Nolan Family Stories

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1835 : William J. Nolan : Michigan

[167] William J. Nolan (1775 – 1838) – from Co. Roscommon, IE
[168] Elizabeth Jennings (1772 – 1859) – from Unknown
Children: Patrick, Luke, Bridget, Michael (1807), John (1812), Gregory (1818) and Edward (1819)

Around 1835, William and Elizabeth, and their mostly grown-up family, the youngest being 16 years old, emigrated to the US and settled in the area of Detroit, Michigan. Three years later, William died. Elizabeth lived on for several more years dying in 1859.

1850 : Daniel E. Nowlan : Panora, IA

[113] Daniel E. Nowlan (1830 – 1914) – from Co. Kilkenny
[114] Anne Agnes McCarthy (???? – 1912) – from Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow, IE
Children: Cora Marie, William James, Mary Emma, Martin Joseph, John Edward, Rosa Ellen and Thomas John

Daniel, or “Dan” as he was more familiarly known, was born on August 15, 1830, somewhere in Co. Kilkenny, the son of a William Nowlan.

According to one family account Daniel came to the US as a very young lad around 1844 entering the US via the port of New Orleans, accompanied by two brothers, William and Martin, and three sisters, Catherine “Kate”, Bridget, and Bernice.

Catherine and Bridget are known to have settled in the area of Columbus, Ohio, marrying brothers, Patrick and Martin Coady.

Whatever the case may be family tradition holds that, initially, he worked on river boats sailing out of New Orleans eventually making his way up to Iowa where he worked on the railroad.

On August 16, 1863, in Des Moines, Iowa, in the St Ambrose Cathedral he married Anne Agnes McCarthy, the daughter of Irish immigrants Richard and Ellen McCarthy who hailed from Bagenalstown (or Goresbridge?), Co. Carlow, a town on the river Barrow, close to the Kilkenny border.

After their marriage, Daniel and Anne settled down on a farm near Panora, Guthrie county, Iowa, and raised their family there. Dan died on Jan 14, 1914 and Anne died Feb 22, 1912. Both were buried in the nearby Resurrection Cemetery, Guthrie county, where Anne’s parents are also buried.


  • Cora Marie
  • William James
  • Mary Emma
  • Martin Joseph
  • John Edward
  • Rosa Ellen
  • Thomas John who had a son named James;
    James in turn had a son named Curtis.

1852 : James Nowlan : Bronson, MI

[381] James Nowlan (c1827 – 1887) – from Co. Longford, IE
[382] Catherine Donoughue (???? – 1913) – from Co. Tyrone, IE
Children: Lewis (1850), Margaret (1852), Daniel (1854), Mary (1856), Patrick (1858) and Ann (1859)

James seems to have emigrated to the United States sometime around the time of the Great Famine, marrying his wife, Catherine Donoughue/Donahue on July 6, 1849 in Montpelier, Vermont. Given that Montpelier is very close to the Quebec border, it is likely that James entered the U.S. via Lower Canada (Quebec). James was the son of Daniel Nowlan and Mary Lee of Co. Longford in Ireland. It is also known that he had two brothers, John and Patrick and a sister who died young.

After their marriage in 1849, James and Catherine stayed on in Montpelier, Vermont, and this is where their first son, Lewis, was born in 1850. However, by 1852, they had moved to Michigan. This is where their next three children were born. Sometime before 1858, they again moved, this time to Illinois. This is where their 5th child was born.


  • Lewis (1850-1923) b. Montpelier, VT; d. Bevier, MO
  • Margaret (1852-1922) b. Bronson, MI; d. Sterling, IL;
    m. ???? O’CONNER
  • Daniel (1854-1924) b. Bronson, MI; d. Frankfort, IN
  • Mary (1856-????) b.Cold Water, MI
  • Patrick (1858-????) b. Camp Point, IL; m. Elizabeth Anderson
  • Ann (1859-????) m. James McGOWAN

NOTE: Additional information on this family is available at the website reference given below.

