An Earlier Matt Sloan, Kilfeaghan to Cleveland

In a letter dated December 28, 1888, from Ballintur, William Doran told his brother Peter in the United States, that 'Tom Murphy and Mathew Sloan is home from cleveland a few days agow.' 1 For a long time I've wondered who this Matthew Sloan could be. My mother's aunt married a Matthew Sloan in Cleveland in 1907, but he was born in 1879, so he would be too young. Now, I think I might have found this earlier Matt Sloan in the Newburgh section of Cleveland.

First let me mention that I think the letter was dated 1883, not 1888, and there might have been an error transcribing the date. The reason I say this is because the letter later says that 'Joe Write and Cate Fearon has got married about a week after you left.' There is a record in the Civil Registration Index of Marriages for the fourth quarter of 1883 of a Joseph Wright marrying. On the same page is the name Catherine Fearon. I haven't seen the record itself, and the Kilbroney Parish Marriage register stops at 1881, but I would guess that this is the couple mentioned in the letter.

Cleveland Rolling Mill

Cleveland Rolling Mill

If the letter was written in 1883, then I think this is the Matt Sloan that William Doran was referring to:

1880 Census Cleveland ED 53, page 318D or 56D,
June 12, 1880
at 2054 Marble, in the John and Jane Graham household
Matt Sloane, 38, boarder, laborer, born in Ireland, parents also, cannot write, out of work 3 months last year
Richard Cunningham, 21, boarder, laborer, born in Ireland, parents also, out of work 1 months last year
Thomas Murphy, 28, boarder, laborer, born in Ireland, parents also, out of work 10 months last year2

Note: For more on Richard Cunningham see the article, Richard Cunningham, probably Kilkeel to Cleveland.

The Cleveland City Directories for 1881 to 1884 show Matthew at 2054 Marble in 1881, but then not again until 1884, when he is boarding at 2430 Elmo.

Thomas Murphy is not in the City Directory for 1881. But there is a Timothy Murphy at 2016 Marble. And there is a Thomas Murphy at 2450 Sawyer in 1882 and at 2005 Booth in 1883. Oddly enough, there is a William Sloan at both those addresses on Sawyer and Booth in the same years as Thomas Murphy. I wonder if these are the same two men all the way through, and the first names were not always recorded correctly.

There are no matches for Matt Sloan in the 1885 through 1888 Directory, which is when I stopped looking. The 1884 Cleveland Directory says it is for the year ending July 1884. So Matthew could have returned to Ireland in December of 1883 and still be listed in the Directory for the following year. Which means that he would have just returned when William Doran wrote his letter.

So is this him?

The last time I looked for this Matthew Sloan, I looked on the 1900 Census of Cleveland to no avail. Now if he is also not in the 1885 to 1888 directories, then maybe he went back to Ireland for good. If so, is he:

1901 Census of Ireland
Residents of a house 7 in Kilfeaghan (Killowen, Down)
Sloan, Matthew, 60, head, farmer, can read and write
Sloan, Mary, 61, wife, can read and write
Sloan, Rose Anne, 24, daughter, can read and write, farmer's daughter
Sloan, Thomas, 22, son, can read and write, farmer's son
Sloan, Mathew, 86, uncle, cannot read, agricultural laborer

all Roman Catholic. all born in County Down3

Farmland, Kilfeaghan Road

Farmland, Kilfeaghan Road

I hardly ever trust ages on censuses, but the head of this household was born about the same time as the Matt Sloan in Newburgh in 1880, who was 38 at the time.

There is a record in the Kilbroney Parish Register of a marriage of Mathew Sloan and Mary Murphy on May 17, 1876. This couple had a daughter Roanne baptized on February 13, 1877, and a son Thomas on December 11, 1878.4 This looks like the couple in Kilfeaghan in 1901.

And there is a record in the Valuation Revision books for Kilfeaghan that says a Matt Sloane took over occupancy of parcels 19 and 20 from Rose Sloane in 1883.5

So, if this is the same Matt Sloan, did he marry, and then spend a few years in Cleveland before returning to Ireland? Did he intend to send for his family? I haven't really seen that pattern in the Kilbroney to Cleveland emigrants in this time period.

On the other hand, maybe he only planned to stay a short while, make a few dollars and go back. Or on the third hand, maybe he intended to move his family but his plans changed in 1883 when he took over the farm from Rose Sloan.

Genealogical research means answering one question and finding two more.

As a side point, did you notice that there were two Matthew Sloans in the Kilfeaghan household in 1901? The second was Matthew's uncle, born about 1815. I've corresponded with a Matthew Sloan whose family was from Ballincurry. So "Matthew" has been used as a given name in the Sloan family for at least 200 years.


1. Peter Doran, Ballintur, [Co Down?] to " Dear Brother"; Document Presented by & Copyright Retained by Sharon DoranTurnbow, at

2. 1880 Census Cleveland ED 53, page 318D or 56D.

3. 1901 Census of Ireland, house 7 in Kilfeaghan (Killowen, Down).

4. Valuation Revision Books at

5. Kilbroney Parish Registers at The National Library of Ireland,


The photo of the Cleveland Rolling Mill comes from View of Cleveland Rolling Mills Co., circa 1890s at the Cleveland State University Dept. of History.

Picture of the farmland at Kilfeaghan Road is © Copyright Eric Jones and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Most of the information here is about my family or my wife’s, or about families with ties to Cleveland, Ohio, or the area near Rostrevor and Kilkeel in County Down, Ireland. There are also some unrelated families included that I came across. Whatever the case, I hope the material is helpful in your own efforts.
-- Ed Hamilton