WILLIAM CLAFFEY SR. and
[Ed note: This is a modified version manuscript published in
July 1995 by Carol Ann Claffey Mounts, great granddaughter of
was born July 6, 1836 in
Washington County, Pennsylvania, the first born son
of Thomas Claffey and Christina Sybert Claffey. His father and
grandparents, Jane and James Claffey were born in Ireland and
to America in August, 1817.
[To read more about Thomas Claffey GOTO]
Sr. lived his entire life in Washington County, Pa. except for the four
years of the Civil War, 1861-1865.
He died March 5, 1901. He is buried in Washington Cemetery with
his wife Mary Mounts McDaniel Claffey and several members of his
about my father's grandfather, William Claffey, until I started my
research. I knew that he had served in the
Civil War and had died at Dixmont Hospital, a mental
institution. Perhaps the fact that he died there is the reason
my family knew or discussed so little
him. The research material that my cousins and I have acquired has
us a different perspective of his life.
We have been
to find much information in local
however we now have over 85 official pages of military records. These
insight into his life that was not known before. He was the
of fourteen children in Thomas Claffey
He lived most of his life at the same location in two story
probably built by his father Thomas Claffey who came to America as a
child in 1817. The house fronted on the
Road, in that section of West Washington
known as 'Rankintown'. The old brick house in which he and
Mary raised their children, was torn down in 1955 by William Claffey's
Harry W. Ritchie and his great grandson Harry L. Ritchie. It was
with a low brick ranch dwelling.
the streetcar past the old homestead. I did not know at the time that
section built on the back served as quarters for William in his
older years when the suffering he had
those terrible Civil War years began to take its toll on his mind.
My memories of
1930's were not much concerned with the old two story brick house or an
ancestor long gone, but focused instead on the house next door, a white
frame two story house where lived William Claffey's widow, Great
Grand mother Mary Mounts McDaniel Claffey. She lived with her daughter
Matilda, (Mrs. John C. Ritchie). My cousins and I all have
of 'Great Grandmother Claffey' sitting on her porch watching the
by. Her white hair was pulled back away from her face and at
she wore a small white dust cap.
information can be learned from the following obituary of William
I will later fill in details
died at Dixmont, Tuesday evening, March 5, (1901),
aged 65 years. Mr. Claffey's
home was on
Chestnut Street, West Washington (Pa). He was born in what is now North
Franklin township, and his home had always been there and in and
around Washington. When Co A. organized in Washington in 1861,
left for the front to become a part of the 'One Hundredth Pennsylvania'
volunteer regiment known as the 'Roundheads'. Mr. Claffey was a
He became a Corporal and served with his company to the end of the war,
being mustered out with his comrades. During the attack at Tower
Fort, a stronghold of the rebels on James Island, S. C. in which the
took a part, Mr. Claffey was wounded. The Roundheads in that
had 41 killed and wounded out of a total of 421 officers and men who
into the fight. From May 6, 1864 to March, 1865, he was a
in the hands of the rebels and was after his release made a
His comrades, a number of whom live in Washington, speak of him
a brave soldier. He had long been a member of W. F.
Templeton Post no 120, G. A.
For 28 years
he had been in the employ of the Messrs. Zelt, first at the flouring
and then in the brewery. He had many acquaintances among whom he
was well liked. A wife and the following children, all living
Washington survive: Miss Tillie Claffey, Mrs. Lida Wilson, Andrew, Doc,
William (my grandfather) Harry and Wilse. Five sisters
in Allegheny county and one brother in Ohio also survive."
Service in the Grand Army of the
official military documents)
Served as a private in
Army of the Republic as an infantryman 100th Regiment 'The Roundhead
Company A., Military records describe William Claffey Sr. as having
complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, height of 5 feet 4 1/2 inches and a
Claffey (Sr.) was mustered in August 27, 1861, as a private, for a
year period and was sent for training to Camp Wilkin, Pa. On June
16, 1862, he was wounded in the left hand at James Island, South
He then spent the next month in the hospital. On August 18, 1861
a list of absentees at special muster by B. F. Evans records his
as New York City. By August 27, 1861, he was back on the infantry
line, listed as present on company muster roll by James S. Pyles,
clerk. Pyles many years later filed an affidavit to help William
Claffey obtain an increase in pension. In it he states that the
men had been friends since childhood.
Sr. was discharged December 28, 1863 for reason of re-enlistment,
31, 1863 at Blaines Cross Road, Tenn. for another three year period,
time as a Veteran Volunteer. He was listed as absent from
muster rolls, from this time to the end of the war.
