The Shamrock Wall

I was looking at the nationalities of my great-great-grandparents, and I figure that I am only 6% French, 13% Belgian, almost 20% British, one-quarter German, and nearly 40% Irish. Yet, although I can trace one British branch back to Charlemagne via a daughter of Edward I, and I can trace my DeBacker family back to the early 1500s, most of my Irish branches cannot be tracked past the 1840s.

One branch came over abt. 1850 and settled first in New York before going to Minnesota. The other branch came over a few years earlier, and they settled first in Canada before also settling down in Minnesota.

Surnames and census records confirm that they came from Ireland, but where on the Emerald Isle they hailed as home, I haven’t a clue. Yet, that does not stop me from every once in a while, looking at the available data.

My paternal grandmother, Geraldine O’Malley, was the youngest of six daughters of Patrick A. O’Malley and Mary “Molly” Hooks. Last night, I found a few things while searching for them in the free library editions of and

Patrick O’Malley was born in Canada in 1851, and he died in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925. My great-grandmother Molly Hooks was born in 1857 in Herkimer County, New York, and died in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1929. They are both buried at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Omaha.

I located photographs of their gravestones at

Patrick O’Malley (1851-1925)
Mary “Mollly” O’Malley (1857-1929)

I also located the gravestone of Patrick’s father, Martin O’Malley (1820-1894). He and my great great grandmother, Anna Kirby, are buried in Calvary Cemetery in Austin, Mower County, Minnesota. A photograph of Anna’s gravestone was not available.

Martin O’Malley (1820-1894)

Here is a snippet of the Minnesota state census of 1857 for Mower County, just north of Iowa. It means that they were very early settlers in this section of the state of Minnesota. It tells us that Patrick was born in Canada in 1850. Based on the age of his eldest brother, Peter, the family arrived in Canada around 1843. Six years before the Irish famine.

Minnesota state census of 1857.

Owen and Rebecca Hooks, parents of Molly Hooks, are buried in St. Michael’s Catholic Cemetery in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Their monument tells us that he died November 14, 1892, when he was 73 years old, and Rebecca died on February 5, 1904, at the age of 78.

Own John and Rebecca Hooks

The family appears in the New York State census of 1855 at Mannheim Herkimer County, New York, when Molly was only four months old.

New York State census 1855

In 1865, the family was living in Constantius, Oswego County, New York. Molly was ten years old that year.

New York State census 1865

By 1880, the family was living in Milton, Dodge County, Minnesota. Molly and Patrick were married in 1876 in Rochester, Minnesota. In 1880, only her youngest sisters remained at home with the parents.

U.S. Census 1880 Dodge County, Minnesota

Some day I hope to break through the Shamrock wall and trace these two families into Ireland and finally learn where they called home.

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