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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Michael Flanagan Part 6

Based on letters that Kate Flanagan wrote to Michael once he was back in Ireland, one can tell Judge Stanly definitely relied on Michael to run his farm business, owed Michael money, and wanted him to come back to Napa. I have copies of ten handwritten letters from Judge Stanly to Michael Flanagan in Ireland. I have tried to read them but it is so hard to decipher the writing and where the Judge is going with these letters. He discusses quantities, numbers, money, percentages, and the weather. I can only gather that he’s referring to his vineyard, grape harvest and winemaking. It’s almost like he’s trying to consult with Michael from a distance.

Other parts of the letters seem to indicate that he disagreed with his neighbor and Michael’s brother, Patrick, about how to make wine. I’m not sure that Stanly and Patrick exactly saw eye to eye. Everything that has been written about Patrick though indicates that he was easy to get along with, hard working, and well liked. On the other hand, Kate Flanagan may have been another story. After Patrick died in 1896, Kate, with help from their sons, had to run the Flanagan Ranch operation. She also had interactions with her neighbor, Judge Stanly.

Kate Flanagan wrote to him July 8, 1896.....

"Dear Mike, I have just received your kind letter. I am sorry to hear that you are so downhearted. You have in one sense good reason to be But it must be a great comfort to you to think of what an unselfish life yours has been and how much good you have done in every way you could. If you find it so hard to live in Ireland why don't you come back, even if you are not able to do any thing for the Judge don't this ranch belong to you as much as it does to us? And why not make your home here, we could make an addition to the old house and make you very comfortable, every one here would be glad to see you back again and your council would be a great thing for us......Ed went to see the Judge lately on a little business and he seemed delighted to see him thinking he had some word from you, about coming back but his face fell when he found we had not heard from you. he tells people that the people he has now, are all robbing him......."

I haven't finished reading all of the letters to know how many more times Kate wrote to Michael. They did correspond. Ed, or rather, Edward Flanagan was Pat's and Kate's oldest son and ran the ranch after Pat passed away.

Kate wrote to Michael again on January 27, 1897......

"Dear Mike, I saw Judge Stanly last Saturday.  He received me very kindly and listened to what I had to say, very patiently.  As I had some difficulty in explaining the matter, I gave him your last letter to read...."

Judge Stanly did owe Michael money.  It is not clear to me all of the circumstances but once Michael had left Napa, Pat and Kate apparently made requests for the money on behalf of Michael.  Later letters before 1899 indicated that Michael settled with the Judge.

Kate wrote to Michael in Ireland on September 23, 1899.....

"Dear Mike, Judge Stanly died yesterday.....I suppose the sooner you write and send the necessary letters & papers the better, as I suppose you cant come yourself.  Affectionately, K. Flanagan"

Rumor has it that Michael may have also received correspondence from some lady friends in Napa looking for his return. He was not exactly a young man at the time though not terribly old either. Based on what I have read and know about Michael, he was a very well liked and respected person. I can completely see some women being interested in him.

Michael Flanagan never did make it back to Napa. He spent the rest of his life in Termonfechin and died at the age of 64, in 1904. Comments have been made here and there that Michael had developed a fondness for Bridget, his brother Peter's widow. I am not sure that it went any further than that. He was 15 years her senior. I certainly hope that Michael found some happiness. He seems to have found adventure, some fortune, and success during his early years while keeping his priorities straight. His greatest deed of all was saving the farm which in turn saved the family in Ireland.

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