First recorded as
in hospital in Annapolis Maryland', then captured May 6, 1864 at the
Tennessee. He was paroled at Wilmington, S. C. and sent to a
in Annapolis Maryland. He remained on records as a prisoner of
until the official end of the conflict in 1865, and was promoted to
May 13, 1865.
think that official military information would end here, however such
not the case. In fact we learn much more about him
pension applications. Original pension granted from July 25, 1865, was
$2.00 per month due to a gun shot wound of the left hand. This amount
increased July 25, 1865 to $4.00.
As his health was declining at age 49
and he had lost all his teeth due to scurvy, he again applied for an
of pension on January 19, 1885, stating that pension was "too
This claim was rejected April 7, 1885. It is at this point in
that we begin to learn most about his four years of Civil War
because he then asked for the aid of fellow soldiers to help him prove
that he was deserving of more pension pay. As a result of his
we now have official records of sworn affidavits by his fellow
Most of these records contain duplicate information. All record
Claffey's date of Muster and discharge or Parole. Each
however, relates his own interpretation of events. By piecing
all together, we get a more
complete story. One of the more
and detailed affidavits is here quoted.
Claffey) was captured by the enemy at the battle of Wilderness on the
days fight (May 6th 1864) and taken within 3 - 4 days to Andersonville
Georgia and was kept there till Sept. 1864 during which said
he contracted scurvy by reason of confinement and 'innutritious' food
was very ill with the same - he was shipped from thence to Charleston
C. and remained there in prison till about Nov. 1864 from thence was
to Florence and remained till about Feb. 1865. When he as started
from thence to Saulsbury N. C. on a R R train and after passing
he jumped from the train, but after wandering around for several days,
gave himself up to the Confederate Authorities and was finally
or paroled at Wilmington in March 1865. He was treated in
for said scurvy at Annapolis Md. for 5 or 6 weeks after exchange in the
spring of 1865." Signed by his attorney James S. Parker and two
James S. Harter and Charles Greer.
There is a
affidavit signed by officers of the 100th Regiment Company A, 1st
James S. Stocking and 2nd Lieutenants William H. Underwood and James B.
Kennedy stating that they were members of his company and had
knowledge of his wounded hand and that on the day of William Claffey's
capture, that they knew him to have good teeth, 04/23/1886.
this action taken by his peers was effective, for DEC. 28, 1882 pension
was increased to $6.00, per month, listed for same disability and loss
of teeth, result of scurvy.
One last claim was
02/04/1891. Can not find results of that claim.
Claffey's signature on Military Records are also those of: Captain
Hamilton, Recruitment officer at Blaines Cross Roads 12/28/1863
Lieut. James W. Montford, witness to re
Capt. George Efininscoe Michigan Infantry
F. D. Wilson, Examining Surgeon, 12/28/1880
B. F. Hasson. Clerk of Orphans Court of
B. F. Pope, Surgeon U. S. Army 12/22/1885
James S Pyles, 04/__/1886
[ To read
more about Andersonville
Prison GOTO ]
married Mary Mounts McDaniel circa 1867. She was the daughter of
Andrew Jackson McDaniel Sr. and Eliza Mounts. Her maternal
grandparents were Richard Mounts and Mary Kelly. Mary Kelly was
on the Atlantic Ocean to William Kelly and Martha McCourtney on their
to America from Ireland.
|Obituary Headline "Mrs. Mary
Dies Unexpectedly in Home Here
Mrs. Mary Mounts McDaniel
Claffey, 101, Washington's oldest resident, died at the home of
daughter, Mrs. John C. Ritchie, 896 West Chestnut Street, at 3;40
a.m. Friday, July 30 (1948). Born in Washington (Pa), April 7,
a block from the home in which she died. Mrs. Claffey knew what
meant to work hard. In "Rankintown", as that section of West
St. was known a century ago, she worked on her father's farm,
one of eight children. She brought in hay and helped with chores
about the home until her marriage.
Like the brides
of yesterday, she waited for her soldier-fiance to come home from war.
A Civil War bride, she was married to William Claffey. Again she
worked hard to rear a family of seven and then later reared seven
of her grandchildren when their parents died. During the gas boom
in this section, she kept a full house of boarders.
Claffey was the
daughter of the late Andrew J. McDaniel and Eliza Mounts
Her father was proprietor of the old "Rankintown Tavern" on West
Chestnut Street and she was born in the tavern building, which
surrounded by a large farm. Her husband was an engineer at the Zelt
mill and they continued to live within the 800 block on West Chestnut
He died in 1901, 46 years ago.
memory of the first
train to go through Washington was when, as a small girl, her
took her to see "the horse fed wood and coal" which passed by the
interviewed on her 100th
birthday last year, Mrs. Claffey said, "I've lived through four
and I don't believe I will live to see another one. There is talk
of another war. I hope none of us see that."
