Irish Traveller O'Harans?

Posted by Michael O'Hearn on July 10, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Daniel Hern (O'Hearn) married to Nance Dun (Dunne), both of Sheestown, County Kilkenny, at St. Patrick's Parish on 15 April, 1823.  Daniel being vagrant at the time had to get a dispensation from the Bishop of Ossory William Kinsella.  Our family tradition has been that our ancestor John who settled in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, was a son of Daniel of Kilkenny.  John apparently arrived in New York in 1848 with two brothers, Denis and James.  John is listed  as O'Haran on citizenship application in 1850, married as John O'Haren to wife Catharine at St. Luke's Church, Two Rivers, Manitowoc County in 1851, listed along with his brother James as O'Haran on the land patent for farm in Maple Grove in 1852, and listed as John Harn on the 1855 Wisconsin census for Maple Grove.  While serving on the Manitowoc County Board his name was John O'Hearn.  A cousin once mentioned to me when we were still children that our ancestors traveled in wagons in Ireland. Although John's tombstone lists date of birth as 1822, it is likely that he was born circa 1824 from other documents stating his age at different times.

Following old Irish naming patterns with John being the oldest son, Daniel's father was most likely John O'Hern baptized 6 February, 1764 at St. Mary's Church in Kilkenny, son of Thomas Hern who was possibly a brother of Patrick O'Haran married to Anne McDonnel also of Kilkenny.  John Hern, also being listed as vagrant, married Catherine Johnson on 3 November, 1801 at St. John's Parish, Kilkenny.  My DNA comparison results indicate that the O'Hearn branch includes Dutch ancestors likely descended on the maternal side from the 17th century Dutch corsair Jan Janszoon Van Haarlem whose son Antony Janszoon "Turk" Van Salee (circa 1607-1676) of New York  would then be Catherine's third great-grandfather.

Both John Hern and his son Daniel Hern could likely have been Pavee belonging to an Irish Traveller community.  Daniel's wife's family of Dunne may also have been related to the Pavee branch of that family of that name which today includes many noteworthy musicians and singers in Eire.  This fascinating group and lifestyle goes back to ancient times, being made up of artisans, craftsmen, scholars, poets, musicians, etc., who lived in colorful, ornately decorated wagons traveling throughout the Isles, some coming to America where they still live in local communities to this day, with their own language called Shealta or Cant.  Jack Hearn was known as "Gypsie King" in Wales before losing a fight to "Black" Martin Furey circa 1900 (South Wales Echo).


Last updated: 30 November  2012

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