A 60 year search and a family tradition

My father and I have been trying to find the roots of the HANNIGAN family as they came from Ireland and settled in the greater New York City area during the late 1860s.

The immigrants of the Hannigan family settled in the community of Morrisania located in Westchester County. In the late 1800’s the area began being annexed as part of Manhattan/New York County and then about 1915 it separated to become the Borough of the Bronx and a self-governed county. Even after the establishment of the Bronx County, areas continued to be annexed from Westchester County. The Bronx was really known by neighborhoods, like Morrisania; Mott Haven and Throggs Neck.

St-Raymonds

Family headstone at Saint Raymond’s Cemetery located in the Throggs Neck section of the Borough of the Bronx.

My Great-Great Grandfather was PATRICK JOSEPH HANNIGAN {1838-1884} and he immigrated from a small Roman Catholic parish in County Limerick, Ireland in the middle-to-late 1860’s. He married CATHERINE O’NEILL {1855-1925} and they had seven children over a 16-year span (Mary Ellen {1868-1915}; Cornelius Patrick {1870-1917}; James {1872-1906}; Elizabeth {1874-1891}; Rosanna {1877-1925}; John Joseph {1880-1947}; Denis Michael {1883-1903}. In 1884, Patrick passed away and was buried in the newly acquired family plot in Section 2 of Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in Westchester County, New York. Catherine acquired two adjacent plots because of the size of the family at the time and the family would return to Saint Raymond’s Cemetery when Elizabeth passed away and was buried in 1891.

Denis and James would follow in the early 1900’s. Catherine would suffer to bury Cornelius, her eldest son who had cared for her since the death of her husband, in 1917 before my great-grandfather would bury his mother in November 1925. All except three of their children would be buried in the family plot;  Mary Ellen would be buried in the Haring family plots in Section 1 of Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in July 1915. Rosanna (Rose) would be buried in grave 50 in the Rose Garden section of Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California in August 1925, just months before her mother and my great-grandfather would be buried at Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park Massachusetts in 1947, closing the book on the first generation of the Hannigan family.

At the time of Patrick’s passing and continuing for a number of years later Saint Raymond’s Cemetery was referred to as being located in Westchester County, New York.  As a result of the expansion of New York City and as areas of Westchester County were annexed to become part of the Borough of the Bronx, it became hard for people to identify the new locations, so death announcements into the 1930’s continue to indicate the interment was in Westchester (or West Chester) County. Today, Saint Raymond’s covers two locations – Old Saint Raymond’s and New Saint Raymond’s – and both are located in the Throggs Neck section of the Borough of the Bronx.  My ancestors are buried in Old Saint Raymond’s on Tremont Avenue.  Saint Raymond’s is the largest Roman Catholic cemetery in the Bronx covering 180 acres and is one of the busiest cemeteries in the United States as an estimated 800 burials are conducted every week.

1947 John-J-Hannigan-SrMy Great-Grandfather was JOHN JOSEPH HANNIGAN Senior and he was born June 9, 1880 in Morrisania, New York. He had three brothers (Cornelius, James and Dennis) and three sister (Mary, Elizabeth and Rosanna). He served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War (after the USS Maine exploded in Cuba’s Havana harbor) with the 201st New York Volunteer Infantry and later served with the Signal Corps during the Philippine Insurrection. Following his discharge from military service in the Philippines in 1902, he joined the Fire Department New York (FDNY). In 1906 he married JULIA THERESA GILLMAN {1881-1937} and began raising his family.

retired_FDNY_badgeHe took a leave of absence from the FDNY in 1917 to complete the Army Reserve officer training program as part of the Plattsburg Project in Plattsburg, New York and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant and served as a Signal Corps officer in World War I. After his discharge from military service, he returned to the FDNY to complete the remainder of his career and retired from the FDNY in May 1926 as a Lieutenant.

The family returned to Massachusetts, where they lived during his service in WWI, where he worked as the first paid Chief of the Fire Department for the city of Norwood, Massachusetts in 1926 and later served as a Fire Prevention consultant during WWII. In February 1937 his wife passes away after a lengthy illness and was buried in the Gillman family plot at Saint Raymond’s Cemetery in New York. He married ESTHER STANFORD {1899-1979} in October 1937 in Manhattan, New York and settled north of Boston in the Watertown area. He passed away on May 16, 1947 while living in Watertown, Massachusetts and was buried at Fairview Cemetery in Hyde Park, Massachusetts with full military honors.

First Sergeant John J Hannigan Jr.

First Sergeant John Joseph Hannigan Jr.