April of this year,
Mrs. Claffey was presented with a plaque by the Pennsylvania
Society. The society marked its 100th anniversary this year and on the
occasion presented plaques to all persons in the state 100 years
ago Mrs. Claffey
fell and broke her hip and until recently, she got about with the use
a crutch. Until the time of her death, she retained an active
in her family and friends.
are three sons,
Wilse Claffey, Washington; A. J. Claffey, Kinard, S. C., and R.
Claffey, Greensburg; one daughter, Tillie, wife of John C.
Washington. Also surviving are 30 grandchildren, nine great grand
children and three great- great, grand children. Mrs. Claffey was
preceded in death by three children, Mrs. (Lyde) John
Wilson, William (Jr.) and
To Read More on Mary Mounts
McDaniel Family GOTO
An early deed
that Tom Claffey bought property from Richard Mounts along the
Road in 'Rankintown'. Further genealogical research revealed that
this Richard Mounts is a common ancestor to both my husband and myself.
(Great Great Great Grandfather) How ironic?! For we were
to be born for another 150 years.
told her children and grandchildren that all the land you could see
her back yard once belonged to her family. Presumably she was speaking
of the McDaniel family, for a map of Washington County 1856 by William
J. Barker, a map maker from New York, records the property belonging to
the McDonald family. This discrepancy is further explained by a court
in which Andrew McDaniel Sr. comments on his name earlier recorded as
and he was correcting the error in 1890.
Children of William Claffey Sr. and
Mounts McDaniel Claffey, all born in Washington, Pa.
1. Lydia (Lida)
born 12/04/1868, died 05/01/1944, m. John E. Wilson,
children: Lewis, Goldie and Madeline
*2. William Claffey Jr. born
died, 05/31/1930 (my grandfather) worked as Glass Bottle Blower
for Hazel Atlas Glass Co. and in later years operated a small candy
in West Washington. He was
also instrumental in the founding of the Eighth Ward Playground.
He married Mary B. Arabelle Miller
born 06/02/1875 died 07/19/1937.
This is my grandmother 'Mary B.' referred to in past articles. It
was from her I inherited a 'Black Satchel'
containing about 200 photos now identified as family members. She was
daughter of John F. Miller.
Children: F. Iona, Shirley Deroy, W. Loren, Joseph H., Guy P. and
[ Shirley Deroy and George K owned and operated a multi-state 'Claffey
Beauty Shops' chain.
Loren operated a 'Claffey Beauty Shop' and worked for Hazel Atlas
Glass Co. along with Joseph
H and Guy P. Uncle Guy was Transportation Manager for Hazel Atlas
and for 32 years served as a
football official. My father Joseph H (Bus) also drummer with local
3. John Wilson
Claffey Sr., born 08/19/1875, died 04/27/1966
married Emma Jane Quail, b. 03/26/1879, d. 11/28/1959
children; Jenetta, Mary Ellen, John Jr., Ray, Lewis D., Effie Mae and
4. Andrew J (Jack)
b. 11/26/1877, d. 10/29/1957. raised 'game roosters' as a hobby,
married Elizabeth Vankirk, born 12/22/1881, died 05/02/1956
children; Gertrude and Jane
5. Matilda C. Claffey, b. 09/03/1881,
10/15/1961 m. John Calvin Ritchie, born 03/26/1877, d. 05/10/1960.
children; Harry W. and John G.
6. Robert Lane
Claffey, b. 10/22/1884, d. 02/12/1951 married Alma O. Grandon b.
d. 12/10/1979. Doc Claffey operated a Barbecue in Greensburg, Pa.
for 28 years.
One child William Lane
7. Harry Franklin
b. 10/19/1886, d. 08/02/1938
1st wife Winnie Gertrude Gallagher born 1890, died 06/01/1922
children; Alma Mae, Viola B., Eva L., Robert L., Glenn, Herman and
2nd wife Lucie children; Mary Lou and Joanne.
Personal Note: Although William
died 28 years before I was born, I feel that I know him. He was a
quiet unpretentious man, born the son of an Irish immigrant, who did
duty as he saw it. Though ravaged in mind and body in later years from
the effects of the Civil War, he managed to raise a family and pass
a legacy for which I will be eternally grateful.
100th REGIMENT PENNSYLVANIA VOLUNTEERS The ROUNDHEAD
REGIMENT' 1989 William Gilfillan Gavin
'Ketterman Collection of Military Records of William Claffey'
'Mounts- Claffey Obituaries', 1994 Glenn W and Carol Ann Mounts
'Washington County, Pennsylvania' 1893 Beers
'William Claffey Family Bible' in possession of Harry L Ritchie