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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Revisited - Flanagan's of Napa Valley and Carneros District

Like Mary Poppin's carpetbag, there does not appear to be an end or "bottom" to my box of treasures.  It appears to be small with dimensions of 16 x 11 x 6.  Those are, in fact, inches.  I will soon get to the end but the information could go on for a while.........

My latest find is a letter that is my Grandma's handwriting but signed by my Grandpa.  Who am I referring to?  My Grandma was Dorothy Borchers Flanagan.  She was born and raised in Napa.  While the letter that I have is in her handwriting, probably partially dictated by my Grandpa, it is signed by my Grandpa.  She definitely had an affinity and interest in the Flanagan's story and their letters.  Those letters can really pull you in.  She wrote a few pages of notes to herself too about Michael, Patrick, and Kate Flanagan. 

Back to the letter....The letter is correspondence to a professor with a university in Missouri.  The professor was, and still is, a historian.  His particular interest is in Irish immigration.  The Flanagan Letter Collection appears to be an awesome find for his historical commentary and publications.  My Grandpa, Richard J. Flanagan, did his best to answer the professor's specific questions.  I bet the professor did not realize that the handwriting he was reading was my Grandma's handwriting.  By 1990, my Grandpa had a hard time writing with a pen or pencil.  He was a little unsteady at that point for writing but was certainly still an avid gardener.  It is funny that when you are used to someone's handwriting how easy it is to read.  I have no problem reading my Grandma's handwriting.

Excerpt from the letter dated Aug. 2, 1990:

"Dear Professor (Private),

    In response to your letter I hope the following will be helpful.  I cannot answer all of your questions, but was able to answer a few.   Patrick and Catherine (Kate) Flanagan were my grandparents. 

    Patrick was born in Termonfeckin, County Louth, Ireland.  The family home name was (Private).   He went to New Zealand, Australia and then to California.  Died January 26, 1896.

    Catherine O'Brien was born in Couty Clare (actually Limerick but close to Clare), Ireland, May 19, 1843.  She went to Melborne, Australia with her family in 1854.  Died on March 11, 1928.

    Patrick purchased a farm in Napa in the Carneros District.  He purchased 50 acres May 1870 for $1,500 (from Edward Stanly).  In 1873, he sold the 50 acres to Judge John Stanly and purchased 105 acres from Judge Stanly for $4,000 in the Carneros District, which is several miles from the town of Napa (about 4).  This is where the family home was built, and still stands surrounded by vineyard.  Originally grain and hay was raised and then converted to grapes.  Built a winery and made wine until prohibition.  Michael was not part owner of the farm.

    After Ignatius' (known as Nash with a long 'a') death my father John quit his job in town as an auto mechanic, and took over the operation of the ranch until his death in 1936.  After Catherine's death, March 11, 1928, the ranch was divided between the five surviving children................We do have copies of the letters from the Napa Historical Society that Judge Stanly wrote to Michael after he went back to Ireland............Sincerely Yours, Richard J. Flanagan......Napa, CA 94559"

My Mom was reading this letter the other day.   She wanted to remind herself of the facts of the Flanagan Ranch in Napa.  I had never actually read this letter until she pointed it out.  How amazing the information is that I was just passing by and putting off for a future read. 

While it is stated that Michael Flanagan did not own the Flanagan Ranch, Kate eludes to it being his too in one of her letters.  I wonder if Pat and Kate borrowed money from him for the purchase of the larger acreage and that's what she is referring to.  I like to refer to him as "The Bank of Michael Flanagan" with the motto, "I'm a nice guy and may not expect the money to be repaid, especially, if you are family or in need."  His greatest deed did not involve lending his money.

I had no idea that Nash ran the ranch.  I thought Edward had since he was the oldest son.  Nash must have been Kate's choice to run the place and Ed worked there too.  When Nash died, even though Edward and Louie were still alive and working on the ranch, Jack was chosen by his mother to run things.  I have Nash passing away in 1918.  Now, I wonder what Nash was like.

Contrary to my previous post, Jack actually took over the Flanagan Ranch operation in 1918 and handled it until his death in 1936.  Jack and Minnie (Mary E. McLaughlin) Flanagan and their family did not actually move out to the Ranch until Kate passed away in 1928.  Jack and his family were still living on Stockton Street (now Palmer) until then.

Again, my box of treasures amazes me.  "Never judge things by their appearance...even carpetbags." -Mary Poppins

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