My Grandfather, JOHN JOSEPH HANNIGAN Junior, was born on October 11, 1909 in the Bronx, New York. Following his family relocating to Massachusetts in 1926, he lost contact with his cousins. He married CATHERINE RITA DONAHUE from Readville, Massachusetts in June 1934. He worked for the New York, New Haven, Hartford Railroad in the Readville car shops as an electrician.

He enlisted in the Army of the United States in 1929 and achieved the rank of Sergeant before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of the Infantry in 1931. He continued to serve in the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard, achieving the rank of First Sergeant into the middle 1960’a.  After he married, he spent most of his life in Readville, except for a short period when they lived in North Haven, Connecticut. After returning to Readville in the late 1960s, he became a prominent advocate for Elderly Affairs issues in Boston.

Following the death of his wife in October 1983, my father moved my grandfather to St. Petersburg, Florida for several years because of his ailing health. After a while, he returned him to a nursing home in Mattapan, Massachusetts where he died on June 5, 1989 and was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Hyde Park, Massachusetts next to my grandmother.

Private John D Hannigan 1954 security badge photo

Private John Dennis Hannigan – 1955 wedding photo

My Father is JOHN DENNIS HANNIGAN and was the only child of John Joseph and Catherine Donahue Hannigan. He was born in April 1935 in Readville, Massachusetts. My father has had a long and storied life. He left Readville after high school and joined the U. S. Army as part of the Army Security Agency. In 1955, he married JO ANNE CLARK, of rural Brashear, Missouri, and had four children, of which I am the oldest. My father served in Korea, Washington DC and from 1959 to 1962 at Kagnew Station, Asmara, Eritrea, Ethiopia. Our family returned to the Washington D.C. area in late 1962. On December 12, 1963, my mother passed away and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. She is buried near the mast of the U.S.S. Maine, close to the Amphitheater in Section 46.

My father remarried in November 1964 to JO HANSEN {1936-2008} of Paullina, Iowa, who had a son. In late 1965, another daughter was born, making us a family of eight. In 1969, a new job moved our family to Fort Wayne, Indiana where I graduated high school. In the late 1970’s my father and Jo divorced. My father remarried in late 1978 to KAREN STANBERRY and they have two daughters. Jo Hannigan passed away in March 1998 and was buried at the Marion National Cemetery in Marion, Indiana.

John C Hannigan, Basic Training Photo

Private John C Hannigan, Basic Training Photo

Me, well, I am a fourth generation Irish-American who followed the family tradition of serving in the US Army. I am the oldest child born to my father and mother.  I was born on a military base in Massachusetts while both my father and mother we on different floors of the same hospital.  Like most military families, we moved a lot.  First to New Jersey and an additional training school for my dad. Then he went overseas on an unaccompanied tour to the far east and we went to my grandmother’s farm in Missouri.  When he got back, we prepared to go overseas as an accompanied family tour to Africa.  We returned to the Washington DC area and were settling there when my mother died.  My dad stayed connected to the government contract work and that moved our family to the mid-west in the late 1960’s.

After I graduated high school in 1974, I enlisted in th US Army in early 1975 as the Vietnam War was winding down. After going to South Carolina and Louisiana for my training, my first duty station was with the ‘Big Red One’ at Fort Riley, Kansas. I served two tours in Germany and on military installations from the east coast to the west coast. I left active duty in October 1986 to attend college to  get my degree and immediately joined the US Army Reserve to continue my military service. I served as a Supply Sergeant with the 85th Division (Training) and as part of a Field Hospital unit in Missouri, before going to Fort Sam Houston for training as a Medical Supply Sergeant. I served with a Combat Support Hospital in Indiana, then as a Logistical Training Readiness Evaluator at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I completed my 20 years of total service as a Brigade Chaplains Assistant and retired as a Sergeant First Class in April 2000.

2402_ARMY-RET-LPMy final duty station was with the 3rd Brigade, 75th Division (Training) at Fort Riley, Kansas; which served as the bookends of my military career. Twenty-five years after taking my oath to protect and defend, I quietly walked away.  No formal ceremony for my retirement. No formal presentation of my final Army Commendation Medal for my total military career.  Just a quiet ride off post and down the highway leading to home. This past year (in 2016), I was transferred to the ‘Army of the United States, Retired’ which brings my military career to a close.

Photo1500030Then, there is my brother.  He was always the overachiever of the family and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  He did a good job for the Marines.  He was a weapons system gunner and he drove a M151 jeep-type vehicle, pre-Humvee days, for his command staff of his unit. He served on both coasts and spent a number of years in the desert of California before deploying to Iraq as part of the build-up of Operation Desert Shield.  He was medically discharged from the Marine Corps during Desert Shield.

He currently works for Chrysler where he has been for almost 20 years.