An Earlier Matt Sloan, Kilfeaghan to Cleveland

Farmland, Kilfeaghan Road

Farmland, Kilfeaghan Road

In a letter, the date of which is transcribed as December 28, 1888, from Ballintur, County Down, Ireland, 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 December 28, 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 civil marriage record of Joseph Wright marrying Catherine Fearon on 28 November 1883 at Rostrevor Chapel, that would be this couple.

With that settled, I think this is the Matt Sloan that William Doran was referring to:

1880 Census of Cleveland ED 53, sheet 318D
June 12, 1880
at 2054 Marble
in the John and Jane Graham household

Matt Sloane, 38, single, boarder, laborer, born in Ireland, parents also, cannot write, out of work 3 months last year
Richard Cunningham, 21, single, boarder, laborer, born in Ireland, parents also, out of work 1 months last year
Thomas Murphy, 28, single boarder, laborer, born in Ireland, parents also, out of work 10 months last year2

The Cleveland City Directories for the 1880s have these listings:

1881 City Directory, at 2054 Marble
Matthew Sloan

1881 City Directory at 2016 Marble
Timothy Murphy

1882 City Directory at 2450 Sawyer
William Sloan
Thomas Murphy

1883 City Directory at 2005 Booth
William Sloan
Thomas Murphy

1884 City Directory at 2430 Elmo
Matthew Sloan

1885 to 1888: no Matthew Sloan

I have a feeling that these are the same two men throughout, but their first names were not always recorded correctly.

Also, the 1884 Directory was valid from July 1883 to July 1884, so Matt could have returned to Ireland in December 1883 and still be listed in the 1884 book.

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

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. The civil record says May 19. 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 bring his family over a few years later? I haven't really seen that pattern–where the husband arrives first–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.

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.

I have added this family to the Ohio Families section of this site.

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


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,


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