1857 : Margaret Anne Nolan : Hamilton Co., IA

[470] Margaret Anne Nolan (1824-1909) – from County Carlow
[471] Charles Biernatzki (1819-1896) – from Poland
Children: Eda (1851), Charles A. (1852), William J. (1856), Henry (1858) and Albert (c1860)

According to the family bible, Margaret Annie Nolan was born December 24, 1824, in Co. Carlow, Ireland.

Around 1847, in her early 20s, she emigrated to the U.S. and may have been accompanied by other family members. However, no entry on a ship’s manifest or any other record has been found to confirm this.

In 1850, again according to the family bible, in Oswego, NY, she married Charles L. A. Biernatzki, a native of Poland in Oswego, NY.

After a few years and two children, sometime around 1854, the family moved to Canada where Charles operated a shipping business and where their next child, William J. (1856) was born.

By 1857, the family was back in the U.S., in Hamilton county, Iowa, where Charles had bought a farm and where their next two children, Henry (1858) and Albert (c1860), were born.

Margaret and Charles operated a successful farm and lived there well into their old age. Charles died in 1896 and when Margaret died in 1909 she was living in Webster city, Iowa.

NOTE: The submitter of this information is a descendant of Albert (c1860) and is interested in learning more about the circumstances which led to Margaret’s emigration from Ireland and any family who accompanied her or stayed behind in Ireland. Perhaps someone will recognize her as the long lost sister/daughter/niece of someone in their family tree.

1859 : Patrick Francis Nolan : Stapleton, IA

[248] Patrick Francis Nolan (1827 – ???) – from Co. Mayo, IE
[249] Elizabeth Armstrong (1833 – ????) – from Ireland
Children: Bridget, William (1855), Catherine (1857), James (1859), Francis (1861), Alice (1863), Thomas (1865), Stephen (1869), Mariah (1871) and Peter (1873)

Patrick Francis Nolan was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1827, the eldest son of a William and Bridget Nolan. In 1843, then aged 16, he left Ireland and went to America entering the US via Quebec. During his early years he worked at the trade of founder and moulder, residing at various locations in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

In his mid-20s, while still working at the trade of founder and moulder, Patrick married Elizabeth Armstrong, a native of Ireland. They were married in 1851 in Fort Edward, NY, and, in 1859, the family increasing in number or perhaps drawn by the rush westward of many immigrants like themselves, they and their children, moved west to Iowa where Patrick obtained land and became a farmer.

The family initially lived in Stapleton township, Chickasaw County, IA, and, in 1882, relocated to Fredericksburg, IA.

In his adopted homeland of Iowa, Patrick Francis, the farmer, also held various positions of influence such as school director, road supervisor and town treasurer.

Patrick and his family were members of the Roman Catholic Church.

1863-1865 : Daniel Nolan : Ishpeming, Marquette, MI

[323] Daniel Nolan (1840 – ????) – from Ireland
[324] Julia (1844 – ????) – from Ireland
Children: Bridget (1863), Daniel (1866), John (1868), Mary (1870), Margaret (1873), Nora (1875), Michael (1879) and Patrick (1880)

Sometime between 1863-1866, a Daniel Nolan and his wife Julia emigrated to the US, bringing with them their young daughter Bridget. Daniel found work as a miner in the area of Ishpeming, Michigan, and the family lived on “The Grange”.

Daniel’s mother, Bridget, also seems to have made the journey, either then or later, and was living with the family in 1880, aged 74. In 1880, Daniel and Julia’s eldest son, Daniel Jr., aged 14, had also begun working as a miner and the family seemed to be boarding several miners, probably for extra income to feed the growing family. The eldest daughter, Bridget, helped out as a “servant”.

