lynch Gannon died December 12, 1921, in Verona. Siblings Billy and Nellie were unmarried and lived in a house in Oregon. Billy maintained ties with Irish Lane by frequently visiting his first cousin and good friend Ed Kinney (son of Alice Lynch Kinney) through the 1940s.
The next child of Peter and Bridget McQuillen Lynch was Alice, who was born April 4, 1837, in County Fermanagh, Ireland. As mentioned above, Alice emigrated in 1852 in a harrowing trip across the Atlantic Ocean at 15 years old with her 13-year-old little brother Tom. Upon their arrival, Alice and Tom moved in with their uncle Patrick Lynch at his Irish Lane homestead. Alice married on July 14, 1861, a neighbor from up the road, Michael Kinney (1838-1912). She moved to his wheat farm (which later became a general farm and then a dairy farm) that Michael was inheriting from his deceased parents Andrew and Mary Jane Kinney who had founded the Irish Lane settlement area in 1844. This Kinney log cabin was on the south side of Irish Lane an eighth of a mile east of the intersection with today’s Caine Road. Michael served as treasurer of the Town of Fitchburg for several years. Michael and Alice Lynch Kinney’s children were Andrew, Bridget, Michael, Alice, Mary Jane, Rose Ann, Edward, Harriet, Thomas and Elizabeth. The mother Alice Lynch Kinney died June 26, 1898 of appendicitis (obituary). The father Michael Kinney passed away on November 12, 1912, while living at the Irish Lane farm (obituary). They are buried by a large Kinney monument in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Oregon.
Michael and Alice Lynch Kinney’s son Edward Kinney married Alice Watts, and they became the next generation to live on the Kinney farm. Notably, Edward and Alice Kinney’s oldest son Edward was ordained a Catholic priest in 1931. When Madison became a diocese, Father Ed was named its first Chancellor. He was Rector in the 1950s and into the 1960s of St. Raphael’s, which had become a cathedral, and he was elevated to Monsignor. In his later years, Monsignor Edward Kinney served as president of the National Catholic Cemeteries Conference. He did extensive family history charting, and was the Lynch family and the Kinney family’s first genealogist. Msgr. Edward Kinney died in 1976 in Madison.
Peter and Bridget McQuillen Lynch had their son Thomas in 1838 in County Fermanagh, Ireland. He immigrated at age 13 with his 15 year old sister Alice across the Atlantic Ocean and to Irish lane in 1852. Thomas lived at his uncle Patrick Lynch’s homestead, and is on the 1860 federal census there. Thomas Lynch married Margaret O’Keefe on June 3, 1866 at St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church in Westport township in a double wedding with his sister Bridget Lynch and Martin Walsh. Thomas and Margaret Lynch farmed in southwestern Westport in the vicinity of Highway Q on land adjoining his brother James Lynch’s farm. The Walsh farm was nearby to the east. (1911 plat map). Thomas and Margaret Lynch’s children were Esther Bridget, Thomas, Catherine, Elizabeth, Margaret Ellen “Nellie,” Alice Agnes, Howard Peter, and Edward. The father Thomas Lynch died in 1915 and the mother Margaret O’Keefe Lynch passed away in 1920, according to their headstones at St. Mary of the Lake Cemetery in Westport (cemetery).
Peter and Bridget McQuillen Lynch’s daughter Bridget was born in 1842 in County Fermanagh, Ireland. Bridget immigrated to her uncle Patrick Lynch’s farm on Irish Lane. Bridget Lynch married Martin Walsh on June 3, 1866, in a double wedding with her brother Thomas Lynch and Margaret O’Keefe at St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church in Westport. Martin and Bridget Walsh operated a farm in southwestern Westport township to the east of her brothers James and Thomas Lynch’s farms. (1911 plat map). The children of Martin and Bridget Lynch Walsh were Patrick, Mary “Minnie,” Cecilia, Bridget, Peter, Helen “Nellie,” William, Martin, John, Edward, and Joseph. Bridget Lynch Walsh died in 1909, it is believed on April 14th. Martin Walsh passed away in 1913, it is believed on December 9th.
Another daughter of Peter and Bridget McQuillen Lynch was Mary, who was born in about 1848 in Ireland. Mary Lynch immigrated to her uncle Patrick’s Irish Lane homestead. Mary Lynch married a Patrick Bunberry, likely in Chicago in 1878, and it is said that they had a child. A story also goes that Patrick Bunberry had been previously married to a Lillian Havlatko of Chicago. Lillian was a great friend and mid-wife to Alice Lynch Kinney’s daughter-in-law Alice Watts Kinney and the latter’s children on Irish Lane in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Peter and Bridget McQuillen had their daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lynch in about 1849 in Ireland. Elizabeth immigrated to her uncle Patrick’s farm in Fitchburg. She married a James Joyce in about 1868, and their children were Mary “Mayme,” Catherine “Kit,” Elizabeth, Agnes, James, Joseph, Alice, Hugh, Edward, and Harry. The family is on the 1880 federal census in Chicago, where the father James Joyce was working in a tin shop. The older kids that were born by 1880 were included on the census. (Msgr. Ed Kinney’s 1931 charting provides information on the younger children and on a number of the Lynch branches inside and outside of Fitchburg).
Descendants of Thomas and Rose Ann McWilliams Lynch continue to live in Fitchburg in the 2000s. For instance, seven households of descendants of Alice Lynch Kinney live in and around the Kinney homestead on Irish Lane. Other Lynch descendants include the Lalor family of Purcell Road in southern Fitchburg. From Patrick Lynch’s founding of the Lynch family of Dane County in 1846 through the era of Monsignor Edward M. Kinney, Admiral William D. Leahy, and Governor Stephen L.R. McNichols in the mid-1900s, the Lynch family has grown from its beginnings on Irish lane to be a prosperous clan in Fitchburg and beyond in the 2000s.
By Thomas P. Kinney – 2022, author of the two books:
Irish Settlers of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, 1840-1860, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Fitchburg Historical Society, 1993.
The Kinney Family of Irish Lane – From the Barony of Moycarn to the Homestead in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Fitchburg, Wisconsin, Irish Lane Publishing Company, 1994.