1868 : Mary Jane Nolan : Montana

[327] Mary Jane Nolan (1817 – ????) – from Ulla, Co. Limerick, IE
[328] John Burke (???? – ????) – from Ireland
Children: Joseph (1843)

Mary Jane was born around 1817 in Ulla, a small town in Co. Limerick, close to the Tipperary border and, around 1840-1842, she married John BURKE. Shortly thereafter the couple emigrated to to Australia, settling in Geelong, Victoria, a small community just south of Melbourne. Their son Joseph was born there in 1843. By 1868, the family had moved to San Francisco, California, and from there they moved on to Washington state.

1880s : William Francis Nolan : Forest City, South Dakota

[445] William Francis Nolan (1856 – 1945) – from United States
[446] Alice Turner (???? – c1886) – from Flint, Michigan
Children: Nina Florance (1884)
[463] Annie Fitzpatrick (???? – ????) – from United States
Children: Carye, Inez and William

William, born somewhere in the United States, was an Irish Catholic whose parents or grandparents came from Ireland and he may have had one sibling, a John Nolan.

As a young man he learnt blacksmithing and became quite good at it. According to the submitter’s grandmother, “he made beautiful candle holders and artistic things for the house out of black wrought iron” and even taught blacksmithing at the Agriculture School of the University of Minnesota.

William served as a US marshall in South Dakota and knew Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickock when they were alive. He also could speak Sioux, and knew Chief Sitting Bull.

Sometime in the early 1880s, William married Alice Turner and they had one child, Nina Florence, born in Forest city, South Dakota, in 1884. Alice, however, died when Nina was only about 2 years old.


  • Nina Florence Nolan (1884 – 1970) grew up in Forest city, South Dakota, and, as a young adult got a job as a telephone operator, eventually marrying, sometime around 1910, a man named Parker Simons (1881-1957) from Sauk Center, Minnesota.

    As an adult, besides being a homemaker and mother of 6, Nina was well-known as a talented interior decorator and seamstress. She also seems to have been gifted for music having played the piano for 9 years as a child.

    Nina and Parker lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for most of their married life and this is where they raised their children: Richard William (1913), Helen Marie (1915), Donna Claire (1917), Robert Emmett (1918), Patricia Ann (1924) and Eleanor Catherine (1927.

    One of Nina’s children, Richard William, moved to California and, upon becoming an actor, changed his family name to Simmons. Known as “Dick Simmons” he is perhaps best remembered for his role as “Sargent Preston of the Yukon”.

After the death of his first wife, William soon remarried, marrying Annie Fitzpatrick sometime around 1887 and they had three children.


  • Carye
  • Inez
  • William.

When the children were growing up, “the Indians used to come up on the porch and peak in the windows at [them]”. Annie, fearing for her safety and that of the children “would send [the eldest, Nina,] down to get [William] at the Blacksmith shop”.

1926 : Harley Nolan : Kansas city, Missouri

[407] Harley Nolan (1926 – 1964) – from Missouri
[408] Ida Fren Hickmon (1925- 1977) – from Unknown
Children: Mary, Herb, Rita, Ernie (1943), Jay (1945-2005), Helen (1949), Kathy (1950-1958), Harley (1957), Vicky (1958) and Peter (1960)

Harley Nolan was born in 1926 in Missouri and, at age 3, sent to a boys’ home. Spending some 5 years in the boys’ home he was finally adopted sometime around 1934. Little is known about Harley’s parents except for his father, Peter “Budda” Nolan. According to family tradition, Peter emigrated from Ireland sometime around 1888 and first lived in New York before moving on to Kansas city, Missouri.

Harley’s father is known to have married twice and may have been already in his 50s when Harley was born. Known to have had a drinking problem, in the end, that was what killed him, dying in a car crash in 1955.

Harley married Ida Fren Hickmon sometime in the early 1940s and, by 1960, they had 10 children. In 1964, Harley’s life came to a tragic end. Shot twice in the chest, he died soon afterward.

NOTE: Harley Nolan’s descendants would like to learn more about their family’s Irish roots.

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